[How Do I: Fantasy] #2 7th Sea

Sylvia Etalon du Etoille by April Lee

Well, this is a campaign long coming.  I’ve had the books for several years now (just the 2 corebooks, alas) but I’ve always been fascinated by the setting for this rpg.  While I’ve been made aware of the downsides of some parts of the metaplot that a lot of people railed against, I’m willing to make use of my ignorance of these details and run it as I understand it right out of the box.

That said, 7th Sea posits a fantasy take on Europe as a setting with different names, the presence of magic, and a whole bunch of interesting mysteries.  Being a non-historian, and non-resident of Europe, I’m blissfully unaware of where some of the NPCs are drawn from and can enjoy it with the unabashed excitement of fools and children. :p

However, much like L5R, the variance in the groups, and the fact that they’re technically all aligned against each other makes for a massive setting that usually doesn’t work with the United Nations of Theah approach where everyone comes from one nationality or another without a really good reason.  (In L5R the default reason was that they were Magistrates.  I can imagine that you could do something similar with 7th Sea using a secret society as an excuse.)

Campaign Concept:

Given the Mysterious nature of Syrneth Artifacts and the presence of Secret Societies in the midst of a tricky Political balancing act of countries who are very near (or already engaged in) War, I think I’ll go with the Lara Croft / Indiana Jones angle for this one.

Player Characters are members of the Explorer’s Society, a multinational organization dedicated to studying the past and exploring the geography of Theah.   This gives the Player Characters a chance to play characters from any of the nations, and united with a different motivation aside from Patriotism.

The Campaign Premise will be dirt simple:  A famous member of the society has gone missing, and the player characters are assembled by their various chapter masters to work together and figure out the secrets behind his disappearance, which has something to do with a Syrneth artifact that he’s been chasing down for the past five years.

What follows is a globe-trotting chase across all of Theah to find out what happened, and who was after the Artifact and how to get it back.  It’s a perfect perpetual-motion machine for as long as the GM can think of a complication to throw in their way, the players will have something to do.  Whether it’s fighting off a rival secret society, trying to get away from the local military, seducing the daughter of the man who has a vital clue, or dodging traps and exploring catacombs and fighting off all manner of beasts and men.  Sadly I can’t go into too much detail as I don’t want to spoil anything for my players just yet.

Themes: Adventure, Mystery, Exploration, Derring-Do.
Character Concepts: Almost any concept can fit in this campaign, as long as they’re not too tied down into a geographic location, like a soldier or a priest with a congregation to look after.  Having contacts is important, as the players can expect to be all over the place, and knowing a friendly face is always useful.

Sure this isn’t the most original premise in a game but it’s one that can at least keep things interesting.  If I draw from a myriad of sources from Capitaln Alatriste to The Three Musketeers, Assassin’s Creed 2, Tomb Raider, Sid Meier’s Pirates, Indiana Jones and Zorro, I think I can have a satisfactory campaign without much of the GM headaches.

6 thoughts on “[How Do I: Fantasy] #2 7th Sea

  1. I wanted to like 7th Sea, I really did, but unfortunately, I do have a background in European history and the real history was always more interesting and, well, more fantastic than what 7th Sea came up with. Worse, the economic structure of the kingdoms does not work without a New World, which their historical models had, and properly functioning trade routes.

    And the character creation system is so painfully poorly organized even for an AEG product.

    1. hey there Seaofstarsrpg,

      I’ve heard that particular complaint over 7th Sea, and I will confess that it’s completely valid. I’m just entirely willing to turn a blind eye to the bizarre economy at the moment. Though the character creation bits are still of concern to me. I’m pretty sure that some player will find ways to optimize to hell.

      1. Lugh has some good suggestions below, but I would go further and just use Europe and the real world with an overlay of 7th Sea.

        For all my complaints, 7th Sea can be fun and there are a lot of fun things in there.

  2. Ah, 7th Sea. One of my favorites. Though, it has recently been displaced by Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies. It will always hold a special place in my heart, though, as the line with my first writing credit (half of the Church of the Prophets book).

    First, I think that your intention to keep the basic campaign premise very simple and add complications as it goes is sound. 7th Sea works extremely well when you use the characters’ backgrounds as the fuel for plots, rather than shoe-horning them into your own plot.

    Second, I can recommend some tweaks to help the system and setting. Give the player bonus XP when they *earn* a Drama Die, not based on how many are left. The rules as written tend to stifle the DD flow.

    The RAW also give a lot of power to Traits. This was actually intentional on the part of the designers. But, I find that the system works a bit better if you make tests keep the Knack dice rather than the Trait dice.

    For the setting, I do recommend adding a New World on the other side of the Midnight Archipelago. It just makes the setting work better. If you don’t want to detail it, though, just note that it exists, give it a cool name, and tell the players that you’ll sink any ship that they’re on that tries to go there.

    I also recommend significantly increasing the size of the Crescent Empire, to basically curve down and around to roughly the shape of northern Africa. Europe works better with a proper Mediterranean to play in. Since it is all still off limits by order of the Church, the change makes little practical difference.

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