A Savage Experiment: Trying Something Different

John's picture

 I have two groups -- A Saturday group and a Sunday group. There's some player overlap, but the two groups have very different flavors and agreements.  

The Sunday group is the more "serious" game. We've been playing D&D for years together, one campaign after another. This is the group that produces a D&D Championship team for GenCon most years. We're combat focused, wargamy, and rules-oriented. One or two other DMs and I have taken turns over the years, and at the moment I'm trading off with one other DM.  Our styles are different, but we're making it work.  That game is playing 4e, and has been since we were 4e playtesters. It suits our style of play very well, although like any game system it has reinforced some style choices and moved us away from others.  

The Saturday group is the less "serious" game, and has been hit and miss lately. For about the past year we've only managed to get that group together once every two months or so -- too often there were not enough people to play, etc. That group was also playing 4e.  

In the past month, though, we've decided to take that Saturday group and do something a little different.  We're....experimenting. We're stepping out on 4e.  We're giving Savage Worlds a try.  

I've been intrigued by SW for years, played in a few Con games now and then, but this is my first chance to try a "real" home game with the system. We're playing Pirates of the Spanish Main, but I'm using the updated SW Deluxe rules (for those of you keeping score at home). 

Getting ready for the first session (this past weekend) I spent HOURS playing through combat encounters on my own -- which is about as rewarding as playing chess with yourself, but at least it helped me see how some of the rules work together and I managed to catch many of my errors and problems. It's amazing how many expectations I bring with me from D&D that work a little differently in SW. 

Our first session was a little rocky -- there are some inconsistencies in characters (my fault for not communicating all that well about rule sets, etc), and we were doing everything for the first time.  I like to start off with a bang, so we pretty much jumped right into a combat scene, and had a good time with that. Then we developed the starting story a little and had a second combat before the end of the session. 

As we go, I'll write some blog entries about the game, and the experience of moving from a 4e mindset to a SW one -- they're very different systems.  

One thought, to close this blog entry -- I've been reading through many pages of rules questions on the official Savage Worlds forums -- it has been invalauble to me, helping me understand some of the trickier points of the rules before stumbling over them myself.  But there's one thing Clint, the admin and official answer guy, keeps saying over and over again in many of his responses.  "It depends upon how your GM wants to run it..."  Sometimes there's a "but" that explains one way of handling it, sometimes there isn't, but in a very significant way I'm seeing a big difference between SW and the more rule-bound 4e mindset -- it's the GM's game. He gets to make the final decision.  

It's a difference. And it sounds a little like some of the noise surrounding the D&D Next hints we've seen so far. And it's not like the game doesn't have rules.  But SW, in many places, leaves key adjudication things up to the GM's judgement in ways that 4e does not.  That's....interesting, and worth trying.