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.

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