Posted on September 17, 2004 by Flames
Written by Scott Mitchell, Mark Bruno, Edwyn Kumar, Scott Lynch, Creative Illusions (CTV10000)
The Seventh Seal: Roleplaying Game of Prophetic Revelations is a modern day conspiracy/horror game. In it the player characters take on the role of the Chosen Elect, men and women who have been contacted by an Archangel and charged with the task of defending humanity from the forces of darkness. Unlike other games dealing with this subject matter, this one takes place before open war breaks out between the Heavenly Host and the Rebel Angels. The players must survive in a familiar world, while investigating, hunting and hiding from the Infernal Enemy.
The Introduction sets the stage for the game. It briefly describes the Biblical mythology concerning the Seven Seals from the Book of Revelation. It also contains a teaser explaining the role of the Player Characters, the Chosen Elect, and their enemy, The Legion. Because this game is charged with religious trappings, this section of the book has a detailed Disclaimer which states the authors’ desire to create a setting for a role-playing game, not a document of religious “propaganda.” Ending the chapter is a handy glossary of terms including both terms that the characters would know, and definitions of game related items.
Chapter One, Sinners and Saints, explores the lifestyle of a typical member of the Chosen Elect, also known as a Sentinel. It shows that not all warriors of God are saintly do-gooders beyond reproach. A good portion of the chapter is taken up by a piece of fiction demonstrating how a normal person might become a member of the Chosen Elect. Interestingly, the main character, Josh Cable, is a recurring character in fiction of later supplements. Chapter One also gives an overview of other elements in the world of The Seventh Seal, including Archangels, The Fallen with their legion of Marked, and the worldview in the Time of Uncertainty, the default setting of the game.
Chapter Two, Signs & Portents, is a treatise on the history of The Seventh Seal’s game world. It details the rise of the rebel angels in Heaven, their fall from grace, and their rule over earth in the form of Six Beast Kingdoms. This history ranges from the beginning of creation to the fall of the Roman Empire, which leaves one to wonder what form the Seventh Beast Kingdom will take. All of this is told to a series of priests every couple of hundred years by a mysterious being known as Zarahaim. The fiction is interesting and helps explain the events that have led up to The Time of Uncertainty. However, for a game set in modern day very little is said about present events. The Chosen Elect are a nomadic lot, always on the run from the Legion, but more information about their subculture and plight would have been nice to set the stage for the game.
Chapter Three, The Chosen, explains character generation. The process is similar enough to the Storyteller System (starting with a character concept, and prioritizing attributes) that anyone familiar with White Wolf will pick it up right away, although it is different enough (Backgrounds determine skills, or proficiencies, and resources) to set it apart as its own. This chapter also details the four Archangels the PC’s choose from as a Heavenly sponsor and character backgrounds which are the backbone of character creation. There is also a system of Benefits and Detriments that add flavor to each character but often do not have a direct impact on the mechanics. Ending the chapter are several sample characters, including Josh Cable from the introductory fiction.
Chapter Four, State of Grace, analyzes several of the game mechanics that separate the Chosen Elect from normal people. This includes Grace and Insight, which are character stats that are spent to fuel supernatural powers. The supernatural abilities, known as Blessings and Divinities, are also detailed. This chapter seems slightly out of place since none of the other game mechanics have been detailed thus far. There is an author’s note at the beginning of the chapter that directs the reader to Chapter Five for more rule information. Unfortunately while running the game it is easy to get lost and have to search through the book looking for specific rule information because of this reversal.
Chapter Five, Guidelines is where the bulk of the game’s rules are kept. Again anyone familiar with White Wolf will be able to pick this system up very quickly. A major difference is that is uses exclusively D6. There are also some differences between how Difficulty Factor and Degree of Success are determined. It is a simple system, but seems to be flexible enough to deal with basic to advanced characters. Combat is also covered in this chapter, and there is a fairly comprehensive list of weapons and equipment.
Chapter Six, Revelations, is a guide for the Game Master, also known as the Prophet. It tells how to run a game of The Seventh Seal. It gives general guidelines about running a role-playing game that would be suitable in any RPG book, but it also goes into the nuances of running a game that has the potential to be religiously charged.
Chapter Seven, We Are Legion, details the antagonists of the game. It gives rules for the specialized attributes of the game’s villains. There is a very large section on demonic powers called Iniquities which allows for the creation of many diversified beasties to throw at the player characters. Paths of Sorcery used by the human agents of the Legion are also listed in this chapter along with a good-sized bestiary of pre-generated agents of Hell.
Lastly the Appendix, the Index, and a character sheet round out the book. The appendix contains all the needed charts, diagrams and lists of proficiencies. The only thing lacking from this section are page numbers to where the information is found in the body text. Otherwise, the index seems to cover most of the topics that might come up in game play. The character sheet is nicely designed, contains all the information needed in play, but does not overwhelm with numbers and stats.
All in all The Seventh Seal: Roleplaying Game of Prophetic Revelations is well done. The design is reader friendly, with broken seals in the margins to indicate the current chapter. Most of the artwork is very good, although there is a little too much plain black and white line art, but that is to be expected for the first book in a series. The writing is top notch and the subject matter is compelling. The main drawback is the Christian stance of: if you’re not with us, you’re against us. It seems very unforgiving of non-Christian beliefs such as paganism or any other non-monotheistic ideologies. Again and again the game states that it has no evangelical agenda, but this might be difficult to get past for non-Christian players. For the modern day conspiracy/horror genre with heavy religious overtures, one would be hard pressed to find a better game.
Reviewer: Aaron Sheehan