Monday, July 21, 2008

Brute Squads of the 7th Sea

At the Scion forums there's a discussion of how to streamline the use of followers, a topic brought up by someone with a 12-player Scion campaign. This made me think about the 7th Sea RPG, which really handled followers and squads well.

7th Sea had "Brutes". Brutes came in squads, and could act independently, or under the direct command of a named character.

If acting independently, they had kinda meager stats, simplified a bit and toned down (like Extras in Scion, but taken to a further extreme). One hit was enough to drop them. The cool part was you could choose to raise the difficulty of your attack roll in order to take out an entire squad at once, instead of having to harm them individually.

If used as a bodyguard / assistants, Brutes wouldn't get an action of their own. Instead, they'd act when their boss did, and simply add bonus dice to his roll. They also added their health levels to the boss. You'd have to take out the brutes before you could do any actual harm to the Villain.

It was a pretty sweet mechanic. Elegant and streamlined, and lots of fun. It really captured the feel of cinematic battles, where the mooks aren't really important, yet having dozens of underlings is an advantage somehow.
  • I've considered adapting it to Scion on more than one occasion, but have never gotten around to it. I could see such brutes work as a Charisma Knack, or as a War Boon, or as just a general tactical rule not unlike Coordinated Assault, or as a specific type of Creature/Follower you can buy. The big flaw with using it for Scion has to do with the greater extremes in character power level. In 7th Sea, PCs were human, and so were the brutes. They moved about the same distance, had similar biology, etc, and the rules were abstract enough to make that work. Scion is bit more crunchy, and a much higher power level. You could have a Hero-level PC that can leap 25 yards or run 72mph accompanied by his followers that can only manage to jump 8 feet or run 18mph. At that point, it stretches credibility for them to move with him and assist his rolls.
  • This is one area that Wushu doesn't handle as well as I'd like it to. That game seems to take the abstraction to slightly more of an extreme than it needs to. The lack of timing rules doesn't seem to support using mooks and a nemesis at the same time, and there's nothing to stop PCs from just concentrating on the big bad since Mooks can't fight you if you don't fight them. There's also "nothing" for the GM to do in a scene where the PCs fight only mooks, since Mooks don't act or roll. This could be very easily and elegantly house-ruled, though, so I may just do so if I ever run Wushu.

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