Rather than bludgeon you with a single epic post, I'm going to break it up into three. Today, I'm going to give a basic review of the game. I'm mostly going to stick to the facts, trying to give you enough information to make up your own mind. The next one is going to be a specific post-mortem on the intro session, noting some of the surprises that came up, and the things that worked and didn't work. Finally, I'm going to do a bit that explores my own personal reactions to the game, that likely won't be as fair and balanced as this review.
I'll start with a bit on me. If you look at the 7th Sea tag over there, you'll be able to see that I'm a big fan of the original game. It's a marvelous setting (particularly if you ignore the Secret Society books), and a really interesting if clunky system. I have long maintained that 7th Sea was right at the top of my list of games that desperately needed a new edition.
And now we have one.
For reasons that aren't entirely clear to me, Wick decided that he needed to alter the setting in addition to the system. I have a lot of feelings about this, mostly because I don't think it was necessary. But, once I got over the shock, I'm actually good with most of the changes. What are those changes? Here's a quick bullet list:
- The map was overhauled. Mostly this affects the relative positioning of Castille, Montaigne, Eisen, and Vodacce. The new geography actually makes a lot of their history make a bit more sense. Also, the ridiculous Trade River cutting through the heart of the continent is gone.
- The Castille-Montaigne war is now over, and the setting is picking up the pieces. In addition to the recently concluded Thirty Years War in Eisen, this gives a lot of the continent a very war-weary feel.
- Wick added a new Nation, the Sarmatian Commonwealth. Loosely based on Poland, it has had a very interesting new wrinkle. The dying king just declared that every citizen is noble, and hence has a voice in the Council. Instant democracy, but still playing under old feudal rules. Given that I have little context of Poland at that time, I'm still having trouble really grasping the new nation. But it seems cool.
- Sorcery has been totally reinvented. The Bargainers seem to be completely written out. Laerdom is gone. Castille has access to alchemy. Eisen has access to a weird anti-monster sorcery that uses parts from dead people and monsters. Usurra is no longer just about shape-shifting, but gets an array of gifts from Matushka. Glamour is now much more explicitly about embodying legends, as each glamour mage is explicitly the reincarnation of a Knight. The Sarmatians have a sorcery that is about making deals with literal devils. Porte and Sorte are the same in broad strokes, with little changes in the details. You are going to want to throw out everything you know about sorcery from first edition, and learn it again from scratch.
- Speaking of throwing things out, all of the metaplot around the secret societies are gone. For now at least, they are just groups of people working toward common goals. If you belong, you can ask the society for Favors, but they will ask Favors of you, too. I can't say I'm unhappy about this.