September 17, 2016

7th Sea 2e - A Villain of Honor

So not all that long ago, I posted a plethora of Heroes for the second edition of John Wick Presents' 7th Sea RPG, and even included a write-up of the adventure I used to introduce my Friday Night Skype group to the game.

Well, I'm back with some new morsels of 7th Sea goodness, this time turning my attention to the Villains.  Now admittedly, coming up with stats for a Villain isn't that difficult, given they use a much simpler method to determine their capabilities, those being Strength and Influence, which combine to determine their Villainy Rank, along with any notable Advantages that the Villain might have.  Still, it never hurts to have a few ready-made Villains on hand for your Heroes to face, either for them to confront, confound, and vex, or to be confronted, confounded, and vexed in turn.

Now, I won't be posting these Villains quite as frequently as I did the cavalcade of Heroes, and will instead aim for one new Villain each Saturday for at least the rest of this month and perhaps a couple more going into October.

Captain Charles du Chevalier, Musketeer Captain
Nation: Montaigne
Villainy Rank: 10
Strength: 6
Influence: 4
Advantages: Connection (Montaigne Musketeers), Disarming Smile, Duelist Academy (Valroux), Reputation (Chivalrous)
Notable Items: Rapier and main-gauche, Musketeer uniform, flintlock pistol with powder and shot

Appearance: Charles is tall and muscular, with the grace of an athlete and the bearing of king.  He is clean-shaven, which makes him look younger than his twenty-nine years.  His nose turns upward slightly at the sight of commoners, and he always condescends to those beneath him.  He is always polite, however, and rigidly adheres to the code of chivalry at all times; arrogance and honor can go hand in hand.

Background: Captain du Chevalier is the epitome of a King’s Musketeer: honorable, noble, and devoted to king and country.  He’s also arrogant and more than a little condescending to his social inferiors, but his heart is good and he faithfully adheres to the Musketeer’s code.  The third son of a landed nobleman, he joined the army for the excitement it offered, and was eventually selected to join the Musketeers.  Charles is a valiant swordsman, and fights to uphold the honor of his native country.  He is also an aristocrat, and affects the elitist snobbery typical of Montaigne’s nobility.  He has a hard time believing that a gentle of any stripe could commit a crime, and rarely persecutes anyone of breeding.  If he does become convinced such individuals are a threat, he will hound them to the ends of the earth; in his mind, a noble foe is ten times as dangerous as an ignoble one.  Unlike many of his peers, he knows that the peasantry of his homeland suffer and realizes their complaints are genuine.  While he sympathizes, he also genuinely believes that they were meant to suffer as they do, often saying that “if Theus wanted them happy, he wouldn’t have dirtied their blood.”

Notes: Captain du Chevalier made his first appearance in The Lady’s Favor, Part One of the Erebus Cross adventure series.  He could make for a good recurring adversary for a group of Heroes, given that he’s highly capable but also a man of honor.  Under the right circumstances, he might even make for a capable ally, as his commitment to defending king and country are absolute, and if pointed in the direction of a serious threat to either, he’ll waste no time working to thwart that threat, or at the very least give the Heroes aid in doing so.  He's really not much for scheming, and tends to spend his Influence to call up a contingent of rank-and-file Musketeers in the form of a Strength 10 Brute Squad with the Duelists special ability, or instead to all upon the aid of a Musketeer Officer, who has a Villainy Rank of 5 (Strength 4, Influence 1) with the Deadeye and Fencer Advantages if it appears things might get tough.

September 5, 2016

An Idol Pursuit - a 7th Sea adventure for the 2nd edition

Okay, so now that I've offered up a collection of Heroes that are ready to play for the 7th Sea RPG, it seems the only thing really missing is an adventure to put them through.

Well, fear not, as I've got a quick little adventure that's well-suited for a single session's worth of fun, giving players a quick introduction to the world of 7th Sea.  I ran a slightly less polished version of this for my friends as our first outing with this system, and we had a good deal of fun.

When I ran it I used the port city of Wandesborow (page 24, Nations of Theah Book 2: Avalon) as the location, but the adventure is malleable enough that any port city could be used instead. Also, this adventure works best if one or more Heroes have a background as "adventuring archaeologists," the sorts of individuals that would be willing to investigate Syrenth ruins in pursuit of both knowledge and trinkets.  When I ran this, one of the Heroes was Rose Doreleen (though lacking membership in the Explorer's Society at the time), with two others (Conroy and Mikhail) being her assistants and the fourth (Cedric) acting as a liaison between Rose and her employer (who was Cedric's older and wealthier cousin).

An Idol Pursuit
The Set-Up: The Heroes, having recently returned from a successful venture investigating/plundering a Syrenth ruin out in the Trade Sea, are to meet with a representative of Duke Jules Bisset du Verre (the noble that hired them to investigate the ruins) to make the final arrangements for payment of their services and the handing over of the information and singular item they were able to retrieve from the ruins.  Said item is a small idol of an unknown metal in the shape of a sqaut man, embedded with gemstones; what exactly it does the Heroes have not been able to determine with their limited resources.  Any Hero from Montaigne with reasonable connections to the nobility in general or the Bisset du Verre family specifically could be the Duke's representative, having earned the Duke's trust in the past to represent his interests abroad.

The meeting is scheduled to take place in a slightly seedy tavern known as the Grinning Rye, in the early afternoon.  The intent is for the Heroes to meet with their backer's representatives, arrange for their payment and possible transport to Montaigne proper.  However, the Duke has a rather pernicious rival by the name of Count Pierre Flaubert du Dore, and the Count wants that idol very badly...

Scene 1: A Bar Room Blitz
The Heroes have just settled in at a table to begin discussing terms with the Duke's representative, a cute serving girl having brought their drinks.  The tavern is not too busy at the moment, so there's little worry about interlopers prying into what's meant to be a private conversation.  Give the players a chance to role-play their Heroes a little bit, as this is a chance for them to unwind after what was most certainly a harrowing experience in those Syrenth ruins.  One of the Heroes should be carrying the idol on their person (this thing is extremely valuable, and leaving it unattended is just asking for trouble).

After a few minutes of idle conversation before getting down to business, the tavern's doors swing open as a man of average height, dressed in Montaigne fashions and brimming with smug confidence struts in, a large group of very unpleasant-looking ruffians following in his wake.  The man glances about the tavern in distaste before settling his gaze upon the Heroes.  He takes several steps towards the Heroes' table, his goons a couple steps behind, and then demands that they hand over the idol, or else things will get very "unpleasant" for them.  As if waiting for a cue, the ruffians all draw knives and clubs.

The Montaigne main, Gerard due Dore, is a Weak Villain (Strength 3/Influence 2) with the following Advantages: Fencer, Reputation (Vicious).  He carries a rapier, and will draw it if the Heroes make any aggressive actions on their part.  His Advantages let him roll six dice during combat Risks (but only so long as he has his rapier) and during attempts to intimidate/browbeat others instead of the usual five dice that his Villainy Rank would allow.  For the ruffians, they are comprised of two distinct Brute Squads, each with a Strength of 5.

The Heroes are free to react to this threat as they wish, but generally speaking Gerard has made it clear that if the Heroes don't capitulate to his "request," then things are going to get violent, as befits an Action Sequence. The Heroes should have little trouble in dispatching the Brute Squads, and Gerard isn't that dire of a threat (especially if one or more of the PCs has access to a Duelist Style).  However, when it comes time for during the first Round for the Brutes to act, spend a point from the Danger Pool to have a small, leaner-looking ruffian suddenly grab the idol from the Hero who currently possesses it and dash out the nearest tavern window.  If Gerard and any of his ruffians are still standing when the Action Sequence enters the second round, things just got a bit more interesting for the Heroes, as they need to hurry to catch that thief for their hard-won prize is likely lost for good.  Gerard will fight until he is rendered Helpless (takes his fourth Dramatic Wound), especially if it means he can tie up the Heroes to prevent them from giving chase to the thief.  However, once Gerard is defeated, on their next turn any ruffians that are still standing will flee the tavern, with complaints of having not been paid enough for this sort of thing being their exiting remarks.  It is possible for a Hero to kill the helpless Gerard on the spot, but doing so requires them to spend a Hero Point and they take a point of Corruption for murdering a defenseless man.

Catching the thief is a Risk with the Consequence of 3 Wounds (caused by bumps and bruises gained from pushing through the crowded streets) per Hero that immediately gives chase (in other words, abandons the fight with Gerard and the ruffians), but there is also an Opportunity to pick up a scrap of paper that lists an address on it in very tidy handwriting, which only one Hero will need to spend a Raise towards.  The Heroes will each need to spend 1 Raise in order to succeed at catching the thief, with the remainder being spent to avoid the Consequence.

Scene 2: What Next?
A large part of this depends on the outcome of the fight with Gerard and if the thief managed to escape.  If Gerard was defeated and the thief captured (the most likely outcome), then the Heroes can proceed as outlined below.  Otherwise, see the "So the Heroes were thwarted?"

Presuming that none of the Heroes were rendered Helpless in their fight with Gerard and his ruffians and they have managed to catch the thief and retrieve the idol, they are undoubtedly going to want some answers.  What those answers are will depend on who they ask, and if any of the Heroes activated that Opportunity while chasing the thief.

If they question the thief, one or more of the Heroes will need to succeed at a social Risk, using their choice of Convince, Intimidate, or Tempt, with each Raise the Heroes generate providing the following information:

- Who hired you? "That man at the tavern, Gerard.  He said it'd be easy coin."
- How did you know what to steal from us? "I'd been tailing you for a while, figured out where you'd most likely be keepin' that trinket that Gerard was so eager to get his hands on."
- Why does Gerard want the idol so badly?  "Honestly don't know, but suspect it's for his boss."
- Who is Gerard working for?  "No clue, not the sort of thing you need to know in my line of work."
- Where were you taking it?  "To an address in one of the better parts of town.  Had it written down on a slip of paper that Gerard gave me, but I er... seem to have lost it."
- (if the Opportunity from the chase was activated) Is this the address? "Yeah, that's the one.  No idea who's waiting there, other than the coin I was promised for deliverin' that bleeding trinket."

The Heroes also have the option to question Gerard (and he might be their only option if the thief managed to escape), who will be a much more daunting prospect given that as a Villain (weak though he may be), he'll be better able to resist the Heroes' efforts to question him.  In spite of being a a significant disadvantage, Gerard retains his smug demeanor, and any answers he provides are said in as condescending a tone of voice as possible.  Similar to questioning the thief above, have the Heroes decide on their approach, and then roll Gerard's Villainy Rank (plus a bonus die for his Reputation Advantage) to generate his Raises, which he can then spend to negate a Hero's Raise on a one-per-one basis.  Each Raise the Heroes generates provides the following information:

- Why did you attack us? "Because my employer asked it of me, and I am well-compensated for doing what he requires of me."
- (If the thief escaped) Where did that thief take the idol?  "To someplace where my employer can easily retrieve it, though he'll be most displeased that I won't be there to handle such a mundane task."
- Who is your employer? "A man of prominence back home, and with quite a long reach when it comes to those who vex him."
- We want a name? "Very well, I am in the service of the esteemed Count Pierre Flaubert du Dore, for all the good that will do you."
- Why does the Count want this idol so badly? "Well, why does the Duke want it?  Probably for the same reasons."
- Where is the Count now (and the Heroes failed to catch the thief)?  "Safely out of your reach, I assure you."
- Where is the Count now (and the Heroes caught the thief)?  "Oh, I suspect you'll find out soon enough." (say this line with as much menace as possible).

At this point, the next course of action is up to the Heroes, presuming they were able to get sufficient information out of Gerard and/or the thief.  They should have some general idea of who sent Gerard and his men to accost them. If they have the address from the scrap of paper the thief dropped, then they may want to follow that lead and perhaps directly confront the Count directly.

Alternatively, the Heroes may decide that since they have the idol there's no need to go pursuing more trouble, and simply see about booking passage on the next ship to Montaigne in order to conclude their business with Duke Jules Bisset du Vere.  It's an easy enough matter to arrange for passage aboard a brig that set sail for Montaigne the following morning; if a Hero has the Rich Advantage, they can easily obtain a nicer quality of quarters for themselves and as many other Heroes as they wish.

If they choose to go to the address, they'll find it's for a small yet quite nice two-story house in the more affluent part of town, and that upon first glance appears to be empty.  The doors are locked, and odds are good that attempts by the Heroes to break into the house are going to draw attention from the locals and the local authorities, especially if conducted during the day time.  If the Heroes do managed to make their way inside, all they find is that the place was only recently vacated, but there are no clues left to indicate where the occupant has gone to, making this a dead end.

"So What If the Heroes were Thwarted?"
While it is highly unlikely, it is possible that the Heroes could utterly fail at catching the thief as at defeating Gerard and his ruffians, or that one of your Heroes was bloodthirsty enough to murder a defeated Gerard while the thief escaped.  So the question becomes, "what to do next?"

Easy answer would be to shrug your shoulders, thank the players for playing, and conclude the adventure right then and there.  Easy, but definitely not a fun answer.

Instead, cut to a several hours, in the early evening, with the Heroes gathered in a different tavern, drinking their woes away over the loss of the idol and with it chances of a lucrative payment from the Duke.  While doing so, one of the Heroes happens to spot that thief from earlier, who's happily drinking and boasting about the 'easy score' he just earned a tidy sum for pulling.  Said thief is too inebriated to recognize the Heroes from before until they get right up in his face.  Allow the Heroes to choose their approach for how they want to grill the thief for information, although using Intimidate removes a die from the Hero's pool while using Convince provides a bonus die.  Of course, if they are able to ply the address from the thief, it will have been long abandoned, with the thief having been met at the door by a servant, who took the idol and handed over a coin purse full of shillings.  For an additional Raise, the Heroes can pry one additional piece of information out of the thief that he overheard, that a Count Flaubert would be leaving for Montaigne the next night now that he had what he'd come to Avalon for.  This piece of information gives the Heroes a chance to track down the man responsible for their current woes and seek retribution for his underhanded tactics.

Scene 3: Duel at the Docks
Assuming the Heroes were able to reclaim the idol after it was stolen and leave Gerard a helpless heap on the floor of the Grinning Rye, they should have little trouble making their way to the docks in order to catch the ship that will ferry them to Montaigne.

However, once they come within sight of the ship, the Heroes will find their progress blocked by the presence of a man of below-average height dressed in the latest fashion for a Montaigne nobleman, complete with a powdered wig and large red plume in his hat.  With him are half a dozen Montaigne men that appear to be the man's personal guard.

The man will identify himself as Count Pierre Flaubert du Dore, and demands the Heroes hand over the idol, as it is rightfully his by account of Duke Jules Bisset du Verre (whose character he will demean as much as possible) having stolen the documents which lead the Heroes to the ruins from which they retrieved the idol.  The Heroes really don't have any way to disprove this claim, other than knowing that the Duke has come across as a honorable.  If one or more of the Heroes is a relative or employee of the Duke, then they're quite certain the Count is lying.  If the Count seems quite confident that he and his small retinue of guards will be enough to defeat the Heroes, there's a good reason, namely that the Count has hired a dozen of local ruffians to ambush the Heroes when he gives the signal.

If the Heroes are reluctant to part with the idol (which they should be), the Count will demand his blade, at which point a servile-looking older man steps forward and presents the Count with a rapier.  If any of the Heroes is a member of the Duelist's Guild (typically because they have the Duelist Academy Advantage), they can choose to step forward and immediately challenge the Count to a duel, with the winner claiming the idol and the loser taking their leave.  The Count will accept this challenge, and acknowledge the duel to be to first blood (in game terms, the first person to suffer a Dramatic Wound loses).  However, the Count has no intention of playing fair or honoring that agreement (he really wants that idol), but he'll play along at being honorable for the moment.  The GM may wish to take a moment to remind any players that might want to directly interfere with the duel that doing so is an action that only the most dishonorable of wretches would consider, and that a Hero Duelist would be bound by the Duelist's Guild code to forfeit and name Count Pierre the victor, and that an honorable man such as Duke Jules would be utterly disgusted by such crass methods, and likely never hire them again.

During the initial round of the duel, the Count will fight honorably, but as soon as he would loose the duel (suffers a Dramatic Wound), he spends his next Raise ordering his men to strike, turning the duel into a free-for-all.  Should he happen to win, the Count will smugly order his men to attack, ignoring the agreed upon terms and thus freeing the Heroes to attack the Montaigne noble at will.

The fight consists of the Count (see below), his guards (Strength 6 Brute Squad with the Guards Special Ability), and the ruffians (Strength 12 Brute Squad).  The guards and ruffians fight until their Strength is reduced to zero, while the Count fights until he suffers his fourth Dramatic Wound, rendering him Helpless.  It should be clear that this is the Count's final gambit to get that idol, and dissuading him from this goal is largely impossible.  Should the Heroes apply Pressure to get the Count to surrender, go ahead and use his Ruthless Determination special ability to ignore it.

Count Pierre Flaubert du Dore
Nationality: Montaigne
Villainy Rank: 11
Strength: 6
Influence: 5 (see notes)
Important Advantages: Duelist Academy*, Fencer
*Can use Duelist Maneuvers as listed in the Dueling chapter, but does not have access to a Duelist Style Bonus.
Special Ability: Ruthless Determination -  spend a Danger Point to have this character ignore the effects of Pressure for the rest of the Round.
Notable Possessions: Fine quality rapier, fine quality clothingNotes: During the course of the adventure, Pierre has spent 3 points of his Influence on the following ways: 1 point to hire the two Brute Squads in the first scene, 1 point for the thief in the first scene, and 1 point to hire the Brute Squad in the third scene.  If the Heroes defeated the Brute Squads in the first scene and captured the thief, then Pierre's Influence is reduced by 3, putting his effective Villainy Rank at 8 for this scene.  If the thief was able to escape, then Pierre's effective Villainy Rank will be 10 for this scene (lost 1 point to the defeated Brute Squads in first scene, has one point out for the Strength 10 Brute Squad in the third scene, but recouped his spent point for the thief as well as earning a second point for the successful scheme).

Once the Count and the Brutes are defeated, there's nothing stopping the Heroes from heading to their ship.  Unless one of the Heroes took the needlessly bloodthirsty step of ending the Count's life, he will sputter insults at the departing Heroes and swear to have his revenge, and although such things are outside the scope of this adventure, he could become a recurring Villain in an ongoing chronicle if the GM so desires, possibly even becoming a nemesis to any noble or duelist characters.

If the Heroes are trying to intercept the Count after they lost the idol to the hired thief, the above scene plays out a little differently, namely in that the Heroes will wind up having to challenge the Count for ownership of the idol, but the Count will still have hired the extra ruffians to run interference should the Heroes try to intervene in his departure; yes it's a bit paranoid on his part, but one doesn't become a successful courtier in Le Emperuer's courts without developing a healthy sense of paranoia.  Of course, the Heroes could opt to bypass the notion of a duel or confronting the Count openly and just attack the man without warning like common brigands, in which case the Count will spend Influence to immediately make his escape; since the thief was successful in this scenario, he should have 4 Influence to use, which should be enough in most circumstances to ensure his escape from the Scene, which leaves the Heroes empty-handed and a couple of Brute Squads to deal with.

Once the Heroes have finished their business in the port, they are free to board their chartered ship and enjoy a relaxing voyage to Montaigne and the stately manor of their benefactor.  As for what the future holds for the Heroes.... that is a story for another time.

September 4, 2016

7th Sea - Revisting the Quick Start Heroes

Okay, so technically this would be Day 8 in my 7 day spree of 7th Sea Heroes.  So consider it a Sunday bonus if you'd like.

When I originally posted Sharktooth Conroy's article to the 7th Sea 2nd Edition Facebook group, I got asked by the admin to try my hand at updating the Quick Start heroes to the proper 2nd edition rule set.  Now admittedly, there's not a whole lot of background on them, but since they're written for a very brief one-shot adventure, that's not much of a surprise.

What was a surprise was coming to realize just how much the rules for 7th Sea's second edition had changed in between the Quick Start and the final printed product.  Some of these "conversions" could more rightly be considered reinterpretations given how many changes had to be made to keep with the general spirit of their Quick Start versions.  I did opt to keep them at the level of starting Heroes, which fits what what I feel is the general sense that the player-characters can have a major impact on the world around them (a welcome contrast to the game's 1st edition where the player-characters felt more like observers and supporting characters to a metaplot centered on GMPCs).

You can download a copy of the Quick Start adventure here, courtesy of the 7th Sea 2nd Edition fansite

So now that you've got the adventure, let's take a look at how the Heroes turned out in the finalized 2nd edition rules.

Alexsy Gracjan Nowak, Prince of the Commonwealth
Nation: Sarmatia
Religion: Vaticine
Traits: Brawn 4, Finesse 2, Wits 3, Resolve 2, Panache 2
Backgrounds: Aristocrat, Army Officer
Skills: Aim 2, Athletics, 2, Convince 2, Empathy 2, Intimidate 2, Perform 1, Ride 2, Scholarship 2, Warfare 3, Weaponry 2
Advantages: Academy, Direction Sense, Disarming Smile, Indomitable Will, Leadership, Reputation, Rich
Arcana: Trusting (Hubris), Willful (Virtue)
Starting Reputation: 1 (Principled)
Starting Wealth: 3
Languages: Old Thean, Sarmatian, Vodacce
Personal Items: Cavalry saber, expensive clothing

Background: A young, idealistic Prince who will do almost anything to see his people freed from the bondage imposed by their own nobility.  Aleksy has a sharp tactical mind and a great deal of personal charisma, but his political skills leave something to be desired.

Notes: I was able to get pretty close on converting Alexsy without losing too much in the way of Advantages.  To be honest, I wouldn’t see too much of a problem with swapping out Direction Sense for Large if you want to hew a bit closer to his stats from the Quick Start adventure.

Domenica Vespucci, Fate Witch
Nation: Vodacce
Religion: Vaticine
Traits: Brawn 2, Finesse 2, Wits 3, Resolve 3, Panache 3
Backgrounds: Courtier, Sorte Strega
Skills: Convince 3, Empathy 3, Hide 2, Notice 1, Perform 2, Ride 2, Scholarship 1, Tempt 3, Theft 1, Weaponry 2
Advantages: An Honest Misunderstanding, Come Hither, Connection (Vespucci vassals), Friend at Court, Linguist, Sorcery (x2), Time Sense
Sorte Weaves: Blessing (major, minor), Curses (major, minor), Read
Arcana: Intuitive (Virtue), Proud (Hubris)
Starting Reputation: 0 (Resourceful)
Starting Wealth: 0
Languages: All Thean languages
Personal Items: Whip, fine quality black dress

Background: Engaged to the Prince of the Commonwealth, Domenica arranged the marriage herself, using her father’s name and seal without his knowledge.  Upon seeing the Prince, she immediately insists that they must run, as “a bloody thread” is drawing tight around his neck.

Notes: Well, Domenica certainly illustrates just how much changed between when the Quick Start was written and the final version of 2e’s rules were sent to the printer.  Her Wits are only at a 3 instead of the 4 that the Quick Start version has, and many of her skills there don’t really have a proper equivalent in the proper rules.  I had to choose between giving her either Reputation or Connection for her last two points of Advantages, and felt that Connection was the better suited of the two, even if the Ally Advantage doesn’t exist outside of the Quick Start rules.  Same with her Virtue, as Perspicacious was probably deemed too troublesome and got excised along the way, so I gave her Intuitive which fits the general theme and feel of a Fate Witch.

Ennio Vespucci, Vodacce Bravo
Nation: Vodacce
Religion: Vaticine
Traits: Brawn 2, Finesse 4, Wits 2, Resolve 2, Panache 3
Backgrounds: Bravo, Duelist
Skills: Athletics 3, Convince 1, Empathy 3, Hide 1, Notice 2, Perform 1, Sailing 1, Tempt 2, Weaponry 3
Advantages: Duelist Academy (Ambrogia), Hard to Kill, Indomitable Will, Poison Immunity, Quick Reflexes (Weaponry)
Arcana: Hot-Headed (Hubris), Glorious (Virtue)
Starting Reputation: 0
Starting Wealth: 0
Languages: Old Thean, Vodacce
Personal Items: Rapier and main-gauche, fine-quality clothing

Background: The brother of Domenica and a famed Vodacce duelist, Ennio was sent to ensure her safety throughout the wedding and beyond, as well as make sure the match was a good one.  He’s also old friends with Roberto Gallo, as the two of them were inseparable many years ago, but their duties have kept them apart.

Notes: So for Ennio, I wound up dropping the Consigliere background he had in the Quick Start for Duelist, as that not only gave him Duelist Academy (since his whole thing is being a duelist) but let him pick up some of the other Advantages that his Quick Start version had listed.  Another big change was re-assigning his Traits so that he’d actually be good at the Ambrogia school, now that it makes use of Wits instead of Panache; truthfully I was sorely tempted to replace Ambrogia with a different style, but opted to stick with it anyway.  Although, thanks to his high Finesse he’s still largely focused on being a swordsman, and a very good one.  Like his sister, his Virtue got swapped for a new one, replacing Uncanny with Glorious, which in the context of the Quick Start adventure still works very much to his advantage.

Roberto Gallo, Castillian Captain
Nation: Castille
Religion: Vaticine
Traits: Brawn 2, Finesse 3, Wits 3, Resolve 2, Panache 3
Backgrounds: Miriablis, Ship Captain
Skills: Aim 2, Athletics 1, Convince 3, Empathy 1, Notice 1, Perform 1, Ride 1, Sailing 3, Scholarship 2, Tempt 2, Warfare 1, Weaponry 2
Advantages: Able Drinker, Handy, Leadership, Ordained, Married to the Sea, Sea Legs, Spark of Genius, Valiant Spirit
Arcana: Exemplary (Virtue), Foolhardy (Hubris)
Starting Reputation: 0
Starting Wealth: 0
Languages: Castillian Old Thean, Vodacce
Personal Items: Rapier, flintlock pistol with powder and shot, traveling clothes, long cape, spyglass

Background: A dashing scoundrel with a devil-may-care attitude and a heart of gold, Roberto was initially hired to transport Ennio and Domenica to Sarmatia.  He is old friends with Ennio and wants to convince the duelist to join him on his ship and live a life of adventure once again.

Notes: So Roberto had some of the same problems that his long-time buddy Ennio had in converting him to the proper rules for second edition.  Sailor got swapped for Ship Captain in terms of Background to give him at least some of the proper Advantages, with Luck being right out since the actual Advantage simply costs too many points, so I settled on letting him start with an extra Hero Point each session instead.  Neither of his original Arcana in the Quick Start really carried over, so I made the best thematic choices I could.  And of course the recurring issue with the skill list being quite different, but that’s something I knew was going to happen from the very start.

Azucena Esquival, Castillian Bodyguard
Nation: Castille
Religion: Agnostic
Traits: Brawn 2, Finesse 4, Wits 3, Resolve 2, Panache 2
Backgrounds: Assassin, Hunter
Skills: Aim 2, Athletics 2, Convince 1, Hide 3, Intimidate 2, Notice 3, Ride 1, Theft 3, Weaponry 2
Advantages: Fencer, Got It!, Psst, Over Here, Second Story Work, Small, Sniper, Streetwise
Arcana: Loyal (Hubris), Victorious (Virtue)
Secret Society: Los Vagabundos
Starting Reputation: 0
Starting Wealth: 0
Languages: Castillian, Old Thean, Sarmatian
Personal Items: Rapier, crossbow with case of bolts, traveling clothes

Background: A member of the secret society called Los Vagabundos, Azucena has maneuvered her way into being hired as Prince Aleksy’s personal guard.  Her objective is to ensure his safety and survival in the hopes that he will serve as a symbol for justice and equality.

Notes: So Azucenahad the interesting quick of being the conversion I had to take the most liberties with, seeing as how most of her Advantages simply don't exist in the proper 2e rules, as well as her membership in a secret society being something that a character can take for free.  While I could have gone Criminal or Explorer for her second Background, I opted for some further artistic license and gave her Hunter so that she'd be a crack shot with the crossbow her full character image shows her possessing but that her Quick Start stats give her zero proficiency with.

September 3, 2016

7th Sea Pre-Made Heroes - Vivianne Praisse du Rachetisse

Given that many of the prior entries have lacked a certain sense of class and a tendency to fight their way out of problems, perhaps it would be best to end the list of characters presented on a more refined note.

As I made mention in the earlier post for Cedric, Montaigne is a nation in the thrall of a very wealthy noble class, with many members of the social elite focused entirely on the navigating the treacherous waters of Montaigne's thriving social scene.  While perhaps not as immediately treacherous as Vodacce, the courts of Montaigne are still dangerous to the unwary, and while an ill-considered comment might not result in one's death, it can result in ridicule and shame, which in Montaigne can be considerably worse.  Thus, being a professional courtier takes far more effort than most would presume, as staying abreast of the latest gossip and fashion trends can be just as tiresome as performing sword drills or as perilous as sailing the open seas.

But to those who master the ways of court. there is much to gain, and being able to cut down your opposition with a few choice words is a strength not to be underestimated...

Vivianne Praisse du Rachetisse, Montaigne Courtier
Traits: Brawn 2, Finesse 2, Wits 3, Resolve 2, Panache 4
Backgrounds: Aristocrat, Courtier
Skills: Aim 2, Convince 3, Empathy 3, Notice 2, Perform 3, Ride 2, Tempt 3, Weaponry1
Advantages: An Honest Misunderstanding, Come Hither, Connection (Montaigne high society courtiers), Disarming Smile, Friend at Court, Linguist, Rich
Arcana: Arrogant (Hubris), Astute (Virtue)
Starting Reputation: 0
Starting Wealth: 3
Languages: All Thean languages
Personal Items: Bodice dagger, concealed brace of throwing knives, fine-quality dress with proper accoutrements, traveling dress and cloak

Appearance: Vivianne is a strikingly beautiful young woman, blessed with pale skin, bluebell eyes, long tresses of honey-blonde hair, and a charming yet coquettish smile.  Her sensuous figure is sheathed in stylishly risque dresses that blend the fashion trends of Montaigne's elite and the courtesans of Vodacce, drawing the attentions of onlookers like moths to a decadent flame.

Background: The daughter of members of Montaigne's landed gentry, Vivianne has enjoyed of luxury and privilege that most people could only dream of.  Though lacking any talent with the Porte sorcery that the Praisse family is known for, she has proven value in the courts due to her keen wit and a pervasive charm that can put even the most untrusting soul at ease; many an upstart noble has found their reputations soured and their fortunes at court diminished after a few choice words on her part whispered into the right ears.  That she is a stunning beauty who can inspire lurid thoughts in all but the most chaste of men has been an added boon to her responsibilities as a courtier; she's pried many a juicy secret from a man's lips with little more than a smoldering glance and a few honeyed words.  And should a hot-tempered noble think that a demure lady of such loveliness would be easy prey away from the courts, Vivianne has become quite proficient with the throwing knives concealed about her person, with a bodice dagger kept as a means of last resort.

Notes: Yep, Vivianne is 100% a femme fatale type of character, being exceptionally talented in the social arena.  While it would seem that being Vodacce (faux Italy) would be a better nation of origin for such a character type, I thought that might be a tad too stereotypical.  Plus Montaigne is well known for the deadly decadence of its courts, and a character who's best suited to navigating such treacherous waters would be quite adept at talking her way out of many other sorts of trouble.

And to be honest, I really hadn't intended that both of the two Montaigne Heroes I made for this to both be Aristocrats; it just turned out that way.  Next Montaigne Hero I write up is not going to be part of the upper class, that's for darn sure.

September 2, 2016

7th Sea Pre-Made Heroes - Estevan Santiago de Montoya

So as part of this week's series of pre-made heroes for the second edition of John Wick Production's excellent 7th Seas RPG, I now present a conversion of a 1st edition character that I very much enjoyed playing back in the day, even if the campaign he featured in didn't run nearly as long as our group would have liked (ah, the perils of a GM that gets too easily distracted with new campaign ideas).  Still, this character was a lot of fun for me to play in 1st edition, and even though his one outing as a PC in 2nd edition didn't precisely play to his skill set, he was still quite fun to play and I look forward to future opportunities to step again into this particular role.

So without further preamble, I present to you a talented swordsman from a nation that is reputed to be full of talented swordsmen...

Estevan Santiago de Montoya, Castillian Duelist
Traits:Brawn 2, Finesse 3, Wits 3, Resolve 2, Panache 3
Backgrounds
: Diestro, Duelist
Skills: Athletics 3, Convince 2, Empathy 2, Intimidate 2, Perform 3, Ride 1, Scholarship 2, Tempt 2, Weaponry 3
Advantages: Disarming Smile, Duelist Academy (Aldana), Fencer, Quick Reflexes (Weaponry), Valiant Spirit
Arcana: Glorious (Virtue), Hot-Headed (Hubris)
Starting Reputation: 0
Starting Wealth: 0
Secret Society: Los Vagabundos
Languages: Castille, Montaigne, Old Thean
Personal Items: Rapier with a half-basket hilt, set of fine-quality clothing, set of traveling clothes

Appearance: Estevan is a handsome Castillian man in his very early twenties, standing just a bit taller than average, his figure lean yet possessed of the natural grace of a trained dancer and swordsman.  His thick black hair falls just above his shoulders, with several loose strands floating in front of his dark brown eyes, a wolfish smile adding a dash of roguish charm to his youthfully handsome features; this combined with the style of Castillian fashion makes him quite dashing figure.

Background: Though born to the ranks of the lesser nobility, Estevan has always been an adventurous boy, raised on a steady diet of heroic tales told by his doting father, the alcalde of the small town that his family had overseen for generations.  From a young age, Estevan often displayed the quick reflexes and sharp mind that were the hallmarks of a born swordsman.  At thirteen years, Estevan was sent to live with his aunt in the port city of Altamira, where his brash and adventurous nature often led him into minor trouble, but never anything too serious.  When of age, Estevan was enrolled into the prestigious La Universitad de Arcinega, and excelled just as much at his secular studies as he did his martial training at the esteemed Guild of San Marcos.  Upon graduating with a minor degree and having become a member-in-full of the Duelist's Guild, Estevan feels confident that he is ready to face whatever challenge Theus may place in the road ahead.

Notes: Yep, he's a two parts Inigo Montoya and one part Zorro, and woe betide you if he has reason to draw steel against you.  In this new edition, Estevan was still a fun character to play, and I very much used Antonio Banderas' turn as Alejandro in the movie The Mask of Zorro as an inspiration for both editions.  Now Estevan might seem a bit foppish at first, but he's no slouch when the need for action arises; I used him in a few playtest encounters, including some combats, and he made it very clear to me that a well-built swordsman is freaking devastating in a fight; this boy was able to tear apart a Strength 10 Brute Squad in s single round with no assistance, and Brute Squads of Strength 5 or less are just as easily dispatched (Feint + Slash = demolished brutes).  When I played him in a one-shot that my friend Eric ran, Estevan was largely able to solo the massive beast that was the primary adversary of the adventure, being the one to dish out the vast majority of the damage while taking very little damage himself, due in no small part to the Beat maneuver.

Of course, one neat feature of 7th Sea's second edition is that the Los Vagabundos have now gone global as a society, taking their Zorre-esque antics onto a larger stage, so it would very easy for Estevan to pop up in nations far from his native Castille.  On the downside, the way languages are now handled means that Estevan isn't quite as fluent in as many languages as he was in first edition, though the only language he's really missing is his fluency in Vodacce.  To that end, I've considered implementing a house rule for my games that ranks in Scholarship past the first provides fluency with another language rather than having it be reliant solely upon Wits.  Granted, I could have picked up the 1pt Advantage that makes him fluent in just about every language in the setting, but I never saw Estevan as being an omniglot.

September 1, 2016

7th Sea Pre-Made Heroes - Rolf Volker Wyman

For today's pre-made hero, we're taking a turn away from the shining lights of Theah and heading to one of the more foreboding parts of the world, the dark lands of war-torn Eisen.

One of the elements of 7th Sea that has remained consistent between first and second edition is that the setting's equivalent to Germany is recovering from a thirty-year long war of faith, a war that left the would-be nation teetering on the edge of calamity, only persevering due to the iron determination of its surviving people.  But with second edition, Eisen has generally become a more sinister place, as there truly are monsters lurking in the woods and the dead don't always stay resting in their graves.

To combat those threats, there are men and women who learn the finer points of slaying monsters and hunting the undead, even if that means learning dark and disturbing practices in order to do so...

Rolf Volker Wyman, Eisen Monster Hunter
Traits:Brawn 3, Finesse 2, Wits 3, Resolve 3, Panache 2
Backgrounds: Hexe, Monster Hunter
Skills: Aim 3, Athletics 2, Brawl 2, Hide 2, Intimidate 3, Notice 3, Ride 1, Tempt 1, Weaponry 3
Advantages: Cast Iron Stomach, I Won't Die Here, Indomitable Will, Sniper, Sorcery x2, Staredown, Survivalist
Arcana: Astute (Virtue), Relentless (Hubris)
Starting Reputation: 0
Starting Wealth: 0
Languages: Avalon, Eisen, Old Thean
Hexenwerk: Major - Corpse Tongue, Spectral Prison, Minor - Father's Fury, Revenant Venom, Summer's Smile, Winter's Scowl
Personal Items: Broadsword, boar spear, crossbow, leather jerkin, pouches filled with various herbs and ingredients

Appearance:A tall, strapping Eisen man, with a hard-worn face, scraggly dark brown hair and matching beard stubble.  Wears homespun linens reinforced with sturdy leather, along with a dark grey half-cloak and wide-brimmed hat for protection from both rain and sun.

Background: Rolf's family has long practiced the forbidden arts of hexenwerk, using their dark knowledge to help protect their fellows from the many restless beasts and spirits that prowl within the forests and shadows.  Having learned under the direct tutelage of his father, Rolf presumed he would simply inherit the "family business" much as his forebears had.  That changed when he returned home from a long sojourn to visit his childhood sweetheart in a neighboring village only to find that his own village had been razed and the local folk brutally slaughtered, including his father.  With the grim resolve for which the people of Eisen are known, Rolf took up his father's mantle and set out find and slay the thing responsible for the slaughter.

Notes: After I ran my initial one shot, one of the players suggested the idea of a PC that was a monster hunter for use in potential future adventures, inspired by his recent playing of The Witcher 3.  Now I've never played a game in that series, so I did a bit of research, and eventually came up with Rolf.  I seem to have done a good job, as the player was very happy with how this character turned out.  He is indeed quite skilled at hunting monsters, with the only thing needed to truly make him a deadly combatant is a Duelist school to boost up his melee combat prowess.  But even lacking that, Rolf's dangerous in a fight, though it should be noted that his magic is focused on dealing with the undead, something the player and the GM of the one-shot that I played Estevan in didn't quite realize.  As should be clear, Rolf is not a nice guy, but given that it's his lot in life to hunt down the sort of nasty things that most people outside of Eisen refuse to admit exist, that's to be expected.

Fair warning about the hexenwerk sorcery that Rolf has, what's listed as being the required ingredients to create them can be pretty unsettling for the squeamish, and I give credit to John and his design team both for not shying away from that fact but also being up front and warning readers before delving into the sorcery.

August 31, 2016

7th Sea Pre-Made Heroes - Mikhail Petronov

So, is time to show what can be done through muscle rather than charm or finesse, da?

So here's another of the initial pre-gen characters I made for the 7th Sea one shot adventure I ran for my Friday Night Skype group.  And while I suspected it at the time, I wasn't quite prepared for how much of a beast this one particular character was going to be in a fight.

In 7th Sea, the nation of Ussura is regarded as being something of a backwater in contrast to the more forward-thinking nations of Theah.  The people in general don't mind, feeling that they've a good life, and that the harshness of the land makes a person strong in both body and spirit.  And then you've got those individuals who take that strength to a while 'nother level...

Mikhail Petronove, Ussaran Strongman
Traits: Brawn 4, Finesse 2, Wits 2, Resolve 3, Panache 2
Backgrounds: Orphan, Pugilist
Skills: Athletics 2, Brawling 3, Convince 2, Empathy 3, Hide 1, Notice 3, Perform 3, Intimidate 3
Advantages: Brush Pass, Boxer, Large, Reckless Takedown, Riot Breaker, Staredown
Arcana: Loyal (Hubris), Temperate (Virtue)
Starting Reputation: 0
Starting Wealth: 0
Languages: Old Thean, Ussuran
Personal Items: Well-worn clothing

Appearance: Very much the rough-and-tumble sort, with unkempt looks that make it clear he's seen and done a whole mess of fighting.  Broad-shouldered and towering over most people, he's got a devil-may-care attitude that's revealed with his fierce grin.

Background: Mikhail's a child of the streets, having grown up big and strong in spite (or maybe even because) of the rough environs he often found himself in.  He was never much for any work that didn't involve his great strength, but quickly proved to be quite the scrapper, often taking down groups of men with frightening speed, and even laying low single sturdier men with a single well-placed punch; there's been many a time that Mikhail's been the only man left standing after a bar-clearing brawl.

Notes: Okay, so Mikhail was initially intended to be your somewhat typical "crazy Irish brawler" type when I first started putting the character together.  But when it came to figuring out the bonus to his traits, I realized that being Inish only gave a bonus to Wits or Panach, two traits that really felt at odds with how I'd pictured this character.  My other options were Eisen (German) or Ussuran (Russian).  Given the player in question tends towards the quiet type (sorry Doran), I opted to go with the "husky Russkie," which in turn lead me to draw further inspiration from one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride in the form of Fezzik, the likeable giant played by the legendary Andre the Giant.

And yes, Mikhail is freaking brutal in a fight, thanks to his fearsome Brawn and collection of Advantages.  But while he might not be that great a threat to a Villain, he's a freaking nightmare to Brute Squads, being able to decimate them in short order and even shrug off a portion of any damage the survivors might send his way.