Two Idle 7th Sea Thoughts


If you hate social combat, then keep moving.

7218_ridicule-01If you like social combat, then there is no reason it could not be trivially mapped to 7th Sea, where wounds are also “shame” and there is a shame spiral. Social “attacks” can inflict shame (and may even have duelist style maneuvers) and the equivalent of a serious wound is an “Embarrassment”.

Probably easiest to make the shame spiral a separate track from the death spiral, but I’d probably be inclined to mix them. 🙂

Action Heroes

This is less of a hack fro 7th Sea and more of a hack for people wanting to use 7th Sea elsewhere.

There is a particular category of films and fiction, largely within the action genre, where a character is ultra-badass at something, and merely badass at everything else (excepting possible things they may be actively bad at for dramatic or comedic reasons). 7th’s seas Raise pool can model this pretty simply with a tweak to the rules for changing skills. It works kind of like this:

  1. Generate your pool based on your ultra-badassness, whatever that is.
  2. So long as you act within your ultra badassness, all is as normal.
  3. If you take an action outside of your ultra-badassness, pay a tax of one raise. This is a one time charge. All subsequent merely badass actions are now accounted for,
  4. Optional Rule: If you take an action you stink at, pay a tax of 3 (or an additional 2, if you already paid the 1 for being merely badass).

What this does is map turn the usual problem of raise use drifting from the source roll into a feature when playing with heroes (superspies and action heroes) who are good at (almost) everything.

As an option, you can make the badass tax 2 raises, which reinforces niche protection, but also makes everyone a little less badass. Better to make the niches cooler through means like the duelists styles.

If you do chargen for this, then it is a simple as:

Badass: Driver!
Useless: Stealth!

and voila, you’re done.

As a general rule, I would say that fighting is never allowed to be the ultra-badass thing. First, because too many people would take it. Second, because if the genre is all about super badass fighting – like martial arts – then everyone has it (and if you must, assume that everyone’s ultra-badass is “thing + fighting”. Third, because it’s kind of dull.

5 thoughts on “Two Idle 7th Sea Thoughts

  1. LibrariaNPC

    Honestly, I was talking with some fellow GMs about a Social Combat situations, and we were feeling that the current social mechanic is a bit lacking, especially with the Influence mechanic in place.

    For example, my one player went to a ball and was hurling insults with the (now) Villain to see who would back down first. Granted, it was a distraction and a show of force, but it didn’t feel like it had the TEETH that we’d expect from Social Combat (especially in Fate or similar games).

    Here’s my line of thought: as we do not have a social combat school (yet; might be fun to write one up), having 5 wounds (Social Standing? Social Graces? Cool?) wouldn’t be a bad place to start (thinking no more than 10; perhaps up to Influence/Villainy for NPCs?). Players may use Raises as though it were a Dramatic Scene, and once the raises from all parties are gone, announce new intentions and go again, like an Action Scene.

    All social combat needs to have a goal, whether it’s to get a target to snap and issue a challenge, leave, or simply bequeath an artifact to the party.

    It’s a little rough right now (i.e. untested), but it’s something I feel lacking for a game like 7th Sea. The current mechanic of just making social interactions happen with a single Raise doesn’t seem to raise the stakes high enough for me. Prime example: the discovery of the assassin, chess game, and outburst from Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows.

    I’d like to know what you think of it to see if we can flesh something out!

    1. LibrariaNPC

      Hard to tell if you mean we’re on the same page, or if you have notes elsewhere ^^;

      If the latter, do you have links to share?

      If the former, then apparently we’re on the same wavelength.

      I did consider the idea of different skills being associated with different maneuvers (and therefore offer different damage scales), but with the skills being so vague and the ability to perform many options with different approaches (belittling could technically fall into Empathy, Intimidation, or even Convince), I felt it falls apart.

      1. Rob Donoghue Post author

        Very much the former. I have some notes on how do court, and the prospect of a social equivalent of Swordsman schools is something I’m definitely knocking around.

        1. LibrariaNPC

          Court is a whole different kettle of fish that I wouldn’t want to get into, solely because everyone is going to have their own versions of it (every GM I played 7th Sea 1st Edition with used different rules for Courtly Intrigue, often modified from the Montaigne rulebook).

          The concept of a social combat school (or three) would be interesting, but that may warrant the need to increase the Social Spiral to more than a small number, and it may be a bit unfair to players who have a sharp tongue by lack the points to buy the school.

          Perhaps, in lieu of schools, it could be approached as specific maneuvers that grant bonuses (an extra point of damage, reducing defence, etc) or a specific effect/points of damage, but no so drastic as to have the “Equal to damage”? This way, everyone can access them and not feel like they dumped points into something that never gets used (like the Archaeologist that is always stuck at court).

          For example, a “Witty Retort” might reduce damage by one and deal an additional wound, while a “Scathing Tirade” might deal three wounds.

          Another idea to spin off of this: make the manuevers have a bonus based on the Approach.

          Were you using Notice? Gain a bonus to the effect of a “Denial” maneuver. Going for Tempt? Gain a bonus when attempting to “Lure” a target.

          Just throwing ideas, because I think this has some major potential for this game, especially since witty banter is just as important and swordsmanship.

          The only concern I might have: what sort of role will said banter play in a combat scenario, should a player ask? Would social graces be completely omitted (i.e. only one Spiral at a time, and combat is the Death Spiral)?


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