Review: Savage Mojo – Suzerain Pocket Universe (Savage Worlds)

Suzerain Pocket Universe
Suzerain (Pocket Universe edition) is a complete universal setting for Savage Worlds published by Savage Mojo and written by Zach Wellhouse.
By Aaron T. Huss

Suzerain Pocket Universe is many things, all in one conveniently sized and priced digest-sized book. While this is a trimmed down version of the full Savage Suzerain publication, I did not find myself confused on any subject. But it’s more! Suzerain is more than just a universal setting (in that it encompasses multiple genres), it’s also a collection of defined settings known herein as Realms. These realms vary in look and feel and span any one or combination of genres. In addition, and more importantly, it is the ultimate book of heroes. Not superheroes, but definite heroes. Heroes that not only answer to, but work for (essentially) the gods and deities they pay homage to.

So how do these heroes compare to regular heroes? Most systems and settings create heroic characters that perform heroic feats and are looked up to by others as though they are heroes. However, they still die like a mortal man and are limited to the trappings of the world they live in. Suzerain breaks free of those constraints not only by increasing the Savage Worlds character level (to demigod), but also giving characters special abilities that allow them to cheat death, visit their gods directly, and travel throughout time. When you create a character in Suzerain, you are creating a true hero.


Savage Suzerain is the name given to the Suzerain setting using the Savage Worlds system. This is in opposition to the Suzerain setting which uses the Mojo Rules! system. This section describes Savage Suzerain and also introduces the Savage Worlds mechanics that are altered within Suzerain. This includes Karma replacing Bennies, Pulse replacing Power Points, and the introduction of the new character level demigod. None of this is system changing but helps to add flavor to Suzerain (considering its in-game use) and I believe must match-up to the Mojo Rules system. These mechanics are all properly described and detailed, and I love the idea of becoming a demigod! In addition, a new level of Fatigue is introduced, mechanics for changing timelines, uses for Karma and Pulse, and some changes to how death is dealt with.


Character creation is very standard, using the regular Savage Worlds mechanics. However, many new Edges are introduced to coincide with the Suzerain setting and mechanics. The setting Edges correspond to how deity worship is handled (called Patron Edges), new ones for the demigod level, and the change from Arcane Background to Pulse Path and how magic is handled. This new Pulse Path is a very interesting direction using each attribute to link to its own type of magic. While this mechanic takes character creation in a different direction from the standard Savage Worlds mechanics, it does not deviate so far to become confusing or convoluted.


The player’s look at setting mechanics includes a look at how to travel the timeline, and more importantly how your personal piece of jewelry, known as a Telesma, comes into play. These are extremely important to the Suzerain setting as they help explain the purpose of the setting and demonstrate how things become possible. Telesmae are the link between characters and their patron god or goddess. Upon understanding its purpose and power, the characters learn that they are becoming true heroes and gain the ability to travel across time (albeit with applicable in-game mechanics). A hero has purpose, and why shouldn’t their god or goddess use that purpose to their advantage? You quickly learn how the possibilities can be endless.


After finishing the Player’s section, the Game Master’s section starts by explaining the ins and outs of the Maelstrom and the Spirit World. Without going too deep into the “behind the scenes” mechanics, the basics are this: the spirit world and subsequently the maelstrom live parallel to the real world. Gods, deities, and many fantastical creatures live within the spirit world. To travel there means the chance to encounter them. Heroes eventually gain the ability to travel between the real and spirit worlds.


Now that the GM understands the spirit world and maelstrom, they need to understand how traveling throughout time and history works and the ramifications of those who wish to completely change history. Suzerain does an excellent job of explaining how major historical events cannot simply be changed as time has a way of repairing itself. This could be due to interference from other heroes or simply because there are too many points to change on the timeline to completely change history. It’s not as easy as one may think. One cannot simply appear in the past, assassinate a key figure, and completely end World War II. There are mechanics and fluff related to this and it’s all fully explained in these sections.


As Suzerain treats the characters as true heroes, there are adventure and campaign ideas for incorporating the changes and color of the Suzerain universe. This includes a look at running Heroic and Demigod level games, looking at how these game progress and how they can span multiple settings with different themes. This gives the GM guidance and will hopefully make the player’s experience that much better.


Suzerain is an incredible framework. I love the idea of spanning multiple settings with different genres and the idea of traveling throughout time to perform missions for your patron god or goddess. This is possibly the closest I’ve seen to being able to play immortal characters. It truly takes role-playing to another level, pending you create long-term campaigns. As a whole, the Suzerain universe is not really feel as though it’s meant for small adventures and single-game sessions. The mechanics are designed to see your characters start as heroic warriors and end up as demigods sitting next to their patron gods. In addition to long-term campaigns, it also helps alleviate the argument of what genre next. You can simply take your characters to a different place and time and a whole new experience can be had. All without having to create new characters.


Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
Suzerain is a wonderfully developed setting. To coincide with its beauty and flexibility, Suzerain Pocket Universe contains black-and-white versions of color illustrations contained in the larger book. These illustrations come through as crisp and clear and add a wealth of visual appeal to the book. Keeping the inside of the book black-and-white helps keep the price down and makes purchasing the book a definite must. The way in which this was executed was essentially perfect. However, the format of the digest-size produces single-column content (which is to be expected).

This content is not centered on the page and the outer margins are much larger than the inner margins. This is obviously done so text boxes and vertical illustrations can be inserted. The only problem with this format is that you really have to open the book wide to see whatever words ride along the inner margin. This is very prevalent on left-side pages as right-side pages are slightly indented. At times it made reading a bit tricky, especially when shadows are thrown onto the content from low lighting. Again, I understand the purpose but found it a bit intrusive (at times) for smooth reading. The overall quality of the publication remains high and this format should not be a determining factor.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Suzerain does a fantastic job of representing the ideals of being a true hero. With the expansion of character levels into demigod, the ability to come back from death (because your deity said so), the new powers and associated Patron Edges, and of course traveling the Maelstrom and traversing time. All of this comes together to create a game of true epic proportions. No more worrying about saving the world once, you can do it several times! The options are fantastic and the new Savage Worlds mechanics (such as Edges, Hindrances, and powers) seem very well balanced and of course very flavorful. There are also some terminology changes concerning the Savage Worlds mechanics that add to the depth of the setting and appear to be part of the move from Mojo Rules to Savage Worlds.

Desire to Play: 10 out of 10
If you desire the opportunity to become not only true heroes but rise to the level of demigodhood, Suzerain has everything you need. If you are looking for a game universe that encompasses multiple genres with unique opportunities and stories that can span multiple realms, Suzerain has everything you need. If you are looking to create a campaign that can cross genres, time, and even space, Suzerain has everything you need. How does this translate to a desire to play? It basically means that you can take any published setting, even those that are not part of the Suzerain universe, and place them within the framework of Suzerain. That’s probably the key factor, Suzerain is a framework for characters to learn and grow in and eventually overcome by traveling through the Maelstrom to speak to their deities and find a new place and time that needs your help.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Those looking for an all-encompassing universe to play in should pick up the Suzerain book and take everything in. If you’re only want a single campaign set in a single setting, Suzerain has fun ideas to enhance your gaming experience (especially driving it to the demigod level), but the full-effect of the universe probably won’t be experienced. From my opinion, it is designed as a framework to raise your long-term campaigns to further than epic levels and presents the players with opportunities they may have never imagined. The best part of it is how you can wrap it around any published setting and only a few minor tweaks will be required.

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