Monday, July 12, 2010


My group loves 7th Sea. As in really loves it. Really really loves it. In fact, outside of Shadowrun, it's the only game that I can consistently get everyone together to play. I range outside of those two, and I immediately start losing people.

One of the things everyone loves about this game of swashbuckling action is the inclusion of different levels of adversaries. In short, brutes. A brief primer for those unfamiliar with them, brutes are low threat NPCs that exist to get mowed down in large numbers. A hero can drop them with a single hit (no damage roll needed), and can usually drop more than one in a single attack. They are the faceless mob that falls apart when confronted with the awesomeness of the hero.

When I ran Shadowrun using Feng Shui rules, we had mooks, its own version of 7th Sea brutes. It was a slightly different way or representing the mob mechanically, but mook rules served the same purpose. However, after one player emptied a room of 15 mooks with a machine pistol, people began complaining to me that things were a little too easy.

Looking over the cyberpunk fiction, as I began writing this game, I decided they were right. I love mook/brute rules too, if for no other reason that they make running large numbers of adversaries easier for me as a GM, but if they're completely ineffective, then there's no point in putting them into the game at all. So I set out to create a system of rules that allowed me to stock an encounter with large numbers of enemies in a way that balanced the threat level.

Shadowrun has always had ways of categorizing the enemy, using a pair of scales: professional level and threat level. These provided a rough gauge of how dangerous the opponent was, and when it would leave a fight based on how much damage it took. However, even threat level 1 opponents still used the standard character rules for combat; every opponent needed to have its actions resolved individually. This meant that even if threat level 1 opponents would flee after taking a light wound, making it easy to defeat them, using large numbers of them still requires a lot of die rolling.

However, I liked the idea of threat ratings, and so I incorporated them into the concept of mooks to come up with the following:

Mooks are groups of enemies that, individually post little threat to a team of runners. However, in hordes, they can collectively challenge even skilled opponents. These rules can be used to represent a rioting mob, an army of gangers, a squad of low rent security officers, or swarms of flesh form spirits. Mooks use special rules for resolving their actions and taking damage, both of which use their threat rating. All mooks have a threat rating from 1 - 5.

Resolving Actions
Mooks have a rating 2 in all knacks, just like PCs do. When designing them, you may choose knacks from the list that you think are particularly appropriate for the group. When rolling these knacks, the mooks add their threat rating to their pool.

For example, you design a group of security officers as a mook squad with a threat rating of 3. You assign them the knacks of Firearms, Dodge, and Armed Combat. When rolling these knacks, any of the mooks have a base pool of 5 dice (default rating of 2 + threat rating of 3).

However, mooks are best when they work together. Therefore, mooks add +1 die to their pools for each additional member of the squad. Thus if the squad above consisted of 5 officers, they would gain +4 dice to all actions. When rolling Firearms, Dodge, and Armed Combat they roll 9 dice. When rolling any other knack they roll 6.

There is no cap to the number of dice a mook squad can have in a pool, and this can lead to some very large pools, but there's a catch. This pool is used to determine the actions of the entire squad. If the squad is shooting at more than one target, it needs to split its yin dice among them, for example. If some of the squad runs to get the car while others lay down suppressing fire, it needs to split its yin dice up. Judgement and fairness are required to make this work. While you can still abuse this rule by making every single member of a squad concentrate fire on a single PC, it's more likely that the squad as a whole will attack several targets (a few shoot at the mage while a few others try to drop the marauding sam, for example).

A mook squad uses its threat rating as its method for all rolls.

Taking Damage
Track damage to mooks on an individual level. This means that if a mook squad has 5 members in it, you have 5 health meters to track. However, mooks only have a single condition line; do not track stun and physical damage separately.

Mook condition monitors have 5 boxes, plus their threat level. They may not take injuries to reduce damage. Remember, as individual members of a mook squad drop, the squad's overall die pool will also diminish, making it less effective.

Wound Penalties
This might seem a little tricky, given that you're tracking damage to individual members of a mook squad, but rolling dice collectively. Really though, it isn't. Really. Here, I'll show you:

Mooks suffer no wound penalties. None at all.

Why not? Because for every single mook that drops, the squad loses a die out of its pool, and you'll be surprised at how quickly these guys drop. Mook squads will rapidly lose dice from their pools, which cuts down on their effectiveness. And really, isn't that what wound penalties are all about? Besides, you as the GM have enough to keep track of already.

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