Savage Worlds

Fast! Furious! Fun! Savage worlds is a system desgined to be used with any setting. The primary goal of the rules is simplicity.

  • Wild Cards are the players and unique villains and monsters with names who are important to the plot and generally superior and more detailed than unnamed Extras.
  • Bennies give the players and GM the power to re-roll. Bennies are awarded for roleplaying, overcoming major obstacles or entertaining everyone with great action or in-game humour and so on.

Character Creation

Characters are built with traits which consist of attributes and skills.

  • Attributes: Agility, Smarts, Spirit, Strength, Vigor. Each skill is linked to an attribute.
  • Edges: Special abilities that allows rule bending and stunts. Each has requirements for rank and sometimes minimu attribute die. Edges are divided into background, combat, leadership, power, professional, social, weird, wild card, legendary.
    • Examples are: Alertness +2 notice, Ambidextrous ignores left hand -2 penalty, Arcane Background to use powers, Level Head can draw an additional initiative card, Natural Leader may share bennies with troops under his command and so on.
  • Hindrances are either minor or major and earn one or two points respectively (max two minor and one major, more are allowed but do not earn points.) Hindrances can earn bennies.
  • A character starts with d4 in each attribute and has 5 points to raise them. Raising an attribute a die type costs 1 point.
  • 15 skill points.
    • Skills are broad, for example fighting skill covers all fighting.
    • Up to linked attribute costs 1 point, then 2 points.
  • Gear is bought with dollars.

Task Resolution

A trait test is made by rolling the die for a trait. Four or greater, plus or minus modifiers, is a success.

  • Target Number: Usually 4.
  • Untrained: Rolls 1d4 - 2
  • Super Traits: Special creatures might have d12 + a modifier.
  • Aces: Trait tests and damage is open ended. If the highest number possible on a die is rolled, roll again and add it to the total. Keep rolling as long as you keep rolling aces.
  • Opposed: Highest total wins, but must also roll 4 or better or neither succeeds.
  • Raise: A success which is 4 points over the target number.
  • Wild Die: All Wild Cards get to roll a d6 called the Wild Die on trait tests. If this is higher than the Trait die then it counts instead of the trait die. Only one wild die is allowed for a single action, even if rolling several trait die such as when firing on full-auto. The downside of the wild die is that two 1s is snake-eyes and the GM gets to make up something rotten to happen to the character.
  • Bennies: Each player starts with 3 and can be used to reroll any trait test (not damage or most non-trait rolls), any number of times until the player has no more bennies. The best of the original and bennie counts. Bennies are not saved between sessions. The GM gets one bennie for each player in the group and GM Wild Cards get 2 bennies of their own (which they can use as well as the GM's common pool).
  • Situational Rules: There is a whole chapter dedicated to situational rules: mounted combat, allies, experience, ammo, ally personalities, typical allies, fear, fear effects, fatigue, multiple hazards, hazards, bumps and bruises, disease & poison, drowning, falling, fire, fire damage, heat, hunger, radiation, etc. etc. etc. These also include vehicle rules and mass battles, the latter is detailed further under combat resolution.

Combat Resolution

Combat is designed to be fast paced. Unusually a deck of cards is used to determine initiative. Each Wild Card is dealt a card, all allies controlled by a player is dealt one card together, while GM troops (e.g. all zombies) share a card. The GM then counts down from Ace to Deuce, with ties resolved in suit order: spades, hearts, diamonds and lastly clubs. The joker goes first and grants +2 to all traits and damage and causes a reshuffle.

  • Allies: Divided up among and controlled by the players!
  • Hold: An action can be held and performed later. If interrupting another action must make opposed agility rolls.
  • Multiple Actions: Several actions can be performed in a single round, but all actions then take -2 per extra action. This has to be different actions, for example no additional attacks with the same weapon, but with a weapon in the other hand or intimidating is allowed (wild die applies to each action).
  • Movement: A character can move 6 inches in a combat action or run which grants 1d6 extra inches but with -2 to all trait tests.
  • Melee: One attack per round compared to opponent's parry. A raise grants +1d6 to damage.
    • Withdrawing grants adjacent opponents a free attack
  • Ranged: Ranged attacks have short, medium and long range measured in inches. Medium range takes a -2 penalty and long range takes a -4 penalty. Ranged attacks use a stand target number of 4 (pistols in close combat is defender's Parry).
  • Parry: 2 + half Fighting skill + shield or weapon bonuses. This is the target number to hit the character in melee combat.
  • Toughness: Damage threshold which is 2 + half Vigor + armour (as worn on torso).
  • Damage is a number of dice for ranged (e.g. 2d6) or Str + a die for hand weapons. Wild dice are not rolled for damage and bennies are not allowed. Aces are allowed.
    • Shaken: Damage roll greater than toughness, cannot perform any action except move half pace. The character makes a Spirit roll at the beginning of each action. Failure remains shaken but can move half pace. Success recovers but consumes the entire round. If shaken again when already shaken, it becomes a wound instead.
    • Wound: Each raise inflicts a wound (a wound also means character is shaken).
      • Extras only have one wound and become incapacitated (vigor check after fight can be used to see if they lived).
      • For wild cards each wound causes a -1 penalty. 4th wound incapacitates and an immediate Vigor roll made. If result is a raise he is stunned, but is shaken with 3 wounds not incapacitated. If success unconscious for an hour or until healed. If failed the victim is Bleeding Out, remains unconscious until healed and must make a Vigor roll each round and dies on a modified roll of 1 or less.
      • Soak Roll: A benny can be spent to remove shaken. If done immediately after taking wounds a Vigor roll may also be made and a success and each raise reduces the number of wounds by one from that attack (if he still has wounds left from the attack he is still shaken).
  • Notable weapon characteristics:
    • Armour Penetration: Points of armour ignored by a weapon.
    • Reach: Number of inches an attack can be made.
    • Shotgun: Adds +2 to shooting roll.
    • Autofire: Attacks equal weapon's Rate of fire. Each shot is at -2. Attacks can be split among different targets but must all be made at the same time.
    • Tests of Will: Can be used to taunt or intimidate a foe. A success gives +2 bonus to attacker and a raise makes the defender shaken as well. Taunt is versus Smarts and Intimidate versus Spirit.
    • Special Rules: There are a number of special maneuvers:
      • Aim: +2 next round
      • Area Effects Attacks: Rules for grenades and spell effects and diving for cover.
      • Automatic Fire: See Autofire above.
      • Breaking Things: Inanimate objects have a parry of 2 and damage against them don't count raises or aces as you can't hit a vital area on a lock or door (there is a table for toughness and damage type that can affect it).
      • Called Shots: Target specific location, limb -2 (disarm or avoid armour), head or vitals -4 (+4 damage), small target -4 (e.g. heart of a vampire, +4 damage), tiny target -6 (e.g. eye slit of a helmet, +4 damage)
      • Cover: Light -1 to attacks (half or less covered) , medium -2 (more than half or prone), heavy -4 (small part visible).
      • Darkness: Dim -1, Dark -2, Pitch Darkness -4 if can hear or see by glint of light of blade, etc.
      • Defend: If character only action is to defend Parry +2.
      • Disarm: Requires called shot to arm and opponent must make strength roll versus damage.
      • And many more like double taps & three round bursts, the drop, finish move, firing into melee, full defence, ganging up, grappling, innocent bystanders, nonlethal damage, obstacles, prone, ranged weapons in close combat, suppressive fire, touch attack, tricks, two weapons, unarmed defender, unstable platform, wild attack and withdrawing from close combat.

Mass Battles

The larger army gets 10 tokens, divide by 10 to find number of troops a token is worth. The smaller army receives a proportional number of tokens (e.g. 1000 versus 600 would be 10 tokens versus 6). The side with more tokens adds the difference to Battle Rolls.

  • Estimating an armies value can be tricky (there's supposed to be a Troop Builder on the website but I couldn't find one).
  • Modifiers are added such as for terrain (there is a table for this).
  • Player Characters may make a Fighting, Shooting or Arcane roll each round but take the difference penalty. The result is damage unless very successful, but can give a bonus of +1 or +2 to the Battle Roll.
  • Battle Roll: Each side makes a Knowledge (Battle) roll with modifiers. Each success and raise causes other side to lose one token. Losing a token results in a Morale roll by leader using spirit and certain morale modifiers. Failure and the army is defeated but make an orderly retreat, allowing one more Battle Roll (a leader can choose this option too). On a result of 1 or less it's a rout and the battle is over immediately.
  • Aftermath: 1d6 per token lost. The victor recovers a lost token on 4-6, the loser on 5-6 and a routed army only on 6. This reflects first aid and regrouping. Each token lost represents a percentage of casualties.

Social Interaction

Persuasion and Streetwise are the two only social skills.

Charisma is zero unless Edges or Hindrances modify it. It is used with Persuasion and Streetwise and used by GM to determine NPC reactions.

Character Development

1-3 experience points are awarded after each game session, more points for longer, more successful sessions.

  • Rank: Number of experience points determines rank from novice to legendary and limits Edges and powers.
  • Advance: Every 5 accumulated points allows a character to gain a new edge, increase two skills below their linked attribute or one skill equal or above, buy a new skill or increase one attribute by a die (only once per rank).


Called Powers which can be used for everything from wizards to superheroes and mad scientists. Each power has an associated arcane skill; Faith, Psionics, Spellcasting or Weird Science.

  • Power Points: Use for powers and recovered at 1 point per hour.
  • Usage: A power is used by spending power points and make the skill roll. Failure means points are lost. Success means the spells lasts for its Duration and can be maintained additional rounds for power points.
  • Power: A power has rank, power point cost, range, duration and trappings, as well as additional effects.

Publishing Company

Studio 2 Publishing


Savage Worlds is used by many games and has both an official licensed product license and a savage fan license. Both are free, but the official license needs approval to ensure high production values.

  • Deadlands
  • Hell on Earth (Deadlans spinoff)
  • Lost Colony (Deadlans spinoff)
  • Shaintar
  • The Savage World of Solomon Kane
  • Sundered Skies!
  • Pirates of the Spanish Main
  • Low Life: Rise of the Lowly
  • 50 Fathoms
  • Necessary Evil
  • Rippers
  • Evernight
  • Weird Wars


  • Shane Hensley, Paul “Wiggy” Wade-Williams, Simon Lucas, Joseph Unger,

Dave Blewer, Clint Black, Robin Elliott, Piotr Koryś


System Analysis

Savage Worlds is indeed fast, combat especially. The price for this is very generic skills, few attributes and rules that focus on resolving action quick and dirty. This can be good or bad depending on your point of view. The upside is a lot less sweat for the GM to run a game and less prep time.

Savage World is generic and can be used for any setting. It is also very simple and fast to learn. This comes at the price of less flavour and loss of detail. That said the rules could be adapated to any setting and toolkits for all sorts of settings can be bought as PDFs.

Aces, i.e. open ended rolls, makes it possible to overcome even very difficult challenges with some luck, but with two dices (Wild Die) the chance of an Ace is pretty good and as there is no limit these can result in very high rolls. Since Aces apply to damage this might make the system more deadly than people realise, but on the other hand this adds a bit of realism to the system and makes combat more unpredictable and dangerous which is usually a good thing.

Determining initiative with a deck of cards might suit some settings like westerns and is certainly original, but may slow the game down without really gaining anything from it system wise. It would be faster to just roll the dice like most games do.


  • Wild Cards is a great way to differentiate between important characters and reduce prep time for minions and guards who are unnamed Extras.
  • Bennies is a great little mechanic and the fact that they are not saved between sessions encourages using them rather than hoarding.
  • Minimal GM prep and minimal book keeping.
  • Linked Attributes that don't affect the roll, but does affect learning cost is a good way to ensure attributes do affect skills without having to calculate skill totals.
  • Common Knowledge rolls are probably an obvious tool to experienced GMs, but it's great the rules mention it and provide a simple guideline where smarts is rolled with +2 or more if something the character should know or -2 or worse if the subject is foreign to the character. The knowledge skill is well tied in with this for specific, in-depth knowledge.


  • The rules assume figures are used on a 28mm scale and things such as pace and ranges are in inches based on this scale. This does not mean that figures are required and the rules can be used without them as every inch is defined as 2 yards.
  • Very broad and generic skills. Although this does make the game faster, character generation especially, it does come at the price of less diversity and it might be a bit overkill that for example Fighting covers all melee weapons, shooting all ranged weapons, etc. The only social skills are Persuasion and Streetwise.

House Rules


There is also a pretty solid chapter on Game Mastering with lots of good advice and a villains & monsters chapter at the end.

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