Monday, 4 September 2017

Invoking Hindrances

When designing my Swift d12 system, I wanted to keep the rules streamlined, so I decided to introduce a simple mechanic for handling Flaws. The approach I used was to make them primarily descriptive, and allow players to "invoke" each Flaw once per session in return for Karma Points.

It struck me that the same approach would also work rather well for Hindrances in Savage Worlds, so I came up with a quick conversion:

Invoking Hindrances

Players can invoke each of their Hindrances once per session. This must be done before making a trait roll, and the player should explain how their Hindrance gives them a disadvantage in this particular situation. If the GM accepts the explanation, the player earns a Benny, but also suffers a –2 penalty to their roll, and must draw a card. If the card is Clubs, there is a further complication; the penalty increases to –4, and failure is treated as if it were a critical failure.

Players cannot spend a Benny to reroll an invoked Hindrance.

Example 1

The Game Master tells everyone to make Notice rolls as they approach the cave. Lexi invokes her Overconfident Hindrance; she's not scared of some smelly old cave, so she'll just go marching straight in without bothering to look for signs of danger! She draws the Five of Hearts, and makes her Notice roll with a –2 penalty, but Aces her roll and succeeds anyway.

Example 2

Rylan disturbs a dragon while exploring its lair. The Game Master decides that this scene will be resolved as a Chase, and asks for a maneuvering trait roll. Rylan invokes his Greedy Hindrance in the first round, and announces that he's been distracted by the dragon's treasure hoard. He draws the Seven of Spades and makes his Agility roll with a –2 penalty, failing the roll. Looks like he's going to need that bonus Benny for a Soak roll!

Example 3

Big Brak launches a furious attack against a human adventurer, and decides to invoke his One Eye Hindrance; the player describes how the human ducks around Big Brak's blind side, putting him at a disadvantage as he tries to swing his axe. He draws the Ace of Clubs and suffers a –4 penalty to his attack – failure! The GM declares that Big Brak loses his grip on his axe, and accidentally tosses it away into the river!

Summary

This rule obviously turns the "fluffy" Hindrances into more of a benefit than a drawback, but it works extremely well in Swift d12, where I've found it really encourages the players to add some interesting narrative to the game. I see no reason why the same solution wouldn't work just as well in Savage Worlds.

My older Hindrance Cards idea also gave players a more direct means of earning Bennies, helping to take some of the pressure off the GM, but it always felt a bit handwavy during play. By contrast, the "invoke" rule feels more like the players are paying a fair price for their bonus Benny.