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Savage Worlds Deluxe $29.99 $9.99
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/29/2013 23:20:14

Savage Worlds is a generic cinematic simulationist RPG, with miniature skirmish rules. Savage Worlds Deluxe: Explorer’s is the newest edition, providing an update to the third printing of Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition. Savage Worlds is published by Pinnacle Entertainment, with settings Evernight, 50 Fathoms, Necessary Evil, Rippers, Low Life, Deadlands: Reloaded, Tour of Darkness, Necropolis, and Weird War II. Just under fifty companies have been licensed to create product for the Savage World game system.

The Rules

Each character has attributes and skills, collectively called traits. Traits are represented by a type of die, such as d8. Whenever a character performs a Trait Test, they roll the appropriate Trait die, add modifiers, and try to reach a Target Number, typically a 4. If two characters are in a conflict, they each make an opposed Trait Test, with whoever rolled the higher number winning out. A character also has a Race, Derived Statistics, Edges and Hinderances (advantages and disadvantages), and Gear. Additional rules allow cooperative rolls for characters, and group rolls, for Extras.

Sounds typical, right? Well, Savage Worlds adds a number of cinematic rules to the standard "skill roll vs. target number" mechanic. Aces allow "exploding dice", where an additional die roll is added if a die's highest number has been rolled. For every 4 points above the Target Number the hero achieves a Raise for the roll, for additional effects, such as additional damage. Every hero roll includes a d6 Wild Die, whose results can be used in lieu of their regular die roll. Bennies are "plot points", allowing a Trait reroll, and taking the better of the two. And so on.

Initiative is a slightly gimmicky deck of playing cards, with each hero and his allies, or GM group of whatever being dealt a card. Highest rank goes first. Jokers, however provide a temporary bonus and allow the hero to go at any time during the round. A Hold allows a hero to wait on another character's action, and interrupt with a successful Agility contested roll. Player Characters can either Move their Pace of 6 inches, or Run an additional 1d6 inches, with a -2 Trait test penalty.

A Melee Attack is simply an opposed roll of Fighting Skill vs. Parry. Ranged Attacks are a Shooting Trait Test, with Target Numbers of 4 for short range, -2 modifier for Medium Range, and -4 modifier for Long Range. Additional rules allow multiple targets. Melee Damage is the character's Strength die and weapon's damage die. Ranged Damage is the weapon's damage die. Damage dice can also Ace (explode). Total damage is compared to the defender's Toughness, and can have raises.

You've probably seen that crunch before, but the next cinematic mechanic is damage. No abstract hit points here! Characters are either Shaken, Wounded, Incapaciated, or Dead. If the damage roll was successful, the target is Shaken, but each raise causes a Wound. If the character was just an Extra (such as a minion), he's out of the combat. Each wound means a -1 on Trait Tests, and three wounds means Incapacitated. Keep a benny around to soak damage: make a successful Vigor roll to shake off those wounds! Or spend a benny to automatically stop being Shaken. Additional rules cover situations such as Aiming, Area Affect Attacks, Breaking Things, Called Shots, Hazards, etc. Tests of Will is a great cinematic mechanic, in which heroes can Intimidate the bad guys, or Taunt the behemoth.

Dramatic Tasks have their own mechanic. A standard Dramatic Task requires five actions (rounds) and five successes. Dramatic Tasks are typically difficult (-2 Trait modifier), but other characters can cooperate. Just don't draw a Club for your action, or the GM will inflict a -2 Complication, with disasterous results!

Horror and mythos game masters will like the Fright Table. The Fear mechanic is a Spirit attribute trait check. A horrific scene can cause a character to be Shaken. Something from the mythos will have worse effects! Both can result on a roll on the Fright Table, ranging from a useful Adrenaline Surge, to a Charisma-penalizing streak of white hair, to a heart attack!

Additional rules include Interludes (breaks between adventures), Mass Battles (eg. Mars invades Earth), Social Conflict, and Vehicles.

An entire chapter is dedicated towards Powers (magic, psionics, super powers, weird science) using a power point system, and detailing specific powers. Another chapter is Game Mastering advice. The Bestiary chapter has both Abilities (similar to Edges and Hinderances) for creatures, and sample beasts. The book ends with several unconnected "One Page Adventures" designed for a single session of climactic play, plus some templates for area effects.

Buyer's Guide

I do recommend first downloading from DriveThruRPG the free Free RPG Day Test Drive rules, which come with a modern day horror adventure. The additional mechanics in the Deluxe book can be intimidating, and the Test Drive rules provide an excellent framework for new players and game masters. The pdf download of the Deluxe book does not come with a printer-friendly version, so if you don't plan to bring your iPad or laptop to the game table, also check your OLGS for the hardcopy Deluxe Explorer's Edition, for about $10. The Deluxe Edition has some updates, but the two editions are still compatible, and rules changes are on the Pinnacle website. Pinnacles Entertainment has the Test Drive, additional adventures, and other support for Savage Worlds.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds Deluxe
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