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7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/21/2017 13:36:22

The opening fiction sets the scene for the sort of epic swashbuckling action this game inspires... indeed the cover layout, looking like a film poster, suggests the cinematic exploits the party can perform. Wit, swordplay, acrobatics, poise and sheer adventurous fun is what this game is all about!

Chapter 1: Welcome to 7th Sea sets the scene. Swashbuckling, sorcery, piracy, adventure, diplomacy, intrigue, romance, revenge, archæology and exploration all have their place in this almost-17th-century-Europe where new ideas challenge accepted dogma, lost secrets are coming to light, and dramatic swordplay carries the day and often wins fair lady too (unless she's the one waving a sword around...). There's a brief explanation of what role-playing is all about, and how the party are designed to be Heroes with a capital H - they may be rogues or rascals, they may dice with the law, but they are not evil people. We'll leave that to the Villains, thank you very much. There's a very brief overview, a summary, of major powers in Théah, the world in which this game is set, then it is on to more solid material.

Chapter 2: Théah is a glittering sweep of the world, introducing the various nations, an essay for each seeking to encapsulate the national 'spirit' - even if the concept of a nation is quite a new-fangled thing, Théah's only had them for the last hundred years or so. Culture and clothing, currency and customs, art and music and religious belief are all covered. We also learn how each nation is governed and defended, and how they get on with the other countries. It's an overview, whole books can be written about each one, but it serves well to give an idea of what each nation is about. If you are familiar with the first edition of 7th Sea, much will be familiar... but read it through anyway, this is fresh and well-written (and beautifully illustrated), and there are of course changes, some subtle others more blatant, to make this a wholly-new game in a similar setting. There's also a wholly-new nation, the Sarmatian Commonwealth, which sounds a fascinating place to visit. Here you can also read about the Church in all her various forms, pirates and privateers, secret societies and even monsters...

Next, down to business with Chapter 3: Making a Hero. You've already read about the nations, here are one-page summaries explaining what Heroes that come from each are likely to be like. You don't have to stick to them, of course, but may find yourself a stranger even in your own land if you stray too far from the expected (unless you have an exceptionally good backstory, and even then that relies on people knowing it!). Then there's the nine-step process for creating your Hero. (It's billed as eight-step, but with a Step 0 that involves coming up with a concept before you start in on the game mechanics stuff!) To devise your concept there are twenty questions to answer which should help you understand who your Hero is and what makes him tick. You may not want to answer them all, you may not choose to share the answers with anyone else, you may even change them as you get to know him better: but it provides a starting point.

Once you have a handle on your Hero, you move on to getting some numbers onto that character sheet. We start with five Traits (Brawn, Finesse, Resolve, Wits and Panache), and use a point-buy system to discern strengths and weaknesses. Next, stir in the appropriate bonus for the nation that you call your own before deciding on your background - the stuff you did before you became an adventurer. These are your past, the things you were and did. They'll give you knowledge and skills, contribute to your backstory, but they are not likely what you are now, as the game begins. Note that Sorcery occurs more than once in some of the lists you can choose from under various backgrounds. It looks odd but it's there for a purpose: if you want to be a powerful sorceror you can choose it as many times as it appears. You then pick skills, again via point-buy. There are also advantages to be purchased, they help round out the character as well as providing, well, an advantage under certain defined circumstances. All straightforward so far... then comes arcana. Consider a Tarot deck, or at least the Théan equivalent, a Sorté deck. You choose (or may draw... John Wick Presents sell Sorté decks if you want one) a Virtue and a Hubris based on the twenty character cards in the deck.

Step 7: Stories is quite unusual and rather neat. This is where you work out, with the GM, the story you want to tell with your Hero. What aspect do you want to explore? What do you want him to accomplish? You can tell multiple stories, but only one at a time. For each, you need to decide on appropriate endings (there may be more than one), and decide on the first steps that you'll take to resolve the situation. From then on in, it becomes part of the ongoing plot. There are loads of ideas and sample stories here, but the best ones are probably those that you come up with for yourself. Finally, in Step 8: Details you put the finishing touches to your character. There's also an outline of a very abstract system for determining wealth (agonising over every last penny is inappropriate for a swashbuckler, after all), and a slightly flippant section on how character wounds are handled.

Character done, we move on to Chapter 4: Action and Drama to find out how everything works in the game. Task resolution uses the character's Traits and Skills to overcome a Risk - the action taken in response to a threat, or one which has a consequence for good or bad depending on the outcome. It all starts with a situation... and like all game mechanics, sounds more complex on paper than it is once you get the dice out and try it for yourself. There are plenty of examples to help you get your head around it. The complex bit is that you roll handfulls of d10s (based on the points you have in appropriate Traits and Skills for the task in hand) and then seek to get the most Raises, or 10s... but it's not just rolling a 10, if you roll a couple of 5s, you can add then to give yourself another Raise. Raises can be used to accomplish the task, ameliorate the consequences (e.g. if you'd get a wound you can cancel it out with a Raise) or take advantage of an opportunity that presents itself. There's a discussion of how rounds work, for when more than one character is involved in whatever the Risk is (a swordfight say), and all manner of additional bits and bobs... but no 'dodges' - viewed as a bit unheroic, if you want to avoid being hit take action to get out of the way and describe that rather than saying thay you are dodging! You can fail on purpose, too, getting a Hero Point and not rolling any dice at all.

All this has the potential to make what should be a thrilling action scene horrendously mechanical. Just remember that the key is in the descriptions you give of what your character is doing, and once the group is used to the game mechanics and you don't have to think about what you are rolling when it all becomes much more fluid. When engaged in a scene other than one that produces a flurry of action, you can use a Dramatic Sequence instead - similar mechanics, but played out over a longer period, such as character actions during a party, attempting to charm or impress people. Or you may prefer to role-play this, but it does give a chance to those who maybe find it hard to come up with good lines to still have their character be impressive and witty! The chapter ends with some Game Master rules for things like handling Brute Squads - those hordes of minions villains always seem to have around - and Villains themselves as well as monsters.

Next up is Chapter 5: Sorcery. Denounced by the Vaticine Church, feared or hated by many... yet beguiling to those who seek power other than that of the sword arm. Many Théans have some kind of magic in their bloodlines, and although it is lumped together as 'sorcery' each type has its own specific rules and methods of operation. Most of it is associated with particular nations, woven deep into their culture and psyche, and most is extremely powerful. Handle with care, or you'll find yourself a Villain before you know it. There is a wealth of material here, some familiar to players of 7th Sea 1e but there is a lot of new stuff: it's more elegant and organised, more diverse, balances a blessing and a curse: that awesome power comes at a price.

Swordfighting is the lifeblood of 7th Sea so it's no surprise that Chapter 6: Dueling is devoted to every aspect of sword play. This covers the Duelist's Guild, the trade body for sword-waving folk, and the myriad of Academies where they learn their art. There are many different styles of sword-fighting, and keen fighters can learn several, mixing and matching styles to fit the occasion. Each confers a specific advantage when it comes to combat.

Next up, the other staple of swashbuckling adventure with Chapter 7: Sailing. This chapter provides information on everything from the skills needed to man a ship to the organisation of a crew and the difference between a pirate and a privateer. To get into true sea-dog mood there are nautical superstitions, then details of different types of vessel and notes on the different seafaring nations. Ships have histories too, mostly for flavour but they can confer game mechanical advantages as well. Information on carrying cargo and engaging in sea battles, as well as the monsters of the deep round out this section.

Then comes Chapter 8: Secret Societies. Most other things tend to be centred around the various nations of Théah, but the secret societies spread their tentacles across the known lands, embracing individuals of all nationalities and backgrounds who agree with their cause. Joining one confers benefits and obligations upon a character, and should never be embarked upon lightly. Characters may join a society during character creation or in the course of play if the opportunity arises. It adds loads of flavour and many ready-made opportunities for adventure.

Finally, Chapter 9: Gamemaster which opens by talking about that magical moment when a player stops talking about his character and says 'me'... and continues with ideas about how to make that moment occur in the games that you run. There are standard tropes here, the golden rule of having fun (with its rider that if someone isn't having fun, find out why and sort it out), prior preparation and planning, and the GM wearing three hats (author, storyteller and referee). These are all explained and used to provide ideas about how to run games of 7th Sea to best effect (and often will work whatever game you are running, so make for a good read anyway). There are loads of ideas for themes and plots, a look at how to take that plot idea and turn it into a well-crafted adventure and much, much more. It also touches on improvisation, character death, enforcing rules and other thorny matters. There are even suggestions for how to be mean to the characters, making the players feel that there are real risks to be taken even in a game where it's quite hard to kill player-characters off. There are ideas for handling players too, rewarding the good ones and coping with uncooperative or otherwise disruptive ones. All in all, it provides an excellent textbook for being a good GM.

Overall, this is a masterful retooling of an already enjoyable game. All the good bits of the original are here, but it's been refined into an elegant coherent package. If you want to swash your buckle in a mix of Musketeers and Captain Jack Swallow style adventuring, this is the game with which to do so.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
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7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
by Yann E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/11/2017 04:40:28

Très bonne seconde édition de 7th Sea. L'article contient plusieurs PDF : deux cartes (une en couleur, une en noir et blanc), deux PDF du jeu (un en haute résolution, un en basse résolution) et une feuille de personnage.

Le jeu est lui même excellent avec un systeme qui encourage l'héroïsme et l'action.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea: Heroes & Villains
by A H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/09/2017 14:20:57

While the layout is lovely, the art is very pleasent, the system is interesting and it has good writing, my issue is, that this work is a collections of heroes I would never actually want to play, or even really follow the examples of. To me, heroes should jump off the pages, and carry you down countless plots and scene you could play out with them, but none these do so. The villians are very creative, and I don't a have problem with them. Hopefully if you get this book, you won't suffer the some issue I have with it.



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[2 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea: Heroes & Villains
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7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
by Sven K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/09/2017 09:52:35

Actually I am ashamed that I helped to finance that pice of crap. I am a big fan of 7th sea for 15 Years now and I love the World and the System. With the 2nd Edition you made everything wrong that you could, exept for one thing: the design (including the Map) is awesome. The rest ist … crap. First: resetting the World to 1668 is a slap in the face of all people who played in that World for years and all the history that happened. Let’s start with a small thing: you renamed Fauner Konrad Pösen (which is a Name that reflects strength) to Elsa … that ist he name of a Milk Cow … why? Thats stupid! You destroyed the great Vendel/Vesten conflict which was absolute intereseting to: „Well, they are all Friends“ … why did you do that? Destroying one oft he most interesting conflicts in a world is stupid. What is it with that crappy Commonwealth stuff? Why inventing a new realm? Why? And that silly history oft hat Realm. The last I want to speak about ist he System. You hat a great and unique System with the roll & keep System (okay L5R uses it too, but that is one oft he reasons why L5R ist hat good). The roll & keep System is absolutely great for a cinematic system in wich you have to dare something. Saying „i can do it better and more cinematic“ and then rase the stakes. What you made out of 7th sea here is a ordinary success-system like many other Systems (except instead of simply count successes you have to add dices to make successes), so that 7th Sea isn’t something special anymore. You may CALL the successes „raises“ but they aren’t raises, they are successes. And give a player an extra die because he discribes what the character is doing? How silly ist hat. The discribing is the most fun part of a Roleplaying game, to award that makes ist cheap. I won’t start to talk about the character building and all the other points that I don’t like (there are many!)



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7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
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7th Sea: Heroes & Villains
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/21/2017 03:58:24

http://www.teilzeithelden.de

Das erste Quellenbuch zur zweiten Edition von 7th Sea liefert 80 Charaktere zur freien Verfügung am Rollenspieltisch und nimmt es sich zum Ziel, dem Leser Theah durch die Augen dieser sowohl niederträchtigen als auch edelsinnigen Individuen zu zeigen. Dabei beschreibt es großartig, hat aber ein paar blinde Punkte im Sichtfeld.

Was der Band an Großartigem liefert, liegt in der tollen Beschreibung seiner Helden und Schurken, die allesamt interessante Subjekte sind. Durch ihren Blick gewinnt die Spielwelt Farbe. Die grauen und farblosen Stellen finden sich dagegen in den Regelzusätzen wieder.

Inhalt

Der Inhalt des Bandes ist schnell erklärt: Es bietet jeweils 40 ausgearbeitete Helden und Schurken, wobei die zusätzlichen Regeln auf drei bis vier Seiten passen: Das Quellenbuch konzentriert sich also rein auf die vorgestellten Charaktere, die es aber in schlecht durchdachtem Rahmen präsentiert.

Der hässliche Rahmen

Bevor wir zum Lob des Inhalts kommen, streift der Blick erst über die Fassung, die doch recht hässlich geraten ist. Helden sowie Schurken sind in fünf Typen unterteilt, die sich an den Traits orientieren. Das heißt, die Helden des Indomitable-Typs richten sich ebenso wie ihr dunkles Ebenbild, die Beast-Schurken, am Trait Brawn aus. Darüber hinaus soll diese Unterteilung aber auch den Charakter definieren. So sollen die Heroinnen des Indomitable-Schlages besonderes draufgängerisch und wagemutig sein, während ihre bestialischen Gegenspielerinnen ihre Ziele wütend und brachial verwirklichen. Die Typus-Beschreibungen füllen ihre zwei Seiten durch übertriebene und sich wiederholende Phrasen. Einzig die Hinweise auf typische Intrigen der Schurken sind sinnvoll.

Warum diese Abschnitte so schlecht erscheinen? Das hat drei Gründe:

Die Werte der nachfolgenden Heroen passen meist nicht in die Kategorie und erzeugen so einen Widerspruch. Zumindest auf Seiten der Helden lassen sich die Geschichten der Charaktere nicht in diesen Rahmen fassen. Die Zuordnung wirkt, wenn man die Tatsache hinzunimmt, dass selbst die Werte nicht passen, völlig willkürlich. Die Praxis der Einteilung legt wenigstens auf Heldenseite unnötige und einengende Maßstäbe fest. Schlimm ist das vor allem, weil die Heroen nicht nur als NSCs gedacht sind, sondern ausdrücklich auch gespielt werden können. Das System leistet aus diesen Gründen, zumindest auf der Protagonisten-Seite, nichts Positives. Im Feld der Bösewichte sieht das etwas anders aus. Der Werteaspekt fällt hier weg, da die Schurken bei 7th Sea abstrakte Werte erhalten. Die Geschichten wirken größtenteils passend, und die Schurken fallen eher in die zusammenhängenden Muster der übergeordneten Einteilung in die verschiedenen Typen.

Das schöne Bild

Die vorgestellten Charaktere sind dagegen gut gezeichnet. Fast jede Geschichte ist spannend geschrieben, häufig nachvollziehbar, und in sehr vielen Fällen erfrischend ungewöhnlich. Der gesamte bisher bekannte Kontinent wird abgedeckt, und jedem Winkel dieser Welt entspringen interessante Charaktere. Die große Stärke der Beschreibungen ist ihre Diversität und ihre Kreativität. Es ist schon keine schlechte Leistung, 80 Personen zu erschaffen, und sich dabei nicht nur in Klischees zu ergehen und zu wiederholen. Vom sarmantischen Husaren in Rente, der sich den Schutz seiner Stadt vor einer übernatürlichen Schurkin zur Aufgabe genommen hat, zur Bierbrauerin aus Eisen, die nahezu besessen vom perfekten Bier ist - der Band bietet viel. Ungewöhnlicher wird es beim giftmischenden Apothekarius, der durch seinen Glauben an eine omnibeseelte Welt, von sich selbst nur in der dritten Person Plural spricht.

Natürlich werden auch klischeehafte Stereotypen verwendet, dabei aber gut präsentiert, oder in ungewöhnliche Umgebungen versetzt. Es gibt ihn hier nicht, den simplen guten Retter ohne eigenen Ballast. Viele Themen unserer modernen Gesellschaft, die sonst in Tischrollenspielbücher keinen Eingang finden, wie Homosexualität oder die Selbst-Identifikation mit dem anderen Geschlecht, werden hier mühelos integriert, ohne dabei jedes Mal zum großen Aufhänger der jeweiligen Geschichte stilisiert zu werden. Die Vorgestellten haben in einigen Fällen Beziehungen zueinander und ineinander verstrickte Geschichten. Jede Heldin und Schurkin bekommt zu ihrer grundlegenden Beschreibung noch Hinweise zur Darstellung beigelegt und drei Ziele bzw. Intrigen, die sie verwirklichen will. Es wird also eine breite Palette an Möglichkeiten geboten. Besonders für den Spielleiter kann sich dieses Buch als wahre Goldgrube an potenten Plot-Ideen und einsetzbaren Charakteren erweisen. Die Schurken bieten schon für sich genommen 40 Ideen zu 40 Abenteuern.

Für die Spieler sieht das ein wenig anders aus. Die Heroen und Heroinnen haben eine sehr klar ausdefinierte Geschichte, mit klarer Einbindung in die Welt, definierten Zielen und häufig schwerwiegenden Verpflichtungen wie Kinder. Das macht sie wenig variabel im Einsatz. Ein guter Weg wäre mit Sicherheit, wenn Charaktere gewählt werden würden, die eine Verbindung zueinander haben, oder der erste Plot um einen vorgefertigten Spielercharakter konzipiert wird, während die anderen Spieler selbsterstellte Helden oder Heldinnen verwenden. So ließe sich beispielsweise um die Familientragödie der ussurischen Zwillinge Viktor und Agafya Markovich ein wunderbarer Plot stricken, wenn ein Spieler die Rolle Viktors übernimmt. Den jungen ussurischen Tierfreund aber in ein anderes Szenario zu verschiffen, wäre sowohl schwierig als auch wenig fruchtbar.

Die rechtschaffenden Charaktere gefallen am Ende doch noch ein wenig besser, da ihre Geschichten stärker divergieren und in vielen Fällen nachvollziehbarer sind. Das ist allerdings Kritik auf wirklich hohem Niveau. Denn weder die brutale Kapitänin der menschenfressenden Piratencrew im hohen Norden, noch der insektenbeherrschende, intrigante Hofnarr sind in irgendeiner Weise langweilig oder uninteressant. Die Hinweise zur Erlösung der Widersacher fallen ebenfalls erstaunlich sinnvoll aus. Sie wirken nicht konstruiert, und häufig besteht die Einsicht in die simple Unmöglichkeit eines solchen Versuches.

Ein paar Seiten Regelzusätze

Die wenigen Mechaniken, die hinzukommen, sind fast zu vernachlässigen. Die Zusammenfassung der vier neuen Advantages des neuen Hintergrundes zur Charaktererstellung, des kurz angerissenen Fechtstils, des neuen Typus einer Gegnergruppe, und der zwei neuen Zaubereien füllen gerade mal eine Seite. Einzig eine neue Regel, die ihr Pendant im Grundregelwerk ersetzen soll, verdient eine nähere Betrachtung. Die Intrigen der Schurken und Schurkinnen funktionieren nun wie die Storys der Helden und sollen parallel dazu den Fortschritt des Bösewichts abbilden und regeln. Prinzipiell gilt nun schon die gleiche Kritik, mit der ich diese Mechanik in meinem Ersteindruck zum Grundregelwerk versehen habe, aber damit ist es nicht genug. Prinzipiell kann die Spielleiterin einen gewissen Satz an Einflusspunkten ausgeben, um eine neue Intrige zu kreieren. Die Anzahl der Schritte, die benötigt wird, um die Intrige zum Erfolg zu bringen, ist gleich der Anzahl an investierten Einflusspunkten. Aber hier kommt nun der große Haken. Im Gegensatz zu den Geschichten der Helden schreiten diese Intrigen nicht durch erreichte Handlungsziele voran, sondern ganz simpel am Ende einer Spielsitzung. Wieder zeigt sich, dass das Regelwerk an vielen Stellen enorm wenig durchdacht ist. Eine Spielrunde ist eine völlig inadäquate Einheit zum Messen von im Spiel verstrichener Zeit. Viele von euch haben mit Sicherheit schon mal einen oder sogar mehrere Abende ohne großen Zeit- und Handlungsfortschritt verbracht. Durch selbsteingefügte Stufen lässt sich das Problem vielleicht leicht lösen, doch dass das Spieldesign mit der einzigen größeren Regelneuerung in diesem Band aber dermaßen schlecht verfährt, ist einfach enttäuschend. Somit setzt sich der Trend des Grundregelwerkes fort: Wo die Weltbeschreibung in Kreativität erglänzt, rostet das Räderwerk der Regeln vor sich hin.

Erscheinungsbild

Das gesamte Layout und die Illustrationen sind bis auf zwei seltsame Ausnahmen, in denen der kulturelle Kleidungsstil ohne Erklärung komplett verfehlt wurde, gelungen. Ein Index ist vorhanden, und das Buch wurde zu großen Teilen sinnvoll strukturiert.

Fazit

Machen wir es kurz: Der Band ist gut. Das, was er leisten möchte, nämlich eine Vielzahl von Einblicken in die Spielwelt durch die Augen ihrer Bewohner zu liefern, erfüllt er mit Bravour. Die Geschichten sind abwechslungsreich, spannend geschrieben, und häufig kreativ gestaltet. Es wird ein sehr breites Spektrum an Personen abgedeckt. Eine Menge Abenteuerideen und viel Rohmaterial zur Ausgestaltung werden dem Spielleiter in die Hände gelegt. Soweit wäre alles gut, wäre da nicht der unnötige Rahmen und die nicht durchdachte Regelergänzung.

Doch dies sind leidlich kleine Wermutstropfen, welche die klare Essenz des Buches kaum zu trüben vermögen, denn das Quellenbuch leistet am Ende das, was es soll. 19.99 USD sind für dieses PDF gut verwendetes Geld, wenn man ein Sammelsurium von 80 interessanten Charakteren haben möchte.



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7th Sea: Heroes & Villains
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Church of the Prophets
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/17/2017 08:59:11

It is the nature of human beings to seek after the meaning of life and for many that means a belief in higher beings, deities if you will. The people of Théah are no different, and this work discusses their beliefs and explores how they can be used to effect in your game. To start with, people found solace and guidance from many gods until a man came declaring himself to be the Prophet of Theus, whom he said was the one true god and creator of everything. This caught people's attention and a whole religion grew up around his teachings, one which grew, flourished and fragmented over the centuries. Four main branches of this church are reviewed herein: Vaticine, Objectionism, Ussuran Orthodoxy and a newcomer, the Church of Avalon.

Chapter 1: The Word begins with a history of the Vaticine Church. It all began with the First Prophet, a fairly mysterious fellow, who travelled around with Nine Witnesses explaining about Theus and how he wanted people to study his creation and avoid sorcery. Three hundred years after the First Prophet was murdered, a Second Prophet appeared to address a church that had waxed fat in temporal power, rivalling many nations in wealth and influence. He came from the Crescent Empire with his own Nine Witnesses in tow and told them that the church had become corrupted. He laid out precise rites and rituals that should be followed, and urged people to avoid all seven deadly sins... but perhaps it was when he said people ought to avoid alcohol that they began to question what he said. The common people loved Theus but doubted that he wanted them to give up all earthly pleasures. Worse, the Second Prophet urged believers to separate themselves from the world by going back to the Crescent Empire with him. Forty thousand followed him... to their deaths.

As it was the Crescent Empire that had killed them, a Crusade was launched against them. There also was a lot of dissent amongst the various sects that believed in Theus, which were called together by the Imperator Corantine who demanded that they all agree on a common framework of belief and gave them a year to sort one out. They made it, just, and the Vaticine Church was born. It flourished and grew, establishing a hierarchy across the face of the globe, even as nation-states rose and fell. About seven hundred years later, someone claiming to be the Third Prophet appeared in Castille. He claimed that the church had again lost its way and needed to eschew sorcery and part ways with the Crescent Empire. Now there were a lot of people from the Crescent Empire in Castille and this soon led to the Second Crusade as war erupted. When it was over, the King of Castille built Vaticine City in honour of the Third Prophet... and said Prophet began an Inquisition to seek out heresy within the church. A minor squabble over which diocese a monastery belonged ended up in yet another war, with the Prophet saying the church should now be based in Vaticine City and the Hierophant still holding firm to his seat in Numa in Vodacce. Castille won out. The church flourished again... until the Objectionists arose, in Eisen, led by one Lieber who declared that you didn't need priests to worship Theus. There was fighting over that, too.

It's a magnificent sweep of history, ending with the state of the Vaticine Church in the present day, its organisation and a wealth of other details including vestments and ceremonies... and then we start in on a history of Objectionism which covers their development and beliefs including several sub-sects with differing opinions. If that's not enough, we next read of the rise of the Church of Avalon, a breakaway movement driven by politics (or at least the need of an Avalonian king to find someone on whom he could sire a child) rather than a difference in belief, and also about Ussuran Orthodoxy (although that's quite well covered in the Ussura sourcebook).

Next, Chapter 2: The Faithful contains an array of senior churchmen to use as NPCs, with background notes and sketches to help them come to life. This is followed by Chapter 3: The Sacraments which covers game mechanics and other details needed to make the church an integral part of your game. Perhaps you want to play a Priest or a Missionary? There are full details, along with new advantages and backgrounds, new Swordsman schools for the more, ah, vigorous proponents of the faith and some new equipment.

Last but not least, Chapter 4: The Light has a Player Section that looks at playing priests and also members of military religious orders and a GM Section that, amongst other things, explains who Theus really is! Or does it... Like many things in this game, it is ultimately up to the GM to decide, but there's a lot of helpful material here. There are also notes on running relgious-based campaigns, pagan religions and the low-down on all those NPCs we met earlier. Finally there are a selection of maps including Vaticine City, the Great Cathedral of the Prophets and a few generic religious structures.

This is a well-constructed religious system with loads of potential for making your game come to life. There's nothing like belief for getting some good role-playing going, especially with players who take the trouble to understand what their characters believe and who are willing to take it further than a note on the character sheet. OK, so in some places it is a bit derivative, but to just label the Vaticine Church the Catholics under another guise and so on does them a disservice. Embrace these as the faiths you'll find on Théah, rather than treat them as a pastiche of real-world religion, and make this aspect of life feature in your alternate reality.



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Church of the Prophets
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Nations of Théah: Avalon (Book 2)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/16/2017 08:51:47

Avalon, the 7th Sea analogue to Britain, is a place of myths and magic, a land where the Sidhe still dwell, a race older than human beings but dwindling now. It's made up of three kingdoms - Alvalon, the Highland Marches and Inismore - but all hold the glamour, the mystical nature of ancient Celtic lands. Avalon is a beautiful and terrifying place, legend woven through the fabric of reality.

Chapter 1: The Glamour Isles is the main part of the book, jam-packed with detail on the history (or is that legends?) upon which present-day Avalon is built, beginning with the Sidhe. The islands were united under a single monarch early on, the first king being presented by the Sidhe with an artefact - the Graal - which he was told would provide protection and blessings. Indeed it did until one king in 1028 who had three sons divided the kingdom between them instead of nominating one to succeed him. One son protested and was banished for his pains, the other two fought each other to a standstill with the first son returning from exile to reunite the realm just as the Montaigne turned up and invaded successfully due to the weakened nature of the Avalon forces. Things went downhill with restrictive laws, incessant civil war and a series of monarchs who saw their role as to line their own pockets rather than one of service to the kingdom, with a few shining moments that reminded the Avalonians of what they were and might become again.

Religion caused issues too, coming quite late to belief in the Vaticine Church, but eventually having a rift with them due to a childless king wishing to divorce wife after wife... sound familiar? While it's all a blatant pastiche of real world British history, it has all been twisted around and renamed and recast into something that stands as the Théan version and culminates in the current queen, Elaine, who stands in stead of Elizabeth I but is a unique individual in her own right... although Avalon flourishes under her. We read of lands and titles and Elaine's personal knights, the Order of the High King. This is a body of twelve, with some two hundred at their command maintaining law and order across the kingdom and below them an array of sheriffs, constables and mayors. Then there's a geographical run-down including throw-away ideas than spawn plot ideas if not whole campaigns as you read them. Pity the only map is one of Caerleon, the capital.

So far we have focussed on Avalon itself, but then Inismore and the Highland Marches take their turn - history, gazetteer, culture and more - before we are introduced to the Sidhe. These secretive ancient and mystical magical race are explored in quite some detail that covers much of what makes the whole place so otherworldly. We also get to meet some of the monsters of legend, which are disturbingly real.

Then, Chapter 2: Hero introduces an array of notables to use as NPCs each with a portrait and a description (stat blocks come later in the GM section of Chapter 4). This is followed by Chapter 3: Drama which contains game mechanics - a destiny spread for character creation, rules for the Sidhe (do they even obey rules?), as well as new advantages, new backgrounds, new equipment and skills and new ways to wave a sword around (i.e. new Swordsman schools). There are relevant mechanics for Elaine's Knights, including their oath in full, and if you want to follow the old religion, notes about the Druids. The chapter ends with some magical items.

Finally Chapter 4: Legend is aptly-named, it's all about creating your own legends with a Player Section aimed at would-be players of Avalonian characters giving them ideas as to how to play their characters to effect and even providing pointers and resources to those who'd like to try playing a Sidhe. The GM Section provides stat blocks and background 'secrets' for the NPCs of Chapter 2, along with ideas for bringing Glamour magic and the Sidhe to life in your game and a few monsters.

Whilst living up to the subtitle 'The Glamour Isles' some may find it too derivative, drawing excessively on real-world British history and just changing a few names. I think it does an excellent job of blending reality and imagination to create a part of Théah that fits right into this alternate reality yet feels familiar.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Nations of Théah: Avalon (Book 2)
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Secret Societies: Sophia's Daughters (Book 6)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/14/2017 10:10:51

Sophia's Daughters are the oldest of the Théan secret societies by a long way, back to the time the first Sidhe arrived. They seem to know much, and manipulate people and events to twist fate to their own ends, even whilst claiming to know what the future will bring.

Chapter 1: Birth opens with a brief note on the public face of the society... brief because there pretty much isn't one! Those who are members don't talk, and noone else will know what you are talking about. Pretty impressive for an organisation that has been around as long as this one has. This means that only players of characters who are Sophia's Daughters and GMs will find information that is of use within the game, which does rather limit the audience for this book.

So, the history of the society as known to them is covered from legendary times right up to the present day. It explains how a Sidhe first mated with a human being, and how one of their offspring was the original Sophia. (There was also a boy child who was raised as a Sidhe, his descendants turn up too...). Sophia was an oracle and seer, able to read the future, and had many children also. She died as the First Prophet began his ministry and their fates are linked. Whilst there is still an oracle, the final Fourth Prophet will not appear, it is said. Transmitted by bloodline, the distinctive powers normally manifest in females, the Daughters. Their history, then, is one of amazing women... although of course not every powerful or wise woman in Théah is a Daughter. They work for peace and unity, and to better the lot of women in the world, and the remainder of the chapter traces their influence throughout history - an influence that is by and large unrecognised by those outside the Society. It also covers the current position and how people become members (mostly through birth, but there are some who have discovered their goals and agree with them enough to join. The organisation is a loose web with the Oracle at the centre and a Handmaiden overseeing activities in each nation... and a fascinating band of adjuncts in the Jenny's Guild (the Théan organisation for, ah, ladies of negotiatble affection), which has been infiltrated by the Daughters: not every Jenny is one by any means, but guild leaders quite often are. We also learn of the Sidhe and their ongoing influence, and of a dire plague and its even worse ramifications that echo down the centuries.

Then Chapter 2: Blood presents leading members of the Daughters, beginning with the Handmaidens. There are many fascinating tales accompanying this bevvy of interesting women, and plenty of scope to weave them into your plots. It's not all a feminist fantasy, though, there are male supporters of Sophia's Daughters listed here as well. This is followed by Chapter 3: Barrier, which presents new game mechanics and rules apposite to Sophia's Daughters including advantages, backgrounds, equipment and both a new Swordsman school and a new type of sorcery, Scrying! It starts off, however, with explaining how to join the Daughters which can be done at character creation or - once a player has discussed an interest with the GM - as the focus of an adventure during your campaign.

Finally, Chapter 4: Beyond contains information for players planning a character who is a Daughter and GMs who want to run plotlines built around them. This consists of a series of short essays about things like Predestination and Visionaries (always a bit tricky to handle in a role-playing game). There is also a section purely for GMs which presents some interesting ideas to weave into your plots when there's a Daughter around, and explains what is behind all the machinations in which the Daughters engage. Lastly there are stat blocks and hidden secrets about all the NPCs in Chapter 2 and a few sample characters.

This provides an interesting and novel group but is of necessity of limited appeal due to the very secretive nature of Sophia's Daughters. Most Théans don't even know that they exist, that will include your party. Only if one of your players wants to play one, or you decide that their activities will embroil the party, is this book going to be of much use. That said, for those who love intrigue it poses a lot of fascinating opportunities ripe for creative use.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Secret Societies: Sophia's Daughters (Book 6)
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Secret Societies: Los Vagos (Book 5)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/12/2017 08:59:09

Consider poor Castille. It's being invaded, things are falling apart. Who champions the people? You know, the ordinary ones who just want to live in peace, make a living, raise their families and so on. The ones who suffer in war and get no rewards from the winning or losing of any battles, but are left with homes and livelihoods destroyed, family and friends killed or injured or scattered to the four winds. And then there's the Inquisition, seeking out heresy wherever they think it might be, on the flimsiest of evidence, or none at all.

El Vago does, that's who. A masked and caped swashbuckler who's recruited a small band of like-minded folk who are called Los Vagos, the Vagabonds. Here's the low down on them, with plenty of information for you to incorporate them into your game. Perhaps your party wants to help them. Or, if they are in the service of Montaigne - or the Inquisitors - they want to capture El Vago and put a stop to this. It may be background, or central to your story. However you want to use it, here is what you need to know.

Chapter 1: La Historia talks about when El Vago arose and how Los Vagos came to be formed, against the background of all the dreadful things going on in Castille and the lack of protection provided by state and church for its citizens. The old King Sandoval had died, his heir Prince Javier seemed to be making a fair fist of ruling but then... he vanished. His 13-year-old brother, another Sandoval, found himself king and he is struggling to get out from under the thumb of the church. No wonder a protector is needed - and here we find out who it is, and how things developed from a single rather oddly-dressed fellow on a horse to an entire clandestine organisation. It is a new group, less than a decade old, and very informal. Still, there are notes on how it is organised and how to become a member, as well as what they do, who they are and how they are supported. The chapter ends with some sample groups and safehouses available to them.

Next, Chapter 2: El Héroe presents many important characters, members of Los Vagos and a few new villains as well. Then Chapter 3: Dramatizar provides game mechanics for becoming a member of Los Vagos and various new skills to pick up including yet another fighting style and even advanced riding skills. There are also new backgrounds and rules for important things like jumping from rooftop to rooftop. Apparently El Vago and his followers enjoy parkour!

Finally, Chapter 4: El Juego contains information on playing a member of Los Vagos and why you might want to do so and the effect it will have on the rest of the party. There's also material for the GM, with even more background and some wonderful ideas about how to run campaigns involving or even centred around Los Vagos. For those seeking the heart of swashbuckling epic adventure, this is a good route to go! Perhaps the party will engage in a classic guerrilla campaign, or act as spies. Or maybe there is only one party member who belongs to Los Vagos, but his exploits will inevitably affect the rest of the group. There are background notes on the NPCs introduced earlier, and a sample Los Vagos campaign if you want a hand to get started.

If you picked up 7th Sea because you wanted to swash your buckle, this gives you ample opportunity not only to do so but feel virtuous about it as well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Secret Societies: Los Vagos (Book 5)
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Secret Societies: Die Kreuzritter (Book 3)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/10/2017 08:28:16

The Kreuzritter serve the Vaticine Church, swearing a fourfold oath of loyalty, charity, secrecy and faith. Yet delve a little deeper and you'll find there is more to them than staunch defenders of the faith (or religious thugs, depending on your point of view). There are reasons for why they are as they are, and they have their own agenda... based on a single question: why did the First Prophet condemn sorcery?

Chapter 1: Loyalty tells of their origins, their aims and objectives, their organisational structure and more. It begins with public knowledge, the information any Théan might know about the Kreuzritter or Black Knights. They started off as a bunch of healers set up in the Crescent Empire city of Zafara by a crusader and his wife, later expanding to include some peacekeepers to police the town and gaining recognition from the Hierophant as the Knights of the Cross (Die Kreuzritter) and being granted their distinctive badge of a black cross. They waxed rich and that, of course, attracted envy and hostility and eventually a successful attempt to bring them down amid accusations of heresy - so far, very much like the real-world tale of the Knights Templar. But we then move on to the secret history, with a firm warning that this should only be read by GMs and those playing a member of the Black Crosses. Basically, they were not wiped out as everyone thought, with connivance by the then Hierophant (yes, the one who had excommunicated them), and have continued for some 200-odd years after their supposed downfall. Various mysteries are revealed here which explain both how and why they became a secret society that stands firm in the shadows, defending the church, the faith and all mankind. We also read about the current way they are organised and how they recruit and train new members, and there's extensive discussion of their philosophy and beliefs (excellent resource for role-playing for the more reflective player!).

Then Chapter 2: Charity contains biographical notes on many members of the order - and some of their enemies - who will prove useful NPCs as the party interacts with the order. This is followed by Chapter 3: Secrecy, which has all the apposite 'rules stuff': a new Swordsman school suited to assassins, the special and unique sorceries the Black Crosses use (sparingly of course, as they hold sorcery to be evil!), various advantages of membership, and some extremely useful gadgets that members may borrow when undertaking a mission. This chapter ends with some rules for tracking, something Black Cross knights are extremely good at.

Finally, Chapter 4: Faith has sections for players and for GMs aimed at empowering effective use of the Black Knights in your game. It starts by discussing whether or not the Black Knights are evil. There are plenty of ideas about how to stay true to Kreuzritter ideals even when you are the only one in a party and may not, of course, even let on what you are. The GM section includes the dark secrets of all the NPCs introduced in Chapter 2, along with their stat blocks. There are also assorted secrets that you may or may not choose to reveal as the campaign proceeds, complete with ideas of how to use them in your game. There are also notes on running a campaign that focusses on the order, rather than having it as an adversary or just having a single member of the party belong to it.

This is an intriguing one. Starting out, as noted, as a pastiche of the history of the Knights Templar, it suddenly takes a sharp turn and builts a complete backstory and rationale that fits the setting of 7th Sea admirably well. A true secret society that most will never know anything about, you may question the book's use unless you have a player clamouring to join or want to run adventures involving them... give it a try and you could be in for some epic games!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Secret Societies: Die Kreuzritter (Book 3)
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Secret Societies: Rilasciare (Book 2)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/09/2017 09:08:08

The Introduction speaks of the Rilasciare, a secret society that is quite contradictory. Viewed by many as dangerous anarchists, opponents of law and order, they see themselves as a bastion for truth and fairness, stamping out wrong-doing and corruption wherever it raises its head. Enlightened ones speaking out against outdated ideas, or a bunch of hoodlums who trample tradition underfoot with nothing to replace it? You decide...

Chapter 1: The Midnight Crusade looks at the history and organisation of the Rilasciare. It's an apt title, the Rilasciare often work at night or at least within the shadows, convinced of their own correctness they do not trouble to persuade others or even justify their actions. Although the first section is headed The Public Face, the Rilasciare don't really have one. Most regard them as a loose almost disconnected group of criminals, thinkers and reformers (the term used being based on the speaker's opinion of them!) and do not see the underlying organisation and coordination. Their aims and methods are rooted in their history, which by and large is known only to the membership. It all began with some Old Empire senators who turned to the dark arts in their quest to get rid of the current Imperator (and along the way founded the sorcerous bloodlines that spread throughout Théah) - and three senate pages who overheard them making pacts with dark powers and decided that enough was enough. Despite learning their own dark arts of poisons and assassination, they weren't getting very far... until one of them overheard the First Prophet preaching on the streets of Numa and connived to get him martyred, reasoning that such a fate would elevate a mere street preacher and his ideas (which which she agreed) to levels that mere preaching on street corners would never attain.

History rolled on and the Rilasciare with it (their name meaning 'troublemaker' in Old Théan being quite apt). Some members debated philosophy, others sought out sorcerers and brought them to account... or at least, sent them summarily to meet their makers. As the sorcerers they fought against were nobles, they often found common cause with those opposing misrule and oppression. When they wiped out some Eisen sorcerers with the help of a rival noble that didn't carry a sorcerous bloodline, they found that he was an even worse ruler than those they'd aided him to replace, and their thinking began to change: perhaps sorcery wasn't the only evil in the world. Perhaps the real enemy was those in power, however they had obtained it. The advent of the Third Prophet confirmed them in this opinion, and those who had embraced the Vaticine Church began to fall away, becoming free-thinkers. Over time, more and more turned to ideas and debate, still secret as many of the ideas might be deemed trasonous by the powers-that-be, and the violence seemed to become a thing of the past... but it did not go away entirely.

Their basic beliefs can be stated simply. Nobody should be in want. Sorcery is evil. Power corrupts, so the trappings of power must be destroyed. They seek to achieve their ends through freedom of thought, enlightened thinking - but they have not abandoned violence as a tool to accomplish their goals. They believe that all people are created equal, and nobles are not better than anybody else. There's a look at the structure of the organisation and how they work to achieve their ends in the present day. They even run schools - even if it doesn't say Rilasciare over the door! Others pull Robin Hood acts, stealing to redistribute amongst the poor, or commit acts of violence. Others remain committed to the original goal of ridding the world of sorcery. We also learn of recruitment methods and protocols. Whilst those few outsiders who know about them regard them as violent out-of-control thugs, they actually detest mindless violence - theirs is focussed with surgical precision, used only when absolutely necessary. Or so they believe.

The chapter finishes with a listing of locations and resources. Next comes Chapter 2: Hero which introduces some of the leading members of the Rilasciare. This is followed by Chapter 3: Drama, which is full of additional rules and other new material. These include a new, and rather informal, Swordsman school, rules for joining the Rilasciere and creating your own group or cell and even rules for using explosives. And, should you be interested in such things, a certain Eisen style of sorcery the Rilasciare thought they wiped out. Did the bloodline survive? Dare you play one and have the entire Rilasciare on your tail?

Finally, Chapter 4: Freemen contains a wealth of material mainly aimed at the GM (although there is a Player section as well) designed to help you bring the Rilasciare to life in your game. The GM gets the lowdown on the NPCs presented in Chapter 2, secrets and stat blocks galore, as well as advice on running a 'bomb-throwing' campaign... not to mention what to do with just one or two Freethinkers within a more conventional party. There are other ideas as well to get your creative juices going, as well as more detailed adventure hooks and the description of a prison based in a mine and no doubt very handy should some Rilasciare prank go horribly wrong...

The Rilasciare grew on me as I read this book. On the face of it they seem somewhat like a bunch of terrorists, and indeed they could be played that way if you are looking for a persistent enemy for more law-abiding heroes (an option that rather surprisingly is not considered). If your players have an anarchic streak, however, at least one might be open to recruitment or you may opt for a Rilasciare-based campaign. There's more to them than meets the eye!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Secret Societies: Rilasciare (Book 2)
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Secret Societies: The Knights of the Rose and Cross (Book 1)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/26/2016 12:02:51

The Knights of the Rose and Cross are one of several secret societies in Théah, societies that cross international borders and pursue their own agendas. The Introduction takes pains to comment that the information about the Knights given here are but one view of the society, and it is up to the GM to determine what is the actual truth in his game. This is what might be discovered by diligent investigation by individuals or the party, but it is unlikely that outsiders, or even regular members, will be able to find out all their secrets. To the casual observer, the Knights appear to be a mere gentlemen's social club, but of course there is much more for the discerning eye to discover...

Chapter 1: The Order makes a start, beginning with a section called The Public Face. The Knights do not hide away after all, and this section covers what most Théans know about them. This information should be available to any character who is interested enough to search it out. The society first came to light in 1613 with the publication of a pamphlet that explained the organisation as being a secret band of gentlemen dedicated to three Vows: to bring justice to the unjust, to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and to serve those who wore the sacred seal of the Order. The origins of this pamphlet, and the several that followed it, were unexplained, moreover it said that those who followed the Rose and Cross were invisible. passing unknown through society. The Vaticine Church was not impressed and went to great lengths in their unsuccessful attempts to track down whoever was behind it all. A few high-profile rescues of individuals from danger followed and then one day over one hundred highly-placed men put on badges bearing the rose and cross symbol... and by 1617 the Order was recognised by the Hierophant. Speculation continues, as they are still very secretive: you might know where one of their Chapter Houses is, but unless you are a member you may not enter. Like any such group, it's attracted those who want to publicise their secrets, and the work of one such investigator is presented here. Make of it what you please.

The next section is The Private Agenda, which comes with a warning that it ought not to be read by those whose characters are not members of the Order. It is far more ancient than the first public appearances of 1613, and here is a run-through of its origins and history. The Knights were both warriors and scholars. Students of history will note that the early history of the Knights of the Rose and Cross is similar to that of the real-world Knights Templars, woven through the history of Théah to make it appropriate to this setting, and of course continuing into more modern times, the Knights still being active in 1668. The actual nature and structure of the Order is discussed, along with details of life as a Knight. Ranks, secret codes, legends and more are covered, and this is followed by an entire section on the Order's resources. This includes a listing of chapter houses throughout Théah.

The next chapter is Hero, which contains details of many prominent Knights and other notables connected with the Order. Each comes with background details, stat block and role-playing notes, and there are sketches of most of them too. This is followed by Chapter 3: Drama, which provides apposite new rules material. There's a swordsman school available only to Knights, new advantages and even the game mechanics for establishing a chapter house. Other rules cover the extreme athleticism of the Knights, leaping roof to roof is commonplace - it would seem they enjoy parkour! Here are the rules for epic aerial, or at least rooftop, antics. The chapter finishes with notes on some unusual artefacts in the Order's possession.

Finally, Chapter 4: Knight contains material for Players and for Game Masters. The Player section peeks behind the scenes of the design process that went into the Order of the Rose and Cross, as well as a look at alchemical symbolism and chivalry as it is known in Théah. The GM section includes a brief scenario and other plot ideas, a complete chapter house, and a few secrets only briefly touched upon in the rest of the book. In essence, there's a complete quickstart campaign for those who want to run games in which the Order features large, indeed is central to the party.

There's a lot here to take in. It would be easy to dismiss it as derivative, but it is a lot more than that. Those who would adventure at sea have the Brotherhood of the Coast as a framework, the Order supplies similar structure for those who would swash their buckle on land. Knights don't need to search out adventures, they come to them almost automatically - and if there's any paucity of opportunity, a quick word with the Order's hierarchy will soon suggest something worth getting involved with. Indeed it can make a complete campaign with the party all members, perhaps working their way up through the ranks. Well worth including in your game as epic background, even if your players do not wish to become Knights, and if they do... it is the stuff of which 7th Sea adventures are made!



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Secret Societies: The Knights of the Rose and Cross (Book 1)
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Waves of Blood
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/20/2016 11:05:35

Now I don't play card games at all, but apparently there was a collectable card game (CCG) based on the same world as the 7th Sea RPG, and this book is a 'cross-over' intended to facilitate sharing of ideas between the RPG and the CCG. The Introduction explains that much of it was intended to enable CCG players to make use of role-playing material, but that role-players may also find ideas and information to use on the table-top.

The first chapter, History, presents the storyline as used in the CCG. This involves a long and dangerous search for a mysterious island called Cabora that had long lain hidden beneath the sea, by the machinations of the mysterious Syrenth. Just about every nation and faction you can imagine got involved in this search. Plenty of swashbuckling and skirmishes, particularly at sea, ensued as all these rivals searched for a series of 'switches' that would eventually cause Cabora to arise. It all makes for an exciting and epic story and - if your party are not avid card players - could quite easily be turned into an excellent role-playing campaign. (I must confess I'm quite baffled as to how you tell such a story with a card game, though! I think it served more as background to combats between CCG players.) If you are planning such a thing, the timeline in the back of the book will be invaluable.

Then the next chapter, Factions and Places, is about turning features from the CCG into resources for your game, with detailed descriptions of the various factions used in the CCG. Each faction - and there are quite a few! - has its history, structure, tactics and notes on their crews laid out. We also hear about legendary ships and notable locations that have featured in the CCG. Plenty of scope to gather background flavour for your role-playing game here.

Chapter 3: GM's Section looks at adventures at sea and at faction-based adventures. These only work if everyone at the table belongs to the same faction, of course... unless you want a real brawl on your hands. There's also a list of all the artefacts that have turned up in the CCG complete with descriptions of their powers and abilities, a discussion of their current whereabouts, and adventure hooks that are mostly quests to retrieve the item in question. There is also all you might need to bring the horrifying legend of the Black Freighter to your table, as well as plenty of the secrets of the lost isle of Cabora itself. This includes some devilish traps which might come in handy.

Finally, Chapter 4: Rules enables you to convert personalities from the CCG into characters for the role-playing game, and to create cards for your favourite player-characters if you'd like to do that. There are some new bits and pieces for role-playing characters based on stuff in the CCG, and a swordsman school - it's the Rogers one from the Pirate Nations sourcebook - that's appropriate for characters originating from the CCG. New backgrounds, skills and items follow, along with some advanced sailing rules and ones for nautical battles. The book rounds off with two appendices, the first covering locations and a timeline for the CCG (invaluable if you want to reuse that storyline in your role-playing campaign), and the second containing full stat blocks and background information for many of the CCG's most prominent figures.

So, is this useful? It certainly is if you think that the plotline of the CCG would make a good role-playing campaign - and if your tastes lean towards derring-do on the high seas with a strong flavour of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, it probably will - provided your players are not CCG fanatics who already know it, of course. It's certainly good to see all the hard work and imagination that went into the CCG presented in a useful form for role-players.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Waves of Blood
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7th Sea: Heroes & Villains
by William M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/16/2016 16:25:13

A great resource for people who want a handful of colourful NPCs to insert into their campaign, and as inspiration for your own. It really gives a clear idea on how to put characters together for people learning the system, both players and GMs. A handful of new stuff is thrown in right at the end and it's all pretty good- though the new Duelling Style really does need to be expanded on more (but is serviceable as it is). The stuff allowing you to blur the line between Duelists and non-Duelists is very very useful, as well as the discount for existing Duelists to pick up extra styles. The art is great and encompasses a wide variety of styles (which means some pictures may not be to your taste, but each picture has had at least one person in my gaming group say they liked it). All in all a very good resource for many, but not every group will get much use out of it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea: Heroes & Villains
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Nations of Théah: The Pirate Nations (Book 1)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/16/2016 07:44:41

In a cinematic game where swordfighting is an art form, what better way to swash your buckle than become a pirate? Yet the Introduction takes a more philosophical tone, describing how real-world priates of the 17th century operated an egalitation democracy that it took landlubbers a couple more centuries to develop (if indeed they've even managed it yet). The pirates of Théah are similar, seeing themselves almost as another nation, with a common bond forged by their lifestyle and the way in which each ship-load organises itself.

First up, though, is Chapter 1: Ports of Call. Even pirates set foot on dry land sometimes, so here are some places where they might feel at home. Summon up the visual images from The Pirates of the Caribbean, and visit the Straits of Blood. Several taverns and houses of ill-repute can be found here, and there's plenty of atmosphere and background stories to help you make it all come alive. If this very traditional pirate refuge doesn't suit, try La Bucca - a settlement built on the remains of a failed experiment in creating a self-regulating prison community on a remote island. Now it's home to a community that, although on land, lives by pirate rules like a ship. Or maybe Caguine, a nest of smugglers and scoundrels languishing under a Sidhe course takes your fancy. There are sketchmaps of each place, but it's a bit harder to determine where they actually are on Théah. Some pirate legends to beguile the party are also provided (the GM can decide if there's any truth to them, of course) to round out this chapter.

Next, Chapter 2: Pirate presents details of six of the best-known pirate bands infesting the seas of Théah. Find out their stories, organisation, tactics and more... will these be the party's enemies, allies or bosom companions? Leading NPCs are detailed here too, so you know with whom you are dealing - a horde of fellows you'd probably not want to meet in a dark alley, at least, not without your sword to hand!

Then, Chapter 3: Drama contains a bunch of game mechanics aimed at bringing pirate goodness into your game. Here, for the first time, the Destiny Spread aid to character creation is explained (most of the other Nations sourcebooks have a variant on it suited to that particular region). Best done with a Tarot deck if you have one, but there's an alternate method mostly using die rolls if you don't. There's a new swordsman school that teaches what are in effect cinematic piratical tricks, new advantages and backgrounds, new rules to handle languages in a polyglot crew, new skills and even new items... If that's not enough, learn to duel pirate style and even find rules for holding your liquour (or not, as the case might be). More rules cover sailing and naval battles, and there's a discussion about when - and if - a GM should ever deprive a hero of one of his advantages.

This is followed by Chapter 4: Sailor Sourcebook. Herein is a discussion about running a pirate-centric campaign, advancing the idea that choosing one doesn't necessarily mean that trips ashore are no more than opportunities for drinking and wenching. This discussion is divided into a Player section and a GM one, but it's probably worth everyone reading both... even the adventure ideas in the GM section are broad enough that it doesn't matter if the players have read them. There's also a piece about navigation. Without reliable timepieces, navigation at sea is a bit of a bear. You are left with dead reckoning, celestial navigation (which requires excellent mathematics even if you can see the stars), and a rutter - records of the voyages made by a previous captain. So, to pass the time whilst your ship is lost, there are a few gambling games to play here too; and a rundown of the stores and supplies your ship is likely to carry. Finally, there are some nice sketches of pirate ships.

When I first encountered the 7th Sea RPG back in 2000, my first thought was 'pirates'... then I ran a series of land-based adventures. Cinematic in the extreme, but this book rekindles the urge to put the 'sea' back into the game, it captures the essence of what it all ought to be about!



Rating:
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Nations of Théah: The Pirate Nations (Book 1)
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