Would you switch to Savage Worlds for Conan?

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Would you switch to Savage Worlds for Conan?

Postby Sir Hackalot » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:51 pm

This is in reference to the topic about switching to Runequest for Conan. I hear from these as well as other boards that many people are using the Savage Worlds system for Conan. So if Pinnacle got the license or Mongoose got it back and did a Conan version with Savage Worlds would you buy it?

I actually think that it wouldn't be a bad fit but I have so much Conan stuff I would not be interested in putting even more money towards it.
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Postby Der Rote Baron » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:59 pm

I would SOOO buy it. my Conan-campaign is in good shape and runs well (all pcs have achieved 14th level, starting from 1st, and is going for 4 yesra now) but the stats and the power-level of the groups is giving me constant headaches.

I guess if I restart after finishing the camapign (next year maybe) I will switch to SW anyway. Or BoL.
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Postby Clovenhoof » Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:09 pm

As I mentioned in the other thread, we have made the move and hot-swapped the system of our current campaign from D20 to Savage Worlds (Explorer's Edition, SW:EX). The main reason for switching was that D20 combat is so slow. So here are a couple of observations:

Savage Worlds is classless point-buy system. Novice characters are relatively sturdy, but otherwise rather average / one sided. Your character is defined by Attributes (Strength etc.), Skills, Edges and Hindrances. You usually gain an Advance (=Level) every two to three sessions, and each advance you can improve one or two skills or buy an Edge (~Feat), and every four advances you are allowed to improve an Attribute.

Being a point-buy generic system, there are no classes, not even templates. Only a handful of Edges can only be bought at creation, such as Berserk or Magic affinity. Apart from that, everyone can learn anything (many Edges have prerequisites though). I consider this a drawback because it does not support niche protection very well.

Our characters were already high mid levels (12-13) and we didn't want to let all that effort go to waste. So following the advice of some D20->SW conversion guidelines, we re-created our characters as Heroic Rank.

Nevertheless, when you're used to high-level D20 chars, a high-level SW char may at first seem rather incompetent. As a matter of fact, the power curve in SW is rather shallow compared to D20. Particularly skills are comparatively expensive -- in SW you don't get any skill points for free with a level, but have to weigh it against purchasing a new Edge or Attribute increase.
The advancement is open-ended, although it slows down once you reach the "Legendary" rank (comparable to D20 level ~17+).

Actual Playing Experience:
SW feels very different from D20, but mostly in a good way. First and foremost, combat is much faster. In D20, the GM basically has the choice between a) using lots of low-level mooks that can't really hurt the PCs, and b) using fewer, stronger opponents that can dish out, but take a long while to take down. Neither is particularly satisfying in the long run.

SW officially discriminates between two types of characters, "Wild Cards" (PCs and Major NPCs) and "Extras" (mooks, expendables). Wildcards are much more sturdy (can take more wounds) and lucky (get to roll an extra die for any trait test, and take the better result). There are also "bennies" which more or less are the same as Fate Points, allowing to reroll bad rolls or save your sorry hide, but they have a much higher flow rate in SW. (You get a fresh supply every session, and you can't save any up between sessions, so use them or lose them.)

Extras mustn't be mistaken for "cannon fodder", though; at least not with the SW:EX damage rules. Basically Extras go down with one solid hit, but can dish out just as much pain with every blow as Wildcards, and not just as a rather obscure statistical singularity ("...if he rolls a 20 and confirms the crit and rolls maximum damage and pierces the armour and the target fails his Fort save...") but as a _very_ real threat. As a matter of fact, several optional rules exist to tone down the damage potential of Extras.

Nevertheless, SW allows to conduct battles against large numbers of competent foes to be resolved very quickly. We typically have fights like 3 PCs against 20+ NPCs, and while I never paid attention to the time, it never _felt_ long.
The two major factors speeding up combat are:
1. the Initiative system. Instead of rolling dice, you draw poker cards. The advantage being that it's clearly visible whose turn is when.
2. Damage is stepped in meaningful increments: either a blow doesn't do any damage at all, or it has a direct effect (Shaken or Wound). What you don't get is "13 hit points down, 49 to go". It's a totally different pacing; no wars of attrition but real gory action.
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Postby djd » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:45 am

I have found that simply by removing the need for a second roll to confirm a critical (in other words a threat is a critical) it has speeded up combat no end - it allows the PC's to dispose of gooks faster and it ensures that the gooks pose a threat to the PC's.
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Postby Paladyn » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:09 am

Recently I ran an adventure, using Savage Worlds rules. In my opinion, even basic one fit perfectly. Short preparation time, lack of overgrown and too complicated rules is compensated by fast and furious gameplay. It was most howardish RPG session I had (I played GURPS: Conan, Conan d20 and one based on BRP).
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Postby SnowDog » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:06 am

I would probably get it.

Without actually testing it the biggest problem to me is that SW uses hexes for movement and certain type of attacks. I suppose I could use only normal graph paper or even fudge the whole thing but it would be nice to see a version where this feature would be handled differently.

Another good thing with SW (apart from those said in earlier posts) is that it allows quite large battles to take place even without mass combat rules. So your PCs and their crew (like a small band of mercenaries, bandits or pirates for example) could go to a battle without you having to worry too much that the combat would take eternity.
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Postby Clovenhoof » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:26 am

SnowDog wrote:Without actually testing it the biggest problem to me is that SW uses hexes for movement and certain type of attacks.
Oh, but it doesn't. SW actually doesn't prescribe what kind of floor you use. The rules only refer to distances in inches, where 1" = 1 pace = 2 yards.
I know groups that don't use any kind of grid, but play tabletop-style with measuring tape.
In my own group we keep using the square floor plans we're used to from D&D. (Note that SW does not discriminate between straight and diagonal movement in this case, simply to keep things fast.)

There are "templates" to determine the area of effect of certain attacks (grenades, spells etc.), but these don't have anything to do with hexes either. You just lay the template on the floor.

However, it is very strongly recommended to use _some_ kind of visualization, even if it's just grid paper and pegs. Maybe even more important than in D20.

Also, for anyone who would like to try out Savage Worlds, I would give as a piece of general advice: even if a rule looks strange, give it a chance and try it. Also keep in mind that the system is deliberately "low resolution", and not designed to be an accurate simulation of the world.
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Postby SnowDog » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:45 am

That's a good advice, thanks Clovenhoof! You are probably right that some sort of counters etc. play a pretty important part in SW (combat). Then again there are quite a lot of cheap paper minis for SW.
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Postby Clovenhoof » Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:27 pm

Right, they've introduced a type of triangular paper markers, called "figure flats", which you can download typically for free as PDF, print them, cut them out and glue them together.

Looks like this: http://www.arion-games.com/arg000.pdf

Note, by the way, that there already is "The Savage World of Solomon Kane", so the mix of Howard and SW has already been done. ;)
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Postby throrII » Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:32 pm

djd wrote:I have found that simply by removing the need for a second roll to confirm a critical (in other words a threat is a critical) it has speeded up combat no end - it allows the PC's to dispose of gooks faster and it ensures that the gooks pose a threat to the PC's.
Are your PC's in the jungles of 'Nam?

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Postby SnowDog » Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:37 pm

Yes, Solomon Kane looks really nice (I have a copy). Good Coneneque feel in it.
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Postby Paladyn » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:10 pm

I ran my Conan adventure without flats or grid. When it was important, I draw a map on a sheet of paper. Everything was like it was before d20's attacks of opportunity, threat zone and distance calculations :)
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Postby djd » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:34 pm

I do my combats like that too. Makes it simpler and I learnt a long time ago that as soon as I introduce miniatures into a game certain players become too caught up in making sure their character looks like their favourite minature.... :roll:
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Postby SnowDog » Thu Jun 10, 2010 6:41 am

Have you converted Hyborian races to SW mechanics or do you leave those as roleplaying aspects? I mean is a Cimmerian different from Hyrkanian in game mechanics or are the right edges, skills and stat distribution left for the player?
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Postby rabindranath72 » Thu Jun 10, 2010 1:54 pm

There is a Savage Worlds of Hyborian Age conversion on the SW fansite. Can't find the link right now, but it seems to be done quite well.
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Postby Paladyn » Thu Jun 10, 2010 2:42 pm

Savage Hyboria, a Savage Worlds conversion of Conan, you can find here.

I based upon those rules, but I find them lacking. Thea weakest point is magic system, which is generally that same as in basic SW rules, which does not corresponds well with Howard's magic. I plan to convert it in a future, but for now don't have any good alternative.

Basically each nation has one raise on attribute (d6 or d8 instead of basic d4) and one free Advantage or Hindrance.
As my adventure was set in Darfur, native had d6 in Strength, Fearsome Cannibal as an advantage and superstitious as disadvantage.
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Postby Clovenhoof » Thu Jun 10, 2010 3:35 pm

Yeah, we also used the Savage Sword of Conan for converting our characters. It's usable, but not magnificent.
As a matter of fact, each race gets _two_ Attribute raises; where a raise is either a die increase or a +1 to Charisma. Some races also get a +1 or +2 to certain skills. All in addition to the regular freebie Edge for being a human.

Note btw that natural healing in SW is a rather tedious affair, to the effect that you only get one recovery attempt per 5 days of rest of so. We've houseruled that to one recovery roll per day, healing one wound per attempt, because we're not interested in losing weeks of game time after every combat.

Another important difference between D20 and SW is that in the latter you have a "death spiral", i.e. wound penalties. Each wound you suffer inflicts a cumulative -1 penalty to all your rolls, so with the maximum of 3 wounds you are at -3 for everything, which is pretty hefty considering that the standard Target Number is 4. However, there are certain edges that allow you to ignore some or all wound penalties under certain circumstances, so it's up to the player to make his character survivable.
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Postby SnowDog » Thu Jun 10, 2010 8:12 pm

Thanks for the tips, guys! I have to take a look at the conversion...
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Postby Paladyn » Thu Jun 10, 2010 8:58 pm

I have used some rules from Pulp Toolkit: Wild Cards and heroes are always considered to be armed, heroes don't die: they got knocked out, buried under piles of rocks, ell of cliff etc.

It was fun game, but I don't know, if I want to run those group, the knew Hyborian Age only because of MMORPG.
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Postby SnowDog » Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:33 pm

I think I won't go that far with heroics. Hyboria is still a dangerous place and I want my players to know that their characters are still mortal :twisted:
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