Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gaming with Kids: Savage Worlds System Changes

If you lack a baseline understanding of the Savage World system let me direct you to the free downloadable Test Drive Rules.

Character creation rules remain the same, although that's a bit of a moot point 'cos I made pre-generated characters. The players never had to concern themselves with character generation rules.

Character Advancement is changed in some small but significant ways. Raising an Attribute is no longer a choice limited to once per Rank. It now happens automatically upon gaining a Rank, in addition to the normal advancement.

Bonus damage uses an extra d6 per Raise — because rolling fists fulls of dice is fun. This makes things potentially more deadly in a system that already allows for a lucky roll from the lowliest of characters to take down a legend. But it's slanted in favor of Wild Cards so I knowingly throw a lot of mooks at my players to give them lots of opportunities to land some cinematically extreme damage rolls.

I'll do a full entry on the Races I created for the campaign later. For now all you need to know is there are basic Humans and 3 types each of Elves and Dwarves. I used the Race creation rules from the Fantasy Companion and everything balances out at +2.

Attributes & Skills

Attributes remain unchanged. But I pared down the Skills to just 10.

  • Agility
    • Fighting
    • Lockpicking
    • Shooting
    • Stealth
  • Smarts
    • Healing
    • Magic (potentially)
    • Notice
    • Taunt
  • Spirit
    • Intimidation
    • Magic (potentially)
    • Persuasion
  • Strength
  • Vigor

The Magic Skill can potentially fall under either the Smarts or Spirit Attributes. In essence it replaces both Spellcasting and Faith from the core rules. I designed this game for an audience of largely unknown (to me) home schooled children so I wanted to avoid potentially loaded or off-putting words. I assume "using magic" sounds less offensive than "casting spells" or expressing "faith" in some sort of pagan deity. :)

Excluded Skills

The following Skills are simply not used at all:

  • Boating
  • Driving
  • Piloting
  • Riding
  • Gambling

Skill Substitutions

The following Skills use some basic substitutions should an actual in-story need arise for them:

  • Swimming — Use Strength
  • Throwing — Use Shooting
  • Repair — Use Smarts or Lockpicking
  • Streetwise — Use Notice or Persuasion
  • Tracking — Use Notice
  • Survival — Use Smarts
  • Climbing — Use Strength


Savage Worlds provides a fairly basic array of gear, particularly weapons. Swords are essentially limited to short, long, katana, and 2-handed varieties. A scimitar is just another word for long sword as far as this system is concerned. But my players wanted more variety, and a special name for every possible way to curve a blade. So I dug up this wiki of Pathfinder weapons and essentially mapped 40 of the names there to existing weapon stats. If nothing else it provided an effective way to separate fools I mean my players from their money. I'll eventually make item cards for each of the weapons. If anyone is interested I'll throw them up on my Google Drive and share them here.

Everything is Physical

The lack of item cards for everything alluded to above shows that I haven't quite ironed out all the details on this one yet. But my goal is to minimize book keeping as much as possible by representing everything I can with physical objects. Item cards for gear. Coin shaped beads of various colors and sizes for in-game money. Gem shaped beads to represent experience points (the in-game explanation for this is 5 gems can be traded in for training at guild houses just like 5 experience points buys you an Advance in the normal rules). Bennies are represented by various beads that represent ancient artifacts. These can be "donated" to groups who are working to rediscover the lost technologies of magical equipment for something akin to "good karma" and we retcon stuff story-wise to say a character made any needed donations on his or her last visit to town.

One interesting ramification of this is that Bennies and experience points can effectively be sold, and — in rare cases — bought. This is potentially game-unbalancing but I don't expect my group of pre-teens to figure out the min-maxing stuff well enough to take advantage. I was expecting it to present some interesting opportunities for group dynamics and strategy. For example, character advancement is potentially more powerful for a magic user where as expensive gear is potentially better in the hands of a melee based character. So far the group hasn't run into anything like that. Although they do make a strong effort to keep treasure split fairly. I'll do a full post on how I'm using beads and physical stuff in-game at a later date.

Next Time…

I think that fairly well covers my changes to the core rules. Next time, whenever that happens to be, I'll go into details on the Races, pre-generated characters, and custom character sheets I made for the game.

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