Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Savage Wounds

Art by Steven Belledin
Ever since I discovered it about two years ago, Savage Worlds has quickly become one of my favorite 'generic' systems. Its very simple to learn and understand, it can easily be house ruled tweeked to run pretty much any genre of game you'd like, and the game play is both fast and fun.

With that being said, Savage Worlds is not a flawless system. Like all roleplaying games, Savage Worlds has its own set of quirks and rules that can cause potential problems while playing and running the game. For me, one of those rules is the Shaken mechanic.

For those of you not familiar with Savage Worlds, Shaken is a condition that a character receives when an attack hits them and the attack's damage is greater than the character's Toughness score (as the name implies, it is a measure of how tough a character is). Like most conditions, Shaken has a number of negative effects. First, Shaken characters may only move up to half their normal speed and can perform no other actions (including running). Secondly, a Shaken character who is hit by another attack whose damage is greater than their Toughness receives a wound. Once they suffer four wounds, they are incapacitated.

While a player can make a Spirits check to remove the Shaken condition from their character, they will have to sacrifice their turn to do so (unless they roll the maximum result for their die, getting a raise and allowing them to act immediately) and there is a good chance they are just going to become Shaken again. Basically, it's a vicious cycle that's hard to get out of once your inside it.

I'm going to be perfectly blunt with this. Shaken is easily one of the most irritating mechanics that I have ever seen. I get why the designers placed it there. It's supposed to act as a buffer for Wild Card characters and allow them some extra staying power. However, in my experience running and playing Savage Worlds, Shaken is incredibly annoying and makes the game less fun.

So, I have two options: house rule Shaken so its not as irritating or remove it from the game entirely. If I were to house rule it, I'd probably say you can either move at half your Pace or you can perform an action and suffer a -2 penalty to it. You can do both, but the penalty increases to -4.

If I were to remove Shaken from the game (which I'm kind of leaning towards), I would probably just increase the number of wounds a character can take before being incapacitated. The number of wounds would be determined by the following formula: 2 + 1/2 the character's Vigor die. So, if a character had a d8 in Vigor, they could take 6 wounds before they are knocked out of the fight. Also, I'd probably spread the penalties out a little or place a cap on how far they can stack.

Well, looks like I have a decision to make.