Campaign Ideas (Again)

•October 11, 2015 • 1 Comment

Just one today, to coincide with the release of Sid Meier’s Civilization Beyond Earth – Rising Tide.1432

Beyond Earth (working title)

Summary: In the throes of ecological collapse, the nations and mega-corporations of Earth send out hundreds of Seed Ships into the galaxy. The million colonists, selected for their skills, knowledge, or by luck, are mankind’s only hope for survival.

Features: Alien environments! Futuristic technology! Multiple Factions! Two campaigns running side by side!

Mission Specialists: Soldiers, scientists, and engineers, this team are the first to be awoken from cryogenic stasis when the Seed Ship arrives in orbit. They are the vanguard of the colonial effort: their successes will ensure the prosperity of their colony, but their failures could cost hundreds of lives. Fight alien monstrosities! Explore hostile environments! Protect the colony from opposing factions!

Colonial Administrators: With no communication from Earth, the Administrators must balance the needs of the colony against the political aims of the Council. The fate of thousands is in their hands, and they are not alone: other factions have their own agendas and only the Administrators can keep them at bay. Build a successful colony! Manipulate your rivals! Expand your faction’s territory!

Arms & Armour: Crunch Part 1

•September 18, 2015 • 4 Comments

I have been doing a bit of thinking about a discussion some of us had after the last play session. Specifically about the damage one might expect to do with particular weapons. This post, I hope, will attempt to lay out some of the crunchy stuff behind certain design decisions.

The Warrior

For the purposes of this post, I will be referencing my mercenary fighter template – what I consider to be the baseline for an experienced fighter but not an exceptional one. Our mercenary is strong but not ‘weight-lifter strong’, so he has a Strength of d8. He is in reasonable shape but not exceptionally fit, so his Vigor is d6. He either fights with a spear and  a shield, or he uses a bow, and he wears Reinforced Leather Armour. I assume he is good with his weapon but not a master so we have a Fighting or Shooting of d8. He is an Extra so he does not roll a Wild Dice for Trait tests.

The Technology

Armour and armouring practices are influenced by two trends: the weapons a culture uses, and the economic means of accessing technology. In the world of the Three Pillars, the most common weapons are the short sword and spear. Thus, the armour that is most prevalent should be sufficient to protect against those weapons. The technological and economic base of the world do not allow for large scale access to armour heavier than mail.

The Napkin Math

Average damage numbers do not take into account the possibility of exploding dice, by convention.

The mercenary has a Toughness of 7 (base 5 + armour of 2). He does an average of 8 damage on a typical hit (d8+d6 = 4.5+3.5). This would render a similar opponent Shaken but not Wounded, thus the armour has done its job and is sufficient to the task, given the cost. Using a bow would only cause the opponent to be Shaken if they lack a shield (2d6 = 7. Medium Shield will raise Toughness to 9).

The melee warrior has a 25% chance to hit, including a 9% chance of scoring a raise. On a raise he achieves 11.5 average damage – enough to inflict a Wound and kill his opponent. This is an acceptable result in the context of the technology and weapons being used.

The archer has a 65% chance to hit, including a 13% chance of scoring a Raise. On a raise she inflicts 10.5 average damage, only causing the standard opponent to be Shaken. Again, I would consider these to be acceptable numbers given the setting.

For comparison, a mage using the bolt power has exactly the same average damage output as an archer


I believe that this shows that the damage numbers are, in the context of the game world, in line with protection values of armour. A skilled or lucky melee fighter is going to kill his opponent faster than average, as might be expected, but does not need to be a lot more skilled or lucky to achieve this.

  • A group of archers is potentially much more dangerous than a group of spear-men, since they can stack Shaken results to achieve a Wound in a more reliable fashion, but they sacrifice raw Wound potential. Again, I don’t think that this is out of line.
  • The results tell me that the level of protection afforded by the most common armour is generally sufficient to protect against the most common weapons.
  • It also tells me that melee combatants with common weapons need to be clever about using them if they wish to reliably dispatch commonly or up-armoured opponents. E.g: called shots, wild attacks, or ganging up.
  • Melee combatants with better weapons will fare well against opponents with typical levels of protection, but not assuredly so. Example: The same warrior with a long-sword will still only render the opponent Shaken with an average result but is only 2 pips away from inflicting a Wound, instead of 3 or 4.
  • While melee weapons may be slightly less dangerous when used in a group situation, they scale better to the wielder’s Strength, have better raw Wound potential, and benefit from gang up bonuses.

Campaign Ideas

•August 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Since it has come up, here are some of my ideas for new campaigns:

Savage Legends: Coming of Age

The characters are youngsters in a castle town on the frontier. They grow up together, getting into scrapes and going on grand adventures, all the while gaining proficiency in their chosen professions. A darkness is spreading, however, and the characters may be put to the test sooner than they’d like.

Features: Savage Legends campaign setting, custom character generation, ‘career’ advancement path, new story.

Development Document (PDF)

The Jaguar’s Eye

Avast, landlubber, and prepare to set sail on the treacherous Caribbean during the 17th Century. Become a swashbuckling pirate captain, a patriotic privateer, or suave soldier of fortune. Protestant missionaries, black-clad Jesuits, and painted voodoo priests will vie for the souls of men; while shadowy cults and secret societies ply the streets of Kingston and Tortuga.

Features: New, low magic system for Christian & pagan priests. Player driven plot-point campaign inspired by high-adventure works like Pirates of the Caribbean and Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. Setting rules for skill specialisations and ship to ship combat.

Development Document (coming)


Harbinger (Savaged)

If anyone knows where the Harbinger virus came from, they aren’t saying, but its effects are undeniable. Psychic powers, super intellect, and physical mutations are rapidly changing the face of crime and a new breed of law enforcement officer is required. Small elite teams operate on the fringes of society to take down the new breed of Enhanced criminals, using experimental technology, superior training, and their own Enhanced abilities.

Features: Modern technology and real world locations. Psychic abilities and mutations using the Superpowers arcane background. Episodic campaign with a unifying background plot, inspired by works like X-Files, Crossing Lines, and X-Com.

Development Document (coming)


Savage Golarion

The world of Pathfinder is highly developed and there is an abundance of professional quality material to support it – from atlases and almanacs to bestiaries and class-books, from entire campaigns to individual modules. While I don’t really want to play Pathfinder (OK, maybe I do want to dabble but I’d like to play rather than GM), the material alone makes me want to run these adventures in the world they were written for, instead of trying to shoehorn it into my own worlds, which usually have a vastly different outlook and flavour.

Features: Pathfinder converted to Savage Worlds with some excellent conversion rules by Zadmar. Campaigns and adventures by some of the best RPG writers in the business. Old school D&D.

Development Document (coming)


That’s what I have rattling around in my head for now. I’m sure there’s others, and none of this means I want to abandon the current campaign and the stories I have crafted for it.

The Moss-born

•June 4, 2015 • 3 Comments

It has come up that we need to fill some details about the feral elves of the Cartisan Forests. I, obviously, have an image in my head of what and who these people are. My players will have their own ideas. What I am going to do here is sketch out what I know about them, and then invite interested parties to fill in what they ‘know’ about them.

I will post this to the wiki on Obsidian Portal as well, and keep it updated with any developments that may arise on this blog. Any player in the campaign may also edit it there, as well.


Before the Sundering, there were three great elven nations. Millions of human slaves laboured under the oppressive rule of the Arch Heretic in the east, while the Candalar were worshiped as gods by the humans of the south. To the east, ruling over forests older even than the elves, lived the Cartisan.

Cartisan, in their own language, meant gardener. They used their prodigious powers to tend and shape the forests. While the other kingdoms built fortresses and city-sized monuments from stone, earth, and metal, the Cartisan willed the trees to grow into cities and walls and strongholds. It would be a mistake, however, to say that the Cartisan elves were one with nature. Rather, they were masters of it. Like all elves, they prized domination over coexistence, and pride over humility. The Cartisan were quick to anger, slow to forgive, and dismissive of the achievements of others.

Uniquely, the Cartisan did not allow humans to live in their lands. They viewed Man as little more than a beast and often hunted them for sport. Scholars believe that the primary motivation for their participation in the Great Intervention was political, rather than altruism. They cared little for the fate of the humans in the Over-empire and saw the dwarven plan as an excuse to reduce the power of their closest rival.

After the Sundering

When Carathas sundered the Prime, the forests turned against the Cartisan. Beasts and spirits now haunted their former home, even the trees themselves became hostile. Ravaged by the Affliction, disease, famine, and predation, the Cartisan were nearly wiped out.

Those that remained survived only by setting aside the old ways. They became nomadic, hunting and foraging, and avoiding the ruins of their shattered cities. This new existence, harsh and often short, forced them to deal with the Affliction. They are constantly moving, and always suspicious.ForestElfGuardian


In a land where every shadow contains a deadly threat, there is little time for scholarly tradition. Each tribe maintains an oral history, passed down through generations by the Keepers. As tribes merge through marriage or conquest, their histories intertwine, resulting in new forms of old myths and legends.

The Keeper is, in most cases, the heart of the tribe. It is through their stories and songs that the tribe is kept whole. The myths tell people how to behave, and how to be a member of the tribe. They are called upon to judge crimes, officiate weddings, and help observe funeral rites. They know the lineage of every tribe member and their accomplishments. The myths of the tribe are often embellished or altered to incorporate the living stories of the tribe.

The moss-born have a primarily matriarchal and matrilineal society. Women hold the key roles in a tribe – chief, keeper, first hunter – except when it comes to handling the dead. That task always falls to a man, formally known as the Watcher of the Roads.

With so much of their history erased and only preserved in the malleable memories of the Keepers, the moss-born do not hold to any trace of their Cartisan ancestors. If anything, they view their shadowy forebears as traitors who allowed the Sundering to happen through negligence. Many tribes have stories that show how pride and wrath lead to folly and danger. The moss-born are proud of who they are now, not the great works of their former empire. Relics of the past age are often regarded as suspicious and dangerous.


Through the oral histories of the Keepers, the moss-born practice a form of ancestor worship. It is believed that the dead wander a shadowy realm that is a mixture of the ancient past and the far future, called The Roads, until they are called to return to this world. There are notions of reincarnation, although this varies from tribe to tribe. Some hold that the spirits of the dead can return to life as a new-born, while others think that the dead watch the living and may intercede on their behalf – even to the point of manifesting into reality.

There is no real concept of gods in the moss-born mythology. They remember, somewhat, that they used to be gods themselves and have now fallen. A handful of tribes practice ritual sacrifice to appease their ancestors, but this is the exception.

Dreams and visions are regarded with suspicion. Most tribes believe that they are the voices of the dead, and that the dead should only communicate with the Watcher of the Roads. As with all things, there are exceptions. At least a dozen small tribes routinely use hallucinogenics, attempting to commune with the ancestors.


The majority of moss-born see blood magic as an abomination and those that use it as harbingers of destruction. When a Wilder is discovered they are either put to death or exiled. Of the exiles, those that survive may eventually find their way to one of the savage tribes that haunt the deepest parts of the forest. These bloodthirsty clans actively practice arcane magic but little else is known about them.


Given their nomadic lifestyle, the moss-born have little use for artwork that cannot be easily packed away and carried with them. Many choose to tattoo themselves, recording their accomplishments and lineage in wild patterns and symbols. Some tribes daub their tents with ornate murals, and others decorate their spears with carvings of twisting vines and animal motifs. Weapons, antlers, horns, ayes, and feathers dominate moss-born imagery.

Moss-born and Men

The last century and a half have seen a increase in human settlers in the ancestral lands of the Cartisan. The Imperials have dubbed this region the East March, in effect claiming all of it as their own. They have brought industry, religion and disease over the mountains in equal proportion. Naturally, this has lead to conflicts with the moss-born tribes.

Humans consider the elves to be dangerous savages. Although they have attempted to convert some to the Creed, they have met with little success.

The elves see Men as interlopers, treading upon sacred ground for greed and profit.

Several tribes made war on the Imperial settlers but were quickly put to rout by the legions. It soon became apparent, however, that human soldiers were no match for elven skirmishers in the deep forests, suffering a number of disasterous defeats when their commanders attempted to pursue moss-born aggressors.

Now the humans expand and the tribes retreat. There have been atrocities and massacres on both sides, but the disorganised elves in the western reaches of the March have suffered greatly. There is friction between tribes as they begin to encroach on each others’ hunting grounds.

Tokens with Benefits

•May 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

benniesHow you get ’em

In this post I shall attempt to elaborate on the many ways players may receive Fate Tokens (bennies):

  • In a normal session, each player receives three tokens at the start of play. Characters with the Lucky or Very Lucky edges start with extra. They also each have a nomination token that they can trade in to give another player a token to reward something awesome.
  • In a ‘carry-over’ session, the players start with whatever they had left over from last session plus bonus tokens from the Lucky and Very Luck Edges
  • Characters that have the Heroic (Major) Hindrance should get a bonus token at the start of a story or chapter. This does not carry over – use it or lose it.
  • Players may receive a token for actions or role-playing that I feel is deserving. If you think I have missed something, use your nomination.
  • Nominations must be made at the time – you can’t hold onto it and then give it out later. It is not a poor man’s Common Bond.


I will reward the following meta-game activities:

  • Signing up for Obsidian Portal and/or accepting the campaign invitation on that site – 1 token, one time only. Use it that session.
  • Adding your character bio & description to the Obsidian Portal site – 1 token, one time only. Use it that session.
  • Writing an adventure log (recording the session) on Obsidian Portal– 1 token each time (at my discretion). Use it that session.
  • Updating or adding to the campaign wiki on the Obsidian Portal site – 1 token each time (at my discretion). Use it that session.

How you use ’em

Fate Tokens can be traded in for an in-game benefit in the following ways:

  • The normal reasons allowed in the Savage Worlds core rules – re-rolling a Trait test, removing Shaken, or to make a Soak roll.
  • The Extra Effort setting rule allows the player to spend a token to add 1d6 to a Trait test.
  • The No Mercy setting rule allows all players to spend a token to re-roll damage from an attack.

Rules! We have rules in this house!

•May 7, 2015 • 7 Comments

bernard huhes“Second shelf is mine. That’s where I keep my root beers and my double-thick Oreo cookies. Nobody touches the second shelf but me.”

In all seriousness, we have a new rule straight from Pinnacle Entertainment Group that changes how you recover from Shaken:

As mentioned in another thread, we’ve been working on a tweak to the rules for a while now, and it’s gone over so well, we’ll be releasing it soon. But before the official release, we’re going to let you guys in on it first!

It’s a simple change that speeds up play, frees up Bennies for players, and makes the GM’s job even easier. In all ways, it fits Fast! Furious! Fun!

At the beginning of their action, a Shaken character makes a Spirit roll to recover. On a failure, he remains Shaken. On a success, the character removes their Shaken condition and may take their action normally.

That’s right, folks, a success removes Shaken and allows the character to act immediately. Raises are no longer required.

It may not seem like much, but with only two results for recovering from Shaken instead of three, resolution is sped up dramatically. And by making recovery with actions easier, players don’t have to spend as many Bennies just to take an action and can instead spend them to make those actions awesome! Finally, we realized the three conditions for Extras, Up, Down, and Off the Board, had really been four with the inclusion of “Up… but recovered without a raise and can’t act.” It’s a temporary condition to be sure, but one that occurs regularly. GMs never have to worry about that “floating” condition again. Extras who are Shaken can’t act, and those who are not Shaken can–there’s no middle ground.

Those are some of the reasons for the change, but we think you will all be as thrilled as we are with the results in play. So go ahead and try it out, and see if it doesn’t crank your games up to 11!
Clint Black
Savage Worlds Core Rules Brand Manager

And from my own vaults:

Power Points recover at a set rate – normally 1 per hour. The recovery rate is now doubled if a character is resting – uninterrupted sleep or meditation – but always rounded down. Thus a character with Rapid Recharge (1 PP every 30 minutes) is resting (now 1 PP every 15 minutes) but is woken up after 40 minutes will only recover 2 PP, not 3.


•May 7, 2015 • 7 Comments

The new campaign will be called Splintered. There is a new Obsidian Portal site set up for it here: Not much to see yet, but it will be better updated than the last one (I hope).

Character connections: I am going to borrow a page from the Dresden Files RPG.

  1. Imagine that we are writing the blurb on the back of a book about how your character got to the start of the campaign.
  2. Based on what I have been told about your character, I will write a few lines about your character and how they fit into the world.
  3. You nominate another player. They write a few lines on how they fit into your character’s back story.
  4. They nominate another player who also writes a couple of lines.
  5. It passes back to you, and you add a few lines to finish it off.

The basic premise requires that your character be relatively new to adventuring. They don’t have to be young, but I don’t need a party of legion veterans, or characters with extensive missions independent from the campaign. You don’t really need much of a hook to be involved since, hopefully, the above method will throw plenty of hooks around.

The campaign will begin in the West March, as a merchant caravan arrives in the seedy town of Falcon’s Hollow, nestled on the edge of Darkmoon Vale.

I will start for each of the characters that has been made so far:

PAUL: My father, a retired Greybeard of the Tower, always impressed upon me the need for authority. His martial training and skill with the Words have stood me in good stead since leaving Tor Egan. I’m glad he sent me out of that nightmare when he could, although I worry for the rest of my family still trapped in the city. I have been working where I can, selling my skills to traders as a guard – a service sorely needed in these dark times.[PASS IT ON]

WAYNE: Things were going so well. I had a bed to sleep in and a warm meal at least once a day. Master Eddin, the artificer,  was stern and uncompromising, but I still had it better than most of Tor Egan. Then the palamyr went missing – that stupid jade statuette Eddin was always harping on about. I don’t know what happened to it, but the blame was placed on me. I was branded as a thief and thrown in prison for a crime I didn’t commit. [PASS IT ON]

CRAIG: Who could have possibly known that the old alchemist was so well connected? Stealing the palamyr was the easy part, and what the Prefect was offering for it would have set me up for life. Before I could hand it off, the Vigiles start tearing up the city looking for it, the Prefect is nowhere to be found, and I have to get out of Tor Egan. I admit to feeling guilty about what happened to the alchemist’s apprentice – perhaps I can make a detour to the gaol before I go over the wall…[PASS IT ON]

GREG: Life is simple out here on the new frontier. Hunt for enough food to eat. Earn enough coin to spend at the ale-house. Avoid being killed by wild animals, bandits, or black-bloods…or black-blood bandits riding wild animals if the stories are to be believed. Engrit’s caravan, to which you have hired as a scout, has given you opportunity to do all three, although it has taken on a few unusual passengers of late. [PASS IT ON]

BEN: As a man(?) of learning, of books and letters, life in the blighted West March is a trial. Dispatched from the comfort of my cell in the Monolith and sent abroad to gather the scattered records of an empire at war, I am earnestly reviewing the choices that lead me to this war torn land. Still, the Battle-master has claimed that this is an important task and I have free rein to go about it as I wish – something I would never have if the task had been assigned by the deacons. Traveling with Engrit’s caravan has made things easier, and I’m sure there are some stories to be found among those I travel with. [PASS IT ON]

DAVE: Go for it. Give me something – I’ll change it if necessary. The party so far is all human – an Order spell-blade, an Artificer/beast tamer, a city-bred thief, a hunter/ranger/scout (who may or may not also be a caster, I can’t remember), and a very well read scholar/scribe (who will possibly become an Order caster). Bear in mind what I said above, and note that Black-bloods and moss-born Elves are open to be characters if you wish – as well as the normal race options previously available. Just try and make sure there is something for one of the other players to hang a few lines from.


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