Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mini-Games and clever Sub-Systems

One thing the 7th Sea RPG did really well was the implementation of clever subsystems and "mini-games" to give areas other than combat just as much attention as most RPGs give to fighting.
  • The Chase System was quite clever, and was later reused rather effectively in Alderac's Spycraft d20 RPG.
  • The Repartee System did an incredible job of making witticism and banter matter both in-and-out of combat.
  • Brute Squads (and the whole system built around them) were an ingenius way of giving players a power trip, while at the same time encouraging them to dispatch the mooks before they tackle the true Villain.
  • The Weather System was brilliantly superior to the comparable systems in most RPGs even before you got into Laerdom Runes that could affect it.
  • Ships have character sheets just like PCs, with Cannons for Brawn, Crew for Finesse, etc. There's no need to convert using "inanimate object rules" as the pirate ship dogging you is an NPC like any other.
  • The Mass Combat system is practically a game unto itself, yet slides easily into the campaign. Better yet, it doesn't worry about maps and exact troop placement, instead it just foists the PCs into the spotlight and makes their actions influence the whole tide of battle.
  • The various Sorcery systems drip and ooze (sometimes literally) with flavor.
  • Drama Dice (and to a lesser extent, Reputation Dice and Kharma Dice) changed the way I GM. I now frequently incorporate spontaneous in-game rewards, and never fear giving power to my players (although to be fair, that last bit owes as much to Eric Wujcick's Amber as it does to John Wick's 7th Sea).
  • For that matter, pages 206-245 of the 7th Game Master's Guide are the best GMing advice I've ever seen on paper. Well worth the price of the book, even if you never play 7th Sea.
No wonder I love that game. Too bad combat took so damn long.

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