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Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition (3rd Printing)

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Average Rating:4.6 / 5
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Savage Worlds: Explorer\'s Edition (3rd Printing)
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Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition (3rd Printing)
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Robert S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/08/2011 10:12:38
Greeting from the Extra-Steamy Jungles of Mad Adventure.

A wanderer through the occasional magical door, I move from world to world and when not running role-playing games for some and causing trouble for others, I make podcast columns and reviews of role-playing game material. My companions include legendary demi-lich Acererak and grandmother hag Baba Yaga and we waltz across time and space in Baba Yaga’s magic dancing hut. This is a typical life for a podcaster. By comparison, one of the guy’s behind Canon Puncture is a Sith Lord and another guy at the same show is a Jedi Knight, but I’m not going to tell you which is which because that would spoil their surprise.

This week I am reviewing Savage Worlds, Explorer Edition.

This is a theoretical review…

ACERERAK
You mean it is only a review only in theory? Then what is it actually?

GRUMPY
Allow me to introduce Acererak, legendary demi-lich and pain in the ass. When I can get a word in edge wise, I mean to say my actual exposure to Savage Worlds is fairly limited – I’ve only played it a few times. So, this review is me discussing the game more in theory, based on my reading of the text, than in fact based on lots of experience.

ACERERAK
Oh, so you mean the review is you talking out of your ass? Well, it’s not like that has ever stopped you before.

(thump)

ACERERAK
Ow.

GRUMPY
One more out of you like that and I’m sticking you in the hatbox.

ACERERAK
I’ll be good.

GRUMPY
Or I’ll hit you again ‘cause that hallow sound I get when I thump you makes me smile.

ACERERAK
Bastard.

GRUMPY
What?

ACERERAK
Nothing.

GRUMPY
Hrmph.

Savage World, Explorer’s Edition is role playing game book which presents a generic RPG game engine and is published by the Pinnacle Entertainment Group.

Savage World’s is an excellent example of concision – it covers everything it needs in 160 pages, which makes it smaller than any single volume of the three books of D&D for the last three or four editions. Savage Worlds provides a two-page table of contents, letting you know where everything is and making up for a lack of an index.

The composition and layout of Savage Worlds is good. A map appears behind table of contents and it is distracting, but this design only appears at the table of contents and at few other places. Elsewhere the layout is suburb, sporting what appears to be Arial font or something similar, with an easy to read size presented in two clear columns. Ample white space and art means the pages appear bright and are easy on the eyes.

The book also sports a good selection of art, with at least a small piece appearing every few pages, presenting a range of styles and covering a range of subjects, from fantasy to science fiction to superheroes and so forth. About two dozen artists contributed to the book, including long time RPG artist Todd Lockwood and Cheyenne Wright, who does the coloring work for Phil Folio’s “Girl Genius” series.

The stated purpose of Savage Worlds, as a RPG system, is to provide a game that emphasizes speed of play and reduced preparation over realism or detail. In this, the game succeeds quite well.

The mechanic system grew out of the Great Rail Wars miniatures game, which itself uses a simplified version of game mechanics Shane Hensley developed for the Deadlands RPG. Savage Worlds received the Gamer's Choice Award in the Roleplaying Game category at Origins 2004. After a revision later that year, Pennacle released the main rulebook as a PDF format eBook in late 2004, with a print version following in early 2005. The same year, they began releasing rules expansions – such as for fantasy, superheroes, Cthulu horror and so forth – in the form of PDFs genre toolkit books.

This review is of the basic book and the basic engine and does not cover any of the expansions.

ACERERAK
The expansion for my little pony is great and a must have for any true brony.

GRUMPY
I’ll take your word for it.

Where was I?

Pinnacle Entertainment also licenses Savage World’s for the use of other publishers, similar to how Wizards of the Coast operates with 4E D&D. However, the Pinnacle Entertainment’s license is vastly easier to acquire and employ than the license employed by Wizards.

In terms of the book, chapter one covers character creation, chapter two provides rules for equipment, chapter three provides game rules, chapter four gives rules for magical abilities and other super powers while chapter six gives rules for special situations and chapter seven provides guidelines for running the game.

In terms of mechanics, character stats are dice, ranging from the d4 up to the d12. If you want your character to catch a baseball or dropped baby or something and the character’s agility is d8, then the player rolls a d8 and adds the appropriate modifiers to try to beat the target difficult. The basic difficulty is 4, though this can go up under certain circumstances, such as angry GM whim.

The game includes the exploding dice mechanic…

ACERERAK
Which is false advertising

GRUMPY
What?

ACERERAK
The dice don’t actually explode.

GRUMPY
Acererak, they never actually meant the dice exploded, they just meant when you rolled the highest number any particular dice allows, you could roll that dice again and add the cumulative result.

ACERERAK
I know that now. But I was so disappointed the first time I played through the game.

GRUMPY
Right. Anyway, the game also provides elements called Edges and Hindrances, which is the Savage World version of GURPS Advantages and Drawbacks or the Merits and Flaws is the White Wolf Storyteller system. In other words, they are a set of additions that allow players to tailor a character to something very specific, to suit themselves and the game.

Despite the brevity of Savage World’s Explorer’s Edition, it feels complete – which is interesting again, compare it to 4E D&D, which is bloated by comparison and still managed to feel as though it is lacking in flexibility in comparison, if for no other reason than D&D’s narrow focus on sword and sorcerers while Savage Worlds is more adaptable.

I say that even though I am a fan of 4E D&D.

Initiative is determined by cards – the players draw from a standard deck of cards and their initiative is determined by which card they draw.

Because the player characters are heroes – or at least assumed to be heroes – they get an addition d6 to roll whenever they make a roll and they can keep whichever result is higher, the result of the stated dice for that roll or the result of the additional d6.

Combat is quick, usually resolved in a quarter of the game time required to deal with a similar combat sequence in D&D. However, a corollary is that damage in combat is often lethal – death comes easily to characters in this game.

The system is so rules light and flexible, it is easy to hack, that is to say it is easy to adjust and change both with careful modulation and on the fly during a game.

As others have observed, a potential flaw to the Savage World’s game is its tone or flavor – namely, it encourages a quick and high energy style of play, heavily lending itself to pulp adventures, gun blazing, comic book action and so forth. It does not appear to lend itself easily to more somber tones of something like the Call of Cthulhu or a slower paced game of plotting, scheming and the like.

This is not necessarily a bad thing – a specific focus can be a good thing, as it gives a game direction and focus. For example, I have issues with Dogs in the Vineyard, but its specific focus and purposes is not one of them. However, this focus is worth noting and does reduce Savage World’s potential usefulness, dropping it from a perfect 20.

In the end, I give Savage Worlds Explored Edition, a 15 on a d20 roll. It is quite good at what it does, though it does have a narrow, and thus limiting, focus. However, as a “generic” game system promoting fast play and high-energy play, it is good, just do not expect much in the way of depth or philosophizing of any kind.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition (3rd Printing)
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Loot P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/08/2011 09:45:00
A great starting point for a lot of high quality gaming goodness.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition (3rd Printing)
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Skipper S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/26/2010 11:45:34
I just love this ruleset and its versitility. I also like the way that all the stats are important and that if you ignore something you will definitely have a weakness. The players are heroic in this game as the wild die always gives them a better chance at succeeding than a "normal".

The exploding die also leaves a lot of uncertainity and excitement as you almost always can have incredible success. It also means that the PC's must be cautious as the NPC can also explode a die and succeed. This makes everyone vulnerable. This leads to more role playing.

The add on genre books take this basic set and expand it into what you are interested in. For me this is great as I like a wide range of games and the same system works for almost all the heroic character type RPGs.

Another big advantage is the ease of running a session. After getting the rules down I can almost run cold with a bare minimum of preparation.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition (3rd Printing)
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Peter C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/23/2010 18:00:50
I picked up Savage Worlds when I was looking for a fast to play, simple game system that I could use between "serious" campaign play.
Savage Worlds has given me all I asked of it, and more.
I have been able to teach a group of players how to play, and get them started in an adventure (pregen characters) in 15 minutes.
The rules are logical, flow quickly, and are easy to understand.
At $10 for a copy of the rules, even impovershed gamers can afford a copy. While I have purchased several expansion books, I rarely, if ever refer to them - the core rules are enough for me. (Exception: We're using material from "Realms of Cthulhu" - good stuff!
I am using these rules for a regular campaign now, and still do one-shots.
The system has two weaknesses: First is the weakness of generic systems: It is generic. For example, magic, weird science, and superpowers all fall under one general game mechanic. It makes wizards a little bland, unless your players will exert the effort to make their wizards more interesting.
The second is that the system is a little too abstract, making it very difficult to adapt monsters from other games, or animals and machines from the real world: What is the strength of a gorilla? a crocodile?

The strengths (ease of play and character creation) far outway the weaknesses.

I recommend this game to anyone who wants to run a game which either plays a fast action and hacking game, or which emphasises role-playing over rules (as the rules are simple enough to not get in the way.

Anyone think we can get Goodman Games to convert their modules to SW?

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition (3rd Printing)
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Matthew V. A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/27/2010 13:24:44
After playing D&D 4th edition and being burnt out on D&D all together I decided to try Savage Worlds. I am sure glad I did, I haven't had this much fun since AD&D 2nd edition, the rules are easy to use and character creation is simple. Just because the game is simplified does not mean you cannot make any character you want, in fact it is because of this you can create complex characters. All in All if you are unsure download the demo I did and I bought the core rules after words.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition (3rd Printing)
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Daniel M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/06/2009 15:54:36
This is my single go-to system of choice. It is complex enough to satisfy my players' wish for interesting character options and still SWEX is fast and simple enough for engaging fight scenes. Love it!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition (3rd Printing)
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Rance M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/07/2009 23:38:11
Fantastic!! The blurb espouses Fast Furious Fun, and it delivers! Able to recreate nearly any genre right out of the book and do so with simplicity and elegance. I've been gaming for over 20 years adn find this my favorite system, allowing me to do nearly anything and do it quickly. My kids all picked it up overnight and they are even running games already, after only a month. The rules are simple and cover most situations, with guidelines as to how to judge the things that rules don't cover. NPCs are simple to use, make them up on the spot. Characters can be made in a few minutes, skills are broad and cover all uses with the caveat to make more if you think you need them. There is a huge, friendly community online that has converted most popular games to Savage Worlds and freely offer help in how to get the most out of it; the designers themselves often answer questions and are active in the forums!!!

At only $10, you can't afford to skip this. There is nothing to lose and so very very much to gain.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition (3rd Printing)
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Paul S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/11/2008 18:55:49
Savage Worlds is a superb roleplaying system. This product is ridiculously good value at the price. So good I've bought three printed copies as well. A well laid out PDF earns this product 5 stars

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition (3rd Printing)
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Johnnie N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/28/2008 23:06:12
This is one of the fastest and simplest systems I've come across in a long time. I can't wait to get into some of the settings.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition (3rd Printing)
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Curt M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/20/2008 16:20:43
Pinnacle has set an important precedent with this book. SW Explorer's Edition isn't a slimmed-down version of the core rules, it is the current edition of the Savage Worlds core rules. Included is everything needed to emulate fantasy and modern genres, with the exception of fantasy races, which can be downloaded for free from the company website; sci-fi races are soon to follow. But the primary reason to consider Savage Worlds is the prolific fan community. Converted and home-brew settings abound! ... an imaginative, minimalist, multi-genre system in the vein of GURPS, BESM and FUDGE/ FATE!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition (3rd Printing)
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Bryan L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/11/2008 22:45:30
Very good rules I love the open ended of the dice rolls... Gives me the flavor of rolemaster without all the charts and complexity...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition (3rd Printing)
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Nigel P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/09/2008 06:34:06
This is possibly the best RPG product I have ever bought. After reading numerous reviews etc... over many months I decided to finally buy a copy. My decision coincided with the release of the Explorer's Edition and, I have to say, I am hooked. How hooked and how do I justify giving it five stars? I went out and also bought two hard copies of the book as well.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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