7th Sea — Swashing and Buckling through the Quick Start

It has been a few years since my last campaign in Theah ended. I look back on those times with great fondness. The game I ran using the 7th Sea system were full of perils, and not a few prison breaks. I combined pregen situations with original ideas and ideas stolen from other games I was in. The heroes were actually heroes, not psychopaths masquerading as good guys.

The system had issues, don’t hate me for saying it. Every system has issues. The magic was difficult to use, the skills were varied and convoluted. But, that just meant house ruling how something worked with a mind toward action and adventure.

So, then I heard about a kickstarter for a 2nd edition of 7th Sea. Start the hyperventilating. Then I learn the best part, John Wick was creating it. I hoped that meant that the system wouldn’t become a D20 ripoff. Boy was I right.

Last night, 3/6/16, a group of six of us gathered to play through the quickstart. We had one person who had never played before. It took a few minute to review the rule changes, to figure out how things worked, but rather quickly the players were dashing through burning, swinging off chandeliers (I have a personal rule that if a player asks if there’s a chandelier and it makes sense at all, you say yes!). Poor Uncle Boris’ picture was getting shot as a Castillian  captain used it for cover.  You can see below that we pulled out paper (not gridded), not needed but helped for giving a visual to the player of roughly where things are.


There were debates over the rules. Some of the fighting skills were a little vague  (in a duel, how often can you used an advanced maneuver? Once per round or can you use each maneuver once per round?)… dice pools were insane on occasion. Ok, ok, I gave them a lot of hero points. I wanted villain points because we’re testing a system. I had to see how it worked! I didn’t expect someone to cash in for 8 extra dice during the pivotal duel at the end… the character was ultimately defeated but man did he put up a fight!

I like the raise system and would like to work through the dueling again. I’m curious on the health difference between players and NPCs. Of course, players get more dice and have the opportunity for dice to explode at high injury levels or high skill levels. I don’t recall whether dice can explode for the bad guys. I did like the suggestion to give players to a count of 5 to make fast decisions. It kept the pace moving and players responded positively to the mechanic (we did talk about it before hand and I clearly stated their options to them before I counted, this gave them a moment to react and process what I was asking).

Overall, we had a great time and are looking forward to the entire rule set. John Wick, I think it’s safe to say that you and your team made our Sunday night. #sailthe7thSea




Pushing through

So, I’m pushing through the tension section that’s leaving me nervous. I guess I can come back and refine it later. I also started an overall motives outline of the story to track the two different goals the protagonist will have. I realized that I needed to flesh out some supporting characters and figure out who they were and where the fell in the great scheme of things. I cut a subplot because I felt it detracted from the tension. I can always resurrect it but at this point I think it would only work if I cut the horror element of this story. That’s not something I’m currently willing to do. 


Disaster.  So, I disappeared in order to get married.  It was a lovely ceremony and I’m so happy I took to time to really enjoy it.  When I came back, disaster.  My dogs bumped my open, not backed up laptop on to the ground and the (not solid state) hard drive died.  Gone.  So, I’ve lost a lot of work and now have to re-imagine it.  Perhaps this is good but the tension I’ve been working on building is gone and I’ve been struggling to find the motivation to continue writing.   I keep telling myself that it’s find and I can take the opportunity to focus on other parts of the novel.  But, it’s so much that I’ve lost.

How do you handle such a loss?

The Letters Constructing a Word

Well, I fell off the planet.  Yes, a metaphor – falling off the planet would be extremely difficult. That, however, doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing.  I met my “rough draft” time frame and I am now working on improving said draft.  It has a long way to go but I’m very happy with the introduction (1 chapter down, 40ish to go!).  It’s sitting at around 97,000 words.

The original beginning was scrapped.  It might show up later but now it’s just referred to in passing.  I thought cutting scenes would hurt… you know, someone grabbing your innards and twisting as I gasped for enough air to stay conscious.  But, you know what?  I feel fantastic!  It’s one of the few large cuts I’ve made and felt extremely therapeutic.  There’s also a level of vivacity and sexiness to the new opening that I really enjoy.  Every writer should enjoy their own work.   After all, that means one person likes it!

Commentary on Critiquing:

Words can hurt, can inspire, and can make a writer walk away from their project.  They can also close a writer off to the intent behind each syllable spoken.  In a critique group (and I am a member of many), we read the work of others to provide feedback to help them improve.  Sometimes it’s extremely concrete.  Sometimes we can’t give that same concreteness to the words we use to critique because technically the story is fine but something is missing in the heart of the scenes which are read.

The other day a new critiquer read through a few (later) chapters of my rough draft.  He had not read any of the earlier stories, which can be problematic in fantasy.  He has little context for some of the words or growth of the characters to that point.  He response was (I’m paraphrasing) “I don’t feel you, the author, in this.  I don’t see what you like.  Reading this is like reading a textbook.”   So, concrete? Not really. Painful to hear? Absolutely. What were they reading? Part two of a first draft.

A few reactions I thought I could have: My novel? You couldn’t feel me? Preposterous! He obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking about.   A textbook? Well, I read a lot of textbooks I liked, so there! He obviously can’t enjoy a good text book.

 Are these the emotions I thought worthwhile and constructive? Nope.  If I employed them I was listing to the letter of the words spoken, not the intent.  And, let’s face facts, not everyone likes what I write.  When I’m done, if I’m lucky, agents, editors, and publishers will all have a go at twisting my words, telling me to cut them, expecting me to improve what I wrote so it will sell.  If I ignore one critique because of the words used, I’m not learning how to handle rejection.

So, let’s start with the initial reaction: Ouch!  Ok, got that out of the way.  I, as the writer of those pages, had to work hard during and after a critique like that to understand what he was saying and be open to take the time to process.

This goes back to some of the critters.org guidelines which suggest that the words chosen to critique material are chosen with care.  Now, lest you think I threw my walls up (per my earlier examples) and said he was wrong, I thought about it.  He was saying the description could have been better.  See, those sections were mostly straight from a character’s POV (except one – sure enough that was the part he liked) without elaboration on the setting, places, etc… It was an area I was aware needed improvement. So, I focused on the intent, which was similar to comments other spoke throughout the night. I listened, I learned, and I went home to write and allow the writing to soothe the remaining ache.

Remember when you review someone’s work, while you might not be able to see their heart in the story, it’s there.  Hidden beneath words, diluted by facts, it sits on those pages you are reading.

Working through a SNAFU

So, we write because we have a story to tell.  What happens when the story we tell isn’t one that somebody else is reading?  In my current novel I have an elaborate world which is hard to get across.  Some have told me it’s too elaborate, some that it isn’t.  There is a great depth to it.  Getting enough through in this first novel is proving difficult.


On a side note.  Working with a friend to critique each other’s writing.  Very helpful.  It’s nice to have an honest opinion which isn’t tainted by previous knowledge of the book.  Back to trying to figure out how to illustrate this information.