DAY EIGHTEEN: FAVORITE GAME SYSTEM
Geez… I just got back from Gencon and you hit me with this question!? Talk about a tough choice, especially when I’ve just spent four days being reminded of the many many systems out there and why I love them all so much! I need to choose though, and I choose Savage Worlds.
Okay, so my opinion may be swayed a mite by the fact that I spent a great deal of time with Shane Hensley, Clint Black, and John Goff during Gencon at the Gamerstable Award Dinner (I even scored some autographs because in the end I’m a Fanboy at heart) but even without that fact in play I think I would still have gone with Savage Worlds and its many varied campaign settings. It may not be the system I’ve played the most, Dungeons & Dragons in various forms earns that particular honor, but it is certainly the system I reach to first these days.
Hensley’s set of generic rules are very adaptable to any sort of game, be it one of the numerous established settings already available (i.e. my favorite, the Weird West setting, Deadlands Reloaded) or even a game of your own creation. I once crafted a game where the characters were all Bullywugs investigating the poisoning of their swamp lands. Setting customization runs the gambit of Fantasy to very Real Life and Ancient Times to the Far Future, with little difficulty.
The mechanics are simplistic but can easily allow for some more complex actions and maneuvers if someone desired to really get squirrely. Revolving around a die mechanic that allows only D4-D12 and matching those die to single Attributes and Skills makes for low numbered Target Numbers and a limited scaling that doesn’t complicate the math too much down the road. Some of the more exciting additions are the additional Wild Die one rolls, no matter their common Skill die, and chance a better result out of the two options and if either of the die you roll hits the highest number they are capable of you “Ace” allowing for another roll to add to the total. That “Ace” can account for some truly unexpected results. After that I would point to the Initiative system that uses a deck of cards every turn. This randomizes the fights ever turn, rather than limiting everyone to a static initiative. This does a good job of adding the chaos one would assume a true fight to the battle. Will you go before the big bad?
So Savage Worlds is easily my favorite choice for a pickup game, or a limited engagement, and can work just as well for long term play. I also feel it’s simple enough that I’ve used it often in Google+ Online Hangout games with the Vagabond Gamers and in a few Play by Post games in the past. I’m gearing up for another Play by Post right now actually. If you’ve never tried this game I urge you to check it out. It has some of the best support when it comes to Campaign Settings that I’ve seen with a generic set of rules and you’ll quickly fall in love with throwing those Bennies (tokens that the players, and even the GM, get to use for added “Benefits”) around!