Savage Worlds Rules Summary

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I put this together for my players in the Scion game. It’s a summary of the rules for the 2019 Explorer’s Edition update of the Savage Worlds rules.

Basics

Skill checks:

  • To make a check, roll the skill die plus a wild die (usually d6) and keep the highest result. Both dice explode (“Ace”).
  • If you do not have a skill, you roll a d4 plus the wild die and subtract 2 from the highest result.
  • The difficulty is 4 unless noted otherwise.
  • Every +4 on the margin of success is a Raise and has a special effect (e.g., rolling an 8 against the standard difficulty is one Raise and rolling a 12 is two).

The basic attributes define soft caps for skills but are not added to skill rolls. Instead, attributes are used for:

  • Agility is used to resist physical Tests.
  • Smarts is used to resist Taunt and generate Power ranges.
  • Spirit is used to resist Intimidate and remove Shaken.
  • Strength defines encumbrance and adds to melee damage rolls.
  • Vigor controls Toughness and is used to recover from Incapacitation (and Wounds with a Benny).
  • Pace determines movement speed.
  • Parry is the target number of melee attacks against you when you are armed.
  • Toughness is the difficulty of a damage roll against you (it usually includes armor as well).

Bennies:

  • A Benny is the game’s equivalent of a drama/hero/fate point.
  • Most players start each session with three and can be awarded more for story goals and whenever any PC draws a Joker in combat.
  • You can spend a Benny to:
    • Reroll of any trait test (reroll all dice) that isn’t a critical failure. You can spend multiple and keep the best result. You can also spend Bennies to reroll damage rolls.
    • Recover more quickly from Shaken or to try to soak Wounds.
    • Draw a new action card after everyone has drawn (i.e., after you’ve seen when you’ll go).
    • Immediately regain 5 Power Points.
    • Narratively edit the story.

Combat

  • Rounds are six seconds.
  • Initiative is “rolled” every round by drawing from a deck of cards and acting in order Ace to Deuce. If you draw a Joker you can go at any time, and also gain +2 to all trait and damage rolls for your action.
  • You can perform multiple actions in a round (you get a free move on top of your action). These actions must be different things or at least involve different wielded weapons (e.g., you can’t attack twice with the same weapon). You take a -2 to all actions for each extra action you perform.
  • Attacks:
    • Melee: Roll Fighting vs. a difficulty of the target’s Parry.
    • Ranged: Roll Shooting or Throwing (at a -2 penalty for each extra range increment beyond short) against difficulty 4 (may be further modified by cover, concealment, or attacking armed targets point blank).
  • Damage:
    • Every Raise on the attack roll adds +1d6 damage.
    • You don’t roll a wild die for damage, but the dice do Ace.
    • All damage dice are added together.
    • The damage total is compared to the target’s Toughness/Armor total.
    • If the roll is a success, the target is Shaken. If the target was already Shaken, he takes a Wound. Each Raise also deals a Wound.
  • Shaken and Wounds:
    • Shaken characters can only take free actions (such as moving) and attempt to remove Shaken.
    • On your turn, you must make a Spirit roll to remove Shaken. You may spend a Benny at any time to remove Shaken.
    • When you are about to receive one or more Wounds, you can spend a Benny to attempt to Soak the damage. Roll Vigor: each success and Raise reduces the Wounds taken by 1.
    • Wounds apply penalties to Pace and all trait tests (-1 for each Wound).
    • A character with four Wounds is Incapacitated and must roll Vigor to avoid dying.

Situational Rules

  • Aim: Take a round aiming (no movement either) to get +2 to next round’s ranged attack (or ignore up to 4 points of penalties from range, cover, called shot, scale, or speed).
  • AoE: Any AoE attack rolls one attack roll but separate damage against all affected.
  • Bound and Entangled: Entangled characters are unable to move and Distracted. Bound characters are also Vulnerable. See page 98 for rules on breaking free.
  • Breaking Things: Items have a Hardness rating. Damage must equal or exceed the Hardness to break that item with an attack. You can use these rules to break shields and cover.
  • Called Shot: Get around Armor by taking a penalty to hit unarmored locations (Limb -2, Hands/Head -4, Armor joint -6) or similarly hit a small target. Head shots deal +4 damage. Hand shots count as a Disarm.
  • Cover and Obstacles: If target is covered, attack rolls suffer -2 (light), -4 (medium), -6 (heavy), or -8 (near total). Your attacks might punch through certain types of Cover as if they were armor.
  • Defend: A defense as your action (no multi-actions) increases Parry by +4. You can move but not run.
  • Disarm: Make a called shot at -2 or -4. The defender must beat the damage with a Strength test if it hits the item. If the defender is hit instead, he must roll Strength at -2 or -4 plus Wound penalties if the attack shakes or wounds him.
  • Distracted and Vulnerable: Both states last until the end of your next turn. Distracted makes you take a -2 penalty to all trait rolls. Vulnerable grants opponents +2 to attack you.
  • Drop, The: If you are unaware of an opponent, she gets +4 to attack and damage against you for one action (this does not stack with Vulnerable). If you are Shaken or worse, make a Vigor roll (-2 if hit in the head) or drop unconscious.
  • Evasion: Some slow attacks may be evaded if you succeed at an Agility roll (with a -2 penalty).
  • Fatigue: Certain effects apply Fatigue rather than damage. You become Fatigued, then Exhausted, then Incapacitated. Each level of Fatigue applies -1 to all trait rolls.
  • Finishing Move: You can automatically kill a helpless target with a lethal weapon as an action.
  • Firing Into Melee: Use the innocent bystander rules.
  • Ganging Up: Each ally adjacent to and attacking a target past the first gives +1 to all allies for the attack. Each adjacent ally of the target cancels a point of this bonus.
  • Grappling: Make an Athletics roll against the target’s Athletics to Entangle the target (Bound on a Raise). See page 101 for additional rules.
  • Illumination: Attack rolls suffer -2 in dim light, -4 in darkness (and targets can’t be attacked more than 10” away), and -6 in pitch darkness/target is invisible.
  • Improvised Weapons: Take -2 to attack rolls, and deal Str+d4 for light objects, +d6 for medium, and +d8 for heavy.
  • Innocent Bystanders: If you miss with a ranged attack and roll 1s on both dice, you hit a random victim adjacent to or otherwise in the line of fire of the original target. Shotguns and automatic weapons may have an easier time hitting bystanders (see page 102).
  • Nonlethal Damage: You can do nonlethal damage with fists or blunt melee weapons (-1 to attack for edged melee weapons using the flat). A target Incapacitated by nonlethal damage is knocked out for 1d6 hours instead of being in danger of dying.
  • Prone: Gain medium cover against ranged attacks from 3” or further away, but -2 Parry and Fighting rolls in melee. Standing uses 2” of movement.
  • Push: Make an opposed Strength or Athletics test. On a success, push the target 1”, or 2” on a Raise. Running, Shields, and Size affect this (see page 104).
  • Ranged Weapons in Melee: You cannot use long guns in melee. The TN is the target’s Parry instead of the normal 4. If you try to attack a non-adjacent target while opponents are threatening you in melee, you immediately become Vulnerable.
  • Recoil: Automatic weapons can impose a -2 penalty when taking multiple shots.
  • Reloading: Arrows and sling stones can be reloaded once per turn as a free action. Bolts, clips, magazines, or single bullets require an action to reload. Some specific weapons reload even more slowly. You must roll Agility (at a -2 penalty) to reload successfully when running.
  • Shotguns: Shotguns are weird. See page 105 for shotgun attack rules.
  • Size and Scale: It’s easier to hit proportionately larger targets and harder to hit proportionately smaller ones. Creatures have scale from -6 to +6 (humans are 0). See page 106.
  • Stunned: If you are stunned by a power or stun weapon, you’re Distracted, Prone, can’t move or take actions, don’t count towards Gang Up, and are subject to the Drop. Make a Vigor roll at the start of your turn to remove Stunned (but you become Distracted and Vulnerable without a Raise).
  • Support: Make a relevant skill roll to assist. Add +1 to the target’s roll for a success, or +2 for a Raise. Support bonuses are usually limited to +4.
  • Suppressive Fire: See page 107.
  • Surprise: Ambushers are automatically on Hold (can go whenever they want in the first round), but draw cards to check for Jokers. Roll Notice to be dealt in on the first round. Otherwise, you can’t act the first round of combat.
  • Test: Roll Athletics or Fighting opposed by Agility, Taunt opposed by Smarts, or Intimidate opposed by Spirit. On a success, the target is your choice of Distracted or Vulnerable. On a Raise, the target is also Shaken (or other situational effects, like being tripped prone). Modifiers may apply, and repetitive tests may have less effect over time.
  • Touch Attack: Simply attempting to touch the target (e.g., for a Power) adds +2 to your Fighting.
  • Two Weapons: Without edges, a second melee weapon adds +1 to your Fighting rolls against opponents with one or fewer weapons and no shield (does not help against creatures with natural weapons).
  • Unarmed Defender: If you aren’t armed, melee attackers gain +2 to their Fighting rolls to hit you.
  • Wild Attack: Add +2 to your attack and damage for the action, but you become Vulnerable.
  • Withdraw from Melee: All non-Shaken enemies get a free attack (but you could Defend).

Savage Scion, Part 3

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Purviews

Legendary characters often develop one or more Purviews as their legends grow. Each Purview grants a Boon and permissions for one or more Powers. Additionally, using Legend for narrative effect is more powerful when you have a Purview thematically linked to what you are attempting.

You may have up to your Legend total in Purviews. However, Purviews are unlocked based on your deeds, and it’s possible that your Legend will grow larger than your number of Purviews. If you have more Legend than Purviews, you may spend the excess to purchase generic boons (Birthrights) from your Pantheon (Creatures, Followers, Guides, and Relics).

Universal Purviews

Artistry

  • Boon: You can place a message into your art. Anyone you intend to understand it, upon experiencing the art, gets the message, transcending language barriers.
  • Power Permissions: Illusion, Light/Darkness, Sound/Silence

Beasts

  • Boon: Natural animals will never harm you if you do not attack them, unless compelled by someone with equal or greater Legend than your own. Imbue one Legend into an animal to speak with it.
  • Power Permissions: Beast Friend, Darksight, Shape Change

Beauty

  • Boon: You may imbue a point of Legend to alter a target’s beauty up or down one position in the scale: Impossibly Ugly, Ugly (Major) hindrance, Ugly (Minor) hindrance, Normal beauty, Attractive edge, Very Attractive edge, Impossibly Attractive. You can alter your own appearance in this way. Targets at either end of the scale will inspire violence in almost anyone that sees them undisguised (either from disgust or possessiveness). This change persists until the Legend is no longer imbued. You may spend Legend to make the change permanent.
  • Power Permissions: Blind, Confusion, Disguise

Chaos

  • Boon: You are never harmed by area effects or disasters that don’t target you specifically. You’re ignored by explosions and burst fire, overlooked by reigns of terror, never suffer accidents or acts of nature if there’s any chance you’ll go unscathed, and don’t even get wet in the rain.
  • Power Permissions: Confusion, Deflection, Havoc

Darkness

  • Boon: You can watch the dreams of any target that you can see. Imbue a point of Legend to craft a dream for someone you know well enough to provide a unique description. You can pass a message in this dream, and attempt to use social skills to persuade or terrify the target.
  • Power Permissions: Darksight, Light/Darkness, Slumber

Death

  • Boon: You can see and communicate with the dead and undead (even if normally unintelligent or incomprehensible) and you can perceive entrances to the underworld. Unless you attack them, the dead and undead will never attack you unless specifically compelled by their master.
  • Power Permissions: Banish, Divination, Zombie

Deception

  • Boon: All Notice or other investigation rolls against you (to track you, tell if you’re lying, penetrate your disguises, etc.) must get a Raise to be truly successful. A normal success imparts whatever false information you want your pursuers to know.
  • Power Permissions: Illusion, Invisibility, Mind Wipe

Earth

  • Boon: When you are standing on the ground (including the bottom floor of a building), you gain +2 armor and cannot be forcibly moved from your position by anyone with Legend equal to or lower than yours.
  • Power Permissions: Barrier, Burrow, Elemental Manipulation (Earth only)

Epic Agility

  • Boon: You may run indefinitely outside of combat (as if you had infinite Vigor). You may imbue a point of Legend to add +2 to all your rolls in any kind of Chase.
  • Power Permissions: Bolt (physical thrown object), Sloth/Speed, Wall Walker

Epic Strength

  • Boon: Triple your encumbrance limits and add +4 to all results when Breaking Things, Grappling, and Pushing. Imbue a point of Legend into yourself to ignore limits that would cause you to automatically fail when exerting your strength against larger targets.
  • Power Permissions: Burst (physical smash), Havoc (cone only), Smite

Epic Vigor

  • Boon: You are immune to poison and disease unless inflicted from a source with a higher Legend than your own. You can spend a point of Momentum as a Bennie to recover from Shaken and for Soak Rolls.
  • Power Permissions: Environmental Protection, Protection, Relief

Fertility

  • Boon: Imbue one or more points of Legend into a piece of land or a family (points based on size and whether its is supernatural) to bless or blight its fertility. If blessed, the plants and beasts on the land/members of the family resist disease and poisons (gaining +2 to tests, if required), never have complications with producing offspring, and grow hale and healthy. If blighted, nothing can grow on the land/the family members all become infertile. This lasts while the Legend is imbued, or for a century if the points are spent. A blessing can reverse a blight and vice versa.
  • Power Permissions: Entangle, Healing, Relief

Fire

  • Boon: You (and your worn/held possessions) are immune to fire damage, can breathe through smoke inhalation, and are not inconvenienced by temperature extremes (even in the hottest or coldest parts of the world).
  • Power Permissions: Blast, Damage Field, Elemental Manipulation (Fire only)

Forge

  • Boon: Imbue one or more points of Legend into an item you have crafted to make it a relic (power based on number of points imbued). Spend the points to make the relic permanent. Imbue a point of Legend for a duration of a crafting project to make that item one step better than normal items of its kind (and you may carry this imbued point directly into the item once it is completed to make in a relic, as described above).
  • Power Permissions: Barrier, Protection, Smite

Fortune

  • Boon: You can detect the fate bindings of anyone you interact with (and recognize the other half of connected bindings if you later meet them). Imbue one Legend to pull on one of your fate bindings or a binding of another who stays within close proximity of you. If the binding is another character, that character will be drawn to your proximity as quickly as is possible to have it seem coincidental. If that binding is a situation that the subject is known for, that situation will happen again as soon as it seems like a reasonable coincidence.
  • Power Permissions: Boost/Lower Trait, Deflection, Divination

Frost

  • Boon: You never suffer movement complications from walking over water in any state (you have perfect purchase on ice, and can flash-freeze water and even clouds long enough to support you). Imbue a point of Legend into an encounter to move the Reaction one step toward Neutral (cooling both hatred and love). While this point is imbued, the situation can be further modified toward Neutral, but not toward either extreme end.
  • Power Permissions: Bolt (ice), Environmental Protection, Sloth/Speed

Health

  • Boon: When you successfully heal a subject, gain Momentum. You are immune to poison and disease.
  • Power Permissions: Healing, Relief, Resurrection

Journeys

  • Boon: You always know exact directions, and the direction and distance toward the closest mythic landmark. While at a mythic landmark, you learn the direction and distance to the nearest three other such landmarks, and can mark one as your new heading. You can sense nearby gates and Axis Mundi and where they go. Imbue a point of Legend into a journey and you, your companions, and your vehicle ignore minor terrain difficulties and gain +2 to overcome significant obstacles while you maintain the imbuement (or until you complete the journey).
  • Power Permissions: Banish, Sloth/Speed, Teleport

Moon

  • Boon: You can automatically sense when a subject in your immediate proximity is a shapeshifter, and imbue one Legend and engage in a contested Spirit challenge to force it to change into the form you desire. When you are under the sky, gain a +1 to all rolls if the moon is more full than a crescent and +2 to all rolls if it is within two days of being full.
  • Power Permissions: Disguise, Invisibility, Light/Darkness

Order

  • Boon: You can automatically tell whether an action you consider or witness would be legal or illegal based on the laws of the location where you are. Mortal law enforcement officers are physically incapable of taking action against you if you have broken no laws, even if they are corrupt or misguided (imbue a point of Legend to have this protection extend to an ally you know is in danger from the law). If you imbue one point of Legend into a criminal, conversely, mortal law enforcement gains +2 to all rolls involving bringing that target to justice (from investigation, to pursuit, to the courtroom).
  • Power Permissions: Banish, Boost/Lower Trait, Mind Reading

Passion

  • Boon: Imbue a point of Legend into a subject you can see (or to whom you have a sympathetic connection) to create a strong emotion of your choice in that subject (you can also define the object of the emotion). The target can try to act rationally, but gains a -2 to all rolls that are not in line with fulfilling the emotion. This requires additional imbued Legend equal to the target’s Legend total for legendary targets. Spend a point of Legend to transform a long-lasting emotion (e.g., love or hate), if consummated, into a permanent, natural feeling.
  • Power Permissions: Empathy, Relief, Warrior’s Gift

Prosperity

  • Boon: Anyone you bribe/gift with an appropriate offering automatically starts one step of Reaction better disposed to you. Imbue a point of Legend into an object to make it extremely attractive to all potential owners: it will sell or auction for slightly more than the highest possible amount anyone would expect based on its appraised qualities.
  • Power Permissions: Boost/Lower Trait, Divination, Object Reading

Sky

  • Boon: You have perfect knowledge of the nearby weather for at least a day in advance, and never suffer any kind of complications from weather. Imbue one Legend to make your voice carry like thunder.
  • Power Permissions: Bolt (lightning), Elemental Manipulation (Air only), Fly

Stars

  • Boon: You can see by starlight as if it were bright sunlight. Imbue a point of Legend into a subject of which you are aware (you know them, have a good description, or they are the subject of a prophecy of which you’re aware). Designate that you want them to come to you, or to a location of your choice. Signs and portents will lead them unerringly toward the point you have chosen, and you can always tell whether they’ve begun their journey and how far along the trip they are.
  • Power Permissions: Divination, Farsight, Teleport

Sun

  • Boon: You can choose to glow with the light of the sun, dispelling darkness and damaging those harmed by such energy. Imbue Legend to overcome even mythically-powered darkness. Opponents that need to see have +2 difficulty to all attacks against you while you glow with the sun’s light. Imbue one Legend (whether or not you are glowing) to inspire all that can see you with hope: they automatically ignore mortal negative emotions, and gain +4 to resist supernatural effects that create these emotions (e.g., Fear).
  • Power Permissions: Blind, Mind Reading, Resurrection

War

  • Boon: Roll a second Wild Die for your Battle and Morale rolls when you lead a mass combat. Imbue one or more points of Legend to grant an equivalent number of Force Tokens to a mass combat you can see (must add to your side if you are participating, but you can choose either side if you are only observing). These points remain imbued until the battle is decided.
  • Power Permissions: Mind Link, Summon Ally, Warrior’s Gift

Water

  • Boon: Water acts as you desire within your close proximity: it will miss you if you do not want to be splashed/rained on, stays calm or moves out of the way when you need it to, and can push you at your full movement speed in a boat or when swimming. Imbue one Legend to calm or roil all the water within around a hundred yards of you (and you can selectively help allies and hinder foes you can see).
  • Power Permissions: Elemental Manipulation (Water only), Environmental Protection, Healing

Wild

  • Boon: When in the wilderness, you ignore plant-based travel difficulties, hazards, and obstacles. You gain +2 to Survival and Stealth rolls in the wilderness. Imbue a point of Legend into an area to enhance the wild nature of all mortals within: they take a -2 penalty to rolls involving reason and technology (including using firearms) but gain a +2 to Athletics, Fighting, Intimidation, Survival, and rolls to recover from Shaken.
  • Power Permissions: Beast Friend, Damage Field (thorns or pests), Entangle

Pantheon Purviews

Aesir (Wyrd)

  • Boon: You gain one Momentum whenever you encounter narrative difficulties that mirror your fate, or willingly take an action that advances your doom. Imbue one Legend into a subject for whom you can perform a seidr reading to bring fate to bear as a blessing or a curse. As a blessing, the subject gains +2 to rolls that advance the fate you’ve outlined. As a curse, the subject takes a -2 penalty to rolls that attempt to resist the fate you’ve outlined.
  • Power Permissions: Arcane Protection, Detect/Conceal Arcana, Divination

Netjer (Heku)

  • Boon: If you know a target’s true name, roll an additional Wild Die for all attempts to investigate or otherwise gain information about that target, as well as to Power uses upon the target. For mortals, the true name is usually the full given name, but may be much more obscure and require work to uncover for Legendary beings or mortals who understand the occult.
  • Power Permissions: Drain Power Points, Resurrection, Zombie

Teotl (Nextlahualli)

  • Boon: You gain a point of Momentum whenever you complete a Sacrifice to regain Legend, whenever you take a Wound, and whenever you deal a Wound to a target with a slashing weapon. Any session in which you have made a Sacrifice to regain Legend, you also do not need to eat, drink, or breathe for the remainder of the session.
  • Power Permissions: Drain Power Points, Fear, Zombie

Theoi (Metamorphosis)

  • Boon: Trivial characters automatically fail to see through any of your Power-based or mundane disguises, and all other characters suffer a -2 penalty to penetrate either type of disguise. Your Disguise Power can alter you to a different humanoid (or near-humanoid) species. The Range of Shape Change changes to Smarts for you (instead of Self). You can imbue a point of Legend into a use of the Disguise, Growth/Shrink, or Shape Change to make the Duration last while you keep the point imbued. If the subject is deserving, spend a point of Legend to make the change permanent.
  • Power Permissions: Disguise, Growth/Shrink, Shape Change

Tuatha (Geasa)

  • Boon: You can willingly take on one or more geasa, and gain Momentum every time a geis inconveniences you to follow. If you break a geis, it ends and all your Legend is spent (ending any you have imbued). Mortals that break a geis instead will soon be thrust into a deadly situation by fate. Spend one Legend (plus one for every point of the target’s Legend) to lay a geis upon another character.
  • Power Permissions: Divination, Puppet, Warrior’s Gift

Other Pantheons

Deva (Yoga), Kami (Yaoyorozu-No-Kamigami), Loa and Orisha (Cheval/Gun), Manitou (Dodaem), and Shen (Tianming): TBD

Generic Boons (Birthrights)

Creatures, Followers, and Guides

For one Boon, you may take the Followers or Sidekick Legendary Edge.

As a follower, this will represent mortal heroic companions, likely either drawn from devotees of your pantheon or who you have personally inspired due to your actions or the mythic role you represent.

As a creature, you obtain one or more mythic beasts of similar power level to the appropriate type of follower. These beasts will often have powers that you can’t get from mortal followers, but will be harder to fully deploy in mortal society or even to communicate with the way you could with humans.

As a guide, the creature or individual is typically significantly more powerful than the standard options, but sees its role as giving you guidance rather than direct aid. It is usually available, but will only step in with more than advice when you are in grave danger. It can provide valuable advice and training when you are planning your actions or trying to learn a new trait. Guides are an excellent way to justify developing Purviews not possessed by your divine parent (and, in fact, the Guide boon my be replaced by the Purview once its job is done).

Relics

Relics are typically built as Arcane Devices as per page 153. Unlike normal Arcane Devices, they use the wielder’s Focus skill to activate, and the wielder’s traits for any other derived details (such as Smarts for range). Also unlike normal devices, they have a refreshing pool of Power Points. Relics typically have 10 Power Points per boon invested in them, and recharge to full at sunrise each day (unless some other cycle time is more appropriate to the item). Relics typically will not have more than one power they can manifest per boon invested in them.

Relics, particularly powerful ones, are often tagged with a Purview. Like Guides, if you gain mastery of the Relic you can take its Purview as one of your own (and might even replace the boon spent for the Relic to buy the Purview, discarding the Relic as no longer necessary for you).

Relics may also have fantasy-style enhancements as described here and here. This will typically lower the available Power Points for its powers.

Savage Scion, Part 2

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Legend, Callings, Purviews, and Powers

Scions and other mythic individuals develop a Legend rating as their deeds and renown grow. Legend is unlocked independently from character Advances through story rewards.

All individuals with a Legend rating have up to three Callings, which represent particular aspects of the character’s mythic personality. Each Calling grants a few thematic knacks, as well as permission to buy related Powers.

Legendary individuals of Hero or greater status develop Purviews, which indicate their portfolio of divine associations. Each Purview grants innate boons, as well as permission to buy other related Powers.

All individuals with an Arcane Background, including Scions, can take Powers from the Savage Worlds roleplaying game (starting on page 147). For Scions, the available powers for purchase are based on Callings and Purviews. All characters with Arcane Background (Gifted) start with a single such Power, and may take the New Powers edge to add more from the available options.

Legend

Legend is rated from 0-12. All characters with a Legend rating are also Wild Cards, and roll a wild die for tests.

  • 0: Some characters have no Legend yet, but are Wild Cards with the capacity to grow stronger. They use a d6 wild die.
  • 1-4: At this rating, the character is considered a Hero, and uses a d6 wild die. Heroes may live longer lives, but will die normally to violence and eventually expire to age if they have not become Demigods.
  • 5-8: After gaining this level of Legend, the character is a Demigod, no longer ages, and is extremely difficult to kill for good. Demigods use a d8 wild die.
  • 9-12: Successful Demigods may eventually become full Gods. Gods use a d10 wild die.

Levels of Legend can be imbued into effects, becoming temporarily unavailable. Some Purview boons and most immortal knacks require Legend to be imbued in this way, and any Legendary character may imbue Legend on an ad hoc basis to overwhelm the mortal world with mythic logic (i.e., narrative editing to cause something awesome to happen).

Particularly potent use of Legend may cause the point to be spent, rather than imbued, requiring the character to accept fatebindings or make sacrifices to free up the point of Legend.

For every Legend rating, the character gains a Legendary title based on the keywords within that character’s Callings. A character’s uses of Legend are more potent when drawing upon a title. See Scion: Hero for a list of keywords for each Calling.

Callings

Each Calling grants the listed knacks, as well as grants permission to buy the listed Powers. Each Calling also lists Edges that are recommended for characters with that Calling.

Creator

  • Heroic Knack: You may jury rig items in combat, creating impossible contraptions and repairs that would normally take hours or days and an entire workshop. The created item lasts one round, plus one for each raise.
  • Immortal Knack: Imbue a point of Legend to perceive and communicate via wireless signals for one scene. Imbue one or more Legend points to halve the time a creative project should take (quarter for 2, eighth for 3, and so on).
  • Power Permissions: Arcane Protection, Barrier, Detect/Conceal Arcana, Illusion
  • Suggested Edges: Brawny, Filthy Rich, Trademark Weapon, Artificer, McGyver, Mr. Fix It, Scavenger

Guardian

  • Heroic Knack: When you stand guard over a person, place, or thing, you do not need to eat or sleep while your vigil persists (the target must remain within your sight and/or immediate reach). You cannot be surprised by threats upon the target of your vigil. You may spend Momentum to force attacks against the subject of your vigil to target you instead.
  • Immortal Knack: Imbue a point of Legend into the subject of your vigil. So long as you leave that point imbued, you may spend Momentum to instantly appear at that subject’s side when it is threatened (and this resumes your vigil). If you use a Power to protect yourself, that Power automatically extends to the subject of your imbued subject when you are maintaining a vigil.
  • Power Permissions: Arcane Protection, Deflection, Environmental Protection, Protection
  • Suggested Edges: Arcane Resistance, Brave, Quick, Block, Hard to Kill, Iron Jaw, Nerves of Steel, Hold the Line!, Concentration, Bolster, Common Bond, Danger Sense

Healer

  • Heroic Knack: Your Healing skill rolls take one minute instead of ten, and the Golden Hour is extended to two hours when you’re healing a subject (either with the skill or with the Power). You may make a Healing skill roll to remove the Shaken condition from an ally you can touch.
  • Immortal Knack: Imbue a point of Legend to revive a deceased target that died within the last three minutes (you must then attempt to repair the injuries that killed the target). When you recover from an illness or poison, imbue a point of Legend to generate a cure/antidote from your blood.
  • Power Permissions: Boost/Lower Trait, Empathy, Healing, Relief
  • Suggested Edges: Fast Healer, Extraction, Soul Drain, Bolster, Common Bond, Reliable, Healer

Hunter

  • Heroic Knack: Spend a point of Momentum to designate a target as your quarry. You may only have one quarry at a time. You gain +2 to all rolls to track, chase, and sneak up on your target. If you miss your target with an attack, generate an additional point of Momentum.
  • Immortal Knack: Imbue one or more points of Legend to bind your quarry. While you maintain that target as a quarry (and keep the Legend imbued), the target cannot escape you without imbuing a greater number of points of Legend into the escape. You gain an innate sense of the quarry’s direction from you and fate conspires to provide you with clues to pursue (even across dimensions).
  • Power Permissions: Darksight, Entangle, Farsight, Fear
  • Suggested Edges: Fleet-Footed, Dead Shot, Giant Killer, Killer Instinct, Assassin, Woodsman

Judge

  • Heroic Knack: Spend a point of Momentum to designate an individual or a room (or similar limited area) as your case. You may only have one case at a time. You gain +2 to all Smarts-based skills and tests to gather information about the case or resist being manipulated/tricked by the case.
  • Immortal Knack: Imbue a point of Legend to bind an oath or a sentence. While you maintain that imbued Legend, the subjects gain +1 to all rolls directly related to trying to fulfill the oath/sentence, but suffer a level of Fatigue for deliberately violating it.
  • Power Permissions: Banish, Detect/Conceal Arcana, Dispel, Empathy
  • Suggested Edges: Alertness, Calculating, Command, Investigator

Leader

  • Heroic Knack: Spend a point of Momentum to gain the attention of everyone within line of sight when you enter a room or when a crisis happens. You may immediately make a Battle, Intimidation, or Persuasion roll to get the crowd to do what you want. Treat this as a Persuasion roll against the Reaction table, with the reaction range varying based on the situation (e.g., when a titan beast attacks a room, Hostile is total panic while Helpful is everyone staying calm and organizing to fight it). Unlike a normal reaction roll, you can apply more than two raises to the result.
  • Immortal Knack: Imbue a point of Legend into a named follower or an entire group that you’ve made Helpful with your heroic knack. While that point is imbued, all subjects that can see you automatically succeed at any challenges that you succeed at which affect the entire group (e.g., resisting fear/toxins/environmental effects, sneaking, overcoming an obstacle, etc.). This does not apply to attacks.
  • Power Permissions: Boost/Lower Trait, Fear, Puppet, Speak Language
  • Suggested Edges: Brave, Charismatic, Fame, all Leadership edges, Bolster, Work the Room

Liminal

  • Heroic Knack: Spend a point of Momentum to shroud yourself in privacy for a scene and gain the following benefits: Most people* will assume you’re an unimportant bystander until you take a hostile or dramatic action, and not pay attention to you. Mundane means cannot be used to surveil you (e.g., recordings fail, circumstances interfere with bugs and lip-reading, etc.). Anyone who didn’t interact with you can barely remember or describe you, and those that did have +2 difficulty to investigate or track you from the scene. * Guards may be an exception, as is anyone in a space where only a specific list of known people are supposed to have access.
  • Immortal Knack: Imbue a point of Legend to skip the intervening space for one round’s movement (i.e., teleport up to your speed to a location you can see or could otherwise reach by running with one move). If you recover the imbued Legend before the end of the scene, you cannot use this knack again or spend Momentum until the end of the scene.
  • Power Permissions: Darksight, Disguise, Environmental Protection, Speak Language
  • Suggested Edges: Fleet-Footed, Quick, Dodge, Extraction, Free Runner, Ace, Danger Sense

Lover

  • Heroic Knack: As long as you are not taking hostile actions, enemies must spend Momentum to attack you instead of one of your allies in the scene (but may include you in group attacks). You are not limited to only two shifts on the Reaction chart when making Persuasion rolls. When you touch an individual, spend a point of Momentum to learn which other character in the scene (if any) they love the most and/or are most attracted to.
  • Immortal Knack: Imbue a point of Legend into an individual or a crowd. While that Legend is imbued, you become an object of adoration for the target or group. All of your qualities to which the subjects are attracted are magnified and all of your flaws are ignored. Targets of equal or lower Legend have +4 difficulty to Notice anything about you you don’t want them to, and you gain +2 to Performance, Persuasion, and Taunt rolls against the target. If you imbue a crowd, all rolls must target the entire group to receive the bonus.
  • Power Permissions: Beast Friend, Empathy, Mind Reading, Puppet
  • Suggested Edges: Attractive, Charismatic, Fame, Fervor, Inspire, all Social edges

Sage

  • Heroic Knack: Your Research rolls take 1/10 the time they would take anyone else without this knack. You may spend a point of Momentum to activate an eidetic memory for one round: you burn the scene into your mind (including up to a few seconds on either side of the expenditure, to fully remember a short but complex phrase or pattern), or can perfectly memorize a page or two of information you’ve only glanced at. You will subsequently be able to fully recall any details.
  • Immortal Knack: Imbue one or more points of Legend into a language or code. While the Legend is imbued, you speak the language flawlessly as if you were a native, or may effortlessly break the code (unless it was created by a Sage with more Legend than the number of points you imbued). Conversely, you may imbue one Legend for a week of effort to create a code or language that may only be comprehended by those you teach (or Sages able to imbue as much Legend as your Legend total).
  • Power Permissions: Detect/Conceal Arcana, Divination, Object Reading, Speak Language
  • Suggested Edges: Calculating, Level Headed, Tactician, Concentration, Jack-of-all-Trades, Scholar

Trickster

  • Heroic Knack: Opponents raise all difficulties to trick you, lie to you, or steal from you by +2. When you are caught in a trick, lie, or theft, you may spend a point of Momentum to confuse, distract, or redirect the discovery. Make a Performance roll: success gives you a round to escape, and each raise gives you an additional round of head start. If the situation makes it plausible to pass the blame to someone else, you may get off scott free if your patsy looks guilty enough.
  • Immortal Knack: Imbue a point of Legend into a simulacrum of yourself that can act independently on your agenda while the point of Legend is imbued. Each of you knows what the other knows, and the doppelganger can use all your traits (you are functionally in multiple places at once). All your difficulties for Smarts skills and tests are increased by +2 for each doppelganger you have active (it’s hard to split your attention effectively). Your doppleganger instantly turns to smoke if it is Shaken or takes a Wound. Spend a point of Legend the first time you are Shaken or take a Wound in a scene to retroactively reveal that you were a doppelganger, and you are actually safe somewhere outside of the scene (works best if you seem to die in an explosion).
  • Power Permissions: Blind, Confusion, Detect/Conceal Arcana, Disguise
  • Suggested Edges: Charismatic, Extraction, Hard to Kill, Acrobat, Thief, Humiliate, Retort, Streetwise

Warrior

  • Heroic Knack: You may spend one hour of workout, meditation, or practice to reallocate any or all the Combat edges you’ve chosen and spend them to buy different Combat edges. You must still meet all Requirements for the edges you pick. If desired, you may leave edges unspent after a workout, and then spend a point of Momentum to instantly fill one of those gaps, even if it is not your turn.
  • Immortal Knack: Imbue one or more points of Legend into a battle. Raise your Parry and Toughness by the number of points imbued for the duration of the battle. This also has mythic ramifications: the more points spent, the more epic the fight becomes, and the more attention it may draw from other powers.
  • Power Permissions: Deflection, Sloth/Speed, Smite, Warrior’s Gift
  • Suggested Edges: Ambidextrous, Berserk, Brawny, Brute, all Combat edges, Soldier, Champion

Savage Scion, Part 1

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After nine sessions of running Scion 2e, my group decided that we weren’t happy with the system. In particular, the Storyteller/Storypath d10 dice pool system becomes much more swingy when dice must roll 8-10 to succeed and all 10s explode. While in principle this results in an average of three dice to one success, in practice it’s very common to see players with only a few dice get more successes than players with many dice.

From the GM’s side, this exacerbated an issue with the floatiness of antagonist design: eventually I just got in the habit of grabbing some dice to represent a monster, because in the time they’d be on camera, the differences in size of their dice pools made virtually no perceivable difference. A creature with a 4-5 die attack might wind up being a bigger threat than one with 8-10, just due to dice luck.

So I converted the system to Savage Worlds.

I also used the process to simplify some of the powers systems (both because Savage Worlds would rather your powers weren’t too fiddly, and also because I was having a hard time keeping them all in my head at once). This conversion does assume you have access to the Scion books, since I’m only referencing setting details as they’re necessary to attach to rules; context will likely be missing if you don’t have it from Scion.

I’ve only run a couple of sessions in the system so far, so I can’t really speak to whether it’s significantly better, but I have high hopes.

Setting Rules

As per the rules starting on page 136, Scion uses the following setting rules:

  • Fanatics: Minions may automatically take a hit for a Wild Card, when appropriate.
  • Heroes Never Die: Wild Cards aren’t in danger of dying from critical failures when incapacitated, or from Bleeding Out.
  • More Skill Points: Character gain more skill points to buy more modern skills.
  • Multiple Languages: All PCs have the Linguist edge which grants additional bonus Language skills (starting at d6) equal to half the character’s Smarts die.
  • Unarmored Hero: If a Wild Card is not wearing any armor, that character gains +2 to Soak rolls.

Momentum

Momentum is a shared group resource that represents the tides of fortune for the party. The group starts each session with one point of Momentum per member of the group, and the pool cannot exceed two points per member of the group (e.g., it ranges from 0-10 for a five-member party).

Momentum can be spent in the following ways:

  • Certain Knacks and Boons require Momentum to activate.
  • Spend a point of Momentum to draw an additional Initiative card at the beginning of the round (keep the best card rather than acting twice); unlike Bennies, you must spend Momentum before seeing the card or cards you drew.
  • Spend three points of Momentum to recharge one of your spent Bennies.
  • Spend one or more points of Momentum for minor narrative editing about how the tide of action turns in the party’s favor.

All Momentum expenditures must be with the agreement of the whole party.

You can regain Momentum in the following ways:

  • Whenever the GM spends Momentum for hostile NPCs, the party gains an equivalent amount of Momentum (and the GM cannot spend Momentum when the party’s pool is at maximum).
  • Certain Knacks and Boons specify ways that Momentum can be restored.
  • Whenever a PC fails a roll, the party gains a point of Momentum.
  • The GM may choose to award one or more points of Momentum as consolation for abrupt narrative shifts that are not in the party’s favor.

Character Creation

Before undergoing standard character creation, scion characters pick Origin, Role, and Pantheon to gain additional traits. These bonus traits count as nine Advances for the purpose of determining Rank (i.e., all scion PCs start as Veterans), which can allow additional Edge choices during normal character generation. The attribute increase for Novice and Seasoned ranks are considered spent.

After choosing these traits, undergo normal character creation. Remember that you need to set attributes equal or greater than the linked skills or they cost double.

After finishing normal character creation, pick Callings and powers as described later.

Scion Paths

Origin

Gain the Rich background edge (you may later take the Poverty hindrance if you do not want to be wealthy) and consider where your high standard of living comes from. Additionally, increase the Attribute listed with your origin (in italics) by +1 step, and gain two skill points to spend on the listed skills for your origin.

  • Adventurer: Vigor; Athletics, Piloting, Shooting, Survival
  • Chosen: Spirit; Focus, Occult, Research, Stealth
  • Created: Vigor; Focus, Occult, Performance, Persuasion
  • Life of Privilege: Smarts; Academics, Performance, Persuasion, Taunt
  • Military Brat: Strength; Battle, Common Knowledge, Science, Shooting
  • Potemkin World: Smarts; Boating, Notice, Occult, Survival
  • Street Rat: Agility; Gambling, Stealth, Taunt, Thievery
  • Suburbia: Spirit; Common Knowledge, Driving, Electronics, Performance
  • Survivalist: Vigor; Repair, Riding, Stealth, Survival
  • Terra Incognita: Agility; Athletics, Occult, Riding, Survival
  • War-Torn: Strength; Fighting, Intimidation, Notice, Survival

Role

Gain the Connections social edge and define the connections. Additionally gain four skill points to spend on the listed skills for your role.

  • Charismatic Leader: Academics, Battle, Performance, Persuasion
  • Combat Specialist: Athletics, Fighting, Repair, Shooting
  • Con Artist: Notice, Performance, Persuasion, Thievery
  • Detective: Hacking, Notice, Research, Shooting
  • Medical Practitioner: Common Knowledge, Driving, Healing, Science
  • Pilot: Boating, Driving, Notice, Piloting
  • Sneak: Gambling, Hacking, Stealth, Thievery
  • Technology Expert: Common Knowledge, Electronics, Repair, Science

Pantheon

Gain the Arcane Background (Gifted) edge (this adds the Focus (Spirit) skill to your available skills, grants a single starting power, and gives you 15 power points). Additionally, increase the Attribute listed with your pantheon (in italics) by +1 step, and gain two skill points to spend on the listed skills for your pantheon.

  • Aesir: Strength; Gambling, Occult, Performance, Taunt
  • Deva: Agility; Hacking, Research, Repair, Survival
  • Kami: Agility; Boating, Electronics, Focus, Piloting
  • Manitou: Spirit; Battle, Healing, Intimidation, Riding
  • Netjer: Smarts; Academics, Focus, Research, Thievery
  • Orisha: Spirit; Healing, Intimidation, Science, Thievery
  • Shen: Smarts; Academics, Battle, Driving, Gambling
  • Teotl: Vigor; Fighting, Intimidation, Piloting, Taunt
  • Theoi: Vigor; Academics, Boating, Fighting, Healing
  • Tuatha: Strength; Fighting, Intimidation, Riding, Taunt

Basic Creation

Summary

This is a summary of the basic character creation. Also see page 55 of the book for these steps:

  1. Your race is Human. This allows you to choose an additional edge.
  2. You may choose up to four points of Hindrances (Major are worth 2, Minor are worth 1). You may use these points to gain additional attributes, edges, or skill points (2 for an attribute or edge, 1 for a skill increase).
  3. Each Attribute (Agility, Smarts, Spirit, Strength, Vigor) starts at d4. Spend 5 points to increase Attributes by one step each (in addition to upgrades from your paths and hindrance choices). You cannot raise an Attribute above d12 (4 points spent).
  4. Your Athletics, Common Knowledge, Notice, Persuasion, and Stealth Skills all start at d4. All other Skills start at no value. Skills have a governing attribute (see below), and cost double to raise over that attribute. Use your path skill points to raise the linked Skills, then spend 15 more skill points (per setting rule). It costs 1 skill point to buy a Skill at d4, and then one for each step up from d4. Like attributes, Skills cannot exceed d12.
  5. Derived Statistics: Set your Pace to 6” unless changed by edges or hindrances. Set your Parry to 2 + half your Fighting skill die (e.g., +2 for d4). Set your Toughness to 2 + half your Vigor attribute die, and it may also increase when wearing armor.
  6. Don’t forget to buy Edges with your Human bonus and remaining Hindrance points.

Skill List

  • Academics (Smarts): Knowledge of liberal arts, social sciences, literature, history, etc.
  • *Athletics (Agility): Overall athletic coordination and ability. Climbing, jumping, balancing, wrestling, skiing, swimming, throwing, or catching.
  • Battle (Smarts): Strategy, tactics, and understanding military operations. A key skill in Mass Battles.
  • Boating (Agility): Ability to sail or pilot a boat, ship, or other watercraft.
  • *Common Knowledge (Smarts): General knowledge of a character’s world.
  • Driving (Agility): The ability to control, steer, and operate ground vehicles.
  • Electronics (Smarts): The use of electronic devices and systems.
  • Faith (Spirit): The arcane skill for Arcane Background (Miracles).
  • Fighting (Agility): Skill in armed and unarmed combat.
  • Focus (Spirit): The arcane skill for Arcane Background (Gifted).
  • Gambling (Smarts): Skill and familiarity with games of chance.
  • Hacking (Smarts): Coding, programming, and breaking into computer systems.
  • Healing (Smarts): The ability to treat and heal Wounds and diseases, and decipher forensic evidence.
  • Intimidation (Spirit): A character’s ability to threaten others into doing what she wants.
  • **Language (Smarts): Knowledge and fluency in a particular language.
  • *Notice (Smarts): General awareness and perception.
  • Occult (Smarts): Knowledge of supernatural events, creatures, history, and ways.
  • Performance (Spirit): Singing, dancing, acting, or other forms of public expression.
  • *Persuasion (Spirit): The ability to convince others to do what you want.
  • Piloting (Agility): Skill with maneuvering vehicles that operate in three dimensions, such as airplanes, helicopters, spaceships, etc.
  • Psionics (Smarts): The arcane skill for Arcane Background (Psionics).
  • Repair (Smarts): The ability to fix mechanical and electrical gadgets.
  • Research (Smarts): Finding written information from various sources.
  • Riding (Agility): A character’s skill in mounting, controlling, and riding a tamed beast.
  • Science (Smarts): Knowledge of scientific fields such as biology, chemistry, geology, engineering, etc.
  • Shooting (Agility): Precision with any type of ranged weapon.
  • Spellcasting (Smarts): The arcane skill for Arcane Background (Magic).
  • *Stealth (Agility): The ability to sneak and hide.
  • Survival (Smarts): How to find food, water, or shelter, and tracking.
  • Taunt (Smarts): Insulting or belittling another. Almost always done as a Test (page 108).
  • Thievery (Agility): Sleight of hand, pickpocketing, lockpicking, and other typically shady feats.
  • Weird Science (Smarts): The arcane skill for Arcane Background (Weird Science).

* These skills start at d4

** Language skills are purchased individually for each language known (but you get bonus languages at d6 equal to half your Smarts die to start, per the setting rule).

Pumpkinheads

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Some legends explain that the tradition of lighting a Jack-O’-Lantern on All Hallow’s Eve to ward off ghosts is an imperfect understanding of the spawn of Eochai. These amoral beings can be called up by those willing and able to bargain with the titans, and placed to keep ghosts and other spirits away… or trapped. They are most commonly deployed on Halloween when the walls between the living and the dead are thinnest. Unfortunately, they are not particularly selective guardians, and may attack any that they see as a threat to their duty. In particular, their service to the titans frequently sees them at odds with servants of the gods, who may need access to the spirits that they are warding.

Pumpkinheads!

Savage Worlds Stats

All Pumpkinheads have the following abilities:

  • Viny Body, Soft Head: Pumpkinheads are created with enhanced Toughness and natural armor. Treat damage as +4 for attacks to the body with slashing weapons, or Called Shot attacks to the head (with any weapon). Treat damage as +8 for attacks to the head with a blunt melee weapon (or other large-scale blunt weapon, like a thrown brick). Called shots to the head are only -2 to the attack (normally -4), because they are such a prominent feature of the Pumpkinhead.
  • Fire Resistance: Pumpkinheads take -4 damage from fire (or add +4 to resist fire-related Hazards or Powers).
  • Fire Spit: Make a Focus roll as a ranged attack (8”) that does 2d6 damage. The Pumpkinhead can do this 5 times per night. +4 to attack against spirits.
  • Construct: Pumpkinheads are effectively magical constructs. They add +2 to recover from Shaken, ignore 1 point of wound penalties, and don’t need to eat, breathe, suffer toxins, etc.
  • Spirit Ward: Ghosts and other spirits must succeed at a contested Spirit test to approach within melee reach of a Pumpkinhead, and at the beginning of each turn to remain this close.
  • Banishing Touch: Pumpkinheads have +4 to melee attacks against ghosts and spirits, and banish them upon incapacitation.
  • Quiescent Form: Pumpkinheads can withdraw their bodies into their heads and appear as normal jack-o’-lanterns. Close inspection reveals that the light from within them is not a candle, but a naturally occuring flame source. All attacks against them are treated as called shots in this form. Their Spirit Ward remains active while in this form, and they are often left as barriers against spirits. They can resume their full, mobile form as a free action on their turn, quickly sprouting vines into a humanoid body.

Normal Pumpkinhead

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Athletics d6, Fighting d6, Focus d6, Notice d6, Stealth d4
Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 10 (2)
Edges:
Gear: Natural armor (+2), claws (Str+d4)
Special Abilities: As all Pumpkinheads

Large Pumpkinhead

Size 4 (+1 Wound and reach, Scale 2)
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d8, Strength d12+1, Vigor d8
Skills: Athletics d8, Fighting d8, Focus d6, Notice d6, Stealth d4
Pace: 8; Parry: 7; Toughness: 16 (3)
Edges: Block (Reduce Gang Up by 1)
Gear: Natural armor (+3), long claws (Str+d6)
Special Abilities: As all Pumpkinheads

Eochai (Huge Pumpkinhead, Wild Card)

Size 8 (+2 Wounds and reach, Scale 4)
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d10, Strength d12+6, Vigor d10
Skills: Athletics d8, Fighting d10, Focus d8, Notice d8, Stealth d4
Pace: 10; Parry: 9; Toughness: 22 (4)
Edges: Improved Block (reduce Gang Up by 2), Sweep (attack all targets in reach at -2, including allies)
Gear: Natural armor (+4), giant claws (Str+d8)
Special Abilities: As all Pumpkinheads, plus:

  • Inconvenient Protrusions: Attackers may climb Eochai, and when attached to his back, he can only reach them by attempting to scrape them off on obstacles. If they can reach his head, he can attack them with claws at a -4 penalty.
  • Fiery Breath: 3d6 damage Breath Weapon. Spirits incapacitated by this attack are banished.

D&D 5e Stats

 

Design Notes

These were developed for my Scion game. They’re heavily inspired by the Fir Bolg from City of Heroes.

In the photo, the medium sized minis are an old set of I think Reaper minis that don’t seem to be available anymore. The larger minis are combined from these Thingiverse treant and jack-o-lantern files and 3D printed:

Outcasts, Part 2: The Exodus

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You can do a lot with a supers setting featuring aliens, as described in the last article, but the real inspiration for these series was an episode of Supergirl from this season
(MILD SUPERGIRL SEASON 2 SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT FORWARD)
where Cadmus attempts to round up most of the Earthbound aliens, cram them on an old spaceship, and send them so far away that they’ll have a hard time getting back to Earth. I watched the episode kind of hoping they’d succeed, because watching our heroes try to shepherd a bunch of aliens through the galaxy while they searched for a way home seemed like a good time.

So this post describes a ship-based campaign organization for something in the vein of Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: Voyager, Stargate: Atlantis, and such. A bunch of disparate aliens have been forcibly placed on a ship that’s designed less as a means of travel and more as a means of getting rid of them, jumped to an unfamiliar side of the galaxy, and left with as much difficulty as possible to get home. There’s a diverse set of competencies in the ship, if you can balance the social issues, traumas, and politics and get people to work together. Rather than just drop people off at the first inhabitable world, you could try to get everyone to stick together, accrue resources by space exploration, slowly repair the ship, and figure out what you actually want to do rather than being unwanted refugees forever.

And the central campaign organization mechanic is making sure that the ship you’re on has a lot of potential, but needs a lot of work and customization to become a home instead of a prison. There are a lot of granular and obvious steps that can be made to improve it, so adventures can often hang on getting the resources to perform a particular upgrade.

This is based on the starship rules from the Savage Worlds Science Fiction Companion, though I’ve made a few changes in assumptions (primarily in how the engines and life support work; I’m also not 100% sure the math is perfect for the starship rules, but it’s close).

Ship Overview

Initially, the ship is a Huge cargo cruiser that was somehow salvaged and retrofitted by [the Conspiracy]. It has (cramped) quarters and life support for approximately 1,000 individuals. It can maintain basic life support and in-system travel more or less indefinitely, but expends fuel for travel between systems using the FTL/jump drive (and begins the campaign mostly depleted after jaunting across the galaxy). As part of life support, it includes a hydroponics and recycling system that can maintain minimal rations needs for an extended period, but which will be gradually depleted if not supplemented with additional resources (and which are not the most attractive foodstuffs). Rightly afraid of the ship being controlled by alien computers that the outcasts might understand better than [the Conspiracy]’s programmers, as much as possible of its original systems were ripped out and replaced with kitbashed Earth computers and control systems that are heavily locked down and provide the minimum inputs necessary to pilot the ship. The ship has no weapons, and a very small number of short-range landing shuttles

Quarters

  • Cramped quarters for 1,000 individuals (~60 of them required to act as crew; the rest are part of a passenger superstructure designed for maximum residence and lacking the typical passenger structure amenities)
  • Survivalist furnishings (cots, hammocks, surplus sleeping bags and pillows, suitcases)

Current furnishings and arrangements provide -# morale. Allocating more space and providing better furnishings can provide a morale bonus to individuals with enhanced accommodations.

Unallocated Space

  • Much of the ship’s non-quarter space is empty cargo area and completely unfurnished smaller bays
  • [The Conspiracy] clearly intended to build these out to fit even more exiles, but did not finish the construction (and balked at crowding in refugees; these areas are not currently fitted to be safe during FTL)

Vital capabilities could be installed as rooms in these spaces, or it could be easily fitted to haul cargo. It is a mild difficulty to fit it for safe quarter space, either increasing the maximum crew capacity or increasing morale by giving residents more personal space. The ship can take ~40 mods worth of improvements, per the Science Fiction Companion.

Life Support

  • Basic air and water recycling; most areas of the ship smell bad, and the water retains faint bad tastes
  • The system is currently at 90% efficiency, and has a 100 day reserve for 1000 residents (essentially 1 day of reserve are lost for every 10 days); damage to the ship could threaten these reserves
  • Basic artificial gravity provides a relatively stable 0.8g

Current life support provides a -# morale. Improving the filtering systems can provide a general morale bonus. Taking on more reserve water and air can provide insurance against leakage and catastrophe. Storing more than 100 days of reserve would require additional tanks to be installed.

Nourishment

  • The ship has an extremely basic galley (capable of heating food and boiling water) suitable to serve the residents with some difficulty
  • The ship’s recycling and hydroponics systems generate 500 hominid-days of basic organic foodstuffs per day (mostly reclaimed nutrients processed by bacteria and algae into cardboard-tasting food pellets); with current number of residents, it can maintain indefinitely on half rations
  • The galley is stocked with 100,000 hominid-days of cheap canned goods and MREs; with current number of residents, supplemented by the recycling, this is enough for 200 total days on full rations

Current food options provide a -# morale. Improving the galley’s cooking capabilities (including by identifying skilled chefs), upgrading the recycling/hydroponics systems to provide tastier output, and taking on better nourishment can improve morale. Taking on more nourishment may be required to extend the mission without going on reduced rations.

Comforts

  • The ship has no alcohol, drugs, snacks, or other ingested comforts beyond what was smuggled in luggage
  • The ship has no comfortable furnishings
  • The ship has no entertainment options beyond what was smuggled in luggage

Current comfort options provide a -# morale. Improving these options can raise morale.

In-System Engines

  • The ship currently has basic fusion propulsion that is largely self-sustaining (with solar power when deep inside a solar system and magnetic ramscoop assist when traveling)
  • The ship has essentially no maneuverability for a crisis; depending on current relative velocity, it needs seconds or even minutes to evade dangers
  • The ship’s acceleration is limited to 1g (both due to output and the life support’s artificial gravity compensation)

Current engines could be improved to make the ship much better at reacting to danger quickly. The engines and artificial gravity would have to be improved to increase travel speed within a system (going any faster without improving the artificial gravity would result in an increasing sensation of the floor being slanted in the direction of travel).

You can use this website to calculate non-FTL travel times, or the formula that Total Time in Days = 4 × √(midpoint distance in AU/acceleration in gs).

FTL/Jump Engines

  • The ship currently has FTL engines capable of extremely long-range jumps
  • The engines must be given extremely complicated and specific data to plot a jump
  • The engines require a massive amount of high-energy exotic fuel (and start with enough for # light years of additional jumps)

Improving the navigation computer systems could make FTL travel somewhat more efficient and much less finicky. Improving the engine guts could improve fuel efficiency. The engines could be switched to a hybrid or full-electric system by replacing the fuel tanks with batteries and capacitors; this would drastically lower the jump capabilities at one time, and require the system to slowly recharge off of the in-system engines, but would lower the fuel costs.

Controls

  • The ship currently has legacy consoles for in-system maneuvering, with much of their digital assistance stripped
  • The ship’s FTL engines are currently plotted by kitbashed Earth computer systems

Improving the consoles and reattaching digital assistance systems would improve piloting checks and require fewer units of manpower to be on the bridge to drive the ship. Improving the computer systems would decrease time to plot an FTL jump and jump targeting precision.

Computers

  • The ship currently has non-VI Earth computers patched into most control systems
  • Most systems have their native controllers at the various interface points (Earth systems handle coordination, but the technicians left any systems in place that they were confident would not retain data on Earth’s location)
  • There are no entertainment systems
  • All computer interfaces are *nix command line or extremely rough GUI; no voice control
  • There are limited voice alerts and other alarms

Improving the computers would make it far easier to command ship systems and get useful feedback and warnings. Installing a competent virtual intelligence (VI) would reduce crew requirements for many tasks. Increased terminals and entertainment software would raise morale.

Sensors

  • The ship has extremely short-range radar, cameras, and radio transmission
  • Slow software rendering data from passive radio telescopes can build a basic map of the nearby system over time (but cannot resolve small or fast-moving threats until they are very close)

Improving the ship’s sensor suite (including integrated computers) would make it much faster to get an accurate map of the current system and identify threats and opportunities at a much greater range. It could also improve range and quality of communications.

Armaments

  • The ship currently has no weaponry
  • Unallocated space could be used to mount weapons

Adding weapons would make it possible to fight in the ship, or at least repel attackers. Computer systems supporting the weapons would be necessary as well.

Defenses

  • The ship has a large hull standard to a cargo ship of its size
  • It has extremely basic magnetic shielding (mostly designed to deflect micrometeorites and other space detritus)

Adding additional physical or energy defenses would provide enhanced protection from attackers and other dangers.

Exploration

  • The ship has three basic six-hominid shuttles that are able to reach a planet from low orbit; they have no armaments or defenses, and are not particularly fast to re-achieve orbit, especially under load, but they do recharge off of the ship’s engines
  • There is an extremely minimal repair bay with only the most basic of emergency tools and materials to handle a hull breach or other catastrophe
  • There are only a dozen EVA suits which are aging NASA castoffs

The ship has space for additional and/or better shuttles or other vehicles. Improving the repair bay would make the ship much safer and quicker to respond to damage. More and better EVA suits would be extremely helpful in a vacuum.

Savage Worlds Stat Block

Huge Starship: Size 16, Acc/TS 35/400, Climb 0, Toughness 44 (10), Crew 60, Cost $88M, Remaining Mods 38

Notes: Crew Reduction x4, FTL Drive, Superstructure (Passenger)

Weapons: None

Outcasts, Part 1: Alien Superheroes

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I’m a big fan of the Supergirl TV show, and I’m particularly intrigued by the fact that its particular licensing limitation* implies a world where most of the superpowers are possessed by alien refugees. What follows is a setting take on how to justify this, followed by some design musings. The next part adds on an additional option for this type of campaign.

* Most of the non-alien DC characters were already in use on other shows or otherwise not available to the TV shows.

In God’s Image

A strange truism of sapient life throughout the known universe is that it seems bound to very similar forms. Through countless channels on countless worlds, evolution eventually settles on a bipedal hominid form for its pinnacle. Many look nearly identical to humans with minor cosmetic variations, the vast majority of the remainder are superficially different but structurally the same, and only the smallest fraction are truly alien in form. Nearly all of them drink water, breathe oxygen, are comfortable in a single G of gravity, and can derive nourishment from the same kind of foods.

Many religions throughout inhabited space seek to explain this truism, and the cutting edge of xenoscience can only postulate some constants of physics and chemistry that cause life to converge in this way.

Perhaps stranger, mental acuity is similarly constrained. Few sapients are much smarter than humanity, and nearly all have understandable emotions and drives. This is also true of their machine creations. There is no such thing as a true general artificial intelligence that any sapient will admit, though many races have come up with quite sophisticated virtual intelligences that lack their own motives and creativity.

All these factors mean that cosmic society plateaus technologically and culturally. The development void between 21st century humans and any given alien species is much smaller than many scientists would expect, even for civilizations much older than those on Earth. Bright humans exposed to starfaring technology can often figure out how to work it, and even partially reverse engineer it: it turns out that very little technology is sufficiently advanced to become magic. While this technological wall is no doubt depressing to futurists, it means that humanity is poised to enter intergalactic society at far less of a deficit than might otherwise be expected.

Of course, scientific competence and cosmopolitan leanings are very different things. Exposure to the vast profusion of alien culture just waiting to embrace earthling neighbors may set off many of the worst isolationist tendencies of humanity…

Design

This uses Savage Worlds as a basis, but you could easily use your supers engine of choice (though the follow up post explains in more detail why I went with Savage Worlds).

  • Use the science fiction companion to build basic alien race traits (with humans keeping the free edge as their racial advantage).
  • Each race also gets a handful of power permissions from the super powers companion, and are built as supers (i.e., they don’t have to take the arcane background edge).
  • Characters receive a variable number of points to purchase these powers.

All characters, even the weakest NPCs, should typically get around 10 points for buying powers, to allow certain powers to be standard for the alien race (e.g., you can always assume Kryptonians can fly a little, and are stronger and tougher than humans, but they might not all be as powerful as Supergirl). Wild Cards and other important characters should receive more, at the power band you want for your game. They’re, for whatever reason, the exemplars of their race’s powers.

In general, unless you’re using an established setting, players can essentially make superheroes as they would for any other supers game, then reverse-justify their power picks to a race of which they’re an exemplar.

Example Races

Kryptonian:

  • Kryptonians have the Gimmick hindrance (require regular access to sunlight from a yellow sun) and the Power Negation hindrance (Kryptonite). They gain six additional Power Points to buy super powers beyond what is standard for the campaign.
  • Kryptonians are incredibly strong, and can buy Super Attribute (Strength).
  • Kryptonians are incredibly hard to hurt, and can buy Toughness.
  • Kryptonians have preternatural flight with no apparent means of locomotion, and can buy Flight.
  • Kryptonians can fly into space and survive for short periods, so may purchase the Resistance package required to survive in space and Doesn’t Breathe (with the minor Limitation of a finite duration).
  • Kryptonians can use heat vision and cold breath as expressions of Attack, Ranged.
  • Kryptonians have enhanced vision and hearing, and can buy Heightened Senses.

Green Martian:

  • Martians have the Weakness (Major) hindrance (Fire) and the Racial Enemy (White Martian) racial drawback. They gain +2 ranks of Strength and +1 Toughness.
  • Martians are psychic, and can buy Mind Reading and Telepathy.
  • Martians are shapeshifters, and can buy Chameleon.
  • Martians have preternatural flight with no apparent means of locomotion, and can buy Flight.
  • Martians can alter their densities to pass through solid matter, and can buy Intangibility.

Human:

  • Humans gain a bonus Edge (per the normal Savage Worlds rules).
  • Humans are stubborn, and can buy Resistance (Mental). With the lack of psychics on the planet, few even realize they are so gifted. As a whole, Earth goes mostly unknown on the galactic stage because long-range psychic probes for sapience are so globally resisted.
  • Humans breed faster than most other races, and form strong groups, such that many humans functionally have the Minions power. Aliens are often overwhelmed by human numbers and tendency to coordinate.
  • Humans are sociable, resistant to fear, and quick to overcome hardship and shock. They can buy Super Attribute (Spirit).
  • Humans tend to have an outsized share of prodigies, and can buy Super Skill (any).

Design Note: Humans needed to be designed to account for their stats being the Savage Worlds baseline, so power choices were made around things that the majority of humans could plausibly have to some extent without it being strange/noticeable.

Savage Angels, Conversion Rules

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I’ve been running the No Soul Left Behind campaign for Better Angels for several months now. While the campaign is great and the setting of the core RPG is awesome, we couldn’t really wrap our heads around using the trait system effectively. I’ll probably get around to doing a system review one of these days, but the upshot is that the translation of abstract vices and virtues into concrete rolls to accomplish something never gelled, and my players finally asked me to convert to a system with a more traditional trait system.

I wound up choosing Savage Worlds, for a few reasons: it seems pretty resilient to hacking, I already have the Super Powers Companion for a game that never wound up happening, and it’s pretty easy to grok (plus one of the players already has a lot of Deadlands experience and was one of my review playtesters when I originally tried Savage Worlds).

My goal was to keep the central struggle of Better Angels, which is that the more powerful you become, the closer you are to getting dragged to hell. So the main change to Savage Worlds supers proper is the bolting on of a translation of Better Angels‘ vices and how they relate to powers, sinning, and damnation. This conversion also takes a lot of inspiration from Smallville, insofar as the vice you pick to roll is based on your agenda for the conflict.

The below assumes familiarity with Better Angels and Savage Worlds (and its Super Powers Companion).

Vices

Your wild die (a d6 in standard Savage Worlds) is replaced by a die for whatever vice is your primary motivation for the conflict/scene (e.g., if you have Greed d8, Espionage d10, and Breaking and Entering d6, you’d roll d8+d6 if you’re trying to break into a building to steal something but d10+d6 if you’re trying to break into a building to get information).

  • Greed: Your motivation in the conflict is to gain something for yourself (typically of permanent value): this is generally something that you feel will be useful to you, particularly in the long term (short-term gains may actually be another motivation). If no other value seems appropriate, Greed can also be used for crime- and economics-related challenges.
  • Espionage (with elements of Gluttony): Your motivation in the conflict is to sate your physical needs (anything that makes you feel good physically, including getting into a fight not because you’re angry, but just because you enjoy the thrill) or to discover something secret. If no other value seems appropriate, Espionage can also be used for academics- and perception-related challenges.
  • Cruelty (with elements of Wrath): Your motivation in the conflict is anger: you are pissed off in general and that’s driving your behavior or you specifically hate the opponent. If no other value seems appropriate, Cruelty can also be used for violence-related challenges.
  • Cowardice (with elements of Sloth): Your motivation in the conflict is to not be involved in the conflict: you have no other agenda beyond not submitting to the opponent’s agenda or not being bothered in the first place. If no other value seems appropriate, Cowardice can also be used for athletics-related challenges.
  • Corruption (with elements of Lust): Your motivation in the conflict is to sate your psychological needs: generally this is an urge to be loved or otherwise appreciated, but it may involve going after something that will make you feel good emotionally in the short term. If no other value seems appropriate, Corruption can also be used for seduction- and impression-related challenges.
  • Deceit (with elements of Envy): Your motivation in the conflict is to try to exceed the qualities of someone you feel is better then you, to spite someone who has something you don’t have, or to pull one over on a sucker. If no other value seems appropriate, Deceit can also be used for stealth- and deception-related challenges.
  • Pride (Special, See Below): Your motivation in the conflict is to prove your superiority over someone else and prove that you’re the better person (or villain); since this could theoretically apply to almost anything for prideful characters, any other appropriate value should be considered as motivation first before pure pride is the dominant value. If no other value seems appropriate, Pride can also be used for diplomacy- and leadership-related challenges.

Raising Vices

In any scene in which you used a vice (or a power keyed to a vice) and your demon is active, the rating of your vice can go up by one die step. You must have both used the vice and accomplished one of the following things (as argued by the Screwtape):

  • Greed: Stole something you didn’t need (double bump for something priceless you didn’t even want)
  • Espionage: Gloated in victory or consumed something bigger than your head (double bump for totally suborning someone with illicit knowledge or consuming something so big you shouldn’t be able to do so)
  • Cruelty: Killed or permanently maimed a person/lovable animal or destroyed something of real value (double bump for a massacre or mass property damage)
  • Cowardice: Humiliated someone or sat by idly while something awful happened that you could have easily stopped (double bump for killing someone with a death trap or permanently maiming someone through torture)
  • Corruption: Made someone your minion or seduced someone that should know better (double bump for getting lots of minions all at once or completely suborning a hero’s ally through your charm and wiles)
  • Deceit: Betrayed and mocked someone that trusted you or seriously hurt someone because you were jealous of them (double bump for killing an ally or ruining someone out of jealousy)
  • Pride: Claimed that you were invincible and proved to your enemies that you were right; also special:
    • Whenever a vice would be raised over d12, it resets to d8 and your Pride goes up by one die step. (If you get a double bump while at d12, your Pride goes up by one die step and your vice resets to d10.)
    • If your Pride would exceed d12, this begins the process of dragging you to hell (it goeth before a fall… needless to say, don’t claim you’re invincible unless you’re planning to job it and get beaten).

Repenting

In order to lower a vice, you must forego a wild die for the whole scene (rather than using a vice-based wild die), succeed on at least one test where the outcome matters, and accomplish something opposed to the vice you want to lower:

  • Greed: Help someone with no expected gain or give away something of high value to yourself
  • Espionage: Learn something new and important through above-board means or deny yourself something physical you really want but you know is bad for you
  • Cruelty: Demonstrate mercy when it would be much safer and more expedient not to or protect someone at actual risk to yourself
  • Cowardice: Lose a conflict that costs you substantially (rather than running away) or go out of your way to accomplish something the right way when there was a much easier way to do it wrong
  • Corruption: Admit that you did something wrong and work to make up for it or deny yourself something emotional you really want but you know is bad for you
  • Deceit: Tell a truth that is injurious to you or your interests or help out someone you hate at cost to yourself because you know your hatred is irrational

In order to lower Pride by one step:

  • You must lower a vice below d4 (it resets to d8).
  • You must simultaneously humiliate yourself in a lasting way that will have huge consequences for your reputation.
  • If Pride would go below d4, instead reduce another vice by one step (the dominant vice still resets to d8).
  • If all of your vices are d4, you can attempt Exorcism.

Skills

The normal Savage Worlds skills are replaced with:

  • Pretending to Be What You Ain’t (Acting/Deception)*
  • Playing Sports and Shit (Athletics)
  • Hacking, Cracking, and Social Media (Computers)
  • Grand Theft Auto (Driving/Piloting/Boating)
  • The Old Ultraviolence (Fighting)
  • Taking Slugs Out of Your Buddy (Healing)
  • Scaring the Hell out of Someone (Intimidation)*
  • Digging up Dirt, Looking for Clues (Investigation/Tracking)
  • That Shit You Learned in School (Knowledge)**
  • Breaking and Entering (Lockpicking/Security)
  • Good Looking Out (Notice)
  • Getting People to Do What You Want (Persuasion)*
  • Making Shit and Fixing It (Repair/Crafts)
  • Downrange Violence (Shooting/Throwing)
  • Lurking, Prowling, and Generally Skulking (Stealth)
  • Being Down With the Street (Streetwise/Gambling)*
  • Camping and Outdoorsy Shit (Survival/Riding)
  • Being a Mean Girl (Taunt)*

* Uses Charisma bonus
** Not required to be bought as individual skills (unlike normal Savage Worlds)

Powers and Aspects

Powers and Aspects are rebuilt using the rules from the Super Powers Companion as a guideline. In general:

  • Powers scale in effect pegged to the associated vice die (roughly equal to the value of the die; e.g., at a d6, it’s got 6 power points worth of effect, and at d12 it’s got 12 points worth of effect).
  • Aspects scale in effect pegged the higher of the two associated vice dice (roughly equal to twice the value of the die; e.g., Darkness-Shrouded was Devious, so it’s now pegged to Corruption + Deceit, and if your Deceit is d10, it’s got 20 points worth of effect).
  • I’ll give you little summary blocks to show where the power is at at each rating.

For how they work:

  • You can always use powers, but if you use them your demon is active and raising the associated vice is on the table for the scene (even if you didn’t roll that sin’s die at all).
  • To turn on an aspect, roll the dice for the two vices associated with the aspect:
    • If the demon is activating it, on a failure it doesn’t turn on (and you step down the higher of the two vices), on a success it turns on (and you step down the higher of the two vices), and on a raise it turns on (without having to step down the value of the vice).
    • If the mortal is activating it, on a failure it doesn’t turn on (and you step up the lower of the two vices), on a success it turns on (and you step up the lower of the two vices), and on a raise it turns on (without having to step up the value of the vice).

Example Power, That Hideous Strength (Cruelty):

  • d4: Super Strength (p. 43) +2
  • d6: Super Strength (p. 43) +2, Attack, Melee (p. 22) rank 1
  • d8: Super Strength (p. 43) +3, Attack, Melee (p. 22) rank 1
  • d10: Super Strength (p. 43) +3, Attack, Melee (p. 22) rank 1 (Stackable upgrade)
  • d12: Super Strength (p. 43) +4, Attack, Melee (p. 22) rank 1 (Stackable upgrade)

(For example, if your Cruelty is currently rated d8, you have the Super Strength power from page 43 of the SPC at +3 steps, and the Attack, Melee power from page 22 at the first rank.)

Other Demonic Abilities

  • Sinful Perfection: Step down the vice the player is rolling before the roll is made, but add +4 to the roll’s result.
  • Demonic Endurance: Death is not usually on the table for a hellbinder when Incapacitated. If there’s an easy way for you to escape, when Incapacitated you escape (possibly in a no-body, no-kill kind of way). If your opponents have you in a situation where that’s impossible, they’ll find themselves compelled to arrest/capture you rather than killing you. You’re only in danger of dying past Incapacitated when dark magic is on the table in the hands of someone at the end of her rope (i.e., usually, only other hellbinders can actually kill you, or a mortal that’s been pushed way too far).
  • Devilish Creativity: Use the system in the book and replace the virtue costs with Resource units. You can break one big money unit from crimes into 4 Resources. You also accumulate 1 Resource each per scenario to represent your legitimate income. When you want to make a device/improve the lair, spend Resources equal to the book’s costs (in Generosity and Knowledge) and step up a meaningfully related Vice by one. Boom, you have the device.

Advantages

Secrets and surprises from Better Angels work as special-use Bennies: you can expend them to reroll a test for which they’re specifically relevant.

Character Conversion

  • Make characters normally for Savage Worlds. You don’t have to take an arcane background to get your powers (as per SPC). Edges that don’t make sense may be off the table (most of the supernatural ones, anything that makes you rich, etc.).
  • Award Savage Worlds XP based on how far you are into the campaign.
  • Convert your current Generosity to spare Resources, and your various vice ratings to the new vice rating (1 dot is a d4 up to 5 dots is a d12; if you’ve zeroed out a vice, it’s at an X and no powers associated with it function).

Savage Star Wars Notes

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It looks like I’ll be running the Alternate Clone Wars game I outlined earlier this year, which requires finalizing the game system. I’ve chosen to go with Savage Worlds. I’ve looked into work others have done online, particularly this one, but I found them overly thorough for the pulpier game I want to run, and I would have had to change rules to fit my personal conception of the setting and desires anyway. However, I did find that the official Science Fiction Companion covers just about everything needed (with some minor hacks). So all the information below assumes you’re using the Savage Worlds Deluxe Core and Science Fiction Companion, and may not make a lot of sense if you don’t have those as a basis.

Setting Rules

For Star Wars, I suggest the following setting rules (from page 94 of the core book):

  • Heroes Never Die
  • High Adventure
  • Joker’s Wild
  • Multiple Languages

For Multiple Languages, I suggest charging the player for all languages out of the free ones (e.g., an alien with Smarts d4 spends the two languages on Basic and the cultural language of the race; essentially, you really only get bonus languages for higher than minimum Smarts). See also the Monolingual hindrance and Languages focus of Knowledge, below.

Races

The race-building options in the core and sci-fi companion books should be adequate to build pretty much any alien race your player desires. As examples:

  • Human: Gains the usual bonus Edge
  • Wookie: Strength Increase (2), Size +1 (1), Reach (1), Cannot Speak (-1), Hindrance: Outsider (-1)
  • Droid: As per the construct race, but see Droid Mods, below, and droids cannot be Force Sensitive nor can they be affected by mind-altering Force abilities

Most characters are assumed to be insensitive to the Force. They cannot buy the Force skill, but they get to use their full Spirit die to defend against any Force abilities that allow such a defense. For 0 points, any non-droid character can instead add the following racial option:

Force Sensitive (0):

  • Bonus Edge: Arcane Background (The Force)
  • Hindrance: You are more open to the Force than others. You may only use your Force skill die to defend against attacks that insensitives could use their full Spirit die against. You may find yourself targeted by effects and enemies that are drawn to Force users.

Edges and Hindrances

Most Edges and Hindrances from the core book are probably appropriate, except for those reliant on Arcane Backgrounds other than The Force. You may wish to allow Champion, Holy Warrior, and Wizard based on Arcane Background (The Force) and the Force skill, instead of their existing background and skill.

From the sci-fi companion, most of the new Edges and Hindrances seem designed for harder science fiction; Star Wars never seems to care enough about gravity and atmosphere to justify traits that affect interacting with them. Of the additions in that book, I’d only suggest using Low Tech/High Tech and Outsider as Hindrances and Cyber Tolerant, Cyborg, and Rocket Jock as Edges (you could also allow Geared Up, but it seems like a much worse long-term investment than the core Rich edge).

The following are additional for Star Wars:

Edges

Arcane Background (The Force)

Arcane Skill: Force (Spirit)

Starting Power Points: 10

Starting Powers: Special (see Force Powers, below)

Sensitive: The character sometimes receives visions and intuitions with a raw Spirit Roll

Jedi

Requirements: Arcane Background (The Force), Force d4+

You gain a lightsaber that does not count against your starting funds. Attackers must defeat your Parry score when firing blasters (instead of the normal base ranged difficulty) if you are using a lightsaber. You gain any allies and enemies of the Jedi order.

Additional Force Trick

Requirements: Force d8+, must be trained personally by the inventor of the trick

You gain an additional Force Trick (see Force Powers, below).

Additional Mods

Requirements: Droid

Gain an additional two points of Mods (see Droid Mods, below). This edge can be taken multiple times to gain further mods.

Hindrances

Monolingual (Minor)

You only speak Basic. You gain no additional languages for the Multiple Languages setting rule, and cannot buy the Languages focus of Knowledge until you have bought off this Hindrance.

Skills

Uncommon Skills

There are several skills that are unlikely to be used often in Star Wars (particularly in my conception of the alternate Clone Wars). Players should likely not take them at all, and should pay half cost for them if they do purchase them:

  • Boating (Agility)
  • Driving (Agility)
  • Lockpicking (Agility) (use Knowledge (Computers) instead)

Suggested Knowledge Focuses

The following are suggested focuses for the Knowledge skill:

  • Battle
  • Computers
  • Electronics
  • History
  • Language*
  • Planets
  • Science

* While using the Multiple Languages setting rule, this is taken as a single skill instead of one per language. Gain additional fluent languages equal to the die size, and roll the skill to interpret languages in which you are not fluent.

Etiquette (Smarts)

This skill works very similarly to Streetwise, but for the complicated politics of high society and Republic bureaucracy.

Force (Spirit)

Roll this skill to activate your Force powers and to defend against such attacks. At d8+, you originate your own Force Trick (see below).

Force Powers

For simplicity, I’ve chosen to frame all Force powers as modifications of existing powers in the core rulebook. They have the same costs and statistics unless otherwise noted. As a global change, any power that uses the caster’s Spirit or Smarts to set a variable (such as range) instead uses the caster’s Force skill die. Force powers do not generally have specific trappings (though their activation may be obvious to nearby Force sensitives).

Basic Powers

All Force sensitives can activate the following six powers:

  • Boost Trait (core page 110): This can be used on the caster only, and can only be used for Boost (not Lower). It cannot be used to boost the Spirit attribute or Force skill. It can only boost skills that the GM agrees are suitably athletic or intuition-based that relying on the Force for guidance would help. This power is essentially a catch-all for minor Force-user advantages, and a way to use up power points in combat other than Telekinesis.
  • Detect Arcana (core page 111): This can be used to Detect only, not Conceal (though adding in Conceal would be a good Force Trick).
  • Divination (core page 112): This requires a whole meditation period rather than just a minute. Answers are presented as a cryptic vision. Trying to learn something useful about an enemy or otherwise unwilling target may be opposed by that target’s Force defense (Spirit if insensitive, Force if sensitive).
  • Mind Reading (core page 115): This is opposed by an unwilling target’s Force defense.
  • Puppet (core page 115): This is opposed by an unwilling target’s Force defense (and may be hard-stopped if the target’s defense die is equal to or higher than the caster Force die, if you want to make the Mind Trick reliably ineffective against certain targets like in the films). It can only be used to convince the target of a fact, or compel them to take a simple series of actions, not to take combat control (as per the normal Puppet power).
  • Telekinesis (core page 118): The Telekinetic Weapon option can only be used for a single attack (i.e., saber throw) rather than an ongoing floating weapon. Damage of dropping/throwing objects is based on the caster’s Force instead of Spirit. To better reflect the movies, you might want to put the weight limits on an exponential scale rather than a linear one based on Force die size (such as die size squared, rounded down to the nearest 10 pounds, so the progression is d4 (10), d6 (30), d8 (60), d10 (100), d12 (140)); a raise still multiplies the allowed weight by five.

Force Trick

Once a Force Sensitive raises the Force skill to d8, he or she invents a unique Force Trick, and can train others in this trick if they take the Additional Force Trick edge. See the original post for more information on the logic behind this. In general, the player and GM should work together to come up with something that either expands an existing power’s capabilities, or adds a whole new power (likely based on unused Savage Worlds powers). Force Tricks that modify an existing power stack with one another; the caster can always choose to activate all relevant tricks.

Recovering Power Points

Force sensitives can recover power points in two ways:

  • Light Side: After a protracted meditation, recover all power points to full. The length of this meditation is whatever makes sense to the GM, and may require a Force roll to tune out distractions. As per the original post linked above, dabbling with the dark side should extend the time required to benefit from meditation. Jedi can, rarely, achieve this level of calm during conflict; if the GM and player agree that it makes sense due to roleplaying, the player can take an action to make a Force roll and recover two power points on success plus two per raise.
  • Dark Side: The character may choose to channel strong emotions into power, including anger, fear, and pain. Doing this is considered using the dark side, and affects time to meditate. The character may do this reflexively on any round he or she attempts to remove Shaken, and by taking an action otherwise. Wound penalties are flipped and become wound bonuses to this roll. The character rolls Force and regains one power point, plus one per raise. The GM may adjust the difficulty higher or lower based on interpreting how strong the emotion seems to be (stronger emotions have lower difficulties).

Gear

Lots of the gear in the sci-fi companion makes sense for Star Wars. Use your judgement as to what fits and what doesn’t. In general, the pricing for most items seems relatively close to the pricing in other Star Wars sources like Edge of the Empire, such that you can take the Savage Worlds dollar values and use them as credits. One specific exception is starship prices: Star Wars tends to think of them as costing tens or hundreds of thousands, while Savage Worlds prices them at millions or billions. The Savage Worlds prices are probably more realistic: a starship includes lots of expensive components, such that it should probably cost more than 100 times the cost of a blaster. On the other hand, starships in Star Wars aren’t really starships, they’re boats that haul the player characters between adventures. It makes sense to price them more like cargo trucks or luxury cars, so a player team can reasonably own and maintain one.

I would suggest coming up with a consistent monetary theory that makes everyone happy, and sticking with it. This is easier if you just give the players a ship, rather than making them purchase one, and include enough economics to drive interesting play (e.g., very little for traditional pulp heroics, more if your PCs are smugglers trying to save up enough money to get out from under a crime lord’s sluglike thumb). If you’re going to be more loose with available funds, pay careful attention to the prices of some of the items in the sci-fi companion, as they may be game breaking if they’re too affordable. In particular, if you use the basic robot rules you could purchase some pretty nasty combat droids for your party with only a few hundred thousand credits (see Droid Mods, below).

The following are my suggestions for specific Star Wars combat gear:

  • Lightsaber: Treat this as a Katana with the Energy Weapon template. It does Str+d12 damage, has AP 6, and its AP should probably counter the Parry of someone with a physical melee weapon (e.g., against someone with Parry 4 and a physical weapon, attack against Parry 0, break the weapon, and deal damage at AP 2 against any remaining armor on the target). The Savage Worlds pricing places it at 1,500, but you might increase that for the ability to chop through weapons, and just flat out make them only available with the Jedi edge during A New Hope era games.
  • Lightbayonet: A useful addition to Clone Wars era games where lightsabers are more common, treat this as a module that allows a blaster rifle to emit a short lightsaber from its barrel in order to defend against lightsaber-wielders cutting up your firing line. It takes an action to switch the weapon from bayonet mode to blaster mode. While in bayonet mode, it’s a melee weapon that does Str+d8 damage, AP 4, Reach 1, requires two hands, and can parry lightsabers (that’s applying the Energy Weapon template to the Bayonet stats; it may be too good with those stats, and might need to be reduced accordingly). Savage Worlds pricing places it at 525.
  • Blasters: A New Hope era blasters should use the Particle Accelerators (Blasters) stats on page 21 of the sci-fi companion. For Clone Wars era blasters, if you’re using my suggestion that they should be much more primitive, I would start out with drastically lowered range (or slightly lowered range and an inherent inaccuracy penalty), reduce the damage by a die size or two, and drastically lower the shots per clip.
  • Ion Weapons: These can probably just be statted as blasters that deal electricity damage, and have a die size lower damage. This means they’ll be less effective than a blaster against organic targets, and more effective against droids (since they take +4 damage from electricity).

Droid Mods

If you’re allowing droids as characters, I think the rules in the sci-fi companion (and the Savage Star Wars PDF linked at the top of the post) that link robot options to purchases and maintenance costs are very risky. It means the GM has to be very careful handing out monetary rewards to make sure that the party’s droids aren’t much better or worse than the other party members. So I’d instead suggest just handling droid modifications as customizable racial features. Each mod has a cost comparable to racial mod costs, and you can take them until you get your droid set up the way that makes sense to you and the GM.

Each droid starts off with one point of mods, and can gain two additional points for each time he or she purchases the Additional Mods edge. The following are the allowable mods from the sci-fi companion, with their mod cost in parenthesis (this may be different from the mod cost in the book, as it takes price into account, and any mod that normally grants more mod slots does not for these purposes):

  • Android (2)
  • Aquatic (1)
  • Armor (1)
  • Data Jack (1)
  • Flight (2)
  • Immobile (-1)
  • Magnetic Pads (1)
  • Pace (1)
  • Power Pack (1)
  • Sensor Suite (1)
  • Size Increase (2)
  • Size Reduction (-1) (also reduces Toughness by -1 as per the racial)
  • Stealth System (4)
  • Targeting System (1)
  • Trait Bonus (2)
  • Wall Walker (1)
  • Wheeled or Tracked (0)

The following are additional mod options (either taken from the other racial mods or invented for Star Wars):

  • Binary Communicator (-1): The droid can only speak in the binary language
  • Environmental Hardening (1): +4 to resist a single environmental effect (heat, cold, etc.)
  • Frail (-1): Flimsy construction imposes -1 Toughness
  • High-Speed Processing (3): Gain one extra non-movement action without a multi-action penalty
  • Integrated Equipment (*): Can have reasonable integrated weapons or tools; costs 1 mod slot per 500 cost of the items, and includes the purchase of the item
  • Noncombat (-2): The droid cannot buy the Fighting or Shooting skills
  • Restraining Bolt (0): The droid is disabled if it exceeds a designated range from the controller, or the controller is activated
  • Slow (-1): -1 Pace and d4 running die (cannot buy the Pace mod).
  • Specialized Appendages (-1): The droid has no generic manipulation appendages (like hands), and must use other mods (integrated equipment, data jack, etc.) to manipulate most physical items

Example droid configurations:

  • R2 Unit: Binary Communicator (-1), Data Jack (1), Frail (-1), Integrated Equipment (3; 1,500 credits worth of misc tools), Magnetic Pads (1), Noncombat (-2), Sensor Suite (1), Size Reduction (-1), Specialized Appendages (-1), Tracked (0), Trait Bonus (2; Repair)
  • Protocol Droid: Frail (-2), Integrated Equipment (4; Language Translator from sfc p. 15), Noncombat (-2), Slow (-1), Trait Bonus (2; Etiquette)

System Review: Savage Worlds, Conclusion

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And I Don’t Know What I’m in For

On inspection, it seems that Savage Worlds was first published in 2003, so it’s weird that I’m finally getting around to it now. Sadly, it came out too late for the “let’s convert these games to our own systems” phase my friends and I had in college, or it might have been really useful to us. Instead, it came out right in the middle of the “D20! All the time! For everything!” phase that I think a lot of groups went through a decade ago, and mine certainly did. So that’s my excuse for not really being aware of it earlier.

Overall, it’s a pretty slick little game engine that’s quickly crept up alongside Fate in my brain as an option for “I could just run [random game idea I just had] in…” As noted in the previous posts, I doubt I would actually run it without some significant alterations… but there are almost no games that I run without significant alterations. Savage Worlds has that special combination of modularity and simplicity, but with enough granularity to hook in a variety of ideas, that makes a good generic system. It’s tuned just enough toward high-action pulp that it makes itself obvious as a system for any game ideas within that spectrum without being so specific as to rule out particular concepts as too difficult to implement.

So, I’d heartily recommend the system to groups that aren’t afraid to seriously tinker with the rules. It does some things you might not be a fan of, but those things are pretty easy to replace with something more to your liking without breaking the whole thing. And if you suddenly find yourself struck by an idea for a campaign that you just need something lightweight, fast, and actiony to run, you’ll have another collection of tools to make that happen.

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