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NeoTanuki
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Thinking of the new Vesten as Meiji-era Japan?
Vesten

So I had a weird thought while I was reading the "Nations of Theah Vol. 1" preview the other day: 2nd edition Vesten reminds me strangely of Meiji-era Japan. You've got an ancient warrior nation that has modernized and adopted customs of other nations suddenly and at a very rapid rate, and is a mish-mash of ancient cultural practices and modern ones.

(Just FYI: If you're not familiar with the Meiji era in Japan, some fictional examples include the film, "The Last Samurai" and the anime and manga series "Ruroni Kenshin.")

I've been having a hard time wrapping my head around the changes to Vesten/Vendel in 2e, because I though the conflicts set up in 1e between traditionalists and modernists were really intriguing. But I find if I think of it as having similar cultural themes of change/assimilation/new vs. old to Meiji Japan, it's easier for me to picture the new version of Vesten and how I might run game sessions set there.

I know it's a weird comparison, but it's the best way I've found to get a grasp on the changes. How about all of you?

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BluSponge
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It's not a weird comparison.  I liken the place to modern-day Turkey.

Western Turkey is very cosmopolitan and European.  Eastern Turkey is more rugged, conservative, and traditionalist.

This seems to be a fitting analogue to modern Vesten.  You have coastal areas and major ports controlled by the League that have become quite advanced and cosmopolitain since the League rose to power.  But the further north and inland you go, the farther back in time things go, the more traditionalist the people are.

Nathan Henderson
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The modernist vs traditionalist conflict you're looking for is more central to what's going on in Ussura (as is appropriate to 17th Century Russia).  

Vesten are working together better than that, outside of extreme outliers like the Raiders.

NeoTanuki
NeoTanuki's picture

That's one of the changes I'm not so enthused about. I liked the "modernist vs. traditionalist" conflict in 1e Vesten quite a bit. I feel like 2e has gone a little too far in the opposite direction for Vesten/Vendel, if you know what I mean. 

Nathan Henderson
Nathan Henderson's picture

Not really.  Doing it again would either mean not doing that conflict with Ussura or being redundant with Ussura - and Russia is the country that actually had forced modernization vs traditionalism as a central political conflict in the 17th century.

Considering the  Vikings WERE primarily tradesmen, only turning to raiding in desperate lean times, the Vendel/Vesten divide never really rang true for me.

 

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Given all the re-watching I've been doing of Rurouni Kenshin (the live action movies are actually pretty good, especially the first one), the comparison to 2e Vesten and Meiji-era Japan never struck me until now.  Good call on that.

And I have to say, it's a pretty apt comparison now that I really think about it.  I too liked the "tradition" vs. "forced modernization" element that 1e had going, but I think viewing it as modernization having by and large won (constrast Ussura were the fight's still going and tradition still has a decent chance) and the Vesten traditionalists pretty much being relegated to the outskirts of society (not unlike Meiji-era samurai) might have worked better for the Vesten instead of the mish-mash they currently have.

Though to be honest, even with 1e the Vesten/Vendel nation never really drew my attention, and odds if anything Vesten does show up in any adventures I run, it'll be focused more on the "modernized" Vesten side of the Guilder.

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

Cthulhu Netobvious
Cthulhu Netobvious's picture
Nicely done, guys. This discussion suddenly excites a hunger for "7th Sea: The East" Kickstarter that will enable us to partake in the Japanese era upheaval of the Samurai traditions.

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

NeoTanuki
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I've been reading more about Vesten in the "Nations" preview since I started this thread. It's interesting, because to me, the theme of Vesten is much less "Vikings vs. Modernists" as it was in 1st edition. Instead, the theme seems to be more "What values shall we embrace, and where are we going?" Is Vesten a nation that will embrace the idea that it is a nation of opportunity, where hard work and inventiveness can pay off for anyone? Or will it become laissez-faire capitalism at its darkest, with businesses ruthlessly opressing workers (and slaves! I really was shocked to see that Vesten is secretly condoning slavery in 2e) for profit? 

It seems to me that the 2e team wants to move Vesten in 2e more towards filling the niche the Dutch played in real-world history, as opposed to 1e where they seemed more focused on the Viking culture. To be honest, I wonder if they should have just dropped the Viking angle altogether, but I can understand why they didn't...a LOT of players seem to like playing old-school ancient Vikings/Vesten in 7th Sea, and the designers would have had to come up with new fighting schools from scratch if they'd dropped all the Viking stuff. 

Overall, though I find 2e Vesten to be very weird, I think I can work with it my campaigns. I do have to say, as a fan of the "Kings Blades" novels by Dave Duncan, I love the idea and description of the Dueling Houses and want to use them in some way in my games.  

P.S. I remember in 1e, the core books implied Val Mokk was going to be an evil ruthless robber-baron type of villain, but the Vesten sourcebook flipped that around and said, "Nah, he's a good guy! That's just his bad reputation." By contrast, the "Nations" preview for 2e seems pretty clear that he's a villain...and a lot more unpleasant in looks and personality than his 1e illustrations suggest, according to the 2e description. 

Donovan Morningfire
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Yeah, I'm not crazy about how in 2e most of the Vendal League chairs got flipped into being Villains, or at least being a lot more self-serving, with Val Mokk being the top of that list.  As you said, it was a cool twist that he was actually a Hero but had a sinister (and largely undeserved) reputation, where the person that worked on the Vesten chapter in NoT#1 simply went for a caricature of the "corrupt villainous business man" archetype.

While I've little to no intent of using Vesten in any great capacity in any adventures I might run (none of my usual players are that interested in Vikings anyway), for the times when it does come up I may just deep-six the bulk of the 2e setting material and just have the occastional Vendel merchant or Vesten raiding party show up, if even that much.
 

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

NeoTanuki
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I hope we get more leaders who are actually Heroic or at least capable in Nations Vol. 2. Elaine comes across as passive and incompetent, Leon and his wife are bad (though Leon was bad in 1e too), Sandoval is cool but under the control of Verdugo, who remains mostly the same villain as his 1e incarnation, and the League seem more along the lines of the ATC leadership, with mostly puppet Jarls under their control.

It would have been nice to include more Jarls and Guild Masters who oppose the League's more unsavory practices, like slavery. Or Avalon nobles who actually care about the people over the Sidhe. Or Montaigne nobles who are shown to be decent people instead of decadent opressors. Etc...(sigh)

For Vol. 2, one wants the Vodacce princes to be mostly villainous of course (because that's how Vodacce rolls!). But I hope we at least get a few decent Eisenfursten for Eisen (It bugged me that Trague is mentioned in "Pirate Nations" as a supporter of the ATC), and some more heroic nobles for Sarmatia and Ussura. The constant repitition of the "corrupt leader" trope in Vol. 1 felt overused. 

Don't get me wrong...I'm hoping to get some write-ups of villainous noble houses for Sarmatia who oppose the King's reforms (because I REALLY want to do a Sarmatia-based campaign with pro- and anti-Golden Liberty factions)...but darn it, Heroes needs allies and patrons as well as opponents!

 

 

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