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Cthulhu Netobvious
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QA: Justified Killings are acceptable for 7th Sea Heroes
core rules, combat, death, killing murder corruption

BREAKING NEWS: It seems finally, the world of 7th Sea accepts mature "JUSTIFIED Killings".

So even if the Brutes or Villains are "Helpless" and your Hero kills them, if you can justify the reason for that Kill to be a Heroic Kill (a quick kill, not a slow torturous one), you may just avoid Corruption penalties (unless your GM is a Moralist Puritan).

Page 296 (is an error to be ignored)

When a Villain or rival Hero or a Brute Squad is defeated, they don’t simply die; they lay before you, Helpless...and vulnerable. For the most part, killing a Helpless person is an unjustified killing. A murder. An Evil Act

Despite the 7th Sea Core rule book explicitly quoting the following on page 296, those words are no longer considered canon according to Mike Curry's response on Reddit today.

So your Assassin and Soldier backgrounds finally get some honorable action against those troublesome Villains (just do not get excited and cause "collateral damage" to innocents nearby).


[–]7thSea_devMichael Curry ✓ 2 points 15 hours ago 

Welcome to my world. ;)

Page 203 of the core rulebook.

"If a Hero intentionally causes another character unnecessary pain, it’s an evil act. We’re not talking about a surgeon who causes temporary pain for longterm health or a dentist who pulls a rotting tooth, we’re talking about inflicting pain on a helpless victim."

The closest it comes to this is the use of the word "helpless" here. However, in this context, helpless is not a game mechanic (game mechanics are always capitalized--helpless vs Helpless, corruption vs Corruption). Perhaps a poor word choice that has led to confusion? I'm not sure.

Even going back and looking at it, AT NO POINT DO THE RULES SAY THAT KILLING LEADS TO CORRUPTION. It says that causing undue suffering leads to Corruption, preying on the weak leads to Corruption, letting others fall to harm due to inaction or apathy leads to Corruption, torture leads to Corruption.

BY THE RULES AS WRITTEN, killing people does not get you Corruption (although in the example, the character says "I kill everyone inside" gains Corruption, this is more because he doesn't care who's in there and he is in fact acting as a highway robber at the time).

[–]robjusticeRob Justice (dated 2017-05-19)

The confusion comes from page 296:

Murder in 7th Sea

Characters aren’t killed by accident in 7th Sea. Even gunfire cannot kill a character without a deliberate act from a Hero or a Villain. When a Villain or rival Hero or a Brute Squad is defeated, they don’t simply die; they lay before you, Helpless...and vulnerable.

For the most part, killing a Helpless person is an unjustified killing. A murder. An Evil Act, under nearly any and all circumstances. Heroes do not commit murder. Ever.

But Heroes do kill when their hands are forced by Villains and their cronies. They kill when there is no other way to get justice, when they must end a life to save another. They kill when there are no other options. But they remember it and often regret it. For some Heroes, the act haunts them to their grave.

It's that Evil Act that calls back to Corruption.

So, feel free to start the "Murder" vs. "Killing" argument again... /sigh/

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TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

Cthulhu Netobvious
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Because "Justified Killings" are not explicity mentioned but "Murder" is explicity mentioned, this screenshot taken on the 19th of May, 2017, quoting Mike Curry, is the reference until proper errata are publshed.


TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

Monochrome Peacock
Monochrome Peacock's picture

I just came across this site and it seems like half the rules Q&A here is dissatisfaction with the rules about killing. What's up with that? Does this site have a vendetta against Mike Curry or something?

Donovan Morningfire
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It can certainly seem that way at times.

Then again, it seems a fair chunk of the vitrol is due more to views on the Corruption rules in general, which Mike Curry has defended as "working as intended," even if it at first glance seems to fly in the face of John Wick's stated belief that random rolls of the dice shouldn't completely control a character's fate, as well as presumption that being evne slightly less than heroic (i.e. acting like a pirate) means you got Corruption, in spite of the book being fairly clear that it's truly dastardly acts that warrant Corruption (Sanderis and Porte Sorcery are a bit of an exception with the invoking of a Major Favor from the deivas and opening a Blessure respectively).

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Tobie Abad
Tobie Abad's picture

I see no errata needed.
Unnecessary cruelty and evil acts cause corruption.
Killing when necessary isn't murder.
Killing someone already helpless is, cause it is no longer necessary but you still opted to do so.

So yeah, I don't see any errata needed.
I do see the... vendetta angle though.

Cthulhu Netobvious
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Aha! Tobie Abad, you just said that "Killing someone already helpless is murder" but in case you missed the rules, read them again.

Even gunfire cannot kill brutes. They like before you helpless, not dead, but helpless.

There can be no justified killings, since all the characters, even brutes fall helpless first.

How can your Hero justify a "necessary" killing when everyone falls helpless first, which means every kill becomes a murder by default?

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

Tobie Abad
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You are missing the point. The game isn't a simulationist system where the verbatim is the only thing that happens.
That's like saying its impossible to miss since no one can use Raises to avoid gunshots.
But gunshots do miss.  People do die.

In the game, the idea is Heroes don't do evil actions.
Systemwise, it just means when a villain is defeated, they are defeated and the assumption is they are not dead unless you intentionally wanted to kill them. That's why to reflect that dramatic choice, when a villain is finally helpless (both in its actual meaning and in its game system meaning), unless you intentionally declare you will choose to kill him, you aren't doing an Evil act.

Hence, " For the most part, killing a Helpless person is an unjustified killing. A murder. An Evil Act."
It is not absolutes.  It, states in general, it is unjustified as the person is already helpless.
But when, in the sense of the narrative, it has become necessary, then it is necessary.

I guess I'm just saying for me the rules are clear. They favor the dramatic and the heroic.
Heroes can kill, and when they do, the Corruption builds within them as they are tainted by their choices. There is always the choice to them attempt Redemption through stories.  And that makes total sense to me. 

If Wolverine was a 7th Sea character (and I'm ignoring the fact he's totally out of tone with the game), he'd be the type who racks up Corruption at the end of a fight scene, and the others would not be too comfy with his brutality.  Heroes who are too okay with killing are the kind of Heroes other Heroes worry about, as they feel those Heroes are too easily becoming more like their Villains where the end justify the means.  They're playable in the game - a bit harder in some ways, but playable.

Cthulhu Netobvious
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@TobieAbad, I get the that you trying to defend a broken mechanic. But following your line of thought that good stories do not need to slavishly obey game rules, why did the editors of 7th Sea deliberately hard-code some "virtue signal" of absolute morality by explicitly stating in those same rules that even gunshots do not kill brutes, and those fall before your Heroes, helpless, and we also know that according to 7th Sea 2e rules that killing the helpless is murder. 

According to the 7th sea rules as written, every single kill in 7th Sea is murder. Thus, it is impossible to apply the other contradictory rule that says "for the most part" because that rule was added after some backlash over the absolutist nature of the Murder rule.

Next, if we follow your next observation that dramatic stories are more important than strict game mechanics, we still have the problem that certain ruleas as written deliberately ostracizes some Players  who want  to narrate stories about Heroes with 7th Sea Assassin backgrounds. Those sor tof Heroes may murder on rare occasions since every kill is a murder in 7th sea, on behalf of a particular nation or group of family or belief. 7th Sea is a world that suffered the ravages of the War of the Cross so heroes who murder (since every death in 7th Sea becomes murder because  everyone falls helpless first instead of instant death even from gunshots).

Did I miss some reference to some secret 7th Sea in-game deity who  steps into thw world to punish an in-game Hero for a murder.? For a Narrative game, that choice is up to the Player to role play if his Hero suffers PTSD or not. Not every single soldier suffers PTSD, so a narrative game should not force this by the GM using some meta-game crutch of absolutist game mechanics to derail a Player story arc. Maybe, Wolverine's heroism is very dramatic for some Players at the table too. Why write a game mechanic to deliberately deny certain kinds of stories? 

For a game that markets itself as narrative and Player driven, suddenly it hard codes one mechanic rule to derail diverse story arcs. A rule that even breaks the "Roll and move" design philosophy of John Wick (because in Corruption you make the move first, then Roll for consequences).

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

Catalina Arciniega
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I don't get where are all of you trying to get. Heroes are supposed to act like heroes: Batman, Superman, Spiderman don't kill, ever. What they do, is hand the villains to the local authorities and let them do their job. If a GM wants the heroes to kill a bad guy, she might want to keep one last danger point so that the fallen villain can act despite being Helpless and try to shoot someone, kidnap a hostage to get out of there, threaten to kill the heroes, etc. That would make killing them acceptable and add a lot of flavour to an ending scene.
Donovan Morningfire
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Yes and no.

While Batman might be adamant on his "one rule" and refuse to kill, Superman and Spider-Man have over the course of their comic history been in the mindest of wanting to very much end the life of a particularly nasty/vile opponent.  They generally refrain from following through on it, and yes there are often circumstances that lead to the villain's death anyway (Green Goblin is a prime example).  Captain America certainly has killed opponents (guy fought in a major war where death occurred frequently), but he doesn't go out of his way to kill either.  Of course, most comic book heroes abstain from killing for the simple fact that for much of the industry's life having a hero murdering their opponents would get them in trouble with the Comics Authority Code; the Punisher is one of those rare instances of a "heroic" character that regular murders his enemies to the point he's considered the Marvel Universe's most prolific and successful serial killer, only getting something of a pass because of who he goes after.

But at the same time, we have swashbuckling heroes like Zorro (not often, but he does on rare occasions kill) and the Three Musketeers (who constantly kill opponents) that can and do kill their opponents.

It's the difference between Anakin dispatching the literally disarmed Count Dooku in RotS and Obi-Wan bisecting Maul in TPM; Anakin would get Corruption because he killed a foe that was helpless to stop him, while Obi-Wan killed an opponent that was armed and still an active threat.

I thnk the big disconnect for the naysayers is that they are equating the Helpless condition (alive but unable to act) with "helpless,"  But then I'm a firm believe in the GM being the final authority, and I could very easily see the GM deciding to waive the Helpless condition for a Villain that's just been dealt their final Dramatic Wound during the climactic action sequence of the adventure and just say that the Hero deals a lethal blow to their enemy.  Or that something in the circumstances of the environment lead to the Villain very soon expiring after being dealt the final Dramatic Wound, such as Antonio!Zorro from Mask of Zorro leaving Captain Love kneeling with a sword in his gut before getting literraly crushed under a mountain's worth of gold.  In both instances, I wouldn't assign Corruption even though the Hero ended the life of the Villain, either directly or circumstantially.

Plus, there's nothing in the rules that says a Villain has to fight to the very bitter end, as nothing is stopping the GM from having the Villian make a sudden escape or even surrender well before the final Dramatic Wound is inflicted.  Even a Villain as vile and treacherous as Giovanni Villanova would drop his sword and surrender if faced with an opponent that was cleaning his clock in a duel, trusting that his foe is an honorable man and such will spare his life so that Giovanni can scheme and plot another day.

And that's really the only point where the Corruption rules don't quite work exactly as intended, but I'm not convinced that it needs errata or much less the total overhaul that a few have been clamoring for.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Tobie Abad
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This I can get behind more.

Tobie Abad
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For the most part, killing a Helpless person is an unjustified killing. A murder. An Evil Act."

For the most part.
Not always.
Not 100%

For the most part.
All this claim that it's hardcoded, when clearly it is not.
I think you just want the text to apply to everything but it doesn't.

Star West
Star West's picture

I don't disagree that you could hand wave around it, and I also agree that it's a bit pendantic to say that "helpless" is the same as "Helpless," but then maybe the designers should have been more careful with the names used in their mechanics,* especially since there are places in the rulebook where there is a lowercase "helpless" and mean the uppercase version. (1e called it Crippled; no reason they couldn't have used the same.)

You have to make assumptions about how the rules come together, BUT the rules are very clear that Villains become Helpless when they hit their 4th DW - not die - Helpless. Now the rules don't exlicitly state "This is how a Hero kills a Villain," but it's safe to assume the design team intended it to works the same as when a Villain tries to murder a Hero (otherwise the rules would specify how Helpless is different for Heroes and Villains):

"A Villain may kill a Helpless Hero by spending a Danger Point and announcing murderous intent as his Action: “I am killing this character.” The Villain spends all remaining Raises. Her Action resolves at the end of the Round, after all the other Actions."

Killing a Helpless character is an explicit choice that has "murderous intent." It effectively becomes the Hero's INTENT for the remainder of the Round and costs ALL OF THEIR RAISES. This is not an accidental "I went in for a lunge and 'oops'" in a climactic final duel.

You're right that the rules give an out by saying "An Evil act, under nearly any and all circumstances," and then gives some clarificatoin: "They kill when there is no other way to get justice, when they must end a life to save another. They kill when there are no other options." And, yes, the GM can step in and use narrative perogitive to finish off the Villain, BUT that's the GM's perogitive, and...there's still one key problem here...

John claims the key conceit for 7th Sea is "What would Errol Flynn do," but it is mechanically impossible to do what Errol Flynn would do without gaining Corruption or GM plot convenience.

  • Inigo didn't NEED to kill Rugen to get justice, and he wasn't actively trying to save another's life in the process: Murder and earns Corruption.
  • Jack Sparrow didn't NEED to kill Barbossa once the gold was returned, but he did: Murder and earns Corruption.
  • Captain Blood doesn't knock Levassuer Helpless onto the sand and then intentional stab him: GM Plot conveience. --

This is why I wrote the Climactic Confrontations rules.

Mind you, it's probably for the better you can't always do what Errorl Flynn would do; from what I understand he was a sexual predator and an asshole. 


(FWIW, for all the noise I make around this, I'm not anti-Corruption or Helpless, I just think there are better ways they could be implemented and that the design team could have been more careful in explaining them.)

* I have spoken at length about 7th Sea with several well known game designers who design narrative-focused games, and "the naming of things" is something we've discussed in detail, paritcularly how your choice of language is extremely important to making sure your intentions behind rules are clear.

Cthulhu Netobvious
Cthulhu Netobvious's picture

Firstly, praising a great system like 7th Sea, does not also make it immune from criticism for parts that fail.

Please remember that "praise" and "criticism" are not mutually exclusive concepts when discussing game design.

Anyway, it is great to see more fans are actually designing better mechanical interpretations of the core rules of "Corruption", since the core mechanic as written (a) first breaks John Wick's "Roll and move" principle and (b) then also enforces "fail at a random dice roll" and GM steals your character, which obviously breaks John Wick's stated design philosophy (yes, see rants on his own blog against dice rolls).

From JohnWickPresents blog:

Random failure—as dictated by arbitrary pieces of plastic—is something I’m honestly done with. No interest. I also have no interest in a game that perpetuates it.

There are other failings like removing Player Agency from the narrative role play of the effects of Corruption, or even railroading Player Story about different excesses of various corruption paths and redemption in a world built upon the War of the Cross.

But enough of that for now. Let us praise some fans and their ideas now. cool

Here is an alternative option using the spiraling downfall method (of course.


And remember, to also checkout Tom Harrison's Scandalous Affair rules on DriveThruRPG.

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

Cthulhu Netobvious
Cthulhu Netobvious's picture

I will just leave this here for the curious.

John Wick rants no more failure from randome dice rolls

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

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