You may be familiar with the TVtropes concept of Cast Calculus.

It’s about striking a narrative balance between protagonists of varying number, which generally ranges from one (lone characters) to seven (the magnificent et cetera). More than seven tends to be a discernible combination of two or more of the smaller ensembles. I bring it up, because I want to talk about Seven States ensembles.

If you have a lone character, which is to say, just one player, you can play as literally anything under the sun. The system is designed to handle one player much as it would handle a complete team, and much as lone characters in media thrive based on their versatile supporting cast, so too does the lone player.

If you have two characters, there are a lot of ways you can split things down the middle, but the most obvious one may be abilities – mental and physical. One character can have the brains, the wit, and the charm, while the other is strong, fast, and tough. It’s a classic for a reason.

Power Trios, and the Four Elements (or Temperaments, or Philosophies) can be built with differing flexibility. There are twelve Crafts, which I’ve gone on and on about, which are subdivided into four Suits. Each Craft has a Class role (Leader, Defender, or Striker), and each Suit has a theme (conflict, community, commerce, creative).

You can build a trio using one of each Class role from any of the Crafts, and you can build an ensemble using one of each Suit.

The Five Man Band can be built around the combat roles (not to be confused with class roles) – the harrier, charger, keeper, trapper, and seeker. I’m working on some other ways to divvy up groups of five, like social classes (the factions) and power centers (heart, shadow, ego, memory, and life) but that’s still in development.

Six isn’t an especially strong number for anything that I can think of, but it can reasonably be assumed that any combination of five-and-one, four-and-two, three-and-three, or two-two-and-two (or some other combinations) can be serviceable. Actually, I have six terrain types, so you could make that work somehow.

And the Magnificent Seven Samurai? Meet the Seven States of Magic.