Savage Pathfinder Post-Mortem (Spoilers)

Retreater

Legend
As is my tradition, each time a game ends, I try to learn from it. This will be about my first foray into Pathfinder for Savage Worlds through a lengthy two-part session across a snowed-in Christmas Eve. The module discussed will be the conversion of the PF1 adventure Hollow's Last Hope (which came bundled with the Savage Pathfinder GM screen). Be aware there may be minor spoilers for that adventure.

About the Group and Selection of the Game
The group of players included my wife and my 19-year-old nephew, who has been playing TTRPGs for about 6 months with experience in D&D 5e and Old School Essentials. My wife had a fondness for Pathfinder 2E (her current favorite D&D-like system) as well as Savage Worlds by means of Savage Rifts (for which she enjoys the over-the-top power level). I had backed the huge boxed set and Rise of the Runelords Campaign on Kickstarter, but had barely opened the books in the months since. (Local in-person meta is "D&D 5e or nothing" and most of my online VTT groups have been down on Savage Worlds overall. So there's been little reason to look through it - that is until the weather got bad and I was on vacation.)
I wanted to try the pack-in adventure, because I didn't think it would be a good idea to cram a 6-part Adventure Path into a single Christmas break.

Preparation
Having the big boxed set meant that prep was going to be easy. I had the bennies, action card deck, power cards (though two sets would've been handy because the pre-gens had duplicated spells), pre-gens, and ammo trackers (used for power points). All we had to do was find miniatures, roll out the Chessex, select some dice, and we were on our way. My wife took the rogue and paladin, my nephew took the druid and animal companion, and I took the NPC cleric "healbot." We were on our way.

"Wait - Was That a Fight?" Speed Bump Battles
Once the action got started - and to be fair I glossed over most of the role-playing and exploration to get to the fighting because I know this crowd - the battles tended to go quickly. Most mooks were dispatched in a single turn. So most combats were over in a round or two. The players got the hang of the system quickly. (Afterwards, my nephew ranked the complexity as a step between OSE and 5e.)
In many cases combats would end before all 4 characters got a chance to act. Oh well, it's better than...

"OMG - This Battle Is Actually Impossible"
Tracking down the final McGuffin into the crypt of a challenging final boss, the party was completely overwhelmed. Sure, there were too many mooks (even considering I scaled back the number of opponents detailed in the adventure), but the main boss - I don't think he's able to be beaten. The Toughness was too high for anyone to wound him reliably, I had a stack of Bennies ready to Soak any wounds, and his attacks caused a bleeding effect death spiral that couldn't be stopped. In the end, I had to hand-wave the fight and had the boss parley with the group- because it was Christmas AND I was exhausted from running for close to 8 hours.

It's Like Comparing Oranges and Grapefruit

So would I run Savage Pathfinder again? Well, yeah - if my choices were Pathfinder 1e or Savage Pathfinder. Also if I were going to run a version of Savage, I'd probably choose this over Rifts - which confuses me with all the inflated numbers. Would I run an AP in Savage Pathfinder? Well, no.
Here's the problem with campaign play in a Savage game. It's too swingy. A combat can be a "speed bump" (which honestly, most of them are) OR a TPK. There is little room in between. Especially in a system like Pathfinder 1e where the real point is resource management. This type of play doesn't exist in Savage, where all power points are restored in an hour. That means you have all spells back, all Wounds (provided you can get to them soon enough). So if attrition is not the challenge, the only combat challenge you can find is something that kills characters.
And that's not good for a long-term campaign.

So, Did You Like It?
Savage Pathfinder might be my favorite way to play Savage. I like it as its own fantasy TTRPG, but I don't think it captures the feel of Pathfinder or D&D for me.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

kronovan

Adventurer
I should mention from the start, that the type of heroic fantasy that Savage Pathfinder represents, isn't a genre I care to run with Savage Worlds. I own the adventure you used and the Pathfinder for Savage Worlds PDFs, but they were purchased more out of curiosity to see how Pinnacle would adapt such a genre. I don't own the pregen Archetype cards, so of the 4 PCs you mentioned, I've only seen the front attribute and skills stats for the Druid, Rogue and Paladin by way of the preview at drivethrurpg. In terms of attributes and skills, I have a few issues with how all are stat'd (Paladin seems the better), but they're by no means as problematic as pregens I've seen for other SW settings. And without knowing edges, powers and gear, I can't make a reliable comment about how well they're suited for Hollow's Last Hope.

Once the action got started - and to be fair I glossed over most of the role-playing and exploration to get to the fighting because I know this crowd - the battles tended to go quickly. Most mooks were dispatched in a single turn. So most combats were over in a round or two. The players got the hang of the system quickly.
Your experience is pretty much what you can expect with battles with Extras. They can become challenging if placed into advantageous positions such as getting a gang up bonus, or stat'd with good Fighting, shooting or Power casting skill dice. Otherwise, with 1-hit-they're-down, they don't last long. Note though, that some 3rd party SW settings have special types of Extras called Henchman and Sidekicks. One of those is capable of taking 3 wounds and the other rolls a Wild Dice, but is still goes on 1 wound. Those for obvious reasons tend to perform better in combat encounters.

Bottom line; If I use a SW pre-written adventure (rare as I almost always homebrew), I often scan the Extras and make adjustments. Fighting dice, Shooting dice, Toughness, Spirit dice, Smarts dice and Parry if the party of PC is strong in melee all factor in. There's been a number of times when I've scanned pre-writtens and seen something with an Extra build that stood out as a notable weakness. The good thing is, Extra builds are quite simple and quick to read with SW, so I find I can often make adjustments on the fly. You need to have a good knowledge of the PCs capabilities to make such adjustments though. The SWD edition of the rules had a combat rating formula that with some adjustments I found to be reasonably reliable. That was ditched for SWADE though.

Tracking down the final McGuffin into the crypt of a challenging final boss, the party was completely overwhelmed...
I'm a bit confused by that, because I don't recall any crypt in this adventure?

Sure, there were too many mooks (even considering I scaled back the number of opponents detailed in the adventure), but the main boss - I don't think he's able to be beaten. The Toughness was too high for anyone to wound him reliably, I had a stack of Bennies ready to Soak any wounds, and his attacks caused a bleeding effect death spiral that couldn't be stopped. In the end,...
If you're referring to the encounter in the Final bosses' chamber, that IMO should be achievable by the party you used. If IIRC, his Toughness is less than 10, so definitely something the PCs could damage. That bosses Frenzy and Nerves of Steel edges are the bigger issue, as it's a WC with a good Fighting skill and good damage. His Formation Fighting edge can be a big factor too, but that depends upon the number of Extras fighting with him and whether you position them adjacent to the same targeted PC. His Strong Willed edge can make him challenging for any casters and I noticed half your part were casters.

IIRC the adventure leaves it up to the GM's discretion as to how many Extras will join him for that encounter. So were I to run that encounter, I'd do a thorough read of the party's condition and let that influence the number. Otherwise the earlier boss in the hollow would be a tougher challenge for a lot of parties.

..Especially in a system like Pathfinder 1e where the real point is resource management. This type of play doesn't exist in Savage, where all power points are restored in an hour...
Note, that for a Novice caster, that's only possible if they also burn a benny to recharge Power Points. PPs recharge at a rate of 5 per hour and even Novice rank casters begin with 10. So for a caster that's expended all PP, only half can be recharged in 1 hour and it takes 2 hours for a full recharge. As to burning bennys for recharge, I generally discourage players doing that unless they're PPs are so low that they can't even cast a single power - too many other important things to spend them on. If your players were doing that, that might account for some of finding the final combat encounter non-winnable. IMO, as GM if you find casting PCs low on PPs, it's better to find a way in narrative that they can get an hour or 2 rest. I realize that with a time constrain written in, that could be trickier with this adventure.

...that means you have all spells back, all Wounds (provided you can get to them soon enough). So if attrition is not the challenge, the only combat challenge you can find is something that kills characters.
And that's not good for a long-term campaign.
I'd say this is a YMMV sort of thing. There's other ways to challenge players outside of combat; such as environmental obstacles, hazards and traps. This adventure didn't use much of them, but others easily can. I do agree though, that pulling off long-term campaign is more of a challenge with the newer SWADE edition. The default Advancement rate of once after every session is too frequent, as at that rate a PC reaches Legendary rank after only 16 weekly sessions. If you're looking to run lengthy campaigns, my recommendation is to use the XP system from SWD, where PCs advance every 5 XP. With that system you award 1 -to- 3 XP per encounter depending upon the challenge of it. Bottom line, using that approach PCs on average advance every 3rd session, so a campaign of weekly sessions will last close to a year. PC's do continue to advance at Legendary rank, but it's handled differently and I've seen my share of GMs struggle to challenge a party after that rank - doable, but you'll need to adjust Extras, WCs and traps..

IMO it's important to keep in mind that SWADE is a toolkit/universal ruleset. So a GM tweaking sliders and knobs (called Setting Rules in SWADE) isn't uncommon. They left that section out in the Pathfinder for Savage Worlds rules ( a choice I don't agree with), so you might want to buy a SWADE PDF for those. The 1st homebrew I ran with SWADE was a Historical Fantasy-Steampunk hybrid, which I originally started brewing for SWD. For it I wanted powers to be more challenging, so PPs only recharged at a rate of 2 per hour, which played out perfectly. It's worth noting, that PPs only recharged at a rate of 1/hour in SWD (edges could improve) and many a GM and player happily ran and played in campaigns with recharge working that way. That said, some of my SWD homebrews had a recharge rate of 2 or even 3 PP, as magic was more pervasive in them. I'm still not 100% sold on 5 PP/hour, but I went with that for Psions in my recent Cyberpunk campaign and for the most part it's worked.
 
Last edited:

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top