Friday, July 26, 2013

Necessary Evil's power system as an adaptive framework for super heroic gaming in Savage Worlds

One of my favorite aspects of the core Savage Worlds rules is the adaptability. There's no "exotic weapon" training, just pick your weapon (including bare hands) and make a Fighting roll. If you wanna model being particularly good with a certain weapon or fighting style there are Edges to do that.

This carries over to the magic / power system. There's no Magic Missile or Acid Arrow. You get Bolt. That can model any magical power that deals damage to a single target at range. The rest is just window dressing. And that's handled through Trappings. One character can use a fire trapping while another uses an acid trapping. The end result is still some mofo is takin' 2D6 damage from across the room. Accept no substitutes.

If you want your Trappings to have an actual mechanical effect there are ways to add that to your games. That sort of thing is usually left up to the specific setting.

Necessary Evil introduces a whole new power system to handle the sort of street level comic book action not really possible under the core rules alone. Thankfully they carry over the adaptive powers + player chosen trappings. Not only does this allow players to model a wide variety of super power concepts from a fairly concise set of rules, it often also supplies multiple possible ways of getting your intended power, depending on how picky you are about how the specific game mechanics play out.

For example, Gru's freeze ray from Despicable Me. That is most certainly a Device, which qualifies it for a 1 Power Point discount for ever 5 Power Points invested into it. (This is a fairly universal Modifier in the Necessary Evil powers system.) But how exactly should we invest those Power Points?

We could just call it Stun with a cold trapping. As a Device that costs us a single Power Point! The Shaken status isn't a perfect fit for what we see in the movies but you get what you pay for.

Another option is a level of Attack: Ranged + Elemental Trick: Cold for a final cost of 4 Power Points after the discount for Device. This version does damage and "slows" the target by lowering their initiative order, still not exactly what we see in the movie. But it fits the general idea of a "freeze ray" very well.

Or we could go with Ensnare + Ranged Attack modifier. This gets us much closer to exactly what Gru's gun does for the same 4 Power Point cost as the previous option.

Finally, we could combine Paralysis and a level of Attack: Ranged via Paralysis's Extra Range modifier for a total cost of 7 Power Points after the discount for Devices. This is the most expensive option, but also gets us closest to what we see in the movies: targets physical covered in ice and completely unable to move for at least a few seconds.

Personally I wouldn't sweat the exact mechanics of it all and just go with the 1 point Stun with cold trapping option. I mean, Gru's gonna need every extra Power Point he can muster to pay for all those Minions. ;)

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