YET ANOTHER EDIT: A conversation on Reddit helped clear up that I had seriously misread some aspects of the Corruption and Helpless Mechanics. After some clarification from Mike Curry and Rob Justice (thank you both very much for taking the time!), I think I'm clearer and more comfortable using the rules as is and no longer feel the need for a "No Quarter" rule. However, for those who are still looking for something along those lines or want to do more detailed rules for a deadly vendetta between a Hero and Villain, I strongly recommend Kevin Krupp's "Climactic Confrontations" on Explorer's Society. (http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/207510/Climactic-Confrontations?src=...) I found out about it after posting my idea, and I think Kevin's approach is excellent and works better than mine. :D
Hello folks! I have an idea for a House Rule I'd like to get some feedback on. But since it involves a slight change to Corruption, I'd like to explain my thinking and reasons for coming up with it. Please bear with me. :)
So as some of you may be aware, there have been some quite passionate discussions about the Corruption mechanic in 7th Sea 2nd Edition lately. Some folks quite like it, others have very strong feelings (to put it mildly) against it, feeling that it places an arbitrary punishment for a player's actions.
For the most part, I myself like the Corruption mechanic. I personally prefer RPG campaigns with a more 'heroic' and lighter tone; when it comes to swashbuckling I'd much rather participate in a campaign along "The Princess Bride" in tone as opposed to "Game of Thrones."
However, in a recent discussion on Facebook, Kevin Krupp pointed out a possible issue with the Helpless and Corruption mechanic in important duels. Swashbuckling fiction often includes a dramatic (and lethal) final duel between the Hero and his archnemesis: D'artagnan vs. Rochefort, Captain Blood vs. Levasseur, Zorro vs. Captain Love, the list goes on. But if a GM strictly follows the core book rules, a foe is always rendered Helpless first, and the Hero must deliberately choose to kill them...which normally warrants a Corruption point.
Now, the 7th Sea team has already said that the GM not only has discretion about awarding Corruption, but they encourage always warning a player beforehand when an action would result in a Corruption point. And a GM may certainly choose to simply "waive" a Corruption point for killing a Villain in a duel as I describe above. These are reasonable options. But to me, it just feels awkward for the tone of certain fights that should be the dramatic finale for a story arc. What about the kind of awesome final duel where the Hero and Villain are going hammer and tongs at each other, the Villain makes the tiniest slip...and in a split second, the Hero delivers the fatal blow, avenging the Hero's mother/father/beloved/pet goldfish at last after many long years? If the GM has to say, "OK, now he's helpless. Do you strike the final blow? Think about whether you want a Corruption point," and the player responds he DOESN'T think it deserves Corruption because the Villain cruelly killed his pet goldfish, and the GM and player argue...well. I see that as something I don't want to happen in my games.
So that's why I came up with the following House Rule. (And thank you for your patience, lol.). It's basically an optional variation of the existing rules for Helpless foes in combat I call "No Quarter."
NO QUARTER DUELS:
There are some confrontations where two combatants face off, and they both know one isn't going to walk away. When a Hero faces a Villain in an Action Sequence that the GM deems dramatically appropriate, the GM and the player(s) involved may agree to declare "No Quarter"--this is meant to be the final battle, and it's going to be a fight to the death.
To declare "No Quarter" the GM spends a Danger Point for the Villain, and the player spends a Hero Point at the start of the Action Sequence to raise the stakes of the conflict. The GM should describe the situation appropriately: "Count Blackheart draws his blade, a cold, ruthless smile on his lips. He says nothing, but it's clear he doesn't intend to let Captain Courage leave this room alive. Captain Courage, you smile grimly in response, and draw your own blade."
The duel is now to the death. If either the Hero or Villain is rendered Helpless, their opponent may simply declare a lethal blow and spend an additional Raise to put their foe down once and for all. (Essentially, the combatants pay the Hero Point/Danger Point cost to kill a Helpless opponent in advance). There are two additional effects: A player does NOT earn a Corruption Point for killing a Villiain in a "No Quarter" fight, as the Villain has made his/her murderous intention plain from the start. Also, the Villain may NOT spend a Danger Point to escape the battle...they are in this all or nothing to end the Hero once and for all!
Per standard Rules, a Hero who is rendered Helpless in a "No Quarter" duel can still take action by spending a Hero Point, or another Hero in the Scene can spend all their Raises to intervene to keep a Hero in the "No Quarter" duel from being killed. (This is meant to reflect the dramatic pause that always seems to come up in swashbuckler fiction...after all, don't Villains always monologue, or take time to switch their weapon grip and raise their sword dramatically for the killing stroke, or do something else unwise to give the Hero an opening?)
Additional Villains and/or players may be involved in a "No Quarter" duel if appropriate...the GM and players involved would simply spend Danger/Hero Points for each additional participant. (Just to clarify: A "No Quarter" battle does not have to be a formal Duel between two characters with the Dueling Academy advantage. It could be a brawl, a fistfight, grabbing rocks and throwing them at each other, in other words any kind of combat between archenemies.)
My idea is that "No Quarter" duels should be saved for very special occasions...for example, a fight between a player Hero and his/her archenemy at the final step of a Story, for example.
What do you folks think?
EDIT: I found out that Kevin Krupp previously proposed a similar house rule called "Dramatic Conclusions" in the forums here. His is a bit crunchier than mine, I highly recommend checking his proposal out if you're interested in a more detailed system for lethal duel mechanics.