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


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Retreater

Legend
In the ways I described in my post? The suits have significance, there are no ’ties’ once you take suit into consideration, it’s quick to generate and easy to read on the table.
What I don't like about the cards is taking the time to deal every round, reshuffling the deck every time you deal a joker, then calling out the numbers like a BINGO caller every round. This is further complicated when you have people hold their action, change their cards due to Edges or spending Bennies. Plus people always need reminding about suit order. And Jokers can go anytime they want, so you're always checking on them when they want to go.
In D&D games I use clothespins mounted on a strip of numbers on my DM Screen. I put them in order at the start of a fight (which takes less than a minute) and we're good to go for an entire combat. Everyone can see the order and knows when his or her turn is coming up.
 

ART!

Hero
Cards are slower than dice, but if the features of cards out weigh the features of dice for you, then it's worth it.
 

MGibster

Legend
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?
Well, no. But is rolling d10+Reflex+Combat Sense (if a Solo) and then accounting for cyberwear really screaming Cyberpunk to anyone? The core rules of Savage Words are pretty much a carry over from Deadlands and the Great Rail Wars miniatures game. In most games, it's rolling for initiative isn't really done in a way that's evocative to the setting.
 

For those of you saying that cards are slower than rolling, is that theoretical for you or is did you experience it in play?

My experience is dealing cards is always quicker than having players roll dice and add their modifiers.
 

innerdude

Legend
Context: From 2013 until the spring of 2021, Savage Worlds received 95% of our group's total play time, typically playing twice a month for 4-5 hours. With the occasional off-week and cancellation, we typically would play 20-24 sessions a year. I was the GM 60% of the time (100+ sessions), and a player for another 75+ sessions.

When done right, and played with the right mindset, Savage Worlds is an excellent, terrifically fun game if your preferences lean toward traditional/"neo trad" style of games, and are willing to work with the system to understand its strengths and weaknesses.

The biggest hurdle you will face with Savage Worlds is how character skill scales against the damage/toughness output and damage/toughness resistance of your NPCs/enemies. This will largely depend on how intricately your players delve into the rules and are focused on optimization. If your players lean towards strong optimization, the problem will come to the forefront quicker.

What ends up happening is within 4-5 "advances" (an advance in Savage Worlds is roughly equivalent to a 1/3 - 1/2 level gain in D&D), if your players are solely optimizing for combat effectiveness, is you will quickly discover that a typical "mook" enemy no longer poses a threat to the players barring some exceptional lucky/unlucky dice rolling. By the time a player has a D12 in fighting, high armor reduction, plus Edges (read: Feats), it's not unusual for their baseline toughness to be 11 or 12 total (physical toughness + armor + Edges), with a parry of 9 or 10 as well.

So even though attack and damage "explodes" (you roll dice again any time you get the max number), and it's still theoretically possible for low-level enemies to pose a threat, they don't last long enough in combat to really maximize it. A typical mook enemy is rarely going to hit, and has to basically roll double-6's on 2d6 damage to have any possible effect.

So what ends up happening as a GM, is within 9-10 sessions, the scaling of enemy effectiveness has to go up significantly. And because of the way damage scaling works with exploding dice, it's much, much harder to scale up to a "challenging fight" without also dramatically increasing the probability of character death.

If your players aren't on board with knowing that keeping fights "fair" and "interesting" also means they're putting their characters at significantly more risk, they probably won't enjoy it. It's very, very hard to thread the needle on making fights "meaningful but manageable," much harder than any D20 system. They are, as mentioned by others, "swingy." Combats often end up looking tough at the beginning but quickly turn into a breezy cakewalk, or they end up looking "manageable" but quickly scale toward brutal and deadly.

From my experience this is actually a feature, not a bug, as it keeps players on their toes, but it is something to be aware of. And when the players and GM are in sync with the combat system, and invested in the happenings at the table, it can truly produce roleplaying magic.

My biggest recommendation to lengthen out the "sweet spot" for combat is to tell your players that at Level 0 / 0 XP, nothing on their character sheet can be higher than a D8, period, end of sentence. This forces them to build more broadly competent characters and avoid min-maxing right out of the gate. As a side effect, it also means that for the first 2-3 advances, their characters aren't going to be as radically differentiated from each other as you'd see in D&D, but I can promise you with absolute certainty that their character concept as they envisioned it will work out as imagined in the end.

Also, just my personal opinion, those complaining about using playing cards for initiative have it wrong. Everyone I've ever introduced playing card initiative to has commented later, "Man, this is way more fun, interesting, and tactical than just rolling a D20 and writing down a turn order."

Also, and this is going to go a bit against public opinion, but I'm not totally convinced that the Adventure Edition rules (or SWADE) was an improvement over the prior edition (Savage Worlds Deluxe). In some ways, the little rules changes of SWADE seem to give the appearance of more balance and interesting choices in play, but for me as a GM, there was just some small but measurable bit of magic lost between the transition from SWDeluxe to SWADE.

On paper, SWADE rules-as-written seems like a better system, but my heart would choose Deluxe. The small bits of additional overhead (especially in combat) introduced in SWADE don't seem to meaningfully add to the fun.

Either way, though, it's a very good system, and absolutely worth trying out. Give me the choice between Savage Worlds and anything D20 based, and I'll choose Savage Worlds every time without a second thought.

Also be aware that the energy/synergy that Savage Worlds brings to your sessions is significantly muted in an online/remote setting. The physical/tactile component of rolling dice when they explode, handing out the playing cards for initiative, the physical interaction with the minis on the map gets lost in an online setting. And yes, you should plan on using minis and battle mats for Savage Worlds. If the thought of doing that doesn't appeal to you, get out now. Don't waste your time trying to shoehorn Savage Worlds into theater of the mind; it just won't work, and you'll end up disappointed and frustrated.


Side note --- The reason we've stopped playing Savage Worlds is that I personally was ready for a change, and pushed the group to try out some more narrative driven games, Ironsworn and Genesys in particular. Apropos of nothing, I have to give a massive plug to Ironsworn. It's freaking awesome, and if you have any interest at all in trying out something Powered by the Apocalypse / Forged in the Dark adjacent, you can't go wrong with Ironsworn. And considering that the core book is the price of free, there's no reason to not at least try it out.
 

Retreater

Legend
For those of you saying that cards are slower than rolling, is that theoretical for you or is did you experience it in play?

My experience is dealing cards is always quicker than having players roll dice and add their modifiers.
Not theoretical at all. From actual play across several settings with several different groups of players.
In D&D (and adjacent games), you roll Initiative once per combat. Your modifier is basically the same each fight (so write it prominently on your sheet). Roll a d20 and add (usually) a single digit modifier, so early elementary school math there. Simple, quick.
To me I don't care if initiative is flavorful to the setting. Just be simple and get out of the way. Let the action be flavorful. Let the roleplay and exploration be flavorful. Determining the order people play the game doesn't have to be a major ordeal.
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!
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 have the PDF and maybe one or two supplements for it. Gave them a "skim-through". Seemed like a decent enough, light system. But, because it's "lite", I'd find it hard to use for anything with "high power" needed (re: super-heroes, Rifts-like, epic space opera, etc).

Oh, that and the word "Bennies" as a game mechanic. They are, from what I remember, a mechanic that a player can use to give his character a temporary "benefit" (hence the name 'Bennie'). Problem is, when I hear that word, for some reason, my mind immediately associates it with this picture:


Yeah... fine for a lot of situations I guess, but it totally "kills the mood" if it's being used in some climactic and dramatic situation, er... kinda like your 7 year old walking in on you and the missus having a "tickle fight under the blankets", if you get my drift. ;)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

For those of you saying that cards are slower than rolling, is that theoretical for you or is did you experience it in play?

My experience is dealing cards is always quicker than having players roll dice and add their modifiers.
You're completely ignoring several other forms...
There are several forms collectively called popcorn initiative...
-- acting player picks an opponent who has yet to go (Sentinel Comics)
-- side alternation (D&D BX)
-- Side alternation with teeth (Initiative winner gets one or more extra activationss at start of round. (Starfire)
-- side alternation with size accounted for (if A has 2× the units of B, A activates two units before passing to B) (Optional in Battletech)

These all can be either totally arbitrary or have rolled or card determined start, or can be based upon fixed attributes

Several more rolled/card versions
-- Shared slots by individual rolls/cards (FFG SW)
-- Stable slots by individual roll/card (D&D 5E)
-- Tradable stable slots by individual roll/card (YZE)
-- Initiative by Actions Success Roll (WEG SW 1E)

And some weird ones
-- A side acts, B side only acts when acted upon or all of A have gone (Talisman Adventures, Possible interpretation of Pendragon)
-- attribute order (Pendragon {movement speed}, WFRP 1E {Initiative})
-- Token draw: each potential actor has a token added to the bag/cup/array; one is drawn, and acts, then next is drawn and acts. (Used in some board games)
-- Side by side via single card per round (WEG Masterbook & Torg, TSR's Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game & DragonLance 5th Age)


Anything stable is inherently faster than almost anything done every round.
Note that while WFRP1 has a stable base, it's modified by what action is being taken. It's much slower than a truely stable sequence.

Popcorn flavors can be either really fast or rather slow, usually based upon propensity of analysis paralysis.

I can't see any benefit of the card based system in Savage Worlds that makes it better than FFG Star Wars, my gold standard for flexible but fast.
 

Oh, that and the word "Bennies" as a game mechanic. They are, from what I remember, a mechanic that a player can use to give his character a temporary "benefit" (hence the name 'Bennie'). Problem is, when I hear that word, for some reason, my mind immediately associates it with this picture:

I hear it, and I think amphetamines. Specifically, Bedzedrine. What Is Bendzedrine? History, Uses, Side Effects, and More.

Too many cop shows in the 70's? Maybe.

in the singular,... Benny Russell
 

BrokenTwin

Adventurer
All of my table experience is with Deluxe, so that's the version I'll be referring to.

In comparison to D&D, I prefer Savage Worlds' card based initiative in almost every aspect. As a GM, it works faster than asking my players to roll, get their rolls, then organising them. And drawing every round tends to keep my players better engaged. Jokers tell me when they want to interrupt, if they don't say anything, they go at the end.
I do agree that capping skills and attributes at d8 at character creation leads to a healthier game in the long run.
The magic system always felt like a weak point. It's stuck in a weird point where it's too vague for a crunchy system and too detailed for a freeform system.
 

You're completely ignoring several other forms...
There are several forms collectively called popcorn initiative...
-- acting player picks an opponent who has yet to go (Sentinel Comics)
-- side alternation (D&D BX)
-- Side alternation with teeth (Initiative winner gets one or more extra activationss at start of round. (Starfire)
-- side alternation with size accounted for (if A has 2× the units of B, A activates two units before passing to B) (Optional in Battletech)

These all can be either totally arbitrary or have rolled or card determined start, or can be based upon fixed attributes

Several more rolled/card versions
-- Shared slots by individual rolls/cards (FFG SW)
-- Stable slots by individual roll/card (D&D 5E)
-- Tradable stable slots by individual roll/card (YZE)
-- Initiative by Actions Success Roll (WEG SW 1E)

And some weird ones
-- A side acts, B side only acts when acted upon or all of A have gone (Talisman Adventures, Possible interpretation of Pendragon)
-- attribute order (Pendragon {movement speed}, WFRP 1E {Initiative})
-- Token draw: each potential actor has a token added to the bag/cup/array; one is drawn, and acts, then next is drawn and acts. (Used in some board games)
-- Side by side via single card per round (WEG Masterbook & Torg, TSR's Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game & DragonLance 5th Age)


Anything stable is inherently faster than almost anything done every round.
Note that while WFRP1 has a stable base, it's modified by what action is being taken. It's much slower than a truely stable sequence.

Popcorn flavors can be either really fast or rather slow, usually based upon propensity of analysis paralysis.

I can't see any benefit of the card based system in Savage Worlds that makes it better than FFG Star Wars, my gold standard for flexible but fast.
No I'm not. I'm directly replying to responses that have said that cards to them are slower than rolling dice for initiative and I asked for their experience.

I have and continue to use alternate forms of initiative, but that has nothing to do with my post.
 

Not theoretical at all. From actual play across several settings with several different groups of players.
In D&D (and adjacent games), you roll Initiative once per combat. Your modifier is basically the same each fight (so write it prominently on your sheet). Roll a d20 and add (usually) a single digit modifier, so early elementary school math there. Simple, quick.
To me I don't care if initiative is flavorful to the setting. Just be simple and get out of the way. Let the action be flavorful. Let the roleplay and exploration be flavorful. Determining the order people play the game doesn't have to be a major ordeal.
I apologise if I came off as challenging. It wasn't my intent. I genuinely wanted to know if that was your experience because I haven't seen it myself.

There is a definite change to pace for initiative once at the start of combat and once per round. I run Shadow of the Demon Lord at the moment and initiative is determined by if you choose to take a fast action or a slow action. Just that choice sometimes can slow down combat.

I've previously run Dungeon World which has no initiative strictly speaking and that was lightning quick.

None of those are a result of cards vs dice though.
 

Retreater

Legend
I apologise if I came off as challenging. It wasn't my intent. I genuinely wanted to know if that was your experience because I haven't seen it myself.
And I apologize if my response seemed overly defensive, which also wasn't my intent. Haha.

To add to my above criticism of the system, I have run only vanilla fantasy Savage Worlds (which was something of a letdown after converting the campaign from 4e D&D) and Savage Rifts (which is probably the most complex iteration of the system).
 

In the ways I described in my post? The suits have significance, there are no ’ties’ once you take suit into consideration, it’s quick to generate and easy to read on the table.

The suits don't have significance in initiative (other than being unique signifiers for ties), and its possible to have an initiative roll that will virtually never throw ties (D100 for example, added to a value).
 

MGibster

Legend
No I'm not. I'm directly replying to responses that have said that cards to them are slower than rolling dice for initiative and I asked for their experience.
While card initiative has never really slowed me down, I've heard enough people make the same complaint you're making that I don't doubt it. The few problems my group had with the cards all smoothed themselves out years ago. Rules as written, the GM is free to deal the cards face up or down and I favor the latter as it speeds things up.
 

Well, no. But is rolling d10+Reflex+Combat Sense (if a Solo) and then accounting for cyberwear really screaming Cyberpunk to anyone?

That was more or less my point; any random initiative method, whether its dice, cards or drawing number stones is just a mechanic; it can have virtues of flaws but it isn't intrinsically evocative or not.

(Which does not mean no initiative method can ever be with any game, but a random number generator, whether its made out of polyhedral solids or flat plaques is not intrinsically going to be. Heck, I could argue that when I'd run SW its more cyberpunk, since I'm using a computer to run the initiative. :))
 

Context: From 2013 until the spring of 2021, Savage Worlds received 95% of our group's total play time, typically playing twice a month for 4-5 hours. With the occasional off-week and cancellation, we typically would play 20-24 sessions a year. I was the GM 60% of the time (100+ sessions), and a player for another 75+ sessions.

When done right, and played with the right mindset, Savage Worlds is an excellent, terrifically fun game if your preferences lean toward traditional/"neo trad" style of games, and are willing to work with the system to understand its strengths and weaknesses.

The biggest hurdle you will face with Savage Worlds is how character skill scales against the damage/toughness output and damage/toughness resistance of your NPCs/enemies. This will largely depend on how intricately your players delve into the rules and are focused on optimization. If your players lean towards strong optimization, the problem will come to the forefront quicker.

What ends up happening is within 4-5 "advances" (an advance in Savage Worlds is roughly equivalent to a 1/3 - 1/2 level gain in D&D), if your players are solely optimizing for combat effectiveness, is you will quickly discover that a typical "mook" enemy no longer poses a threat to the players barring some exceptional lucky/unlucky dice rolling. By the time a player has a D12 in fighting, high armor reduction, plus Edges (read: Feats), it's not unusual for their baseline toughness to be 11 or 12 total (physical toughness + armor + Edges), with a parry of 9 or 10 as well.

Out of curiosity, did you primarily run fantasy or other settings that were low damage and/or melee? Because I can't say I ever saw characters in games where longarms were present get blase about mooks. There's just not that many ways to push your defense up (a couple of edges add +1 each, but that's not a massive difference from what you start with), and unless you've got very high quality armor available, you're just not going to be able to reliably be able to ignore 2D8 or 3D6 attacks.

(Now, you may get to the point the mooks aren't around for huge lengths of time, but if you've got, say, six PCs against a dozen mooks and a Wild Card, unless they have area weapons and mooks clump up, they still are a little too likely for someone on the mook side to get lucky before they can put them down._
 

Anything stable is inherently faster than almost anything done every round.

That's entirely a fair cop. The question is whether one considers stability from round to round a virtue (and if one does, one still considers randomness in it at all a virtue; as you note in passing there are games that have, effectively, "fixed" initiative where dice are only rolled for ties (Hero and Fragged Empire come to mind).
 

The magic system always felt like a weak point. It's stuck in a weird point where it's too vague for a crunchy system and too detailed for a freeform system.

Its got other issues too; its really set up for tactical magic and not anything else (because the duration is so slow) and the designers have been very, very resistant to anything that might be a plot breaker (so there's very limited options in terms of information and transport).

Perhaps I'm spoiled, but its an area where I'm used to either having multiple power system options (GURPS) or systems where you can custom build your powers to suit the setting/character (Hero or EABA). Even what customization is present in SWAE is more on-the-fly rather than as a permanent trait, so...
 

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