Gen Con 2017 attendees probably already know this but John Wick Presents is doing a Kickstarter for 7th Sea: Khitai this month! There were a few copies available at GC50 and a PDF version is available at Drive-Thru RPG (where I got my copy). This is a 38 page PDF with the usual fluff preview/quickstart rules/module with pregens combo. The appropriately titled “Action & Drama” is the 12 pages of rules, that appear to be standard 7th Sea 2e rules.
A number of the nations in Khitai, across the world from Théah, get a few paragraphs of preview. (YES! There are pirates! And I have to know–are the Kiwa Islands NOT-New Zealand et al.?) However, the only nations with more extensive background given are Han and Fuso (aka NOT-Japan), including Fuso’s mystical tradition of kamuyru. Interestingly, a small sidebar states northern Japan’s Ainu culture influenced this RPG alternate Japan. I thought that was a good change, as all the other pseudo-Japans I’ve come across in RPGs and fiction seem to ignore this culture. (I could have missed references as I haven’t studied Japanese history thoroughly.) The Fuso and Han background is divided between small amounts in the opening fluff section but the majority in the module, “Life giving Sword, Death-giving Sword.”
To avoid any spoiler temptation on my part and, more importantly, because I want to play in this one, I avoided most of the module past the intro and the scene-setting for 4 of the main NPCs. I will tell you this much: That column of “what just happened” reminds me of some of the goings-on in Eiji Yoshikawa’s 5 Musashi novels, about the legendary samurai and writer of The Book of Five Rings. In other words, it’s complicated, convoluted, with misinterpretations, and I found it very engaging. (I need the module in novel form, too!)
I also liked the 5 pregens included. The background of each PC had a really neat section, “Play [this PC] if you want to” followed by 3 parts that begin with phrases like, “Solve problems by…” and “Play someone who…” I wish all pregens had something like this. It not only gives a little more depth to characters who may be little more than game stats and a portrait, but is helpful to players who aren’t familiar with the character archetypes in the system and/or genre.
Sorry this is so short, but I have to get busy begging my friends to play this one with me. So all of you who had a chance to see Khitai at GC50, tell us how it plays.