Guest Review : Savage Worlds Deluxe

Savage Worlds Deluxe Core Rulebook front cover
Savage Worlds Deluxe is the latest core rulebook for the Savage Worlds Roleplaying Game System by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Savage Worlds is a generic game system that provides a framework for telling stories in a wide variety of genres and settings. The expressed goal of Savage Worlds is to be “Fast! Furious! Fun!” and it has been designed to minimize the amount of accounting needed to play.

Getting Started

To start playing Savage Worlds Deluxe, you’ll need this book and some dice. As a generic game system, Savage Worlds Deluxe does a decent job of providing enough information for a wide variety of settings and genres. There are races, weapons, armour, opponents, and gear enough to run a bare-bones Fantasy, Modern, or Sci-Fi game. With a bevy of free resources on the Pinnacle website and fan-sites around the web, you certainly can create a rich world with just the core book.

However, maybe you just want to have a book with all the information you need at your fingertips. Thanks to a number of third party licensors, there are a wide variety of Savage Worlds Setting books that expand on the core rules through the addition of additional player options, gear, and rules to get the ‘feel’ of the setting just right. There are also currently three genre Companion books (Fantasy, Super Powers, and Horror), which provide genre-specific game support.

Gameplay

The Savage Worlds Deluxe edition of the rules is the easiest to understand to date. There are a number of quality examples of the applications of the rules and designers notes to help clarify the intent of rules. Character creation is laid out in a very straightforward manner and, while simple, provides a significant amount of choice for players to create unique and memorable characters. Players create characters by spending points to increase die levels on Attributes and Skills. Attributes are reflections of general areas of ability, like Smarts, Vigor, and Agility; whereas Skills are defined knowledge areas such as Fighting, Scientific Knowledge, and Swimming. Skills are purposely broad, in order to keep things simple. For instance, if you want to hit someone with a bat, sword, or your fist, you only need to look at your Fighting skill.

Players may also select Hindrances and Edges to help define their character. Hindrances are the flaws that make the character human; for example, they may be Lame, Bloodthirsty, or Greedy. Edges are the truly exceptional things the character can do, such as casting spells, or particularly impressive character types such as Noble or Brawny. After this point, there are a few statistics to derive based on the character’s skills, some gear to select, a little background to give, and the character is ready to play!

At its core, conflict resolution is very simple in Savage Worlds. When faced with a task, a player will roll two dice, their skill die and the Wild die and take the highest roll of the two as their score, which is compared against a target number to determine success. If you meet or beat that target, you’re successful. If you manage to beat the target number by a multiple of 4, you score a raise. Raises often improve the results of the roll, for example, additional damage in combat, or discovering additional clues.

Probably the most exciting part of this game is the initiative system. Each Character (and group of enemies) is dealt a card. The GM resolves the order Ace to Deuce. Each round a new card is dealt. What does this mean? The attack order changes, so your tactics will change much more compared to a fixed-initiative order style game. Also, if you are dealt a Joker, you gain the ability to go whenever you want and you get bonuses to your rolls in a round.

When the fists fly and the guns are drawn, players can engage in several combat manoeuvres that help gain the upper hand. It provides a level of tactical thinking that gives characters additional ways to help their group out, especially in situations where, perhaps, making an attack is a futile gesture. Damage in combat is pretty exciting. Damage rolls are compared to the Toughness of the opponent. If the roll is better than their Toughness, this
results in a Shaken status. This means all they can do is try to run away and try to recover. If you hit with a raise, you deal a wound. Each raise deals an additional wound. Once you receive your fourth wound, you’re toast. The rules for the minions are slightly different, as they only have one wound.

Savage Worlds is a generic game system and, because of this, it may not work for every genre and every tone of game. However, because the game has been developed more as a framework, with the expectation of adding setting-specific rules, Savage Worlds is successful at implementing a number of genres. One thing to expect from most Savage Worlds games is a two-fisted pulp style, which one could expect from the motto, “Fast! Furious! Fun!”

Conclusion

Savage Worlds Deluxe is the best edition of the Savage Worlds ruleset. It provides enough material to craft a game in a variety of settings, and also includes 5 exclusive adventures for you and your friends to play through. The rules are relatively easy to learn and offer tense combat and high adventure.

If you’re interested in a roleplaying game that can offer you dungeon crawling, investigating the Cthulhu Mythos, or fighting in World War II in one system, then Savage Worlds Deluxe is the game you should consider.