Welcome back to another ravishing tale of mystery, love, and betrayal. Myself, Fat Adam, will be reviewing an RPG that is making waves in the nerd world, with the huge splash of success since funding their last Kickstarter. I am speaking, of course, of the world of piracy and turmoil, 7th Sea.
Have you ever wondered what life would be like for a pirate? Surviving the elements while hunting for treasure, love, or maybe just adventure? Plundering booty like Charlie Sheen at an after party? Well, wonder no more. This will be our second RPG being covered in our Trip Through The Pages series, where we take on some of the biggest, and best, RPG’s currently being enjoyed by players worldwide.
7th Sea is responsible (at the time of this writing) for the largest single Kickstarter campaign for a pen and paper RPG EVER! They raised an astounding 1.3 million dollars with an amazing 11,483 backers deciding this was the campaign for them. Keeping in mind, this is the Second Edition of the game, so it was out well before this, but in our Second Edition, they added so much more to the content, with promises of several more expansions to add to their world coming in the near(ish) future.
7th Sea was originally released back in 1999, so it has definitely gained the credibility of being a stable company, and in that time they maintained competing with the big dogs in their fields, without doing what many of them had done, which is release many other editions of the same books, causing players to spend a small fortune to keep up to date.
That being said, they knew the time had come to replenish and renew the interest, giving them the chance to not only release a new edition, but also add to the history of the game. They did not retcon their old information from First Edition, they actually added to it, making the history evolve with the game. New areas being formed, old areas being destroyed, and alliances being forged in the heat of a large scale war on magic.
The world of Theah is ever evolving, much like the real world we live in. There are many “races” of people who mirror the real historical world, using religion and war to mirror closely to the Spanish Inquisition (which no one ever expects). The Theah religion is a prophet based religion, with each prophet going on to create his own place in the world after being blessed by Theus with powers beyond their wildest dreams. In most RPG’s, this would be the basic magic principle of creating spellcasters, but in this world your magic ability is based on your birth. The race you are born into will give you your powers, you are retaining the power in your blood and the strength from your ancestors.
Races of men reflect the real life Spaniards, Germans, French, Vikings, and many more, all European countries at this point, with the actual map giving a very European feel to it. The future, however, holds a brand new story. They have already announced doing the Western World (North America) and the Far East (Asia) at this point, which will add new races, and one would assume, new magics.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT FROM OTHER GAMES
7th Sea does what most RPG’s can not, it allows the DM to manipulate situations in such a way that he would have the ability to completely change the outcome. Also, and in my opinion more importantly, is that this game is more focused on the actual role-playing involved. The story will only be as strong as the creativity of the team behind it. We build the world by the actions we take, but also by the rolls we get.
The rolling system, in my personal opinion, is one of the keys that I love about this game. It is strictly a D10 based system (meaning you only roll Ten Sided die when playing) and you try to make as many pairs of ten as you can. Each ten you get is a point you can spend on the scene.
IE. You are running from a burning room, and in that room the ceiling is starting to cave. You roll three scene points by adding three sets of die to ten. You use one point to run across the room, and use the other two points to avoid the falling debris, so you do not take the two points of damage.
NOW the Dungeon Master decides to throw in a twist which MAY or MAY NOT actually be beneficial to the party. There is a letter on the table, you notice it has a royal seal. You can grab the letter by using one of your scene points as you fun through, but then you would be taking one of the points of damage for getting it. This could be a clue, could be something additional to the game, or it could very well be a trojan horse to divert your attention. Either way the Dungeon Master has just added flavour, has added a new line of thought to the character, and has given you a much tougher choice in the story. There is a lot of this type of gameplay which makes the game a huge hit among groups with plenty of imagination and bravado.
Finally, by adding the ability to actually plan a battle, you can do so many things it is crazy! I have an example of when I played with Phatter Phil on free RPG day. So the way combat works for basic cronies (Not for Villains) is you group the actual amount of them into a difficulty. Since we fought eight thugs, they have eight hit points BUT also eight strength, so if you attack them and miss, you could be in for a world of pain! I was playing a shape shifting character, and became my wolf form. I got extra dice to roll for becoming my wolf and for doing a wolf like action, so I rolled. I managed to get five points to use for that battle scene, so I did the following. I lunged at one person, killing him. I leapt backwards off of him, swiping two other cronies while in the air in their throats, and landed on a fourth guy ripping out his throat as well. Killed four people by using four attacks and the fifth point for adding flavour and doing a backwards lunge in the air. Every movement you make will cost you a point, so you can have a lot of fun creating the scene to be more in depth than a usual RPG.
+ The artwork and design of the world mirroring ours in such a way that anyone who knows history will fall in love with this game is absolutely amazing. I became a fan mainly for the historical accuracy of our world, while changing just enough to leave a lot of surprises.
+ This, in my opinion, has the best role play style of any of the pen and paper RPG’s I have ever played. The additional flavour everyone can add (Player and Dungeon Master alike) is stunning, and makes the game enjoyable for almost any group.
+ The combat system is great, and I wish other games were this easy to get into. It may come off as complicated a bit at first, but in the end it is fairly easy to pick up and play.
– I am not, in anyway, a fan that the magic you can use is basically determined by your birth. I would prefer to be able to use magic as any race without that same restriction, and above that I feel it limits the options a lot for character creation.
– From First to Second Edition they made the Germanic powers essentially obsolete (As Germany is essentially gone because of the war). Having not played First Edition, I was told by several players that they had one of the most powerful magics in the game. So this was a way to nerf them, by essentially wiping them out.
+ Since the world is so open, and it is so easy to add flavour to the game, it creates a near infinite amount of dynamic you can add yourself. The choices you make can turn a one session game into a four or five session game.
+ The fact they have announced the next several expansion (all being done on Kickstarter) it shows they know the level of their company, and the ability to keep a sustainable product will end up being very important in the long run. They learned from their past mistakes.
+ Like any other pen and paper RPG, your limit on replay will only be hindered by your ability to come up with new ideas, and new scenes to play through.
– Unlike most RPG’s, there is limited ability for customization (not saying there is none, as there is still a bit), but do not go in expecting another pathfinder for instance. You would be sorely disappointed with this game if that is the head you are going in with.
– Since there is only limited releases for Second Edition so far, the world is not as amazingly developed as most other RPG’s so far. Keep in mind the replay value falls on the ability of the players and Dungeon Master to use this knowledge and try to make a more fluid and convenient world to live/play in.
+ I’ve said it a few times, but it needs to be said again. The key point for fun in this game is the creativity you can add to it. The ability to mold an entire campaign around the choices the players make, and to add REAL flavour to small tasks. The role playing in this game is where you will find amazing fun and where the game is heads above others.
+ I love the skills and actions in this game, the way they are used and combined your ability scores and your stat that the check is based on (such as weaponry) which gives you the pool of dice you will be using to make your rolls.
+ The combat system gives you a much more fluid scene to act out rather than a mixture of short little bursts of action. It allows for so much imagination among players, that (again in my own opinion) the Dungeon Master will smile knowing he created this for them.
– With the wrong group (an action only group for instance) this game will not hold up. It would come down to the lack of imagination, and the want for a role play game with very little role play.
– Depending on the rolls themselves, it can make for an extremely quick exchange in fights. We had finished off all eight guards in less than two turns. Not rounds, just two players turns and the guards were essentially wiped out. I never got to experience a Villain fight, but apparently THOSE are the meat and potatoes for the fighting scheme.
If you notice, the bad points I have for this game are few and far between and with the right group of players, you can avoid 80% of the bad I have listed. This RPG, unlike all the others that have come before it, is strictly driven by the imagination and creativity of the group. It is geared more towards those who love the story, mixed with minimal fighting. It may not be for every gamer, but I know to me it fills a niche that I have been trying for in recent years.
I will be playing this game, I will be trying to involve all of my creative friends into this game, and I advise you to try it out any time you can. I feel most of you will find it is exactly what you have been searching for. For those who are not big on story telling, go back and read my review on Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition, and you would probably find that one a better fit.
Either way, I hope to see all of you out on the battlefield, crushing enemies or swashbuckling your way to the crown. What you do with the power is up to you.
Until next time, this has been Fat Adam reviewing what I would consider one of my top three pen and paper RPG’s. If you have any questions, concerns, or feedback PLEASE Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org OR leave a message in the comments and I will be sure to address it.
I am going to continue focusing on pen and paper RPG’s for the next few reviews, because I feel people need to come back to the love that is fantasy. We all need to escape sometimes into a world that while being unforgiving, it is some of the most rewarding games you will ever have the joy of playing. Seriously, you will never regret jumping into almost any role-playing game.
ALSO I am always looking for new games, RPGs, or even comics that you would like to see reviewed (possibly before stopping into The Comic Hunter to pick them up) so let me know what you want to see from these. I am doing reviews for you people, and I want to know what the people want to see more of.