Savage Worlds is a Fast! Furious! and Fun! rules system for any genre of roleplaying game.
Create your own setting, convert an existing one, or pick up one of our amazing settings like Deadlands, Rippers, or 50 Fathoms. The rules give players plenty of depth to create their characters and keep bookkeeping to a minimum for the Game Master. If you’re looking for a game that’s fast and easy to set up, run, and play, Savage Worlds is for you!
A More Cinematic Generic System [ edit ]
GURPS offers detailed rules with highly customizable characters, but another generic system, Savage Worlds, instead takes a different approach. While Savage Worlds is also generic, it focuses on offering faster, and less realistic but more "cinematic"-feeling gameplay.
Savage Worlds originally began as a miniature war game offshoot, of another Pinnacle Entertainment Group RPG (Deadlands). Although that miniatures game didn't last, it's rules, which were designed to make combats with larger numbers of NPCs faster and more viable, became the basis of Savage Worlds, in 2003.
Since then the game has had several editions, with the current one being Adventure Edition. However each edition is more of a "1.1" than a "2.0", which means that material from any edition will be largely compatible with any other.
Character Creation: No Points, Just Edges [ edit ]
As with most games, Savage Worlds characters have attributes, in this case five of them (essentially the D&D attributes, without Charisma). Attributes are measured as a die type, so a weak character would have a d4 Strength, while an incredibly strong one would have a d12.
Players can also select a race for their character (or remain human to get an extra edge), and a number of skills. Just as with attributes, skills have die-type-based ranks. Raising skills higher than their associated attribute costs double, but otherwise there are no restrictions, so you can make a cowboy/hacker/biologist if you so desire: there are no class limitations.
Finally a player selects Edges, which are similar to feats in Dungeons and Dragons, and also somewhat like advantages in GURPS, as they provide special benefits to the character. To gain edges characters can take on hindrances (similar to GURPS disadvantages). However, instead of having varying point cost, as in GURPS, every edge costs the same in Savage Worlds, and there are only two levels of hindrances (Major and Minor, with one major or two minor adding an Edge).
There are also far fewer hindrances and edges to choose from than advantages/disadvantages in GURPS, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. While it does mean less customization options, it also means new players can review their options much quicker, speeding up character creation overall.
Combat and Skill Checks [ edit ]
To succeed at an action in Savage Worlds, you roll a die based on the associated skill, and then also roll a separate "wild die" (a d6). Either dice can "ace" ("explode"), which means that if you roll the maximum number on the die, you get to re-roll it, and add the result of all the rolls together. You can then choose to keep either your original die or the "wild" one (whichever rolled higher), and if that die's result is 4 or greater (after any penalties), you succeed.
Players also start with "Bennies", and can earn more during play through good role-playing. These "Bennies" can be used to re-roll any roll, giving characters another chance to succeed at critical actions.
When it comes to combat, Savage Worlds uses a deck of regular playing cards to determine who goes in what order. The higher the player's card, the sooner they go in initiative, and if a player gets a joker as their card they can go at any point (and also get a bonus to their rolls that turn).
Between it's wild dice, "aceing" (ie. exploding) dice, bennies, and jokers, and various other factors, there are a lot of ways to succeed even when your skills are low, although of course higher skills are clearly a benefit. All of this leads to a system that's more "fun" and cinematic, but also a bit less realistic ... and also potentially more "swingy" ... than a system like GURPS.
Genres and Settings [ edit ]
While Savage Worlds doesn't have quite as many supporting "genre" books as GURPS, it does still have a very healthy number, with books dedicated to the following genres (often with several books for each): Fantasy, Science Fiction, Pulp, Horror, and Super Powers.
However, all of these books were published in the '00s, or low '10s, so they are now a bit out of date, not being designed for the game's latest ("Adventure") edition. Still, since the game hasn't changed that much between issues, all of these books should still largely be usable.
Where Savage Worlds really shines though is their support for specific settings. The game has entire product lines for the settings of Deadlands, Rifts, and Weird Wars, and it also has individual books for a large number of other settings. There's ... Evernight ("The Darkest Setting of All"), 50 Fathoms ("High Adventure in a Drowned World"), Necessary Evil ("Supervillains Must Rise Where Heroes Fall", Low Life ("The Rise of the Lowly"), Rippers ("Horror Roleplaying in the Victorian Age"), Solomon Kane, Slipstream, Lankhmar: City of Thieves, and Flash Gordon.
The Best Option for Faster or Heavier Combat Games [ edit ]
In short, if you're looking for a very realistic or predictable system, Savage Worlds will not be ideal for you. Also, if you're looking to perfectly re-create characters from some existing source, GURPS's greater variety of advantages/disadvantages/skills, broken up in to points, will give you far more control than Savage Worlds' more simplistic edge-based system.
But if you're looking for a system that plays noticeably faster than GURPS (especially when combats involve many participants), and one that will let the players feel more like heroes in a movie, often overcoming great odds with lucky rolls (and perhaps the spending of a few "bennies"), Savage Worlds will be perfect. And as you can see from the wide variety of settings it supports (and even more that are possible with its genre books), Savage Worlds is truly a universal, generic system, which can handle just about anything you might want to use it for.