Review: Pinnacle Entertainment Group – Savage Worlds

Product Name: Savage Worlds (Explorer’s Edition)
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment Group
Author: Shane Lacy Hensley
System: Savage Worlds
Theme: Generic, Universal
Type: Core

This review was originally posted at The Mystical Throne.

The fun and flexibility offered within the Savage Worlds system is only overshadowed by it’s extremely reasonable price. The system has a wide assortment of options while keeping from becoming convoluted.

The cover art of the Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition is nice and simple. It gives the players and Game Masters a feel that they are entering a world of adventure that could take them to far away places. It’s simple but effective.

The content is where this book shines. The Savage Worlds system is a generic universal role-playing system that allows for a multitude of genres and sub-genres while keeping game play and character creation as simple as possible. And it does all of this without detracting from fair and flexible rules.

I like the dice attribute system instead of using a skill number and rolling above or below that number. Often times in systems that use a skill number that adds bonuses or creates penalties, the adventure or campaign you’re involved in simply moves at the same level as the player characters. This means that even though the PCs have gotten better, their opponents have gotten better as well and have ultimately become no easier to hit. The Savage Worlds system uses a standard target number that only changes for certain situations while a PCs skill die-type simply means they have a better chance at meeting or exceeding that target number. This method of dice rolling helps to keep book-keeping to a minimum as the Game Master does not have to constantly consult their notes to determine what value the PC has to meet or exceed/roll under. I find this allows game-play to be faster than other systems.

Pinnacle Entertainment has done a great job at reducing the number of skills, talents, and powers available by combining like skills into a single common skill. This allows a character to truly improve their chances of success without having to worry about taking multiple skills that do similar things. The drawback for this is how it translates into some genre types, but a few minor tweaks here and there can take care of that. Such is the inherent flexibility within the system. One thing it doesn’t do well, is easily translate into high fantasy or high tech science fiction campaigns. But with some changes to the rules, while keeping the core rules and mechanics, these translations are possible.

Savage Worlds also has options to play as cinematic or detrimental as a Game Master would like. Instead of simply providing one method for a PC to recover from a disaster, Savage Worlds has provided multiple methods of recovery (this is not in reference to healing). This becomes more important to a Game Master as they can simply remove one or two of these methods to move the campaign from highly cinematic to something where the PCs have to spend more time considering the consequences of their actions. This can play very easily into creating a horror adventure versus a pulp adventure.

So what are the drawbacks? The biggest drawback is how the system translates into more predominant genres and sub-genres. Rules and mechanics tweaks may be necessary, but Savage Worlds still maintains its’ flexibility to allow these changes to be made.

To add to all this, the book even contains rules for vehicular, aerial, and naval combat, as well as how to translate your game into a 28mm miniatures game (for combat).

There aren’t very many illustrations within the Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition book, but the ones that are found within are quite good. Much of the art has a cartoon-like appeal, but such is the style of pulp or cinematic adventures. The “Deadlands” style art along with the horror and other various non-pulp style art is not only drawn beautifully but colored to match. There’s something to be said about good quality color illustrations in a book that costs so little.

The layout of the book is all right. I find the gear section to be out-of-place and would like to see the chapters broken-up differently. However, the layout does not detract from the quality of the book and a great table of contents and index help to get the reader through.

It’s a generic universal system, it doesn’t need fluff!

The Savage Worlds system is a great way to explore different genres of role-playing without having to spend a lot of time and money learning new systems and using convoluted character creation methods. If you’re looking for a new system or are new to role-playing, I highly recommend Savage Worlds.

Overall Rating: 10 out of 10

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