Friday, December 31, 2010

Fairly Big Announcement

If you're into this sort of thing...

I intended to post a LOT more this last week or so, but holidays and a new PS3 have conspired against me.

However, tomorrow is the anniversary of the creation of my blog, and I have two big announcements:

1) Tomorrow, I am going to unveil Tommy's Top Six...these are the top six titles I reviewed on my blog this year, in my effort to ensure that certain games get very special mention. The criteria for selection was simple: 1) I had to have reviewed it on my blog this year...and 2) Only one title per company...(one tentative list had four books by two companies, and that's all I'll say). The companies have been notified of their selection, and that leads to part two...

2) To celebrate my blog's birthday, I will be running a giveaway over the next week. Official rules will be posted tomorrow, with full details, but I can tell you this: You will have the opportunity to win one of Tommy's Top Six in PDF format, as well as a few other goodies. Ten prizes will be awarded in all, with multiple copies of two games being available, as well as two prizes containing special extras...but every entry in Tommy's Top Six will be available to be awarded! What happens if I wind up with less than 10 entries? Thanks to the generosity of the publishers, the first anniversary of The Most Unread Blog on the Internet. Ever. is going to be much bigger than I ever dared dream...so please, come back tomorrow to see Tommy's Top Six and WHY I think you should buy these books, as well as your chance to win a copy of ten amazing prizes.

Thank you so much for reading the blog!

Tommy
Hoping You All Had A Merry Christmas And Have A Safe And Happy New Year

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Savage Worlds Characters Are All The Same: Big Damn Heroes

Yeah, so after reading Suzerain, I totally want to make these guys "wake up" as Heroic Rank Suzerain characters. I'm NOT...though I am stealing a Suzerain Edge (stripping off the Pulse function of it) and giving it to a PC this rank, because it's cool.

The Cast is now at Heroic Rank...the last rank under the regular character rules. Then they hit Legendary and advancement is handled a bit different. Once I do a few advances in Legendary, I'm putting these guys to rest and I'm starting a new series with superheroes...not so much to see if they turn out alike, but to see just how well they scale into the upper ranks.

DON'T HIT ME

1st: Giant Killer - He's Small already...may as well take bonus damage against the big guys.
2nd: Smarts d10 - Mostly for the benefit that he gains from Smarts Tricks.
3rd: Improved Level Headed - He now acts on the better of three cards, which must be a 5 or Greater.
4th: Fencer - From Shaintar. This gives him +1 to Parry while unencumbered and +1 to offset Called Shots, all while using the rapier.


DON'T HIT ME

Agility d10
Smarts d10
Spirit d6
Strength d6
Vigor d6

Fighting d10
Guts d6
Intimidation d6
Investigation d6
Notice d6
Taunt d8
Throwing d6

Charisma: 0
Pace: 6"
Parry: 7
Toughness: 4

Hindrances
Small (-1 Toughness)
Loyal
Bad Luck (1 less bennie per session)

Edges
Acrobat (+2 to nimbleness based Agility rolls, +1 to Parry)
Block (+1 to Parry)
  Improved Block (+2 to Parry)
Danger Sense (Free Notice roll at -2 to avoid attack)
Dodge (-1 to avoid being hit with ranged attacks)
  Improved Dodge (-2 to avoid being hit with ranged attacks)
Fencer (+1 to Parry while unecumbered, +1 to offset Called Shots)
First Strike (free attack when opponent gets into range)
Giant Killer (+1d6 when attacking a foe three sizes larger than him.)
Level Headed (Acts on the better of two cards)
  Improved Level Headed (Acts on the better of three cards)
Quick (redraw an initiatve card less than 5)
Strong Willed (+2 to Taunt/Intimidate)

Rapier (+1 Parry, for a 12), Damage d6+d4, Buckler Shield (+1 Parry, for a 13), Throwing Knife Damage d6+d4

HULK SMASH

1st: Improved Sweep (Removes Sweep penalty)
2nd: Spirit d6. This is gonna help with that whole "becoming unShaken" thing.
3rd: Nerves of Steel. Ignores a level of Wound penalties.
4th: Frenzy. One extra attack at -2.


HULK SMASH
Agility d6
Smarts d4
Spirit d6
Strength d12
Vigor d12

Climbing d4
Fighting d10
Guts d8
Intimidate d8
Survival d4
Tracking d4

Charisma: -4
Pace: 8"
Parry: 7
Toughness: 9

Hindrances
Ugly
Overconfident
Mean

Edges
Adaptable: Barbaric Blood (spend a benny to trigger Berserk)
Berserk (Smarts roll upon being wounded, or go Berkserk, +2 Fighting/Strength rolls, -2 Parry, +2 Toughness, rolls of 1 hit random adjacent target)
Brawny (+1 Toughness)
Charge (ignore Running penalty when making a Fighting attack)
Combat Reflexes (+2 to become unShaken)
Fleet-Footed (Pace +2, d10 Running die)
Frenzy (1 extra attack at -2)
Might Blow (double damage on a Joker)
Nerves of Steel (ignores 1 level of wound penalties)
Sweep (attack all adjacent foes at -2)
  Improved Sweep (removes the Sweep penalty)

Great Axe (Armor Piercing 1, Parry -1 for 6), Damage d12+d10, Chain Hauberk (Armor +2, for Toughness 11)

SNIPER

1st: Woodsman. +2 to Stealth, Tracking and Survival in the Wilderness.
2nd: Combat Archer. From Shaintar. SNIPER can now fire his bow in melee combat as well as use the bow itself as a club, doing Str+1d4 damage.
3rd: Improved Trademark Weapon. +2 to Fighting and Shooting with his bow.
4th: Shooting d12.


SNIPER
Agility d8
Smarts d8
Spirit d6
Strength d6
Vigor d6

Climbing d4
Fighting d8
Notice d6
Riding d4
Shooting d12
Stealth d8
Survival d8
Throwing d6
Tracking d8

Charisma: 0
Pace: 6
Parry: 6
Toughness: 5

Hindrances
Cautious
Wanted
Yellow

Edges
Alertness
Archer (Called Shot, Range and Cover Penalties are reduced by 1)
Combat Archer (Bow can be used at melee range and as a club, doing Str+d4)
Dark Fighting (Halves penalties for Shooting in the dark)
Dead Shot (Double damage on ranged attacks when a Joker is drawn)
Double Shot (Fire two arrows at 1 target with -2 penalty)
Marksman (Free Aim action as long as he doesn't move)
Steady Hands (removes unstable platform penalties)
Trademark Weapon (longbow, +1 to Shooting rolls)
  Improved Trademark Weapon (longbow, +2 to Shooting rolls)
Woodsman (+2 to Stealth, Survival and Tracking rolls in Wilderness)

Longbow 2d6 damage, Leather armor (+1 for Toughness 6)

MR. WIZARD

1st: Streetwise and Investigation d8.
2nd: Investigator. +2 to Investigation and Streetwise.
3rd: Power Points.
4th: Smarts d10.


MR. WIZARD
Agility d8
Smarts d10
Spirit d8
Strength d4
Vigor d6

Charisma: +2
Pace: 4
Parry: 4
Toughness: 5
Power Points: 30

Gambling d6
Guts d6
Investigation d8
Knowledge (Arcana) d8
Lockpicking d6
Notice d4
Persuasion d6
Shooting: d4
Spellcasting d8
Streetwise d8

Hindrances
Bad Eyes
Lame
Poverty

Edges
Arcane Background: (Magic)
Attractive
Connections
Investigator (+2 to Investigation and Streetwise)
Power Points (+5 Power Points) (x4)
Wizard (use 1 less Power Point per raise on Spellcasting roll)

Powers
Boost/Lower Trait
Deflection
Detect/Conceal Arcana
Dispel
Obscure

Crossbow, nice clothes (fraying around the edges), cane.

FEARLESS LEADER

1st: Majesty. From Noir Knights, minus the Pulse version. This makes it harder for Extras to become unShaken in his presence.
2nd: Smarts d10.
3rd: Knowledge (Battle) d10 and Fighting d8.
4th: Hard to Kill. Ignore Wound penalties for rolls on KO and Injury Tables.


FEARLESS LEADER
Agility d6
Smarts d10
Spirit d10
Strength d6
Vigor d6

Charisma: +4
Pace: 6
Parry: 6
Toughness: 5

Fighting d8
Guts d8
Intimidation d10
Knowledge (Battle) d10
Persuasion d10
Streetwise d8
Survival d4

Hindrances
Code of Honor
Doubting Thomas
Stubborn

Edges
Charismatic
Command (+1 to his troops for Shaken rolls)
Common Bond (share bennies with other Wild Cards)
Fervor (+1 to melee damage for troops)
Hard to Kill (ignore Wound penalties when rolling on KO or Injury tables)
Hold the Line! (+1 Toughness for Troops)
Inspire (additional +1 for troops to become unShaken)
Lucky
Majesty (Extras at Charisma x2 are at -1 to become unShaken)
Natural Leader (share bennies with troops)
Noble

Shortsword d6+d6, Plate (+3 Armor for 8 Toughness), Hirelings

THOUGHTS

DON'T HIT ME still has the Glass Ninja syndrome going on...but being Small, that Giant Killer really comes in handy.

HULK SMASH continues on the path of being an engine of destruction. He's finally beefed up Spirit, which gives him an extra boost (with Combat Reflexes) to become unShaken).

SNIPER is really changing, learning to handle himself in a straight up fight in addition to sniping. He's been building to Combat Archer and Woodsman, and now he's hit them. He's the tracker of the squad and a scary good shot.

MR. WIZARD has very little magic development, but we're doing "subtle magic" anyway...he is pretty big on the investigative front.

FEARLESS LEADER is becoming one heckuva charismatic presence. He now leaves Extras unnerved in his presence, and he's becoming an above average fighter, though he doesn't have many personal tricks up his sleeve. He does, however, know how to run a mass combat.

Up next: Legendary!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tommy's Take on Noir Knights

This was actually the review I was preparing to do, when I did the Savage Suzerain one instead. Noir Knights is set in a Suzerain realm called American Grit, and shows up in the Savage Suzerain plot point campaign.

The PDF is $19.95, with most of the common cool features, like being searchable and bookmarked, with copy and paste available. You can order the hardcopy right now for $34.99.

The same production values are present here as they are in Savage Suzerain and Shanghai Vampocalypse, although the art on the cover image just doesn't do it for me. Conceptually, I don't have a problem with it...something about the style just doesn't click with me. Incidentally, I don't have a problem with the interior art (by the same artist), the cover just loses me.

FOR PLAYERS

The setting is a mostly-like-our US in the 1930s, in the heart of The Great Depression...just freakier. A conspiracy is afoot, and it is slowly tearing the United States down from the inside. Your PCs are assumed to be members of, or at least associated with, the United States Special Projects Administration - Task Force Division. This means that they are the kind of troubleshooters that deal with secret conspiracies threatening to take apart the United States from the inside.

And so the book provides us with the player's overview of the SPA, including three new Paths that we'll get to in a minute, to give you an idea of just how things work.

CHARACTER CREATION

Pretty standard Suzerain character creation, which is pretty standard Savage Worlds character creation, except everyone gets free Pulse. Noir Knights is assumed to begin at Heroic, after the Telesmae have "awoken" to the PCs and they are now doing freakier stuff...so if you want to plunge right into the Plot Point Campaign, create Heroic rank characters.

Unlike some realms, American Grit only has humans...however, since everyone is Heroic rank, the option is present to allow a PC who started in another realm and wound up in American Grit before the beginning of the Plot Point Campaign, for a nice variation.

A single new Hindrance is present - Charge. This is a dependent that the hero must care for, not a sidekick or anything.

Several new Edges are present, like the really cool Echolocation...basically, you use sound to make up for the lack of light. Fair Catch lets you spend Pulse to catch projectiles...and that includes bullets. Hail of Bullets lets you unload into a crowd but ensure that you never hit in innocent, Majesty makes it harder for Extras to become Unshaken in your presence, Nothing To See Here convinces people that you are doing whatever you're supposed to be doing and Sharp Shooter lets you pay Pulse to dump penalties off of Called Shots! There are some really cool Edges here!

A list of setting-specific Connections is supplied, as well as new Telesma Edges such as Folk Hero Telesma, which lets you take an Edge that is one rank higher than you are, once per Rank.

Three new Pulse Paths are provided: Ruizologist's are Weather Wizards, basically, and have a list of New Powers...Railwalkers are hobos who use sigils and, like the Ruizologist, they have a list of new powers well. Lastly are the Taximancers, who sometimes use dead things for back-up. Each of these is a specialization for an existing Pulse Path, meaning that you have to have the appropriate pre-requisite Pulse Path first. 18 new Powers are spread out among the Paths, like Mean Dog, which allows Railwalkers to summon attack dogs or Drudge, which allows a Taximancer to enlist the dead (though they typically only use animals these days), and Bolt from the Blue, which allows a Ruizamancer to summon a giant bolt from the sky that'll strike in a Medium Burst Template that doesn't directly harm those it hits...just potentially sends them flying,

THE SPA FILES

Here is a more detailed look at what the SPA is dealing with. It touches more on the sense of desperation in the Great Depression, the rise of carnivals and the prevelance of the railroads (and the sigil-drawing hobos that follow them). The text is full of little items that can be expanded into adventures, and does a nice of job planting the idea that something IS fundamentally wrong in the world.

A handy flowchart tries to explain government structure. Thank God this is set in the '30s at the rise of government expansion and not now, trying to keep everything straight.

Washington DC gets a special section of its own, since it is likely serving as the homebase for your party, from the mobsters carving up the city to the rumors that The Founding Fathers are back from the grave and operating as vigilantes.

GUNS AND GEAR

A few pages of equipment specific to the era, such as elephant guns and padded trenchcoats.

FOR GMs

And now we starting getting into the truth of the setting...and spoilers are coming, so if you're a player and not a GM, do go away.

For instance, the drought that created the Dust Bowl? Ruizologists that screwed up and breached the Realm of Fire. An assassination attempt on FDR goes wrong, killing the guy he tapped to head up SPA...a taximancer tries to "save" him, repairing the body and sticking a new spirit in...it just wound up not being the right spirit...and now that has turned into an unholy brain trust who are trying to cripple America in the Depression.

Oh...and the Transcontinental Railroad? It's one Great Sigil keeping heinous forces at bay...and the hobos guarding it are kind of one of the few safeguards against The End of Everything.

J. Edgar Hoover's infamous paranoia has led to him figuring out that some things just aren't what they seem, and Hoover, for his faults, is someone inside the system who ultimately has American interests at heart, rather than infernal interests.

Other benevolent factions include the Templars of Marassa, warrior-priests empowered by the Loa Marassa to make sure that the taximancers doing unnatural things are stopped in their tracks.

Even some of the mobsters in DC now have access to arcane forces, but the BIG secret is the truth behind industrialization: All of those big factories have a sub-basement in which the morlocks slave away...and along with some "normal" humans, who are happy to have a job.

I wouldn't be completely shocked to see a sequel in the American Grit realm.

ADVENTURE!

The plot point campaign has a dozen adventures to it, with Savage Tales to fill in the rest.

The campaign begins in Winter of 1934, with a missing persons case (mostly hobos, but a few locals) in Dodge City. Right off the bat, the PCs can wind up diving into something deeper if they know where to look.

The second plot point follows up on a thread involving a carnival in the first one, and ties into the hobo disappearances, as the government tracks the carnival to Tennessee.

Plot point three, in a bit of campy fun amidst a dark situation, lets the PCs encounter a megalomaniacal Thomas Edison inside a morlock factory (Edison himself is one, and has faked his death). Human trafficking isn't funny...but I know my game table would lose it the second I revealed Thomas Edison's plan to take over the world from his underground sweat shops. Awesomely, Edison has a captive who can end his plans if the PCs free him - Henry Ford, master of machines.

Plot point four leads the PCs to Florida, where they are thrust in the middle of a conflict between rail workers and indian natives, and get a crack and the ruizologists that caused The Dust Bowl to begin with!

Plot Point five is a head-on conflict with Ma Barker's gang...'cept most of them have been dead for a while, so they're a little more durable than your typical crook. Barker's plan involves dropping "Necro-Bombs" on Washington, turning everyone into zombies!

Plot Point Six is the historical Black Sunday dust storm...and it is one massive Dust Devil. For the halfway point of the campaign, they turn up the "heat", because this should be a fairly intense affair. At the conclusion of this point, their handler is piecing together a much larger conspiracy, even if they haven't been.

Plot Point Seven begins with a meeting of the minds and ends in a giant factory raid that lets the PCs work through dozens of drudges, a nasty ruizologist and a flying serpent...but leaves them missing pieces, still.

Plot Point eight starts off with a nasty hurricane coming to Florida and has more leeway than any previous plot point: It can be solved with guns or with words, and depending on what the PCs do, could easily wind up in the Spirit World!

Plot Point nine draws the PCs back to Washington as an ally from an earlier adventure goes missing...and Hoover hands them one of the villains named dropped earlier in the adventure as the suspected reason for the disappearance.

Plot Point ten has the PCs specifically requested for task in Pennsylvania which, at this stage in the game, draws suspicion from all involved. This lets them learn the truth about the Great Sigil and the railwalkers, as well as let them do battle with a Demigod.

Plot Point eleven seems to be a detour in things, taking on arcane gangsters...until the PCs get mystical information identifying the Big Bad that they have been hunting (their own boss) is in Washington DC.

Plot Point twelve is the grand finale, where everything gets laid on the table and the PCs get to kill their boss...only to realize that the shell he was stuck in was holding him back, and once freed, it turns into a MEGA boss fight...at this point, the PCs should just be crossing into Demigodhood.

Much like the Necessary Evil plot point campaign, you are going to have some people who just HATE the set-up, because it is, for the most part, their immediate boss telling them where to go and what to do, since the campaign explicitly assumes that the PCs are part of the SPA (and if they are not, it will mean a massive rewrite). Note: I love the Necessary Evil plot point, and so I don't have a problem with this one, just stating what will surely be a complaint.

One common complaint I've heard about Plot Point campaigns over the years is that they tend to "kill" the setting...that is, they fundamentally alter the setting far past the starting point. This one doesn't really do that with American Grit, though it does fundamentally alter the premise of Noir Knights - that is, The SPA does not survive the campaign intact. The setting itself can still be used as written (in fact, many of the events of the PPC will wind up under the radar of most people).

SAVAGE TALES

18 Savage Tales are included, with some name dropping. For instance, Blackbeard's Castle (though there are no pirates here, but Fish-Men). Another one involves the PCs getting to deal with the Chosen of Loki, who is trying to drop a sea creature in Lake Champlain. Another Tale deals heavily with the Spirit World, while John Dillinger makes a cameo in another. They also get to deal with a time traveler and his death ray, and it is worth noting for those who ran the Heart of All Saints adventure in the Savage Suzerain book that there are several callbacks to it in this one.

ALLIES AND ENEMIES

The book concludes with a set of generic stats for the various extras that show up, such as Dust Devils, drudges, thugs, etc.

CONCLUSION

I have to confess, I don't see the "Noir" part of it, other than it's being set in the thirties. I mean, you do have The Great Depression going on, but there's not much setting up the heroes as hard luck, or really even a lot of shades of grey in the setting. Citing "four color pulp", "answering the call to action" and "patriotism in the form of universal morality" as being what the adventures should invoke...yeah...not a lot of noir there, in my opinion.

That doesn't mean it's bad...far from it. I like the supernatural twist on The Great Depression, and Savage Mojo scores once again with some very nice character options. On one hand, I might would have gone with something other than a dragon for The Final Boss Fight, since that was done in the Savage Suzerain book already...but on the other, a big dragon is about the last thing you expect to see at the culmination of big battle in Washington D.C., supernatural setting or not.

While I think they missed the mark on the hard-boiled part, they delivered a great take on supernatural pulp action (Thomas Edison is a morlock looking to take over the world - that's awesome), and the setting still has tons of life left in it for a future Plot Point Campaign or setting book. I, for one, enjoyed getting a setting in this time frame focused on America and having nothing to do with, say, World War II.

To summarize: I really dig the book...Savage Mojo supplies some great settings and some tremendous character options. I just don't think I liked it for the reasons I'm supposed to, with names like American Grit or Noir Knights, because there wasn't anything particularly gritty or morally dark or ambiguous about it...on the other hand, it does provide a high-powered smackdown of Very Bad Guys who are trying to destroy the very fabric of America with Necro-Bombs and stuffed government officials possessed by Giant Dragon Demons whose plans are being held at bay by hobo wizards that time-traveled to ensure that the railroad system was a giant protective sigil.

If loving that is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Best Purchase I've Made All Year

And no...it's NOT LOST: The Complete Collection or Taylor Swift's Speak Now.

In fact, unlike LOST or Speak Now, the best purchase I've made all year wasn't pre-meditated...it was a total impulse purchase.

A few months back, Amy and I went Barnes & Noble, looking for a gluten-free cookbook for Faith. As I walked in the door, they had a kiosk set up for the purpose of pimping the Nook. Now, I'd been eye e-readers for a while, looking mostly at the Amazon Kindle. On that particular day, I had a paycheck in my pocket and our bills covered, so when the guy hit his sales pitch, I was listening.

Wouldn't have done it if Amy wasn't there, but she was, and so I did.

MAN that was a good idea.

I have read more books in the last few months than I have in the last few years. I've discovered authors (Kate Atkinson, Richard Kadrey, James R. Benn) that I had never heard of and genres (World War II Murder Mysteries!) that I never thought I would enjoy. I've become a fan of the above authors, Dennis Lehane and John Skipp.

Right now I have about sixty books loaded on the Nook...when I finish one, I start another. Heck, I've even gotten hooked on Sudoku, which came loaded onto the Nook.

Every Friday, Barnes & Noble gives away a free book (including some of the above)...and they run specials all the time, giving deep discounts on books.

Since the Nook, unlike the Kindle, uses the ePUB format, if you don't like Barnes & Noble, go to Smashwords.com (where a number of independent authors publishing their books, sometimes for free) or the new Google ebook store.

The Nook uses e-ink technology, which is great because it "feels" like the printed word to my eyes, rather than a computer screen...meaning that I can read for hours as time permits. The Nook even does decent PDF conversion (for the less art intensive ones, anyway), as I read the API Anthology on the Nook, as well as used the Wu Xing RPG book on it.

The Nook Color just came out, and it looks cool enough, but I'm not ready to "trade up" until we get color e-ink. The LCD screen would be fine for PDFs and comic books...but for traditional reading, I am incredibly pleased with the Nook.

Just a list of some of the books and short stories I've read over the last couple of months with the Nook:

- The API Anthology
- Buried Tales of Pinebox, Texas
- When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson
- The Monster That Devoured Cleveland by A.M. Murray
- Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
- One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson
- Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane
- Hunt at the Well of Eternity by "Gabriel Hunt"
- Billy Boyle by James R. Benn
- Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
- Chinatown Beat by Henry Chang
- DEAD(ish) by Naomi Kramer
- SERIAL by Blake Crouch and Jack Kilborn

And currently reading Jake's Wake by John Skipp...and I plan on reading a bunch more.

With all of the freebies and deals, an affordable price (for an electronic gadget) and great performance, you could do a lot worse than to invest in a Nook if you're a reader.

Tommy's Take on Champions, Traps and Dwarves

EXPANDED PROFESSIONS: CHAMPIONS

Paladins are one of my favorite "classes". Ever since a friend of mine played The Best Paladin Ever in AD&D2e years ago...a guy who held himself to impossible standards, but understood that people around him were fallible. This starts with the Champion Edge from Savage Worlds and provides options to make a character a truly force of righteous power in the world.

Seven Edges, spread from Seasoned to, yes, Legendary are included for your Champions, and some of them will certainly feel familiar to people who had have Paladins in their D&D games. In fact, one Edge - Champion's Mount - can be taken multiple times, with each selection allowing the player to add a new power to the mount, such as allowing the mount to use any of the PC's Combat Edges!

The Legendary Edge, Crusade, allows the Champion to summon a fighting force for a holy crusade...calling out to people every day that he continues to make the associated Faith roll! There IS a growing penalty each day, so while it's POSSIBLE to keep making rolls indefinitely, it's certainly not likely.

A very cool set of Savage Worlds options for one of my favorite character types.

10 FANTASY TRAPS

Steven Trustrum pretty much gets to the point with his product names.

This is 10 Fantasy Traps, as it sounds. Note that they are not written in the same format found in books such as The Savage World of Solomon Kane, but if you're not a fan of that system, then this may be a plus.

Every trap has a Stealth rating, a Trigger, Disarm mechanism, Attack rolls, Effect and a Cost to purchase/set it up.

These cover most of your basics: You have arrows shooting from the walls, swarms of needles, pits opening in the floor, pendulum blades and bear traps both big and small.

Important notes are made, such as how the needles in and of themselves are rarely the real threat...most of the time they are also poisoned, for instance.

If you are incredibly anal about everything new fitting everything already in existence exactly, you might be disappointed by this. If you are already 100% happy with the traps system already in place, you might not have a need for this...otherwise, this is a pretty swell addition to the Savage Worlds line-up.

PLAYER RACES: DWARVES

Misfit Studios doesn't reinvent the wheel with dwarves here, but they do provide some very cool options nonetheless. It is little secret that I have become a huge fan of their additions to Savage Worlds, the racial and professional expansions, certain classic monsters returning and so on, and this is no different.

My favorite Edge in this supplement HAS to be Grounded, where a dwarf can "ground" himself against damage-causing magic, gaining protection against the effects. Giant Defense goes hand in hand with the already existing Giant Killer, giving a dwarf higher parry against a giant.

If it were Edges alone in this supplement, it would be cool...but we also get a dwarven alcohol for a bit of flavor...and the very cool dwarven waraxe. What makes a dwarven waraxe special? Well, the two-headed axe is actually two axes in a single haft...that can be removed and turned into throwing axes!

Not enough for you? How about famous fantasy metals Adamantine and Mithral, and their costs and properties?

Round that out with rules for playing half-dwarves, as well as the Earth/Stone trapping for Powers (a few of the Edges tie into this trapping), and you have another packed addition to the Savage Worlds line-up.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tommy's Take on Savage Suzerain

Savage Suzerain is a dimension-hopping Savage Setting by Savage Mojo, and it's darn pretty...but then, most books graphically designed by Aaron Acevedo seem to be. I previously reviewed the very impressive Shangai Vampocalypse, using the free version of Savage Suzerain as my guide. That sparked me to pick up the full version.

To get you in the mood for the dimension hopping, the cover has a guy in powered armor with a laser rifle standing opposite a lady with wings, a sword and traditional armor...while a small, ornate box called the Telesma floats in the air between them. We'll get to that in greater detail, later.

Suzerain is 196 pages and both colorful and art intensive, though if you get the PDF version, it does include a printer friendly version. The PDF will set you back about $20, which is generally more than I'm comfortable with for a PDF, while the print version is very reasonably priced at $34.99 (and you can get a Print+PDF bundle for about $10 more).

The PDF is fully searchable and bookmarked, though it does lack an index for those purchasing the print version.

Let's get to the meat of the book and see what we can see.

FOR PLAYERS

This technically comes after the disclaimers and table of contents (which is fully clickable in the PDF).

Here, we get the overview of Suzerain...from Novice to Heroic, it's pretty much Savage Worlds. From Heroic on...well...the characters kinda start getting epic. A new Rank has even been added beyond Legendary: Demigod. Starting from Heroic, it is possible for your PCs to travel through time and space, to other worlds and dimensions and right those wrongs.

They do recommend that at 180 XP, you mothball the PCs and start all over again...maybe even worshipping the previous PCs as Gods.

There are some tweaks to the terminology as well...bennies have been replaced with Karma, while Power Points are now Pulse.

As well, every PC has the Touch of Greatness...that is, a certain connection to the greater universe. This is why they have a Telesma and why they can advance to Demigodhood.

Fatigue has been extended, so you can take three levels of Fatigue in addtion to three Wounds, and race is a completely unique concept here...as everyone is technically human, but can acquire racial Background Edges.

As is common, some Edges are tweaked and some are removed. Followers can now be gained at Heroic rank, for instance, and Followers and Animal Companions can all gain advances every time your Hero does, once your Hero hits Seasoned.

The Spirit World also plays a huge role in Suzerain, and it gets at least broad detail in this section.

Some Optional rules are included...such as encouraging you to use Pinnacle Adventure Deck (and Savage Mojo offers their own, specific one as well), differentiating the red and black Jokers are positive and negative and players being able to spend Karma to add details (like a trap door when the heroes are cornered).

Once heroes hit Heroic, they start becoming unShaken even easier, gain more Karma and even see their Wild die increase.

Death also loses some of its sting in Suzerain, as heroes can spend Pulse and have their Telesma spare them...and once they hit Heroic, they can start spending Pulse to Flex nexus points...rewriting reality (temporarily). This is not a power to be abused, either, as Karma spent on Flexes do not regenerate at the start of the next session.

Character creation is pretty standard...although everyone gets 10 Pulse, without having to take any kind of Edge for it.

New Edges & Hindrances

Okay, all I'm saying about Hindrances is: Optimist. Yes, you can be too cheery. At Minor, it gets on people's nerves. At Major, you become "immune to the concept of danger"...this may be my favorite Hindrance ever.

As for Edges...wow...there are a ton of great options. Sidekick has pretty much been bumped down to a Seasoned Edge called Companion, and there are several Edges that let you spend Pulse to push yourself far beyond human limits, such as Surge, which allows you to increase your Pace as much as you want by spending 1 Pulse per extra inch. Pulse Armor lets you deflect attacks and Living Banner allows a Leader to expand their radius of influence as well as affecting Wild Cards alongside Extras.

Patron Gods can be selected, each of which grants unique abilities...like the Patron God of Fertility allowing you to create a replica of yourself for a limited time.

Pulse Paths

The Powers that you are used to do still exist in some form: Pulse Paths...of which there are four: Prayers, Rituals, Sigils and Spells. Two additional powers, The Sight and Divine Intervention, are included as well.

Saving The Universe

It seems that when the Telesma get together, they form a little pocket realm for the heroes to use as a home base. Honestly, if at all possible, I would recommend hiding this part from your players until you spring it on them...I'm sure I will. The realization that their Telesmae have built them a pocket realm, I think, is kind of a cool revelation.

At Heroic rank, the Telesmae pipe in and contact the PCs, letting them in on just what is going on. We get a full treatment here on the Telesmae, just what they are and how to handle them (including a hint that Excalibur was one...or at least had one built into it). The abilities of the Telesmae are laid out, such as their ability to "read" new realms and impart information on the PCs, and the Edges that they can take (they gain one Edge every time the PC increases in Rank). Some nice roleplaying options for the Telesmae are included as well: Don't worry about it, just use it as a tool...lay out a rudimentary personality for it...or have the everyone play the Telesmae of the PC to their left or right.

The Telesmae are rather cool, but I would again recommend not sharing this stuff with your PCs, at least not at first.

RELIC

A fantasy realm for Suzerain, the setting for their new release Caladon Falls, as well as a plot point campaign in this book, gets a Players Version treatment. This includes even more Edges, especially Racial Edges such as Aurora (bizarre light manipulators), Dwarf (who look more like stone golems than traditional dwarves) and Fury (half-man, half-wolf). There is an Edge group called Child of the Arrow which marks the PC as a Hunter and allows them to spend Pulse to increase their damage...the higher the Edge you want to take, the lower your Strength has to be. The only problem with this, is that most of your ranged weapons have at least a d6 Strength requirement...though I suppose you could always eat the penalty and use other Edges to compensate.

A handful of new powers are also presented for Relic, as well as a new Pulse Path: Anatomist...who can do things like transform their fingers into surgical tools.

FOR GMs

We get some new creature abilities, including the scary Vitality, which can be ranked and provides free Soaks for the beast that has it.

We also get a bit of detail on the Spirit World and why you would want to use it...it's not just a shadowy reflection of the living world...it's that and so much more. Imagine the surprise when your swords and sorcery party enter the spirit World and find their approximate village over there is being brutally dominated by a scar-faced Chicago gangster.

Or not, whatever.

A pair of sample spirits are included, as well as the Mael-Born - those born of a powerful spirit and a mortal (and why wasn't this a character option?)

WELCOME TO THE MAELSTROM

There's more than just the Physical World and the Spirit World...the Maelstrom is a crazy, beautiful, chaotic lightshow of a realm where the Gods hang out, and you really shouldn't if you don't own a Telesma.

The Maelstrom can screw with time AND space, so have fun with that. The book provides some of the important Realms, like the Realm of Archangels, Realm of Yggsrasil, The Realm of Pure Mages, The Realm of Mount Olympus, The Realm of Fire, The Red Realm, The Realm of Ascendant Order and The Fey Realm of Dreams, each of which gets a few paragraphs on what you should expect if you decide to visit.

We also get the "rules" for Time Travel...as applies to Heroic characters and as applies to Demigods. For instance, Heroic characters cannot exist in the same time more than once...it is impossible. We also get a primer on "elastic history"...that is, how history always tends to "bounce back", no matter what you try to do...with the suggestion that if someone REALLY wants to TRULY fundamentally alter events in history, it should almost be a campaign in and of itself.

Gods are also treated here, with the "hows and whys" of their normal interference, and how some Gods will ask nicely while others will manipulate and so on.

HEROIC GAMES

One of the stated goals with Savage Suzerain is to get you to agree that "Life begins at 60" (that is, experience points). Most adult roleplaying groups have to deal with missing players from time to time...so Suzerain built this into the system: Have Gods summon the missing player's PC (or all of the PCs except theirs) for a special mission through the Telesmae.

Some good advice is also given on the difference between playing in one setting, or hopping from dimension to dimension...and while the latter is one of the selling points of Suzerain, it is far from required. They even touch on the whole notion of everyone making a character from a different reality and banding them together as a unit...Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Man with No Name, Aragorn, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Dick Tracy plucked from the time stream and forced to hop from reality to reality (for instance).

DEMIGOD GAMES

This is mostly some types on raising the stakes for some epic games...and I HIGHLY recommend Shanghai Vampocalypse as an example of a Demigod game. The margin for failure there is nuts...not in a Gygaxian dungeon kinda way...but there are a couple of points where, if you fail, that's it...end of the world.

RETURN OF THE DRAGON GOD

This is a full-on plot point campaign, with a plug for their Gamescapes line of maps, which has entries that coincide with at least approximations of many of the locations in this campaign.

The campaign begins with the PCs having captured a baddie named Gregor, who has kidnapped a bunch of kids. The PCs are also assumed to be around 30 XPs (you can jump straight to this, or play and build them up...your choice).

In kind of cool twist, the first two parts of the Plot Point are meant to only be followed up once the Pcs have SEVERAL adventures under their belts...after their Telesmae start talking to them and they break the Heroic barrier...it seems that a little detail was (likely) left undone during the kidnapping plot, one not directly related to the whole affair...and it is now having ramifications...200 years earlier.

Yeah, Suzerain operates on a different scale than the typical Savage Worlds setting.

This trip to the past drops them right in the middle of a massive melee, and the success or failure of the PCs in the next part can make the encounter with The Big Bad a little easier, depending.

The next part of the Plot Point kicks in while the PCs are Demigods...and, again, find that a certain detail was overlooked...oops. This time, we zip fromm swords and sorcery into an apocalyptic sci-fi wasteland.

The final battle itself is very interesting, especially for people who complain about their Savage Worlds fights being "one hit kills"...there are four important steps to follow in defeating The Big Bad, which will take some doing, and Pulse, in order to penetrate this thing's body and scatter its Pulse.

Did I mention that drawing blood on him can actually be bad? I won't spoil it here...but yeah.

The Plot Point is really just six points, but they are all interconnected. I think it's a slight cheat saying it takes the PCs from Seasoned to Demigod given all of the bouncing around, but I also think it's pretty cool, especially for the inventive "Boss Fight".

SAVAGE TALES

Eight tales are included for the pre-Heroic ranks. These include a Boogeyman tale with a twist, a little tomb raiding and a separatist conflict involving djinn. A couple of them are quite clever, and they all provide a good cross-section of some non-epic adventure.

HEROIC SAVAGE TALES

Now, there is a bit more travel involved here, including a trip to the Noir Knights setting to haggle over a Heart. They also get to take a sidetrack to the Dogs of Hades setting, in an adventure tied into one of the earlier Savage Tales.

DEMIGOD SAVAGE TALES

That plot thread that began in the Pre-Heroic Ranks, and went into the Heroic Ranks continues into an Alternate version of Relic. There are several trips into the Maelstrom, throughout the Realms, including a big brouhaha with Archangels and Demons.

The Savage Tales are filled with a number of creatures and stat blocks, even if a true bestiary isn't present, so an enterprising GM shouldn't have much trouble adapting things to their own game.

The book wraps with a one page character sheet, complete with an advancement track for both the character and the Telesma. Given the emphasis on companions, I would have at least included an NPC sheet to track their advances, personally.

CONCLUSION

Do you like the idea of epic level adventures in Savage Worlds? These guys are on the ball. From globe hopping to dimension hopping...or even just earth shaking stuff in a single world, it's all here. They have released four setting books so far (Shanghai Vampocalypse - reviewed here, Noir Knights - review coming very soon, Caladon Falls - review coming soon, and Dogs of Hades).

I dig Savage Worlds, and I'm not bothered by them changing some things...(I know some folks were uneasy with things like Power Points becoming Pulse or Bennies becoming Karma...but Deadlands has Fate Chips, y'know?).

A big thumbs up for a book that is not only gorgeous, but has a lot of substance backing up that style.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tommy's Take on War of the Dead: Chapter Two Week Nine

We are in the homestretch of War of the Dead Chapter Two, as it enters Week 9 and the Fall of Sanctuary.

Last week was easily the most horrific twist in the campaign so far, so I have a hard time imagining what could happen in the final five weeks that could top that.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Savage Worlds Characters Are All The Same: Veterans

This is coming a bit later than I had hoped...but here we are: Let's make The Cast Veterans.

DON'T HIT ME

1st: Improved Dodge. Stick and move, brotha.
2nd: Improved Block. Yes...I just made his Parry an 11.
3rd: Agility d10. This gives him an extra edge on Agility Tricks.
4th: Fighting d10 and Taunt d8. Oops...now I have to completely recalculate his Parry.


DON'T HIT ME

Agility d10
Smarts d8
Spirit d6
Strength d6
Vigor d6

Fighting d10
Guts d6
Intimidation d6
Investigation d6
Notice d6
Taunt d8
Throwing d6

Charisma: 0
Pace: 6"
Parry: 7
Toughness: 4

Hindrances
Small (-1 Toughness)
Loyal
Bad Luck (1 less bennie per session)

Edges
Acrobat (+2 to nimbleness based Agility rolls, +1 to Parry)
Block (+1 to Parry)
  Improved Block (+2 to Parry)
Danger Sense (Free Notice roll at -2 to avoid attack)
Dodge (-1 to avoid being hit with ranged attacks)
  Improved Dodge (-2 to avoid being hit with ranged attacks)
First Strike (free attack when opponent gets into range)
Level Headed (Acts on the better of two cards)
Quick (redraw an initiatve card less than 5)
Strong Willed (+2 to Taunt/Intimidate)

Rapier (+1 Parry, for a 11), Damage d6+d4, Buckler Shield (+1 Parry, for a 12), Throwing Knife Damage d6+d4

HULK SMASH

1st: Fighting d10. Again, he needs it for certain combat maneuvers. Maneuvers like...
2nd: Charge. From Shaintar...now he can run and make a Fighting attack without penalty.
3rd: Vigor d12. It fits the concept.
4th: Mighty Blow. If he gets a Joker, he gets double damage. Yes, on d12+d10. And if gets a Joker and he's within running distance (Pace 8 + d10 + 2 for the Joker) of a more suitable target, ouch. Given the ground that he can cover in a round, I think it is WELL worth the investment.


HULK SMASH
Agility d6
Smarts d4
Spirit d4
Strength d12
Vigor d12

Climbing d4
Fighting d10
Guts d8
Intimidate d8
Survival d4
Tracking d4

Charisma: -4
Pace: 8"
Parry: 7
Toughness: 9

Hindrances
Ugly
Overconfident
Mean

Edges
Adaptable: Barbaric Blood (spend a benny to trigger Berserk)
Berserk (Smarts roll upon being wounded, or go Berkserk, +2 Fighting/Strength rolls, -2 Parry, +2 Toughness, rolls of 1 hit random adjacent target)
Brawny (+1 Toughness)
Charge (ignore Running penalty when making a Fighting attack)
Combat Reflexes (+2 to become unShaken)
Fleet-Footed (Pace +2, d10 Running die)
Might Blow (double damage on a Joker)
Sweep (attack all adjacent foes at -2)

Great Axe (Armor Piercing 1, Parry -1 for 6), Damage d12+d10, Chain Hauberk (Armor +2, for Toughness 11)

SNIPER

1st: Double Shot. From Shaintar (a freaking goldmine of material), SNIPER can notch and fire two arrows at once, with a -2 penalty.
2nd: Archer. Also from Shaintar, this reduces all Called Shot, Range and Cover penalties by 1.
3rd: Fighting d6 and Survival d6.
4th: Fighting d8 and Survival d8. Yep, I skipped an attribute increase. Honestly, he doesn't NEED it.


SNIPER
Agility d8
Smarts d8
Spirit d6
Strength d6
Vigor d6

Climbing d4
Fighting d8
Notice d6
Riding d4
Shooting d10
Stealth d8
Survival d8
Throwing d6
Tracking d8

Charisma: 0
Pace: 6
Parry: 6
Toughness: 5

Hindrances
Cautious
Wanted
Yellow

Edges
Alertness
Archer (Called Shot, Range and Cover Penalties are reduced by 1)
Dark Fighting (Halves penalties for Shooting in the dark)
Dead Shot (Double damage on ranged attacks when a Joker is drawn)
Double Shot (Fire two arrows at 1 target with -2 penalty)
Marksman (Free Aim action as long as he doesn't move)
Steady Hands (removes unstable platform penalties)
Trademark Weapon (longbow, +1 to Shooting rolls)

Longbow 2d6 damage, Leather armor (+1 for Toughness 6)

MR. WIZARD

1st: New Power (Dispel). By this point, we assume they've ran across a couple of other spellcasters.
2nd: Power Points
3rd: Streetwise and Investigation d6.
4th: New Power (Obscure). This one can get crazy if he plans things out with Sniper.


MR. WIZARD
Agility d8
Smarts d8
Spirit d8
Strength d4
Vigor d6

Charisma: +2
Pace: 4
Parry: 4
Toughness: 5
Power Points: 25

Gambling d6
Guts d6
Investigation d6
Knowledge (Arcana) d8
Lockpicking d6
Notice d4
Persuasion d6
Shooting: d4
Spellcasting d8
Streetwise d6

Hindrances
Bad Eyes
Lame
Poverty

Edges
Arcane Background: (Magic)
Attractive
Connections
Power Points (+5 Power Points) (x3)
Wizard (use 1 less Power Point per raise on Spellcasting roll)

Powers
Boost/Lower Trait
Deflection
Detect/Conceal Arcana
Dispel
Obscure

Crossbow, nice clothes (fraying around the edges), cane.

FEARLESS LEADER

1st: Spirit d10.
2nd: Knowledge (Battle) d8 and Persuasion d10.
3rd: Fervor. This gives any troops he has a +1 to their melee damage.
4th: Fighting d6 and Intimidation d10. He's starting to come into his own as a competent fighter, but he's even more adept at ending fighting before they begin.


FEARLESS LEADER
Agility d6
Smarts d8
Spirit d10
Strength d6
Vigor d6

Charisma: +4
Pace: 6
Parry: 5
Toughness: 5

Fighting d6
Guts d8
Intimidation d10
Knowledge (Battle) d8
Persuasion d10
Streetwise d8
Survival d4

Hindrances
Code of Honor
Doubting Thomas
Stubborn

Edges
Charismatic
Command (+1 to his troops for Shaken rolls)
Common Bond (share bennies with other Wild Cards)
Fervor (+1 to melee damage for troops)
Hold the Line! (+1 Toughness for Troops)
Inspire (additional +1 for troops to become unShaken)
Lucky
Natural Leader (share bennies with troops)
Noble

Shortsword d6+d6, Plate (+3 Armor for 8 Toughness), Hirelings


THOUGHTS

DON'T HIT ME still has a few more options left to completely optimize him in his role. His Parry is disgusting right now, and it's only going to get worse.

HULK SMASH is REALLY coming into his own, I think, as an engine of destruction. He does still have vulnerabilities, yes, especially to Tricks and becoming unShaken, but Charge lets him move around the battlefield almost at will (especially since there is no "straight line" requirement on the Edge), and even though he's hit Fighting d10 alongside DON'T HIT ME, they really are worlds apart on their round for round interactions.

SNIPER has developed some really cool options, and is getting lined up for a couple of Professional Edges as he reaches Heroic.

MR. WIZARD expands his magical repertoire, and has worked out a nice combo with SNIPER, using Obscure on enemies to give them penalties and counting on SNIPER's crack shots to take them out.

FEARLESS LEADER is going to have to spend Heroic Rank developing himself now, as he's got all of the default Leadership Edges now. The group is getting into good position for winding up in mass combat scenarios as well, which are more likely the higher in Rank they develop.

Any thoughts? Does Savage Worlds have sufficient advancement options to appease you thus far?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tommy's Take on BASH Ultimate Edition

I literally purchased this book twice this year. Once in PDF and again, used, in hardcopy. Both times, my timing sucked...the PDF purchase came right before BASHMAN announced the Indy Press Revolution Print + PDF bundle, and the second time came right before BASHMAN announced a new printing with errata.

So, yes, my timing absolutely sucks.

Good thing I dig the game.

BASH Ultimate Edition does a nice job of melding many of the things I like from other games into one nice package. While not quite as freewheeling as an ICONS, it is also nowhere near the mind numbing beancounting of a Mutants & Masterminds.

INTRODUCTION

Pretty much a standard intro chapter, this does introduce some of the changes made from the original BASH, for those that are familiar with it. Most notably, the concept of Energy points was (thankfully) dropped. No tracking of points for powers (unless a character is specifically built that way).

Pretty standard stuff here. The basic mechanic is also introduced here: roll 2d6, multiply by your relevant stat or power, apply the result. If you roll doubles, roll a third die and add it...if it's the same number, repeat until you get a different number. This means that you can score a higher result off of a bunch of 3s than off of rolling a 6 and a 5, for instance. Note: I LOVE "exploding" mechanics, especially in superhero games.

For people that hate doing math in their games, a handy, color coded chart is provided on the back of the book.

CHARACTER CREATION

Every Character has three stats: Brawn, Agility and Mind, ranked from 0 to 5. The GM doesn't so much set the point totals for the characters as he does the campaign. Characters that come in under budget get Hero Points to use in play...characters that come in over budget get Setbacks for the GM to use. Four campaign scales are given, with point totals for those scales plus recommended Stat-Power point spreads. 20 Points is "Mystery Men"...north of 60 and you get into "Cosmic". Taking a Weakness can give you extra character points.

A full chart of all of the powers is present, complete with page numbers to help you skip around as you need.

Characters get skills, split into Physical and Mental skills, and are based off of your Agility and Mind respectively. They can either Every skill gets a speciality, and you can invest multiple slots into a skill as well.

Advantages and Disadvantages are determined on a one for one basis, with many opptionss present. A Versatile her can perform a Power Stunt once per issue without spending a Hero Die. You can be Immortal, or you may have Dumb Luck, which lets you reroll one roll per issue.

Disadvantages include Arch-Enemy, Freak and the very interesting Hidden Powers - meaning that the Narrator picks your powers for you, and you discover them over time.

Once you are all totaled up, figure out the Hero Points and Setbacks, and finish off your character with the details. They call motivation "Mental Malfunction", which kind of annoys me...call me silly, childish and idealistic, but I don't like to look at superheroes are being "damaged". Just knocks some of the shine off of them for me.

PLAYING THE GAME

And here we get into the details of the rules. First off, the author insists that the GM make all rolls in the open, and nothing behind the scenes.

Time is broken down into Pages and Panels rather than rounds and turns, which is meant to evoke a comic book feel...but I don't care for it, personally. I play a lot of different games and I prefer standardized terminology, for the most part.

We get guidelines on situational modifiers, and the game leans heavily towards using grid maps and minis...used to be, this would have been a COMPLETE turn-off for me...and then Savage Worlds changed my worldview on RPGs.

Damage in combat is handled by attackers rolling damage and defenders rolling Soak. If the attacker rolls higher, the difference is applied to character's Hits. Major Heroes and Villains have 100 Hits (but varying levels of defense, meaning not everyone goes down at the same time), while Minions have a less, depending on the specific type.

Hero Points and Setbacks are detailed here, and are pretty simple: Hero Points can be added to actions, Setbacks can be used to take away from them, and they cannot cancel each other out.

Hero Dice (which cost 5 Hero Points) can be used to perform Power Stunts, restore yourself to 20 Hits or suddenly burst in on a scene and a few other feats.

Common weapons are given rules, such as pistols, machine guns, brass knucks, bazookas and two handed swords. A handy chart even breaks down improvised weapons for you.

We get Fire, Falling and Drowning Underwater rules, plus "Extended Checks", a system to resolve a conflict over time (like chases, or trying to pick a lock while facing a time limit.) You get a target number, a time limit, who all can participant and the Complications. Like failing to hit a total 50 in 4 Pages to disarm a bomb, you get BOOM.

There is a Vehicle system, complete with Advantages and Disadvantages for Super Vehicles, as well as about 18 sets of stats for normal and super vehicles. Advantages include neat tricks like ejector seats...while Disadvantages include Open, meaning that you get very little protection from attacks on the vehicle. Headquarters rules follow, with common powers, plus Advantages and Disadvantages as well, like Heaviily Defended or Publicly Known. Five sample HQs are presented as well.

POWERS

Here we get the powers broken down in detail. They are in broader categories and then broken down into individual descriptions. You can modify them further with Power Limitation and Enhancements that adjust costs up and down allow you to customize. There are many combinations that can be built, such as powers with Limited Charges or that cannot be turned off...while Enhancements like Second Nature makes powers that require maintenance to be kept on with no concentration.

The section on Movement Powers includes sidebars on using momentum from super movement to inflict additional damage, or how to use Super Speed to trump another person in combat.

There is even a category on Intense Training Powers, which are essentially martial arts tricks, like hitting a weak spot or two weapon fighting.

I've modeled several of my characters from other games with little difficulty, so pretty much all of your major power needs will be met with the system. The system is in the process of being expanded with the Awesome Powers book which is supposed to add in a random character generation system as well.

NARRATOR'S SECTION

This chapter provides loose guidelines on making up a setting from scratch, or adapting an existing setting. The author also rightly pimps his own Megapolis setting as well, which is due for an Ultimate Edition upgrade.

Some good general adventure advice is provided for setting mysteries (including being prepared for players missing the obvious) as well as putting some thought into framing brawls. Subplots are also encouraged, with a list of common types, as well as suggested rewards for every issue in which a PC deals with their subplots.

This is the part about how I mention that I love random tables. You roll 2d6 on the appropriate table (slums, Downtown/Midtown, Uptown/Suburbs). This gives you a second table to roll on to get a situation.

Some examples: I roll snake eyes on Slums. This means I need to roll a third die, and I get a two, for a total of four for "Routine". Rolling on that chart, I get a seven or "Serious traffic violation"...for the sake of a superhero game, let's call it Road Rage. And there you go, a quick little incident to resolve.

A four on Downtown/Midtown gets Violent Crime. Roll again, get a seven - Mugging. Now we're talking.

Seven on Suburbs is Routine...I roll and get two fives, so I roll again and get a four for fourteen...a cat in a tree!

It's not a full blown adventure generator, but it's not meant to be, either...more of a "crap, now what" kind of thing.

Guidelines on Villians include Villain motivations, Advantages and Disadvantages, as well as Villain Dice which can be used to perform Important Villain Feats like faking their own death.

Minion rules are basically mook rules, which can be abstracted down to allow Heroes to fight whole groups on a single action. Nearly 25 minions are present, not counting the list of animals also provided!

SETTINGS

Ten settings (in broad strokes - Fantasy, Super Teens, Sci-Fi, Iron Age, Cosmic), broken down with recommended reading material, recommended point scale and the like. Some pretty much begin and end there. Others have additional material. Golden Age, for instance, covers WWII vehicles and such (and is getting covered in more detail thanks to Vigilance Press converting their WWII material - which I HIGHLY recommend - to BASH). Fantasy adds some new monsters, as well as Advantages and Disadvantages...and Cosmic adds a whole new slate of Cosmic Powers and a handful of rules tweaks to scale your game up into universe shaking events!

Most impressively is the section on mixing scale...that is, how you take your Street and World Class heroes and have them taking on the Purple Bumpy Chin Guy With The All Powerful Glove without breaking anything.

APPENDIX: HERO & VILLAIN ARCHETYPES BY SCALE

45 pre-built spread out at every scale, from Mystery Men to Street-Level to World Class to Cosmic. And yeah, with many of these, you can look pretty close and see the serial numbers. Mystery Men has Barbarian Warriors and Twin Pistoliers while Street-Level has a Swing Line Skulk and a Brawler. World Class has the Champion of Justice and the Master Crimefighter and Cosmic has The Cosmic Herald and the Harbinger of Doom.

Every single entry includes recommended Advantages and Disadvantages, plus Variations on a Theme - advice on tweaking the powers and stats to stay within the archetype and produce different results. A very useful resource when trying to figure out how to stat out your own guys.

APPENDIX: ALTERNATE GAME MECHANICS

Don't like the 2d6 mechanics? Use cards...or a d12 die pool...or a d10 or d6 die pool...or even Fudge dice. All mechanics that are covered in this section.

Don't like square grids and minis? Here's how to use Hex Maps, Measuring Tape or even "Cinematic Scale" (no maps or minis).

Other optional rules including buying Advantages or Disadvantages instead of doing a one for one with them...a Fame system that harkens back to Marvel FASERIP's Popularity system...and an experience point system (the game, by default, uses no advancement).

It is worth noting: None of these options are just glossed over...in fact, some of them (especially Fame) are incredibly detailed.

Lastly, it is worth noting that the book has an index and table of contents, while the PDF is bookmarked as well as searchable. Finding something should not prove difficult at all. The layout is clear and easy to read, and the present art is a cartoony, DCU Animated-ish style.

A character sheet is included in the back, as well as a "Quick Build Sheet" and the back cover is the handy color coded table that does all of the math for you in the default game mechanic.

CONCLUSION

BASH Ultimate Edition is probably the best superhero rulebook I have ever read. It's scaleable, flexible, provides options without handwaving, is clearly written, easy to look rules up in, and isn't as anal about the points as some games. I own every BASH product in some form or another right now, and I bought this in two formats, as noted in the beginning. The rules cover just about every common issue without becoming bogged down and there are just so many examples, especially in the settings and archetypes chapter.

I got the original BASH in the Haiti bundle and it looked promising, but had some issues (rules wise and layout wise)...you can look at the chronology of the BASH releases and see how Chris Rutkowsky has improved by leaps and bounds with each release.

BASH UE is the closest I have come to considering mothballing Marvel SAGA, and for those that know me, I'm not sure I can give a higher compliment.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tommy's Take on War of the Dead: Chapter Two: Week Eight

Week 8 has been out for almost a week and I'm just now reviewing it...if that tells you what kind of week I've had (what with the last blog post also being a week ago).

Week 7 ended in an ambush and, as is often the case, this week resumes where that one left off.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tommy's Take on Panzer-Ritter, Werewolves & Stormtroopers

DER PANZER-RITTER

This ICONS BattleScene isn't the first encounter with a giant robot, but this one is markedly different than the previous one, a Japanese Robot in Operation: Bookbinder. In this one, Der Panzer-Ritter is a fusion of magic and technology, powered by a combination of German scientists and Thule wizards.

In fact, this one has an interesting extra option that can be unleashed if the fight with the Panzer-Ritter goes too easily, as the robot's very power source can prove to be hazardous to the PCs.

This one feels incredibly "to the point", and a bit lighter than some of the other Battlescenes, but is also a very nice twist on a similar encounter that has already been used.

THE WEREWOLVES OF THE GESTAPO

Again, we keep the focus on the Germans, this time with their lycanthrope stormtroopers.

Like the previous WWII adventures, it is assumed that you are using Vigilance Force, The People's Revolution or The Crown Guard, though you can make your own characters for it. There are two separate "set-ups" provided, with one being for the Russians and the other being for either Americans or British.

In either case, it is an extraction scenario, requiring that you deal with the werewolf gestapo (as the name implies), with the actual target changing based off of your "home" faction.

While none of the Battlescenes are meant to be in-depth (they are, in fact, meant to be combat set pieces), this one does have a little more potential for variation in the outcome of events, with the PCs approach possibly altering the number of soldiers - werewolf or otherwise - that they have to deal with, as well as potentially taking it from an extraction scenario into a chase scenario.

Provided are stats for werewolves, Silver Warwolves and Psychic Agents of the Nazi Occult Bureau, which can easily be lifted for your own scenarios. A very nice addition to the line-up.

STORMTROOPERS OF THE DEEP

This scenario puts the PCs out to see, guarding a mysterious package on a convoy, amid the news that the Nazis have another new trick up their sleeve, some kind of aquatic attack force. Though it is only mentioned as a possibility, if you're running the scenario, the PCs will encounter the new bad guys.

This Battlescene entry is pretty robust, providing a new heroic NPC as well as a few new NPC statblocks. The scenario is easily expanded to switch from merely having the PCs hold off the convoy attack, to allowing the PCs to find the undersea base that the Nazis have launched from and try to take it out.

Plenty of bang for your - literal - buck with this one as Vigilance Press continues to impress with their WWII entries for ICONS.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tommy's Take on Wild World Wrestling

See, I always thought that the WWE Know Your Role RPG was one of the most underrated d20 releases I had ever read. It wasn't perfect, no, but it was MUCH better than it had any business being. Unfortunately, some combination of Comic Images and WWE stumbled like crazy and the game only got a single release before dying out.

Tony Lee, as part of his new Timeout Diversion Games, has overhauled Know Your Role, stripped out the "WWE" parts of it, and has released Wild World Wrestling, a new 118 page PDF in hopes of providing wrestling fans who are also RPGers with a new, fully supported version of a great game.

The production values are a noticeable step up from Killer Thriller, with several color photos splashed throughout. The PDF does lack bookmarks, which wasn't a huge issue with Killer Thriller, but is a little moreso with this.

OPENING BELL

This is the introductory chapter, explaining the design philosophy. This game is very much focused on in-ring action and not the nuts and bolts of running a promotion, so that things like contracts, expenses, etc., are non-issues.

Everyone is assumed to have a stable of characters (with a number of levels divided up among the characters, not generally equally), and the author even insists that the game can be played solo, since everything is ultimately up to the dice.

COMING DOWN THE AISLE

This is character creation. The six d20 stats have turned into five: Power, Athleticism, Brawn, Instinct and Flair. All five abilities apply to a certain move type, as well as having additional uses, such as beating countouts, giving interviews and avoiding submissions, etc. There is no true "dump stat".

The abilities are ranked from +5 to -5 with 0 as the average. There are two methods of character generation: Random - rolling 1d6 - 1d4, for a range of -3 to +5, or point buy, with characters having 5 points to spend, and abilities being able to be "bought down" in order to give extra points.

Instead of hitpoints, the characters take fatigue damage, of which every 20 points gives a -1 to rolls, and - on critical hits - injury damage, which last far beyond the match.

WWW retains the d20 level scale, with each level corresponding to a position on the card from curtain jerker to main eventer. This section also provides a suggested "spread" for each player's group of wrestlers, to allow maximum possibility for the players to remain involved, as well as providing the best ratio for the fed.

Instead of alignments, characters have Attitude - Face, Heel and Tweener. This allows certain tricks for each wrestler, based off of their mindset.

Weight Divisions modify Abilities while the Weight Mod is applied to most of the actual maneuver attempts...for example, it is much easier to powerbomb a guy who is 140 lbs than a guy who is 350 lbs. HOWEVER, it can be crippling when a giant goes down, as that same weight modifier becomes bonus damage when he does fall. Heat is an in-game currency that can be built up to do some extra tricks.

Characters are further defined by Skills (4 per level, modified by certain other Gimmick Enhancements) and Gimmick Enhancements (4 at level 1 and 2 each additional level).

With only 8 basic Skills (some of which can be further defined), the skill system is more streamlined than in KYR, and Gimmick Enhancements are fairly extensive, replacing Feats and Talents from Know Your Role.

Some Gimmick Enhancements allow you to change the abilities that modify a certain roll, while Finishers are purchases through Gimmick Enhancements as well. Monster Comeback allows Faces to "Hulk Up" while getting beaten on, and Reckless Abandon gives you bonuses on moves that have the potential for hurting you as much as helping you.

There's even a very nice "Repackaging" GE, which allows you to rebuild yourself from scratch...new Gimmick, new Finisher, etc. This is very much in line with pro wrestling, where guys go from evil dentists to impersonators of former stars to demonic half-brothers from Hell.

There are also Flaws, like Injury Prone and Overconfident. The interesting thing about Flaws, is that your opponent gets to decide when they kick in, allowing them to take advantage of your weaknesses. Flaws can get you an extra Gimmick Enhancement, and can be bought off by sacrificing an Enhancement.

Star Power is an awesome, optional rule that can allow you to boost up your lower level wrestlers and penalize your higher level wrestlers, to simulate the pushes and de-pushes that wrestlers receive.

WAR OF THE RING

Here we get the basic system, with the Difficulty, and the rules for Critical Hits and Misses (which, as mentioned, can be devastating in a wrestling match).

Combat is pretty important obviously. Whoever has initiative cam fprce their opponent to declare their move first, while also gaining a +2 to their own maneuver rolls...generally, you will want to save your more difficult maneuvers for when you are at a distinct advantage. Once each side picks their move, they roll off, applying modifiers...the winner inflicts his damage on the opponent, narrates the action for the round and gains initiative for the next round.

Rules for Stun are also present, as you can knock an opponent loopy and essentially just place them on the defensive.

Pinfalls are broken into segments, with modifiers for each part of the three count (Finishers give an automatic 2 count), with extras that can help pin attempts out, such as hooking legs for leverage and so on.

The amount of depth in the combat system is pretty impressive, covering submissions as well, disqualifications, ganging up on opponents and even attacking multiple people at once (with a growing penalty the more attacks you perform).

Tricks are extra tactics that Faces, Heels and Tweeners use in a match, some of which require Heat and some of which doesn't. For instance, you can spend 2 Heat to steal your opponent's Finisher...and if you do enough damage to gain Heat (likely), you get two Heat back instead!

There is also "Quick Match Resolution", determined with a simple die roll modified by Star Power and Heat.

WHAT A MOVE!

This is the chart of modifiers used to build your own move, as well as the dozens of moves pre-built. Note: There is no set stats for a move. For instance, one guy may have a clothesline that hits harder than another's...he just pays a bigger penalty for it (but that may be compensated for by having a higher matching Ability).

It covers a WIDE range of moves, nearly 20 pages of maneuvers statted out and ready to go, or available for quick modification. Superkicks, powerbombs, clotheslines, DDTs, you name it, it's all here. Those familiar with KYR will be familiar with this system as it is largely the same (if not identical).

THE ROAD TO STARDOM

This is the advancement system, which has been streamlined somewhat from KYR, doing away with the large XP totals of the d20 table and replacing them with a much smaller AP system. Title belts are still present, completel with benefits and Bonus Gimmick Enhancements that allow for a "Champion's Advantage", in this case providing stats for a fed's Primary Title, Secondary Title, Tag Team Titles and Women's Title.

BRINGING THE AWESOME

This is all about putting a show together. This includes how many segment each wrestler is allowed to appear in...I assume it's supposed to be 1 + Flair, but it was worded very badly. There are also guidelines on rating Promos (interviews) and Vignettes (skits) which, at your groups option, can be a combination of die rolls and votes from the players. This can allow you to gain more Heat.

One new addition is Ring Rust, potential penalties applied to wrestlers who are coming off of extended breaks, with the longer they have been gone meaning that they have bigger penalties to work off. This can be due to extended injuries, Legends getting challenged by mouthy young wrestlers and so on.

Several gimmick matches are also included here...likely enough to allow most groups to suss out their own gimmicks, like Ladder Matches, Hardcore Matches. Steel Cage matches, Battle Royals and Tables Matches.

CURTAIN-JERKING JABRONIES, MID-CARDERS & MAIN-EVENTERS

The book ends with a dozen wrestlers and one manager, all "inspired" by existing stars like John Cena, Paul Bearer, The Undertaker, The Miz, Mr. Kennedy, Jay Lethal, Samoa Joe and Jack Swagger. Obviously, you can use these guys yourself, use them as guidelines to model your own real life wrestlers or ignore them completely.

Lastly, we get a two page character sheet.

THOUGHTS

No index and no bookmarks are definitely going to be strikes against it. There is a table of contents, at least, and the PDF is searchable, but that won't help much who buy the impending print version.

Wrestlers should be MUCH easier to make now, as there are no more level limits on Skills, Talents or Feats, and classes have been done away with completely as well. With a little work, any existing KYR wrestlers SHOULD convert easily enough, though you may want to consider adding Flaws.

While I haven't played this version yet, I did play KYR and thought it was great. Unfortunately, I don't have a ton of gamer friends who are also wrestling fans, so my personal use of this may not go very far unless I can set up a PBP fed or something.

I've read every wrestling RPG available, I think, and played most wrestling games available, and I would have no reservations about giving this a big thumbs up.

Just...don't mind the pictures. They're a nice touch...but a bit cheesy in that "indy wrestler mugging for the camera kind of way".

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Savage Worlds Characters Are All The Same: Seasoned

Last week, we took the initial starting characters and advanced them up to the cusp of Seasoned.

We did see some of the initial gaps begin to close, and HULK SMASH kinda stumbled as I leveled him up, with there just not being a lot of support for that build at the Novice Rank. We also discovered that Tommy should have planned his builds ahead a bit better. Blah.

Seasoned opens up new options, including allowing everyone an additional Attribute Advance, as well as allowing MR. WIZARD the opportunity to get more Power Points.

DON'T HIT ME

1st: Block. This one seems kind of obvious. His effective Parry is now a 10.
2nd: Level Headed. Yeah, he's faster, he gets a free shot when you move in, and now he gets the better of two cards to act on.
3rd: Dodge. His biggest vulnerability right now is being shot. This, at least, bumps up that target number.
4th: Vigor d6. No sense in remaining completely fragile. He's gotta toughen up at some point.

DON'T HIT ME

Agility d8
Smarts d8
Spirit d6
Strength d6
Vigor d6

Fighting d8
Guts d6
Intimidation d6
Investigation d6
Notice d6
Taunt d6
Throwing d6

Charisma: 0
Pace: 6"
Parry: 6
Toughness: 4

Hindrances
Small (-1 Toughness)
Loyal
Bad Luck (1 less bennie per session)

Edges
Acrobat (+2 to nimbleness based Agility rolls, +1 to Parry)
Block (+1 to Parry)
Danger Sense (Free Notice roll at -2 to avoid attack)
Dodge (-1 to avoid being hit with ranged attacks)
First Strike (free attack when opponent gets into range)
Level Headed (Acts on the better of two cards)
Quick (redraw an initiatve card less than 5)
Strong Willed (+2 to Taunt/Intimidate)

Rapier (+1 Parry, for a 9), Damage d6+d4, Buckler Shield (+1 Parry, for a 10), Throwing Knife Damage d6+d4

HULK SMASH

1st: Sweep. For when you have to wipe out everything around you.
2nd: Combat Reflexes. His low Spirit makes him vulnerable when Shaken. This gives him a +2 to become unShaken.
3rd: Adaptable (Barbaric Blood). HULK SMASH can now spend a benny to trigger Berserk, meaning he doesn't NEED to take a hit first. From the Fantasy Companion.
4th: Strength d12.


HULK SMASH
Agility d6
Smarts d4
Spirit d4
Strength d12
Vigor d10

Climbing d4
Fighting d6
Guts d8
Intimidate d8
Survival d4
Tracking d4

Charisma: -4
Pace: 8"
Parry: 6
Toughness: 8

Hindrances
Ugly
Overconfident
Mean

Edges
Adaptable: Barbaric Blood (spend a benny to trigger Berserk)
Berserk (Smarts roll upon being wounded, or go Berkserk, +2 Fighting/Strength rolls, -2 Parry, +2 Toughness, rolls of 1 hit random adjacent target)
Brawny (+1 Toughness)
Combat Reflexes (+2 to become unShaken)
Fleet-Footed (Pace +2, d10 Running die)
Sweep (attack all adjacent foes at -2)

Great Axe (Armor Piercing 1, Parry -1 for 4), Damage d12+d10, Chain Hauberk (Armor +2, for Toughness 9)


SNIPER

1st: Survival d4. Note: It is MUCH better to buy multiple skills at d4 early on and rely on your Wild Die than to buy new skills later on. Ugh.
2nd: Marksman. Free Aim action as long as he doesn't move? Yes, please.
3rd: Deadly Shot. Double damage on Jokers indeed.
4th: Smarts d8. His brains are becoming as important to him as his reflexes.

SNIPER
Agility d8
Smarts d8
Spirit d6
Strength d6
Vigor d6

Climbing d4
Fighting d4
Notice d6
Riding d4
Shooting d10
Stealth d8
Survival d4
Throwing d6
Tracking d8

Charisma: 0
Pace: 6
Parry: 4
Toughness: 5

Hindrances
Cautious
Wanted
Yellow

Edges
Alertness
Dark Fighting (Halves penalties for Shooting in the dark)
Deadly Shot (Double damage on ranged attacks when a Joker is drawn)
Marksman (Free Aim action as long as he doesn't move)
Steady Hands (removes unstable platform penalties)
Trademark Weapon (longbow, +1 to Shooting rolls)

Longbow 2d6 damage, Leather armor (+1 for Toughness 6)

MR. WIZARD

1st: Spellcasting d8 and Lockpicking d6.
2nd: Spirit d8.
3rd: Investigation d4.
4th: Power Points. Though he's still using subtle tricks, there's no reason not to shore up the points.


MR. WIZARD
Agility d8
Smarts d8
Spirit d8
Strength d4
Vigor d6

Charisma: +2
Pace: 4
Parry: 4
Toughness: 5
Power Points: 20

Gambling d6
Guts d6
Investigation d4
Knowledge (Arcana) d8
Lockpicking d6
Notice d4
Persuasion d6
Shooting: d4
Spellcasting d8
Streetwise d4

Hindrances
Bad Eyes
Lame
Poverty

Edges
Arcane Background: (Magic)
Attractive
Connections
Power Points (+5 Power Points)
Wizard (use 1 less Power Point per raise on Spellcasting roll)

Powers
Boost/Lower Trait
Deflection
Detect/Conceal Arcana

Crossbow, nice clothes (fraying around the edges), cane

FEARLESS LEADER

1st: Agility d6. No sense in keeping that weak point around.
2nd: Hold the Line! This gives his troops +1 Toughness.
3rd: Natural Leader. FEARLESS LEADER now gives bennies to his troops!
4th: Inspire. This boosts the rolls to become unShaken by an additional +1.


FEARLESS LEADER
Agility d6
Smarts d8
Spirit d8
Strength d6
Vigor d6

Charisma: +4
Pace: 6
Parry: 4
Toughness: 5

Fighting d4
Guts d8
Intimidation d8
Knowledge (Battle) d6
Persuasion d8
Streetwise d8
Survival d4

Hindrances
Code of Honor
Doubting Thomas
Stubborn

Edges
Charismatic
Command (+1 to his troops for Shaken rolls)
Common Bond (share bennies with other Wild Cards)
Hold the Line! (+1 Toughness for Troops)
Inspire (additional +1 for troops to become unShaken)
Lucky
Natural Leader (share bennies with troops)
Noble

Shortsword d6+d6, Plate (+3 Armor for 8 Toughness), Hirelings

THOUGHTS

Though some of the "gaps" have closed, these guys are absolutely not going to interact with combat the same way. At some point, they're going to cross the same ground with Edges as well, of course. With HULK SMASH, I found too many options this time, rather than too few. MR. WIZARD's advances were very "not sexy"...and I nearly bypassed an Attribute Advancement on SNIPER, because his build honestly doesn't require huge Attributes...

Everyone is on the verge of Veteran...so that's up next!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tommy's Take on War of the Dead: Chapter Two Week Seven

The second half of Chapter 2 of War of the Dead officially began today, after what has been a very strong start thus far.

Last week, the PCs began to discover that they were probably way off base on a number of things regarding the situation brewing at Sanctuary and, like most weeks, Week 6 left off with a cliffhanger featuring the impending arrival of a new foe...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Savage Worlds Characters Are All The Same: The Novice Advances

Last week, we met our team of intrepid characters, all of them at their initial character sheets. Personally, I didn't think the five of them looked that much alike at all. I mean, they have some similarities, sure, but their overall function is each very different.

This week, we're taking the five guys to the cusp of Seasoned, meaning three more Advances apiece.

DON'T HIT ME

1st: Strength d6 - And now one of his major weaknesses is compensated for. This raises his damage to d6+d4 with his rapier, which doesn't suck. But there's another reason he beefed up...
2nd: Acrobat - +2 to nimbleness based Agility rolls AND +1 to Parry, giving him an effective Parry of 9. He now only fears marksmen, large groups and lucky strikes.
3nd: First Strike - And now he gets a free attack when someone move in on him, helping him try to kill them before they can kill him.


DON'T HIT ME

Agility d8
Smarts d8
Spirit d6
Strength d6
Vigor d4

Fighting d8
Guts d6
Intimidation d6
Investigation d6
Notice d6
Taunt d6
Throwing d6

Charisma: 0
Pace: 6"
Parry: 6
Toughness: 3

Hindrances
Small (-1 Toughness)
Loyal
Bad Luck (1 less bennie per session)

Edges
Acrobat (+2 to nimbleness based Agility rolls, +1 to Parry)
Danger Sense (Free Notice roll at -2 to avoid attack)
First Strike (free attack when opponent gets into range)
Quick (redraw an initiatve card less than 5)
Strong Willed (+2 to Taunt/Intimidate)

Rapier (+1 Parry, for a 8), Damage d6+d4, Buckler Shield (+1 Parry, for an 9), Throwing Knife Damage d6+d4

HULK SMASH

1st: Fleet-Footed - This bumps his Pace up two and gives him a d10 running die...meaning that he can close in and inflict damage much faster.
2nd: Vigor d10 - Bringing his Vigor even with his Strength, this also gives him a base Toughness of 8, with his armor making it a 10.
3rd: Fighting d8 - Yes, it's beginning to infringe on DON'T HIT ME's schtick, but there are some combat tactics that HULK SMASH could use that do not exist at d6 Fighting. This raises his Parry to 6.

HULK SMASH
Agility d6
Smarts d4
Spirit d4
Strength d10
Vigor d10

Climbing d4
Fighting d6
Guts d8
Intimidate d8
Survival d4
Tracking d4

Charisma: -4
Pace: 8"
Parry: 6
Toughness: 8

Hindrances
Ugly
Overconfident
Mean

Edges
Berserk (Smarts roll upon being wounded, or go Berkserk, +2 Fighting/Strength rolls, -2 Parry, +2 Toughness, rolls of 1 hit random adjacent target)
Brawny (+1 Toughness)
Fleet-Footed (Pace +2, d10 Running die)

Great Axe (Armor Piercing 1, Parry -1 for 4), Damage d10+d10, Chain Hauberk (Armor +2, for Toughness 9)

SNIPER

1st: Dark Fighting - I'm swiping this from Shaintar, and tweaking it a bit. It halves penalties for Fighting or Shooting in darkness, but has a Fighting d8 requirement. That doesn't make sense to me, given the Shooting part, so I'm replacing that with a Shooting d8 requirement.
2nd: Spirit d6 - He's learning to toughen up a little bit as he adventures, getting a little less skittish. This is also building towards something.
3rd: Tracking d8 - Tracking and Sniping is becoming his primary purpose in the party, you see.

SNIPER
Agility d8
Smarts d6
Spirit d6
Strength d6
Vigor d6

Climbing d4
Fighting d4
Notice d6
Riding d4
Shooting d10
Stealth d8
Throwing d6
Tracking d8

Charisma: 0
Pace: 6
Parry: 4
Toughness: 5

Hindrances
Cautious
Wanted
Yellow

Edges
Alertness
Dark Fighting (Halves penalties for Shooting in the dark)
Steady Hands (removes unstable platform penalties)
Trademark Weapon (longbow, +1 to Shooting rolls)

Longbow 2d6 damage, Leather armor (+1 for Toughness 6)

MR. WIZARD

1st: Power Points - You can only take it once per rank, so be sure to take it. Especially since that once per rank is meant to apply to Legendary as well.
2nd: Wizard - This reduces the Power Points used by 1 for every raise on the Spellcasting roll.
3rd: Agility d8 - This is helping to set up his dual role as the "thief-mage" of the group, in D&D parlance.

MR. WIZARD
Agility d8
Smarts d8
Spirit d6
Strength d4
Vigor d6

Charisma: +2
Pace: 4
Parry: 4
Toughness: 5
Power Points: 15

Gambling d6
Guts d6
Knowledge (Arcana) d8
Lockpicking d4
Notice d4
Persuasion d6
Shooting: d4
Spellcasting d6
Streetwise d4

Hindrances
Bad Eyes
Lame
Poverty

Edges
Arcane Background: (Magic)
Attractive
Connections
Power Points (+5 Power Points)
Wizard (use 1 less Power Point per raise on Spellcasting roll)

Powers
Boost/Lower Trait
Deflection
Detect/Conceal Arcana

Crossbow, nice clothes (fraying around the edges), cane

FEARLESS LEADER

1st: Common Bond - And now he can share his bennies freely.
2nd: Command - And now his hirelings get +1 to become unShaken.
3rd: Smarts d8 - There's more leadership stuff he's going to need that'll require this.

FEARLESS LEADER
Agility d4
Smarts d8
Spirit d8
Strength d6
Vigor d6

Charisma: +4
Pace: 6
Parry: 4
Toughness: 5

Fighting d4
Guts d8
Intimidation d8
Knowledge (Battle) d6
Persuasion d8
Streetwise d8
Survival d4

Hindrances
Code of Honor
Doubting Thomas
Stubborn

Edges
Charismatic
Command (+1 to his troops for Shaken rolls)
Common Bond (share bennies with other Wild Cards)
Lucky
Noble

Shortsword d6+d6, Plate (+3 Armor for 8 Toughness), Hirelings



THOUGHTS

I don't think they look that much alike, even with HULK SMASH having to beef up his fighting. They all still function very differently. I did have to reach a bit, especially with HULK SMASH, as there wasn't a lot of support for his sheer brutality at Novice rank. Most of the Fantasy Companion Edges start at Seasoned, and Background Edges like Fast Healer are, well, Background Edges.

There are a couple of Edges I'm working towards with other characters that are going to be expensive due to poor planning on my part...but that happens sometimes. One thing is that Savage Worlds isn't NEARLY as crippling in that regard as d20 is, making it much easier shift character focus as you go than D&D 3rd edition.

One thing is obvious (and I knew this), in the beginning it is much better to take a d4 in several skills than to just beef up a couple, because it's much cheaper to beef up existing skills in play. Were this an actual game, I'd be more than willing to let the players make a "free swap" somewhere after a session or two, because sometimes a character just doesn't work out like you'd hope.

Look for the four Seasoned Advances sometime next week.