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Peasant's picture
The Strands of fate- new powers for the Sorte Strega

The powers of the Sorte Strega we've had so far haven't included strand manipulation, which is a pity, because it is an important part of the fiction. I've had a go at recreating some of the powers that 1st edition Sorte Strega had with a 2nd edition twist. I've also provided a brief summary of how strands work, but full information is in the 1st edition player's book


The Strands

Sorte Strega learn to divide the strands of fate that connect  all things into four categories, based on the Four Lesser suits of the sorte deck. A Strega sees the strands as different clours.  

Coins are yellow strands that represent Commerce. A Coin strand from one person to another indicates some sort of business relationship, or a relationship based on fiscal advantage. 

Cups are blue strands that represent Passion. A Cup strand indicates an emotional link between the two subjects.

Swords are red strands that represent Conflict. A Sword strand indicates that some degree of conflict (emotional or  physical) exists between two subjects.  

Staves are green strands that represent Authority. A Staff strand between two individuals represents a relationship based on status or respect (forced or otherwise) rather than emotion or commerce. 


New Waves


Note: These Weaves are designed to effect a strand that connects a Hero and another character. 



You tug on the strands of fate that connect a Hero and another character. The Hero and the other character must be connected by a strand. You must be able to see both parties.



Take a lash to give yourself or another hero gets a bonus die on any risks relating to that character until the end if the scene



Spend a Hero Point and take a lash.  The hero gains an appropriate 2 point advantage that can only be used on that character once during this scene. If you take an additional lash, the Hero doesn't have to spend a Hero Point to activate the advantage

(Note: I think these would be appropriate advantages: Barterer, Come Hither, Disarming Smile, Fascinate, Indomitable Will, Inspire Generosity, Leadership, Reputation and Staredown)



You weave  fate, creating a new strand between two people


Take one lash to create a new strand. You can choose the suit of the strand. The strand will fade at the end of the scene



Spend a Hero Point and take 4 lashes to create a permanent strand. You can choose the suit of the strand. 



You cut the cords of fate, destroying the relationship between two people


Take one lash to cut a strand. The strand will recover at the end of the scene


Spend a Hero Point and take 4 lashes to permanently destroy a strand.


Please tell me what you think!

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Antti Kautiainen
Antti Kautiainen's picture

This looks really nice. Thank you for suggesting it.

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

So one thing to bear in mind, as clarifyed by Mike Curry over on the 7thSea reddit is that using any form of Sorte weave with the exception of Read requires the Strega to spend a Hero Point.  That the major weaves in the corebook have the redundant "spend a Hero point" text in them is a leftover from earlier drafts where there was a difference.

As for the weaves you've posted, Tug looks okay, though some concern might come up with just the sheer versatility of the major weave in providing pretty much whatever 2pt Advantage would be handy for the moment.  I might suggest narrowing the list to some very specific ones that fit within the themes of the suits from 1e instead of "pick whatever you want" that it currently offers.  That or specify that the base cost of the Advanage has to be 2 points, to cut out instances of trying to weasel getting 3pt Advantages (not the intent) simply because the target's Nation offers a discount.

For the other two, frankly those seem more like things covered in role-playing and the PC (or Villain) using Sorte as the narrative effect of whatever Skill they've chosen for the current Risk than something that needs mechanics, especially with how general the listed effects are.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Star West
Star West's picture

Based on Daughter of Fate, Blue no longer seems to represent "Passion" or "Love" since John explicitly talks about lovers in relation to a "wine red" strand. You could just say "fiction" and ignore that, but I'm actually going with a slightly different angle with the Sorte rules I've been working on:

Coins (Gold)
The strega sees strands that represent relationships based on temporal concerns, such as money, business, and commerce as bright golden strands, often seeming to drip droplets of gold. The stronger and more important the relationship is, the brighter the strand shines. These strands are represented by the suit of Coins.

Swords (Red)
The most volatile and varied of the strands, red strands connect relationships based on strong and explosive emotions, such as love, anger, hate, and jealousy. These strands range in numerous shades from the deep wine red strand between two lovers or the shimmering ruby strands between parents and their children to the explosive fiery red between two rivals. These strands are represented by the suit of Swords.

Wands (Green)
Strands of shimmering emerald green link relationships based on authority, respect, and the passing of knowledge. The relationship can be formal, such as a master and their servant or a teacher and their student, or informal, such as a parents to their children or old rivals who have since declared a truce and now view each other as equals. These strands are represented by the suit of Wands.

Cups (Blue)
The bright sapphire blues strands represented by the suit of Cups are often the rarest and most difficult to understand. Relationships marked by the suit of cups represent close friendships where at least one of the two parties feel as though they can speak openly and seek guidance from the other for spiritual or personal matters. These are relationships between two people linked by the soul. They are usually the oldest and most stable relationships in a person’s life and usually have a high degree of trust.

The Suit of Skulls (Black)
Strega have a very carefully guarded secret, one they reveal only to those who have proven themselves worth: there is a fifth sorte suit - the suit of Skulls.

Unlike normal strands, black strands never have knots and the strega never sees them forming, twisting, fraying, or snapped. Black strands appear as a single spider-web thin strand of thread, and the strega never knows who will be the death of the other.

Strands of Many Colors
Relationships are usually more complex than can be described by any single suit or color. A soldier may feel deep loyalty to her lieutenant, but may also feel that her livelihood is tied to her ability to stay in her lieutenant’s good graces, and she may feel frustrated or angry with her lieutenant when their unit fails in battle. Strega see relationships that span multiple sorte suits as a twisted multicolored strand, constantly shifting and changing as the nature within the relationship changes. When looking at the strand between a soldier and her general, the strega might usually see a brilliant shimmering strand of emerald flecked with flashes of gold, but after a traumatic loss, she may see the emerald beginning to fray with a hot fiery red winding itself around and slowly engulfing and swallowing the other colors beneath it

Star West
Star West's picture

Overall, these seem to mostly be a conversion of the Sorte abilities from 1e. I'm not certain how I feel about them, but that's mainly because I've always felt that Sorte in practice never held up to the fiction of 1e either. I want a sorcery that literally lets the strega alter fate (and I'm working on rules for that,) rather than "playing with emotions."

Personally, I think this could be consolidated into two weaves: Strengthen/Create and Weaken/Destroy.

Part of this is because I don't like the idea of having a situation where the created thread fades at the end of the scene. Part of me also wants to make the strega specify when she take the weave which suit she's taking it for.

You may spend a Hero Point and take a Lash to reinforce a strand connected to your target. That strand becomes your target's (and the character it's connected to) most important strand. This effect lasts at least to the end of the scene, but as all strega know, fiddling with fate often has far reaching consequences, and her meddling may last far longer than she intended.

You may spend a Hero Point and take a Lash to create a strand between your target and another character including yourself. When creating a strand, the strega must select the suit (coins, cups, wands, or swords.) If a strand already exists between the two characters, the strega may choose to add another suit to the existing strand. The new strand lasts at least to the end of the Scene, but may last far longer than you intended.

The strega may NEVER create a strand of the skull (black) suit.

You may spend a Hero Point and take a Lash to weaken one of the strongest strands connected to your target. The strand becomes the weakest of your target's most important strands.This effect lasts at least to the end of the scene, but may last far longer than she intended.

You may spend a Hero Point and take a Lash to sever a strand between your target and another character, including yourself. The strand CANNOT be repaired. You can be assured that the severing of the relationship will occur, but you have no control of how that goes about.

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Stitch and Fray here have the same issue as Create and Destroy did for Peasant, in that mechanically they don't really do anything that can't already be addressed with making Risks using various Skills and employing the narrative to say that the Fate Witch is using her powers to acheive the desired effects of strengthening or weakening the strands around her.

If you're going to force a PC to spend Personal Stories to gain these "powers" on top of Hero Points and Lashes to use them, then they need to have a far more codified effect.

One possible method might be to emulate the Blessing and Curses weaves, with Stitch providing a bonus raise for the next Risk (minor) or entire scene (major) to Risks that fall within a certain purview depending on the type of strand affected, and Fray doing the opposite, removing one raise for the next Risk (minor) or entire scene (major)

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Star West
Star West's picture

I disagree. Sorte isn't about giving +1/-1 bonuses. It's ALL about altering the narrative and interactions. Distilling that down to "You get an extra die..." or "you get an extra Raise."

Why would you get an extra Raise because someone manipulated a strand? It's not a straightforward thing where a stronger thread means good things for you while a weaker thread means bad things for you. It's much more complicated and nuanced than that. I could see something that leverages a character's "focus" for the Scene where you essentially apply Pressure in some way based on how strong/the existance of a strand.

When you get down to it, Sorte is all about narrative. That's the point: how does this change the Story. Personally, I don't think strengthening/weakening/creating/destroying strands is even really the way to go; that's why the approach I've taken for my stories is to involve stories.

If I were to keep the strengthening/creating of a strand, I'd have them "attach" to a Story in some way,, and so the manipulation would reflect mechanically in some sort of impact on the Story steps.



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

I think this is a lovely approach, and something 7th Sea seems poised to handle well, but I think there is still room for a more immediate extra die/extra raise effect.  Call it the difference between a major and a minor effect.  The reason is that NPCs, even Villains, do not have stories.  Villains have schemes, but those are different.  So if Sorte affects Stories, how do you reflect that when a player tries to lay the wammie down on an NPC or a Villain?  If ALL of your Sorte powers were tied to Stories, they'd be largely ineffective in play.  They might as well just be window dressing.  Villains could use them on Heroes, but not really the other way around.

That said – and having seen the great stuff Kevin's working on (which I'll say no more about so as not to spoil any surprises) – I think the story angle does tie into one of the unique mechanics of 7th Sea and I think its well worth figuring out how to do it.  There seem to be a couple of obvious routes:

  • Add story step(s) to an existing story.
  • Add an additional story (ala Foul Weather Jack)
  • End a story prematurely with no (or reduced) award.
  • Predetermined outcome of a story step ("I'm about to tell your future, and you aren't going to like it.")

But just as easily, you could also potentially reduce Favor, add (or change) Reuptation, or switch Bakcground Quirks.  You could even go so far as give a character an Advantage (or take one away) for one scene.  I wouldn't let Sorte change a Hero's Arcana, but could you add an additional Virtue or Hubris?  Absolutely!  And each of these could easily work with Villains.

Against Villains, Sorte could reduce (temporarily or permanently) Influence and maybe add "steps" to a scheme by investing a point or 2 more Influence.  

So there you go: a bunch of cool effects you could add to Sorte effects, and none of them involve a bonus die or a bonus raise.  Durations could be tied to Scenes or Sessions (or Stories, depending on how many lashes you want to deal with).

Star West
Star West's picture

As an aside, I've been working on a bunch of new sorte rules as well that focus on letting the strega make declarations about specific things that will happen in the future between two people and re-write Stories using the Sorte Deck: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1v5OjQSJS0MfoU7reywzaWbaEgKwGeBOhim7n_UeL9h4/edit?usp=sharing

I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of it (it's still very much in the draft stages.)

Peasant's picture

Thanks for all of the feedback:

@ donovan: you are right on the point about Tug being way too flexible, I think it's best to restrict each strand to one or two abilities, perhaps one for regular and one for reversed. You are also about Create and Destroy being essentialy things to be covered in general roleplay The intention of having the weaves was that it communicates to a player that this sort of thing is possible, and it sets out the cost of attempting it beforehand

@Kevin Krupp You've done is a better job than me. I would be very happy to help. with feedback etc. It's good that you've brought the Daughter of Fate strands into 2e.They're a lot more evocative, frankly. 

What might be a good idea is to treat the strand like a Virtue or Hubris, with mechanical effects. a Hero can activate their own strand by paying a Hero Point, but the fate Witch could use a Tessere to activate it as well. 

The Fate Witch could also do things like bring a different strand to the fore etc. 

For example

Swords (red:) Pay a hero point. that character pays attention only to you until the end of the Scene

That's not necessarily that exciting, but I'm sure it can be worked on


Star West
Star West's picture

I apologize if I took the wind out of your sails there -- really didn't mean to do that (I've noticed I've been a lot terser in my writing lately, sorry about that.)

As for a mechanical advantage/ bonus, I'm not entirely sold on it being necessary (like Donovon is insisting above). A lot of the other sorceries are purely narrative, flavor, and purposely left vauge, specifically because they're about more larger narrative effects that can't really be encapuslated down to a +1/-1 type of bonus. Sorte - IMO - is all about. It's about altering the future of Stories, which is why the rules I'mworking on are essentially about setting and manipulating plot points.

I think your idea of having anyone able to "Activate" a strand is interesting, although...what does spending a HP on a strand do exactly?

If you did really want to get a direct mechanical benefit with the strand manipulation (in the form of a bonus or something like that,) you could treat it similarly to Pressure, where if the character in question wants to do something that contradicts the fact that their most important strand is now the one between them and the Courtesean dancing thorughout the room they have to spend an extra Raise for the remainder of the Scene. Or maybe they get a free raise if they act in a way that is consistent with the manipulated strand within the scene.

I don't like any of those solutions though.

As for the work I'm doing, I would LOVE any feedback you can provide, especially if you get a chance to playtest them (that's the main reason I haven't just wrapped this up and released it yet...I'm playing with some interesting mechanics and I want to make sure it works first.)

-Laith- Cross
-Laith- Cross's picture

So my big question has all ways been this : How do you have a group of women who can truly manipulate the strands of fate subjugated by men? I don't see it happening, more likely I see a matriarchal society with the bravo swords men serving the female rulers . Kinda hard to beat your wife of she can alter your fate and make all kinds of nasty things happen.

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

I think a lot of it boils down to social conditioning.  It's sadly not all that different from the "cycle of abuse" that unfortunately is a very real thing in our world.

Those identified with the potential for Sorte are largely raised to view themselves as being subserviant to the men of the family, on top of not being taught such things important to critical thinking such as how to read or perform complex mathematics (not even sure Strega are taught much more than the most rudimentary of basic math).  There's also the sense of instilled loyalty to the family that again starts from a very young age, on top of the very heavy social pressure to conform to the mold of the subserviant fate witch because "that's how it's always been done."  From a young age, these women are conditioned to believe that they require a man, be it their father when unwed or their husbands when married off, in order to survive.  Again, social conditioning starting from a young age goes a very long way, as has been shown with a great many cults throughout our own history.

Another element that can't be overlooked is the propensity of the Vodacce mindset that trust is something to be very cautiously indulged in; it's the rare Vodacce that has a wide circle of trusted friends and confidants, and with Vodacce society as a whole pretty much embracing Machiavellian politics as the way to do things, that engenders a "don't trust anyone!" mindset that can further isolate fate witches from what might otherwise be a very powerful support network in their fellow strega.  That's probably why the Merchant Princes are so nervous about the Sophia's Daughters, is because that secret society is not only spiriting away valuable strega, but it's also providing a support network that women can turn to and rely upon, which very deeply undercuts the "don't trust anyone" mindset.

It's the rare fate witch that is able to break out of that mindset after years of conditioning, with such individuals typically winding up as player-characters.  The Daughter of Fate novel does a pretty decent job of showing the transition of the main character from being the typical dutiful daughter of a noble family to the independent spirit she becomes as the story progresses, with a lot of that growth being spurred by supporting cast members that encourage her to break out of the mold to which she'd been encased all her life.

Also, for the most part, manipulating fate strands tends to lean more towards the subtle, with young strega being repeatedly warned to NOT make any grand manipulations, with a bevy of cautionary tales (some true, some false, some a bit of both) about ambitious fate witches that grasped for too much and paid dearly for it.  Strega are generally taught that being subtle is the best approach, to make minor tweaks to the strands rather than gross manipulations; after all, a subtle change is easier to be overlooked than a blatant one.  Plus, you've got countless other strega who may be manipulating the strands to acheive purposes at odds with what a particular strega wants to accomplish; sure a fate witch could manipulate the strands to ensure her husband's business ventures are always finacially lucrative, but there could be several other strega whose own husbands are competitors and are trying to manipulate the strands to either make their husbands successful or to cause the first strega's husband to suffer fiscal ruin.  As the adage goes, too many cooks in the kitchen ruins the cake, and there are a lot of fate witches that are manipulating the strands in Vodacce; if they start getting too bold, that could lead to a massive gambit pile up that could result in terrifying repercussions for the entire nation.  What if the backlash causes every single strega in the nation to suddenly drop dead, just because one fate witch got just a little too ambitious?

This might be from 1e, but I think there's also a tendency for fate strands to resist being changed, and to seek to go back to their natural state.  So while it might be possible for a lone strega to make a significant change, it becomes a question of how long that change lasts, and how much are the strands going to resist being manipulated?  Push too hard and you might trigger a backlash that literally rips you to shreds.  Again, better to be cautious and make slight manipulations to the threads than try for something grand or too far reaching and suffer horribly for it.  After all, there are bold Vodacce and old Vodacce, but there's very few bold, old Vodacce.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

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