Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Edges (Fantasy)

I came up with a handful of new edges the other day, and these are the ones that best fit into a Fantasy style game.

Master Bowman
Requirements: Veteran, Smarts d6+, Shooting d10+, Notice d6+
By paying attention to prevailing winds, relative positioning between himself and his targets, and having a solid understanding of his weapon itself, a Master Bowman may increase the base range of his bow by +1/3rd when using it.

Warrior Monk
Requirements: Seasoned, Martial Artist, Spirit d8+, Fighting d8+
A warrior monk's extensive training has lead to his ability to land more focused attacks, resist minor aches and pains, and to natually roll with incoming attacks.  The Warrior Monk gains AP1 on all of his Hand to Hand and Melee Attacks.  Additionally, the character has +1 Armor versus Melee, Hand to Hand, and Thrown attacks, but not attacks from other Ranged sources.

Requirements: Seasoned, Agility d8+, Notice d6+, Fighting d8+
If a hero is aware of the incoming attack, then his opponent must use the hero's Parry value (modified by Range) instead of a flat target number to hit him with missile weapon attacks.  In campaigns with firearms, this edge may apply against them as well (with the GM's permission, of course), but only if the character spends a benny to use this Edge for the duration of the encounter.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Relationship Maps

I've come up with a system for Relationship Maps for use in Savage Worlds, though it is still rough around the edges. I encourage anyone actually reading this blog to give me some feedback on how you feel this could be streamlined and improved. I don't want to explain too much in advance, since if it's not clear from the text itself, I need to know that too.  Please post comments, thanks.

A relationship map is a means of visually describing the assorted network of connections between characters. At its simplest, such a map can point out who knows who and how they feel about each other. However, adding complexity can allow not only a layer of character analysis, but can chart important locations, properties, motivations, and goals and how they relate to such characters. In short, a relationship map provides an illustrated depiction of a campaign, its known movers and shakers, how and why they act as they do, and may even hint at where things are going. It is like a massively interconnected web that serves as an excellent tool for GMs who may wonder where to tug and pull to get their players moving or for Players who may wonder what a GM is up to.

Player Characters start at the center of the map. They are the focus and central point of perspective through which all game relationships are being viewed. Write down the Character’s name and surround it with a Hexagon.

We decide to map out a character, Grimm, a dour woodsman who patrols the forests. After drawing a hexagon, we write “Grimm” inside it.

Anything depicted on the Relationship map that is drawn within a geometric shape is called a “Node”. We have just identified our first Node, the Character Node. This Node will be connected to other Nodes of various types by arrows we call “Threads”. The pairing of a Node to a Thread is a “Relationship”.


Regardless of the scope or power level of the game, every character will have at least one relationship link to each of the following Nodes: A Person, a Place, a Thing, and an Idea. These four links form the Core Personal Relationships of the starting character. Each of these relationships begin with a Weak (+0) connection, but will be increased through the expense of available relationship points. If Relationship Points remain after spending at least one point in each of these four Relationships, a character may buy a new Relationship (of any sort except "Person"). New Relationships begin at "Weak +0" and may be increased normally, provided that the starting value of the relationship does not EXCEED the value of the Core Relationship of the same type.

A Character's starting Relationship Point total is determined by the starting rank of the character, and is modified by certain Edges and high Skills.

Novice characters begin play with 4 Relationship points; more experienced characters gain two additional points per rank above Novice.

Grimm starts play as a Novice character. He has 4 Relationship points to spend, and must spend at least one point in each type of relationship.

The following edges grant two additional Relationship Points:
  • Connections
  • Noble
  • Command
  • Followers
  • Sidekick
Additionally, any Knowledge Skill at d10 provides an appropriate 1 point Relationship (Weak +0). A Knowledge Skill at d12 provides a 2 point (Normal +1) Relationship.

Klovis, however, enters the game later as a Veteran character with both the Connections and Command Edges. Additionally, he has a d10 Knowledge in the Hidden Trails of Shire Alamen. He begins play with eight (8) relationship points from his Veteran rank, an additional four (4) added points from Edges, and one (1) more point from his high Knowledge Skill.

Any points gained from Edges should reflect the nature of the Edge, but will add to the total number of points a character may spend on Relationships. Buying these Edges in the course of game play should warrant the same addition of new, or the expansion of existing, relationships as if they’d begun the game with the Edges. In short, taking these Edges allows a player to make immediate additions to the relationship map itself. However, like all relationships added after the commencement of the game, the character first must buy the relationship at Weak (+0), unlike with the starting Core Relationships.


Since a character must have at least one of each type of relationship Node, go ahead and write down each one on a sheet. Make sure that the character’s Node remains at the center of the map. Once the relationships are identified, draw the appropriate shapes around what you’ve written to complete the Node.

[Relationship Node Types]

People (Circle): Relationships of this type are generally overtly social ones. They can be with an individual person, a group of people, or even an organization. This type of relationship is noted in the map by the use of a Circle.

Places (Square): Relationships of this type are connections to specified locations, known or unknown. This type of relationship is noted on the map by the use of a Square.

Things (Triangle): Relationships of this type are connections to physical objects. Such objects may or may not be in the possession of the character, or even be owned by them. Additionally, this type of relationship may refer to a general type or category of thing, and not just a specific object. This type of relationship is noted on the map by the use of a Triangle.

Ideas (Diamond): Relationships of this type denote connections to ideals, motivations, goals, and values. Usually, such ideas are a character’s own, though in some instances a character may develop a relationship to another’s set of Ideas over time. This type of relationship is the most abstract and is noted on the map by the use of a Diamond.

Grim notes his starting Core Relationships. For People he chooses his Boss; For Places he choose the Forest where he lives; for things he chooses Scrounged Objects, the means by which he makes money; and for Idea he chooses "Only Nature is Honest", a statement that helps define how he relates to the world.

[Nature of the Relationship]

Thread a connection between the Character Node and Relationship Node by drawing an arrow between them, starting from the character. Identify the nature of the Relationship by writing along the arrow how the character feels about what is named in the Node.

Grimm draws a thread to the Idea "Only Nature is Honest", and notes along the arrow "Hides behind this statement to avoid troubling social relationships".

[Intensity of the Relationship]
Intensity is what impact the relationship may have on a scene in terms of game effects. Once a scene, a character may opt to take a bonus to an applicable roll if the relationship is directly relevant to the events of the scene.

Weak Impact [+0]
Normal Impact [+1]
Strong Impact [+2]

Weak (+0) Relationships, you’ll notice, are quite common yet offer no bonus modifiers. This is because of the final benefit associated with Intensity, the potential to reclaim spent Bennies. At the end of an encounter, a character with an appropriate Relationship may roll a d6 and add their Intensity modifier. If the result is a success, they regain a single Benny. With a raise they may reclaim an additional Benny, but only if that Benny was spent. Thus, no new Bennies can be earned.

A GM may impose penalties to certain rolls if a character’s relationships are being used against him. A Benny may be spent to negate the impact of a relationship during a scene.

In the case of Grimm it is easy enough to assign intensity to his Relationships. Grimm has a "Normal (+1) relationship in each of them since he only has four points to spend. Later on during a game session, Grimm is tracking slavers who’ve entered his home forest. The player and the GM agree that it is appropriate for Grimm to take his bonus from his relationship with this Place and gain a bonus of 1 on his Tracking rolls since he knows very well what is or is not out of place. Even later, Grimm is attempting sell some trinkets at the Great Bazaar. Unfortunately, some antagonistic Knight trampled Grimm’s wares while riding over them. Grimm has a bad temper (Quirk) and the GM decides that Grimm must make a successful Spirit roll to avoid going into a rage. The GM also decides that because of Grimm’s relationship to his scrounged objects, his Spirit roll must be made at a penalty of 1.

The Intensity of a Relationship should be written in brackets alongside the text explaining Nature of the Relationship. Only Nodes connected to Characters or Active NPC’s (see below) need to have an Intensity Listed.

For a starting character, the first Node of each type denotes the character’s Core Relationships. No additional Relationship of a particular type may EXCEED that of the character’s Core Relationship of the same type. Thus, if a character initially defines a connection at +1 to a Person, then no other connection to a Person may exceed that same Intensity. Note that this is true only for starting characters. As campaigns progress, character relationships and their intensities will alter.


Some Edges will add new relationships to a character. These Edges each grant two relationship points of intensity starting with Weak +0/0 and progressing up from there.

As mentioned earlier, these edges are:
  • Connections
  • Noble
  • Command
  • Followers
  • Sidekick
If the points gained from an Edge applies to a large group or organization, then the GM may wish to require an increased point cost to improve the relationship.

Grimm is a Warden of Shire Corbie, defined as the Connections Edge. His player and the GM decide that Grimm may add "Wardens of Shire Corbie" as a People Relationship, at Normal (+1), or he may add the same at Weak (+0) and have either another relationship (likely a Place or another Person) also at Weak (+0).

Earning a Knowledge Skill ranked at d10 or higher grants an appropriate Place or Idea relationship at Weak (+0) Intensity. If the skill reaches a d12, then the Relationship may be stepped up to Normal (+1). No additional intensity is gained from improving a skill beyond a d12.

An arrow should be drawn from the character to the Place or Idea and the nature of the relationship defined normally.

Locke’s Knowledge (Ruins of Dragoneye City) is at a value of d10. He may add those Ruins as a new Place to which he is related at a Weak (+0) Intensity. He notes that he often makes money from selling trinkets he collects from inside.

Unlike Edges and Skills, Hindrances do not necessarily grant additional Relationship Points (though they can, see below). Instead, Hindrances are a roleplayer’s gold mine for expanding or clarifying a character's map of Relationships. Since many of these relationships are partially or even fully out of the character's control, a player should be mindful of a character’s disadvantages when defining initial and core relationships. Indeed, those choices often may be informed by the character’s own reactions to what Hindrances were selected.

Grimm, though he has a quirk that he is distrustful of authority, has taken his boss, Rudo Sackbridge, the Sheriff of Shire Corbie, as his core relationship to a Person. He notes the Nature of the relationship as “Respects… But also Resents”, illustrating the conflicted feelings he has about the man and his social position. Thus Grim resents Sheriff Sackbridge’s authority, though he also knows he can count on the Sheriff if he really needs him.

Some Hindrances are standout choices for illustrating relationships that are not always positive in nature. Hindrances can provide a lot of added flavor, especially if incorporating interconnections and influences (see below). The mostly likely candidates among Hindrances include:
  • Code of Honor
  • Enemy
  • Habit
  • Phobia
  • Quirk
  • Vow
  • Wanted
The list above is by no means all inclusive. While some types of Hindrances are more obvious choices than others, it is important not to forget the impact of more abstract relationships. Ask how a Hindrance fits into one of the following dramatic oppositions: Man versus Man; Man versus Nature; Man versus Self. If that opposition is a key part of who the character is (or what the character must overcome), then it may be important enough to be mapped. A heroin addicted hacker desperately struggling to regain control of his life might have the Drug or his addiction listed on the map, but a chain smoker probably won’t.

Not all Hindrances should define or even have an impact upon a character’s mapped relationships. It is up to the GM and the players whether or not noting a relationship is warranted. Ideally, this decision should be based on its potential impact on the character, his outlook, demeanor, and likely actions. Thus, while two characters may have the same Hindrance, only one character may find it warrants inclusion on the Relationship Map. Similarly, Major Hindrances are more likely to be listed than minor ones; something casual is less likely to have serious personal impact.

[Negative Relationships]
Some relationships are just so important that they need to be included on the map, even if they offer no positive benefit to the character. Obviously, such a relationship is drawn from a character’s own Hindrances in such a way that they are more than simply helping to define or clarify another relationship – they are, in and of themselves – a relationship all their own.

If a player wishes, he may use one of his character’s Hindrances to define a new, negative relationship. In any scene where that relationship is involved, the character may not spend any of his own Bennies, except to save his own life.

Grimm’s player and the GM decided that Grimm has a custom Minor Hindrance listed as a Negative Reputation among the Regional Knighthood, and he suffers -4 on all Social Interactions with them. In terms of back-story, it was decided that appointing a Wildman like Grimm to the position of Warden was believed to be a direct attempt by the Sheriff to insult the local Knighthood. Grimm’s player writes “Knights of County Corbie” as a People Node, but notes it as a Negative Relationship. Now, in any Social Interactions with them, he may not spend a Benny to re-roll any failed trait rolls.

Where the relationship is a purely negative one, the line threading between a Character and a Node should be marked in RED (or in a similar manner to distinguish it from normal relationships).


This is where things get interesting. Once the players have all made their initial maps, check for any overlapping relationships. If the players agree that they have common relationships then redraw the map so that the characters both have threads connecting them to the same node. If they do not agree, at least one of those characters should change the relationship so they differ.

Not all games will begin with the same levels of interconnectivity. A general guideline for how to link characters depends on how interconnected characters will be at the start of the game. We have four general types: Unconnected, Casually Familiar, Connected, and Heavily Connected. Each type determines how many of the characters know one another, share common Nodes, and may adjust or influence existing relationships.

Unconnected games assume that the characters have no common connections (aside from may have been decided from their initial relationships) and do not know one another before the start of the game. They gain no additional threads.

Casually Familiar games assume that characters are at least generally familiar with one another as a group, though not everyone will know everyone else. A Player in a Casually Familiar game may thread a relationship between their Character to any one other Node on another character’s map, including a Character Node itself. Any relationships defined with non-character Nodes begin at Weak (+0) Intensity.

Connected games assume that characters are, you guessed it, somewhat connected with one another and quite possibly may know each other. A Player in a Connected game may thread a relationship between his Character and any two other Nodes on a character’s map not his own, so long as at least one is a Character Node. Any relationships defined with non-character Nodes begin at Weak (+0) Intensity.

Heavily Connected games assume the characters have strong links to one another and almost assuredly know each other. A Player in a Heavily Connected game may thread a relationship between his Character and a number of Nodes on other players’ character maps equal to the total number of player characters. Every character must be linked to at least one other Character. Any relationships defined with non-character Nodes begin at Weak (+0) Intensity, but with the GM’s permission may be increased to as high as Normal (+1) by allocating an additional point to the thread.

[Linking to NPCs / Static and Active NPCs]

NPCs that stay where they are and do not do much aside from a narrow function are considered Static.

NPCs that may show up anywhere, have a broad array of abilities, and generally could become part of the action and drama should be considered Active NPCs.

If more than one character is linked to a Person, it’s quite likely that person may become an important NPC, and may also be noted as Active, even if they don’t move around a lot or have any significant power.

Active NPCs are noted by a second circle being drawn around the first one that denotes them as a People Node. Any Active NPC should be given at least one, if not more, threads connecting them to other non-Character nodes if they do not have them already.


Role Playing Game campaigns run the full spectrum from the railroading of autocratic Game Masters, to the hostile, often combat laden games where Players and Game Masters are adversaries, to more cooperative, narrative campaigns where everyone works together to propel the story in exciting and interesting directions. No matter the style of play, a simple question can be asked: How much power do the PLAYERS have to control the events of the game? This inquiry is not speaking of character actions, or the choices of how to play the game, but instead seeks an answer in terms of direct input. Do the players help define the world, or is that the sole province of the Game Master?

In games where Player input has more meaning, it may be interesting to allow a certain number of Influences on the Relationship map. This allows Players to tweak the starting map and possibly establish interesting threads and relationships that may not otherwise of have existed. In general, most games should fall into one of three types, which determine how the map may be adjusted.

No/Little Influence:
No changes are made to the relationship map.

Some Influence:
Every player may make a single change to the relationship map, so long as the change follows certain guidelines. They may thread any existing Node to any other Node, provided the link does not connect to or from a Character Node. The player may then define the nature of the relationship as they desire.

High Influence:
Every player may make up to two changes to the relationship map, provided those changes follow certain guidelines. First, they may thread any existing non-Character Node to any other Node, except for their own Character. Second, they may create a new Node and link it to any Node that isn’t a Player Character. The player should define the nature of these relationships as they desire (if an Intensity is warranted, it should be considered Normal +1), unless threading to a character. In this case, the relationship should be listed as Weak (+0) and defined normally. Lastly, no Negative Relationships may be added unless all players agree to it.

Influences that affect Character Nodes should not reach the power of Edges or Hindrances, both of which require advancement earned from the acquisition of Experience Points.


Once the Maps are just about complete, Players and Game Masters alike should check them to see if there are any relationships that SHOULD be present, but have not been threaded. For example, if “Holy Order of the Crow” exists as a Node, and “Carlos, Acolyte of the Holy Order of the Crow” also exists as a Node, then those two Nodes logically should have a thread drawn between them to define their relationship.  

[Future Perfect] S.T.A.R. Fighter

A generic fighter craft focused on delivering a solid offensive punch at both long and short ranges. This fighter is a tried and true design, common among many manufacturers, and has found use everywhere from local militias, to mercenary units, pirates, and even specialist security forces. Its basic compliment of battle-tested armaments and standard, commonly available parts make S.T.A.R. type fighters the obvious choice for many pragmatic and budget minded operations.  Manufacturers seeking to expand this ship's capabilities often add AGS for missile guidance and/or improve the vessel's very basic, even simple, computer with something at least capable of pattern recognition.

S.T.A.R. Fighter
Standard Tactical Armed Response

Manufacture: Generic
Size: Small
Power: 12 [Base 1, LS 1]
Acc: 200 Top: 1200 Handling: +1
FTL: None
Crew: 1 Hull: 14 (4) [Armor 4]

Ship Systems:
  • Computer with Autopilot and Targeting Control System
  • Starship
  • Atmospheric

  • Medium Pulse Cannon [2 Spaces, 2 Power]: 100/200/400, 3d8 AP8, RoF2
  • (2) Medium Missile Racks [1 Space; 1 Power; 4 Shots each]: 250/500/1000; 5d6 AP9; RoF1-4

Saturday, November 19, 2011

[Future Perfect] Swordsman Battleship

The Coalition does not usually build very many larger ships because they consume too many resources that are needed domestically, as opposed to militarily. However, demonstrated need for dedicated ships of the line became evident after a series of pirate incursions (and subsequent terrorist actions) in Coalition space. The CDF worked closely with a number of its factors placed in regional governorships, most notably security and arms maker Securitech, and came up with a series of designs for updating elements of the Coalition fleet. Built around a spinal mounted cannon, matched by a pair of Securitech’s experimental “ROAR” Rapid Mass Accelerators, the Swordsman packs a serious punch. It has enough armor to reasonably shake off a direct hit from most torpedo assaults, and it positively bristles with exterior docking mounts for lighter craft to add their armament to its own. Though the Swordsman sometimes finds itself thrust into the role of Coalition capital ship, it lacks the sheer power of those much more massive vessels so often employed by the other Factions. However, as a ship of the line, it’s a formidable battleship indeed.

Tactically, the Swordsman is intended to work first as a deterrent. If a battle continues, the spinal cannon is fired at larger vessels in the opposing fleet before smaller ships disengage from the docking clamps to engage them. Micromissiles are designed to scatter attacking fighters and the ROAR cannons should make short work of most escort class vessels seeking to close the distance for close assault. Additionally, the Swordsman often is accompanied by several Wayfarer-class interdiction cruisers, which only increases the ships ability to seize and hold a position in space.  

It's critics cite the vessels lack of a true, dedicated H-Space FTL System as it's major shortcoming.  However, compared to many other ships of this class, it also keeps down the cost.  

Swordsman-Class Battleship
Manufacture: Coalition
Size: Huge, Heavy
Power: 90
Acc: 54 Top: 360 Handling: -2
FTL: Gate Key, H-Space Lock
Crew: 38 Hull: 95 (51) (Armor 51)

Ship Systems:
  • Starship
  • Non-Atmospheric
  • Computer with Basic “Lion-Class” AI (d6 Smarts, Power 8, Spaces 8):
  • Piloting d6, Shooting d6, Knowledge (Battle) d6, Repair d6, Notice d6, Stealth d6, Autopilot, Target Acquisition and Control, Fire Control, and Pattern Recognition, SysNet Link
  • Enhanced Crew Facilities
  • H-Space Lock (1 Power)
  • Gate Key (1 Space, 1 Power)
  • Mechanical Shop (Repair Facility; 2 Spaces, 2 Power)
  • (12) Exterior Docking Clamps (6 Spaces; 3 Power))
  • (12) Bed Sickbay (4 Spaces, 4 Power)
  • (30) Marines (3 Spaces, 3 Power)
  • (4) Cargo Holds (4 Spaces)

  • (1) Huge Spinal Mounted Cannon [20 Spaces, Power *]; 8d10 AP45
  • (2) Securitech “ROAR” Mass Accelerator Cannons [6 Spaces, 4 Power Each]: 6d12 AP8; 100/200/400; RoF3
  • (4) Micromissile Packs [1 Space, 1 Power, 4 Shots per Pack]: 200/400/600; 4d6 AP6; Small Burst Template
  • (2) AMCM Systems

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Savage Worlds: Deluxe Edition

When my group stopped playing Savage Worlds, I felt no reason to race out and get a copy of the Deluxe Edition rules.  However, lately I've felt that Savage itch (trust me, its worse than crabs) so I grabbed a copy of the PDF.  Aside from the price (30$ for the book, $20 for the PDF) which is not too high, but is a steep jump from the Explorer's Edition none the less, I've little to complain about.

Back when the Explorer's Edition was released, I was disappointed by a couple of the changes to the system (most notably the Chase rules -- I still like the ones from the 2004 Revised Edition), the elimination of non-human races,  the removal of so many vehicle stats, and the inconsistent quality of the artwork.  However, the standardizing of melee on the Way of the Brave rules, the sensible restructuring of the layout, and the cheap, cheap price made the book a welcome addition to my bookshelf! Hells, I own two copies and used to own a third.

Well, the Deluxe Edition adds a bevy of new "standard" rules, steps up the art quality, returns vehicle stats and non-human character races to the core book, and effectively maintains compatibility with prior editions.  Not bad at all!  What do I dislike?  With all the vehicles they stat out for the book, space ships are notably absent.  Yeah, not a big deal. I've already written plenty of 'em.

I'm happy to see that the folks at Pinnacle are paying attention to what a number of other games have done, especially some of the nice tweaks many new commercial games are borrowing from indy games.  Rules for Social Conflicts are a big plus, allowing for a more in-depth experience than the basic roll and compare mechanic.  Lets face it, some situations call for more than just a skill check. Rules for Interludes are included as well.  What is an interlude?  You know those long stretches of time between events, major scenes, or adventures?  Yeah, those can all be considered Interludes. Now there are some guidelines to use this time to help boost character development (in a non-mechanical way) as well as add a bit of narrative density to the group dynamic between all the conflict and drama.  Theres also a short section detailing how you can tweak aspects of the system to better capture the feel of a genre, style, or setting.  Do you want to play a cyberpunk game? Use the "Gritty Damage" rules.  Up for some extra-pulpy fun?  Try "Born a Hero" and "High Adventure".

I'm also glad to see that the Pinnacle crew seem actually listen to what their players are doing!  Kudos!  They've removed Guts from the standard skill list, reserving it for use as a rule addition for certain settngs.  This was perhaps the most ubiquitous house rule already, and it is nice to see it included as an official rule.  Also, margins of success now actually matter when aking a skill roll.  There is more than just a success or a raise for task resolution; instead, there are different levels of success!  Similar MoS rules have been a longstanding house rule at my game table.  Perhaps most importantly are the myriad examples peppered throughout the text.  These short expositions aid new players immensely, and some are just plain fun to read (my favorite is the ill-fated professor who dooms the world).

I can't say enough how much a Savage Worlds player or GM should buy this book.  Really, it is a must-own volume.  Give your Explorer's Edition book a rest. I'd even say that if you've tried Savage Worlds in the past and found it not quite to your liking, there is more than enough new content that it makes the game worth a second look.

Saturday, November 05, 2011


I'd thumbed through the PDF for Interface Zero a while back, and was impressed enough that I decided I needed to own a physical copy of the book.

If you aren't familiar with it, Interface Zero is a savage cyberpunk setting from Gun Metal Games.  However it's not just another clone of Cyberpunk 2020 or classic books like Neuromancer or Hardwired.  Interface Zero (or IZ, for short) definitely strikes forth into some new territory, providing a fresh, modern view on the genre.  Quite honestly, I think IZ is one of the best cyberpunk games I've seen in a long while, and I'd strongly recommend buying it if you are a fan.

The book is a well made hardcover retailing for $39.99 (I found it for $26 from an online vendor), with delicious artwork of consistently high quality and consistency of style. Even though its all in black and white, I didn't mind at all.

Inside is a host of new rules, many of which I wish I'd seen when I was writing up material for Future Perfect!  I love the rules for cyberware and the core ideas for how to keep cybernetics balanced against other character traits such as Edges.  In short, every piece of cyberware has a negative value associated with it (depending on quality and the function of the cybersystem) and the sum total of these negative values become a penalty to Vigor rolls to determine if something occurs when a character is injured or his system is under stress.  I would have liked to see more granularity in terms of negative effects, but the core idea is sound. It wouldn't take a creative GM very long to expand the list into something less generic.

There are a few things I'm not so crazy about, mostly insofar as they seem like potential game balance concerns.  For example, a few of the character "races" seem over powered compared to others, with very little in the way of negatives to discourage players from choosing those races every time.  Again, there is nothing here that could not be tweaked with a quick house rule or two.

Unfortunately, the Hacking system seems like more of an issue -- then again, it is a concern in almost every Cyberpunk genre game I've played.  It seems like the system can bog down a bit, especially for characters who are not dedicated hackers, and it reads like it could get a bit boring after a while, since most non hacker characters are very similar in virtual space and systems programs seem to be kind of repetitive.

Overall, IZ has earned a place on my game shelf.  With its compelling backstory, interesting rules, and playability it's a must own for Cyberpunk fans.  For Savage Worlds fans, IZ is a great addition for any Sci-Fi oriented game.  It has a lot to offer and its shortcomings, of which there are only a few, I think are mostly a side effect of trying to balance good ideas with the demands of a system (and many of its fans) that demand everything holds to the FFF design theory.  Unfortunately, sometimes FFF only stands for Fast, Frustrating, and Fracking Dull.

I give it 4.5 Stars out of 5.