Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tommy's Take on The Deadly Seven



I saw The Deadly Seven mentioned over on the Pinnacle boards a few weeks ago and decided to check it out. I like to think I stay up on Savage Worlds stuff, but this seemed to slip under the radar for me.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The Deadly Seven is a “Poly-System Game”, designed by paNik for Savage Worlds, True 20 and d20 Modern, though I am only reviewing the Savage Worlds material here. For $12.95, you get a 150 page adventure, a bunch of maps, and two sets of Clue Cards to be used as player handouts. The PDFs are heavily layered, allowing you to change the rules you are viewing with the press of a button, or remove the backgrounds for printing. The Deadly Seven is designed to be dropped into any modern campaign and has both paranormal and adult elements.

The Deadly Seven intends the Guts skill to be used, unless you’re dropping it into a setting that doesn’t use Guts, of course. The book provides seven threats…four overt threats and three subtle threats. The threats are intended to interweave around each other, rather than being a straight up run through of the seven threats. A suggested run through of the plot is provided, with the caveat that if it takes a different course, so be it.

The seven threats are all mutually tied to a single plot element, complete with a flowchart showing how the elements of the threats tie in together.

The first threat (lust) is a great example of how to run a heavy investigative adventure for Savage Worlds, with lots of clues and red herrings to follow up on. The PCs are left investigating a missing family man, whose fate is connected to a series of brutal rapes. The resolution of the investigation is pretty open-ended, leaving the PCs directly responsible for how the NPCs recover, depending on their actions.

The second threat (envy), in investigation into an illness striking a medical research company, is similarly thematic, though it has a much more abrupt resolution and is actually much likelier to end badly for the PCs (and can be even harder to resolve, perhaps not even being truly resolved until sometime well past the end of the investigation). That said, the resolution can have a HUGE impact on the ultimate resolution of the whole thing.

Threat three (gluttony) can be handled as an investigation or a full on fight scene, depending on your preference. It is an even more horrific twist than the previous threats, involving a voracious flesh-eater.

Threat four (wrath) is incredibly open-ended. It’s a hostage situation, with the police’s actions laid out, as well as the layout of the location, for the PCs to figure out how to get in, stop the hostage situation, and get out.

Threat five (greed) is the first of the subtle threats, involving a conservative talk show host/preacher with a secret. As someone with right-leaning politics, this could have gotten really insulting, but the preacher is portrayed as a very realistic, but flawed person. A very surprising piece. The three subtle threats have a way of spreading out over the course of the module, with the villain of this threat working a long term plan to destroy the PCs.

Threat six (sloth) is one of the most unassuming. The most subtle of the threats, the target of this one can wind up working at cross purposes with the PCs, undermining them before they realize what’s going on.

Threat seven (pride), is set up as the Big Bad in the provided plot outline, and like the other two subtle threats, can easily make his presence felt throughout the module. Like many of the others, this can have a happy ending or a downer ending, depending on what the PCs do.

Seven more threats are provided, one for each sin, to be expanded out by the GM if he chooses.

The common link to the threats is a doctor and his experimental machine, which will have to be dealt with. Again, the PCs can be the deciding factor here, trying to use this infernal device for good, or destroying it to ensure it never causes harm like this again. See, this device allows demons (representing each sin) to possess people. The module provides a helpful section on just what you can do with the possessed, as well as the ramifications of things like wounding the host bodies.

Stat-free descriptions of the major characters in the module are provided (the stats for each system are in separate files), with picture, description and the roles they serve in the module. This concludes with an examination of the seven deadly sins.

The possessed play a huge role in the adventure, and the last part of the book is a primer on demonic possession, delving into the signs of possession, the types of possession and so on. This is an interesting read, and useful reference for a game, including four views on possession and how each view reacts to certain theories (like whether or not the faithful are immune to possession). A section on Exorcisms is provided, complete with variations by religion. For extra effect, there’s even a list of conditions that can be confused with possession, like Epilepsy. The Exorcism guide concludes with a list of historical possessions and hauntings.

The zip file also includes a number of maps, printable clue cards to hand out to the players and a packet of character stats for the adversaries, the demons possessing them and even a couple of generic stat blocks that have a bearing on the module.

WHAT WORKS: A very multilayered module that isn’t a railroad. Some great examples of how to do different types of adventures in Savage Worlds, such as an investigation. The Possession sourcebook is comprehensive as well. The NPCs are all generally well written…surprisingly so, in some cases. The PCs not only decide how successful each mission is, but even the end result in most cases.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK: The organization can be a bit dodgy at first, especially when you realize that the various threats can easily run over the tops of each other (and probably will). The adult content is pretty hard to remove, and will limit the audience because of it. If you run just the threats with no interruption, the common links of each case could get repetitive.

CONCLUSION: A very nice product with lots of variety, great handouts and examples about how to tackle different scenarios in Savage Worlds. In addition, the product takes advantage of the digital medium with layers utilized to switch between rules sets in the adventure, helpful “How Tos” for the Clue Cards and making the pages printer friendly. Deadly Seven is a great example of a scenario that has no assumed outcome, positive or negative, for the encounters, leaving all of that entirely in the hands of the PCs. Well worth checking out if you don’t mind some sex, drugs and violence in your games.