Dec 16, 2019
It’s been really enjoyable stepping back on to the deck of the One-Sided Die with our Return to 7th Sea. Now that we’ve had a chance to use the full rulebook and some features that we didn’t see in our first season, we have a new potluck discussion to dive in to!
We all noticed a sizeable difference between the full rulebook vs the free rulebook. We still praise the free rules for having all the necessities to play the game, which is a huge benefit to the system and its accessibility. We also loved the full book for the variety of specializations and options it provides, but do find it humorous how in-depth it can be in the lore section. This is great for worldbuilders but can be a little much if you’re just trying to do a quick one-shot. The most helpful part of the full rulebook is that it provides an in-depth run-through of an action sequence in its pages, the full length of which couldn’t be in the free rules. Megan mentioned she found that very helpful when running the sequences and determining what sort of things her character can do. The art of the book is astounding and showcases a variety of racial diversity and sexualities which we praise above other RPGs. Ultimately we think the full rule book is worth the price for the options it provides.
Sorcery was interesting to insert and while we praised that each nation has their own method of sorcery with each system being different, for our one shot Megan found that the Eisen Hexenwerk was a little too slow and required too much time and components to showcase effectively. She still loves the concept and execution though. Hexenwerk is HexenWORK, but somebody’s got to do it!
For the most part we didn’t like ship combat but Sally liked that it was similar to action sequences. The correlation makes it easy to grasp even if certain elements are different from land combat. Megan felt constricted (as one likely would if fighting on a ship in the middle of the ocean) and Noa thought that the concept of swashbuckling and individual actions don’t translate well when focusing on the whole ship. As a caveat, there’s never been a ship combat system we here on Tabletop Potluck felt has been really enjoyable, so perhaps this element in games just isn’t for us. Marquez mentioned how stakes are hard to fully grasp when your focus is abstracted to a ship’s hull and health rather than the personal stakes relating to a character you play and put a lot of care into portraying. Charlotte had a tough time visualizing the danger the ship was in. While Ray liked action sequences better this time around, ship combat really rubbed them the wrong way. Marquez admitted that the stakes he provided weren’t the most exciting stakes, but we can’t blame the players’ decision to run rather than stay and fight. If you’re playing a crew who is more than willing to board another ship and bring the fight to them, then you’ll likely enjoy ship combat much more than if you’re just using cannons.
Megan thought that firearms requiring 5 raises to reload is a little ridiculous and most of the table agreed. We understand that the game doesn’t want firearms to be overpowered but 5 seems too much. Marquez mentioned how it feels like they wanted to translate a firearm to the system instead of developing the system to use firearms and it’s hard to do that while also making a very deadly weapon seem effective. The table agreed however that, much like ship combat, firearms are hard to translate into a game because of how frightening and deadly they are in real life. Sally put forth the idea that maybe guns could scale up with your character. This would be a great thing for an expansion to cover, or some homebrew to modify!
We also mentioned how advancement is a little iffy in this game as it requires you to complete a story to gain an advancement. Noa brought up that she likes the idea that you don’t need to kill people to advance like most EXP based RPGs, but ultimately we came to the conclusion that when you try to tell a story in a podcast for this system, the method of advancement doesn’t mesh well with a singular narrative. If you are playing at home and have time to focus on story beats for each character, it’s a compelling growth system. Noa brought up playing the game with one player and one GM because focusing the story would be very cool and allows the game to do what it does (swashbuckling heroes) in the best way.
The game also works best when the characters are tightly knit from the start. We found with our crew that forcing together people who don’t trust each other from the start can hinder character advancement from a mechanical standpoint (even if it makes for some juicy roleplay).
Moving on to enemies. The crew agrees that monsters felt real and legitimate. The fact that you can give a monster any number of Monstrous Qualities makes them powerful, if a little frustrating. Giving the players an insurmountable encounter can be fun especially if you make it clear that they will have to find another way to either escape or convince it to leave rather than facing it head-on.
To wrap up, compared to when we played two years ago, we felt that not much has changed in returning to the system. We liked it the same amount for the most part, but we’ve had a lot more experience with a variety of systems in these two years and it’s us who have changed. Ray mentioned having a tough time separating her warm feelings for the characters with the system. Charlotte mentioned that even though the 2nd edition is divisive amongst the 7th Sea community, she stands on the side of enjoying it. Noa praised the game doing swashbuckling very well and Megan loves she was able to make a non-combat-oriented character without difficulty. Marquez would rather be a player than a GM in the future, but still loves the game as a player character. We would all like to play 7th Sea in the future, but maybe not in a narrative podcast form and with a smaller group instead.
To grab a copy for yourself, head on over to https://www.chaosium.com/7th-sea/!
And with that, we want to thank you so much for listening to our podcast and reading this blog! We will be back in 2020 with Season 3 of Tabletop Potluck!