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Friday, September 9, 2011

Savage Worlds in spaaaaaaaaace!

I think this post will be a lot of Savage bits, but the recent space stuff took hold of the title. That, and I liked the Muppet Show.

Mercenary Breed
Recently, I had the opportunity to playtest a new space opera 'mini-setting' called 'Mercenary Breed'. The short pitch is that your characters are an alien band of mercenaries, and it seems to me that the designer meant the more alien, the better. But keep 'em humanoid, or create edges / weapons for unique body structures. When I first read the blurb about it, I thought "Space Opera, mercenaries, hmmm.. Firefly with a bit more machismo." Not that I thought that this would be something I'd really want to play over and over, but I am always interested in source materials that might enhance another game someday. So, I got one of the 6 slots and got 2 groups together to playtest this thing.

First, alien creation - we got some real creative races (A Dargo-like alien from Farscpe) and not-so-creative races. (My friend tells me about his dark, brooding alien race, and I comment, "so, how is this not a Drow?". "Shit," he says. But we played him anyway.)

Reading through the source materials for the playtest, I admit I wasn't as thorough as I probably should have been, but neither were most of my players. We got caught up on a particular line of "Law enforcement is 95% effective". This was posted in comments to the authors, and I got back some clarification that we somehow linked this line from a PLANET description and we unabashedly applied that to the planetary SYSTEM. Oooops. So we were basically a little lost thinking that if law is that effective, what are mercs for? Well, we'll slide that bit o' info under the rug and move on to the adventure.

Space infestation of a bug race. Kind of a fun scenario but my first group were ill-equipped and struggled with the swarms, but making use of some creative weaponry, they managed ok. Swarms in Savage Worlds are both fun and annoying, they swarm over an opponent and don't even have to roll a 'to-hit', just start with straight damage, and, oh yeah, ignore armor because the swarm is in your clothing biting precious bits of your, ahem, self. Eventually, they meet the big bad bug, and fight it out. Then the adventure ends there, all happy and done. I decided to have the aliens have another ship show up so we could test the 'Chase rules' that Savage Worlds provides.

So, I guess this is turning into a review. What did I think? I think that the sandbox might be too big, but I think that the right group could have a LOT of fun with making aliens and forming a mercenary group, and having a lot of firefight action. If you have a group that wants high-action, fights and imagination, this might be up your alley.

The developers are going to continue creating content for this setting, so the source material will only expand, I think that's a great thing, an ever expanding universe.

Savage Space 1.0
Right after this playtest of Mercenary Breed, I ran across an announcement for this Savage Space generic source / setting. I thought it was funny that I found 2 space opera sources within weeks of each other, and since the SS1.0 was a FREE download, I snagged it and browsed it. This has more stuff, and less setting, but I felt it was meatier and fit what I was looking for in a space setting / source material.
  • Gear - it defined some great setting weapons, armor, cyberwear and gadgets.
  • Ship as a Character - the Serenity RPG had this concept, the ship as a character, and this setting had some guidelines on how to go about using this as a feature in your game. These include skills, stats, equipment and even ship Edges and Hindrances.
  • Random adventure generator - always a plus to get the creative juices going.
  • New Edges & Hindrances - One beef I had with Mercenary Breed was the new skills - they were basically just Knowledge skills that didn't need making. This setting did a little better - they brought up good Knowledge skills, and 'futureized' other skills. Lockpicking is security, healing is medicine, etc. It wasn't necessary, healing would still work, and most players/GM's would apply Lockpicking in the future to electronic locks and such, but I think that if you DON'T do this, you'll get some pin-headed goofball saying that lock-picking won't work on a card-reader, wahhhhh. I digress.
  • One of the BEST indexes I've seen recently in an RPG.
47 pages of goodness, free and pretty cool. If you want to run Star Trek, FireFly or even a Traveller game, check this out.

I think my next blog will be more Savage Worlds goodness - Savage Worlds Deluxe and the Savage Insider fan magazine.