“Hey Peter. What’s happening?”

•December 17, 2015 • Leave a Comment

So a little bird reminded me that I have been running some game or another for nearly two years straight and I thought, “If I could just get someone to go ahead and move their desk down to the storage locker let me be a player for a bit, that would be terrific”.

With the end of the current Savage Legends chapter looming and the probability of a break from Monday nights for a couple of weeks, this seems like the perfect time to see if someone would like to step up.

My intention is to keep working on my world and the Splintered campaign, refining and polishing, so this does not mean I am throwing in the towel – just that it might be time to take a step back and enjoy playing the games instead of running them.

Bring any ideas to the table on Monday night and we, as a group, can decide what to do. Oh, and remember to put the cover sheets on your TPS reports. I’ll make sure you get another copy of that memo…



Henchmen vs Extras

•November 9, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Say a post on the Savage Worlds forums that house-ruled a type of NPC in between a Wild Card and an Extra. It called them Henchmen, but Elite or Heroic Extra or something similar would suffice. Basically it is an Extra with a Wild Die. They are still incapacitated when they suffer a Wound but potentially much more capable at their given tasks.

I like this idea, so look out for them in a game near you.

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.