Take to the Seas! Introducing a new crew to 7th Sea (2e)

Roust 'er up, bullies, the wind's drawin' free. 

Lets get the glad-rags on an' drive 'er to sea!

For the first time in a year or so, last night I led a crew of valiant Heroes into the 7th Sea!

These players are all new to the setting and the system, so I wanted to ease them into the game with something that felt like a tutorial: straightforward challenge, no wrong answers, and a chance for everyone to experiment a little.

We have 5 Heroes in the crew:

  • Grace Paige, a Sea Dog, and Captain of the group's ship
  • Kieva, a Castillian Prince and, secretly, an Eclipse - a Yachidi who hides in plain sight as a Vaticine, to avoid the attention of the Inquisition.
  • Siobhan de Amilla del Rio, an Inish/Castillian duelist and physician, and Kieva's bodyguard on this journey
  • Vilhemina Seljesdatter, a Vesten scholar and vala, seeking runes and Syrneth knowledge
  • Kaius de Bello, Vodacce rake, would-be duelist, and thorough-going drunk
As the session started, I had them describe why they were all on a ship to Avalon, and asked them to name the ship. They gave the honor to the Captain who dubbed it the Marian. The Captain let us know that her crew are all named Jones, but she was coy about whether that's what their mothers named them, or only what she calls them.

We jumped immediately into combat - they were being pursued by a Castillian pirate!

To make it easy, I gave them a Group Objective first - the Castillians were far enough away that the crew of the Marian could pull off a difficult sailing maneuver, swinging around to present their broadside to the oncoming pirates. 

They needed 10 Raises all together, and each of the 5 Heroes described how they were helping: the Captain wrestled the wheel with brute force (Brawn + Sailing), and other Heroes helped by running out sails (Finesse + Athletics), or helping calm the nerves of a nervous young crewman so he could better do his job (Panache + Empathy)

They also had 2 Consequences to buy off: Big Jonesie, one of the foremast riggers, lost his footing and his hold on a rope, and was about to fall to the deck! 

The heavy block Big Jonesie was hauling was falling right towards Vilhelmina, the vala! She managed to dart out of the way of those 2 Wounds, then Siobhan tossed a rope to the falling Big Jonesie, and working all together they bought themselves a chance to rake the pirates before the enemy could board. 

The players really loved this group objective. It was an easy, low-stress way to get to grips with three important game mechanics: choosing an Approach, making a Dice Pool, and counting up Raises. It also stressed the importance of working together as a team, something we'll revisit in the next session when we talk about spending Hero Points to help each other out. 

Next, I gave Captain Grace a moment in the spotlight. Because the crew had successfully brought off the complicated maneuver, she had a chance to direct the firing of the guns, or fire one herself, and eliminate some of the enemy boarding parties - brute squads - before they could get to her ship.

She used the Leadership advantage to get her crew in line - I ruled that this would give her 3 bonus dice, as though another Hero had spent a Hero Point on her - and she then used Panache + Warfare to give her crew deadly-accurate firing commands. She faced 2 consequences: there were sharpshooters in the rigging of the Castillian pirate vessel, so she risked taking 1 Wound from their fire, AND losing her beloved, be-feathered hat into the ocean!

She rolled 2 Raises, and elected to sacrifice herself - and her hat! - for the good of the crew. (This earned an HP due to the Sailor quirk). I made a note that she'll be mocked mercilessly for the loss of her hat when she gets to the Burning Gyre tavern in Carleon. The cannon fire knocked down 2 Brute Squads before they could board, meaning only 4 squads would remain.

Next Round, the ships kerrrrunched together, and 4 Brute Squads of 5 boarders each came aboard, swinging over, climbing up, or hacking their way across the sides. The crew of the Marian swung into action, and here Siobhan had her moment to shine. She whipped out an impressive TEN dice (thanks to her dueling maneuver), pulled five Raises out of it, and laid waste to an entire squad in a whirling vortex of steel and death.

Siobhan's player said this was her favorite moment of the session. Getting to take out this huge pile of dice, and seeing everyone else's jaw drop, was a big highlight! So a good principle is: if your Heroes have something they're particularly good at, try to clear a path for them to deploy it at least once a session. It's really gratifying!

Kieve used his Yachidi amulet magic to wade into a clump of pirates without taking any Wounds from them, Vilhelmina used subtlety and a keen eye to direct fighters around her without drawing a weapon herself, the Cap'n leapt down into the fray, and Kaius...?

Kaius hid! He was expecting a smooth and easy voyage, and took a few Wounds on his way to the safety of a crate. Fortunately, the other Heroes bailed him out.

We closed the session with Captain Grace spending a Raise to take an Opportunity: she caught a glimpse of a tall, gaunt figure on the Castillian ship, clad in Inquisitor robes...

Will the crew take the pirate ship - and the Inquisitor - captive? If so, we'll have a chance for some social/dramatic Risks.

It's going to be great! More to come!

Want more of what I do? I have a number of best-selling Adventures and GM guides for the 7th Sea system at this link, available via DriveThruRPG! If the link doesn't work right, go to drivethrurpg.com and search for me, "Evan Perlman."

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