As mentioned before, I’m an avid player of pen-and-paper roleplaying games. I’ve been playing for 35 years, and have at least tried well over a hundred different games at this point.
Because I’m a natural storyteller, I’ve always been interested in games that really work to emulate the feel of the fiction that I read or watch. Games that focus on the minutia of exact distances, specific pieces of gear, or perfect physics don’t tend to interest me that much.
Which leads me to the new edition of the 7th Sea roleplaying game. You may have already heard about the Kickstarter that launched this game, being that it is the most successful Kickstarter for a roleplaying game project ever.
(As an aside, those who claim that RPGs are dead need to take a look at this Kickstarter. More than eleven thousand people raised more than $1.3 million dollars for a single RPG. Yeah, sounds dead to me.)
I’ve had the digital version of the core rules for some time now, and I’ve read it from end-to-end, and then reread parts that I wanted to understand/absorb better. I haven’t had a chance to actually run the game yet—but I’m hoping that this will happen fairly soon.
But my initial reaction is that this is a game written by people who know and understand the source material, and the rules support providing such an experience for the players.
Let’s be honest, the swashbuckling genre isn’t constrained by physics. Someone jumping from a balcony to grab a chandelier and swing across a room to a window ledge doesn’t want to deal with exact distances. If you’re playing such a game, do you really want to have to make a Jump check, figure out if you managed to jump the correct distance to grab the chandelier, then make another jump check at the other end of the swing to reach the window ledge, and then perhaps make a balance check to spin around and drop a witty one-liner before your exit?
Well, maybe you do. If so, there are plenty of games that will give you that experience. This one definitely won’t.
Characters in 7th Sea are competent from the beginning. The rolls don’t determine pass/fail. Rather, the rolls determine how much you can accomplish in a particular amount of time. Sometimes you’ll be under threat of attack, trying to escape, and also want to grab the papers detailing the secret alliance between two nefarious villains. And you’ll only roll well enough to accomplish two of those three goals.
Which two do you choose to accomplish? Do you escape with the papers but take an injury on your way out? Do you escape unharmed but leave the papers behind? Or do you grab the papers and avoid the wounds, but find yourself surrounded and captured?
This is the kind of thing that happens regularly in stories of that genre, and the new game captures it beautifully.
Now, the game isn’t perfect by any means. There are little things here and there that I might have done differently. But that’s fine—there is no perfect game. And John Wick himself encourages that approach in the actual book.
I’m hoping to get a chance to run this over the next couple of months and see how it plays in real life. But so far, I’m pretty happy with the game I bought.
If you’re interested, there are many reviews that go into a lot more detail than I’m including here. And the PDF of the core rules is only $25 at Drivethrurpg.
Once I get a game in, I’ll write up my thoughts (and perhaps a bit of an Actual Play) and post it here.
What about you? What do you think of the new 7th Sea game? Let me know in the comments.