7th Sea is an RPG of swashbuckling pirate action. The setting is a fantasy version of early modern era/age of sailing time period Europe where magic users are born not made (in fact, the noble families are nobles because they can do magic shit like open portal from the point a to the point b or summon legendary popular culture characters), catholic church burns the witch and all the pirates seem to come from a bad movie adaptation of Stevenson's Treasure Island. Did I mention there's a Kharn version of Captain Hook who carries around a scythe that cuts like Wolverine's claws?
7th Sea was released in 1999 by Alderac Entertainment Group. The game used a d10 system designed by Rob Vaux, John Wick, Jennifer Wick, and Kevin Wilson. It would win the Origins' Best Roleplaying Game of 1999 and met with some initial success. An updated core book was released in 2005 that changed the game to a d20 system. The 7th Sea Compendium is a free pdf for the revised edition of the game maintained on Alderac's site. This is intended to allow players with the first edition book to play the revised edition.
A large number of supplements were released for both editions. The main lines for these supplements were nation books and secret society books, each detailing a specific nation or non-governmental organization of Theah. Seven quest modules were also released for first edition, while revised edition got a collected adventure book.
Second edition was announced November 2015 and the kickstarter was successfully funded in March 2016. The kickstarter raised $1,316,813 and is the most backed RPG on kickstarter ever, both in terms of number of backers and funds raised. Core rules were due for release in October 2016, but actually released in June, ahead of schedule, with eleven sourcebooks scheduled for regular release dates after that.
Unfortunately, on November 5th, 2018, John Wick announced to the Kickstarter backers that the entire staff of JWP had to be laid off due to financial difficulties for the company. JWP was, for all intents and purposes, now a one man show. John promised to continue working on the remaining sourcebooks still out for writing/production, but the already delayed splats for Second Edition were caught in limbo for months, until Chaosium publishing bought up the line and hired him on as lead writer.
Rules System and Notable Changes
Resolution is accomplished via a "roll and keep" dice pool system that would be very familiar to fans of Legend of the Five Rings, rolling stat + skill + miscellaneous modifier, and keeping stat for most basic checks, with 10s exploding. As in L5R, weapon damage is calculated according to weapon, adding a number of dice equal to the Brawn stat to the weapon's native pool of damage dice and keeping a number of dice specific to each weapon. Most weapons keep two, including most "fencing weapons," with large weapons and firearms keeping three, and small and concealable weapons keeping one. "Raises" can be called to increase the target number by increments of 5 each to achieve additional effects, like unkept damage dice, and some abilities, advantages, and schools offer "free raises" which can either lower target numbers by five per or to add additional effects without increasing the TN.
The original edition had some novel ideas for preventing the traditional pitfalls of its system, such as having advanced knacks be more expensive at character creation and cheaper afterwards, otherwise keeping similar pay-tables for purchasing later on, and having all five stats be important to combat, to prevent picking one you don't care about and ignoring it to have more points to spend on the rest. It wasn't perfect, and it still had many built-in perverse incentives, but it was a damn sight better than anything that's ever used the Storyteller system.
Brawn was needed for making Wound checks and damage rolls (most weapons are melee weapons or don't add typically add stat to damage rolls, like firearms and bows, and even the rare exception, the Goodfellow archery school, still uses Brawn), Finesse governs all to-hit rolls, Resolve was needed for having a high pool of Dramatic Wounds and resisting Repartee, Fear, poison, and various mind-affecting sorceries, Wits was needed for all defense rolls and passive defenses, and Panache granted an action each round per point.
However, by far the biggest problem was the Drama Die system, whereby all XP-equivalents were earned at a very slow rate in a byzantine and confusing system, could be destroyed by enemy maneuvers, and were needed for extra dice on important rolls. And the GM gets a huge pool of them to fuck with the players each session, while the players' come back the honest way (read: hard and slow). Also, because you always roll stat + skill but keep stat, high stats break the game, and the system does tend to fall apart at high levels of play, while at low levels of play the cost of sorcery or a swordsman school in this supposed "swashbuckling and sorcery" setting were brutally high, particularly given how weak and useless many sorceries feel "out of the box," and the starting character points are very stingy, all-but forcing players to ignore the "positive" Arcana they had to spend points for and instead gain points by taking a "negative" Hubris, which the books, written from a bit of an old-school mindset, instruct the GM to exploit via that huge pool of free Drama Dice to fuck with the players constantly.
It was also, for better or worse, a dice pool game, and like all dice pool games task resolution was very random. Starting characters feel weak and useless, high-level characters break the game once they start keeping more and more dice.
Later, like most RPG properties of the 90's, it received a mediocre d20 adaptation in the 2000's, under the "Swashbuckling Adventures" label. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't great either, and large portions of it didn't have much input from the original creators. Notably, the setting/secret society books for Cathay, NOM, and the Sidhe were both published under this label, while including rules for both the d20 and original systems.
The second edition keeps the five main Traits, trims skills down to just 16 total (as a start, expect more later), and reuses the Trait+Skill system. Past this point, it diverges heavily. The new system tries for a more 'storytelling' flavor, so it disposes of the older "roll X keep Y" system altogether, and bases everything off a 'raise'. Raises are calculated by choosing your Trait+Skill pairing, rolling all the dice associated, and then grouping them up to get a total of 10 (or more) for it to count as a single raise. Raises are then spent to perform an action of some sort. The GM is expected to give you some idea of what to spend raises on though.
A simplified flow of play boils down to:
- The GM states the issue and fleshes out things a bit: "It's a dining room, with a large table in the middle, overhung by a chandelier held up by a rope tied to a hook nearby. The rugs and hanging tapestries are engulfed in flame. There is a small desk near the door in the back, with several papers on it that are beginning to smolder. You need a raise to get across the room, two raises to avoid any damage from the flames (2 wounds total, 1 per raise), and one raise if you want to grab the papers on the way out the door."
- The player(s) pick how they want to approach the solution: "I want to roll finesse (3) and athletics (3). I rolled 10, 9, 8, 7, 5 and 1, so that's (10),(9+5+1) and (8+7) so 3 raises total. I want to spend one on crossing the room, one on not taking damage, and one on grabbing the papers."
- The GM can accept that, or add extra restrictions depending on events, and provides the player an opportunity to narrate: "Alright, how does it happen?"
- The player details their action: "Marcel sprints to the rope tied to the wall, grabbing it and slashing it free from the wall. The chandelier crashes to the table, yanking Marcel into the air on the end of the rope. He swings, landing on the edge of the tabletop and has to roll off it, through the wreckage of the chandelier to come to his feet by the desk. A quick swipe of his hand and he and the papers are through the door and away from the flames, wincing from the burns from the roll."
- The GM closes up the scene, and/or sets up for the next one: "Works for me. You spend a moment slapping your smoldering clothing with your hands, then another moment slapping the now smoldering papers, before noticing the signature of Cardinal Incensio on the bottom of a letter." 'What's the Inquisition doing writing to a nobody Vendel merchant?' "Good question...what do you want to do about it?"
Another notable change is that sword schools have dropped the leveling system they had, instead once you have the school, you get all the associated maneuvers all at once (and so far they're not the mix of useful, okay and OMGWTFBROKEN that the old system had). Similarly, magic is now (usually) a system of "pick 2 abilities, and get given one drawback/geas" per point of sorcery. You can still be a pretty little butterfly-sue, but the setting is far more grimbright then the old system. An example: You can still play your Eisen noble knight with all the drakeneisen bling, but be aware that it's irreplaceable, is only really helpful against monsters and undead, and marks you as a target by everyone from the Eisenfursten princes down through to the good-guy 'Die Kreutzritter' monster-hunters (who will 'politely' get you to give up the weapons or join until death parts you from said drakeneisen, provided you will said drakeneisen to the society).
7th Sea is set on Theah, a world dominated by swashbuckling, sorcery, and secret societies. Much of the fluff was expanded in the various nation books released throughout the early 2000s and the collectible card game. The nations are just stereotypical renditions of the European kingdoms of the period, so the "Italians" are extremely Machiavellian, the "Spanish" have a secret society composed mostly by Zorro wannabes and "France" is just exactly like in those Alexander Dumas novels.
Unlike Europe (probably) Theah is built on the bones of several inhuman civilizations, collectively referred to as the Syrneth. Their technology was so advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic... and for whatever reason, they are now extinct. (Which is as much as we can say without getting into contentious fucking territory about the metaplot, which divided fans and writing staff alike.)
Until relatively recently, most "modern" nations had nobles that descended from the Senatorial families of the Numan empire, the ancient Rome-equivalent, who (spoilers!) made pacts with the powers of Legion to gain sorcery. The Second Prophet got rid of the mist-sorcery of what is now the Crescent Empire, while the Third Prophet and the Rilasciare mostly stamped such sorceries out in Eisen and Castille, drove them underground until fairly recently in Montaigne, and Vodacce... well, it's hard to do more to Vodacce sorcery than the Vodacce do to themselves with it. This is for the entirely-reasonable reason, if not a reason shared with the general public, that such sorcery is literally eroding reality and making it easier for the otherworldly monsters who made the pact to tear open portals to Theah and invade in force.
Other forms of sorcery, which mostly come from nature spirits or mastery of the self, are much more tolerated, though the Inquisition doesn't always toe the line.
If the political tension between Theah's nations is not enough for your players, there are a shitload of secret societies that just plan to conquer the world (even the whores have their own conspiracy for taking over the world and turn it into a pimp paradise). Also, there is a "China" and a "Ottoman Empire" that will make your high level characters be dead in the second turn after they put a foot across their borders, loads of ruins and artifacts from an Atlantis-like civilization and monsters that make you remember Call of Cthulhu: the first because they will make your characters get mad; the seconds because they are mostly impossible to kill (just read the succubus stats in the GM handbook).
Most nations and secret societies have, in addition to magical doohickeys, special internal swordsmanship schools, which is the catch-all term for any kind of fighting style whether or not it uses swords. Nations tend to have more than one, united by a few common themes. A few have non-swordsmanship schools that instead offer non-combat abilities within the school system of varying usefulness. All such (fucking expensive) schools grant many bonus skills and maneuvers, as well as unique passive benefits for each level of "mastery" a character has attained.
Second Edition expanded the setting considerably, opening up the rest of the world and developing things beyond not!Europe. There've been several sourcebooks for the not!Middle East, the not!New World, and not!Africa, with a whole new gameline for not!Asia in the pipeline when the company imploded.
A mystical version of England. Dominated by Arthurian style knights and fae. The Knights of the Rose and Cross is a secret society based in Avalon and Montaigne, although they seem more inspired by Musketeers than Medieval knights. Their racial magic, gained from bargaining with the Sidhe rather than necessarily inherited from the powers of Legion, involves invoking personas of heroes from Avalon (just Avalon, sorry El Vago fans). They don't even have to be dead first; there's an heroic NPC who's a "living legend" because of his incredible luck and fortune. Doing so offers different benefits depending on the legend in question.
There are also two other isles, Inismore (totally-not-Ireland) and the Highland Marches (totally-not-Scotland). All three are called Glamour Isles, and are in theory independent. In practice, both "Mad Jack" O'Bannon (boss of the Inismore, don't confuse him with Jack'O'Lantern, he doesn't have pumpkin head) and James MacDuff (first-among-equals of Highland Marches' clans) decided to follow Queen Elaine (chosen by the graal, descendant of sidhe, beautiful, and, if needed, incredible bitchy). Mostly for protection against Montaigne, and to honor the graal, fapping to her portrait is optional. Since they were lucky enough bastards to have their own island (and thus have no land borders with those Montaigne bastards), they put lots of effort into maintaining powerful navy. Namely, they hire anyone willing to attack any ship belonging to any nation they don't like (mostly Monatigne). Land of fae, sidhe, legends and other silly stuff for kids.
They broke with the Vactine church for reasons you probably know if you know much about European history, and their rag-tag navy of privateers kickstarted Castille's ongoing woes by pub-stomping the fancy armada sent to punish them for it. Their other big metaplot involves the inevitable tragedy of Queen Elaine, who has sworn to love nothing more than Avalon itself, and is probably going to break that promise and shatter the connection between Avalon and the Sidhe for good (arguably a good thing), leave Avalon diminished and weakened forever (arguably a bad thing), remove Glamour as a force in the world (indisputably a bad thing; it's the one sorcery that strengthens the Barrier with use), and leave the evil Sidhe plotting the whole thing behind (a mixed-bag, since unbeknownst to them it will also weaken them into things that can be easily killed and cut off their slayers from the rest of their kinds' vengeance).
Home of the Goodfellow archery school, also known as the only real reason for a PC to ever touch a bow, the Peeke school of staff-fighting, and the Donovan fencing school, which is the only school in the game to actually use the buckler half of swashbuckling. Also, them Inismore mates rival Ussurans in the "drunken boxing" discipline, even having a formal training system for it. The Highland Marches, naturally, focus on the use of the claymore, and on fucking shit up by going all-in on damage.
Spain simultaneously experiencing their post-armada-calamity malaise, one of their many wars of succession, and the Reconquista, save that they're hoping to reconquer their country from France rather than Muslims, whom they beat a while ago. The supplement highlights the nation, but also has large sections on the Vaticine Church (their version of the Vatican) and the nation's nearly-extinct racial fire magic. Instead of Sorcery, (though, unlike many examples of nearly extinct sorcery, El Fuego Adentro is available to player characters, if something to keep secret), Castillan characters and nobles get access to their nation's high-quality public education, which is nice, if not necessarily fair trade. The Los Vagos secret society is based out of Castille, a vigilante group somewhat akin to Zorro and somewhat akin to Anonymous who protect the king from the external threat of Montaigne and the internal threat of the rampant Inquisition by serving as a support network for the swashbuckling vigilante El Vago.
A decent nation beset within and without by threats to its good-hearted and intelligent but woefully-inexperienced king, whose position is not helped by having one of his top advisers literally be the head of the Inquisition. As of Second Edition, he has a twin sister who used to sub out with him sometimes, but the villains have her under house arrest.
While Castille's culture is kind, open, and even somewhat-accepting to outsiders, with a high standard of living thanks to the Church's advanced science and a culture of duty and proper conduct among the nobles, Montaigne's invasion and the rampant Inquisition are squeezing the country like a vice between them. In particular, the head of the Inquisition firmly believes the Fourth Prophet (who will usher in the end times) is right around the corner, and he and his literally-Cobra-masked henchmen need to save as many souls as possible by setting everyone on fire.
's a good job that there's a dashing, benevolent nobleman to serve as the king's other adviser to counterpoint him, and that dashing hero El Vago is there to foil his evil plans.
...What? They definitely aren't the same person.
All Castillian fighting styles make use of the fencing sword, but in drastically different contexts. For instance, a Gallegos duelist is an expert defender, a Gustavo cavalier fights from horseback, a Torres fights with a cloak in his offhand for blocking and parrying, a Soldano uses two fencing weapons at once... the only exception is the Zepeda school of whip-fighting. Rumors of an Abuelita school revolving around the use of la chancla are unsubstantiated, and would make your grandmother cry if she weren't too busy taking her shoes off.
Second edition also completely removed and replaced El Fuego Adentro with a new national "magic," namely alchemy, which works just like in your anime. Need a healing potion, fire bomb, working prosthetic leg? Alchemy can do it if you got the hero points for it.
Imperial China with some influences from Korea and Tibet. Hidden behind a massive bug-off wall of fire erected when the Senators made their pacts for sorcery, so no one knows anything about them. There was a single supplement for them, designed to be used for both the original game and Swashbuckling Adventures, which included some new skills and mechanics, including a few kung fu schools, for those who wanted to mix some wuxia into their swashbuckling, but unfortunately no one uses it.
They are slated to get an extensive write-up/rework in Second Edition as "Khitai," because Theans just can't pronounce it correctly, which could potentially come out at some point. It will, like the Crescent Empire books from the same edition, focus on homegrown heroes and villains rather than their potential impact on Theah's, and will add lots of other countries as components of Khitai.
Largely based on Turkey, but with a smattering of various Arabic and Persian influences as well. Mostly-despised and isolated for killing the Second Prophet and refusing to follow the same religion as the others, though the two are so similar to one another as to use the same Bibles. The supplement for this nation was largely intended for very high level characters as most everything will kill new players in no time at all.
Home of several scary options such as a supposedly-extinct (nah, not really) mist magic with blink and dematerialization, a different kind of sorcery based around giving yourself poison and snake powers, a handful of fencing schools, and ancient artifacts surpassing everything non-Vendel Theah has to offer.
Were so extensively reworked in Second Edition as to be largely-unrecognizable, with a focus on home-grown Heroes and Villains rather than their impact on the machinations of Theah's, and changes to the setting's basic geography giving them entire internal nations of their own, each with unique traits of their own, plus a succession crisis and various rare resources to squabble with one another over.
Germany during and after the Thirty Years' War, here fought between the Vaticine and the Objectionists, and with more monster infestations than whole Witcher universe. Ravaged and war-torn, the people of Eisen are hardened and violent. While one nation or another might have better specialists, no nation in Theah can match Eisen for sheer military might. Unfortunately, as Voltaire once famously declared, this disunited place is neither holy, Roman, nor an Empire right now, torn between squabbling factions even when it's not in the midst of outright civil war.
Die Kreuzritter is the main secret society of Eisen, an order of knights believed destroyed centuries ago that greatly influence the continent from the shadows. Only now they are trying to stop otherworldly monsters from raping everyone and everything, at the cost of their own lives and lots of others if necessary. They are secret secret, having let the rest of the continent think they got wiped out centuries ago to better defend the world from the shadows.
Eisen keeps a sort of record among two editions for magic flavors. They kind of have four, three if you are unnecessarily picky. Its racial magic, Zerstrong, based on decay and destruction, is (probably) truly extinct, but they have a super-metal called Drachen-Eisen to make up for it. In the "vanilla" 1st ed it is the best "magic" of them all, because even a starting character can have enough to be nearly immune to everything but firearms, and that's more than other mages can muster at their peak, though he will not be able to afford much else. They mostly lost it in second edition (it's still around, but it's rare and mostly only useful for fighting monsters). In exchange they learned how to make magical potions from dead bodies.
And finally, for the fourth entry, aforementioned Die Kreutzritter have their own brand of "shadow" magic - walking in the literal shadow world and killing with immaterial shadow stilettos. It lacks the versatility of "true" sorcery, but it's much more straightforward mechanically, doesn't require further investment to master once you've bought it, has a lot of obvious benefits without requiring lots of pushing from both player and GM to be worth its points, and synergizes really well with their internal sword school and assassination methods. The major balancing factor is that it's top secret and requires you to murder anyone who sees you use it unless you get clearance from the organization's head honcho, so you at least have to think of ways to make yourself come off like a ninja master rather than a mage lest you have to engage in a lot of party-killing.
And the best part: they have frau Fauner Posen 10 years before Brienne Tart was even a thing, and said frau is not a mere knight but an Eisenfurst, one of regional lords.
Home to several unique schools based around the "panzerhand," a huge metal gauntlet built to parry or grab enemy blades as well as punch, plus the obligatory zweihander school, which is even more in-depth than the others, incorporating a system of stances which shift by degrees from defensive-but--makes-it-hard-to-attack to easy-to-fuck-up-enemies-with-but-leaves-you-wide-open. They also have several non-combat (well, non-personal combat) schools for leading and commanding troops, and one (Gelingen) for studying and exploiting the weaknesses of monsters.
France before the French Revolution, it is even ruled by a guy called the "Sun King" (and or "Empereur") though, rather than a frothing Catholic, he's a mad sorcerer who's recently declared that his nation will be ruled by devil-magic. He competes with the Vodacce merchant princes for title of the most depraved, corrupt ruler in the setting.
The first edition supplement is largely focused on the intrigues of the various noble houses and secret societies that dominate the country. The Rilasciare, for example, are a secret society dedicated to overthrowing the monarchy. Or Church. Or any other form of government, to be honest. They still pretend to believe in Revolution and power to the people. No one else does. A later book included the option to have the nation undergo its inevitable revolution. It ain't pretty, especially with multiple secret societies all slap-fighting each other over who get to be the ones to cause and steer it.
Also, they have one of the most elite combat units in the setting - the musketeers. And since there is no way to force player to choose a profession that is simply a bodyguard of a greatest dick in the universe, they are also depicted as the best fighting force in the setting, supposedly capable of conquering rest of the Theah by themselves. Montaigne racial magic involves creating various teleportation points (by cutting-up reality itself to force it to bleed), and traversing a
Hell mysterious void in-between. No matter what, don't open your eyes in there...
Montaigne schools are extremely varied, but double-wielding is generally popular, whether twin knives (Boucher), the rapier and main-gauche (Valroux), or the sword and triple-dagger (Gaulle). The only Montaigne school that is not a double-wielding school, in fact, is the sicknasty Rois et Reines school of gunfighting, using a musket with bayonet and a brace of pistols to be a storm of brutal damage at range and one of the best polearm fighters in the game up close.
Don't actually have that much to do with the rest of Theah, despite being on the cover. The pirates of the continent vary widely in alignment, from honorable and mostly heroic privateers to insane bloodthirsty madmen, and everything in-between. Notable features include "pirate curses" that can strike those who mutiny or betray their fellows, the Rogers fencing school which grants an extremely-customizable selection of Pirate Tricks in addition to Dirty Fighting and Balance while aboard a ship, and good ol' Captain Reis, the Crimson Roger himself, a lunatic in a distinctive red coat that probably reminds you of a certain other fictional pirate. Except, instead of ineffectually battling a teenager in green, he kills everyone he meets and amasses a great collection of Syrneth artifacts, and instead of a hook hand he has a massive crescent-shaped Syrneth weapon that literally cuts through anything and ignores all Parry knacks. And, (spoilers!) even if you somehow kill him, probably by kiting him and pumping him full of bullets before he can get into slaughter-tornado range, to strike him down is to feel a great temptation within your soul to put on his coat, pick up his sickle, and become the Reis.
So, you got a place where the old King died, his son needs noble approval to become new king (it sounds weird, but that's how the Polish crown worked in similar time period, so keep scrolling), his mother tries to snatch the crown for herself, and old nobility sees all that is wrong with their nation as the direct result of the old king's work, ignoring the systemic problems they've caused to get things in this state. And their boss wants to get the crown for himself, because he can. Also, they have the best cavalry in all of Theah, because it would be boring if Eisen had all the military glory for themselves. And, as mentioned at start, they don't have magic of their own, so they make pacts with spirits (locally called deva, probably actually demons of a different kind).
In general, the nation, like Czechoslovakia, is split in half, with the Eastern Half being proud, heroic horsemen who are all about this new democracy thing, and the Western Half being all cynical, suspicious old-timers who are probably a bit unscrupulous and given to trafficking with monsters, even if they are still Heroes.
Introduced in Second Edition, as a love-letter to the many Eastern European countries where 7th Sea had a huge fanbase in 1st Edition, and which all-too often get lumped into Russia by the West. Notably, the story of the king is taken almost whole-cloth from the legend of John Sobieski, the greatest king in Polish history, savior of Christiandom, and leader of the largest cavalry charge in human history, and his struggles with the evil old senators of the Polish Szlachta, who deliberately sold out their country over and over, weakening it on a national and international level to remain masters of their own little lawns.
Feudal Russia and Eastern Europe. Has a Kislev feel to it. The supplement also allowed for the use of their national shape shifting magic. Not a terrible place to live, since the harshness of the land causes the people to be kind to one another. Oh, and the land is now sentient and is protecting them, so it was able to take two different invasion armies, and rape them to her heart's content. Locals call it "Matushka" (meaning
your momma Mother) and treat her as something halfway between a goddess and an ancestor. (They're still Vactine, though they have their own Orthodox Christianity equivalent that only recognizes the First Prophet, who supposedly met with Matushka personally and got her stamp of approval.) Kids are taught that Matushka can show up in their lives and test them, if they are good people. And guess what? It does happen, so Ussurians are generally nice people, ready to help others. Unless you're trying to mess with them, and then you learn why that was a mistake. Seriously, those guys wrestle bears for fun.
Their tsar, the Gaius, is clearly inspired by Ivan the Terrible, a ruthless man beloved by the common people for bringing them justice and stability after a long period of arbitrary rule and civil war, but cruel and harsh to the corrupt nobles he reigns over. He is tormented not only by his own mental instabilities and the sycophantic nobles who intrigue against him, but by Matushka trolling and gaslighting him, occasionally appearing in his mirror to remind him that it's she who put him where he is now, and she can put him back down too.
Their racial magic, gained from Matushka rather than Legion, involves taking on the shapes of animals, usually by getting their permission first. There are many extremely-powerful-but-villain-exclusive variants of this that are broke as fuck. They have three combat schools: one used by "knights" revolving around heavy weapons, mostly axes (Bogatyr), a bow-based school that, rather than the Goodfellow school's focus on actually making the bow viable, concentrated on mounted archery and hunting (Buslayevich), and the one you've all been waiting for, the Dobrynya wrestling school, which not only gives you the power to crush men in your arms, but focuses on making you immune to harsh weather, Polar Bear Club style.
Vendel and Vesten
Northern islands ostensibly in alliance. The Vendel are inspired by the Dutch trading houses, while the Vesten (properly the Vestenmannavnjar) are your fantasy style vikings. They are technically the same ethnic group, with the former being Vesten who decided to convert to the religion of the Prophets and abandon axes and war-cries for ledger-books and mercantilism(even changing their names to better accommodate the sensibilities of their foreign clients). Only the latter use magic, in the form of runes that can create various cool effects, though it's much more rigid and less versatile than the other magic powers, and also causes flesh wounds because it's also not based on the ancient deal the Senators cut with Legion.
As a mandatory "compensation" the Vendel got a sick-fuck "swordsman" school which uses firearms instead. It's... popularly banned by houserules. That said, there are several internal fighting styles, including a school that revolves around sword-canes, a fisherman school that revolves around the use of harpoons, and a "guard" style that relies on dual-wielding a sword and a lantern for blinding enemies and fighting at night. And that's just the Vendel ones; the Vesten have a whole array of Viking flavors to call upon.
They also have a bardic/skaldic tradition, with the Vestenmannavnjar appreciating the oral history of their people and gods, and the Vendel liking their skill as hype men and publicity agents to make more money.
A coalition of city-states largely inspired by Italy, complete with constant blood-feuds between angry relatives and merchant princes, where each family is fucked-up in their own special way. Their sorcery involves women seeing and manipulating destiny and the bonds between people as strands they can weave and touch. The men are terrified of them as a result, and so none of the "fate witches" are taught to read. Most women are taught to be good wives, staying at homes, caring for their husband and so on. There are courtesans who learn to read, entertain, and do all those other things to excite men, but they are still, at the end of the day, just prostitutes. Allegedly.
They are all good Vactines though! And they have their own warped interpretations of the Prophets' word that justifies all the rot and horror that pervades their society...
As for fa/tg/uys weeping that they cannot be magicians here, there is a good news and a bad news. Good one - there are male sorcerers in Vodacce. Bad news? Well... Their only trick is being completely immune to Fate Witches' powers, and cannot do anything on their own. At least they can scare the shit out of Sorte Strega (that's how they call women with magic powers).
Their sword styles largely have a strong emphasis on trickery, whether armed with a rapier, broadsword, main gauche, bare hands, improvised weapons, or a mixture of the above. Literally the only Vodacce school that doesn't get some combination of Dirty Fighting, Pugilism, or Feint is the Capputina school of gypsy knife-throwing and acrobatics.
Much like the Montaigne book, this one focused on the political intrigues of the greater nation. It also greatly expanded the poison mechanics of the game. The Invisible College, alchemists and scientists hunted by the Vaticine Church, operate in many of these city-states. They are also known for their extreme bravado and recklessness, incredible talent to get into any trouble in quite impressive radius, and being backstabbing dicks at their highest echelons. Maybe, if you want to stay a Hero, keep out of the Inner Circle... you won't like what you find.
A number of other secret societies and non-governmental organizations exist in Theah as well. Most of them have some unique player options squirreled away in there.
- The Vaticine Church used to be a super-cool version of Catholicism, 100% supporting scientific progress as "uncovering the puzzle of creation" and only trying to exterminate the kinds of magic that literally come from Hell and actively erode reality to let demons in. It has been led by three prophets at different points in its history, with a fourth prophet's arrival signifying the end of the world. Unfortunately, between the disappearance of the last Pope/Hierophant (whom Le Empereur totally didn't murder by literally pushing him down some stairs), the inability to pick a new one thanks to the disappearance of Montaigne's cardinals (whom Le Empereur definitely didn't have kidnapped so his nation would have no gods before him and sorcery), the disastrous Objectionist revolution, and the Sun King of Montaigne breaking away to proudly reveal that his nation still has its sorcery and intends to rule it forever as a nation of evil magic, their better elements have fallen on hard times. The current dominant power are a bunch of shitty hypocritical fuckwits called the Inquisition who're actively trying to kill all scientists, burn all books, and hasten the end of the world, with the other factions unable to unite to stop them as they undo the work of centuries in brief years. Their internal combat styles are the mostly-obsolete Rossini school of polearm fighting, used by the Hierophant's personal bodyguards, and the Swords of Solomon school that uses a weapon and shield to be a more effective bodyguard.
- The Sidhe are eldritch horrors and sea-dwelling creatures. A.k.a. Fae, and not exactly the nice fairytale sort. Some of their kind were actually made playable in the Avalon sourcebook, which was expanded upon in The Sidhe Book of Nightmares supplement for the Swashbuckling Adventures label; this kind is mostly associated with (obviously) Avalon. They have a very large number of powerful, practical advantages out of the gate, but cannot gain drama dice, and thus, cannot ever gain XP or advance. There's a thick subplot about ancient wars between Sidhe and Syrneth, the latter being, so to say, more evil (and are most likely the walled-off evil with whom Bargainers dealt for the noble's magic.) But honestly, it is such a skubby mess of storytelling, much of which later writers abruptly dropped, that it is better left forgotten. They are hypocritical sadistic monsters who enjoy torturing, abusing, and generally parasitizing humanity, but the authors have a great deal of unearned sympathy for them and so we are supposed to as well. Notably, their tight ties to Avalon involve a great deal of intra-court politicking that we are supposed to be invested in, even though the only change from the eventual winner will be one of degree rather than kind. Also, the book outright instructs DMs to make them immortal and basically unbestable in contests of combat, so as to present players with challenges that need to be out-thought and otherwise beaten creatively, and to hunt down and slaughter or worse any PCs who don't play along and be good sports about them, but this has the unfortunate side effect of making the advantage and items meant to fight them practically useless and ensuring the race as a whole will forever be beyond the reach of justice.
- Explorer's Society are an organization dedicated to the exploration of various uncharted territories of Theah, including the alien ruins of the weird precursor civilization. This may or may not be a terrifying and horrible idea, depending on how you feel about being chewed up by a deathtrap of a dungeon, only to hand over what turns out to be a primitive nuclear device to a mad scientist. Their two schools are the Shield Man, a combat school entirely focused on improvised weapons and quick thinking, and Syrneth Tinkering, a completely non-combat school with some school-based mechanics revolving around repairing, refuelling, and potentially even merging or recreating Syrneth devices.
- Sophia's Daughters are a secret society of prostitutes said to have more connections throughout the world then any other. Their sourcebook revealed them to actually be an entire society of Mary Sue half-sidhe women who are beautiful and immortal and have unique magical powers. One of those powers is literally the ability to tell whether a character is a Hero, Villain, Scoundrel, or Henchman, which is just as powerful as it sounds. Also has a broken-as-fuck assassination school that revolves almost entirely around the use of bodice-daggers to poison enemies who can't even notice you doing it. It was derp. They are in neck-deep with the Sidhe, and even unleashed the setting's equivalent of the Black Death for supposedly-justified reasons to prevent the destruction of the barrier, but just as the writers have a great deal of unearned sympathy for the Sidhe despite their being parasitic, sadistic, psychotic, hypocritical monsters, so too do they have sympathy for these, their human pawns, so we are also supposed to find them sympathetic. Admittedly, in a very Die Kreutzritter sort of way. Speaking of which...
- Die Kreutzritter are even more spoiler-tastic than most of the rest of these, but think Christian versions of the Hashishin/Nizari and you'll be in the right ballpark. Allegedly killed to a man centuries ago, they actually went underground, with the Hierophant's blessing, and operate as secretive assassins, spies, and guardians who always fake their own deaths before joining. They did this because they uncovered ancient precursor artifacts that allowed them to discover the Barrier, and sorcery's effect on it, leading them to abandon national ties and swear to defend all humanity. Use a special shadow magic that's super-potent and synergizes well with their school, but permanently marks users in a way that makes what they are obvious to everyone in the know, which is admittedly few. Are in a constant war not only against the forces of demonic corruption in the world, but with insane undead members of their own organization that have lost their humanity to shadow and are (currently) still trapped in the other dimension they access with their shadow powers. Their school is an awesome assassination school revolving around double-wielding stilettos and eventually causes them to gain a bulky Fear rating.
- The Knights of the Rose and Cross are a swashbuckling version of the Knights Templar, and the historical kind rather than the fictional kind. They're awesome, heroic people fighting the good fight against evil, and have the fewest skeletons in their closet compared to the rest. Unfortunately, one of them is that they are thoroughly penetrated by an evil super-duper secret society, though they are less of a catspaw than they could be since their Grandmaster has a conscience and they aren't very centralized. Their biggest secret is The Secret: that the Third Prophet the rest of Theah acknowledges is was a fraudster, and the true Third Prophet taught them mankind's inner power, which doesn't need sorcery. (This is barely a spoiler; an extremely cursory reading of the Player's Handbook makes it clear how much of an aberration the Third Prophet was. And he helpfully founded the Inquisition, just in case you needed more convincing.) Unfortunately, their sword school is trash and most players can literally buy a better version of its master benefit as an advantage at character creation. And not an expensive one either.
- El Vagos are a support network for Castille's home-grown local hero, El Vago, that dashing Zorro wearing a Spanish-styled V for Vendetta mask, one with growing reach across Theah. Founded to counteract the dark forces of Montaigne and the Inquisition, they are easily the most benign of all secret societies here, using heroic means to heroic ends. While their founder and the original El Vago is indeed that dashing nobleman from the Castille section, hitting high enough rank reveals the spoiler that there's actually many members who wear the mask of El Vago at different times, letting all of them maintain plausible deniability and also adding to his mythical aura. Unfortunately, most modern compilation-album character-building documents just flop that one out there for all to see, so it's one of the more-well-known spoilers. Their internal school, El Punal Occulto, revolves around the use of a fencing weapon and a spring-loaded hidden knife in the hilt or the off-hand, for wince-inducing pommel strikes.
- The Rilasciare are anachronistic anarchists and pro-democrats who want to make away with the social order and free the peasantry from the shackles of the nobility. Depending on who's writing them at the moment they're either a bunch of bomb-throwing idiot stereotypes or a valiant, ancient order who knows more than all of the rest of them. Either way, they were the ones who exterminated Zerstrong for good, and more power to them for taking out that trash. Their Vipera ex Morsi fighting style is a perfectly-good assassination double-stiletto school in a crowded market, with a focus on building up penalties even on missed shots and dirty fighting.
- The Invisible College is made up of adventurer scientists out to save science from the clutches of the Inquisition by being generally awesome. Unfortunately, they are thoroughly penetrated by an evil super-duper secret society using them for their own ends, one of which is the horrific pursuit of Blood Alchemy. They teach the Bonita fencing school, which emphasizes defense and escape rather than actually winning fights.
- The Swordsman's Guild is an organization dedicated to the finer points of dueling and swordsmanship across all nations. They keep all the different swordmasters in all the different national styles from losing all their accumulated knowledge in a frenzy of honor-duels for rank via a few basic common-sense regulations. Many schools offer the non-zero benefit of free membership, those which don't must buy it as an advantage to gain membership. And it is a non-zero benefit; having that pin marks you as a man to respect and fear across the continent.
- Novus Ordo Mundi or NOM do not exist, aren't an Illuminati whose leadership is entirely composed of a council of the most-powerful and morally-warped supervillains of each nation and most secret societies, don't secretly run or at least have a hand in the better part of the world, corrupting and polluting all good things they touch in an effort to buttress and secure their own power as they grab always for more, and I wouldn't worry about it. They aren't in any of the resources intended for players, and definitely aren't mentioned exclusively in GM-only sections. Also, they definitely don't have the best knife-based assassination school in the game, surpassing even the Mortis school of Die Kreuzritter, at their disposal as the exclusive privilege of the greatest assassin in the world and a few of his most-trusted protegees who all do their bidding and mostly try to stop them murdering each other. That'd be pants-shittingly scary.
Collectible Card Game
The 7th Sea Collectible Card Game was released in 1999 alongside the RPG. The game was supported through 2001, but was dropped late that year. Much like other AEG games Legend of the Five Rings and Doomtown, player actions influenced the ongoing story line of the the game. These changes were also reflected in the RPG supplements released during this time, although only the first story arc was concluded.
The major card types were actions, adventures, attachments, chanteys, crew, and ships. Each player built their own deck centered around a ship and a captain. This ship would determine a player's faction. Crew functioned as both resources and attacking/defending forces of a ship. Ships had limited crew space and were generally faction specific, so your choice in crew would limit who and what you could play to your ship. Likewise crew with the "Captain" trait were limited to one per ship and represented your deck's faction alongside the ship.
Actions were the catch all card type, representing everything from your crew's actions, meteorological phenomenon, and reactions. These were all one-use effects and were discarded upon resolution. Attachments, meanwhile, represented permanent changes in status, such as firearms for your crew or persistent changes in sea conditions. Adventures represented the various quests and ordeals your crew endured, often rewarding control points for accomplishing the objectives listed on them. The game was won by having enough control is all five seas to claim victory or by sinking all opposing ships.
In later expansions the card type chantey was introduced. These were cards that had a global effect on the table and remained in play until replaced by another chantey. Only one chantey could be in play at any time. The game board was represented by five seas that ships could move between, the sixth and seventh seas not being represented on the board.
At this same time, massive errata was issued for numerous cards throughout the run of the game. This was reflected in the Iron Shadow release, reprinting the previous core set, cards with errata, and all supported faction captains and ships. This coincided with the conclusion of the first story arc, which removed Gosse's Gentlemen as a faction. These factors combining at once are often attributed to the sudden drop in sales of the game. Two more commercial sets were released in 2001 before the game was cancelled. A digital set, Parting Shots was released on the website of AEG and sought to give one last shot at balancing the factions for legacy play.
|Set Name||Factions||Release Date||Set Size|
|No Quarter||Brotherhood, Castille, Crimson Rogers, Explorer's Society, Montaigne, Sea Dogs||1999||323 Cards|
|Strange Vistas||Corsairs, Gosse's Gentlemen||1999||161 Cards|
|Broadsides||Brotherhood, Castille, Crimson Rogers, Explorer's Society, Montaigne, Sea Dogs||1999||329 Cards|
|Shifting Tides||Montaigne, Vesten||1999||161 Cards|
|Scarlet Seas||Crimson Rogers, Sea Dogs||2000||161 Cards|
|Black Sails||Black Freighter||2000||54 Cards|
|Fate's Debt||Brotherhood, Corsairs||2000||161 Cards|
|Reaper's Fee||Castille, Vesten||2000||161 Cards|
|Horizon's Edge||Explorer's Society, Gosse's Gentlemen||2000||115 Cards|
|Iron Shadow||Black Freighter, Brotherhood, Castille, Corsairs, Crimson Rogers, Explorer's Society, Montaigne, Sea Dogs, Vesten||2001||623 Cards|
|Syrneth Secret||Brotherhood, Montaigne||2001||169 Cards|
|Parting Shots||Unaligned||2001||54 Cards|
|Call of Cthulhu - Cardfight!! Vanguard - Fire Emblem Cipher |
Force of Will - Jyhad - Magi-Nation Duel - Magic: The Gathering
Netrunner - Pokémon - Star Wars: Destiny CCG (Dead) - Yu-Gi-Oh
|1000 Blank White Cards - 7th Sea - Apples to Apples - Bang! |
Cards Against Humanity - Coup - Decktet - Dominion - Dvorak
F.A.T.A.L. - Mafia - Mag Blast - Mao - Munchkin
Race for the Galaxy - Sentinels of the Multiverse - Tanto Cuore
|Bridge - Cribbage - Mahjong - Solitaire/Patience - Poker - Rummy - Tarot|