Product– Savage Worlds Deluxe Core Rules
Producer– Pinnacle Entertainment
TL; DR-Super Swingy, but super fun! 97%
Basics-Wanna do…. Anything? Savage Worlds is a generic RPG that isn’t tethered to any one world or system. It’s so untethered to any setting that the first few pages of the book are all the different worlds the Pinnacle Entertainment and others offer. Let’s dive into this game and see what’s there.
Base Mechanics- Here is where the fun begins. Savage Worlds uses a dice chain. When you want to do a thing that needs a roll, you roll your skill die and aim for a 4 after modifier. That’s pretty much it. Hit 4 and the thing happens. Every 4 above 4 is a raise and does something awesome. Sometimes damage, sometimes extra effects, but it’s always something good. If you hit the max number on a die, then got an ace, and you roll the dice again adding to the total. Ace again? Keep going! Like I said above, this system is super swingy, but fun.
Stats-Your skills and attribute dice are decided at character generation. Your attribute are Agility, Smarts, Strength, Spirit, Vigor. These are dice ranging from a d4 to a d12. Most humans have a d6 in every attribute. When you build a character you get dice for a skill, but the skill advancement is tied to each attribute and advancing past an attribute dice cost a lot more than normal. If you ever don’t have the skill that you want to use, you roll a d4-2 still trying to hit the 4, so hope for the ace!
Wild cards and Extras-Extras are random background people from the mook attacking the bar to the faceless ninjas that you mow down in wave after wave. Wild cards are special character ranging from your player character to the big bad evil guy. Wild cards get an extra die to all rolls called the wild die that is a d6. You roll this for attacks and skills, even if you are untrained!
Edges and Hindrances-Something I miss from light systems are feats. Savage Worlds has edges and hindrances. At character generation you get hindrances that flesh out your character as well as bonuses called edges that give you extra little abilities from being able to hit harder bare handed or bonuses on some skill rolls.
Combat and Initiative-Savage Worlds has roots in some crazy RPGs and none comes out more that initiative. Players don’t roll, but get cards from a deck of playing cards with the Jokers left in. High card and suit (Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and finally Clubs). Jokers do crazy things to the person who draws them and then after the round the initiative deck is reshuffled. Each round you get to move a bit and do one action. Actions range from shooting people to doing a skill. Melee attacks means you have to hit the opponents parry value. Ranged attacks have to hit a 4. In either case rases add an additional 1d6 of damage to the target. If you hit you then roll damage equal to your weapon value. If the damage value equals an enemies toughness (2 + half the opponents vigor die), then the opponent is shaken. Shaken means your do nothing next turn except try to shake off the hit via a Spirit roll (4 to shake it off, 8 to act normally). If you get a raise on the toughness, than the enemy takes a wound. Wild Cards have three wounds before a fourth kills them, but extras only have one before they are down!
Bennies-Oh story candy! I love you! Bennies are chips you get to reroll dice, immediately shake of being shaken, and whatever you convince your GM that you can do. The GM gets a pile as well! Act like your character would? Story Candy. Do something cool? Story Candy. Buy the GM a coke? STORY CANDY!
Character Generation- A big theme in savage worlds is rules light, and Savage Worlds is really light when it comes to character generation. Characters are made by doing a number of small steps. When you build a character you start by choosing a race, which may give you additional starting abilities with humans getting one extra edge, then you get point to buy new attribute dice, going up one level on the dice chain for each point, points to get and advance skills , one for one as before, move to selecting edges, then you can select to get extra hiderence to get more points for skills and edges, and finally you get gear based on the campaign you’re playing. DONE. The hardest part is selecting what gear and edges you will chose.
Leveling up or Advancement-Every good game needs XP, and this one give xp at the end of each session. For every five xp, a character can get a new edge, advance attribute dice, raise one skill above an attribute, raise two skills with values under a linked attribute, or get a d4 in a new skill. For every 20 XP a character enters a new rank that give access to new edges.
Magic, machines, and maham- Savage Words is system agnostic, so magic and powers a built in but not essential. Characters can get powers via different routes from the gods, reading books, or simply building a crazy lightning boxes from technology. All power work the same as they start with getting an edge. The powers have a rank you can get them at, a cost in power point (think magic points from Final Fantasy), and some skills you have to roll to make them happen, if needed for things like attacks. It feels like old schoo video game!
Ok, enough background, what are my thoughts.
Theme or Fluff-No fluff for this one. Each world needs its own fruff. There is awesome stuff here from the Rippers universe where people fight monsters in a Victorian setting with magic, monstrous power of their own, and machines to Solomon Kain fighting monsters across the world. It’s all fun, but Savage Worlds is anything you want it to be. You give the biggest thing in the world to d12+2 for his or her thing, and then you set the smallest or weakest thing at d4-2 for their thing, and scale accordingly. You can do Savage Hacks for literally anything from Shadowrun to DnD. If you like the math above, see if your favorite system or setting has a Savage Hack out there, or go make one! -/5
Mechanics or Crunch– Holy cow is this thing swingy! That’s not a bad thing, but it is a thing. If you need careful balance where expected results always happen, WALK AWAY NOW! But if you love you some pulp craziness, then get into this game. Its light and fast. I play with no miniatures, but many people love miniatures. I just love the math here. It goes fast and plays quick. The one thing I don’t like is how little the attributes matter. They are important for some things like Spirit rolls and determining toughness, but overall they feel slightly left aside. As this is mostly a skills game, its ok, but I always hate when games have attributes, but don’t really use them as much as say Dungeons and Dragons. It’s not bad, but it’s something that sticks in my craw. If you can ignore that one complaint I have, then Savage Worlds is a swingy, amazing system! 4.9/5
Execution– Is this available in PDF since its past 2015? Check. Hyperlinked to make my life easy? Check. Overall, I love how the book looks. I’d like a bit more walkthrough on a few things, but once you work through the rules it’s easy enough. Also, I’d like a bit more tables to break up some of the text for things like spells. It’s a well done book that you can skim through in an afternoon without an advanced degree or major eye strain. 4.8/5
Summary-I am a convert! I love lots of different systems, but Savage Worlds is one that always seemed off in the corner where the weird kids hang out. It’s a smaller system, but its got a big cult following, almost like The Evil Dead. And I think that that’s a good way to look at this system. If you want your standard fantasy where predictable thing happen at predictable time scales, then this isn’t for you. It’s not bad, but it’s not for you. If you want a faster pace with some crazy stuff happening like a player who is the town poopscooper getting five aces in a row and triple critting the big bad evil guy on the first turn, then this is the game for you. The system is slick, fast, and low crunch. The book is well put together and reads quickly and enjoyably. That’s everything I want in an RPG, and a system I can’t wait to get back into. 97%