Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Thinking back on 7th Sea

I ran a short arc of a revenge story in AEG's 7th Sea a few years back. The idea of swashbuckling is seldom far from my gaming thoughts, and the game system had enough interesting knobs and dials for me to long to try it out.

When I had decided I wanted to run it, and had read the books, a new problem appeared. The game was set in an imaginary Europe with new names for everything, and magic to boot! I liked the idea of filing off the serial numbers. I remembered that Dave Arneson had thought that taking the adventure into fantasy was a great way to stop arguments about historical minutiae, that was not the problem. The magic on the other hand, was.

For some reason I wanted a regular world, with none of that "gamey stuff". I wanted exciting fencing and swinging in chandeliers, but no fireballs. I also decided to ditch the culture inspired by ancient Norse culture. Those are always corny when done by Americans.

Starting the game it also became clear that even though the game system had some really good ideas, for example the incentives to do dramatic stuff, it did have problems. One of the most glaring ones showed up already in character generation, where the sheer amount of knacks and skills made it take too long to whip up a character. I like that part of a game to be quick and breezy, which is why I fell out of love with GURPS.

Now this weekend when I saw the movie I posted about yesterday, I realized I had been wrong about the magic, though.

While my 7th Sea game was a success, the way that musketeer movie shoved in non-historical air-ships and steampunk features showed me the joy of mash-ups. I still think vikings through an American lens is just corny. But magic, swords, Napoleon, cthulhu, intrigue and lost treasures actually goes just fine together in the soup! One reason I liked the movie was those elements which were contra factual. Hey, what was it Dave had done again?

I'm thinking about revisiting 7th Sea, and this time I'm not going to take things out. I'm going to put more gonzo stuff in! There are still issues with the game system I will address, like a hack to limit the amount of skills you get. Maybe even eliminate the fact that there are skills and knacks. That was a bit fiddly. More of that will be posted here, shortly.
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