Earlier this year there had been a Kickstarter for 7th Sea. It was one of my favorite games by John Wick and there was no way that I was not backing this project. I initially backed at a level that would provide me a copy of the book but I changed my pledge later on to the Scoundrel level to get both the special edition of the book as well as pirate booty.
When I discovered that John Wick Presents was going to have their own booth at GenCon, I was excited. I definitely knew that I was going to get my book signed by all three designers.
A few weeks out from GenCon, I put a post up on FaceBook asking friends whom they thought I should try to talk to at GenCon 2016. I have mentioned that I am shy and tend to be hesitant about talking to designers about their games. Several friends made suggestions for people that I should talk too. The key one was Rob Justice. Rob is one of the designers of the new edition of 7th Sea and had done his own podcast for several years, The Bear Swarm. I had followed him on FaceBook and he was kind enough to respond to my question. Rob had posted his schedule at GenCon to make it easy to find him and let me know that he would be happy to talk with me about 7th Sea if I had time to drop by the booth.
I should mention that when I do interviews, I take notes. Any errors in information are my own due to either writing down the information incorrectly or due to not being able to read my own handwriting.
I arrived at the John Wick Presents booth not long after the Vendor Hall opened. My plan was to speak with Rob early so that I did not take up to much valuable time or space at the booth. I arrived as Rob was discussing possible demos at the booth except of the lamentable lack of dice to be able to do this. There were a few tall round tables set up to the right side of the booth and this where we talked about 7th Sea.
My first question for Rob was about the incredible turn around time that John Wick Presents had with this new edition of 7th Sea. The Kickstarter ended in March and the base books began shipping in August of the same year. Rob pointed out that a lot of the writing had been done before hand. He stated that work had been going on for the book for about eight months before the Kickstarter. Rob pointed out that the first book was completed and being delivered to the backers a little over three months after the Kickstarter closed. I pointed out that this was one of the reasons that I had backed 7th Sea. In addition to loving the game, I knew that John Wick had a reputation of getting projects done quickly and well and was happy to see the books at GenCon.
Next I asked Rob how his participation in 7th Sea came about. Rob stated that it went back to Podcasting. He state that he had found John’s game Houses of the Blooded. He loved it so much that he talked about it on his podcast and even had the symbol from the book tattooed on his leg. Rob ran into John at a convention that he was attending as a podcaster and showed him his tattoo and the two became friends not long after. Rob states that he has been friends with John for over 7 years and when 7th Sea came up that John asked him and Mike Curry to be system designers for him. I questioned Rob further on this and his answer was that he more akin to a consultant idea wise on the project. He would discuss ideas around the setting and mechanics with Mike and John as well as doing some writing on the project as well. Rob pointed out that he brought up his concerns around the fate witches and their magic and that they needed fixed. I asked Rob what were some of the things in 7th Sea that he had a direct hand in. He pointed out that he did a few fiction pieces throughout the book, the Knights of Avalon, Matushka’s touch, and a version of voodoo in the upcoming pirate book.
One of my concerns with table-top roleplaying games has been the lack of diversity in them. This trend has been changing as can be evidenced in the Pathfinder products and 5th Edition D&D. I asked Rob about diversity in 7th Sea. Rob stated that they had long conversations about it. 7th Sea is set in a fantasy version of Europe in a era that is not known for it’s diversity. Rob mentioned that the conversations tended to orbit around this fact. Rob stated that he pointed out that it was not difficult to make diversity a part of the book and pointed out that it takes one line to give both players and the setting permission to be diverse. He also pointed out that the they tried to make the artwork in the book more representative of everyone that would be playing the game.
This made me very happy!
I asked Rob what his hope was for 7th Sea. He said he hoped that 7th Sea would be someone’s first roleplaying experience. Rob pointed out that the guiding principle behind this new iteration of 7th Sea was that Heroes succeed. He hopes that this change from an antagonistic playstyle will give these new players a wonderful introduction to the hobby as well as become a more pervasive element throughout the industry. Rob’s thought on changing this mindset is to lead the way which 7th Sea does.
I ended the interview with a question stolen from Rob Justice himself. I asked “what is something that I did not ask that you hoped that I would have?” His answer was that he wished that people would ask him about the changes made to the world. Rob stated that there were lots of little and big changes that are worth noting. He pointed out that the Sarmatian Commonwealth was a new addition. He went on to say that it was something that was near to his heart. This addition brought the people of Poland and Lithuania into the mythos of 7th Sea. These are the people from which he is descended and do not get much attention in roleplaying games here in America. It was something he was glad that they did and felt that it added much to 7th sea.
It was great to get to speak with Rob Justice about 7th Sea. He took time out of a busy day to answer my questions and demonstrate the basics of the mechanics of 7th Sea for me. His love of the game is evident and helped bring my love of the game even higher.
Expect a review of 7th Sea in the near future!
Edit: This piece was edited to correct an inaccuracy concerning the sale of Legends of the Five Rings.