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BluSponge
BluSponge's picture
My Brain is Jello
Gameplay

So tonight I finished my second "demo" session.  First time around, two weeks ago, I think I had...7 players.  Tonight I had 9.  All teens, most between the ages of 12 and 15.  We finished after a single action round against the giant crabstrosity guarding the treasure on the L'll du Bete.  Good times but DAMN.  Tracking raises with a big group will melt your brain.

The Good News: the kids LOVE the game.  I don't really know if its the pirate angle or just the change of pace from dungeoncrawling but they are all ready to jump ship and switch to 7th Sea.

The Bad News: I'm not sure I can manage play for that many kids with that many tangents with the rules as written.  At this level, the game feels almost entirely meta with very little room for actual role playing.  Some of that no doubt comes from inexperience (both mine and theirs).  I feel like I'm constantly having to police Approaches.  The players are having a hard time with the idea that Approach =/= Action.  I feel like I need to find a better way to explain it.

But I'm going to think about it hard.  The game is relatively fast, even with that number of players.  I think once we have a few more people who know the system, it'll get smoother.  Right now where it gets choppy is when you have 9 different people trying to do weird things.  For example, tonight we had two heroes poke their heads into a potre blissure to look around (can non-porte mages even do that?), only to become crazed psychopaths and attacked the two other PCs on the gun deck of the ship.  Above deck, another PC barred the door and blocked another player from coming to their aid, resulting in a wrestling match.  Meanwhile, another PC decided to take the ship out of harbor in pursuit of another ship.  All the while the PC Fate Witch is trying to curse another PC because someone paid her.  Yeah, some of the finer points of the setting are a bit lost on some of the players.  But hey, they are young.

So I need to ponder my next course of action.  I love the setting, and the game is growing on me.  But this may not be the best place for it.

Tom

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Cthulhu Netobvious
Cthulhu Netobvious's picture

I really like 7th Sea because it offers fast cinematic action. Some of the Raise mechanics with large groups can be cumbersome because you do not just look at the dice and get results but must add numbers into groups (this helps keep the brain healthy, I believe). Maybe having tokens  on the table could help, once the Raises are counted, hand out the requisite number of tokens to the player. Then as the Player spends Raises, take away the tokens.

With regards to the finer points, I am disappointed the design team invested so much effort trying to sell a Pacifist cooperative agenda, it is obvious when players get better results helping others than helping their own characters.

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

Actually, the assembly of raises isn't the time soak I'm seeing.  What takes time is going around the table, person by person, to confirm the dice pools.  Gotta remember to add flair, bonus dice from hero points and the occassional advantage too.  Then you go around again and record raises (on a white board so I can track them).  But at that point, tracking active raises for nine people becomes a headache.  Especially because everyone wants to do everything at once.  And when people go off approach, it bogs down.

Standard Risks also get tricky, usually because you have anywhere from 5 or 6 people trying to do different things at the same time, often times for very different actions.

Of course, as I've said, these are young teens (mostly) with little experience in the game system.  Hell, this is only the third session I've run myself.  I expect that after a few sessions of play, things will work themselves out.  

Honestly, the fastest game I've played with this crowd has been B/X D&D because everything on the players' side is pretty regimented.  All miscellaneous actions are handled by the GM with a quick d6 roll.  7th Sea is all over the place by comparison, even if the core mechanic is ridiculously simple.

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture
I warned you about this. It's too much to do well on the fly with that size. John thinks groups this big should just larp (which I feel is both a cop out and a crap solution). I would suggest keeping the setting, switching to first ed system but eliminate Knacks and just use Skills (and double the cost, and maybe pare down to just core book list). A group of 9 can totally run in old edition.
LibrariaNPC
LibrariaNPC's picture

Even with tweaks, you're still going to have a headache running the old stuff. I ran a group of 15 players in 1st Edition during my college days, and it was fun, but a total headache trying to keep track of everything. Combat also dragged as written, but speeding it up killed some of the drama.

And yeah, I agree with you, Salamanca: I feel LARPing is a cop out and a crap solution for this. Most gaming groups tend to hit the 6 range and can get larger (colleges, summer programs, and conventions), so the claim that a group should just switch to LARP bothers me.

 

One of the ideas I had this weekend while working on a few projects in the shop: the similarities between Fate and 7th Sea 2nd Edition mechanics are much more than I thought (mostly narrative elements, abstractions, etc). It might not be too hard to take some of the easier-to-run elements of Fate and factor them in favor of the more complex elements of 7th Sea 2E, at least with larger groups. Just spitballing ideas here.

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic

Wolfflin Huyghen
Wolfflin Huyghen's picture

a) I really recomend you (again) use an easier system (Like fate). Again, I think Prince Valiant it's a really funny one for a lot of young people, with the extra that if they have a coin in their pocket, they are going to start playing by themselves really soon (But use dices if they preffer).

b) Love the lore  love the game

I hope you find what you are looking for wink

.

 

Star West
Star West's picture

I can't offer much help on the running 9 players side of things, but in terms of "Approach" vs "Actions" one thing I've found that works really well for brining new players up to speed is to equate "Raises" to "Round Stamina"

Basically I tell them, you pick a primary thing that you want to do that Round and then you get so much Stamina that you can either use to focus on doing that thing or to spend on doing other things. If the other things are related (i.e. use the same Skill) as the primary thing you wanted to do, they take up less Stamina than trying to do something completely new or different.

I then break it down as, "Okay what's the primary thing you want to do this Round? Awesome, that's called your Approach. Go ahead and roll <Trait>+<Skill>." I then move onto the next person while they're rolling and counting up Raises. Once that person figures out their approach I go back to the previous person. "Okay, what'd you get? 4 Raises. Great, those Raises are your Stamina for the Round. You can spend as much of that Stamina on your Approach or to avoid some of the Consequences - the potential things that could go wrong - for that Approach, as you want. What do you want to do? You want to spend 2 Raises on your Approach and 1 to remove the Consequence? Great. You have 1 Raise left, so you'll be able to use that Raise to do something else once everyone else only has 1 Raise of Round Stamina left."

It takes a few goes, but everyone's usually gotten the hang of it by the end of the first Round. With that large of a group, I'd also stagger the introduction of rules. I wouldn't introduce ALL of the rules up front (I recommend this with any group of starting players.)

Second - something I'm working on myself - be brutal about cutting the chaff. There's a great write-up I read by a Dungeon World GM the other day about running really tight Dungeon World sessions. Yeah, I know some of the best moments in RPGs comes from when the PCs just shoot the shit with eachother, but my guess is that with many players and with the age it'll take a bit for them to really start getting the "feel" for it anyway, so you can probably be a little bit more focused on driving them back into story.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/17ypjtlHfcwqrU_-x4b7o0e8tZ_dN2TiNLUu48MLAw7Y/edit?hl=en&forcehl=1#heading=h.t8tfotiv4mt1

Oh, and for tracking Raises. I either:

  • have a piece of paper I make boxes on from 1-10 and write the initials of each characer on a penny using dry erase marker. I then just move the pennies across the paper as the Players spend Raises, or
     
  • Hand out some cheap tokens to each player and have the player throw a token back into the token pile for each Raise spent.
BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

Second - something I'm working on myself - be brutal about cutting the chaff. There's a great write-up I read by a Dungeon World GM the other day about running really tight Dungeon World sessions. Yeah, I know some of the best moments in RPGs comes from when the PCs just shoot the shit with eachother, but my guess is that with many players and with the age it'll take a bit for them to really start getting the "feel" for it anyway, so you can probably be a little bit more focused on driving them back into story.

Heh.  Funny you should mention that, Kevin.  The two sessions of 7th Sea I ran for the kids felt very...meta.  Like even in the scenes I had intended to be somewhat "roleplay heavy" felt very...dialed out.  I'm not sure why that was.  Probably due to the sheer volume of table talk.  I'm used to that to some degree.  But when you get into the Action sequence, the whole feel is off.  Any which way, thanks for the link.  I'll check it out.

Star West
Star West's picture

You're welcome. It IS very much focused on running one-shot con games for Dungeon World, but there's a lot of things I've picked out of it that I think could be translated over:

1. Using the Q&A as a way of tying Hero Stories together, and using leading questions to establish an "end goal" for that session while setting conflict and tensions. It also sets motive, and more importantly forces the player to come up with the motive rather than you placing it on them: "Why do you want to rescue Y? Vanquish Z? Do X?"

2. It isn't explicitly stated, but the underlying theme is that the session kicks off with the mission already established and the Heroes already on their way to complete it...you don't have to do the "collect the heroes" scene. I've been doing this one a lot more lately and have even started - after the first or second scene - throwing in a Flashback to the "collect", if I feel there needs to be some additional context or there's information or resources I'd like an opportunity for heroes to get from NPCs ("So Fräulein Abenroth, what do you know about the Pirates that have stolen the artifact from the Explorer's Society?" The last group I did this with thought the "flashback" was super novel and said that they'd never had someone do that before in a game.

3. The map is intriguing, but I don't see it working for every single 7th Sea game. I want to try a variant where there are a series of "Events" or "Milestones" instead of a strict map of locations, but haven't had a chance to try it out yet.

4. Before I read this, I had never considered the "Consequences" in 2e as essentially the GM "Making a Move" in the AWorld system, but it is, and if you think of "categories" of Consequences, it makes it easier to come up with consequences on the fly (i.e. for that action what sort of Consequences would work? Can I use an NPC, Danger, or Location? Damage? Impact a tool/resource/equipment? Throw them into a new challenge? Can I put another PC or someone the Hero cares about in danger? etc) I also like the idea of "Consequences" and "Worse Consequences" -- it's a sneaky way to increase difficulty without having to invent completely different Consequences every time. The player has to pay of the "Worse Consequence" before they can pay off the "Consequence"

 

Another thing he doesn't talk about in this doc, but I've seen him write in other places is about cutting out the unecessary parts of scenes, and focusing on the "meat" of the scene, sometimes going so far as to narrate things that happen inbetween scenes rather than actually role-play it out. I'm still struggling with this as it's easy for it to come off as railroading the party.

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture
That disconnect is mostly group size. I got the same vibe.
BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

4. Before I read this, I had never considered the "Consequences" in 2e as essentially the GM "Making a Move" in the AWorld system, but it is, and if you think of "categories" of Consequences, it makes it easier to come up with consequences on the fly (i.e. for that action what sort of Consequences would work? Can I use an NPC, Danger, or Location? Damage? Impact a tool/resource/equipment? Throw them into a new challenge? Can I put another PC or someone the Hero cares about in danger? etc) I also like the idea of "Consequences" and "Worse Consequences" -- it's a sneaky way to increase difficulty without having to invent completely different Consequences every time. The player has to pay of the "Worse Consequence" before they can pay off the "Consequence"

Someone brought this up on RPGnet not too long ago.  I asked the poster to elaborate, but there was no response.

Personally, I LOVE the idea of broad categories of Consequences (and Opportunities) as a shorthand for inspiration and to keep things moving.  However, having looked through the "Moves" in Dungeonworld, I think this could be done a lot better.  But I'm just not...quite...there.

Catalina Arciniega
Catalina Arciniega's picture

It's a bit tricky and I think it would depend on your own definition of those categories and how broad do you want them to be.

The broadest I can think is: phisical, mental, social and resource related consequences and opportunities.

Phisical should contain damage, death, phisical exaustion, resting, healing and overcoming your own boundaries (running more than you are usually capable of, displaying unusual strength, etc)

Mental would be fear, mental exaustion, being confused, a moment of enlightment (allowing you to remember a certain detail you otherwise wouldn't), resolving puzzles or riddles, being able to stay calm, spotting a certain detail...

Social would be earning respect, trust, suspicion, friends, enemies, supporters, connections and so on.

Resource related is the broadest, it would contain everything from wealth to information, including weapons, means of transportation, keys, potions, etc.

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