Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Strolling Through Savage Worlds (Part 3): Archetypes and Races
Last time we took a look at the basic building blocks of characters in Savage Worlds. But what do you do when you just don't have time to make a new character before play starts? Say you've got a friend in town who is joining your weekly game for a single session--do you leave the rest of the group twiddling their thumbs while you walk the new guy through character creation? The Savage Worlds Deluxe book gives you the option of having the new player simply pick out an Archetype--a (mostly) pre-built character designed around a solid, recognizable trope such as "Martial Artist," "Face," or "Rogue." I think this is a great inclusion that splits the difference between the customization of a "build" system and the ease-of-play of a "class-based" system. However, I do have a minor qualm here. The Archetypes that are presented here are only mostly built; Hindrances and Gear still need to be picked, and in many cases some Skill points are left unassigned. I think fully building these Archetypes would have added even more to their utility for people who just want to jump right in and play.
Savage Worlds also has options for non-human characters. The usual suspects (Dwarves, Elves, Halflings--err, "Half-Folk") are all presented with their mechanical benefits and drawbacks. Disappointingly, Half-Orcs are presented here are the product of rape: "Rarely is such a mating willingly accepted, so the character's "family tree" is likely more than a little troublesome to him or her" (21). Some tired ideas never die, I guess. There are also some more exotic choices as well; Atlanteans, Avions (bird-people), Raskashans (cat-people), etc. are also presented.
Best of all: if you've got a race in mind for your setting that isn't covered, the Deluxe book also includes a system for making a new race.
Let's take a look at how this works in practice. Say we're going to be playing in Solomon Kane game, which is normally an all-human setting, but one of my players wants to create a girl assassin with a clockwork heart. Being the permissive sort that I am, I'm down because it sounds like a cool concept. Now, we could just hand-wave the "clockwork heart" as a bit of background fluff, but instead we're going to make it have some heft. All races get a free "+2 Ability" to start with. Since our clockwork girl is part mechanical, the Construct ability seems like the obvious choice. We'd also like her to have a bit of added durability and stamina due to her clockwork nature, so we're also going to choose that she starts with a d6 Vigor. Since that d6 Vigor is another "+2 Ability" we need to balance it out with a "-2 Ability." Perhaps the clockwork experimentation that has made her has robbed her of a bit of her humanity; having Spirit require two points per step to raise during character creation fits the bill nicely. And there we have it, a new "race" made on the fly with a minimum of fuss.