I had the following goals in mind when writing up these revisions:
I had addressed some of these goals in the previous versions of my house rules, to greater or lesser success. But with the winding up of my previous campaign, I wanted to take another, more serious stab at the issue. Also, the "Power Curve" issue has more importance for my next campaign, because the nature of the next campaign is a little more inflated than my last one, and the players' characters were already hitting up against the Rank 5 ceiling on most of their important abilities.
I eliminated Traits entirely from the equation of dice rolls for most Actions. It's all about the Knacks now. I also eliminated Unkept Dice from all rolls except for Damage Rolls, thus eliminating the entire question of how useful Unkept Dice are.
The Traits also got rearranged in terms of the responsibilities assigned to them. Panache is demoted to the equivalent of Brawn for Social Attacks, while Wits and Finesse become the "Panache" of mental and physical Actions, respectively. Splitting the awesome power of Initiative (speed is life!) across two Traits dilutes its power considerably. This splitting of Actions into Wits Actions and Finesse Actions naturally has a number of consequences regarding the nature of parrying, repartee, and other such actions.
I eliminated the vast mass of silly specialized Knacks. Come on, who really wants to spend their hard-earned XP on Accounting? Instead, I broadened the concept of Skills, so that characters purchase Ranks of the entire Skill, which can be used for any action which could plausibly fit within the Skill.
Certain Knacks don't get brushed under this Skills carpet. These are thinkgs like the Sorcery Knacks and Swordsman Knacks, but also cover kinds of Knacks which characters buy anyway, because they are particularly important. You know the usual suspects- Ambush, Conceal, Stealth, Tracking, that kind of thing. So characters can purchase these individual Knacks without any Skill associated with them. Another goal of doing this was to keep everybody in the party from picking up the Criminal Skill in order to be able to sneak around.
Certain other Knacks were turned into "Everyman Knacks", which all characters posess at Rank 3, and can improve more cheaply than normal Knacks. Most of the stock 7th Sea Athletics Skill Knacks are Everyman Knacks, seeing as practically everybody was buying Athletics anyway.
I wasn't terribly happy with most of the sorceries, as presented in the base books. In particular, I was disappointed with Sorte, Laerdom, and Glamour. Laerdom and Glamour had acceptable levels of power, but I didn't like the feel of them. So all the sorceries have been rewritten (or will, when I get the time).
Sorte is now significantly strengthened, but it's much easier to get Fate Lashed.
Laerdom defines actual Knacks to speak with spirits, or use rune stones to read the future, as well as invoke Runes for particular purposes.
Glamour removes the Trait-based restrictions on which Legends can be acquired, and adds Knacks which affect the sorcerer's Reputation and Drama Dice.
Pyeryem is a little more balanced, partially just due to the reduction in Trait power. The penalties to Traits were also made less crippling.
Dracheneisen weapons are beefed up enough to make them actually worth having, while armor is modified to reduce the Physical Damage of every attack by certain number of Flesh Wounds.
I replaced the Repartee System with a system of Social Combat and Social Damage. Social Damage is tracked separately from Physical Damage. Characters may make Charm, Intimidate, or Taunt Attacks (or use the improved Swordsman Knack versions of Banter, Cutting Remark, or Quip), targeting their opponent's Social Defense.
When the target takes enough Social Dramatic Wounds to equal his Resolve, he becomes Distracted (analogous to Crippled), and when he takes twice this amount, he Loses Control (analogous to Knocked Out). Depending on his opponent's intentions when Socially Attacking him, Losing Control might entail surrendering to the attacker, or challenging the attacker to a duel, or being convinced of the attacker's point, or whatever. Losing Control in the wrong situation can be even more frightening and dangerous than being Knocked Out on a battlefield!
Reputation has two main important effects. The character's Reputation (not his Traits) dictates his starting Drama Dice. Reputation also generates Prestige Points, which may be spent on Skills and Knacks to allow increases beyond normal limits. These benefits make Reputation something any character will want to strive for, and also addresses the "Power Curve" issue, by allowing characters to break the Rank 5 ceiling.
Knacks are normally limited to Rank 5 (Rank 6 with Grandmaster Training). But with Prestige Ranks, the Rank can potentially go all the way up to 10! Very few characters will have Rank 10 in anything, but 6's, 7's, or even 8's are not out of the question for Skills/Knacks which are central to a character's concept. These Prestige Ranks can even allow a character lacking Full-Blooded Sorcery to stretch beyond his inborn limitations, although doing so is extraordinarily expensive (to the point of wondering why the player didn't just purchase Full-Blooded in the first place).