Everything Is Character

everything-is-characterMaybe it’s just me, but gear and vehicles is one of the things that I struggle with as a Savage Worlds Game Master. I’m not suggesting that weapons, vehicles, or equipment are somehow clunky. They’re not.

If you have run Savage Worlds for any amount of time, you have probably noticed that most Ranged Weapons have a range of 12/24/48 and cause 2d6 damage (easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy).

What do you do when you want a Star Trek style phaser with stun and disintegration settings? At this point, I hope you’re shouting, “That’s a Weird Science device!”. And I couldn’t agree more. It just makes sense with the established design philosophy and core mechanics of Savage Worlds.

I’d also argue that applies to cyberware, vehicles, and space ships (anything high tech). So, why doesn’t it? This is the disconnect I struggle with between gear and vehicles.

All Weird Science gear (including jet packs and vehicles) is basically an allied Extra with an Arcane Background and Powers with appropriate “trappings”. Vehicles have Toughness and three levels of wounds like any Wild Card character.

Why Isn’t Everything A Character?

What I’m suggesting is by no means a new idea. Savage Space (a free fan-created supplement by Marcus Burggraf) contains a great example of creating starships as characters using the familiar Savage Worlds character creation process. You should definitely check it out.

The real strength of the Savage Worlds core rules is the ability to translate practically any ‘concept’ into a solid, mechanically playable character in ten minutes or less. Additionally, the lion’s share of the rules are written in character-centric language (attacker, character, defender, target, opponent, etc.) describing the mechanical focus on effects.

Why Everything Should Be A Character

First of all, not everything should be a character. It would be silly to make a standard shortbow or revolver a ‘character’ if it didn’t make thematic sense in your setting.

That said, I’d encourage Savage GMs to create certain things as characters in their settings and long-term campaigns, especially vehicles. First, it fits the Fast! Furious! Fun! motto of Savage Worlds. It is freeing. Rules are easier to apply because you don’t have to reference special rules or tables and stats. You can trap Edges and Hindrances (and even powers) with existing requirements to add personality to inanimate objects in your game. These ‘new characters’ can advance over time.

Let’s Build A Spaceship!

Who doesn’t love a starship with its own unique strengths and quirks? Serenity and the Millenium Falcon are great examples of vehicles as characters! So how would you build Serenity as a character?

You follow the exact same steps you would for any Wild Card player character in Savage Worlds. In fact, you could use the Making Races section in Savage Worlds Deluxe as a guideline for starships as a Race with the Flight ability. Agility would be her highest rated attribute. Strength could represent the power of her engines. Skills like Notice represent Sensors, with Shooting representing weapon systems, and so on. Hindrances like All Thumbs or Bad Luck make sense. Acrobat, Brawny, and Dodge all make sense for Edges.

Instead of Acceleration and Top Speed, you can use a standard Pace and substitute Strength for the running die type. I’d also establish a scale based on Size, which means Serenity would be Size +6 relative to Human Size 0.

In game terms, the crew makes Cooperative rolls as they apply to the situation; but Serenity the ‘character’ makes actual Trait rolls.

What Else Are Characters Good For?

That’s a good question. I’d say anything that requires additional book keeping is better handled as a character. I run a bi-monthly zombie apocalypse setting, and survivor cities or communities are a good example of something you can handle easier as a character.

For example, every die type could represent general resources or members of that survivor camp. A survivor community with a d8 Healing may have access to antibiotics or have actual doctors in its population. Whereas a community with a high Toughness and Combat Edges would represent a more militant and fortified community.

As long as you can apply reasonable abstraction to inanimate objects to fit your setting, why not make them characters?

 

Until next time, keep rolling… and stay Savage!

 

 

 

SWGMH S06E14: Ground Zero Actual Play Part 2

SWGMH Podcast 150x150

Show Summary

This is the sixth installment of the Savage Worlds GM Hangout Setting Series. We’ve created a Post Apocalyptic Action setting from scratch using the $9.99 Savage Worlds Deluxe core rulebook and named it Ground Zero.

It’s time for part two of the live actual play! The hosts are re-joined by special guests Ed Wetterman and Savage Worlds GM Hangout fan Savage Riggs.

Our stalwart group of adventurers includes:

  • Lil’ Jimmy (David Scott): An obese road warrior
  • Ugh (Ed Wetterman): A feral child of the wastelands
  • Doc (Chris Fuchs): An archivist and tech hunter
  • Jerricho Jackson (Savage Riggs): A post-apocalyptic Marty McFly
  • Uluru (JiB): A wasteland bounty hunter with a secret

In our last installment, the group survived an attack by Rad Zombies and a Giant Scorpion while camping overnight in the wastelands! They’ve finally reached Canyon Town….

Let’s see what sort of trouble they manage to get themselves into this time.

Download Ground Zero v2.0 PDF!

Subscribe OniTunes!  YouTube!

Video

Links

Savage Worlds DeluxeG+Savage Worlds GM CommunityHappy Jacks RPG PodcastSmilin’ Jacks Bar and GrillSin City Savages, Savaged Pathfinder, RK AtheyChupacabraCon II

Credits

Hosts:  Jerrod ‘Savage Daddy’ GunningChris FuchsDavid Scott, and JiB
Guests: 
Ed Wetterman, and Savage Riggs

SWGMH S06E13: Ground Zero Actual Play Part 1

SWGMH Podcast 150x150

Show Summary

This is the fifth installment of the Savage Worlds GM Hangout Setting Series. We’ve created a Post Apocalyptic Action setting from scratch using the $9.99 Savage Worlds Deluxe core rulebook and named it Ground Zero.

Now it’s time for the actual play! The hosts are joined by special guests Ed Wetterman and Savage Worlds GM Hangout fan Savage Riggs.

Our stalwart group of adventurers includes:

  • Lil’ Jimmy (David Scott): An obese road warrior
  • Ugh (Ed Wetterman): A feral child of the wastelands
  • Doc (Chris Fuchs): An archivist and tech hunter
  • Jerricho Jackson (Savage Riggs): A post-apocalyptic Marty McFly
  • Uluru (JiB): A wasteland bounty hunter with a secret

Let’s see what happens!!!

Download Ground Zero v2.0 PDF!

Subscribe OniTunes!  YouTube!

Video

Links

Savage Worlds DeluxeG+Savage Worlds GM CommunityHappy Jacks RPG PodcastSmilin’ Jacks Bar and GrillSin City Savages, Savaged PathfinderChupacabraCon II

Credits

Hosts:  Jerrod ‘Savage Daddy’ GunningChris FuchsDavid Scott, and JiB
Guests: 
Ed Wetterman, and Savage Riggs

Ground Zero

Welcome to the post apocalyptic world of Ground Zero.

This is the first custom Savage Worlds fan setting created by the hosts of the Savage Worlds GM Hangout Podcast. If you follow the podcast, you may be aware of the new Setting Series episodes, where we demonstrate how to build a custom setting from the ground up using the $9.99 Savage Worlds Deluxe core rulebook.

Subscribe on iTunes or YouTube to witness the process step-by-step. 

What Is Ground Zero?

Ground Zero is a post apocalyptic action setting inspired by the Mad Max film series and other post-apocalyptic novels, movies, and videogames.

The nuclear holocaust that leveled civilization and plunged Earth into a second Dark Ages is never fully explained. It may have been a war between countries, a reaction to an alien invasion, or an artificial intelligences bent on genocide. This is intentionally left up to the players or game master to decide.

Forty years later, North America (and maybe the entire world) is a chaotic and dangerous wasteland of massive deserts and lingering ruins of major metropolitan cities still bathed in lethal levels of radiation. Decades of nuclear winter and radioactive fallout has resulted in widespread mutations. Multiple limbs, super strength, and psychic powers are relatively common among humans, animals, and plants. Dangerous animals and plants are sentient, semi-civilized species competing with surviving humans. Mutated humans are savage and tribal, relying on raiding parties and slavery to survive.

Both humans and non-humans have lost most knowledge of pre-apocalypse history and technology, which inhabitants of Ground Zero refer to as Lost Tech and The Beforetimes. Current technology is quasi-medieval. While automobiles and modern firearms exist, few are experienced enough to identify or use them. The only group with significant knowledge of The Beforetimes are those that survived the apocalypse— and most of them live in underground vaults or bomb shelters.

What Can You Do In Ground Zero?

Ground Zero player characters include apocalypse-adapted humans (Surface Dwellers), mutated humans (Mutants), and unmutated subterranean humans (Vault Dwellers).

Characters may explore ancient ruins and strange post-apocalyptic societies to gain knowledge of The Beforetimes, amass wealth and power from Lost Tech, take jobs as mercenaries and bounty hunters, or race across the country in souped-up cars dispensing wasteland justice.

Common adventures involve protecting fragile post-apocalypse societies, gathering gas or parts for vehicles, retrieving pre-apocalypse “relics”, or the mere struggle to survive in a wasteland beset by sentient gun-toting apes, post-apocalyptic warlords, gigantic mutant animals, radioactive zombies, and so on.

A recurrent source of conflict in Ground Zero is the rivalry among societies, or semi-secret societies with firmly held ideologies. Some societies seek the extermination of all mutants, and vice versa. Other rivalries may involve attitudes towards Lost Technology, with groups of “Archivists” or “Restorationists” who want to preserve or rebuild pre-apocalypse society in conflict with “Luddites” who want to destroy it, and “Seekers” who want to find and use it for the purposes of world domination.

Where Can I Get Ground Zero?

After we conduct the streaming actual play episode of the Savage Worlds GM Hangout (On Air!), a full package will be available for download here on the Sin City Savages website. It will include an updated copy of the setting, pre-generated characters, a one sheet, and the materials you need to run the game as a one shot or the start of a campaign.

Download Ground Zero v2.0 PDF.

Stay tuned… 
Until next time, keep rolling and stay savage!

 

 

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