7th Sea (role-playing game)
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|Systems||Roll-and-Keep system, later d20 System|
7th Sea is a "swashbuckling and sorcery"-themed tabletop role-playing game by John Wick. It is set in the fictional world of Théah, a fantasy version of 17th century Earth. Originally published by AEG, 7th Sea is currently published by Chaosium.
The 7th Sea RPG is set in a world that draws direct influence from the literature of 17th century Europe. Each country in the world can be compared to a European kingdom but is an exaggerated representation. Sorcery is a large part of the world with many types available to players. The dominant religion in the world, the belief in Theus and his prophets, is based on a form of Gnostic Christianity and features a parallel of the Spanish Inquisition. There are also references to the Knights Templars, Masons and the Invisible College of scientists.
All major European powers have their representations in Théah. Avalon (England), Castille (Spain), Montaigne (France), Eisen (Germany), Ussura (Russia), Vendel/Vestenmanavnjar (Netherlands / Scandinavia) and Vodacce (Italy) are the main cultures of the game. There is also Inismore (Ireland), Highland Marches (Scotland), the Crescent Empire (Ottoman / Arab), Midnight Archipelago (Caribbean and North Africa) and the secretive Cathay (China / Korea / Tibet). The second edition introduced another nation, the Sarmatian Commonwealth (Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth).
Originally 7th Sea materials were published using a d10 (roll-and-keep) dice system. The game was fairly well received.: 101 Some of the game's later supplements included information about the game's world that dramatically affected its flavor, including an extensive and rather Lovecraftian background to sorcery. Some people felt that the later supplements were unbalanced and broke the mood of the game.[who?]
In 2004, Alderac switched to the d20 System and re-branded the game Swashbuckling Adventures: 104 . After poor sales of the three Swashbuckling Adventure d20 books, a series of hybrid books were published which supported both systems. Alderac no longer publishes books for the system: 105 although a series of electronic books has been released by volunteer writers through the AEG website.
In 2015, Alderac Entertainment Group announced that they had entered into a deal with John Wick Presents, effectively transferring the publication rights for the 7th Sea to John Wick. AEG will still retain limited rights to publish undisclosed products. Wick successfully crowd-funded the campaign the second edition of the game on Kickstarter on March 13, 2016, with the first book – the new core rules – coming out in June of that year. Later that month, the 7th Sea Explorers' Society was launched on DriveThruRPG to allow fans to self-publish material for the setting.
On November 12, 2017, a separate effort raised money for 7th Sea: Khitai, the East Asian-inspired counterpart to 7th Sea. The rate of publication proved to be unsustainable, though, and in November of the following year Wick was forced to lay off his staff and defer further publication for the line.
On April 2, 2019, Chaosium announced that they had acquired the rights to the 7th Sea product line along with the Second Edition and Khitai Kickstarters from John Wick, including back stock of books published so far. Work on the line has since resumed.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (February 2021)
There are two editions, the first edition published in 1999, and the second edition in 2016
- 7th Sea Player's Guide
- The basic core rulebook for the game. It contains information on character creation and the basic rules system.
- 7th Sea Game Master's Guide
- The second basic core book. Much of the book is information on the world that is superseded by the nation books. However it does also have a selection of rules systems for the Game Master, such as chases and poisons.
- 7th Sea Game Master's Screen
- A gamemaster's screen and an adventure called 'The Lady's Favour', which is the first part of the 'Erebus Cross' series of adventures.
- 7th Sea Compendium
-  This book was a free supplement designed to fill in the gap between the first and second printing of the two core rulebooks. The second printing contained quite a few additions, which are provided here for those with the first printing.
The Nation Books
Each of these books details a particular nation, expanding the culture and potential characters to be found there. There is also a lot of detail on the various non-player characters (NPCs) that can be found in the country as well as their secrets.
- The Pirate Nations
- Details the selection of pirate captains roaming the seven seas. This was the first book to go out of print, but mainly because the information in this book is superseded and repeated in Waves of Blood.
- This country is much like England. It has a strong 'Arthurian' feel and the land is also populated with strange creatures of the Fay.
- 7th Sea's version of pre-revolutionary France. It includes detail on the noble families and life in the corrupt courts of the time of the Sun King.
- The mud soaked and war scarred version of Germany during the Thirty Years' War is detailed here. It also contains a wide selection of new sword schools.
- This country is much like Spain during the Reconquista and ruled by a boy-king. The book contains additional information on the Vaticine church and the lost Fire sorcerers.
- This Venetian/Italian group of city republics was the original basis for 7th Sea. Politics and poison are the order of the day here; this book expands on the rules for poison and Sorte.
- One of the most often forgotten countries, Ussura is much like feudal Russia. The politics and areas of this vast country are detailed here along with expanded notes on Pyerem shapechanger sorcery.
- Although this group of islands is technically one country it is ruled by two cultures. The Vendel are much like the Dutch traders of the Renaissance or the Hanseatic League, and they live next door to the old guard of Nordic Vikings. The tensions between the two groups are fully detailed here.
Secret society books
7th Sea is also full of secret societies. Each of these books expands the information found in the Gamesmaster's book and adds several new abilities and schools for player characters.
- The Knights of the Rose and Cross
- This order of knights is based heavily on the Templars, mixed with the flair of The Three Musketeers.
- An order of revolutionaries in several different shapes and sizes.
- Die Kreuzritter
- A secret order of knights that were supposedly destroyed several hundred years ago. Their powers of shadow weaving and the secrets they have unearthed are detailed here.
- The Invisible College
- While the church used to encourage scientific experimentation, the rise of the Inquisition has put a stop to it. This book for the order of underground scientists contains detailed rules for crafting and conceiving new inventions.
- Los Vagos
- One man can make a difference. The mysterious Zorro-like figure of the vagabond El Vago has more than a few assistants. His order of spies and helpers is expanded upon in this book.
- Sophia's Daughters
- This secret order of women seem to know more about the world than anyone else. In this book their secret sorceries and Sidhe connections are laid bare.
Adventures and campaigns
There are a few published adventures and one large city campaign. The Erebus Cross campaign is a campaign that takes the characters across the whole of the world of Théah. It is published in three parts. Each of the books of the Erebus Cross also contain information on the Explorer's Society.
- Scoundrel's Folly
- The Erebus Cross Part 2 takes the characters to an island full of monsters.
- The Arrow of Heaven
- The Erebus Cross Part 3 takes the characters to a final showdown in Vodacce.
- Mightier than the Sword
- 2 unconnected adventures can be found here. One involves a violinist in Montaigne, the other a voyage across the sea following clues from novels.
- Tangled Strands
- This mini-campaign takes place over four adventures. Each is designed to slot between other adventures or be run one after the other.
- This huge boxed set contains complete detail on the city of Freiburg. It covers all manner of areas and characters across the city. Included in the box is also a campaign of several adventures called Hammer and Tongs.
- Villain's Kit
- This book rather defies categorisation. It was very expensive as it included membership to the now-defunct 7th Sea fan society "NOM". However the book itself is quite useful containing essays on creating villains and a short adventure.
The Blue Books
When the nation and secret society books had been completed, AEG redesigned the cover style of the game line. These blue books are still designed for the Roll and Keep system but don't follow any form of series like the others.
- Crescent Empire
- This book is for the Arabian area of the game world and details the four nations there in much the same way as the nation books.
- Waves of Blood
- This book brings the card game plotline and detail in line with the RPG with a complete history of the card game's storylines. It also updates and repeats all the information in The Pirate Nations.
- The Montaigne Revolution
- Not just for Montaigne, this "7th Sea Almanac" details the game's meta-plot for the year 1668. It includes the Montaigne revolution, but also the changes in Vodacce and the smaller plots from all the other countries.
- The Church of the Prophets
- This book offers information on all the forms of Christianity in 7th Sea. It includes the Vaticine (Catholic) church and its schism with the Objectionists (Protestants). It also details the Ussuran faith.
- Swordsman's Guild
- This book on duelling and the guild contains a wide array of new sword schools. It also details several important NPCs and the history and agenda of the Swordsman's Guild.
AEG added d20 system statistics to the later books of the 7th Sea line in an attempt to increase its popularity. The first three releases were pure d20 books to bring d20 players up to speed. The line then continued with dual statistics for both rule systems.
- Swashbuckling Adventures
- The d20 core book detailing the basic world of Théah and the various character classes and new feats available.
- Heroes, Villains and Monsters
- The second pure d20 release, an NPC book detailing many of the previously noted NPCs in d20 format as well as several monsters from the world of Théah.
- Swashbuckling Arcana
- The third and final pure d20 release details the various sorceries and magics available in Théah.
- Islands of Gold: The Midnight Archipelago
- This book details the general area of the Midnight Archipelago and offers extensive detail on a few of the various islands.
- Explorer's Society
- This secret society book for a not very secret society is much like the other secret society books.
- Strongholds and Hideouts
- This book is a collection of areas to be found around Théah. Some are mystical (such as Lawrence Lugh's temple in Avalon) and others are quite mundane (such as the Rye Grim hideout in Montaigne).
- Cathay, Jewel of the East
- Another nation book, much like the Crescent Empire. The Chinese lands of Cathay are detailed here.
- Ships and Sea Battles
- This book concentrates of everything Waves of Blood missed. There is less emphasis on pirates, more on harbours and trading.
- The Sidhe Book of Nightmares
- A complete book on the Sidhe, including new creatures and even Sidhe as player characters.
- Knights & Musketeers
- This book is a collection of new and previously mentioned knightly orders, from the Montaigne Musketeers to the Knights of Elaine to the O'Bannon's guards.
- Rapier's Edge
- This final printed book for the line is a collection of adventures for every nation and society. It also includes detail on the meta-plot timeline up to 1675.
- 7th Sea (2016)
- Core rulebook set in the nations of Théah.
- Pirate Nations (2016)
- New seafaring rules and places to visit in the Caribbean-themed Midnight Archipelago.
- Heroes and Villains (2016)
- Collection of 40 heroes and 40 villains to use as NPCs or pre-generated player characters.
- Nations of Théah Volume 1 (2016)
- Details Avalon, Castille, Montaigne and Vestenmennavenjar.
- Nations of Théah Volume 2 (2016)
- Details Eisen, The Sarmatian Commonwealth, Ussura and Vodacce.
- Crescent Empire (2017)
- Introduces a new setting, the Middle-Eastern-themed Crescent Empire with five new nations: Anatol Ayh, Ashur, Persis, Sarmion, and the 8th Sea.
- The New World (2017)
- Introduces a new setting, the Mesoamerican-themed Aztlan Empire with three new nations: The Nahuacan Alliance, the TzakK'an, and the Kuraq.
- Lands of Gold and Fire (2017)
- Introduces a new setting, the African-themed nations of Ifri: Aksum, Khemet, Maghreb, Manden Kurufaba, and Mbey.
- Secret Societies (2020)
- Further details the secret societies from the core book.
In 2000, 7th Sea won the Origins Award for Best Roleplaying Game of 1999. The setting also inspired a collectible card game.The card game was discontinued in 2005, and the role-playing game subsequently went out of print.: 105
- "The 1999 Origins Awards - Presented at Origins 2000". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014.
- Shannon Appelcline (2014). Designers & Dragons: The '90s. 3 (2 ed.). Evil Hat Productions. ISBN 978-1-61317-084-7.
- Absolution Studio G
- Prelude to Ruin Studio G
- "A Return to 7th Sea". alderac.com (Official blog). 3 November 2015. Archived from the original on 2016-03-09. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- Wick, John (9 February 2016). "7th Sea: Second Edition". Kickstarter. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
- "7th Sea Explorer's Society". chaosium.com (Official website). Retrieved 4 January 2021.
- "7th Sea: Khitai". 12 November 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
- "John Wick Presents Lays Off Staff". icv2.com (Industry news). 6 November 2018. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
- O'Brien, Michael (2 April 2019). "John Wick joins Chaosium". Chaosium press release. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
- "7th Sea Compendium" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-23.