[7th Sea 2nd Edition] More thoughts on Improvising

Posted: June 2, 2016 by pointyman2000 in 7th Sea, Articles, First Impressions, Reviews, Roleplaying Games
Tags: , ,

Yesterday I posted my first impressions on the Kickstarter Backer Preview PDF, and how the Improvise rule bothered me. A friend of mine, Charles noted that I might be using a bad example for it that doesn’t do the rule justice.

Just to go over it again, Heroes must pay an additional 1 Raise when they improvise, which is defined as performing actions on their turn that are not covered by their declared Approach at the start of the Round.

Perhaps a better example would be that the Villain, upon winning the roll off to determine initiative, uses his Raises to re-position himself out of melee range and draw a pistol. This invalidates the Approach as declared by the Hero to run the Villain through with his sword, and thus the Hero suffers an Improvise surcharge on what action he takes on his Action to adapt to the new status quo.

While mechanically, I can see it working out that way, my bigger concern lies with the ambiguity as to the declaration of Approaches. The text says “Everybody” declares their Approach for the Round, to which I assume that the GM must also declare the Approaches of his Villains and Brute Squads. However, the question now becomes: Who declares first?

If the GM declares his Approaches first, then the Players can declare Approaches that directly engage the Villain to avoid the Improvisation penalty. Likewise, if the Players must declare Approaches first, then the Villain will simply react to their Approaches, avoiding the Improvisation penalty. Furthermore the Villain’s Approach might even invalidate the Hero’s Approaches to inflict the Improvise Penalty on them.

It’s a weird situation and one that I hope the final draft will clarify, otherwise it’ll be weighted too strongly to favor one side or another.

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Comments
  1. I have a few points from my interpretations of the rules.

    – The GM doesn’t declare an approach in the action sequence example and since they don’t use traits or skills, they can’t really follow the improvisation rule.
    – I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the GM to intentionally screw the players.
    – I would allow some flexibility in what actions could be part of the players’ approach and encourage them to be imaginative. In your example, I would consider that moving towards the villain is included in his approach.
    – Also, I don’t think that using all the villain’s raises to move away goes against the spirit of the “no dodging” rule.

    You’re absolutely right that the draft rules aren’t clear. You should explain your concerns on the feedback page!

    • Hey there,

      Thanks for replying with your thoughts!

      – The GM doesn’t declare an approach in the action sequence example and since they don’t use traits or skills, they can’t really follow the improvisation rule.

      Good point. It didn’t occur to me that they were actually exempt from declaring Approaches by virtue of how they were built. At least that part makes sense to me now.

      – I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the GM to intentionally screw the players.

      I agree with you 100%. I’m beginning to feel that when running 7th Sea, the onus on the GM is to make sure to run in a way to maximize fun and challenge and not abuse your inherent mechanical advantages.

      – I would allow some flexibility in what actions could be part of the players’ approach and encourage them to be imaginative. In your example, I would consider that moving towards the villain is included in his approach.

      Here’s where it gets tricky. Can an Approach be considered “too broad?” say “I intend to end him here and now!” is pretty permissive but gives no clues as to what Trait+Skill to use, while “I swing on the chandelier and plant my boots into his back to send him crashing out the window” is pretty specific and easily lends to a Trait+Skill interpretation, but both are essentially Approaches.

      – Also, I don’t think that using all the villain’s raises to move away goes against the spirit of the “no dodging” rule.

      Yeah I feel that moving away isn’t a bad idea, especially if you have a plan! (An EVIL plan! Mwahahaha!)

  2. I feel that this edition of 7th Sea has more things in common with octane and games like Dungeon World/Apocalypse World tha with the original 1st edition. The “Be a fan of the players” and the control of the narrative seems to be a main theme here…

    • Hi Alfredo!

      I think you’re right. There’s certainly a “Big Damn Heroes” vibe to it, and I’m hoping that it’ll be made clear to the GMs to run the game in that fashion. I’m still getting used to it as I’m firmly ensconced in the traditional sort of system such as the one of Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition.

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