[Savage Worlds] Sell me on Savage Worlds

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[Savage Worlds] Sell me on Savage Worlds

Postby Angel Tarragon » Fri Nov 10, 2017 6:54 pm

I am interested in adding Savage Worlds to my collection, have been for a few years, but for whatever reason I keep putting it off. So I am hoping that my fellow Piazzans can push me over the edge to finally buying a copy.

The Piazzan Inquisition
  • How much does it differ from D20 System mechanics?
    • How loose are the rules? How easy is it to covert to other systems (D20)?
    • What differences are there between D&D and SW?
    • Why would you choose to run Savage Worlds over D&D and other OGL/D20 System games?
  • What are con/pros of the system?
    • What do you dislike/like/loathe/love about it?
    • Regarding what you don't like, have you made any homebrew changes to the system to make it more to your liking?
  • What makes SW different and unique from other TTRPGs?
    • Which of these mechanics do you like so much that you tried to integrate it into another system?
      • How successful was this? Which of these are probably most appropriate for D20 System (D&D) games?
  • Which settings for it do you like the most?
    • How integrated is SW rules into the setting(s)?
      • How easy would it be to lift the setting out of the rules and drop it into another rules system?
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Re: [Savage Worlds] Sell me on Savage Worlds

Postby Boddynock » Sat Nov 11, 2017 1:53 pm

How much does it differ from D20 System Mechanics?

Very heavily. While Savage Worlds does have feat-like abilities called 'Edges' the method in which you earn them is different from d20 system. About the only thing really in common is that rolling high is always a good thing. Other then that, Savage Worlds is a Skill-based game. So that Fighter your playing isn't "Fighter 3rd level" but instead they have skill points in subjects lighting Fighting, Shooting, Climbing, and etc. The skills are very broad so that the Fighting skill covers all melee while Shooting covers any ranged weapon that isn't thrown. There are house rules for adding specific branches of a skill, but the developers really emphasize being "Fast, Fun, & Furious" over realism.

The differences are very large to list. Even just listing that there are no classes, but skills, other differences include: different attribute names and certain attributes folded together, main characters and NPC's have only 3 wounds, regardless of level. Minions have only 1 wound point. Almost every dice rolled in the game has a chance to 'Explode' meaning if you roll the highest number on a die (like a '6' on a d6) you can re-roll and add the next rolled result for a total, if that second roll comes up with the highest number again you roll a third time, and so on until you do not show your highest dice.

Why would I choose to run Savage Worlds over d20? Hard to explain. For my neck of the woods my rpg group I meet in person really only likes Savage Worlds after years of Pathfinder. I would say coming up with NPC's is easy and the book emphasizes that, unlike characters, a GM just make up what they feel the NPC needs rather than use build points to stat them out. The game is also very much a toolbox/hobby horse game that encourages a GM to make house rules (or buy other books that might add more meat to the skeleton to the game). For instance, in the core book alone there are no rules for magic items. Now, there is nothing to stop you from, say, using magic items from something like D&D (with a little bit of tinkering) but you could also by the Fantasy Companion which adds magic items to the game - so if you're a tinkerer type who loves houseruling or making stuff up, it might be a good fit.

Pros & Cons

Pro: Has rules for actions that players might have asked for or bugged about in d20 that aren't covered as well. Like 'Called Shots'. In D20 I've yet to see a set of Called Shot rules that really worked too well (like when a player says they want to hit the beholder in the eye specifically). Savage Worlds has rules for called shots and the effects they can have on the body.

Con (Maybe): The 'math' behind the game is apparently wonky given the explosion system. As one reviewer put it: The game is like chiseling with a jackhammer. Sometimes its slow, plodding, carving out a piece or two. Sometimes it supercharges and tears through stuff. An example is that our party faced a high end dark knight who had been corrupted by the Demons. The GM had put some time and effort to stat this guy's stuff. It was the big fight. At start of initiative one of our fighters won, got in close, called shot and then nearly decapitated the dark knight with a single blow thanks to explosions. The knight managed to 'Soak' (remove wounds thanks to a Bennies system built in the game) but he was on the ropes throughout the whole episode.

Pro (Maybe): Though Fast, Fun, Furious the game has a lot of nods to material like firearms. The core game includes rules for range and range penalties, Edges for shooting at long distances, scopes - basically if you ever ran a spy/military game and you wanted that one player to play a sniper, picking off targets at long distances at night with a silenced rifle to the terror of the NPC's around the victim - it can be more or less modeled in game, right down to the head shot that blows out the victim's brains. Obviously for a fantasy game that doesn't come up as much, but there are rules for blackpowder firearms like muskets and flintlock pistols. So! If you like guns in your fantasy and want to emphasize that they are deadly weapons, there are rules for that.

Con (Maybe): Magic is functional, but a little bit bland. They do have rules for flavoring spells with what are called 'Trappings'. An example is that there is a standard Bolt power. This is your usual attack ability which can fire several small bolts or one large bolt at the cost of Power Points. With the trappings system, and there some examples, you could add stuff like Acidic Corrision, Fire that penetrates armor or possibly sets the enemy on fire. You could make the bolt bees that fire out of your hand and deal poison damage to the target.

Let's have that simmer as-is and next post I'll talk about settings.
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Re: [Savage Worlds] Sell me on Savage Worlds

Postby shesheyan » Sat Nov 11, 2017 5:23 pm

Boddynock wrote:Con (Maybe): The 'math' behind the game is apparently wonky given the explosion system. As one reviewer put it: The game is like chiseling with a jackhammer. Sometimes its slow, plodding, carving out a piece or two. Sometimes it supercharges and tears through stuff. An example is that our party faced a high end dark knight who had been corrupted by the Demons. The GM had put some time and effort to stat this guy's stuff. It was the big fight. At start of initiative one of our fighters won, got in close, called shot and then nearly decapitated the dark knight with a single blow thanks to explosions. The knight managed to 'Soak' (remove wounds thanks to a Bennies system built in the game) but he was on the ropes throughout the whole episode.


The exploding damage dice mechanic was the reason I abandoned Savage Worlds as a GM. It generates random character deaths and/or TPKs. But I know a group of players who love Savage Worlds and played several campaigns with the system. Its a case of «you have to try it, to love it or hate it». They have a quick start rule PDF you can download.
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Re: [Savage Worlds] Sell me on Savage Worlds

Postby Angel Tarragon » Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:56 am

How much would it break the skeleton of Savage Worlds to eliminate the exploding dice, or at least cap it rolling the maximum result two times?
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Re: [Savage Worlds] Sell me on Savage Worlds

Postby Havard » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:23 pm

Very nicely summed up Boddynock!

I really like Savage Worlds. Personally I would not want to change how exploding dice works since it is part of what makes the game fun. Instead I would just hand out more bennies so that the players can counter severe damage done to them if you want to make the game less lethal to them.

If you are looking for a game that is similar to d20, then use d20. I decided to get into Savage Worlds mainly because I felt like I needed a break from d20 and because my players at that point were sick of 3E (they got better). So I was looking for a system that was a little less complicated (SW is still not rules light tho) and fast paced, while still being able to similate most things you will find across genres (magic, races, technology, weird science, sci fi etc) which SW does very well.

One thing I found though is that as with most systems outside of D&D, heavy armor is incredibly effective to the point that it leaves you having to deal with much higher numbers than the system is really designed for, In SW this slows down combat quite a bit. I think SW is best suited for pulp action or swashbuckling. So while it can handle other genres, I would probably use those with the system whenever I get back to it.

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Re: [Savage Worlds] Sell me on Savage Worlds

Postby Big Mac » Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:01 pm

Boddynock wrote:How much does it differ from D20 System Mechanics?


That's a great summary Boddynock. If there is ever a Savage Worlds forum, at The Piazza, that should probably be considered as a candidate for a sticky. :)
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Re: [Savage Worlds] Sell me on Savage Worlds

Postby Angel Tarragon » Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:24 pm

Havard wrote:I really like Savage Worlds. Personally I would not want to change how exploding dice works since it is part of what makes the game fun. Instead I would just hand out more bennies so that the players can counter severe damage done to them if you want to make the game less lethal to them.
Thanks for that advice Havard!

Havard wrote:If you are looking for a game that is similar to d20, then use d20.
I'm not. While I am not jaded with the D20 system, I am looking to get familiar with games that don't have resolution mechanics that require the use of a d20.

Havard wrote:I decided to get into Savage Worlds mainly because I felt like I needed a break from d20 and because my players at that point were sick of 3E (they got better).
Lol. And this is one of the reasons why I am interested in learning new RPGs, so that there is something to fall back on should the same happen for any group I happen to be involved with.

Havard wrote:So I was looking for a system that was a little less complicated (SW is still not rules light tho) and fast paced, while still being able to similate most things you will find across genres (magic, races, technology, weird science, sci fi etc) which SW does very well.
Very cool. While I don't mind complicated systems, a little less complicated can be better.

Havard wrote:One thing I found though is that as with most systems outside of D&D, heavy armor is incredibly effective to the point that it leaves you having to deal with much higher numbers than the system is really designed for, In SW this slows down combat quite a bit. I think SW is best suited for pulp action or swashbuckling. So while it can handle other genres, I would probably use those with the system whenever I get back to it.
I like the sound of that! Maybe something I can use to homebrew over to D20 games.
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Re: [Savage Worlds] Sell me on Savage Worlds

Postby Angel Tarragon » Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:30 pm

Boddynock wrote:Other then that, Savage Worlds is a Skill-based game.

Even just listing that there are no classes, but skills, other differences include: <snip>
Music to my ears. This is something I have been looking for in a different rpg engine. With everything I have read so far, this is enough to finally push me over the edge and buy the game. Thank you Boddynock and to everyone else that has chimed in!
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Re: [Savage Worlds] Sell me on Savage Worlds

Postby shesheyan » Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:35 pm

Angel Tarragon wrote:How much would it break the skeleton of Savage Worlds to eliminate the exploding dice, or at least cap it rolling the maximum result two times?


Instead of going for SW (without exploding dice) you should look at Cortex by Margaret Wise Entertainment. Similar use of d4, d6, d8, rolls for abilities but better implementation imho. And its a skill based game.

Cortex :
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortex_System
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Re: [Savage Worlds] Sell me on Savage Worlds

Postby Angel Tarragon » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:35 pm

shesheyan wrote:Instead of going for SW (without exploding dice) you should look at Cortex by Margaret Wise Entertainment. Similar use of d4, d6, d8, rolls for abilities but better implementation imho. And its a skill based game.

Cortex :
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortex_System
I saw the advice Havard gave and if I ever run it I intend on implementing that. I'll look into Cortex too. Thanks!
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Re: [Savage Worlds] Sell me on Savage Worlds

Postby Boddynock » Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:37 pm

Settings!

Sorry about not getting to this part. The seasonal cold has affected my work output. But to get to your third part I plan to talk about Savage Worlds settings that I either own or have played. This won't include material I have converted (though there are a lot of good fan-made productions out there that convert settings to savage Worlds.

Slipstream: I owned and have read this one, I've yet to run a game of it. This is pulp science-fiction in the vein of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. It has 8 highlighted alien race templates and 2 pages of what I would call extraneous races. Among the highlighted races include Humans, Robot Men, Birdmen (think the Hawkmen from Flash Gordon), and Valkyria (an alien race made of predominately women). Extraneous races include stuff like Lupines (wolf-men), Dracos (Reptile men) - a couple of other anthropomorphic races. Highlights include a campaign fighting a pulp science-fiction villainous, rules like 'heroes never die' - as in your characters never truly die, they just get captured or put into carbonite.

Sundered Skies: Swashbuckling fantasy taking place on a planet blown apart. Big thing is 'Skyships' that traverse the fragments of the planet. The skyship rules in this book are what I'd use for something like Spelljammer (just replace the whole 'Skyship' with 'Wildspace' or 'Phlogiston'. Other highlights include very plant-like Elves (one of their racial traits allows the player to give them a talent, such as thorn covered skin, stinging nettle touch, skin shoots out ivy tentacles to grapple a target.

The Day After Ragnarok: 40's - 50's magical post-apocalypse brought on by Hitler's use of Nazi occult to try and destroy the world. I actually ran a whole setting taken place in the ruins of the eastern United States (ruined due to the atomic fallout and poisonous blood of Hitler's summoned Midgard Serpent who was trying to eat the world until the United States detonated Fatman in its eye). If you ever thought Conan lacked a Thompson submachine gun while carving out his kingdoms, that's kind of the idea. Other adventures include espionage or crime in the untouched parts of the world, exploring and extracting valuable parts from the corpse of the Midgard Serpent (whose very blood and organs can be used for weird science devices or sorcerous reagents).

Achtung! Cthulhu: Call of Cthulhu meets WWII with the allies fighting mad scientists and occultists trying to summon the Mythos into the world. Big emphasis is that nobody really is controlling the Mythos, despite experimentation, so don't be afraid to have your Nazi science team getting their faces torn off by Byakhees and that sort. Only ran one session, I thought it was okay, not sure if I'd run the game again for my group as they seemed to like the WWII parts over dealing with the Mythos.
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Re: [Savage Worlds] Sell me on Savage Worlds

Postby shesheyan » Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:51 pm

Boddynock wrote:Slipstream: I owned and have read this one, I've yet to run a game of it. This is pulp science-fiction in the vein of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. It has 8 highlighted alien race templates and 2 pages of what I would call extraneous races. Among the highlighted races include Humans, Robot Men, Birdmen (think the Hawkmen from Flash Gordon), and Valkyria (an alien race made of predominately women). Extraneous races include stuff like Lupines (wolf-men), Dracos (Reptile men) - a couple of other anthropomorphic races. Highlights include a campaign fighting a pulp science-fiction villainous, rules like 'heroes never die' - as in your characters never truly die, they just get captured or put into carbonite.


I ran a game of Slipstream. Its was super fun as the player's role-played over the top B movie style. And I got to say classic evil one liners. :lol:

Interface Zero 2.0 is well made if you are looking for a Cyberpunk setting. We played a mini-campaign of 8 games : http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/124 ... -Cyberpunk
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