Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tooling Around With Powers

I was playing around a little, and came up with some simple guidelines that allow a game master to use the standard Savage Worlds powers as a toolkit instead of a generic mash of powers.  I tend to prefer toolkit style mechanics anyway, so I find making changes like these to be intuitive enough.  However, I tried to keep things as simple as possible to maintain the FFF design philosophy.  By identifying the key aspects of a "standard" power, changes can be made that are either Major or Minor in scope, with each alteration having a general point value of +/- 1 or +/-3, respectively.  There are also a number of Neutral changes possible as well, superficial tweaks that should have very little impact except to add flavor. Using this method, a generic power can be tweaked into a specific power by trading positives and negatives in respect to the original, generic power until the balance returns to +/- zero.  Realistically, a net change of +1 or -1 wont break the game in most cases, so if something doesn't quite equal zero, don't worry about it.  Play it out and see how it works in actual game play.

Now, I'm not about to break down every power right here.  However, after a list illustrating Major/Minor changes, I will post a few sample specific powers and note the general powers on which they are based.


Major Positive [+3]
  • Power is more effective against a broad range of targets
  • A power that is very specific in scope may affect a broad range of targets or exhibit a broadened range of effects
  • Power is otherwise improved in a major, consistent way
Minor Positive [+1]
  • Power is more effective against something relatively specific
  • A very specific ability may affect a limited range of targets
  • Power may have its full effects broadened by spending more Power Points
  • Power is otherwise improved in a minor, but definite and quantifiably consistent way
Neutral Adjustments [+0]
  • Power is resisted by a different trait than normally listed
  • Power affects a different range of similarly common effects
  • Power has its effects otherwise adjusted in a way that neither overly empowers or restricts it.
Minor Negatives [-1]
  • A multifaceted ability is restricted in one way (Boost/Lower Traits can only be used to Boost traits, Conceal/Detect Arcana can only be used to Detect Arcana, Tiered Power loses a Tier), etc.).
  • Power only works against a broadly general range of targets (only versus humanoids, only versus males, etc.)
  • Power only works at certain periods of time or placed (only at night, only on holy ground)
  • Power requires a specific focus object to work
  • Power is otherwise restricted in a minor way
Major Negatives [-3]
  • A multifaceted ability is restricted in two or more ways (Adjustable Targets, Adjustable Effects, Tiered Power loses two or more Tiers, etc.).
  • Power only works against something relatively specific (only versus Magic, Only versus extra-planar Evil, etc)
  • Power only works at restrictive times or places (only on Thursdays, only under the light of the waxing moon, only within the Sanctum of Hwang Di, etc).
  • Power requires an extensive array of ritual objects to be prepared in order to work
  • Power is otherwise significantly restricted


Suppress Fire (Dispel)
Rank: Seasoned
Power Points: 3
Range: Smarts
Duration: Instant
Trappings: Incantations, Hand Waving

Suppress Fire allows a hero to negate any Fire effect, spell, ability, or power. It may even affect innate abilities such as a Dragon’s Breath or a Demon’s infernal flames. Magic items and permanent enchantments so targeted may also be affected, but may be restarted normally. Persistent, permanent enchantments will automatically restart within one minute unless the hero spends an additional Power Point every minute to maintain the suppression.

Suppress Fire can be used on a power already in effect, and also may be used to counter a power as it is being used. The latter requires the countering hero to be on Hold and interrupt his opponent’s action as usual. In either case, dispelling the opponent’s power requires an opposed Skill roll between the hero’s arcane skill and whatever relevant skill is being employed by his foe.

Attempts to suppress Heat (generated without an open or accessible flame) may be made, but the hero suffers a -2 modifier to the roll.

Uncontrollable Shiver (Boost/Lower Trait, balanced against Entangle)
Rank: Novice
Power Points: 2
Range: Smarts
Duration: 3 (1/Round)
Trappings: Glowing aura of cold

This power allows a character to lower an opponent’s Agility and Agility Skills by forcing their body to become wracked with uncontrollable shivering and the feeling of being icy cold. An opposed roll against the target’s Spirit is required. Success lowers the target’s Agility and Agility Skill dice by one step and a raise lowers them by two steps. No trait can be lowered below a d4.

Multiple castings of this power stack. As usual, the caster must keep track of when each casting expires.

Shadow Stepping (Burrowing)
Rank: Seasoned
Power Points: 3
Range: Smarts x 2
Duration: 3 (2/Round)
Trappings: Melting into the shadows and reappearing elsewhere

Shadow Stepping allows a person to literally meld themselves into the shadows. The caster may remain there in a shadowy limbo, or they may step through to any other shadow within the spell’s range, without regard to any intervening terrain. A caster with a smarts of d10, for example, could move up to 20” (40 yards) on the first round, maintain the spell, and step up to another 20”.

A wily Shadowstepper may attempt to surprise a foe, even one who saw the caster step into the shadows, by succeeding with an opposed Stealth (versus Notice) Skill roll. If the caster wins, he gains +2 to attack and damage that round. A raise grants +4 to attack and damage. If a target is on Hold, then he may attempt to interrupt the action normally.

A caster maintaining in the shadows is not a valid target for attacks. However disrupting the shadows (via bright lights, a light spell, etc) will force the Shadowstepper back into the physical world. The sudden shift back from shadows to physicality can be disorienting, and requires a successful Vigor roll lest the caster become Shaken (at -2 if the caster was the victim of the dreaded power, Light). Similarly, if a caster has become the recipient of a Light spell, he cannot Shadowstep so long as the Light remains in effect, since his luminous presence disperses any shadows into which he might hope to step.

Zone of Mystic Impedance (Boost/Lower Trait)
Rank: Veteran
Power Points: 3/6
Range: Touch (Burst Template)
Duration: 3 Minutes (1/Minute)
Trappings: Sigils of Power, Mystic Words

Zone of Mystic Impedance creates an area of reduced magical efficacy in which all spellcasting use becomes more difficult. This area is equal in size to a Medium Burst Template, though for an additional three Power Points the Area of Effect may be increased to a Large Burst Template. Any spellcaster within the effect, or who later enters the area of the Zone, must reduce all Spellcasting Skill rolls by -2, or by -4 if a raise was rolled when the Zone was set. The duration of the spell can be extended by spending 1 additional Power Point per Minute of extension.

Persons stepping outside of the Zone are no longer subject to its effects. The Zone may be Dispelled normally. The caster of this spell is not immune to its effects.

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