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The 7th Continent» Forums » Variants

Subject: Experienced 7C players: will this tweak to the backstory work? rss

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Rickard Örtegren
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First off, I truly like this game. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be bothered engaging with it at this level. If this comes of as whiney, it’s not my intent.

Preparing for playing it (waiting for 2nd KS delivery) I’ve had some thoughts on the theme and back story.

In a previous post

https://boardgamegeek.com/article/27140946#27140946

I asked for help making thematic sense of characters seemingly forgetting how to make a (new) shovel after using up one. The community really gave me some good answers that rationalized it, go check it out!


This time, I have some questions about making sense of the back story. In summary: I think it gets a bit in the way of the game, and suggest a tweak to it.

At the end of the post I have two questions:

1) Do you have a way to view the backstory, as written in the rule book, that would perhaps make me see it in a new light?

2) Experienced 7C-players: do you think my tweaked version in this post would work, or would it end up colliding with the story elements as they are revealed by the cards, in a way that would be hard to re-tool on the fly? Use spoiler tags if necessary.

Me and my girlfriend are excited about the game mechanically and thematically. But casual story telling while gaming is important to us, and when I read out the backstory we where both a bit bewildered.

The purpose of a back story, I would assume, is to set the mood and give the players an easy entry point in to the game; give quick and easy answers to questions like: who are we, where are we, what are we trying to do and why is it important that we succeed.

Here’s the story as written in the rule book if you want to brush up on it.

7th Continent Rules p. 2 wrote:
1907. A renowned explorer, you have just come back from the first expedition on the seventh continent, a mysterious land that was recently discovered off the coast of Antarctica and probably the very last terra incognita in the world.

You are recovering from your adventure when, whilst reading the daily newspaper, you realize that several other members of the expedition have disappeared suddenly, for unknown reasons.

Coincidentally, you have been lethargic for a few days, feeling feverish and finding it difficult to get up from bed. A cold shiver runs up and down your spine. You have to face the facts: an evil is consuming you from within.

At nightfall, you fall into a restless sleep without knowing that, for you, this is only the beginning.


What we immediately felt strange was that in the story of this game, that is all about exploring, an adventure on a mysterious continent, mapping it out, learning skills and tricks of what resource to find where, and how they can be used, in this story – we have all already been here before?

That just seems a bit awkward; we as players are not on the same page as our characters. What is new to us, they have already seen before. Then if you die and restart, it flips, so now you as a player know stuff your character doesn’t yet.

Also, a minor issue, the official back story means our only motive is to save our selves, which felt unnecessarily weak.

Now, I’m not saying my variant below is amazing, it certainly isn’t literature – it’s still just a trope, but a back story doesn’t need to be more then that. And this one, I would argue, seems to be a better fit.

Also, if you hadn’t noticed already, which you had i’m sure, English is not my first language.

---

1907. You are an up-and-coming adventurer, living a care free life, always looking for a new exciting expedition to get on to. However for a few days you’ve been lethargic, feeling feverish and finding it difficult to get up from bed. One day, a letter arrives, calling you to a port town in the south, to the death bed of your long estranged father.

Upon your return you find him, a renowned adventurer himself in his time, lying pale in his bed. With great effort he whispers to you of his last expedition, when you were just a child. How he and his fellow adventurers came back from the newly found continent of the coast of Antarctica, and immediately felt that something was not right. An evil, consuming them from within.

They tried their best to prevent others from going there, and to distance themselves from their loved ones to contain the curse. But now, as their life draws to it’s end, they have in horror seen that the continents curse will not die with them; it is growing stronger, and is reaching out for their children. It will lay ruin to their families for good, if not lifted. They have all agreed to tell their relatives the truth.

Your father gives you a weathered leather journal and a satchel, he tells you it's not much, but this is all that has survived of his knowledge of the cursed continent as his memory fails him theese days. When you open it, there is a ticket for a ship setting sail the very next day.

You realize your life up until now has been mere preparation for this moment: you must journey to the continent to right the wrongs of your father and lift this curse, for the sake of your families future. Alone, or with any other who has decided to board the ship at dawn. A group of improbable heroes, each with their strengths and weaknesses.

At nightfall, you fall into a restless sleep knowing that, for you, this is only the beginning.

---

It's a bit on the long side, but I think it's justified as there isn't a constant flow of text to read through out the game.

I think we would also perhaps sleeve the character cards to be able to give them other names so they aren’t existing characters from other IP:s.

On a side note, this back story would also allow for a more thematic way of adjusting difficulty then the 777 cards: different cards to start of with in the journal.


So, thanks a lot for reading this far, now:

1) Do you have a way to view the backstory, as written in the rule book, that would perhaps make me see it in a new light?

2) Experienced 7C-players: do you think my tweaked version in this post would work, or would it end up colliding with the story elements as they are revealed by the cards, in a way that would be hard to re-tool on the fly? Use spoiler tags if necessary.

Also of course, feel free to give constructive criticism of the story.

However, with respect, if your comment is along the lines of “why do you need to change the game/if you don’t like it don’t buy it/there are other games” etc: You are in the Variants section of the forum. This is what we do here.

Thank you!
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Brian M
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Re: Experienced players: will this tweak to the backstory/characters work?
Your backstory sounds great.

OK, I've only played once, but as far as conflicting with story elements in the game...there weren't any "story" elements. It doesn't matter who your characters are or why they are there besides wanting to break the curse.

Honestly, you could change up the backstory more based on how you actually get to the island...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
You just wake up there. No explanation for how you arrived.
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Federico Galeotti
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I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are the good people and the bad people. You're wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides.
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There are mentions in some cards

Spoiler (click to reveal)
mainly the experience cards


of your experience with the previous expedition and its participants. You could tweak them so that they refer to your father's expedition instead, and the things you "remember" from before are actually notes on your father's journal.
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Kim Williams
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The only problem I can see is that the end stories (that you get when you complete the curse) won't necessarily make sense with that new story (certainly the end stories of the three curses I've completed wouldn't really fit)
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Zachary Homrighaus
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Wouldn't it be easier to just explain that part of the curse is that your memory is foggy and you don't really remember much about the island or your experiences there. A little amnesia is much easier to tack on to the current back story than a whole new life story about estranged fathers and curses that spread to children after they'd been born.

But then again, whatever floats your boat, man... the game itself changes zero so you can invent whatever backstory you'd like... why not some time travel to spice things up?
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Curtiss Cox
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Each curse has a different bookend, so as far as figuring out "what is REALLY happening", I'm not sure there is even supposed to be an actual answer. It's a loose framework that serves several stories at once.

I feel like what you've done here is fine, and shouldn't really "break" anything. The story is presented in pretty broad strokes and wasn't important to us as we played. If it is for you, then I say go for it and use what you've spelled out.

I won't attempt to speak for the designers, but from a player perspective, the story that is given felt like it was supposed to justify a couple of things:

(1) you will find evidence of modern exploration on the Continent
(2) as players you will revisit the same places over and over again in different "lives" until you clear the curse
(3) Journal/Satchel is used to keep information to use later, and so for the journal's notes to make sense, it would need to be written by someone who's already explored the place.

Our interpretation of the game was that it was a sort of Sisyphean punishment that we were meant to endure until we could prove ourselves worthy of being freed of the curse. Being cursed is, by its nature, supernatural, so we were prepared to hand wave away anything that didn't make strict logical sense and "island magic" and just move on.
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Raphaël Langella
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I understand that it can feel a bit weird when you start your first playthrough that your character has more experience with the game than yourself. However, it makes a lot of sense. You won't stay a first player for long, and on your next plays, you can project your player experience to your character.
The backstory doesn't say how much you remember from your first expedition. That's the magic of it. This backstory adapts to your player experience. For the character, it's always the second expedition, but as you get more experienced as a player, then your character remembers so much more from his first expedition.

Also, there are a lot of gameplay elements that relies on this second journey idea. You can learn stuff from the continent just by reading through your notes, not only by exploring. Although that could be the notes from your dad I guess.
There are a few occurrences where you find stuff from your previous expeditions which are more emotionally involved, in those cases, your story wouldn't work. It's not gamebreaking and not very frequent either.

Your variant mostly works, you can probably play the game this way just fine. However, I think there are very good reasons for the game's backstory, and that it's a really clever and great game design.
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Rickard Örtegren
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Thank you for all the responses. This game seems particularly tricky to suss out the level of story of, mainly because of peoples varying definitions of ambigious words like ”immersive”.

But the contributions to this thread has made it a lot clearer, without any spoilers, thanks again.

Reading through them I realize there is just enough story to warrant not tampering to much with it. Knowing what I now know, i think zjhomrighaus has the right idea: putting more emphasis on the amnesia-part of the back story when setting the stage to give the players the sense that the characters are acknowledging the strangesness of having been there before but not being able to remember much.

I’ll also mention that I’m fiddling with another way to add a light framework for storytelling, that doesn’t interfere with the game mechanics.

It’s inspired by Fate Core for those familiar with that system. Also by this post by bgg user tsbrez https://boardgamegeek.com/article/26820118#26820118 on this forum.

I’ll post a dedicted thread on this when it’s a bit more ready but below is a rough outlay of how it might work.

Each character gets a character sheet where you tuck the Character card under a fold so it just covers the name. (Under the card is a list translating the characters to their archetypes such as ”Adventurer”, ”Fighter” to inform your character choice and story direction). This way you can name and build your own story around the character. You still use the portrait and everything game related, but not the printed names and backstory of the characters.

Here is a rough sketch:



Before a character enters play there is a short interview where you answer a few questions of your background, childhood, defining moments in life.

That then leads to a list of aspects for the characters, kept in the character sheet. ”Fear of heights”, ”Kind”, "Violent", etc.

Everytime characters are gathered around a fire, they lay their cards face up. Then one character gets to tell us something about herself, associated from one card (skill, item, food, damage or what ever) on the table, or ask another player something. ”Why did you become a botanist?” ”Did I tell you about theese glasses?”

The group decides what new aspects the story derives for the characer and it is added to the character sheet. Whenever the group can justify a characters choice from his or her aspects, that character get a story point.

This sounds as it would impact game play – if I have a fear of heights I can’t climb up a mointain that would make sense game wise? But it only has to relate to the aspect. So in the just mentioned example you can point to the aspects ”bold” and ”fear of heights” and narrate the story that the character overcame his fear of heights and climbed the mountain succesfully (if that is the outcome of the skill check). That may in turn lead to the character geting a new aspect: ”overly emboldened” wich may be used later.

The story points only purpose is to decide what character/player gets to narrate key moments.

It’s all suposed to add a fun colaborative storytelling overlay of the actual gameplay, nothing more.

Thanks again,
Ripcordian
 
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Lucien Copus
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Make sure you don't hide the Red hand on the character card, that's important for gameplay.
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Adam
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Rickard, I really like your alternative backstory. I'm going to print it out and keep it in my box.

The part of the story that always bothers me when I read it to a new group is the silly notion that "fatigue and fever" means you're suffering from an evil curse!
 
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