7th Sea Second Edition
It might work. Lords and Ladies fantasy games seem quite popular and 7th Sea seems to be pretty much the same, only with pirates and ships.
@faraday I didn't pose an answer to the question "what would 20 players do" I posed an answer to what would I do on such a game. I would find RP, I would keep myself amused. The problem with most people on MUs today is they want to be spoon fed RP and then, once they're in that RP, they tend not to do anything anyway. Active RPers will be active, especially if given a nice vibrant setting.
That's my answer as a player. As a staffer what would players do on a Pirate setting? I think Pirates of the Caribbean...3(?) posed a good answer to that by showing off Pirate Politics. You could encourage almost Lords and Ladies style politics. You can also have persistent threats of the British Navy hunting down pirates giving pirates a good reason to group together against a common foe. And that's just 2 things even if you don't include supernatural threats.
Now that's for a pirate specific setting. The problem I have with 7th Sea is that you'd have to pick something to focus on. 7th Sea, to me, is a toolbox RPG where you pick and choose what part of the setting you want to RP in. A general "7th Sea" MUX would be bad, IMO, because there's SO MUCH of the theme to explore. You'd have to whittle it down to something that interests you as a staffer.
Again, these are all just my opinions.
@Jennkryst It's not that it wouldn't work because it's more narrative, it doesn't work because of particular structural reasons. It assumes PCs fighting either faceless mooks or very-different-rules big badguys, and basically can't handle PvP of any kind. Even cooperative activities favor a railroad-y sort of style where, as someone said, its much more about how you get where you're going than where you actually get, and... I dunno, it doesn't appeal to me generally, and I can see it just going eight kinds of wrong with the way MU PCs tend to act.
1e system with 2e setting was one of the many 'system options' on my mind, but on the other side of things, I think 1e is so bogged down in little details (very much like, say, oWoD) that it's very hard to teach to new players in a MU setting and basically impossible to automate to any degree, which is a requirement for me at this point.
Re: what people do, I don't think the setting is any worse than L&L; if anything, it's got improvements on that. Its further ahead in faux-history and the social structures are a little less rigid while still having classes (ie, you can be something other than a noble or a dirt farmer that has no reason to interact with anyone), hanging out in bawdy taverns is actually a huge part of the setting, etc.
@ZombieGenesis Sure, self-starter RPers will find a way to do their own plots and entertain themselves in any theme. But, as you correctly pointed out, those people are a decided minority and we don't really need to worry about them.
There's also a minority of people who won't be happy no matter what you do. I'm going to ignore them too.
Somewhere in the middle, in my experience, are the majority of players who will drift aimlessly and fall back to Bar/Relationship RP if left to their own devices, but will gladly latch onto something to do if you give them focus and a solid reason to interact with other PCs. It's hard to do that with a wide-open world. But again, that's just my experience. YMMV.
The problem with most people on MUs today
Wow, Grampa, tell us how people your age did it in back in the day, RPing uphill both ways in the snow.
More on topic, 7th Sea is no less a toolbox a setting as Star Wars, or World of Darkness, yet people seem to find things to RP about there without someone telling them which part of the setting to engage in. I've always seen 7s as being a "play the character you were thinking about when you made it" kind of game, in which you're always engaging with the environment.
The only system between 7S1 and 7S2 worth keeping is the former, even though it is bogged down with several little details, yes. Not that these details render it entirely unable to code but they make automation very challenging. Combat should be simple enough to automate if you add swordsmanship techniques as modifiers instead of what they actually do, but do you really want to sift through 40-odd combat styles? Core game has about 5 or 6, then every supplement has 2-3 or 4-5, with the exception of Swordsman's Guild, which has more styles than you can count, some of which are recaps, of course.
I do love sorcery in the game and despite accusations it's OP, they actually open the way for creative uses by just making the stats on those represent your capacity to wield the power itself. El Fuego Adentro can wreck ships from the inside out, you can take all the treasure from a ship by using Porte, Avalon could let you evade Reis' murderboat crew, etc. Only Pyeryem, I think, is more or less useless. Even the supposedly extinct Eisen magical art is more useful.