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
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