Friday, April 15, 2011

Savage Worlds Deluxe - Top 5 Ways A Savage Worlds Core Book Could Be Better.

Before I get into the meat of today's post I want to give props to Troll in the Corner for being the first place I read about the news of the new Savage Worlds Deluxe core book. Ok, so let's look at the announcement direct from Pinnacle:

"We are proud to announce upcoming Savage Worlds Deluxe! Newest edition of acclaimed and awarded SW rules would be back this August! This beautiful book features all-new design notes from the authors, beautiful new art from the industry's best talent, updates, adventures, and new Setting and situational rules such as Interludes and Dramatic Tasks."

I really like how some of this stuff sounds - particularly the end bit about Interludes and Dramatic Tasks as they look like they may be some nice additions to the core rules. It'll be very nice to have a nice big hardcover alternative to the convenient but bare-bones Explorer Edition. It looks like just the type of big core textbook style product you can really sink your teeth into. That's what it looks like, and we probably won't know much for sure until its release at Gencon (that's what any game company means when they say a release date of August), but in the meantime, what kinds of updates and setting rules might we see? Let me speculate a bit.

There's only one ground rule here. Every suggestion I make for what I'd like to see in the Deluxe Edition is in the context of what I want to see in a big core book versus what's already available in the Explorer's Edition of Savage Worlds. These don't take into consideration the plethora of supplements and third-party material out there. It's really just what I'd like to see in a core book and what we don't have in the Explorer's Edition.

1. A Unified Setting

I know one of the core strengths of SW is that it's supposed to be a universal/generic system that can run any genre. At the same time we all know that SW does one thing better than all others: pulp action. I'd love to see some core setting material in the Deluxe Edition that focused on pulp action of all eras and genres. Savage Suzerain is a great example of how another company already does this within SW (it just doesn't happen to be my cup of tea). I think a non-gaming example would be the old Crossgen universe of comics that depicted every different kind of genre a comic could cover across the publisher line from Sherlock Holmes-style mysteries to Superheroes to Lords of the Rings-style fantasy.

2. Alternative Initiative Mechanics

Using a deck of cards to determine initiative can be a lot of fun, and I like the design space and the way Pinnacle and other companies have explored it within the SW rules, but I wouldn't mind some alternative formats to try out. A part of me just wants to be able to roll for initiative and be done with it like every other game. At the same time, the deck of cards as initiative is quite innovative, and I'd love to see what Pinnacle's designers could come up with for new formats. It'd be great to see new quirky things come out and just add to the tools and options available to SW GM's and players in making their game work.

3. Genre Toolkits Within the Core Book

Pinnacle has done a great job releasing pdf after pdf of different toolkits to run their big genres including superhero, fantasy (ok, these ones are actually in print), sci-fi, and horror. I don't want the full products including in the Deluxe Edition as that would make for one gigantic tome, but a lot of the most useful bits from the toolkits focus on the ways different genres play with the rules in their own unique ways. I'd love some detailed essays and input from the designers on how best to tweak the rules for their biggest genres.

4. Encounter Building Advice/Rules

SW is, generally speaking, a very easy game to plan and run once you get the swing of things, but I'll be honest - there's a bit of a learning curve. It can get really difficult to judge how powerful or weak a little minion or big bad really is. I want to see a system in the core book that helps GM build encounters at each tier of play. At its simplest, I'd like to see NPC rated on a tier basis - this would probably take care of the problem all on its own. Now I know Pinnacle in the past has commented on how its almost meaningless to assign NPC levels like that, but I still think there could be something figured out to make encounter building  a bit easier.

5. A One-Sheet Adventure For Every Genre

I've learned that my favorite way to run a SW game is to take a One-Sheet Adventure off of Pinnacle's site and run it straight with little prep and an open mind. The few I've ran have really expanded my GM'ing skills and been the most fun we've had playing SW. In a perfect world, I would love to see the Deluxe Edition include, instead of a sample adventure like a lot of core books have to show off what the system is capable of, five or six one-sheets to show off the diverse genres which make SW shine as a universal system. Throw a one-sheet in for Indiana Jones Style Pulp, Supers, Horror, Sci-fi, Weird West, and Fantasy, and you have yourself six guaranteed fun nights of adventuring with your group right out of the box. Even better, this would be a great way to establish some of the core principles of a unified setting if they were to go that route.

So, there you have it, those are my pipe dreams for the Deluxe Edition. I'll be a bit of a pessimist and go ahead and predict that we won't see any of these, but a man and/or blogger can dream! Do you have any pet fantasies you'd like to see in the Deluxe Edition? Leave a comment and let us know. For other Savage Worlds-related posts, simply click this and you'll be lead to the world of our pulpy Savage fun.



  1. Hey man, first off, thanks for the link to Troll ITC.

    You've got some good points, I can't say I agree with them all, but I do for the most part.

    I'm not particularly interested in a unified setting, but they did say there would be a new Savage Setting with the deluxe book, so we'll see, I certainly won't turn it down for it either.

    As for alternative initiative mechanics, I guess I don't care to see that in a "core" rule book, if you want a die based mechanic, use your Agility roll, or maybe add the Agility die type value (4 for a d4) to a d20 roll, or get real crazy and make it a test of mental speed and roll Smarts, but I don't feel like a list of alternate rules need to take up space in a core book. That seems more the place for supplements or creative blogger types (yeah, I'm looking at you Hopeless Gamer).

    As far as Tool-kits and One-Sheets are concerned, I just have to say, "yes". I don't think there's much more to say, but it would be really helpful to have that stuff on hand and to show off the versatility of the system.

    But saving the best for last, YES, YES, YES we need some encounter building advice. Clint Black has posted to the PEG Inc forums about this topic a few times, but what he has doesn't really come off easy enough and isn't in a convenient place. That sort of thing should be in the book and ready to go. Savage Worlds is one of my favorite (if not THE favorite) systems, but learning how to run it is still a bear (though that may be part of the charm, too).

    Thanks again for the link and tip of the hat, much appreciated!

  2. I'd like to see a vehicle/chase system that is easy to understand and use, and doesn't shatter suspension of disbelief when really unusual/unbelievable things happen from its use. I've been highly disappointed by both incarnations of current vehicle rules... they've felt a bit unfinished.

  3. I'd like to see them sift through their various setting books and take the Edges that appear in two or more settings, and add them to the Core rulebook. Obviously, those are useful enough that they've been carried over into more than one product, so they should probably become part of the core rules.

    My Two Cents, Anyway,

  4. Both are really good thoughts Doc and Flynn.

    DocStout, the chase rules do kind of lack. I always end up using the ONE thing I enjoyed about 4e D&D, Skill Challenges, to emulate my high action, pulp chases... if the players fail they are either caught or lose their target, if they win they either catch him or get away, it works well for me.

    Flynn, more Edges in the base book would be nice, and your system of "2 or more products" is a good way to determine which should be added, I'd love to see that.

  5. @Nundahl - I think that's a fair argument on the initiative front, I'd just like to see what Pinnacle could come up with as alternatives.

    @Doc - totally agree. I'd like to see most of the vehicle rules looked at seriously and revised to a bit clearer.

    @Flynn - again I agree here. Like Nundahl said, I think you've come up with a very competent system to determine what should be included in the main core book.

    Great comments everyone. I knew there'd be some good brainstorming on how SW could be improved!


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