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NeoTanuki's picture
Pressuring Brutes, or "Do You Feel Lucky, Punks?"
brutes, house rules

Salamanca posted recently about a conversation with John Wick concerning a lack of clear guidelines on how to use Pressure on Brute Squads. The gist of the conversation was described as: "Players should be able to use Pressure on Brute Squads, but there aren't clearly defined rules to do so."

So I thought I'd open this thread to discuss possible ideas and suggestions.

When my hardcopy of the rules arrived, I re-read the sections on Pressure and how Brute Squads work again. The following is all simply my opinion as a new 7th Sea 2e GM, your mileage may vary. :)

-The main question I see is that normally, Pressure is applied to a Villain or NPC, requiring the target to spend 2 Raises to overcome the effects of the Pressure attempt. It makes sense that Heroes should be able to Pressure Brutes in a similar fashion using intimidation, seductive looks, or distractions by yelling "Look Behind You!" for example. However, the difficulty is that Brute Squads normally don't spend Raises in an action sequence. They either attack at the end of the sequence or the GM can spend a Danger Point to activate the Squad's special ability if they have one during the Action Sequence. 

-Being a fan of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) and modifying rules as little as possible if I can help it, it seems to me that when applying Pressure to Brutes, the simplest thing would be to require the GM to spend Danger Points as a replacement for Raises when a Hero applies Pressure to a Brute Squad.

-So here's what I plan to try in my games: During an Action Sequence, a Hero may spend a Raise to apply Pressure to a single Brute squad of any size. The Hero must describe how the pressure is being applied ("I slash my sword in a dazzling fashion to daunt them with my skill," "I give them a Clint Eastwood Death Glare and growl, 'Do You Feel Lucky, Punks?'" "I point behind them and loudly yell, 'SQUIRREL!!!'") The Hero then has a choice of two options: A. Prevent the Brute Squad from activiating their special ability as long as Pressure is being applied (So Assssin Squads can't spend Danger Points to strike before everyone else; Pirate Squads can't run off with an item or kidnap victim, etc.) or B. Prevent the Squad from making its attack this Sequence.

-In order to overcome the Pressure of a Brute Squad, the GM spends 2 Danger Points. Once these points are spent, the Pressure is removed and the Brute Squad may act normally. 

-I decided in my games, I would prefer to make Monster Brute Squads immune to Pressure. Monsters are supposed to be scarier and more daunting than ordinary Brutes. Plus, I can't really picture a group of zombies getting distracted by a Hero yelling "SQUIRREL!" :) Also, I think being able to Pressure Monster Brutes to cancel their special abilities would step too much on the toes of Fear-cancelling Arcana, Sorcery that deters undead or monsters specifically, and so forth. 

-Here's a couple of questions I still haven't decided on and would welcome feedback on:

A. Should a Hero be able to use Pressure to prevent Brutes from both using their special ability and attacking in the same sequence?
B. If "Yes," how much do you think the Hero should spend for an additional effect? For example, 2 Raises, 1 Raise and 1 Hero Point?
C. How many Danger Points should a GM have to spend to remove an additional Pressure effect from a Squad? 3 Danger Points or 4 Danger Points?

I'd welcome thoughts on these ideas and would be interested to hear other ideas GMs have for Pressuring Brutes. 

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BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

Since danger points are a finite resource, I'd amend this to:

In order to overcome the Pressure of a Brute Squad, the GM must spend 1 danger point. Otherwise the squad attacks at -2 strength. If this brings the squad's strength to 0 or below, they break and flee.

I like the idea of monster brutes being immune to pressure.

As to A or B, that's tricky. A lot of brute powers seem predicated on their attack. Assassin doesn't make sense if they can't hit you. So I'm inclined to think that pressure cancels both, but is cheap for the GM to overcome.

Here's a question. I haven't checked the rules, but can brutes pressure a hero? 


Salamanca's picture
The problem with assassin brutes is the attack has happened before the pressure is an option. It helps in round 2 but at that point, it's just negating the attack. I'm leaning toward using an option of the villain spending a single danger point (or two of their own raises) to rally his brutes. And NOBODY can be affected by pressure from more than one source each round.
BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

I'm leaning toward using an option of the villain spending a single danger point (or two of their own raises) to rally his brutes. And NOBODY can be affected by pressure from more than one source each round.

Ooooh!  I like it!

Ok, looking at the rules now.  Yeah, its not as bad as I thought.  So I can see it being an A or B scenario for pretty much every special brute.  So I would definitely go that route.

NeoTanuki's picture

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions!

BluSponge and Salamanca, based on your comments I've revised my initial suggested guidelines for Pressuring Brutes. Please let me know what you think:


Heroes can apply Pressure to a Brute Squad during an Action Sequence or Dramatic Sequence. Because Brutes function differently than Villains or other NPCs and normally cannot spend their own Raises, the following guidelines are suggested for situations when a Hero wishes to apply Pressure to a Brute Squad:

Pressuring Brutes in an Action Sequence:

1. On the player's Action, the player may have his Hero spend 1 Raise to apply Pressure to a Brute Squad. The player should provide a description of how Pressure is being applied to the Brutes, and should be encouraged to be creative (example: "I whirl my sword in a threatening manner to intimidate them," "I give them a sultry gaze and show some ankle to distract them," "I point and yell 'DEMON SQUIRREL!' to trick them." Only one source of Pressure can be applied to a Brute Squad each round, and once Pressure is applied additional sources of Pressure cannot target the Squad until the current Pressure status is cancelled or otherwise resolved. 

2. Pressure on a Brute Squad lasts until the GM or a Villain takes steps to remove it (see below). Pressure on a Brute Squad in an Action Sequence has the following effects:

A. As long as the Brute Squad is under Pressure, the GM may not spend a Danger Point to activate the Brute Squad's special ability. This means that Pirate Squads may not activate their abduction ability, Thief Squads may not steal an item, etc., as long as the Squad is under the effects of Pressure. Note that this will not cancel a Brute Squad ability that has previously activated this Round before Pressure was applied (for example, an Assassin Squad using its ability to attack before any Heroes act in the Round). However, if a Brute Squad starts a round already under Pressure, the Brutes will be unable to use their ability that Round until the Pressure is removed.

B. While under Pressure, a Brute Squad cannot attack any character other than the Hero applying Pressure (the Hero's efforts have their complete attention), and the Squad's Strength is reduced by -2 when attacking while under Pressure. If this penalty reduces the Squad's Strength to 0 or less during a Round, the Squad is considered to have broken under pressure (fainted, fled in terror, etc.) and is considered defeated.

C. The Brute Squad remains under the effects of Pressure until the Hero chooses to voluntarily stop Pressuring the squad ("I stop distracting the Brutes and run for my life!") or until the GM or a Villain takes steps to cancel Pressure against a Brute Squad. If a Villain is present, the Villain may spend two of his or her raises to rally the squad and remove the pressure ("You fools! There's no Demon Squirrel behind you, it's all a trick! Get back there and kill those Heroes!") If no Villains are present to rally a Brute Squad, the GM may choose to spend a Danger Point instead to cancel the effects of Pressure on the Brutes.Once the Pressure is removed, the Brute Squad may attack and use Special abilities against any opponent normally without penalty or restrictions.

Pressuring Brutes In A Dramatic Sequence:

Because Dramatic Sequences are more free-form and narrative, it's more difficult to provide hard-and-fast rules for every possible way of applying Pressure to a Brute Squad during a Dramatic Sequence. However, I would suggest the following guidelines:

1. The Hero spends an Raise to apply Pressure to the Brute Squad, along with a description of the effect the Hero is trying to achieve through Pressure and how the Hero wants to achieve it. ("I want to keep the Baron's Brute Squad distracted so they don't notice my brother sneaking into the library to find the secret plans. I'll spend a Raise to apply Pressure to the Brutes and start performing a torrid flamenco dance in front of everyone in the ballroom to get ther attention and keep their eyes on me only.")

Pressure descriptions should be colorful and fun, but also appropriate for the situation. The GM has final say whether a desired Pressure effect against a Brute squad is permissible or not. For example, the GM could rule that it's fine for the Hero to distract the Baron's guards with a torrid dance number, but the GM could veto the Hero trying to compose an impromptu poem that is so awful it causes the Brutes draw their swords and commit suicide from the sheer agony of listening.) :D If a Brute Squad is under Pressure, no other sources of Pressure can be applied to the Squad in the Dramatic Sequence until the current Pressure status is cancelled or otherwise resolved. 

2. Once Pressure is applied, the targeted Brute Squad cannot do anything other than the described effect unless the GM spends 2 Danger Points to cancel the effects, or a Villain present for the Dramatic Sequence spends 2 Raises to cancel Pressure on the Squad. ("The Baron's guards stare slack-jawed as you flamenco passionately across the ballroom, oblivious to anything else going on. But then the Baron walks up to them and snaps his fingers: 'What are you doing, fools? You are supposed to be on guard!"). A Villain who can't observe and communicate with a Brute Squad under Pressure can't spend raises to cancel Pressure on the squad. 

Monster Brute Squads In An Action Sequence

A Monster Brute Squad (ie a Brute Squad with a Monstrous Quality) is far more dangerous to deal with than ordinary Brutes. Monster Brute Squads are powered by dark magic, inhuman forces or other supernatural elements that are much more difficult to sway, daunt or otherwise distract and often only extraordinary abilities or sorcerous power will harm them ... it's far easier for Heroes to thwart a squad of scruffy bandits than a pack of werewolves or shambling horde of zombies that are trying to eat the Heroes! Because of this, Heroes may not Pressure a Monster Brute Squad during an Action Sequence. 

Pressuring Monster Brutes In A Dramatic Sequence (OPTIONAL with GM approval)

The GM has final say whether it is possible for a Hero to Pressure a Monster Brute Squad in a Dramatic Sequence. If allowed, the Hero must spend a Raise and a Hero Point in order to do so. Pressure on a Monster Brute Squad in a Dramatic Sequence can be removed as normal by the GM spending 2 Danger Points or a Villain who can observe and communicate with the Monster Brute Squad under Pressure spending 2 Raises. As with other situations with Pressuring Brute Squads, no additional sources of Pressure can be applied until the Squad's current Pressure status is cancelled or otherwise resolved. 


(NOTE: While I still strongly feel Monster Brute Squads should be immune to Pressure during Action Sequences, it did occur to me that GMs might want to let Heroes Pressure Monster Squads in Dramatic Sequences-for example, throwing raw steaks down a hall to distract the Mad Doctor's Werewolf guards while sneaking into the Haunted Castle. So I threw in an option for Dramatic Sequences only pending GM approval, but made it costlier for Heroes because it still seems to me that Pressuring monsters should be tough, even if the GM OKs it.)


OK, how's that? Again, feedback and constructive criticism welcome. 


BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

Heh.  It's funny.  You realize this material is about twice as long as the actual Pressure rules listed in the book.  I only know because I've started working on my GM screen and have seen my bullet points on the subject.  Then again, I think once you bullet point this down it'll be manageable.

Either way, cool!  Now someone needs to test it!



NeoTanuki's picture

LOL! As I was writing it, I was imagining player voices in my head saying, "But what if I want to try THIS when Pressuring a Brute Squad?" and thought, "I'd better put in some specific clarifications." And for this situation. And that one. And the next one ... it's challenging trying to anticipate and pre-emptively clear up confusing situations. laugh 

Doctor's picture

While I think there is plenty of good stuff in the rules, I worry about how powerful it makes Pressure, only because of the economy of Danger Points. Two Danger Points might be a bit steep.

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
- H.L. Mencken

Marcus Tillman
Marcus Tillman's picture

I don't see pressuring Brute Squads, so much as just using the normal approach approach rules. You want to scare them off with your swordsmanship - Panache + Weaponry  (Instead of Intimidation) and if you're a Duelist, your Slash would scare off your Weaponry + add. raises in Brutes (lowering their strength). Save the Pressure for Villains and NPC level characters.

This way you're not adding rules.

Panache + Tempt to throw a Bribe.

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