A Deluxe treatment of the Savage Worlds Core rules brings a few new elements without alienating the throngs of Savages that hold their SW Explorer's Editions as the best RPG they've ever bought. Or, at least the best value and definitively lives up to it's Fast, Furious, and Fun pulpy play goodness.
Those that have the original Savage Worlds Hardbound will notice that we're seeing the evolution of a game system that has gone from the 146 page hardbound that was a fun alternative to d20 (d20 conversion guide included), to the 160 page (and famously $10) Explorers Edition and now back to a hardbound Deluxe Edition. I believe everyone can admit that the SW:EX form factor took SW from established indie/fringe to something every gamer and podcast has talked about for the past few years. I grinned and chuckled to myself as I made my weekly game store visit many months ago and saw the DnD 4e "Essentials" format books. I thought "Oh, how the mighty have fallen!" In a way, it's one of the nicest compliments Pinnacle could have received. WOTC's 4e Gamma World rules were also in SWEX sized format but proved that the right size with crap rules is still a poor combination. That's another rant for another time. Recently, I've seen Troll Lord's 3 book, smaller than SWEX, Castles and Crusades "Digest" set that has gone a bit too far. But, you get the point, the market has changed and Pinnacle was a driver to a new and better way.
The covers of the 3 SW editions tell an evolving story. We see it visually. Originally SW is carved in stone and with the Deluxe Edition's SW logo - it's embossed gold. But for those of us who loved DnD in it's primitive days have learned, really great art doesn't a great system make, but it helps.
Great Art. Cover: newish logo with multiple genres telling the story. Full page ads for Pinnacle settings between the Intro and Chapter 1: Character Creation that capture the different genres nicely. The Ripper's ad with it's hunter sporting wolverine-like claws confronting a Promethean monstrosity rocks! Lots of full page great looking art sprinkled throughout.
Design Notes - as you could guess, it's a paragraph that focuses on an aspect of the game that the designers want to emphasize. Good insight from the creators!
GUTS are gone! - out of the core rules and into setting rules that need it. Makes sense.
Dramatic Tasks - adds a mechanic for when a hero is in a dramatic situation and needs to perform a task to save the day under a tight time restriction. This mechanic or element adds to the feel of the pressure.
New Setting Rules - ie "Blood & Guts: Characters can spend Bennies on damage rolls! Use this rule when you really want to up the carnage." Also, Born A Hero, Critical Failures, Fanatics, and Gritty Damage.... are some other examples. Gritty Damage sounds ALOT like the styles found in Reality Blurs: Realms of Cthulhu. Interesting! There are quite a few new ideas here that can really add a new feel to the very same adventures you've played.
Interludes - essentially using character down-time to add to character development. A simple mechanic that involves the GM picking a character and that player picks a card (Clubs-tragedy, Spades-Victory, Hearts-Love, and Diamonds-Desire). The player then tells the tale of the type chosen (tragedy, love, etc..). Assuming a moving or entertaining tale is told, a reward is given of a Benny or Adventure Card chosen by the player.
GM section - The Countdown - (a Design Note) put a limit or sense of urgency to limit those that are taking too long to make decision of what to do next. Not to be overused.
Fun new One-Sheet adventures
While not exhaustive, I think you'll agree there's quite a bit of good new stuff to add to our Savage Worlds adventures. I didn't get the feeling that the system suddenly changed but just had some additional mechanics that can add to the fun...and some stress! I think I'll go start prepping some stories for an interlude.
Here's a much longer list of features by a current GM for our 1930's Pulp Campaign, John Riggs who dug through the Pinnacle forums for this compilation:
Guts skill removed from core rules (but mentioned as a possible setting rule)
Driving is now a free action unless the character is performing a maneuver
Leadership Edges can be used on Wild Cards
Background Edges can be taken after character creation
Double Barrel Shotgun slightly tweaked in how it works
A Shaken while on Hold loses Hold Status
Shaken results now merely limit the character to free actions (instead of no actions) and do not halve the character's Pace
new Incapacitation table (including some "Bleeding Out" rules)
Healing can now only be attempted on each individual's fresh wounds once in the "Golden Hour." (Plus an attempt to revive if the target is Incapacitated.) They can't cause an additional wound through rolling a 1 or less however.
area effect attacks now get an extra 1d6 damage for a raise (like most attacks)
prone defenders may no longer rise to defend themselves automatically (it requires an action and takes 2" of movement)
new Chase rules (also, the Climb stat for aircraft works differently in this context)
- tweaks to some powers (e.g., the Bolt power can be used for multiple bolts, or one increased damage bolt, but not both at once)
designer notes (explanations and reflections on the rules by the PEG folks)
archetypes (character templates that let you create NPCs easily on the fly, or allow new players to jump right in)
example Races (e.g., elf, dwarf, android, etc.)
race creation rules (similar to those found in the Fantasy Companion or Slipstream)
clarified rules on common knowledge v. specific knowledge
Knowledge: Language rules
about 20 new Edges (including some new combat and leadership edges)
many more vehicles included in the gear section (more similar to the old hardback SW rules than SW:EX)
some notes for playing without miniatures, including how to approximate area templates without a battle map
rules for Improvised Weapons
rules for Push (which can be used to push, shield bash, or knock someone prone)
rules for Rapid Attack (basically three attacks in one round, all at a penalty)
rules for Firing Blind
rules for Social Conflicts
rules for Dramatic Tasks (basically performing tasks with a time limit - e.g., diffusing a bomb)
rules for Interludes (sort of like little "flashback" scenarios for in between major parts of the plot)
a section on common Setting Rules (e.g., the Guts skill, gritty damage, etc.)
inclusion of a bunch of new powers (including many from from the Fantasy Companion)
inclusion of power trapping rules
Combat Ratings (notes on balancing and scaling combat encounters)
several one-sheet adventures
a character sheet
This is truly one of the best values in gaming. I played for two years in the core rule book before every buying a supplement. If you like rapid-fire combat and intuitive rules, Savage Worlds is the system for you.
[5 of 5 Stars!]