This is an attempt to fix the entire 7th Sea rules system to remove various exploits, flaws, and so on. It is not an attempt to replace it: I know people have used Savage Worlds and stuff, but I'm interesting in fixing rather than wholesale replacement. It is also not an attempt to fix the setting: the issue of who exactly the pirates are preying on will have to be answered by somebody else. It is intended to keep the spirit and terminology of the old rules: there are still Traits, there are still Skills, there are still swordsman schools. Right, then.
Traits range from 1-5, just like before, and normal people still have 2s in all traits (except for their national trait, which is a 3). Trait checks are still made with NkN for a trait of N. Unlike before, traits don't change after character creation, because traits are a proxy for the overall power level of the game. When a character is created, they're assigned a certain number of points to spend on traits. In a campaign where the characters are just a bit better than normal, they might get 3 points to assign. In a campaign where they're much better, they might get 7. In certain campaigns where the group decides they want to model people growing into their full talents, the characters could start out with 3 points to assign and gradually receive more over the course of the game, but this is the exception rather than the rule. In this version of the game, the normal way to improve a character is with skills, schools, and advantages.
Skills are the most changed in this version. First off, skills rather than knacks are the important thing -- instead of having Attack (Fencing) 2 and Parry (Fencing) 2, you'll just have Fencing 2. Knacks are now specializations. To do a skill check, you roll (trait + skill) keep (trait), and add one unkept die if you have a relevant knack in the activity you're trying. So with Fencing 2 and a knack for Attack, and a Finesse of 3, you'd roll 6k3 for a normal fencing attack. If you don't have a skill for something you're trying, then you roll (trait - 1) keep (trait - 1).
The other big change is that skills can't be raised beyond 2. People who want to focus on a skill beyond that point need to study a relevant school (see below). Skills cost 2xp to buy at zero, and then twice the new level for each succeeding rank in the skill. Knacks cost 1xp for basic knacks, and 3xp for advanced knacks.
Also, a bunch of knacks get removed from the list — basically, all the things that let you do some special move (like Surgery's healing of dramatic wounds, or Jab letting you do two attacks) go away, and the knack itself may go away if there's nothing really to it besides that (Surgery probably stays, since it has some other uses, but Jab goes away). In addition, some skills get merged or split, since these changes affect the usefulness of various knacks. I'm not going to list all the changed skills, but some of them get mentioned in the schools, below.
Schools are directly connected to skills in this version, as mentioned above. The apprentice/journeyman/master levels of the schools can be read as representing ranks 3, 4, and 5 of a particular skill or two: anyone can give you the basic education of ranks 0-2, but for advanced studies you need to find a particular teacher and specialize in a school of study.
To join a school, you generally need to have the school's skills to rank 2, and have certain knacks. In addition, it costs 8xp (journeyman in a school costs a further 16xp, and master 32xp beyond that). In exchange, you get access to certain maneuvers and benefits you can use while using the school. In general you can't use two schools at once, but can freely choose which you're using at any one time (in combat, you can choose once a round, before initiative is rolled). At character creation, you can only join schools that available in your country. After character creation, you can join whatever school you want, if you can find a teacher willing to teach you. Magic schools can only be taken after character creation at the GM's discretion.
Note that this schools concept incorporates swordsman schools, magic schools, and all other skills as well. Here are a couple examples of revised schools:
Les Levres (a group of courtiers at the Montaigne palace)
Advantages are pretty much unchanged, although a few are no longer relevant or have to be modified. In particular, Academy and University let you buy civil/martial advanced knacks for the same price as basic ones instead of giving a discount on skill purchases. Advantages cost 3xp per hero point cost, just like before (or like it was house-ruled before). Obviously after creation certain advantages are off-limits (Small, Large, Appearance) except in special cases.
Arcana stay the same, but you pick between having a virtue and hubris or having neither (in either case, the point value is the same). Usually you want to pick having both but it opens you up to Sorte manipulation and, more commonly, your hubris tripping you up. Unlike almost everything else, you can't get arcana after character creation except, again, in weird special cases.
Initially, everyone gets 30xp to design their characters. Beyond that, xp comes from Hooks. Hooks are a merger between Backgrounds from the original game, and Keys from The Shadow of Yesterday. Roughly speaking, hooks are things that drive the plot along. There are two kinds of hooks: backgrounds from the original game, which cover plot elements from the character's past, and tendencies, which cover personality traits (and are like most of the example Keys). When a character's hook comes up in a session, they get 1 xp. When a character's hook is "finished" in a session, they get 5 xp. On creation, a character has three slots for keys. The player can fill in an empty slot at any time during a session, with any hook they want. In between sessions, a player can discard an existing hook (they don't get the points for finishing it in that case). When a hook is finished, it's automatically cleared at the end of the session. A hook can't be finished unless it's been held for at least one session, to avoid the obvious exploit.
There are a bunch of other miscellaneous changes, of various sizes. For instance: