Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Savaging Pendragon

So, ever since I've read The Great Pendragon Campaign, I've wanted to run it. However, as many of you know, my group plays a LOT of Savage Worlds, with detours to Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, so The Great Pendragon Campaign in the King Arthur Pendragon system was...unlikely.

And then I sent out the new poll to my players and, to my surprise, this was the runaway winner.

I got to work wrapping my head around the system and getting prepared, devouring as much of the game as I could, and the more I read, the more I thought the system was seriously going to clash with my group's playstyle.

And then I watched Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and joked to one of my players that I should just convert it to Savage Worlds. He was all in.

The main thing that really pushed me in the Savage direction is that the bookkeeping seemed...a bit much, at least for half my group. Plus, I read something that said mass battles in Pendragon took *hours* and I didn't want to find out for myself. So I called an audible and decided to convert to Savage Worlds. After all, my group loves Savage Worlds, and - all presumptions to the contrary aside - it is a malleable system that can achieve multiple feels. Plus, mass battles in Savage Worlds take minutes, and I know this from experience (any additional time comes from narrating it to make it epic).

And so I set to work on adapting King Arthur Pendragon to Savage Worlds. Since some of you have asked, here's a breakdown of my notes.

What I Swiped

First, I let other people do the work for me, and I borrowed liberally from other sources.

From Rippers I took Status, as it serves a similar function as Honor does in Pendragon. Mechanically, it functions as it does in Rippers, allowing a PC to throw their weight around on social rolls at the risk of losing Status if they fail. From Pendragon, it also has the effect of causing the PC to potentially lose their station if their Status falls too low. To compensate, I started the PCs with higher Status than in Rippers.

The next trait carried over from another book is Glory, from Hellfrost. Aside from tweaking it away from vikings and more towards knights, it was again a pretty straightforward port.

The next, and biggest, resource I swiped was the Hellfrost Resource Management book (see a theme here, Wiggy Wade-Williams does great work) to replace the Manor/Estate system from Pendragon. It's as close to a Fast! Furious! Fun! set of rules for running a guild/kingdom/barony/anything as you can get, and there's not so much going on that I can't help my players along that are apt to struggle with such a thing.

As of the first session, I also used the Jousting rules from Daring Tales of Chivalry, and I'll likely use the Petitioning rules as well. My players loved the Jousting rules, by the way.

What I Changed

I switched around the skill list a bit. I used the new Athletics, Thievery and Perform skills from Flash Gordon, and added an Animal Handling skill. I also revised the Knowledge skills a bit, to focus on things the players were likely to need. Lastly, as a flavor thing, I renamed Streetwise into Intrigue, because they'll be spending a lot of time in various courts.

I won't get into all the changes to the Edges and Hindrances list, but I did a massive revision, adding a bunch of Edges from multiple sources (especially Hellfrost) and trimming ones I didn't think would work.

Setting Rules I Adopted

From the Savage Worlds core I found a few Setting Rules to use:

No Power Points seems to fit, even though Arcane Backgrounds are so rare that PCs may likely not ever have one anyway.

Critical Failures is one we use in most games anyway.

I also opted for Gritty Damage, as combat in Pendragon is meant to be pretty harsh. This won't be that harsh, but will still be rough.

New Rules

Two big ones:

Pendragon is a generational game. To emulate that, I adapted the Pendragon aging rules to Savage Worlds, so they face a chance of Attributes fading once they hit age 35.

The other, huge rule is Virtues and Vices. So I took the Traits from Pendragon and adapted them into Virtues and Vices. Each character must take a Virtue and must take a Vice, and they can't take the Virtue and Vice paired opposite each other in the list (like Chaste and Lustful). In-game, they are like supercharged Hindrances. If I, as the GM, invoke the trait in a situation, they can only act against it by spending a benny. However, if they argue that the trait can help them in a situation, and I agree, they can spend a benny on the relevant roll and add 1d6 to the result, based on how the trait fuels them in the situation.

Character Creation

Character creation was a mix of regular Savage Worlds creation, the family lineage rules from the Pendragon RPG, and the Savagely Useful character creation tool by Sean Patrick Fannon. The ultimately wind up a little stouter this way in normal creation, but it probably works as the required skills for a successful knight are a lot bigger.

And that's it, a breakdown of the tweaks I made to Savage Worlds to get Savage Pendragon!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Savage Worlds...and Why I Keep Coming Back

Started a new Savage Worlds campaign last night. This one, to the surprise and apprehension of many, is an adaptation of Greg Stafford's classic RPG King Arthur Pendragon.

Yep, I went there. Been hard at work on an adaptation that captures the cooler elements of Pendragon while still providing the same mechanics and gameplay my group has known and loved for years.

But, y'know, why?

Why adapt King Arthur Pendragon?

I mean, Savage Worlds is one of my two favorite in-print game systems (with Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition) and one of my three favorite games of all time (with 5e and Marvel SAGA), but still...

Why go back to Savage Worlds again, for a medieval fantasy game, with domain management at that? It's not like Savage Worlds can do that. Savage Worlds is for crazy pulp action and tactical skirmishes, not political intrigue and knights being driven by their personal values.

We'll get back to that in a minute.