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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies

Just picked up swashbucklers of the seven skies recently. It's pretty odd that it took me so long. Not only is PDQ one of my personal favorite systems but I'm working to make my own PDQ game as well. So why did it take so long to get a hold of this one? Basically I'm forgetful. When it first came out I would have loved to have picked it up but money was tight and I was fully involved with other games. As time went on it slipped my mind and those times I remembered I never had the spare cash to plop down on a book that, unfortunately, I wouldn't likely be able to play with anytime in the near future. So on and so forth.

Well, I finally changed that and I've been absorbing it busily. Lots of great material both in terms of the fantastic setting and the small mechanical upgrades or polishes they add to PDQ. I'm actually considering surgically grafting So7S's airship combat system into Pathfinder for the Eberron game I'm currently running. It's great!

The only thing that would keep me from giving it a perfect score is the magic system. Normally I wouldn't worry too much about that sort of thing, it's a swashbuckling game and wizards and sorcerers are hardly the most iconic heroes of that genre. The rules for Gifts are also definitely evocative and interesting but at the same time there's no restrictions or downsides to purchasing Gifts (or at least not any significant ones) despite the fact that they're more powerful than most other qualities. For example, if you're playing a combat focused character there's very little reason not to take the Griffin gift. Even if you aren't going for a combat focus it's pretty appealing. Kuldons (the setting's "wizards" who can take multiple gifts) are even more powerful.

Fortunately for me the solution is pretty simple. All I need to do is look to another great PDQ fantasy game: Questers of the Middle Realms. Essentially just limiting magical Fortes like Gifts and Kuldoon by dropping the starting Rank of the Quality to Average [0] rather than Good [+2] and using Quester's magical intensity chart as a guideline for the difficulty of various magical feats. That's all it takes for it to click into place for me. That's one of the great things about PDQ, it's a robust little system that's very tough to break. You can flex it pretty far in whatever direction you need until it suits you.


  1. The Gutter Skypes podcast have about 10 episodes on S7S, starting around ep.22 and ending around ep.37. They are well worth the listening (both from learning how the game works in play and the humor). Check them out!

  2. I will definitely check that out.