Monday, 20 July 2015

Hindrance Cards

GMs in Savage Worlds are encouraged to hand out bennies when the players roleplay their Hindrances, although no specific guidelines are given - rewarding bennies falls very much into "GM's discretion" territory.

Personally I usually aim to award 1 benny per Hindrance per session. I will also give additional bennies for special cases, but those first 3 bennies tend to be the easiest to earn, particularly for crunchy Hindrances. For example I'd award a benny to a Lame character the first time they're in a Chase, or in a situation where their reduced Pace prevents them from completing a desirable action; I feel that it should be easier to earn bennies for crunchy Hindrances, to compensate for the fact that they also give a mechanical drawback (compared to the fluffy Hindrances that are purely roleplayed).

This approach works well for me, but sometimes I forget which PCs have which Hindrances, and which Hindrances I've already rewarded during the session. This becomes particularly problematic for one-shots and new campaigns, as it takes me a while to familiarise myself with the various PCs.

One solution I came up with is to write out the PCs Hindrances on cards (one Hindrance per card), and hand out the cards at the beginning of the session. The players can then cash in each of their cards when the respective Hindrances come into play, as long as their justification isn't too much of a stretch.

More recently I've had some newer players who aren't familiar with the system, and they sometimes have difficulty remembering what their Hindrances do (which can sometimes make it difficult to know when to cash in a card). So I decided to put together a tool that can generate printable cards complete with descriptions.

You can access it here: Hindrance Card Generator

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Savage Dragonmarks

Now that Savage Vancian Magic is complete, I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the other ways in which the new spells can be used. One idea that immediately sprung to mind was the dragonmarks from Eberron - elaborate tattoo-like skin patterns that grant magical abilities.

Kristian Serrano's comprehensive Savage Worlds Eberron Conversion Companion does already include rules for dragonmarks, but they work more like traditional Arcane Backgrounds. The alternative solution I'm providing here is instead designed to complement the spells and Edges described in Savage Vancian Magic.

Dragonmark Edges

Only humans, halflings, elves, gnomes, dwarves, half-elves and half-orcs can take Dragonmark Edges. A character can either take Aberrant Dragonmark, Least Dragonmark, or Heir of Siberys, but each blocks the other two. If a character takes Least Dragonmark then they may later branch into Lesser Dragonmark, Greater Dragonmark and/or Dragonmark Heir.

Aberrant Dragonmark
Requirements: Novice, Special
  You cannot take this Edge if you already have a dragonmark. Choose one of the following spells when this Edge is first taken: Beguile Person, Cause Moderate Wounds, Chilling Touch, Cone of Fire, Feather Fall, Hovering Disk, Leap, Light, Produce Fire, Sense Hidden Doors, Shield of Force, Terror, or Traceless Step. You may cast your chosen spell once per day, using Spirit as the spellcasting skill. Your caster rank for this spell is the same as your character rank.

Least Dragonmark
Requirements: Novice, Special
  You cannot take this Edge if you already have a dragonmark. Choose one of the Marks available for your race when this Edge is first taken. You immediately gain the listed skill bonus. Select one of the Least spells available to your Mark: You may cast this spell once per day, or twice per day if it's a Cantrip, using Spirit as the spellcasting skill. Your caster rank for Dragonmark spells is Novice.

Lesser Dragonmark
Requirements: Seasoned, Least Dragonmark
  Select one of the Lesser spells available to your Mark: You may cast this spell once per day. You may also cast your Least spell an extra time each day. Your caster rank for Dragonmark spells is now Seasoned.

Greater Dragonmark
Requirements: Veteran, Lesser Dragonmark
  Select one of the Greater spells available to your Mark: You may cast this spell once per day. You may also cast both your Least and Lesser spells an extra time each day. Your caster rank for Dragonmark spells is now Veteran.

Dragonmark Heir
Requirements: Seasoned, Connections (House), Least Dragonmark
  You gain a +2 Charisma bonus when dealing with members of your own Dragonmark House. You may also choose an extra Least, Lesser and Greater spell from those available for your mark (or gain the ability to cast your existing spell an extra time each day); if you don't yet have the Lesser or Greater Dragonmark Edges, you must wait before choosing your extra Lesser and Greater spells respectively.

Heir of Siberys
Requirements: Heroic, Luck, Special
  You cannot take this Edge if you already have a dragonmark. Choose one of the Marks available for your race when this Edge is first taken, and select one of the Siberys spells available to your Mark: You may cast this spell once per day, or twice per day if you are Legendary rank, using Spirit as the spellcasting skill. Your caster rank for Dragonmark spells is the same as your character rank.


Each dragonmark lists the race that can take it, the skill bonus it provides, and the spells available for the Least, Lesser, Greater and Siberys version of the mark.

Mark of Detection
Race: Half-Elf
Skill: +1 to sight-based Notice rolls
Least: Sense Magic (Cantrip), Sense Poison (Cantrip)
Lesser: Sense Scrying, Sense Invisibility
Greater: Truesight
Siberys: Foreknowledge

Mark of Finding
Race: Half-Orc and Human
Skill: +1 to Notice rolls when searching an area
Least: Identify Object, Internal Compass (Cantrip), Find Object
Lesser: Guiding Hand, Find Creature
Greater: Find Route
Siberys: Find Location

Mark of Handling
Race: Human
Skill: +1 Charisma when dealing with animals
Least: Pacify Animals, Beguile Beast, Speak with Beasts
Lesser: Dominate Beast, Improved Enchant Claws
Greater: Enlarge Animals, Summon Animals (Veteran)
Siberys: Grant Sentience, Summon Animals (Heroic)

Mark of Healing
Race: Halfling
Skill: +1 to Healing rolls
Least: Cure Moderate Wounds, Restore Minor Vitality
Lesser: Cure Major Wounds, Cure Poison, Cure Disease, Restore Moderate Vitality
Greater: Heal
Siberys: Improved Heal

Mark of Hospitality
Race: Halfling
Skill: +1 to Persuasion rolls
Least: Purification (Cantrip), Prestidigitation (Cantrip), Invisible Servant
Lesser: Conjure Food and Water, Secure Lodge
Greater: Magnificent Feast, Extradimensional Dwelling
Siberys: Teleportation Device

Mark of Making
Race: Human
Skill: +1 to Repair rolls
Least: Improved Mend Object, Mend Object (Cantrip), Mend Moderate Damage
Lesser: Create Object, Mend Major Damage
Greater: Fabricate Object, Improved Create Object
Siberys: True Creation*

Mark of Passage
Race: Human
Skill: +1 to Survival rolls
Least: Expeditious Jog, Summon Steed, Dimension Leap*
Lesser: Minor Teleport, Ghostly Steed
Greater: Improved Flight, Teleportation
Siberys: Improved Teleportation

Mark of Scribing
Race: Gnome
Skill: +1 to Investigation rolls related to translation
Least: Arcane Signature, Empathic Comprehension, Windborn Message
Lesser: Illusionary Writing, Illusionary Page, Empathic Linguist
Greater: Telepathic Message
Siberys: Rune of Death

Mark of Sentinel
Race: Human
Skill: +1 to Notice rolls related to reading body language
Least: Mystic Armor, Arrow Resistance, Spirit Shield, Shielding Link
Lesser: Energy Armor, Sphere of Invulnerability
Greater: Improved Sphere of Invulnerability
Siberys: Mental Shield

Mark of Shadow
Race: Elf
Skill: +1 to Streetwise rolls
Least: Darkness, Glamour, Illusionary Image
Lesser: Clairvoyance, Shadow Conjurer, Scry
Greater: Decoy, Eye Spy, Shadow Step
Siberys: Improved Eye Spy, Improved Scry

Mark of Storm
Race: Half-Elf
Skill: +1 to Agility rolls related to balance
Least: Environmental Endurance, Obscuring Fog, Blast of Wind
Lesser: Sleet Storm, Wind's Favor*, Wall of Wind
Greater: Shape Wind, Shape Weather
Siberys: Vengeful Storm

Mark of Warding
Race: Dwarf
Skill: +1 to Notice rolls when searching an area
Least: Alarm Ward, Secure Lock, Explosive Trap, False Aura
Lesser: Explosive Sigil, Warding Sigil, Detection Ward
Greater: Phantom Watchdog, Improved Warding Sigil, Protect Stronghold
Siberys: Prismatic Barrier

* This spell isn't covered in Savage Vancian Magic, instead it is described below.

New Spells

The above marks use three new spells, which are only available to characters with dragonmarks, and work as follows.

Dimension Leap
School: Conjuration
Rank: Novice
Casting: Incantation
Range: Smarts x 2
Duration: Instant
Trappings: Direct and Ranged
  This spell instantly teleports you and everything you're carrying to any desired destination within range, which can either be a visualized location or a specified distance and direction. If a destination is occupied by a solid body, you are automatically Shaken and transported to a random unoccupied location within range.

Wind's Favor
School: Transmutation
Rank: Seasoned
Casting: Gestures and incantation
Range: Smarts x 2
Duration: 3 hours per caster rank, dismiss early as a normal action
  This spell creates a focused tunnel of wind 2" wide, 2" high, and as long as the range. The wind has the same intensity as a Fresh Breeze (see the 'Wind Scale' section), and you can change its direction by up to 45 degrees as a full-round action.

True Creation
School: Conjuration
Rank: Heroic
Casting: Gestures, incantation, components and a benny
Range: Smarts
Duration: Instant
Trappings: Creation and Ranged
  This spell requires ten minutes to cast, and creates a single non-magical object made from minerals or non-living plant matter, with a maximum volume of three cubic feet per caster rank. If such an object would normally require skilled craftsmanship you must also roll the appropriate skill (as if you were crafting the object normally, except it occurs instantly and doesn't require tools).
  The cost of the components is equal to the cost of the raw materials needed for the object.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Savage Vancian Magic

Vancian magic (aka "fire and forget") seems to be one of those things that some people love and others hate. Although freeform magic is still probably my favorite approach in general, I was introduced to the Dragonlance novels at a young age, and Raistlin made a lasting impression on me.

More recently I've been interested in converting 3.x material to Savage Worlds, particularly the excellent War of the Burning Sky adventure path. I originally came up with a simple “Fast, Furious and Fun” solution for handling spellcasters (see the Arcane Backgrounds in Savage War of the Burning Sky), and used trappings to cover their spells (such as those in my Savage Spellbook supplement), but as the campaign progressed and the PCs advanced (and the wizard's player wanted to use the same sort of spells that had been available in our former D&D 3.5 campaign) my solution felt increasingly like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It just didn't capture the feel, the flavor, of the magic system. So after running a couple of dozens gaming sessions I went back to the drawing board and tried again, and this is the result.

It's perfectly possible to play a superhero game in Savage Worlds using just the core rules, but I find it much easier with the Super Powers Companion, which offers an alternative power system specifically geared towards supers settings. Savage Vancian Magic does exactly the same thing for D&D/Pathfinder settings. Neither the Super Powers Companion nor Savage Vancian Magic are required, but they are both designed to make the GM's job easier when running certain types of campaign.

You can download it from here: Savage Vancian Magic

The goal
"I love Savage Worlds. Half of the guys in my group love Savage Worlds. But part of what keeps the other half from jumping on board, at least for a fantasy campaign, is the lack of a Vancian magic system"
"But when it comes to fantasy, Vancian magic is hard coded into many gamers’ DNA. That’s certainly the case in my group – they like Savage Worlds well enough, but the lack of a Vancian magic system is a major stumbling block. They like being able to learn a large number of spells, and cherrypick from them each session. The Fantasy Companion doesn’t address that need, which is a shame since its addition could have won over some of the holdouts."
"SW is bad at settings with tons of weak magic spells. The average magic user in Savage Worlds has half a dozen quite powerful spells, most of them geared towards combat. If you want a game where the magic user has a lot of weak utility spells, and part of your fun is to find creative ways to use and exploit them, Savage Worlds is not the game for you."
The goal of Savage Vancian Magic is to capture the flavor of the 3.x magic system in a way that still feels like Savage Worlds. It is specifically aimed at people who want to play Savage Worlds, but also want 3.x–style spellcasters. Despite its name, this supplement covers both Vancian (i.e., “prepared”) and non–Vancian (i.e., “spontaneous”) spellcasters.

If you hate the 3.x magic system, you probably won't find Savage Vancian Magic useful – except perhaps as proof of concept, to demonstrate the versatility of Savage Worlds, and prove to the naysayers that even their sacred cow can be Savaged.

If you hate long spell lists then you definitely won't like this, but should instead take a look at my Savage Abilities supplement, which takes the opposite approach - it trims all the fat, reducing the power list to just five different powers. Those five powers can then be customised with modifiers and trappings to design a huge range of custom spell effects.

It should also be noted that this magic system differs from the magic in Jack Vance's work, as it’s inspired by the 3.x approach rather than Vance’s novels, however the commonly used term for both is still "Vancian magic".