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How do you like (or don't like) the Savage Worlds rpg?


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Retreater

Legend
I have nearly all the books available for the current edition. That said, I don't care for the system (which makes me wonder why I'm buying all their books - haha).

Here's what didn't connect with me, YMMV:
1) It's not especially fast (despite being called "fast, furious, fun")
2) It has that whole business of "I hit, but let me see if I actually hit" and "let's see if I actually damaged" (so multiple die rolls to handle combat actions)
3) So you have to subtract Toughness and Armor from every damage roll, then account for the weapon's Armor Piercing rating, then divide that number by four to see how many wounds are produced. Then the opponent can attempt to roll to avoid some of that damage. And reroll by spending metacurrency.
4) If you have a setting book (like Rifts, Deadlands, etc) you are going to be flipping between the setting book, the core rules, and likely other books (equipment, etc) to run your character - you never have everything all in one place.
5) Your characters have a ton of edges and hindrances (think as positive feats and negative feats) to keep up with. They are also scattered over all the books if you are not playing vanilla Savage Worlds (which you won't be)
6) Dealing initiative cards each round slows down the game
7) Works best with miniatures - so if you're a theatre of the mind player it kind of suffers
8) Do you like disassociated mechanics? How about die rolls for most things, but pulling cards from a deck to determine other things (initiative, skill challenges, chase mechanics, etc.)
9) Vehicle combat makes absolutely no sense to me - they don't have HP (wounds)
10) Healing is weird to me. There's not like a standard rate
11) Because of exploding dice, it's one of the swingiest games I've ever played. It's ill-suited to a lasting campaign. I have had novice characters die at the hands of minion grunts and then one-shot power demons. It's nearly impossible to plan.

Even though I've purchased a lot of the books, mostly in hope that "one day this will make sense to me," I can't whole-heartedly recommend the system. I've tried running for different groups in different Savage settings. None of it ever felt like it lived up to the promises of the system. Combats dragged on. There was so much math!
 

Helpful NPC Thom

Adventurer
Savage Worlds is an excellent system and combines lighter mechanics with tactical combat. If you like D&D but think HP attrition and spell slots are janky, I'd recommend giving it a try. Fair warning: you're not going to "get" the combat system without playing it. Shaken won't make sense until you familiarize yourself with the flow of Savage Worlds combat. Play around with the system and utilize the mechanics, especially the Test mechanics where you can apply Distracted/Vulnerable.
 

MGibster

Legend
How do you like (or don't like) the Savage Worlds rpg? I am thinking about buying it, but I want to hear some opinions of it from you guys. Thanks in advance.
I love it and it's been my go to "generic" game for a number of years now.
1) It's not especially fast (despite being called "fast, furious, fun")
I find that it runs a lot quicker than many other games. Though I've been playing it for years and even the most opaque systems play quickly for people who know them backwards and forwards. And, honestly, my group has bene playing for years but I still have one or two players asking very, very basic questions about the rules. "Do I use the Wild Die when I roll for Vigor?"

2) It has that whole business of "I hit, but let me see if I actually hit" and "let's see if I actually damaged" (so multiple die rolls to handle combat actions)
It does. But then so do a lot of other games. In D&D, you roll to hit and then you roll for how much damage you actually do. You could roll really high to hit a creature and then end up only doing 4 hit points of damage to him.

3) So you have to subtract Toughness and Armor from every damage roll, then account for the weapon's Armor Piercing rating, then divide that number by four to see how many wounds are produced. Then the opponent can attempt to roll to avoid some of that damage. And reroll by spending metacurrency.
The armor you wear adds to your Toughness so you don't use Toughness and armor. I do agree with you about the Armor Piercing of weapons though and it gets particularly annoying in settings that use modern firearms. And to roll to avoid some of that damage the enemy needs to spend a Bennie (that meta currency). And they usually don't get a re-roll unless they spend another Bennie.

4) If you have a setting book (like Rifts, Deadlands, etc) you are going to be flipping between the setting book, the core rules, and likely other books (equipment, etc) to run your character - you never have everything all in one place.
If you're playing Deadlands, all the equipment you need is going to be in the Deadlands book. There's no need to flip to the Savage Worlds rules to look for Deadlands equipment. Same for Rifts. Though I think Savage Worlds starts to break down when you use all the additional rules for Rifts. I've run exactly one Savage Rifts campaign and I don't plan on running another. I spent a lot of money on that Kickstarter too.

5) Your characters have a ton of edges and hindrances (think as positive feats and negative feats) to keep up with. They are also scattered over all the books if you are not playing vanilla Savage Worlds (which you won't be)
Typically they're scattered between the basic Savage Worlds rules and whatever setting book you're using. For most games, that's just two books.

6) Dealing initiative cards each round slows down the game
This might just be a preference thing but this isn't my experience. In most games, the players roll for initiative, I write down the results, and put everything in order which is slow. For SW, I just deal out cards quickly and everyone knows what order they're going in.

7) Works best with miniatures - so if you're a theatre of the mind player it kind of suffers
Agreed. You can run things narratively for simple encounters but if you've got a lot of moving parts you're better off with a map and some minis.

8) Do you like disassociated mechanics? How about die rolls for most things, but pulling cards from a deck to determine other things (initiative, skill challenges, chase mechanics, etc.)
I find they work well. But, again, I've been playing the game since it's original inception. Almost 20 years now I think.

9) Vehicle combat makes absolutely no sense to me - they don't have HP (wounds)
As one of my players said, "Vehicle combat is stupid." But vehicles have Wounds and Toughness just like characters do. When a vehicle takes a wound, you get to roll on the critical hit table to see what happens. (Damage to the crew, destroyed weapon, etc., etc.). Where it gets stupid is the ridiculous base Toughness and Amor they give to some vehicles and the Armor Piercing of the weapons they carry. The M1A1 Abrams tank has a 57 Toughness (37 from armor) and it's 120mm gun has an AP of 31. It's just silly and slows things down.

10) Healing is weird to me. There's not like a standard rate
You have an hour after getting wounded to get healed either by magical or non-magical means. If you go longer than an hour without medical help, you make a Vigor roll every 5 days. Success means you recover a Wound and a raise (rolling 4 higher than needed) means you recover two instead. Some magic/technology might allow someone to make a Healing roll even after that golden hour has passed.

11) Because of exploding dice, it's one of the swingiest games I've ever played. It's ill-suited to a lasting campaign. I have had novice characters die at the hands of minion grunts and then one-shot power demons. It's nearly impossible to plan.
It's not impossible to plan but I agree that it's one of the swingiest games I've ever played. I've had simple encounters nearly turn into TPKs because I rolled so phenomenally good and difficult encounters turn into a cakewalk because the PCs rolled so phenomenally good. For me, this is the most frustrating aspect of Savage Worlds.

The game certainly has its flaws and if you don't like SW that's totally cool. I'm not a "one game to rule them all" kind of guy and even though SW is my go to game I don't use it for everything.
 

I'm generally fine with it. There's one thing I have some issues with (the coarseness, both in terms of skills being too broad and there being a relatively tight range from top to bottom) and another one I have more with (its normal powers system is treated as far more generic than in practice it is, and the latest edition has, if anything, moved even farther away from providing you the tools to really customize it). But it plays well enough and doesn't do anything I'm not used to (I don't expect a successful hit roll to automatically translate into meaningful damage; that expectation is honestly a D&Dism, and isn't true of most games outside the D&D sphere for example).
 

dbm

Adventurer
Savage Worlds is currently my go-to system. I really like generic systems and the latest edition (SWADE) is a very complete rule set in my opinion. You can do a lot with just the core book, though the campaign books like Deadlands and Rifts (and now Pathfinder) tend to be well done and add interesting extra bits.

My group likes tactical combat and I think SWADE does that extremely well. Position and numbers are important; a broad set of tactics are available to characters too. The system can also handle big groups of combatants pretty efficiently. And with all this it also avoids getting too bogged down in minutia.

One of the best aspects of SWADE is the Dramatic Task rules. These allow you to have a satisfying non-combat encounter where the results are dependent on multiple rounds of resolution and this allows for more choice and agency than many other non-combat resolution mechanics. It also has subsystems for mass combat and social influence, meaning that the rules provide mechanical support for a diverse range of encounter-types.

Some of my group find the powers too generic for their tastes, but personally I am fine with that and flavour can easily be added in my opinion.

The core book is a excellent value in my opinion.
 
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Bayushi_seikuro

Adventurer
First, generally I like SW.

That being said, in my experience, it has been one of those systems - like Rolemaster - where you have a paradox: For it to run smoothly, you need a GM who can keep things going (the exploding dice remind me of how much I hated Shadowrun 1e and staging up damage, and then they stage down the damage with they take it) and keep track of different things going on. However, to get that technical proficiency, you need to run it and grok it.

I liked the card mechanics 'feel' for Deadlands, but it's quirkily indifferent for other settings. It doesn't come easy to me to remember which suits are 'better' than others. But, as a player, there's no better feeling than drawing both jokers on back to back rounds after the GM reshuffled and cut.

With any game system, my vote is try it. Try out the vanilla stuff and see if you like the feel of it. To me, the best thing coming from SW have been the settings and also the pretty blatant 'permission' to reskin things you like. Playing D&D and want to reskin a barbarian as a supersoldier (an idea stolen from Keith Baker :) )? Great, but it's not written in the text specifically beyond Rule Zero.
 

John R Davis

Adventurer
Yeah it doesn't overly fulfill its FFF. Especially the last one. It's tricky to GM because they have bennies as well it can totally kill all 3Fs.
For FFF and genericness I much prefer BoL
It has some great settings
 

ART!

Hero
I have nearly all the books available for the current edition. That said, I don't care for the system (which makes me wonder why I'm buying all their books - haha).

Here's what didn't connect with me, YMMV:
1) It's not especially fast (despite being called "fast, furious, fun")
2) It has that whole business of "I hit, but let me see if I actually hit" and "let's see if I actually damaged" (so multiple die rolls to handle combat actions)
3) So you have to subtract Toughness and Armor from every damage roll, then account for the weapon's Armor Piercing rating, then divide that number by four to see how many wounds are produced. Then the opponent can attempt to roll to avoid some of that damage. And reroll by spending metacurrency.
4) If you have a setting book (like Rifts, Deadlands, etc) you are going to be flipping between the setting book, the core rules, and likely other books (equipment, etc) to run your character - you never have everything all in one place.
5) Your characters have a ton of edges and hindrances (think as positive feats and negative feats) to keep up with. They are also scattered over all the books if you are not playing vanilla Savage Worlds (which you won't be)
6) Dealing initiative cards each round slows down the game
7) Works best with miniatures - so if you're a theatre of the mind player it kind of suffers
8) Do you like disassociated mechanics? How about die rolls for most things, but pulling cards from a deck to determine other things (initiative, skill challenges, chase mechanics, etc.)
9) Vehicle combat makes absolutely no sense to me - they don't have HP (wounds)
10) Healing is weird to me. There's not like a standard rate
11) Because of exploding dice, it's one of the swingiest games I've ever played. It's ill-suited to a lasting campaign. I have had novice characters die at the hands of minion grunts and then one-shot power demons. It's nearly impossible to plan.

Even though I've purchased a lot of the books, mostly in hope that "one day this will make sense to me," I can't whole-heartedly recommend the system. I've tried running for different groups in different Savage settings. None of it ever felt like it lived up to the promises of the system. Combats dragged on. There was so much math!
This has generally been my experience, too. There's too many bits and pieces, and they don't feel holistic. The whole thing feels clumsy to me, like an awkward fusion of old-school design aesthetics and a few narrative design elements tacked on.
 

MGibster

Legend
Vehicle combat is where Savage Worlds is at its weakest. As Retreater pointed out, SW is a game where miniatures are really necessary to take full advantage of the system and vehicles just don't scale very well on the same maps with pedestrians. I want to use SW for a Mad Maxesque style post apocalyptic wasteland but I don't really want to do the work to make sure everything scales well on a map.
 


the Jester

Legend
I played a couple SW campaigns, and I thought the system was less fun than the setting and the group. It's worth trying out, for sure; and some of the setting material alone is worth the price of entry (although some of it is also available for other systems, a la Deadlands, if you can find them).
 



Greg K

Hero
Like, @MGibster, It is, currently, my favorite generic system although I have not played it for several years (my last time running was prior to a seven year supers campaign in another system and then taking time off from gaming prior to COVID) . I have found it quick and have had no problems playing without miniatures.
I do have a few issue with the game. Swingingess, however, is not among them (for me).

If the game is too lethal, you need to adjust the lethalness through the incapacitation table as a setting rule to match the lethality you want. This was done in some of the One Sheets (e.g. Crime City is gritty lethal) and some third party products. Clint Black, on the prior version of the PEG forums, provided dials from Cartoony (characters never die to Very Gritty with several levels in-between including Action Heroes. IIRC, the latest version of Savage Worlds includes some or all of these dials (I have not checked for several years).
 
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eyeheartawk

Works 60% of the time, every time
I have pretty much all the same complaints as @Retreater. In addition, I also find the dealing of playing cards for initiative, regardless of setting, off-putting. Like, this is clearly a carry over from OG Deadlands but does it really fit in a cyberpunk game, say?
 

Eh, there's nothing intrinsic in dice that is a better a fit than playing cards. You're just used to them. In the end, playing cards are just randomizers with a bit of built in memory.
 

dbm

Adventurer
Playing cards are more than that in my opinion, and I really like them for initiative. The way that Clubs indicate a complication in chases or dramatic tasks adds variety and keeps things fresh round-to-round.

Varying initiative round-to-round also keeps characters on their toes and dealing cards visibly on the table is quick and it makes it very easy to see who is acting when as soon as you internalise the ‘reverse alphabetic’ priority of suits for breaking ties (spades > hearts > diamonds > clubs - which is a common ranking in card games too).
 

Playing cards are more than that in my opinion

In what way? I agree for other usage they have some different functionality, but other than the impact of jokers, in initiative my description of them is simply reality; they're a way of generating a number range that does not immediately repeat.
 

How do you like (or don't like) the Savage Worlds rpg? I am thinking about buying it, but I want to hear some opinions of it from you guys. Thanks in advance.
I've had copies for years, and never played nor run it, since when I sat in on a couple sessions, it was not fast, it was whiffy, and I often find dice-step systems to be claustrophobic in the ratings.
 

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