Well that Savage Worlds Space Opera game got off the ground last week. (No pun intended.) Here’s what the players came up with: And sorry the silly GM left his notes laying about so I forgot most of the PC’s names.
Tyler Titanic AKA TyTi: That’s the ship. I went ahead and gave them light freighter that in no way has ever been used for smuggling.
The no nonsense bounty hunter and pilot with a few enemies and a few connections.
The beautiful Katana-Wielding Rebel (or Terrorist depending on your point of view) who likes to blow things up.
A deep space salvage expert who also happens to really good ar gunnery and probably not a pirate.
The ray gunslinging guy who sounds like Batman.
The crazy SPACE GOBLIN! engineer. And yes it is spelled SPACE GOBLIN!
And Nut who is not Groot.
The party got hired to find out why a supply ship has gone missing on its run to a remote gas mining outpost orbiting a gas giant. I hate doing whole sessions write ups but here’s the highlights of the session. As a GM I kit bashed a couple of Savage One Sheets for the adventure (Routine Extermination for FEAR Agent and Ghost in the Machine for Last Parsec) and I’ll try to keep this spoiler free.
The group miscalculated their hyperjump and ends up running out of food four days before they get to their destination. So yeah the party is in deep space and no food.
The stations is overrun with rogue killer robots and the crew (except for some blood and a finger that the SPACE GOBLIN! ate) were missing. They blast their way thru a bunch of bots with no problem until they get to the main processing chamber. There they find a huge bot, building more bots and doing something else but they just aren’t sure what. This fight is pretty bloody for the player characters with about half the party having at least one wound. The Rebel Bomb Maker (who is not a Terrorist) decides to throw a bomb this goes very badly and doesn’t even detonate and lands way off target (Read way too close to the PC’s). The bomb does go off when they finish off the big bot which explodes on it’s own thus causing the bomb to go off. This rips a huge hole in the floor and half the party gets banged up even more and starts falling down the umbilical used by the miners skim gas from the planet’s upper atmosphere. And that’s where we ended the session.
This post appeared years ago on the old blog. Most of the thoughts still apply and since I’m starting up a little Savage Worlds game, I thought it would be good to bring it back.
This time I want to rant a little about Whiff & Ping. For those not up on the local gamer jargon, Whiff & Ping is easy to explain. Whiff: I swing, I “miss”. Ping: I swing, I hit, it bounces off my opponents thick scaly hide. Pretty much not matter what your system of choice is you’ve felt at least a little bit of this. In D&D, in it’s many forms, you’ve got high AC’s, Spell Resistance, Energy Resistance, Damage Resistance, Evasion, the lucky Saving Throw and the list goes on. In GURPS, you’ve got your Active Defense, Damage Reduction and a host of resistance rolls. In World of Darkness, you’ve got a one die pool mechanic, sometimes known as the “Roll a Pile of Dice and Nothing Happens” System. The danger of Whiff & Ping exist in pretty much every game.
At first glance, it might appear that Savage Worlds combat can suffer from Whiff & Ping Syndrome and in a way it does. In Savage Worlds, you have two defensive stats, Parry and Toughness. Parry is basically your target number to hit. Toughness is basically the target number to damage. Simple. Right? Anyway, some Big Bads can get some pretty high numbers. So it can be pretty hard for your buff fighter with a d8 in Fighting and shells out 2d8 in damage can hit the dragon but he’s going to have a hard time hurting it.
But here’s the deal. A lot of games out there basically use attrition damage systems (At least, that’s what I’m calling it here.) Let me explain. Most damage systems rely on a slow whittling away of Hit Points, Life Points, Wound Levels or whatever. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this. In a way, it’s kind of neat. It builds tension in the fight scene whether the players realize it or not. They slowly see their life getting chipped away bit by bit. When they hit an opponent, even it’s for the tiniest amount of damage it’s a reward. It builds the excitement and the players gain some sense of accomplishment. Our gaming brains have been wired to look at combat and damage in this light. Savage Worlds is more about the constant danger that the rug will be yanked out from underneath you at any moment. A couple of good hits and the right dice mojo will end a fight.
The act of hitting and not damaging an opponent equates to failure in most gamer’s minds. And nobody likes to fail. Even if you land that solid blow, you still might not hurt the guy. I’m going to use an extreme and overly simplified example here. Let’s say that we have an encounter with your standard D&D adventuring party of four versus a big nasty red dragon with 100 HP. On average due to various conditions each of our heroes does 5 HP a round to the dragon. It would take about five rounds with a total of 20 attacks to finally take down the dragon. In Savage Worlds, a similar encounter would run pretty much the same way. Twenty or so attacks until someone finally rams a sword through the beast’s eye. There will probably be a couple of Shaken results and maybe a Wound. Now, I know some of the math fetishists out there will want me to run some sort of simulation and work out all the probabilities. That ain’t happenin’.
Now it’s time to talk about the Whiff factor. This one is really simple. If you’re having problems hitting an opponent, read the Combat Survival Guide. If you are still having problems, you need to figure out if your GM is cranking up things too high. Finally, gauge your character to your oppoents. You might think your character is a bad ass but according the GM’s encounters, you’re a mook. Just talk things out, folk.
Just like any other game, it’s real easy to outclass the player characters if GM’s aren’t careful. The key here is just like every other game is to know the player characters and their capabilities and then design encounters that will challenge them. There’s no real magic bullet to balance an encounter and it doesn’t matter what game system you are using.
It’s been a long time since I messed around with Savage Worlds. Well, here’s the first alien race for player characters.
Imagine a cross between a monkey and an iguana with a sick sense of humor, warped knack for technology and a love of money. Then you have the Gremlox.
Gremlox Ingenuity: Gremlox gain a +1 bonus to Repair skill rolls. However, any other character (including other Gremlox) have a -2 penalty to attempt to repair or maintain that equipment.
Tough Little Bugger: Gremlox have -1 Toughness but also have the Hardy Edge.
Gremlox Technology: Gremlox love gadgets and tinker around with “new and improved” ideas. They are the only race with the AB (Weird Science)*
Quirk (Sick Practical Joker)
*It may sound strange to use Weird Science in a space opera game since there’s already so much technology. But unstable nature of Weird Science and those possible Glitches make it perfect pulpy fit.
There will be more on the way and some house rules too.
As regular readers well know I’ve been on a streak about running a space opera game. And I’ve done a couple of posts and talked to the FLGS group and looks like things will get off the ground so to speak. So in my copious free time, I need to do a little brainstorming.
First of all. Yes. Savage Worlds. I’ve already been asked “Why not White Star?” Heck, I love White Star and OSR stuff. But one of the players did mention they’d like do something that wasn’t d20 based. For me that left two choices. The good Star Wars d6 and Savage Worlds. I have fond memories of the d6 system and ran it a few times back in the day. However, I wanted to add a few gonzo elements that just didn’t quite work in my mind with d6. And (this is just my opinion) I think Savage Worlds is a better system. Not saying that d6 is bad, it’s just Savage Worlds edges it out here and there like initiative, character generation, and most importantly I’ve had enough experience with Savage Worlds I can tweak a bit and not totally break the game. Additionally, one player has had a less than stellar (no pun intended) experience with Savage Worlds due to some GM issues. So it’s nice to have a player willing to try a system again.
Now for some nuts and bolts. The SciFi Companion is cool and I’ll be using a couple of things from like some Edges, Hindrances and cinematic Ammo rules but the bulk of the inspiration is going to come from Daring Tales of the Space Lanes by Triple Ace Games and Slipstream. I really want to run with a pulpy space opera type feel. And these two fit the bill. As a bonus, there’s some good adventures and inspiration from The Last Parsec as well. And a similar to that there’s some great adventure ideas and inspiration from Bulldogs.
I’ll have some more posts in the future about the setting, alien races, house rules and few other things.
But for now here’s some freebies (This mostly for players.):
The Savage Worlds Test Drive Rules. Yes it’s for Lankhmar but the rules basics are there.
Daring Tales of the Spaces Lanes (Just don’t look at the adventures. Looking at you players. 🙂 )
Well, I grabbed up some more space opera based mini’s and it looks like things maybe getting off the ground for this campaign. It’s been a chore finding more mini’s. I have a bunch of the old WOTC Star Wars mini’s but like any gamer I wanted more. I searched the internet and kept my eye open looking for something inexpensive.
Then it hit me. One of the Appendix N inspirations for this whole thing is Guardians of the Galaxy. What about Hero Clix. I mean I have a bunch of Mage Knight minis and Horror CLix (if you remember those). Plus I’ve grabbed up some less superhero looking Hero Clix for modern era games. And yep found some singles over at Troll and Toad. Heck, the most I paid for one was 99 cents. Not bad.
Here’s some if you’re looking for some more retro and just a bit gonzo. Who can say no to kungfu disco robot? That’s what I thought when I saw the mini of ISAAC.
Of course, there’s your more standard fare and the Guardians themselves that would work pretty darned well.
Right now, I don’t know if I’ll leave these as is or take the time to rebase or possibly repaint a couple.
Let’s talk spaceships. Previously, I had picked up a bag of the very soft plastic (vinyl or whatever the hell they are made of) space ships from Amazon and there was some discussion of another set which I picked up. Here’s a pic of those along with a Star Wars Micro Machine Millenium Falcon (Yeah, I got some of those too). And as you can see, they are a very similar scale which should work pretty well on the tabletop.
This new set is larger. Slightly more detailed and from harder plastic. And according to the Amazon reviews you could even paint these. So what am I going to do with those soft ones? Well, they would make cool Bennies. Wait, what? Is that obvious hint? Yep. That Space Opera game is finally going to come together and I’ll be returning to on old favorite game system that I haven’t messed with in years. Savage Worlds. So it’s time to dust of the rules books and hunt up those old house rules and get to making up cool stuff.