Savage Worlds is quite possibly the answer to several setting problems that keep cropping up. I've been reading it this week with interest, especially given the obvious advantage it has over the other generic RPG systems that I own: speed of play!
The game is not new to me. I originally picked up an edition right back some 10 years ago when it first hit the scene. I liked the flavour of the system but wasn't convinced that it would have legs. So... I dismissed it and moved on.
Why am I back looking at it today?
Simply, Savage Worlds has evolved. It has proven that it has legs... and developed some very interesting new features.
For me, the system might be the answer for running game settings like "Dark Reich" in which the mortality rate is likely to be high, the game needs to run quickly, and there's lots of high-octane action.
Three Things I Like
Savage Worlds offers me three things that GURPS, Hero and other generic games don't:
Firstly, it's quick to get a game running and players set-up ready to play. The character creation sequence is simple and very easy to get your head around. This means that, aside from players getting concepts straight in their heads, it's going to be easy to pick up and play.
- Fast set-up
- Easy, fast game prep
- Uncomplicated NPC creation
Secondly, as a GM, game prep is easy. The drawback of GURPS, for instance, is that although I can come up with plot ideas and run a game relatively easily, I find it very hard to know how much or how little prep I need. Savage Worlds has very simple rules and this makes for an easy time in guesstimating how much prep you need to do = very little. The game sells itself on "one-page" adventure notes for the hard-pressed GM.
Lastly, NPCs are easy to prep. Is he a Wild-Card (major NPC) or an Extra? If he's the latter, then give him some quick stats and move on... if he's a Wild-Card then he takes the same low-effort prep time a Hero might.
Unlike GURPS and Hero, I don't need to spend more than a few minutes stat-ing up the opposition. Heck, I can even do it on the fly... something that, without a computer and character generation software, is impossible for GURPS or Hero.
What Are The Problems?
To be honest, there are three possible barriers to my group accepting Savage Worlds:
- It's yet another change of system
- On the surface it seems too "rules lite" and not tactical enough
- I'm not sure that it provides the right tone for my gaming style
Let's deal with the last point first... gaming tone.
We like our gaming to feel realistic, erring slightly towards the heroic in style and tone. Personally, I like gritty and deadly but my players pull me towards the cinematic. Savage Worlds is definitely heroic and cinematic in style... which might feel odd, at least at first.
That being said... our re-designed GURPS heroes (which has been arriving this week) are increasingly Power-tastic and cinematic. I get the feeling that my players will have an easier time hamming it up to the cinematics than I will.
Is the system too rules lite? I'm not sure. On a first reading it seems so: pick up the die relating to your Attribute or Skill (d4, d6, d8, d10... whatever), pick up a d6 Wild Die, and roll 'em: 4+ succeeds. Whammo!
You see... on the surface, that is too simplistic. BUT... and it's a big BUT...
Savage Worlds provides modifiers and extra special rules which make the core mechanic require actual play to get the feel of things.
So that leaves the first point: it's another change of system. Meh.
What's a Poor GM To Do?
My feeling is that it might be fun to put together a simple one-scene action demo for Savage Worlds, perhaps drawing on my group's love of post-apocalypticism.
I reckon that trying the game out in a non-intensive, light-hearted and experimental manner would be a good plan. I am minded to throw them into a scene with rapid zombies and demonstrate how much fun the system can be while handling a gazillion zombie Extras... something that I suspect Savage Worlds will excel at.
If all else fails, I think I might use the system at the school club as a light-hearted introduction to roleplaying outside of Pathfinder.
The bottom-line: this game needs to be played. I just need a hard-copy.
Labels: review, Savage Worlds