We’ve all had those sorts of players. The ones that consistently blur the edges between being a scoundrel and being a bad guy. The kind that get bored or frustrated or just generally tired of an NPC (hopefully!) and decide to stab him in the back, either figuratively or literally. The kind who know they shouldn’t use the cursed ring they were supposed to toss into the volcano, but for some reason, they slip it on anyway. In D&D, there are mechanisms to handle this: changing alignments with potential repercussions based on a character’s class restrictions. But in 7th Sea, it’s a little bit harder. How do you make someone aware that they have crossed a line?
Our suggestion: give him a Villain Die.
A Villain Die should look completely different from any other dice used at the table. It should not be pretty. It should not be sparkly. (Villain Dice in the Poisoned Shadows campaign are a putrid, semi-translucent olive green.) It should stand out from all the other dice the player might have, and it should scream “I am evil! Use me!”
A Villain Die should not be given out for actions that are merely morally ambiguous, such as stealing money from a corrupt tax collector, or hiding behind a stronger party member when you are wounded in combat. Villain Dice should be reserved for actions that are truly morally reprehensible. We cannot give you rules to define the sort of action that merits the “reward” of a Villain Die other than this: you will know one when you see one.
But what does the Villain Die do?
Well, for one thing, it looks ominous sitting on the table next to the player’s character sheet. But in terms of game mechanics, it can be rolled and added to any other roll the player makes, it does not go away when used, and it always explodes, like a Drama Die (but it cannot be used when activating or resisting the activation of an Arcana, and it never earns you extra Experience Points).
- It twists the action so that it becomes horribly wicked in some way. If you are attacking someone, he turns around as you are about to strike, so you stab him in the back. If you are seducing someone, a third party catches you in the act and your paramour’s reputation is ruined.
- It immediately costs the user ten Reputation Points.
- It immediately earns another Villain Die.
That’s right. If you use one Villain Die on a roll, it turns into two. If you use two Villain Dice on a roll, they turn into four (and cost you a whopping twenty Reputation Points). It’s a slippery slope down the path to evil, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and other proverbs, as well.
This might not seem like a big deal to a player. Maybe he can afford to burn a score of Reputation Points to ensure a critical action is successful. It’s up to you, as the GM, to make sure that it carries some sort of repercussion. Maybe he loses the followers he had attracted. Maybe word of his action gets around, and he is s stripped of the citation he had earned. Publicly.
And remember what happens when his Reputation score drops below -30 (or -40 or -50 with the appropriate Scarovese Advantage). That’s right: the character becomes a Villain and, more importantly, an NPC. One who knows all the secrets and idiosyncrasies and weaknesses of the rest of the party.
Villain Dice. Hopefully, you will never need them. But if you do…