One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.” -Hunter S. Thompson

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition

Last week I finally buckled under the pressure and picked up the Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition rules book. Let me tell you, I wish that I would have picked this thing up a long time ago! It's fricken awesome, like sharks with laser beams attached to their foreheads awesome! For shizzel my whizzel.

One of the things that strikes me about this book is that it's only 10 bucks to own. That, and it also comes in 6.5" x 9" format. It has a 160 full colour, glossy pages, looks sharp, and is well organized. The book features a nice table of contents, as well as a full page index in the back.

All that stuff aside it has all the rules that you need to run virtually any genre you want! The rules emphasis what the designers call the three F's. Fast! Furious!, and Fun! All three of them things that I've been looking for in a game system for some time. Well maybe not the Furious part, but it sounds like a good thing, right?

I guess one of the reasons that I hadn't picked this up before was the fact that I had played the original Deadlands RPG. In fact Deadlands was one of the first RPG's that I ever ran as the Marshall, or game master, or as the call it in that system.

One of the things that I thought was cool about Deadlands was the "stuff" aspect to it. By that I mean all of the dice were important, not just a d20, and whatever your damage dice was, but ALL of them. In addition you used playing cards for initiative, and poker chips as a sort of action points system. The problem was three fold as far as I could tell. Number one, I found the system itself was a little clunky. Two, I was new to game mastering, and well, when you your new at something you tend to suck. Lastly, three, the weird wild west can be a little difficult to run. There's a lot of stuff going on that you as the game master needs to do, understand, and this isn't helped when your American history is weak, and your player's don't really "get" the genre.

So I ran a brief Deadlands game, and then moved on from there to try and do new things. I had always wanted to get back to it one day, but I just never had the motivation, or desire to do so. Eventually it sort of fell into the background as D&D, and d20 games became the poison of choice for our group. Fantasy it would seem would be what we were destined to play for a long, long time.

Anyway the point here is that these Savage Worlds rules, are a much cleaned up and refined version of those old Deadlands rules. The skill system is very tight, and theres not a lot of dicking around with lots of points, and best of all all dice rolls are balanced with an additional "Wild Die" that allows the heroes to have a better chance of success. The other thing I find really nice is how the Edges and Hindrances work. This system seems easy to use, well balanced and thought out, and covers pretty much everything you need to cover most genres.

In fact one of the things that the designers point out is that bloating the system with new skill, edges, powers and other non-sense is a bad thing. That you should attempt to use what you have and not go over board creating reams of material you don't need , or wont use. The reason I love this so much is that I'm tired of rules bloat! D&D 3e suffered from it, and so does 4e. In fact lot's of systems just keep pumping out useless material be cause players like it, and because they need to make money selling us stuff. I'm not knocking this, it's just as a GM I have come to find less is more. Lets keep it simple, mmm K?

Today I find myself with a new group. What's interesting is that we recently started a steampunk campaign that would have benefited with these rules greatly had I, or the current GM been aware of just how simple, versatile, and easy they are to use. I'm seriously starting to consider running a new Deadlands game because of it. All in this is a kick ass system, and book. If your looking for a game that is simple to learn and easy to find on your local game stores shelves, I highly recommend you pick this up. And remember it's only 10 bucks, so how can you go wrong?


  1. Savage Worlds is one of my my favorite games. I liked the fact that I could just say 'okay, let's play Pirates RPG - okay, now, let's play Halo RPG, and now, let's play Percy Jackson RPG,' and it all fit really well within the rules system.

    The different rules of the game are not very elegant. It feels like a Frankenstein cadaver with rules all stitched up in different ways - but this zombie golem can run at 120mph and has napalm spewing turrets in every direction. I love the exploding dice. I love the deck of card based initiative. It's very cool, even if it isn't all pretty.

    I wish - I really wish - I wouldn't have gotten sick of minis. Savage Worlds blows the heck out of 4e for skirmish play. One day I'll be back to Savage Worlds again though - most likely with the Showdown rules. If you don't know about that, check it out at - very awesome, compatible with the core SW stuff, and completely free.

    Oh, and they are coming out with the Deluxe version soon, which will clean up some of the rough edges I think. (Not that those rough edges were ever a bad thing.)

    - Ark

  2. Hey Ark,
    I knew about the new deluxe edition which was part of my incentive to picking this version up. I figured if this was good then I'd get the deluxe version as well. Good to know about the minis thing, it was a concern for me on how well they worked during play. Definitly going to check out the Showdown rules, so thanks!

  3. I've never played Savage Worlds--GURPS was mostly my generic rpg with occasional flirtations with HERO System. That being said, I've heard good things about it.