Running Savage Worlds

I just finished my Ravenloft Campaign this past weekend. I really had a blast with both the system and the campaign. A few things I learned along the way:

  • Most importantly, SW works just fine over a course of a campaign. It is not just a quick, one-shot system.
  • Bennies are the fun of the game. Be sure to give them out, and even let players nominate others for Bennies.
  • Let Bennies help you set the mood. In my finale, I wanted a madness/darkness/horror atmosphere. I told the players I was looking to set a mood for this session – those that support the mood will be the ones to earn Bennies. It worked wonderfully – everybody pitched in and got bennies for it.
  • Encourage players to spend their bennies for non-soaking situations. When a player was “close” and still had a stack of bennies, I freely suggested “you could spend a bennie and try again”. Most of the time players did and got the result they wanted.
  • GMs – horde your bennies. I had the best campaign closing session – I never spent a bennie. Only use them when the story needs it (ie, making sure the villian hits or succeeds at something he is good at). Just remember, Soaking a wound means you are nullifying a player success. I am not saying don’t soak (key wildcards should), but think hard before you do it. Extras probably never should soak, although I have no qualms about taking an extra off shaken using a bennie.
  • Use more extras and less Wilds – SW is much more fun with extra stomping action. I had tons of fun as GM throwing hordes of zombies at the playeres vs. a handful of tougher undead. Watch the parry/toughness/bennie soak for the enemy. Other than key NPCs, I think more (extras) is less (fustrating) than less creatures with higher defenses. You just fall into a grind.
  • Remind people about tricks, tests of wills, and the combat survival sheet. This is an area I could have done more. What brought it to light was my droid in Big’s Star Wars game. In a combat, my non-combat build driod was very effective in helping to win the day using tricks.
  • Take advantage of SW elegance. Most rulings were pretty easy – go with your gut.
    Remind players of their options. I found little reminders sprinkled in during the combat helped keep players up on their options and abilities.
  • Use SW to enhance your game at the table – watch the players and the table, not your notes. Since you do not need to fuss with hps and lots of conditions, watch and listen.
  • Trappings, Trappings, Trappings!! For the GM, that is the lifeblood to make things interesting. That extra 15 minutes of thought about enemy trappings really enhances the game and makes your enemy unique. Encourage players to develop trappings. Learn their trappings so you can describe results in the same vein. I also plan to do that more even with skill checks (once or twice, I described Radovar gliding over the ground when he ran to represent his Wind trappings).

As a counter example, Mark was up and I ran the opening scene to Expedition to the Ruins of Castle Greyhawk. I found myself cringing using the standard D&D trappings on the fly for an Orc sorcerer. I had read the encounter so I knew what was to happen, but I really wish I had taken 10 minutes to really think through some fun Orc-like trappings.

That is all off the top of my head. I am sure a few more will come to me and I will add to the list.

  • 6/9/2011 – More to the list :). I will write more on this, but the ending encounter in this adventure is a great example of what I think gaming should be – combat was used to illustrate the encounter, but it was not the encounter itself. When I think back on my two RttToEE campaigns, I really do not like their endings. They were “just a normal encounter at +4 EL”. They were balanced and tough, but they were really not all that interesting. Just a big fight. The end of Lich Queen I rewrote to be a dogfight using Chase rules (in SW terms). It was much more memberable. The PCs got to use there abilities, but it was in a more unique and memorable way. In Ravenloft, they had to “fight the madness” but just simple sword strokes were not the key.

Running Savage Worlds

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