March 2, 2015

Savage Worlds - Sell me on it?

I'm curious as to what people think of Savage Worlds.

It's one of the systems that seem to have been adopted somewhat broadly, and people say good things about it. I downloaded the 16-page Test Drive v6 and read through it.

I definitely have opinions. But . . . I've never played, and you can't usually fully judge a system without playing it.

So, when I asked about it, some things that came up were:

  • It rewards co-operative tactical play, and strongly encourages inter-party assistance 
  • It plays fast and encourages having side-kicks, etc. 
  • Well supported both by third party license and the company. 
  • Fairly simple but colorful (lots of advantages/skills/powers) while also supporting tactical play. 
  • Multi-genre, albeit in the form of numerous ad-on sourcebooks rather than unified concept. There are plentiful and interesting sourcebooks and world books. 
  • Decent production values in most cases 
I'd be very interested in actual play anecdotes, pro/con style feedback that's constructive and well informed. If you think it sucks, fine - but please tell me why, and tell me where you ran into issues in actual play (or if it's a mechanics issue that can be underpinned with math, that's OK too).

The Responses

Most people respond on Google+ instead of commenting on the blog; no problems there. But I wanted to collect these in one place, as well. They'll get long, so I'll put a "below the fold" break in there for readability's sake.

February 28, 2015

Pyramid #3/76 - Dungeon Fantasy IV Review (Dire and Terrible Monsters)

This is the fourth issue that is devoted to Dungeon Fantasy. No surprise – it’s the most popular sub-line, having spawned at least 16 or 17 books, and of course, since it occupies the same turf as the most popular game today (D&D in all its flavors, be it D&D5, Pathfinder, or the various OSR or D&Derived versions).

This issue is quite eclectic in its coverage, and some of the articles are downright . . . well, somewhere between odd and squicky, but in an I have to put that in my game kind of way.

So, let’s delve in . . . but remember you're descending from an upper level, where psychic freakin' Jedi can be found . . . or slighty below that, where books and mighty spells can’t be found. Nope. Nothing to see there. Though you're going to want to lose your lunch after spending time in the horrid living room of your bad guy. But don't worry, you can always punch him in the gut with a magically-enhanced fist of death.

But what’s this we see here? Awww . . . it's so cute. A tiny, fluffy little bunny. I'm sure it's cuddly and oh my glob, it's attacking me! The pain, the pain! Aaaaaahh!

Dire and Terrible Monsters ( +Peter V. Dell'Orto and +Douglas Cole )

Of course, I co-wrote this one, so you can take my review with a grain of salt. That being said, I noted in a previous post that this article was more fun than any other of mine to write thus far. Peter wrote about it as well.

This article presents a couple new prefixes, a staple of DF monster-making, which turn regular monsters or other creatures into something else Angry monsters, Enraged, etc. The article presents two prefixes - Dire and Terrible - that take an ordinary creature and make it larger and more ferocious (Dire) and surprisingly lethal (Terrible). The text and sample monsters are presented in an over-the-top, humorous fashion, but the prefixes themselves are not inheretly silly.

Pyramid #3/76 - Dungeon Fantasy IV Review (The Magic Touch)

This is the fourth issue that is devoted to Dungeon Fantasy. No surprise – it’s the most popular sub-line, having spawned at least 16 or 17 books, and of course, since it occupies the same turf as the most popular game today (D&D in all its flavors, be it D&D5, Pathfinder, or the various OSR or D&Derived versions).

This issue is quite eclectic in its coverage, and some of the articles are downright . . . well, somewhere between odd and squicky, but in an I have to put that in my game kind of way.

So, let’s delve in . . . but remember you're descending from an upper level, where psychic freakin' Jedi can be found . . . or slighty below that, where books and mighty spells can’t be found. Nope. Nothing to see there. Though you're going to want to lose your lunch after spending time in the horrid living room of your bad guy.

But what’s this we see here? A small, harmless-looking guy in a robe? The rube has no business in a dungeon. Or does he?

The Magic Touch (+Matt Riggsby)

This short article presents a set of magic items tuned to the martial artist archetype. Martial Artists usually eschew weapons and armor, and so much of the common loot one finds is inappropriate for them. This article tries to help balance the scales - but many of the items are not unvarnished benefits to the user!

Style, Writing, Execution [-2 to 2 points]: The writing is casual and approachable, with game mechanics present, but woven into text. 0.5 points.

Background, Inspiration, Epiphany [0 to 4 points]: The basic concept is sound - give Martial Artists more stuff to play with. And each one, mostly, requires some sort of sacrifice to the user, which is very in the spirit of "discipline for power" that is the core of the martial arts philosophy. It makes you want to create more of these, which is good. 3 points.

Drop-in Gaming Utility [0 to 4 points]: These are easy drop-ins to any game where magic items and and martal artists can be found. The "bite" that makes some of these items less than an unvarnished good might detract for a few of them, but there's always the Concussion Amulet. 3.5 points.

Overall: 7/10.  A short utility article that delivers on its premise - cool stuff for martial artists - with no wasted motion. 

Would I use it? Yes. Maybe not all at once, but the overall lesson here is solid: provide cool stuff for each player's character.

Biases Aside: An alternate scoring if you're approaching the article as not-me.

It's Just A List: Of course, that's the entire point. Ready-made items. But if you don't like the gear-catalog flavor, then drop-in utility will be degraded for you. I'd not go lower than 2, though - because it's the very definition of drop-in.

Exposition, not Mechanics: You might get more satisfaction on the presentation than I did, enough to boost the Writing score to 1.0 or 1.5.

Upper-Lower bound Rating: This one's pretty tight. It's a solid 6-8 any way you look at it. It's not long enough that anyone could say "this was a waste of time," and it has high-level lessons to be extracted. Plus, ready-worked examples save the GM time and inspire other creations. 

February 27, 2015

Pyramid #3/76 - Dungeon Fantasy IV Review (Eidetic Memory - Living Rooms)

This is the fourth issue that is devoted to Dungeon Fantasy. No surprise – it’s the most popular sub-line, having spawned at least 16 or 17 books, and of course, since it occupies the same turf as the most popular game today (D&D in all its flavors, be it D&D5, Pathfinder, or the various OSR or D&Derived versions).

This issue is quite eclectic in its coverage, and some of the articles are downright . . . well, somewhere between odd and squicky, but in a *I have to put that in my game* kind of way.

So, let’s delve in . . . but remember you're descending from an upper level, where psychic freakin' Jedi can be found . . . or slighty below that, where books and mighty spells can’t be found. Nope. Nothing to see there.

But what’s this we see here? And why does the floor . . . move?

Eidetic Memory – Living Rooms (+David Pulver )
In this installment of Eidetic Memory, David pulls out all the stops in making delving as awful, gross, and cringe-inducingly squicky as possible. And I mean this in the best possible way. The article covers some of the history of having part of your dungeon be actually alive, as well as what various viscera and giblets can be found within. Living rooms (a phrase I will simply never hear correctly again) as traps, as rooms, as diversions . . . and monsters. It’s all here. Including making chili out of the dungeon floor. I mean, yuck.

Pyramid #3/76 - Dungeon Fantasy IV Review (Hidden Knowledge)

This is the fourth issue that is devoted to Dungeon Fantasy. No surprise – it’s the most popular sub-line, having spawned at least 16 or 17 books, and of course, since it occupies the same turf as the most popular game today (D&D in all its flavors, be it D&D5, Pathfinder, or the various OSR or D&Derived versions).

This issue is quite eclectic in its coverage, and some of the articles are downright . . . well, somewhere between odd and squicky, but in a *I have to put that in my game* kind of way.

So, let’s delve in . . . but remember you're descending from an upper level, where psychic freakin' Jedi can be found.

Hidden Knowledge (+Christopher R. Rice)

Christopher Rice offers up a new take on spells. Not just spells, but secret spells. With cool names. Known for his fondness for Ritual Path Magic, this article nonetheless covers conventional magic, of the type used in bog-standard DF. Of course, the article does touch on RPM, as well as spellbooks, with sections on Secret Spells, Secret Magic, and Knowing Your Letters (grimoires and spellboks).

February 26, 2015

Pyramid #3/76 - Dungeon Fantasy IV Review (Psychic Swords against Elder Evil)

This is the fourth issue that is devoted to Dungeon Fantasy. No surprise – it’s the most popular sub-line, having spawned at least 16 or 17 books, and of course, since it occupies the same turf as the most popular game today (D&D in all its flavors, be it D&D5, Pathfinder, or the various OSR or D&Derived versions).

This issue is quite eclectic in its coverage, and some of the articles are downright . . . well, somewhere between odd and squicky, but in a *I have to put that in my game* kind of way.

So, let’s delve in.

Psychic Swords Against Elder Evil ( +Sean Punch  )

Summary: Sean reviews the history of psionics and mentalists in DF3:The Next Level and DF14: Psi, and decides that what is needed is more cowbell. In the form of psychic lightsabers. Which is, of course, true.  The natural enemy of the mentalist is the Elder Thing, and this article adds the Psychic Slayer (and several variants) to the Template list. These psis are of a more physical bent, and their weapon of choice is the psychic sword.

February 25, 2015

Gasping Simplified

Over on the forums, a poster asked another about a comment made that the writer used a simplified version of both Technical Grappling and The Last Gasp. The first poster noted that TLG was "complicated," and asked for what simple rules were in place.

While I think I might take exception to the complicated thing, I did wonder what I'd do if I needed to completely and massively simplify The Last Gasp to put it within reach of anyone, easily.

Actually, some parts of it work really well.

February 23, 2015

Majestic Wilderlands - Military Intervention

We see action coming out of the manor as we start out. Ten spearmen, a couple of men-at-arms, and a few carts and wagons. We decide to anticipate them heading to Lervin, so we can set an ambush at the bridge (B) from Lervin to Phandalin - the route with the best road.

We guess correctly, and high-tail it first down the same road as they will take, but then cut cross-country to come at the bridge from the south.

We wanted to set a Rune of Boom on the bridge, triggering it when the bad guys are on the bridge, but the Glyph is not that easy to set up. We estimate it'll only take 1-2 hours to get there for them, so we're going to have to move it move it to get set up and prepared.


The good news is that we can probably move several times as fast to cover the roughly 2 miles from Highgarden to the bridge at Lervin. Even at 10 mph, that's about 12-24 minutes. So we'll have anything from abut 35 minutes to as long as 1 hour and 45min to get ready for them. Most likely is something like a bit more than an hour - just enough time to set up the Glyph of Explody Bits and then have a bit of time to wait for them to come.

February 20, 2015

Pyramid #3/76 - Ridiculous fun with DF IV

While I'm sure I'll follow my narcissistic tradition of doing a full-issue review of Pyramid #3/76 - Dungeon Fantasy IV, I did want to drop in and note that yes, I do have an article in it, which I co-wrote with +Peter V. Dell'Orto.

This isn't a designer's notes post, but I do want to talk a bit about how ridiculously fun it was to collaborate with Peter on this one.

I can't remember where it started - I think it was a series of comments about a Dire Yorkie or something. But we started with a fart or crap joke, I think, and ran with it to terrible places. Probably during one of +Erik Tenkar's Swords and Wizardy games.

So maybe that was the origin of the Terrible power Not Cleaning That Up. Maybe it was something else. But poop jokes sound about the right level for a game that features +Tim Shorts, so I'm going with that.

Still, one thing led to another, and pretty soon we had an entire series of really awful jokes masquerading as powers and monsters.

And then +Steven Marsh asked for more. And boy did we have fun with that. The article was an odd size, and so we could either cut or add. He asked us to add, and so we did, and the Terrible Foliage and Terribly Dire Wolverine were born. More and better bad jokes were made. Plus references to both Into the Woods and Transformers, which is just win/win.

If you play Dungeon Fantasy, I think you'll like this article. Seven ready-made monsters that will rock worlds. Plus, of course, the opportunity to go buy Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 1 and get more.

But ultimately, I hope you have a least as much fun reading it as I had helping to write it.