View Full Version : [Savage Worlds] Skill imbalances?

12-13-2011, 09:49 PM
I've recently started playing using the Savage Worlds rules, so its possible I don't have all the rules right.

Currently we're using the Realms of Cthulhu setting with it and I like the way the skills are balanced. There are two skills for combat (Fighting and Shooting), and four for gathering information (Investigation, Notice, Persuasion, and Streetwise). Since Cthulhu has a much heavier focus on investigation and avoiding combat, this works quite well. You don't have to be utterly useless in combat because you've sunk all your skill points into abilities to gather information.

My question is: How well does this work in other settings? The only other setting I've spent any time reading was Weird Wars 2, which didn't change them much, it merely added Knowledge Artillery for mortars and artillery pieces. It seems a little odd to lump everything that shoots into the same skill, everything from pistols to aircraft mounted machine guns are covered by the Shooting skill. Perhaps I'm looking too much at the crunch, but it seems to me that a sniper probably isn't as good with a bazooka as with his rifle.

I would think the same think would come up in a fantasy setting as well; since swords, maces, kukri, halberds, and so on are all covered by the fighting skill. Again I haven't played them, but looking at the rules it seems like it oversimplifies the weapons a bit.

So if any of you have played the more combat heavy settings, how did the combat skills work out? Were the weapons similar enough in stats that their types were little more than flavor? Or did the players tend to gravitate to what the saw their character as being the most proficient in and correct this oversight with role play? OR does it not even matter, this simplification made the combat quicker and less of an intrusion on the role play and the developing story?

12-14-2011, 09:30 AM
I have been heavily involved in a Solomon Kane setting campaign and the simplicity of the Savage Worlds system allows for more character development and role playing. I do agree that with Shooting covering everything, that it is an oversimplification in real world terms, but I've yet to stop and think "Wow sure would be cool if there were more combat skills." The primary differences between weapons in hand to hand combat is the damage the weapons do, as you are right, Fighting skill allows you to use them all. It would only take a simple house rule of -2 to hit unfamiliarity penalty to represent learning to use a weapon, but I'm not sure that adds anything to the game. Regardless of using the same skill for all weapons, I know I put thought into the weapons any PC takes as some do more damage or give a bonus to Parry and those decisions can be very important in combat.

The true balancing mechanic in Savage Worlds is not diversity of skills, but Edge selection. You give a character Florentine, Wall of Steel. Improved Sweep, Improved Frenzy, and Improved Counterattack and this character is a walking combine that will slice through Extras all day long. Give the character Steady Hands, Marksman, Rock and Roll, Improved Trademark Weapon, and Dead Shot and they will be as deadly with firearms as the first character is with melee weapons. The use of Edges allows the player to gravitate in whichever way the campaign needs or to change direction as the player desires. I personally find the streamlined rules to take the mechanics out of the characters and the game and gives both the GM and the players more time for the role playing. I am however, extremely biased in favor of the rules lite theory of game design, so Savage Worlds fits my style of play very well, so my opinions must be viewed through that lens. If you are into GURPS level crunch, Savage Worlds will almost certainly never be suitable for you.

12-14-2011, 10:09 AM
I hadn't considered the edges, sounds like they add a lot of interesting twists to the character builds. We're running some loosely adapted Call of Cthulhu scenarios in our game. As combat is something to be feared none of the characters have an abundance of combat edges or skills, so I haven't had much reason to dig too deep into them. I'll have to have a better look through the edges in the rule book and the couple of settings books I have.

I'm not really all that excited about crunch, I like having rules there to keep some order in the proceedings though. I was just curious how the rules would allow characters to distinguish themselves in a more combat heavy campaign. I figured there was something that I overlooked.

12-14-2011, 10:37 AM
If you look at the basic combat rules of Savage Worlds, no you didn't overlook anything - just Fighting and Shooting for everything. However, as I mentioned, the nuances come from Edges and if you are not into crunch, then Savage Worlds should work out just fine for you. I have not had a chance to try out Realms of Cthulhu, but the Solomon Kane setting does have a horror element and everyone dreads having to roll on the Fear Table, so I believe Savage Worlds can handle the Cthulhu setting quite well.

12-14-2011, 03:09 PM
It does do a good job of handling Cthulhu. The sanity rules are a big change from the Chaosium rules, but they work very well.

I'm very curious about the other settings, but it's difficult getting enough time to try them out.

12-14-2011, 04:23 PM
depends on if you are interested in online gaming, but this forum is where that Solomon Kane campaign I mentioned occurs. Sundays 7-11PM Central. You are welcome to lurk or join. Them GM's handle is jpatterson.

12-14-2011, 07:32 PM
Most games I play in are online in some fashion, as my group is spread out from Minnesota to Georgia so we're big on MapTools. I'd love to see how others play the game, not to mention another setting. If there's no complaints about someone lurking I'd love to have a gander at your game.

12-14-2011, 09:34 PM
Come on down. We will game this weekend before taking our Christmas break, so you are welcome to join us.

12-15-2011, 10:43 AM
The thing to remember about Savage Worlds, is it a fast and furious system, so therefore, it tends to be simpler compared to other systems. That can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. It's very easy to teach to new players, doesn't have lots of accounting chores, ie, having to track lots of hit points, lots of different skills, etc.

But, if you're looking for more crunch, well, it doesn't really have that. I'm using it to run a weird west campaign, and so far it's working out really well.

12-16-2011, 06:36 PM
Heya Qman, good to see you still going strong. I run the Savage Worlds/Solomon Kane at 7pm Central USA time in the PPG chatroom, mentioned by Lazarus. You and anyone else, are welcome to come lurk anytime, and if you want, roll some dice or possibly try out a pregen.

Crunch is relative, and at least for me, really depends on how much a GM and players want to add or remove from a game. I've added, for example, Glory from Hellfrost, but removed psychological Hindrances, and have a 2 wounds in one hit maximum limit. You could easily do the same for any part of combat, and the Savage Worlds rules even mention options a GM could use, such as dividing skills; I think their example is "Rifles", "Handguns", etc. I'm not sure where I read it.

As it stands, there are three, not two, combat skills: Fighting, Shooting and Throwing. You could easily change those however you need, such as merging shooting and throwing into Ranged, or dividing shooting into Archaic and Modern or Fighting into Single Hand, Two and Polearms... it really, like all games, hinges on what the group wants in a game.

I will say that the other thing to consider is that I would presume the current breakdown of skills is somewhat balanced with the points given at character creation and for advancement in-game, so if you suddenly have 6 or 8 combat skills instead of 3, you may need to consider giving more points for initial character generation, to help offset characters not being able to shoot a bow, a rifle, a bazooka and a bb pistol with the same skill they have to pay points for. Given a Cthulhu setting, though, it could be that breaking down the combat skills without giving extra points makes sense, in that it helps curb combat monster characters, which are somewhat at odds with Lovecraftian stories.

Related to that, you could simply remove some of the combat Edges Lazarus mentions, as they could, as noted, offset the harrowing sense of danger so iconic of Cthulhu settings, like all settings do - Solomon Kane changes the way the entire magic system works, and disallow some Edges, and introduce others, to make it more fitting to the genre.