This past summer I along with several other members of the Goblin Beat went to DragonCon here in Atlanta. One of the items I came back with was a copy of the Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer’s Edition rule book. I had heard of Savage Worlds before but none of us had ever played the game so after attending a panel talking about the future of Savage Worlds and where the brand was as a whole I couldn’t resist picking up the book one evening. A week or two after DragonCon was all over I finally got around to picking up the SW book and reading through it and wow was I impressed! I’ve been playing pen and paper RPGs for twenty years and I have never found a rule system as simple, intuitive, fun and fast paced as Savage Worlds.
I quickly setup a campaign for our podcast using Savage Worlds rules and the world of Warhammer 40k as the setting, and I think it is safe to say that everyone loved the rule system as much as I do. Savage Worlds uses regular playing cards for initiative, where the highest value card goes first, the next highest second and so on. I bought a dark set of playing cards from Bicycle to go with the feel of our game which helped to set the mood as well. Combat is fast even when using our dry erase grid map, and everyone learned how to use their characters within the first round of combat, which took less than five minutes with four players!
Bennies were another big hit with the group. In Savage Worlds each player starts every session with three bennies. You can use anything to represent these but we bought a few packs of the actual Savage Worlds bennies, which are specially made poker chips. Any time a player’s character fails a roll they can spend a benny (short for benefit) to roll again. They can also spend a benny when their character is hurt to make a ‘soak’ roll and ignore the damage. Bennies also work great as mid-session rewards for players; if they do something amazing or do a great job role playing their character you can reward them immediately with a benny.
The mechanics of the game are also simple, every trait and skill that a character has is given a value of d4, d6, d8, d10 or d12. To use the given trait or skill the player rolls the associated die and on a 4 or higher they succeed. There are a few cases (such as opposed rolls) where this gets a little more complicated but that is the main mechanic in the game, and it is simple and works great. It is so simple in fact that I also now run a campaign once per week for my kids, where they are local heroes in a small town in a fantasy setting. They all picked the game up within the first few minutes as well and are constantly talking about how much fun they have, and the youngest is only four and a half!
Currently I’m preparing another campaign using the Realms of Cthulhu setting for our podcast that we will change out with the Warhammer 40k and our normal D&D podcasts. If you have read many of the reviews on our site then you know I am a huge fan of the Cthulhu Mythos and I’m extremely excited to get started with those games. Look for a review of the Realms of Cthulhu setting guide soon.