[Review] 7th Sea, 2nd Edition

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

One comment

  1. I backed the game on kickstarter and never played the first edition.

    After the first reading I was shocked: I loved it but at the same time I hated it because I didn’t know how to run it, and was not sure if the system would work.

    After having played a one shot game as a player, I finally understood how the system worked and its dynamics and intentions. I directed a one shot myself as a GM a week later and it worked smoothly. My players enjoyed it a lot, and I felt like we all made the history, it was a shared thing, not a succession of events that I threw to them to overcome.

    So it was not a problem of the game, but of my own PARADIGM. Because 7th Sea is this: a big change on paradigm.

    So I recomend anyone that wants to approach the book, to approach it forgetting all previous assumptions of how an RPG must be.

    Do it, and you will enjoy it. Don’t do it, and you will go from a headache to an attack of anger and hate….

    For me, the character I played at the one shot, an Inismore Bard, is the character I enjoyed the most playing ever. EVER. And it has been 20 years playing.

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