Game by John Wick Presents
Preview by Charlie Etheridge-Nunn
“Niech Żyje Książę!”
“Long Live the Prince!” Part Two
GM’d by Jacob.
Prince Aleksy Gracjan Nowak, played by Vinnie
Domenica Vespucci the fate witch, played by me
Ennio Vespucci the flouncy duellist, played by Ash
Captain Roberto Gallo, played by Lee
Azucena Esquivel the ‘bodyguard’, played by Josh
Previously: Prince Aleksy attempted to bring Golden Liberty (basically democracy) to the Sarmatian Commonwealth. The existing nobility acted as one would expect and enacted a coup against him, led by Duke Kazimierz, Marcen Sabat. He fled with his fiancee Domenica, her brash brother and their bodyguard. The captain of their vessel, Roberto Gallo, set sail for Vodacce. You can read part one here which includes the story and the rules so far.
Understandably, spoilers for this scenario will be all over this preview.
One last point of note before we begin. The 23 February update for 7th Sea included an alternative to rolling pools of dice, where we instead draw from a tarot deck missing the major arcana. The numbered cards are the results as they would be on dice, but the face cards all have a special effect. This results in smaller amounts of successful raises, but random other things which may happen or get banked for later. You’ll see what they do when we have risks in this game. Josh, Vinnie and I used these rules while Ash and Lee used d10’s like last session.
Things weren’t looking good right from the beginning. Papa Vespucci sent a letter to explain that he wasn’t all that keen on the whole ‘democracy’ thing Aleksy was after and considered the prince a lost cause. He wasn’t going to provide any support for us to fight back against the coup. We needed to find a way to get troops and boats; fortunately this was Vodacce so we could easily find a party filled with influential people. Vinnie, Lee and Ash weren’t aware of Vodacce, having not experienced 7th Sea before. They are the “John Wick” faction, as the Scorpion Clan[LINK>>>http://l5r.wikia.com/wiki/Scorpion_Clan] were in Legend of the Five Rings, as all of the ven were in Houses of the Blooded[LINK>>>http://housesoftheblooded.net/]. The men and women who’ll charm you and have a dagger in your back or poison at your lips moments before you realise you’ve just been killed. As Vodacce natives, Domenica and Ennio both helped everyone prepare for a party being held by the Marquis de Rege in The Rainbow Palace. It was a gaudy masquerade ball, so we were given the option of playing subtle or loud but really there was only one choice…
Azucena dressed far above her station, looking almost noble although her mask could easily be mistaken for the mask of Los Vagos, who were the organisation she secretly worked for. The prince dressed in his fanciest royal clothes which weren’t all that flashy compared to the party-goers but did raise the question of his priorities is he packed them while we were fleeing the Samartian Commonwealth. Roberto wore his fanciest captain’s outfit. Ennio was wearing a gold mask of his own face, an ornate silken outfit and his finest codpiece. Domenica wore a funeral mask and a black gown which went into flames, a burning nation, maybe?
We made our entrances and Roberto immediately went to the dance floor. Jacob asked if Roberto had any ranks in Perform (Dancing). Unsurprisingly the pirate captain didn’t have any, but he did have Profession (Sailor) and decided to try out a few of the more fancy jigs he remembered and set to that. He was looking to make a good entrance and the consequences were:
* Roberto doesn’t knock a burly guy’s drink
* Roberto doesn’t collide with a noblewoman
* People don’t think Roberto’s an idiot.
With three raises he accomplished his initial task of making an entrance, then he didn’t bang into a noblewoman while dancing and people didn’t think he was an idiot. In fact, he started dancing with the Baroness Rosa Santina Manco, who ended up knocking a guy’s drink over when he whirled her around. Domenica and the Prince danced past and she whispered to Roberto that the baroness was influential, he should try to get her on our side. Azucena helped with coaching Roberto while on the dance floor with the Count Nicostrato Guttoso.
The prince started a boisterous drinking contest and Ennio did his best to boast to a ton of impressionable young girls, picking up a stalker as he went. One of the impressed girls was the sister of Admiral Carmen Cruz who would be another great resource to us. Azucena danced with Count Nico, looking to find out information from him. Josh drew successes and a few face cards. One gave everyone two ranks in a skill, so Josh picked Perform (Dancing) and the second allowed him to ask a yes/no question. He asked Jacob whether Nicostato had any useful intel. Apparently yes, he was actually a Los Vagos sympathiser and had hosted El Vago himself at one point.
I decided that Domenica was better trying to influence people away from her husband and she wandered up to the Marquis. He was unimpressed by her though, so she summoned her brother and attempted to have him seduce the Marquis instead. Ennio instead introduced the Marquis to Prince Aleksy who did a great job of winning the Marquis over. He said that he didn’t care for deception (while staring at Domenica) but instead liked the upfront honesty of Aleksy.
Roberto tried to seduce Baroness Rosa and chose to use dancing instead of tempt. It worked with a little help from Azucena cashing in another face card and providing advice from where she was dancing. It worked and they went off to a side room. There was some chat about this and it was decided that the Vodacce probably have a series of bang rooms all over the party for such an occasion. We drew a veil over that scene.
Domenica started to look for more occult helpers; there were some fate witches and some Montaigne (French) nobles wearing gloves. The fate witches would probably get all Mean Girls cliquey with Domenica (”On Wednesdays we wear black… on all of the days we wear black”) so instead she went for the obvious porte mages. Porte… I should explain a little, for those of you who aren’t entirely aware. Some noble bloodlines in Montaigne are able to use their blood to rip open holes in the world. Normally they ‘blood’ an item and can open a hole to wherever that item is. It’s pretty awesome if you close your eyes and try not to listen to the voices and the screams as you pass through the tear. Montaigne nobles tend to wear gloves as the porte mages amongst them have their hands permanently stained red from the magic.
These nobles mentioned that they were shopping for good Vodacce glass. Domenica mentioned the Vespucci glassworks, how we made some of the most ornate stained glass in some of the churches… D’oh. As one of the three people in the room I should have remembered that the Montaigne and Castille have been in a big war after Montaigne renounced the church. A GM would probably be fine with backtracking after a setting-ignorant faux pas but I decided to run with it. Domenica joked that it would be truly scandalous if the church realised it was a sorcerous bloodline making their art. Their magic would be great in return for perhaps some lucrative contracts with the family. My consequences were:
* Domenica agrees to bad terms
* No, seriously, these are really bad terms, enough that they have to be on here twice
* They will want a sorte-based favour in the future.
Personally, I saw no problem with keeping the last one open, it would make for some fun drama, after all. I drew my cards and had three raises, so I got my wish and made an agreement on good terms but with a promise of future fate witch fun.
We had mages now, which was pretty good, especially as Ennio didn’t do great with the admiral. “So… soldier, eh?” was how he introduced himself to Carmen. He explained that he was good with a sword and danced energetically with her. It didn’t go well, but when he was asked to introduce her to the prince, it looked like she was being handed off to a more competent person.
Ash showed me a note he’d been passed by Jacob…
That wasn’t going to bite us in the arse, was it? Also I’d seen Jacob pass Vinnie a note earlier and realised that because of the drinking contest he must have the same condition. I didn’t see the prince’s character sheet but he was a big man and hopefully with a good resolve. He doesn’t, as it turns out.
Azucena managed to charm Nicostrato, especially when she mentioned that she could get him a place at the main table of Aleksy & Domenica’s wedding. At least, if there was reason for them to think fondly of him then she could. He pledged 500 of his troops.
Roberto offered to show Baroness Rosa his impressive boat. No, not that one. He mentioned that if she helped the prince out then she’d get to see Roberto and his boat in action. Again, no, minds out of the gutter. That ship had already sailed, after all. She only had 200 soldiers, but combined with the 1,000 from the Marquis and 500 from Nicostrato, it was a good start.
We needed boats and the prince did a terrible job of hiring the admiral by implying she was a simple mercenary. Luckily porte mages would be able to help with some of the transport.
In the crowded dance floor, Azucena fainted and was caught by a man with a missing ear. It was Filipe Kumiega whose ear and dagger she had taken back in the Samartian Commonwealth! At the same time, a woman named Zyta Kurowski burst into the hall and ballroom, yelling at the prince. She was a bodyguard of the prince’s usurper; Marcen Sabat. She called the prince a traitor and a coward, how he had no allies and fled here to hide behind the Vespucci largess. She’d evidently not been paying attention to all the schmoozing.
The prince drew her sword out of her scabbard and snapped it in order to disgrace her. She went right past him and challenged the Marquis to a duel instead. She slapped him across the face as a challenge and Ennio immediately offered to fight instead of the Marquis. He was an astounding duellist, after all. During all of this, none of us actually noticed Azucena or Roberto were missing.
As the crowd were getting closer to the duel, the prince’s spurned lover appeared to rub some salt into the wound. Yes, Estera Sabat, the Black Cat. She mentioned not wanting to have to side with her father but he gave her no choice. The prince said that he would dignify her with one more word, “Bugger. Off. Again.”
Domenica started using her sorte magic to give a blessing to her brother for the duel, something he’d need after getting horrendously drunk. Back in a side room, Azucena was poisoned and helpless. This is a keyword in the game. After a certain amount of dramatic wounds or after certain situations, you become helpless and only then you can be murdered by villains. The GM has to announce that a character is going to be murdered by a villain unless anyone does anything by the end of the round. Roberto kicked in the door to the room and revealed two small wrist-mounted holdout pistols which he used to shoot at Filipe. The villain’s dagger went missing and he was shot but not badly hurt.
We went into an action scene taking place with both sets of characters.
Ennio boasted about being the swiftest at swordery (even if he wasn’t the best at wordplay) and backed his point up with fourteen raises. Fourteen! Christ. He was drunk but he was a trained duellist with a sword and dagger, a blessing from me and in the first round I cashed in a face card which had everyone draw another card (or add another die to their pool). He used one raise to soak up one of the wounds Zyta caused and took the rest so he could make as much damage as possible. Villains have a system where the longer a fight is, the more wounds they take, so even though he did really well, she wasn’t that badly hurt yet.
The prince and Domenica did a good job of demoralising Estera. He mentioned that this was just sad of her to be doing this. Domenica mentioned loudly to the crowd how sad it was that the daughter of Marcen Sabat would leave the protection of her father and enter enemy territory just to have a punt at a man who didn’t love her.
“What? Duke Kazimierz’s daughter? The one who enacted the coup against the prince?”
“The same,” Domenica smirked.
With that a few people politely excused themselves and there was a sense we wouldn’t be likely to see Estera soon enough.
Roberto applied his ‘special rum’ to Azucena to wake her up, that and a slap. Azucena hit him back and then thanked him. We all marvelled that Josh’s character hadn’t died as that’s kind of his thing in our games.
The prince and I carried on riling the crowd up and I got a face card which summoned a Strength 5 brute squad to help me out. I decided those were some of Roberto’s crew who managed to abduct Estera and flee. The prince got everyone to fight while the duel carried on.
Azucena cashed in a face card to declare Filipe her nemesis and showed him the knife she stole from him, “Filipe, I have something that belongs to you,” she pulled out the dagger, then said it again to his good ear, “Filipe, I said I have something that belongs to you.”
The angry crowd caused us all to take a dramatic wound which for a moment was actually okay. Dramatic wounds are interesting. You can take a small amount of normal wounds which are just flesh wounds. If you take a dramatic wound then things get good for you as a player. The second one helps the enemy. The third helps you again and the fourth leaves you helpless and able to be murdered. So you actually get cooler if you’re a bit wounded in a fight, which fits the dramatic style of the game and encouraging people to try to take risks.
Ennio was doing well enough until Zyta spent a raise to disarm him of his dagger, removing a lot of his bonuses. Domenica reached into the intricate patterning on her dress and pulled out a whip (”I definitely have a type,” the prince said). She whipped up the knife and flicked it back to her brother, which he caught pointy end first. Ouch! But at least he had it now.
Azucena grabbed Filipe by the neck with his own knife to it, “We’ve been here before,” she said.
The crowd were back on our side, but chaotic enough that Filipe managed to fall into them and vanish by the time Azucena pushed through them. Jacob and Josh both decided it would be best to have the nemesis get away to stoke the fires of their hatred for each other. Jacob decided to have a last stand with Zyta and spent a whopping ten Danger points on attacking Ennio. He was stabbed and in a pretty rough state, but with one final blow managed to drive Zyta to her knees. She was done with the duel and surrendered. We’d won the day, gathered an army and had a pretty damn fine party. Probably the usual kind of affair in Vodacce though, to be honest.
We had enough people to form an army and could march on Marcen Sabat’s usurpers. That would be a story for another time, you see, all of this is backstory in the main game. From what I’ve heard about the setting Aleksy won and the Samartian Commonwealth is the first true democracy.
The game was great fun and the system felt like it really encouraged dramatic, swashbuckling storytelling. The tarot system was an interesting alternative which still feels like there are a few kinks to work out. These are all trial rules, so things could change and there might be more clarification in the full game.
The tarot card system will cause less raises and some of the special effects weren’t necessary to the particular scenes we were in or kept coming up repeatedly. One suggestion we had was that the bonus die you get for narration be drawn from the tarot deck while you roll dice for the rest. This was while you’ll probably get a numerical card, 16 out of 56 cards will be special effect ones.
We ignored the duel rules as they’re getting an overhaul, but then compared to every other die roll the swordfight had a vastly higher amount of raises than anything else.
Despite these few things, the system is really good fun and something which the In Fighters are still pumped for the official release of.
The Kickstarter campaign is in its’ final days and $40 gets you the core book, ten (nearly eleven) sourcebooks, three novels, a bunch of maps, six locations for adventures and music. This makes it possibly even better than the Fate Core Kickstarter which also released tons of books from one campaign. The Kickstarter page is here and the demo rules are open for backers. When the game is released there will be a free basic rulebook for people to try out.