Monday, July 20, 2015

Theater of the Savage Mind, Part Two - Templates

In this series, I'm writing deeper rules concerning theater of the mind play in Savage Worlds. Think of these blog posts as drafts. These are not heavily playtested, simply a distillation of things I've been doing on the fly in my home games. Really they're suggestions that I'm hoping will create a conversation that leads to a final document that I, and those interested, will be able to use in their games. 

As I've said before, the Savage Worlds Deluxe "Games Without Miniatures" rules didn't go far enough for my tastes. Specifically, I mentioned that the Template conversion rules were merely a "good start." I'll be tackling those specific rules this week.

I think the rules, as is, are pretty good honestly. Though I'm willing to bet that people who use them forget that adjacent allies get hit automatically unless there's a raise scored and that the cover and diving for cover rules should still apply. I think the main reason has to do with a weakness of theater of the mind, and that's just keeping track of who is adjacent to whom.

To me the obvious answer is to use tokens (or minis) of some sort to track adjacency. In this way, players and GMs with area of effect attacks have an easy reference. Unrelated to AoE attacks, this method will also help in keeping track of Gang-Up. That said, I know full well there are GMs who can keep this sort of thing in their head. I'm simply not one of them, and honestly there's no guarantee everyone at the table have the same gift.

The one actual rules tweak missing from the Template conversion rules is the chance for a character to get hit by their own AoE attack. The solution here is pretty simple—tie it to the dice. If a player rolls Snake Eyes on their attack, they and anyone adjacent get hit. As an option, this can be extrapolated further using the Template sizes as a guide:
  • SBT - acting character, plus adjacent allies
  • MBT - acting character, another non-adjacent acting character, plus all adjacent
  • LBT - acting character, two additional non-adjacent acting characters, plus all adjacent
For a thrown weapon, cover and diving for cover rules apply. For a propelled weapon, there is no diving for anything.


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This game references the Savage Worlds game system, available from Pinnacle Entertainment Group at www.peginc.comSavage Worlds and all associated logos and trademarks are copyrights of Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Used with permission. Pinnacle makes no representation or warranty as to the quality, viability, or suitability for purpose of this product.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Theater of the Savage Mind, Part One

It's no secret that Savage Worlds is my favorite system. I've always had one gripe with it though—it's written with tactical maps and miniatures in mind. The design is reasonable, especially considering it was derived from a tactical miniatures game.

When Pinnacle released Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition (SWD), I was elated to see there were rules added for games without miniatures, but really this short sidebar section of the book was more of a nod than a solution to my problem. The range section was still too granular for me (just using real measurements), and while the template conversion rules were welcome, they were really just a good start, as far as I'm concerned.

Since Savage Worlds has refused to stop being my favorite game (I think it's just addicted to me), I've decided to take some of my favorite "theater of the mind" gaming experiences from other games and use them to fully convert Savage Worlds into the game I wish it was. In thinking about design goals, I've settled on the following:
  1. The rules will cleave as closely as possible to the overall paradigm of what one might expect from Savage Worlds
  2. The rules will remain Fast, Furious, and Fun—I've no interest in making the exclusion of tactical maps and minis more complicated than using them
  3. The rules will allow for any existing Savage Worlds character to be used with nearly zero modification
 As I've been thinking about how deep a conversion should go, here's where I will concentrate my efforts, at least initially:
  1. Expanding on the template rules presented in SWD
  2. Replacing the original range rules
  3. Modifying affected Hindrances, Edges, and Powers in SWD
It's worth mentioning that theater of the mind rules need not be miniature nor map free. Minis and maps are great way to keep gaming groups on the same page in combat. I'm simply not interested in counting squares or hexes, or using a tape measure to move characters or determine things like range or line of sight—at least not in my roleplaying games.

It's my intention to post updates on this topic on Mondays, until I feel the rules are complete—or until my ideas go down in burning flames of bad design, whichever comes first. Stay tuned!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Long Time, No Write

Has it really been six months? Time flies. I plan to start posting regularly to G:TB, so I figured it'd be a good time to update you on what I've been up to, gaming-wise and gaming-related-wise.

For starters, I've been podcasting again. Kristian Serrano over at the Savage Bloggers Network has been kind enough to let me join him on his new weekly podcast, summarizing the news that flows through his feed. If you're a Savage Worlds fan, you should totally check it out. We also do monthly Google Hangouts On Air, where we interview different Savage Worlds personalities. The best place to get into all this is the SBN site. I look forward to seeing you there!

On the gaming front, I've actually been doing less than usual, to include paring back my GMing time. Most Fridays, I play in a Marvel Cinematic Universe Fate Core game, where I am reprising an old Savage Worlds character, the vigilante, Revenant. On Sundays, I am a part-time GM in a 13th Age game, and, starting this Sunday, a Last Parsec game. Once I month, I try to hit my FLGS, Isle of Games on their RPG day, and play in whatever is on the docket. Again, I GM, but only occasionally.

That pretty much sums it up. I've got some ideas floating in my head, begging to find a new home. I also have a couple reviews I would like to get done. I hope you enjoy it!