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Cthulhu Netobvious
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QA - Question + Consideration for 7th Sea Duelists!
developers, core rules, duelists, brutes, brute squad

QUESTION 

So first, short question: Villains have no skill ranks, so if you make a duelist villain, how many wounds does he inflict on a Slash/Parry maneuver? (As those say you inflict wounds equal to your Weaponry skill.)

Secondly, while looking for an answer to this question I came upon this post on the (un)official forum. It got me thinking. I agree with this post in that Duelist maneuvers should not apply to Brute Squads, it's a different kind of combat than dueling and being able to dispatch 10 brutes alone in a round is ridiculously out of sync with the game. It makes them completely useless. But what about the idea that Duelists are hilariously broken? After all, the "Doctor" brings up a good point about how bad the balance can be? I suggest giving every "martial" hero background the "Student of Combat" Advantage from Heroes and Villains, and possibly allowing the Duelist background to have an additional advantage based on their style to even it out.

Would this completely break the game? Do you disagree that Duelists are broken?

EDIT: broken is a bit much, more accurate to say Duelists are unbalanced, and that is subject to your goals in the game.

 ANSWER 

COMMENTARY: Mike Curry, the 7th Sea lead developer seems not to like giving praise to our community here (even on Christmas a time for good cheer).
[–]7thSea_dev(Mike Curry)

Any effect that is based on a Skill or Trait Rank (such as Wounds inflicted by Duelist Maneuvers) uses half of a Villain's Strength. So a Strength 10 Villain would inflict 5 Wounds with Slash.

Next, there's a lot here to unpack.

First, 7thsea2e.com is NOT an official site. It's a fan site, nothing more.

Let me repeat that, in case there's any ambiguity. 7thsea2e.com IS NOT AN OFFICIAL SITE.

Second, Duelists originally could not use their Maneuvers against Brutes, but quite frankly it was less fun. I don't think there's anything wrong with either approach that you want to use.

I disagree with the idea that Duelists make Brutes "completely useless," but even if that were true I'm not sure it's a problem. I don't think Duelists should be particularly challenged by a group of 10 nameless, faceless town guardsmen. Inigo Montoya would be unimpressed by them, and I don't think it's out of tone of the genre for him to effortlessly defeat 10 men of that caliber.

On top of that, I don't think "more Brutes" or "make Brute Squads dangerous" is the answer -- I don't think ANY Hero of a martial bent should be particularly challenged by a Strength 10 Brute Squad. Hell, a Hero with "Reckless Takedown" can deal with them without even having to spend a single Raise and just move on with his day.

Brutes are speed bumps for Heroes, one aspect of a challenging situation rather than the whole of the challenge. This can change when you add in special Brutes (a team of 5 Assassins jumps the Duelist -- they go first when the GM spends a Danger Point, so they just lay a Dramatic Wound on the Duelist before he can do anything).

Would not letting Duelists perform maneuvers against Brutes completely break the game? No, absolutely not. Brutes would simply take more Raises to deal with. I don't think it's a good solution, though -- Duelist Academy is a five point Advantage, in fact the only one that can't situationally be purchased for less than that, so it should pack a BIG punch.

Do I believe that Duelists are broken? No, because the game works perfectly fine with them. Unbalanced might be a more accurate term for the question that you're asking, but I don't think they're unbalanced either. However, many do feel this way and I can see their perspective on the matter. Duelist Academy is an INCREDIBLY strong and rewarding Advantage (though for my money, "best bargain for cost-to-power" goes to Sorcery).

I believe the biggest complaint against Duelist Academy is that it's sort of a bottleneck Advantage -- martial characters without a dueling style struggle in combat much more, and there isn't a lot to compete with it even if you're willing to pay the same point cost. This is addressed quite a bit in upcoming sourcebooks, particularly NoT1 and NoT2, which have a lot more in the way of martial Advantages that let non-Duelists in on some of the fun.

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TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

BluSponge
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I thought this was answered in the core book under Villains.  Villains are assumed to have a Weaponry rank equal to 1/2 their Strength Trait.

BluSponge
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First, 7thsea2e.com is NOT an official site. It's a fan site, nothing more.

Let me repeat that, in case there's any ambiguity. 7thsea2e.com IS NOT AN OFFICIAL SITE.

Well, to be fair, I can see where someone new to the game could mistake it for an official voice given the name.  It's not like it would be a stretch.  Then again, since all the developers are active on the Reddit subforum, could that be considered an official site?  That seems to be where the official answers get handed out.  So guilt by association works both ways.  Just sayin'.

But okay, so the official answer to the first question is still the official answer.  Good to know.

As to the second question, yes brutes fall like fall leaves before a duelist...if that's the only thing a duelist is concerned with.  This was part of the reason I started playing with random consequence tables.  The idea was to give players something else to throw raises at in a brute battle besides opportunities and dead brutes.  If a duelist has 3 raises in a round, but needs to decide between spending those raises on dropping brutes OR being knocked prone beneath a pile of cut rigging while dropping said brutes, it changes things up a bit.  So giving those duelists a reason to spend 1-2 raises on something besides the offending brute squad, plus using Danger Points on abilities, really changes the dynamic of the fight quick.

I'm planning on going with the RAW when I start our game in a few weeks, and I'm keeping an open mind when it comes to this issue.  Personally, I believe the better solution lies in:

creating more brute abilities.

advanced brutes.  Right now, I'm toying with the idea of an opponent (I'm calling them Threats just because) that can take a number of wounds equal to its Strength, but drops after 1 dramatic wound (sort of like Savage Worlds, UP>SHAKEN>DOWN).  This gets around the silly visual of a mob of 20 guys taking on the duelist.  Plus, sometimes you just don't need a full fledged villain.

I WANT duelists to feel like badasses.  But I want a wider variety of challenges to throw at them, not way to nerf them as a whole.

Cthulhu Netobvious
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@BluSpong, thanks for the random onsequences ideas John Wick and crew should give you some commendation and include them in a sourcebook.

With regards to brutes vs dueliist, yes, more brute archetypes could work, such as the "assassin squads" Mike Curry highlighted 

[–]7thSea_dev(Mike Curry)

Brutes are speed bumps for Heroes, one aspect of a challenging situation rather than the whole of the challenge. This can change when you add in special Brutes (a team of 5 Assassins jumps the Duelist -- they go first when the GM spends a Danger Point, so they just lay a Dramatic Wound on the Duelist before he can do anything).

COMMENTARY: Mike Curry takes all critique so personally, forgetting that lots of good criticism usually comes from fans heavily invested in the game. 

 

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

BluSponge
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thanks for the random onsequences ideas John Wick and crew should give you some commendation and include them in a sourcebook.

Well, I don't know about that.  They need a lot more road testing before anyone starts planning a ticket tape parade.  Besides, nothing in John Wick's resume suggests he's a fan of random anything.  If you remember the 1st ed Pirate Nations book, you didn't roll random encounters.  You spent drama dice to activate unplanned encounters.  But hey, I do hope people find a use for them.

With regards to brutes vs dueliist, yes, more brute archetypes could work, such as the "assassin squads" Mike Curry highlighted.

Right.  I think there are only 6 right now, including the Inquisitor from H&V.  I think once we have around a dozen we'll have some good options for keeping the players on their toes.  I think we threw around a few ideas on another thread if anyone wants to suggest any.

Mike Curry takes all critique so personally, forgetting that lots of good criticism usually comes from fans heavily invested in the game. 

I don't get that from Mike at all.  Yes, he doesn't like it when people jump on and start saying things are broken.  And who can blame him?  He's the mechanics guy!  I think he and the rest of the team are really taking the critcisim to heart and developing the game in ways that answer peoples' issues.  And his assessment of Duelist is spot on, I think.  I think there is a difference in expectations by different people.  They want brutes to be a challenge whereas that isn't what the design goal was.  If you look at the subsequent comments on that Reddit thread, he hints at some cool new advantages to come that are going to address the non-duelist combatant quite nicely.  In the meantime, I just think we GMs should be looking at expanding our toolbox rather than find ways to throttle down player abilities.

Donovan Morningfire
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My take away from Mike's response about the critism is more that people keep calling things "broken" when it's really more a case of a certain mechanic not quite working the way some folks want it to.  So it's less that said rules (such as Duelists) are truly "broken" in that they do not operate nearly as intended or that they completely ruin the fun for the entire group.

As Mike said, Duelist Academy is working as intended, and that earlier versions of the dueling rules were more of a chore and really not all that fun for the PCs.  So it's not so much being "broken" as it is clashing with expectations some parts of the audience of combats being these gritty battles where every opponent is a serious threat and the PCs at risk of serious injury.

So I can see where he's coming from and why it bothers him, having been in a similar boat a while back with rules crunch that I wrote for the Galaxy at War sourcebook for WotC's Star Wars Saga Edition, primarily the stuff I wrote for martial artist characters, who as GM Chris of the Order 66 podcast noted went from being a very lackluster and meh character option to very potent with the right feat and talent selections.  Chris very jokingly congratulted me on officially breaking Star Wars with these feat and talent combinations, but a number of folks on the WotC forums (good riddance to that hive of scum and villainy) were very upset that their Jedi PCs now had competition in terms of being combat badasses, and claimed the entire book was "broken."  I'll admit, there were some problems (especially if using material in other sourcebooks that weren't even in print at the time I did my bit for Galaxy at War), but hardly anything that well and truly "broke" the game, especially not in comparison to Force users in Saga Edition given how skill ranks worked against character defenses at lower levels, which was a legitimate problem.

Given the amount of time and effort that's been put into this game, and the fact that highly creative types have a greater tendency to be sensitive about their work being insulted, yeah I can see exactly where Mike's coming from, though he was gracious enough admit that it was a personal quibble of his that the term "broken" gets used far more often than it really should in regards to game mechanics.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

Carlo Lope
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Actually... after looking at the three ideas he shared of future advantages, even if they are still that, ideas, I'm a bit concerned. When I read about Whirlwind of steel and Haymaker, for some reason I was thinking "Superheroes" instead of 7th sea Heroes.

"How is a player supossed to describe (or a GM) what happens when they use Whirlwind of steel without changing time and space?" was a question a asked myself... Perhaps it's just me and like I said before, those two Advantages are still only ideas in development, but still... I hope I'm just overthinking things.

About what Mike said about Duelists being the only 5 full points Advantage... I can see where he is coming from but I disagree quite a bit. Fencer is a 3 point Advantage if I'm not mistaken and it's not even close to a quarter of the power a Duelist Advantage gives. Anyone can argue that getting 4 and 5 points worth of rewards is supossed to be trickier and harder and this would be the only reason I would agree with, but it depends entirely on the players and GM in the end. What I understand is that Mike wants to explain that a 5 points Advantage is not five times 1 point and the scale of power is completely different, which would explain why is supossed to be only Hero Stories for 4 or 5 points rewards. I'm not sure though.

Cthulhu Netobvious
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@CarloLope, that is a valid observation regarding "Whirlwind of Steel* being a superhero-esque power. And yet, if we take into consideration John Wick's plans for "7th Sea: The East" then it fits within the realm of Wuxia cinematic action sequences, with heroes running up walls and even temporarily flying across short distances. Ha ha ha!

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

Donovan Morningfire
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Also bear in mind that we don't have the full text on those new Advantages.  Whirlwind of Steel could well cost 4 or 5 points, or be limited to "once per scene" or have additional costs such as a Hero Point or having to suffer an automatic Dramatic Wound much the same as Reckless Takedown.  Or it could just be that the Brute Squads merely have their damage halved for that one Round, but aren't in any other way reduced in effectiveness, which is how I'm reading it.

Haymaker I'm not worried about, as it gives Heroes that focus on Brawling something quite good, and many Heroes (at least from what I've seen thus far) tend to spend all their Raises at once for damage anyway, so it gives fisticuff-focused Heroes a solid way to help against a Villain, especially if combined with an ability that lets the pugilist act before a Villain that's sitting on a healthy pile of raises.  Of course, we don't have the full text of that Advantage either, so it could have the cavaet that you've actually got to inflict Wounds for rest of the effect to kick in.

Fast Draw itself is a gamble, as you could spend your Hero Point and fail to roll any doubles, especially with dice pools of 6 or less dice.  But again, we're lacking the full rules text, so it could again be a "once per scene" type of deal on top of requiring a Hero Point.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

Cthulhu Netobvious
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Unlike Mike Curry, who seems unwilling to include Quentin Tarantino-esque action scenes for inspiration, at my 7th Sea table, this is how I expect heroes to execute the "Whirlwind of Steel". 

And bonus points for quick kills that whittle down multiple thugs in a Brute Squad with one stroke. devil 

Kill Bill scene Crazy 88 surround Bride

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

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