I am really interested in other SW players feedback, but that will come at the bottom of the post.
After receiving a defective book, sending it back, and getting another one I was able to finally play test Savage Worlds. 4 of my 7 players were able to make the session, which is just as well, since it made explaining everything easier.
My players all seemed to respond to fairly well. EVERYONE appreciated how much easier it is to make a character in Savage Worlds as opposed to Dungeons and Dragons 3.5. With all being said and only having one book, character creation was done in about 30 minutes. That is a damned record! Then I explained some of the rules, and left others to be discovered in combat and in role-playing. Everyone made characters starting at 0 XP Novice. What caught my players off guard with Savage Worlds is just HOW wet behind the ears your starting character is. One player actually said, “Umm.. Are you sure this is all the points we start out with?” I explained that this isn’t DnD where you start out better than regular NPC’s. The only thing that makes you better from Extras is the Wild Die (rolling a d6 along with any trait test).
I had an adventure planned out, in a fantasy setting so the players could compare it with what they know.. Dungeons and Dragons. It started with Pirates attacking the port town they resided in. As the first combat started, I went hell with it, and said we were just going to play test combat for the evening, since that was the thing that all of us were most curious about. Not because we are hack n’ slashers, but for me.. What makes or breaks a system is how good/bad combat is. The role-playing aspect can be done well even in a poor system if a strong DM/GM to handle the lack of mechanics, and players are on the ball, so I wasn’t worried about that aspect of the game. I was worried about combat. I was able to run three sessions of combat.
One of the things that attracts me about Savage Worlds is the simplicity of NPC’s both in and out of combat. Everything is broken down into two categories; Wild Cards and Extras (the PC’s fall into the Wild Card category). Certain villains also make the Wild Card cut. If you were going to put your players up against Dracula, he would definitely be a Wild Card, or your campaigns main villain who is the head of an evil corporation, etc would be a Wild Card. They get higher stats, to roll a wild die, and a benny or two as well (bennies allow a character to reroll a trait roll, soak damage, or recover from shaken instantly).
Extras are NPC’s that don’t have Wild Die, or Bennies, etc. And when they reach Wounded -1 on the Status chart, they are out of the fight. Wild Cards can go all the way to wounded -3 and keep fighting, at wounded -4 they are incapacitated and possibly dying with a failed Vigor roll.
So for all three fights I decided to do what the Explorer’s Edition of Savage Worlds suggests: blanket stats for the different villains. In all three fights it was nothing but extras vs. the PC’s. All fights consisted of 3 melee w/ a flint lock pistol for their opening attack, 3 musketeers who stayed under cover the whole fight, and one mage with a flint lock pistol.
For the first fight I decided that they would have a d6 in their traits, but a 4 in parry and toughness. I fiddled with all this because I wanted to see how the numbers work. Each fight would consist of different sets of numbers so I could gage how Savage Worlds works.
This bowl of porridge is too cold-
The first fight, the PC’s all drew really high cards for initiative (initiative is settled using a standard deck of playing cards) and dispatched 3 of the 7 enemies in the first round! Having only a 4 toughness and 4 parry made the enemies, needless to say, really squishy.
In the next round I did want to prove how deadly magic could be, so with the mage I opened up with the power bolt (like Magic Missile). It costs 1 power point per bolt, and does 2d6 damage each. You can then spend an additional 1 power point per bolt to up the damage to 3d6, for a total of 6 power points.
I had only given the mage 8 power points, and figured what the hell. So he opened up a can of whoop ass and dropped a player who hadn’t been hit at all to unconscious in one hit! The player burned a benny and rolled a decent soak roll taking him from wounded -4 to wounded -1. By the end of that round though, the enemies were all dead or fleeing in terror.
This bowl of porridge is too hot-
The next combat I went to the other extreme and gave the enemies a toughness and parry of 6 (no armor) and the rifleman and mage got a d8 in their respective skills. What happened was the other extreme. My players couldn’t hit anything. After 5 rounds (the last one lasted 3 rounds) and not ONE injured enemy, but two players at wound -2 we decided to scratch this combat and move to the next one.
This bowl of porridge seems just right-
For the final battle everything reset and I gave the enemies a toughness and parry of 5. Again the rifleman and the mage had a d8 in their respective skills. This fight went about 4 rounds and held up to the tagline of fast, furious, and fun. This seemed to be the sweet spot. It was challenging enough that there was a chance for the players to miss, but not impossible for them to hit. The fight went off pretty smoothly.
Now for the issue that did seem to come up a bit and what I’m looking for feedback on…
My character is Shaken.. I can’t do.. what?
When a character is wounded in Savage World the first thing they become is Shaken, and wounds proceed from -1 to -3 as I stated earlier. When a player is shaken they can only move half their movement and that is it. On their turn they must make a Vigor check TN 4 to become unshaken. If they roll a 4-7 they are no longer shaken that turn, but that is all they can do. If they roll a 8+ they are no longer shaken and can action as normal. Anytime a wound is taken, the character becomes shaken again, and must again, on their turn, roll a vigor check. This seemed to be the biggest beef that my players had with SW. My girlfriend was hit just enough to become Shaken.
At the start of her next turn she rolled a Vigor check and failed. She didn’t want to use a benny, so everything continued on. The next round, she rolled again and failed. The third round she rolled a 4, but was unable to do anything else. On the next round she was hit bad enough to go to wound -3, spent a benny and soaked to -2, but was now shaken again, and couldn’t do anything. Something similar like this happened to another player during the session as well.
Now I know that they could spend Bennies to get out of this, and Bennies are handed out throughout the game session, but I’m worried that players will not utilize Bennies for anything other than soaking and/or getting out of shaken. Any other SW players have this experience or words of wisdom on how to handle this? I was pondering that if you fail two rounds in a row, you automatically can resume on the third.. But I’m not really sure since I’m still new to SW.