The Roleplaying Game that Kicks Logic in the Face is coming back.
Is your body ready for the Awesome?
One of the longest running myths in RPGs is that a GM is somehow “better” than Players. Sure it’s not always expressed as such, but the sentiment remains. There’s always talk of the GM being the one to make the big sacrifices, that GMing is busy, thankless work. GMs should be afforded respect and admiration for taking on the burden of planning and running games to his fortunate players, who just show up on game day with their dice (and sometimes not even that!)
I’m starting to see that this is a bad point of view to have (and to encourage.) GMs are simply participants in the group activity of an RPG, the same way players are. We all come together to play the game, and each of us has a part to play in making the activity work. More traditional systems have a clear GM-Player role description, while modern systems have begun to blur the lines, giving Players more and more narrative control to the point that being a GM is almost indistinguishable as being a Player.
The real concern about the mindset of the GM as a long suffering hero is that it enables a form of inequality. Suddenly, GMs matter more by virtue of the tasks that they do. While players, being “just” players, are beholden to the GM. This is a slippery sort of situation that could easily lead to the GMs perceiving themselves as an elite subset of the RPG population… and that kind of thinking leads to a culture and mindset of entitlement.
I can’t always speak for other GMs, but when I run a game, it’s because I derive great personal joy from being able to craft a story from my player’s actions and deliver surprising moments where they get to be big damn heroes. Sure there’s work in the form of world building and such, but it’s not a burden, and certainly not one that I’d blame on the players.
So given that we’ve identified that this sort of GM Elitism is a disservice to yourself and the people you play with, what can a GM do? Well, self awareness and reflection helps. It’s easy to fall into the trap where you start dismissing Player opinions on improving the game simply on the basis that they aren’t GMs.
Remember, the GM is still part of the same team. Sure you serve a different role in the activity, but that’s just like saying a Goalie is more important than any other player in a football team. They do different things, but one is never more inherently important than the other.
Led by a group of stalwart D&D fans determined to put the Philippines on the map of the D&D landscape, Conclave is the first local tabletop Roleplaying Game convention to have Adventurer’s League support in the form of a convention-only Epic adventure!
If you’re a fan of D&D, or Roleplaying Games in general please drop by and show your support and have a great time!
Check out their website for more details: http://www.conclaveph.com/index.html
To call this a 2nd Edition feels like a bit of a misnomer. John Wick has taken the old 7th Sea, tossed the old Roll and Keep mechanics overboard, and rewrote much of the setting and history to create this new version of 7th Sea. As such, it feels more fitting to use a term more commonly applied to movies: a reboot.
A More Cinematic Experience
7th Sea’s new mechanics lend itself to a style of play where the player characters are Heroes with a capital “H”. Men and women with amazing skill and luck to live out larger-than-life adventures.
The new system is fairly straightforward. Upon declaring the character’s action for the turn, they roll a pool of d10’s determined by the sum of their Trait and Skill. Players then assemble sets of 10 from the results of the roll, with each set counting as a Raise. These are then used to “buy” narrative achievements such as successfully meeting a goal, taking advantage of an opportunity, or just avoiding harm.
On the GM’s part, their job is to present the players with Opportunities and Threats within the scene, each one building towards a cinematic encounter between the Heroes and the opposition, be it a horde of goons, a devious trap, or the villain of the story.
You’re not the World, but a Stage
GMs who cleave towards a more simulation-based philosophy of running a game will find themselves somewhat challenged by the chief conceit of 7th Sea second edition. The game is engineered so that your role is not that of a director rather than that of a referee.
Threats and Villains exist so that you can highlight the Heroes. And even the character creation ensures that the Heroes know exactly what they’re getting into, and how they’d like each tale to end.
This eliminates a lot of the creative input from the side of the GM, and those who are used to a more open, sandbox method might find themselves lost as to how to properly run the game.
Pretty as it gets
I will say that the artwork and layout for the book is gorgeous, with full colour illustrations and easily readable text. The lack of over-sexualised images is a major plus, and I found a few pieces that took into account the LGBT fans as well, something that I feel will be very much appreciated.
7th Sea Second Edition isn’t an old car with a new coat of paint. It’s a familiar shade of paint on a brand new car. If you’re looking for more of the old, then you might want to be prepared to be surprised.
However, if you’re looking for a game that delivers rope-swinging swashbuckler-y fun with the ability to take your own story by the reins, then this is the game for you. John Wick clearly knew what he wanted to do with the game, and didn’t waste time killing sacred cows to make it happen.
If you’re interested in getting a copy of 7th Sea, you can grab it in PDF from DriveThruRPG for only $24.99 or roughly Php 1,200
Beast: the Primordial calls itself “A Storytelling Game of Endless Hunger” and it’s easy to see why. The role you play is that of a creature driven by the unending need to feed, mechanically simulated by the Satiety system.
It is perhaps the Chronicles of Darkness game that adheres strongest to its themes. The Beasts are helpless to the call of their nature, while their opponents, the Heroes are subject to the instincts driven into them by who they are.
To side with “higher” human qualities like free will and determination in the face of your impulses is to lose, as both factions are brought together to enact an eternal cycle of hate and violence.
Let me get this out out of the way: Mechanically, Beast: the Primordial is evocative, interesting and has a lot of cool powers and options. The artwork is definitely creepy, and the layout is decent, with perhaps a few fiction pages looking a little bit too busy and distracting.
Gameplay-wise it fits perfectly withing the power levels expected of most Supernaturals, and Beasts can run with the best of Vampires and Werewolves and still be able to bring something interesting to the table.
But I can’t run it.
This is where I will go firmly into opinion mode, so please bear with me. I find Beast a truly disturbing book, with the implications of the loss of control and being unable to change your place in destiny (and where transcending it only makes you a WORSE sort of creature) bothers me deeply.
I believe that the game itself is good, and for certain players, who are responsible, mature adults, can do it a great deal of justice to explore their darker sides.
However in the hands of a less mature group, this game is an invitation to commit imaginary atrocity and revel in it. There’s potential here to go very, very wrong.
Can I recommend it? As a system, then yes. It’s well written, creepy in all the right ways, and has potential to stick with you long after you’ve played it. If you and your group have the trust, and emotional fortitude to tackle some really disturbing facets of a Beast’s existence then by all means, get this game.
But will I ever run Beast? I’m going to have to give this one a pass.