Grade the Savage Worlds System

How do you feel about the Savage Worlds game system?

  • I love it.

    Votes: 31 27.0%
  • It's pretty good.

    Votes: 32 27.8%
  • It's alright I guess.

    Votes: 22 19.1%
  • It's pretty bad.

    Votes: 5 4.3%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I've never played it.

    Votes: 24 20.9%
  • I've never even heard of it.

    Votes: 1 0.9%

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aramis erak

You can actually move it into a PbtA-like space pretty easily by using failure, success, and success with raise as failure, success with cost, and full success.
It already has a complicated success result: Success on the wild die, 1 on the trait die. It doesn't have universal use, but in a number of situations (magic, shooting into melees) the complications hit. It's nowhere near as common as in PbtA...

There are thus at least 6 meaningful results in the mechanics RAW, at least in Deluxe:
Success +1 raise
Success with 1 on Trait. Complication.
Fail with 1 on trait (not always different from simple failure) - complication.
fumble (1 on trait and 1 on wild)

Certain situations make addtional raises relevant, and as noted, 1 on Trait is only sometimes relevant. Of one wants more frequent complicated successes, just go to either die is a 1 and the other die succeeds...
For Damage rolls, up to 4 raises can be significant, as it takes 4 wounds to incapacitate.

I've seen damage rolls hit 8 raises... fortunately, only vs NPCs.

aramis erak

That would have to be based on the idea that genre in TTRPGs is somehow unrelated to and neither associated with nor descended from literary genres. Even if I admit that TTRPG genres have begun developing their own nuances within the genre terms within the space of the hobby, this is still not credible.
No, False premise.

The descent from does not mean it slavishly follows the same tropes/definition.


... I have also found the game suffers from "equipment porn." I'm not sure why I need this many details for weapons and equipment for a "fast action-packed game!" When I played, these features tended to slow the game down. Although Savage Worlds is not a d20 system game, it still feels heavily rooted in the '90s and '00s - especially the d20 era - in terms of its design priorities. It may have been tolerable then, but it shows its age IMHO now. 🤷‍♂️
The crunch around weapons is there on purpose and for some of the combat features too. The 1st edtion of SW originally started as rules for a tabletop miniatures game (The Great Rail Wars) and some of the crunch has been maintained. Up until the Deluxe edition of SW, PEG published a free, alternate version of the rules titled Savage Showdown which made slight changes to make them more condusive towards tabletop miniatures play. If PEG removed the details for weapons and other apects of the combat, the rules wouldn't be as nearly effective -if effective at all- for that type of gameplay. So, IMO I wouldn't say the rules are rooted in the d20 era, but that like D&D 3e & d20, they were somewhat influenced by rules for tabletop minis play.

I personally like that crunch, because some of my local groups are players that are also fans of tabletop miniatures. SW is one of the few TTRPGs I can get them to play with enthusiasm. As I said before; the SWADE rules have a sound enough core to be quite flexible for houseruling. There's nothing saying you can't houserule out some of the crunch for wepaons.


I've only done three of these so far (might do another one after the weekend...any requests?) but this one is currently our valedictorian, with a GPA of 3.0. Nearly everyone who has played it either liked it or loved it!
As a fan of SW, I'm happy to read that average. I just want to point out though, that it wasn't always the case. The couple of years following SW Deluxe winning the gold ENnie for best game (Marvel Heroic Gameplay got silver) at Gen Con 2012, SWD got heavily panned on a number of TTRPG forums. At that time Pathfinder, MHR and Cthulhu TTRPGs (CoC 6, Cthulhu Britannia, etc) seemed to be the favorites of many. With other new, or newly revised TTRPGs like The One Ring and Runequest 6 having gained a good audience. I think for many TTRPG fans at that time, SWD seemed to come out of no where and not being aware of its existence, a number resented it winning. With the publicity it got from the ENnie, it seemed shortly after a number of new players were getting 1st time exposure to it via poorly GM'd one-sheet adventures. Which certainly didn't help with impressions of it.

I didn't frequent this forum around that time, but I can say on some other popular TTRPG forums just about any favorable post about SWD eventually drew heavy criticisms. Rants of "shaken lock, SHAKEN LOCK!", dismissals of it because it relied on a meta-currency (bennies), a too-brutal Golden Hour rule for healing, or claims about a broken core dice mechanic that could be statistically proven (when I or anyone else requested they post their math and results, they never did), were common place. Now in fairness, the current Shaken play mechanic didn't get errated by PEG until late in the SWD life cycle. As well, SWD did IMO intro a weak chase mechanic heavily based on random card draws (some liked it though), but it also delivered Dramatic Tasks, Social Conflicts, Interludes and finally a set of decent race building rules; albeit the latter weren't nearly as good as those in the Sci-Fi Companion (similar to those now in SWADE) a few years later. Most importantly, it included a long list of setting rules/tweaks that were very helpful to GMs and a real boon to homebrewers.

I owned or played all the other TTRPGs mentioned above and enjoyed them all - still do. Having 1st started with Savage Worlds EXplorers Edition (SWEX) though, I was more than impressed with the improvements and enhancements in SWD. I felt PEG deserved the best of game award for SWD as much as any other TTRPG Publisher at the time. I ran a number of campaigns right after SWD's release and rarely had PCs shaken locked for rounds and the core dice mechanic, while occasionally swingy by design via exploding dice and raises, never felt broken. For a TTRPG that I've been GMing and playing with for well over a decade, I'm happy to see it well liked. But boy oh boy, there was some rough years being a fan of it! I'm betting if you ran this survey back then on 1 of the websites I freqnented, more than half would have rated it as bad or hated.
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Thomas Shey

I find it pretty good on the whole. There's only really a couple complaints I have.

1. I find it a little coarse sometimes; without some of the setting rules: one skill covering all shooting (whether bows, slings or guns) or all flying (whether prop planes or VTOL jets) is sometimes a bit much as is the constrained range of skill/attribute (since it only has, functionally, about 7 possible values outside of supers).

2. I'm not entirely in love with the powers system; its better in the current version, but its really too focused on combat magic over everything else. I also don't think there's really enough customization in terms of magic styles; most of the distinctions have to do with fumbles, which I don't think gives enough texture (there are modifiers for individual spells, but that's not the same thing).

I'm also extremely unsold on its use for supers, primarily because rolling more than three damage dice produces some very unpredictable damage rolls, with bad knock-on effects, but there are very few generic games not initially made for supers really handle supers well, so I don't hold that against it).


Doors and Corners
Savage Worlds is my go to system. It's the Dark Master of my Soul. No matter how often I try to break away that bewitching succubus always draws me back in.


Luckily, I love playing Savage Worlds.


I recently bought Savage Pathfinder, and this thread has gotten me more interested. But I am thinking why this instead of normal PF. Why would I play Savage Pathfinder instead of just the original Pathfinder? Why prefer one over the other? What does it bring to the table that Paizo Pathfinder doesn't?

Thomas Shey

I recently bought Savage Pathfinder, and this thread has gotten me more interested. But I am thinking why this instead of normal PF. Why would I play Savage Pathfinder instead of just the original Pathfinder? Why prefer one over the other? What does it bring to the table that Paizo Pathfinder doesn't?

Savage Worlds is arguably a significantly less complex system that PF (either edition), and certainly is in terms of character creation and advancement. I'd make more comments about it but I'm not familiar with that particular application of SW, so they might be inaccurate.


What does it bring to the table that Paizo Pathfinder doesn't?
We are currently deep into a Forgotten Realms campaign that basically uses Savage Pathfinder. The system has some key differences:
  • The attrition model is different, meaning that every fight is significant and you don’t need lots of ‘filler’ combat to make the game work
  • The game has good mechanical support for a wider range of things than d20 typically does - rules for chases, dramatic tasks, mass combat, networking, social persuasion
  • The power curve is much flatter. Starting characters are a bit more capable, but the don’t reach the heights possible in d20. So it is like the whole game operates in the 3-12ish level space when compared to d20. This could be a plus or a negative depending on your perspective, but it can be tweaked
  • The rules for ‘extras’ make it easy to run big, tactical combats without the game grinding to a halt
  • Combat in general has more options, especially if you are looking at things that aren’t locked behind ‘feats’
  • The core system has good support for a wider range of genres, so once you have finished your fantasy game you can run a sci-fi, modern, horror game - whatever you fancy
  • Home brewing is easy once you have gotten a hang of the system.

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