Savage Worlds

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Savage Worlds
Savage Worlds Explorers Edition.jpg
The cover of the Explorer's Edition, the third version of the core rules for the Savage Worlds role-playing game.
Designer(s) Shane Lacy Hensley
Publisher(s) Pinnacle Entertainment Group
Publication date 2003[1]
Genre(s) Universal, Pulp, Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction
System(s) Savage Worlds

Savage Worlds is a generic role-playing game and miniatures wargame written by Shane Lacy Hensley and published by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. The game emphasizes speed of play and reduced preparation over realism or detail. The game received the 2003 Origin Gamers' Choice Award for best role-playing game.[2]


Although Savage Worlds is a generic rules system, Pinnacle has released "Savage Settings" - campaign settings or modules designed specifically for the Savage Worlds rules. These have included Evernight, 50 Fathoms, Necessary Evil, Rippers, and Low Life. Pinnacle has also published setting books based on the company's earlier lines, including Deadlands: Reloaded as well as the Tour of Darkness, Necropolis, and Weird War II settings based on the Weird Wars line.

Beginning with 50 Fathoms, the majority of settings released by Pinnacle feature a concept known as a "Plot Point Campaign". In such campaigns, a series of loosely defined adventure scenarios are presented. A main storyline is presented as a series of "Plot Points" and additional side-quests (or "Savage Tales") expand the scope of the campaign. This format allow a group of characters to explore the game universe while playing through (or disregarding) the main storyline in a manner similar to that of role-playing video games.

A licensing system is in place for electronic and book publishers to release material for the Savage Worlds game. Such "Savaged!" licensees are allowed to use the Savage Worlds mascot "Smiling Jack" as a logo on their products. Multiple PDF adventure scenarios are available using this licensing system, as well as setting related supplements like the Vampire Earth RPG Sourcebook and the Shaintar Player's Guide.


Character creation[edit]

Player characters are built using a point allocation system, though game masters are encouraged to design non-player characters to the needs of the game rather than to fit the system. Characters in Savage Worlds are composed of a variety of statistics. These include Race, Traits, Edges, Hindrances and sometimes Powers.


A character's race usually refers to his or her species, which may grant or impose modifiers to characteristics. In some settings (such as the Pirates of the Spanish Main RPG) this may instead refer to nationality, which typically does not. Nationality based differences may occur in campaigns where certain Skill specializations, Edges and Hindrances are affected by cultural or technological differences or are included to add flavor to a character. For instance, in Deadlands: Reloaded a non-Chinese player may learn Chinese Martial Arts but cannot acquire and use its Chi-based Powers. In Weird War II American, British, or French soldiers have special Edges and Hindrances to reflect their different national and military cultures.

Traits (Attributes & Skills)[edit]

A character's traits are characteristics that are rated by a single polyhedral die. The more sides the trait is rated in, the better the character is at the trait - ranging from a 4-sided die (d4 - the lowest) to a 12-sided die (d12 - the highest). So a character with a Strength trait of a ten-sided die (d10) is stronger than a character whose Strength trait is rated with a six-sided die (d6). Traits are divided into Attributes, which are inherent, and Skills, which are learned.

The five Attributes used in Savage Worlds are Agility (Physical Precision and Speed), Smarts (Mental Power), Spirit (?), Strength (Physical Power) and Vigor (Physical Health). Attributes start at Level 1 (d4) and cost one point per additional level; Level 1 (d4) in an Attribute would cost nothing and Level 5 (d12) would cost four points. The number of points usually assigned to spend on Attributes is usually 5 points, but can be more in certain gameworlds.

Attributes are also used to set the point cost of skills in that Attribute's group. The player can buy levels in a Skill at cost as long as its level is lower than its controlling Attribute. The point cost doubles if the Skill level exceeds the controlling Attribute. For instance, Healing is a Smarts based skill. If a character had a Smarts of Level 1 (4-sided die, or d4) and wants to buy the Healing skill at Level 2 (six-sided die, or d6), it will cost 3 points - one point for Healing at Level 1 (d4) and two points for Healing at Level 2 (d6). If they had a Smarts of Level 2 (or d6) it would only have cost 2 points - one point for Level 1 (d4) and another for Level 2 (d6). The number of points usually assigned to spend on Skills is usually 15 points, but can be more in certain gameworlds.

In addition to Attributes a character has the following derived statistics: Pace (ground speed), Parry (the ability to defend one's self), Toughness (resistance to damage) and Charisma (presence and charm). Some setting supplements add a fifth derived statistic such as Reason (Problem Solving), Sanity (Mental Health) or Grit (Mental Strength) to reflect the special needs of the gameworld.

Like in the FUDGE and FATE systems the skills are broad and allow the character to use them for a variety of related tasks. For instance, a character with Fighting would not just be skilled in fighting with their bare hands or with melee weapons. They might also be able to identify and counter an opponent's fighting style, know the name and reputation of a skilled fighter they meet, figure out the nationality and rank of a soldier by their uniform and insignia, or locate and hire a mercenary or bodyguard. Healing could be used to diagnose an illness, identify medicinal herbs or pharmaceutical drugs, find a healer or medical specialist, or prevent a disease outbreak in an encampment by organizing sanitation protocols.

Edges and Hindrances[edit]

Characters are also customized with advantages and disadvantages known as Edges and Hindrances. Edges and Hindrances, unlike Traits, are not rated with dice. Edges (character advantages) cost points, are based on their character Rank (Novice, Seasoned, Veteran, Heroic, or Legendary), and are unlocked as the character levels up. They are also grouped by Type, which may - depending on the campaign or world - affect their availability. Beginning Edges can only be granted at character creation. Social Edges affect interaction skills. Combat Edges affect the character's fighting skills and Leadership Edges affect group or massed combat. Professional Edges are related to the character's job or role and affects their career skills. Power, Weird, or Wild Card Edges are supernatural, paranormal, or superhuman advantages and grant bonuses to Powers; they may not be available in mundane game worlds. Hindrances (character disadvantages) grant points and are ranked as Minor (which grants a character point) or Major (which grants two character points).


Some gameworlds have the option of granting superhuman abilities to characters -usually with a magical, mystical, technological, psionic, racial, or mutant origin. They are ranked like Edges (Novice, Seasoned, Veteran, Heroic, or Legendary) and can be expanded by leveling up.

Task resolution[edit]

Dice are rolled to determine the outcome of character actions and interactions in the game. Usually a trait die is rolled against a target number of four. If the roll equals or exceeds the target number, the action succeeds; otherwise it fails.

If a player rolls the highest number possible on a given die (such as an 8 on an eight-sided die), the die may be re-rolled and its result added to the initial roll. This is known as "Acing". A die may continue to Ace as long as the highest die number is rolled.

Player characters and significant non-player characters are known as "Wild Cards". Wild Cards get to roll a second die, known as a "Wild Die", alongside their trait rolls. This roll may Ace as normal. The player of the Wild Card uses the higher of the two rolls (trait die or Wild Die) to determine the actual result of the roll. In addition Wild Cards also receive a number of Bennies (Slang for benefits, also called poker chips in Dead Lands) per session. These can be traded in to reduce or negate damage from a given attack, or to reroll a trait die, and are used as rewards for good play.

Combat initiative is determined by a standard deck of playing cards (with two jokers); characters act in sequence according to the fall of the cards from highest to lowest. Ties are broken by suit (in order from best to worst, spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs). Jokers beat all other cards and additionally give bonuses on rolls made in the round one receives them. The deck is shuffled at the end of every round in which a joker was dealt.

Any player that receives a Joker during initiative may take his action at any time during the round. So if he wishes to act first, or in response to another PC or NPC acting he may at any point.


Savage Worlds was first released in 2003 and was derived from the earlier Great Rail Wars miniatures game, itself a simplified derivative of Hensley's Deadlands RPG. At Origins 2003, Savage Worlds was awarded the Gamer's Choice Award in the Roleplaying Game category.[2] The main rulebook was revised and released as a PDF format eBook in late 2004, with a print version following in early 2005. The same year, Great White Games began releasing rules expansions in the form of several PDF format genre toolkit books. Self-contained miniature skirmish games based upon the Savage Worlds engine were also released in print and PDF form.

Deadlands Reloaded, a version of the classic Pinnacle game using the Savage Worlds rules, was released in May 2006. In late 2005, Pinnacle entered into an agreement with WizKids to publish self-contained RPGs set in the worlds of Pirates, Rocketmen, and MageKnight using the Savage Worlds rules.[3] Of the three licenses, only The Pirates of the Spanish Main RPG saw release, and was published in April 2007. Pinnacle released another licensed game, The Savage World of Solomon Kane, in 2007.[4]

In October 2007, Pinnacle released the Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition, a digest size paperback edition of the rules. It featured the revisions to melee damage rules first introduced in Deadlands Reloaded, as well as new chase rules, and was released at Origins 2007. At that event, Deadlands Reloaded won the Origins Award in the category of Best Roleplaying Game Supplement. [5]

In August 2011, Pinnacle released Savage Worlds Deluxe, a hardcover and expanded version of the rules found in the Explorer's Edition.

In August 2012, Pinnacle released the digest size paperback edition of the Deluxe rules, Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer's Edition.

In 2015 Pinnacle announced a series of supplements converting Rifts to the Savage Worlds system.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ HENSLEY Shane Lacy, HOPLER John R. and SPARKS Zeke, Savage Worlds, Great White Games, first edition: March 2003, 144 p., Hardc., ISBN 1-930855-57-5
  2. ^ a b "List of Winners Presented at Origins 2004". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design. Archived from the original on 2008-04-29. Retrieved 2008-07-13. 
  3. ^ "Pinnacle Entertainment Group to Produce WizKids RPGs, Scenario Books". 2005-11-15. Archived from the original on 2008-11-25. 
  4. ^ "The Savage World of Solomon Kane to be an RPG" (PDF). Greta Pinnacle Entertainment. 2006-08-08. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2007-09-27. 
  5. ^ Deadlands: Reloaded Wins Origins Award
  6. ^ "Rifts is Coming for Savage Worlds!". 


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