Savage Worlds leads to Savage Tales

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The great thing about having a Friendly Local Gaming Store (FLGS) with a decent game room is that other players are willing to come in and Demo various game systems. This weekend I got a chance to try out Savage Worlds (SW), the current game system from Pinnacle Press. The game system is designed to be a generic/universal type gaming system for use in any number of settings from Old West (ala. Deadlands Reloaded) to Pulp-like settings (ala. Slip Stream). The core rules come in a nice, portable book called the Explorer's Edition for a whopping $9.99. Not bad for a game book considering how expensive most other Core Books are for other systems. SW utilizes all the same types of dice that one can find used in D&D (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 and d20). There are 5 core stats called Traits (Agility, Smarts, Spirit, Strength and Vigor), each of which has a number of skills associated with it (e.g. Fighting under Agility) and figured characteristics (e.g. Pace, Parry, Toughness and Charisma) are based off the Attributes and Skills. Character Creation also allows a player to select a number of Edges and Hindrances that allow for more points to improve skills or attributes. An Edge might be something like Arcane Background that grants the player the ability to cast spells (should the setting allow it), while a Hindrance might be something like Overconfident. Character Creation is fast and simple. Took me less than 30 minutes to make a few characters and that was with all the page flipping to find appropriate Edges and Hindrances. A more experienced player or GM could easily fill in a character sheet in just a few minutes and make a decent character. There are two types of characters in the game world, Wild Cards (which include the PCs and any important NPCs) and Extras (background NPCs, villain mooks, etc...). As a Wild Card, the character has multiple wounds before it is killed and, along with the Trait or Skill Die, the character also rolls a Wild Die (d6) along side and takes the better of the two rolls as her result. All Skill and Attribute rolls roll the appropriate die and are trying to get a 4 or higher with modifiers (+ modifiers make it easier to succeed, - modifiers make it harder). All rolls are open ended, which means if the die rolls the max value of its type, then the player picks it up and rolls it again and adds it to the previous value. For every 4 over the needed number, a player gets what's called a Raise. Raises can increase damage or improve how well a player does with a skill (e.g. Each raise on a survival roll allows a player to feed one extra player for the day) depending on what the player is doing with the roll. Damage rolls are similar, but all the dice rolled for damage are added together to get the final damage. To successfully would a character one has to roll greater than or equal to the targets toughness. No raise on the result means the target is Shaken, while each raise puts a wound on the target. Extras are killed by just getting one raise, or if they take two Shaken damage results before they can recover. Initiative in combat is done a little interestingly. For those that played the old Deadlands (Classic) system (We're talking pre-D20 days here folks) this will seem slightly familiar. For each player, major npc and Extra group in the combat a card is dealt out to each. Combat order is handled by the rank of the card (Ace high down to the lowly Deuce) and by suit order (Hearts before Spades should they tie in value). The problem with this is that, unlike the Deadlands (Classic), you don't roll any Trait to determine number of cards or to help improve the card that one does get. This makes your Traits a little less important to aid in going first in combat. Now, onto the game of the weekend. This particular demo was using a conversion of Gear Krieg to SW. Gear Krieg is a pulp-era setting with Walkers as well as tanks (Think Indiana Jones movies and add vehicles that can stand up on two legs). We were hired by a museum curator to retrieve an artifact and return it to him. The game started In Media Res with us having succeeded and were at the museum to collect our pay. I was playing the Archeologist (yep, I decided to be Indiana), and was helping the curator translate some of the text when the wall exploded and in stormed a bunch of guys in civilian clothes with Tommy Guns. I hit the dirt and took the curator with me. The Tommy gun toting bullies opened up on the various players, but thankfully couldn't hit the broadside of a barn. An unarmed individual used their cover fire to run in and grab the tablets off the table, but thankfully I'd grabbed my translation notes before hitting the deck. The other players managed to deal with the mooks while I shot at the guy with the tablets. I was able to kill him, but he fell out the hole in the wall and we lost sight of the tablets. Before we could finish off the other mooks, a car went screeching out of the lot outside the building (yep, they still got the tablets). Thankfully we had enough information off them that we could follow where they led which was to a location in Argentina near the Brazilian border. Also, the man I shot happened to have a note on him about a meeting location in Argentina to drop off the artifacts. We chartered a flight to Argentina (nice and expensive since we're talking pre-WW2 flights). We scouted out the location of the dropoff point which turned out to be in the Warehouse District near the waterfront. A few hours of digging and a few contacts that one of the other players was able to dredge up showed that the warehouse was being leased by a German company and the lease was supposed to expire in just a few days. We went back to the warehouse the next night and tried to get a peek inside to see what was going on and saw a bunch of Nazis loading up several trucks with supplies and dogs (why dogs?) and had a large half-track with a big gun for a load (yipe). Our Test Pilot, the sneaky little dude, was able to sneak in and get a closer look and then snuck out. 20 Nazis seemed to be the total complement. We went back to our hotel for the night and decided to stake out the place and hope to catch the artifacts being delivered. Somehow this led to a massive firefight (don't ask, I can't recall why, heheh). The Nazis, what few survived the fight in the warehouse, fled in their vehicles and headed out. We grabbed some of the items that they left behind in their haste to retreat (a bazooka and a number of reloads, machine guns and some potato masher grenades) and chartered a flight to northern Argentina (hoping it would be faster than trying to drive there on these bad dirt roads). * note: all the other players had to vamoose at this point in the game It cost us a little extra to keep the pilot quiet once he saw what we were loading into his aircraft, but we made it and found a nice Deuce-and-a-half truck to get out to the plateau that maps showed as the most likely location for the ruins the artifacts mentioned. We got to the road just as the Nazis were finishing crossing a river and continuing north, which led into the wonderful chase scenes from Indiana Jones. The trailing vehicle of the convoy was the annoying half-track with the big gun. Our Strong Man attempted to use the Bazooka to knock the half-track over and down the cliff to the river below. It was an impressive hit, but didn't do much more than immobilize the truck and force us to have to slam on the brakes. Then the unthinkable happened. The dang thing STOOD UP. Yep, the tracks became feet and legs and the gun was now sticking out of the center of its torso. And it was facing US!!! To cut a long story short, it took almost all our bazooka rounds before it made a critical error and slipped off the edge of the cliff when it tried to turn to chase after us. We then chased after the other trucks, but they had out distanced us. By the time we caught up to them they were already setting up camp. Thankfully they thought we were their missing half-track until we got much too close for their comfort. We almost lost one of the players due to machine gun fire, but were able to take out the rest of the Nazis. Our own Deuce was now useless, but thankfully we hadn't really shot up their trucks much in the fight. Now came the problem, where were those bloody tablets we were here to rescue. They weren't in any of the trucks, in fact the dogs weren't in any of them either. We climbed to the top of the Incan Temple, but all we found was an altar and a hole in the roof. Sigh, back down we all went. Back at the base we found an entrance that penetrated into the temple. We pulled some flashlights out of the German's supplies and headed in. It didn't take us long to spot light at the end of the tunnel, so we switched off the lights and crept forward in the dark. Inside the lit chamber the German's had setup a generator, the dogs and some other equipment. Two guards and an officer were inside the chamber. The guards were watching the officer while he knelt in front of an altar. My character recognized him (only so many archaeologists in the world) and called out to him after two of the other characters took up aim on the guards. They all laughed at my threat to drop their weapons, and went to shoot us. One guard went down under the machine gun fire, the other managed to get out of the way and returned fire. The officer charged at us, so I shot him. The wounds splotched open on his chest, but instead of dropping I heard a dog yelp and go silent and the would closed up. He also got a bit hairier. The four of us tousled with the officer as he got hairier and scarier each time he got wounded and then we started to pull back. Two of the characters tossed grenades into the room and managed to kill the last guard and all the poor dogs still alive in their cages. As we retreated up the tunnel we managed to finally kill the officer. Going back into the room we found not just our original tablets, but two others that were apparently how the Germans found this place in specific. All-in-all it was a fun adventure. The biggest problem in combat was the total randomness of the card deck for initiative that no players had any ability to alter. There are supposedly one or two Edges that one can take that have an impact on initiative, but that is it.