Friday, June 18, 2010

[How To Play] Savage Worlds, Part 1: Character Creation

I'm running a game for my friend Charley.

We decided on using Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition and it would be a slightly-fantasy Middle Ages setting. For the most part, magic will be mysterious and not in the purview of the main characters. Since Charley likes knights and is a fan of the movie A Knight's Tale, we decide he'll make a character who is a young knight wandering England, participating in jousts for cash money and honor. Arbitrarily, we set the time period to be around 1550ish and allow that the knights are wearing full plate, even if it isn't strictly period.

Savage Worlds has five character ranks: Novice, Seasoned, Veteran, Heroic, and Legendary. As you can see, the rankings go from the least experienced to the most. We agree that Charley's character is going to start as a Novice character. We'll deal with advancement later on in the series, so no worries.

Using the Savage Worlds character creation rules, Charley decided on a young knight, early in his career, a younger son of a rich family. He liked the idea of a seventh son of a seventh son (we'll include this later in character creation), and with a noble lineage. He decided on the name Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Torpington. With this rough character background in place, we start on character stats and abilities.

Savage Worlds characters have attributes, edges, hindrances and skills. Attributes are how strong, fast or smart the character is, edges are the special abilities that the character can perform, like two-fisted fighting or acrobatics, hindrances are weaknesses that define the character, and skills are what the character can do, which are pretty self explanatory. Hindrances give back to the character, so Charley decided to start with that first.

In Savage Worlds, hindrances are divided into major [M] and minor [m]. Each character is allowed one major hindrance and two minor hindrances. This gives the player 2 points to spend for the major and 1 each for the minor on edges, attributes and skills. We'll get into that later. It isn't necessary to have hindrances but since they allow the character to buy more abilities, edges and skills, they're worth reviewing at the least - one may pique your interest.

Looking over the list of hindrances, Charley picks some that seem to fit his character concept. Sir Nicholas is a knight, so it makes sense for him to have a major hindrance of Code of Honor: Chivalry. A good minor hindrance would be Loyal and another would be Quirk. I tell Charley that he can define the Quirk during the game, in order to get the character done quicker plus allow the character to grow during the game.
  • Hindrances: Code of Honor: Chivalry [M], Loyal [m], Quirk [m].
Charley decides to use two of the points from hindrances on attributes and the other two on edges. Two points will increase an attribute by one die type. Two points will buy one edge. Other options include trading one point for an additional skill point or one point to increase starting money.

Next Charley decides on Sir Nicholas' attributes. In Savage Worlds, there are five attributes: Agility, Smarts, Spirit, Strength and Vigor. The attributes are measured in die types: d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and so on. Agility, Smarts and Strength are pretty easy to figure out. Spirit deals with willpower and connection to other people and Vigor represents overall physical fitness and constitution. All attributes start at a d4 and you get 5 points to distribute among them. Each point increases the attribute up to the next die type.

Since Sir Nicholas is a knight, Strength, Agility and Vigor would be very important, so Charley decided to make Strength a d8 (2 points), Agility a d6 (1 point) and Vigor a d6 (1 point). He chose a Spirit d6 (the last point) to make sure his character strong willed. Charley also uses the two points from the hindrance to raise an additional attribute by one die, and since he doesn't want Sir Nicholas to be too slow, he raises his Agility to d8.
  • Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d6
Edges are special abilities. In Savage Worlds, humans get a free edge to start with and Charley chooses the Noble background edge. Using the remaining two points from his hindrances, he chooses the Luck edge, which gives him an extra Bennie during play. He explains that it matches the seventh son of a seventh son background.
  • Edges: Noble (f), Luck.
Characters in Savage Worlds get 15 points to buy skills. Each skill point increases the die type but, unlike attributes, it is necessary to pay for the d4. Looking over the skill list, Charley chooses Fighting, Shooting, Riding for starters, figuring a knight who can't do that isn't much of a knight. He also writes down Guts, Persuasion, Taunt, Notice and Healing, thinking they'd be useful, too. Now, with skills, the limiting factor is the attribute tied to the skill. If your skill die is equal or less than the tied attribute, the skill points are only one point per die. Over the tied attribute, then it's two points per die.

Charley decides on a Fighting d8 (3 points), Shooting d6 (2 points), Riding d8 (3 points) and Guts d6 (2 points). With five points left, he puts one into each Taunt, Notice and Healing, making each a d4, and two into d6 for Persuasion.
  • Skills: Fighting d8, Shooting d6, Riding d8, Guts d6, Taunt d4, Notice d4, Healing d4 and Persuasion d6.
Now it's necessary for Charley to calculate the derived stats. Parry is based on the Fighting skill. Take half the maximum of the die and add 2, so Sir Nicholas' Parry is 8/2 + 2 = 6. It takes anyone attacking him a 6 to hit him. That's pretty good for a starting character.

Toughness is based on the Vigor attribute. Taking half the maximum of the die and adding 2 makes the young knight's Toughness 5. Not bad. With armor, his toughness will increase.

Since none of the hindrances or edges chosen change the Pace 6, but the Noble Edge changes the Charisma to +2.
  • Derived Stats: Parry 6, Toughness 5, Pace 6, Charisma +2
Sir Nicholas will start the game with a horse, plate armor, a few lances, a long sword and a manservant named Richard. The plate armor adds +3 to his Toughness and weighs 58 pounds. He has a medium shield which adds +1 to his Parry. His father's second-best sword damage is Strength + d8 and the lance does Strength + d8 with an AP 2 and Reach 2 (don't worry, we'll cover all this later). The manservant Richard is just a normal bloke, no need to stat him out until later.

All told, Charley's character looks as follows:

Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Torpington
Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d6
Parry 7 (1), Toughness 8 (3), Pace 6, Charisma +2

Edges: Noble (f), Luck.
Hindrances: Code of Honor: Chivalry [M], Loyal [m], Quirk [m].
Skills: Fighting d8, Shooting d6, Riding d8, Guts d6, Taunt d4, Notice d4, Healing d4 and Persuasion d6.

Plate Armor (+3 Toughness, 58 lbs), Medium Shield (+1 Parry), Sword (Damage: STR + d8), Lance (Damage: STR + d8, AP 2, Reach 2).

1 comment:

  1. One thing great about stating a "normal bloke" in Savage Worlds is how easy it is. D6 for each stat and all appropriate skills. Calucluate secondaries (about 10 seconds) done...

    I've mucked about with the system a bit and while its very good its a little too minis focused for my taste and I just can't get it to click for me.
    This may be because of the association between
    "level" and stats or maybe its that darned harlequin Smilin' Jack. Ugh..Who knows..

    I recommend the game, I'll cheerfully play it but its not one I'd invest much more than a few bucks in. Say $10 or so for the excellently priced explorers guide ....


Unfortunately, due to spam, I have set up comment moderation. I will review and approve your comment as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.