Reviewing More of the RPG Savage Worlds by PEG
This continues the review of Savage Worlds started in the print copy. If you haven’t read the article in the hard copy of Utah Geek Magazine, you may want to read it first. I don’t want to rehash what was printed in the magazine, so I am taking a longer look at skill checks, combat, game mastering (GMing), and some personal experience of creation with the system here.
Savage Worlds generic role-playing system provides a means for creating characters faster than many generic systems I have seen. Of course, having rules which allow for easier creation, and less specifics, means you are dealing with a number of areas in a general manner. If you like solid guides, and specific application of skills, etc. in your gaming system, you will probably find Savage Worlds too generic. On the other-hand, if you are looking for a system with a lot of leeway to how it is played, this is a system you will want to check out more thoroughly. It is this second aspect of gaming they were going after, and they did it well.
Skill checks are based on the attributes, as expected, and I like the system they use. Instead of providing a conversion system or charts to get attributes into the same system of making checks, like in a d20 system, the attributes are based on the dice, and a roll of four or better means success. Major characters, heroes and villains, are considered wild cards, which get an additional advantage when making attribute checks, including skill checks since they are based off the character’s attributes.
Along with the attribute die wild card characters receive a wild card die (d6). Both dice are rolled and the better result can be used. There is a risk attached to this—which the authors point out are the fates playing with the characters. Any time both dice roll ones, a critical failure takes place. The specifics of the failure are determined by the GM. There are also some other dice rules that apply to every character.
A die roll of the maximum number is an ace (i.e., 4 on a d4, 8 on a d8). On an ace the die is rolled again, adding the results of the additional roll(s). You can keep acing on a die, which means you keep adding an additional die. With a success being a 4 or greater, it seemed a little odd to me at first that you would need a system of increasing the numbers, however, there are several solid reason within the system for it.
A score of 4 higher than the needed result to succeed is a rise. With some checks a rise indicates additional benefits to the use of the skill. Some skills provide a specified result for success, another benefit for having a rise, and something else for a second rise. These can be accomplished with a single die roll or with the multiple rolls from achieving an ace.
Some checks are challenges between characters. The use of aces allow for a weaker character (weaker in any trait) to have a chance of doing something better than a character of greater ability. It also allows for a way of comparing how the competing characters perform. This is a good way of handling those situations where you want to add in more of the storytelling aspects of role-playing like when a characters performs a feat with extraordinary success.
Combat has a different means of calculating what is needed for a success. Instead of a 4 being a success, defenses are included to determine a target number. The target number then becomes the number needed for a success. At times a successful roll may only be reached by the player acing their die roll.
Since combat initiative was covered in the print article, let’s jump into some of the other aspects of how characters fight and survive. The basic system of fighting uses the same check of rolling your skill die and, if appropriate, your wild die. Weapon damage for hand-held weapons uses the characters strength die as the base and are listed as STR+3 for example. This provides the ability to handle damage without having to work through any conversions before playing or during combat.
To maintain the quick pace of the game, which Great White Games is striving for, character damage is a limited range. Characters can become shaken, physically and mentally. This is the first state. When damaged while shaken your character can become injured. Many times the injuries are being bumped and bruised. I like to think about this along the lines of the Indiana Jones affect (this came to mind from the reading with their example scenario running through the book). You can suffer 3 injuries and still stay in the combat. If you inflict a wound that would cause you to go beyond the third injury, you check against a chart to see what happens. This can range from more bumps and bruises to bleeding out and death within a certain number of rounds. This injury system has a couple of aspects that could be considered advantages or disadvantages depending on how you like to play your game.
You can continue fighting while on the verge of death. Of course, with three damage points, you are always close enough that a serious wound can immediately take you out of play, but you can also take a lot more when you are into brawling instead of guns. If you are not always relying on the big weapons, or big magic, you could continue fighting for some time (think of the brawls with Indiana Jones). Within this type of system I have seen players become more creative in how they handle the fights they get into.
There are also rules for handling large scale combat. Savage Worlds provides for playing scenarios where you would be a part of a larger group, like in major war campaigns. The rules are modified for doing these battles with miniatures and allows the players, as a group or individuals, to control their supporting cast. Large scale combats can be taking place while the individual lead characters (the wild cards) are duking it out. The rules read well, but I will admit I have not played out a larger scale scenario (yet). So, if you have, please let us know what you think.
After reading through the main book I was pleased with the concepts and felt comfortable in being able to explain and play the system. I then came across another nice addition. Not everyone needs the full book, and they don’t have to have it. There is the Explorer’s Handbook. This softcover book covers the information needed, focusing on the areas needed by a player running a character. It makes for an easy book to have at the table, or a supplement that can be passed around the table for multiple player use.
My gaming group decided to give Savage Worlds a try. Instead of playing in a standard scenario that we have been using other systems for we decided to try something new.
We decided to build characters in one session and we had them ready for play in about a half an hour. This was impressive since it was a new system for everyone else, based on my explanation from reading the rules. They were able to grasp the concepts with only a little explanation and then worked on building their characters on their own. The game setting we are working with is allowing players to not have to worry about equipment and supplies, which of course makes a difference in the amount of time needed.
All of us are looking forward to playing the system to see how it works for us.
Savage Worlds products can be found at Pinnacle Entertainment Group’s website (https://www.peginc.com/product-category/savage-worlds/).