In February last year, I backed the Kickstarter for the second edition of 7th Sea. This proved to be another campaign with overwhelming support, making the rewards phenomenal value. I received so many pdfs as part of the rewards package, but I chose the second edition rules as the starting point.
As to be expected from rules written by John Wick, 7th Sea contains a wealth of excellent advice. This mini-series expands upon just one such gem.
- In part one I outlined the 7th Sea approach to exposition
- Part two presented options for the in-game source of information
Here in part three, I provide a few tables to generate details about the source of information.
First, a quick overview of 7th Sea. The second edition of this game of swashbuckling and sorcery was published by John Wick Presents in 2016. The core rules book describes itself as follows:
This book gives you all the information you need to tell stories of swashbuckling, sorcery, intrigue, romance and adventure! Get ready to enter a world of piracy, diplomacy, archaeology and exploration. It’s a world of musketeers, buccaneers and privateers, ancient sorcery and lost civilizations, secrets that hide in the shadows and monsters that hide in plain sight.
To recap, the GM advice in 7th Sea advises the GM to filter all information to the Player through the lens of the setting. The GM should not simply narrate facts to the Players. Instead, the GM should bring setting details into the game as a source for the information:
If [Players] want to know the circumference of the world, quote the answer from one of Théah’s scholarly texts. If you don’t know one, make one up. If they need to know something their Heroes don’t, make them look it up or find an expert on the subject.
This essay focuses on providing you with a range of potential sources for information. When a Player asks a question at the table, the first task of the GM is to determine the source of the desired knowledge.
However, the GM also needs to decide which source is applicable to answer the Player’s question. Roll on Table 1 to determine where this information can be found. The first entry on the table applies automatically when the GM decides the Hero should know the information already. In this case, roll 1d6+4 to find the source of the knowledge. This helps to build the setting, even when the Player is not asked to search for the answer.
|1-4||Hero knowledge, re-roll 1d6+4 for origin|
Name the Sage
The next option on Table 1 is a teacher. Sometimes the Hero may simply know they have to find a specific type of expert. A complex question about a magical sword might require the Heroes to consult a mage or a weaponsmith. However, this answer adds little to the setting.
For a more atmospheric outcome, cite a specific expert the Heroes should consult. This GMC is a renowned expert in the field, and a name the Heroes already know by reputation. Doubtless you have a suitable list of names for your setting. Remember to vary the cultures and gender of the experts you highlight.
In case you do not already have a list, here is a small table of names you can use tonight, until you prepare your own list. For long term use, this table will need frequent updates, to ensure a variety of names.
Optionally, you can add more colour to the experts in your setting with the addition of a nickname. A simple option is to add “the [Career}” as a nickname, where Career is chosen by you, or rolled on Table 6 below.
Saga Title Format
The remaining outcomes on Table 1 relate to individual stories, distinguished by their format. Even a song is really just a story put to music, albeit a short and often humorous one. All these types of story have a title, which can be difficult to improvise during the game. The following tables lay out a method of generating the title of the story, saga or shanty found in the campaign.
First, use Table 3 to find the format of the title. The entries in Table 3 indicate which sub-table you roll on to complete the title. These sub-tables are nominated by square brackets such as [these].
|1||The Lost [Object] of [Name]
|2||The [Action] [Career]
|3||The [Action] [Object]
|4||The [Object] of [Career]s
|5||The [Object] of [Name] the [Career]
|6||[Name]'s [Object] of [Action]
|7||[Name] went a [Action]
|8||[Object] of [Name]
To generate the name component of a saga title, then roll on Table 2 above.
For the action component of a saga title, roll on Table 4.
Table 5 generates the object component of a title.
Finally, to generate the career component of a saga title, please roll on Table 6.
Sagas at the Table
In order for these table to create a wide range of titles, there is a degree of complexity in the process. Several titles require multiple rolls, and possibly a slight massage of the results to read smoothly. This may not always be suitable to use during a game. Therefore, you are recommended to create a few titles in advance, created using these tables during your prep time. Then, when you quickly need a saga title, you can roll once on Table 1, and pick a pre-generated title to complete the process. In this way, your setting benefits from the added details as suggested by John Wick in 7th Sea, without creating undue delays during the game.
Furthermore, pick a short list of common titles for regular use. These sagas contain a mass of common knowledge about the setting, and are familiar to many people. Think of the Icelandic Eddas, a common body of knowledge shared by the community. Such common texts do not contain every piece of information, yet bring consistency and colour to even basic details.
You could take this process one step further, and nominate specific areas of knowledge to famous texts. Thus, a favourite sea shanty lists large ports and common knowledge about each of them. The writings of a famous mage explain the foundations of magic, and a famous folklore song contains details about the formation of the kingdom.
John Wick gives brilliant advice about tying exposition into a setting. However, the use of this advice requires the GM to improvise sources of information, with appropriate titles. These tables conclude my short series about adding setting details through exposition. I hope these essays are useful to you.
Do you improvise titles in your game? What else would you use these tables for? Have you added famous sagas into your campaign? Share your thoughts with your fellow GMs in the comments below.
- Do you need more Tales?
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