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What every new Savage GM should know?
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What every new Savage GM should know?
How to balance the opponents to the party?
56%
 56%  [ 69 ]
Is the system really this bland?
13%
 13%  [ 16 ]
How to control the usefulness of Bennies in a game?
14%
 14%  [ 18 ]
Why is there so few Skills in the game?
2%
 2%  [ 3 ]
What else is important to know right from the start?
13%
 13%  [ 16 ]
Total Votes : 122

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Noshrok Grimskull
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Judge Holden wrote:
I think balancing the foes is very difficult for an inexperienced GM, or even a more experienced GM with a fresh book of monsters he wants to chuck at his PCs. However, I remember having the same difficulty in d20 and even old school Deadands so maybe its just the combat oriented people I tend to play with.

Either way(in my experience) 1) How to balance the opponents to the party? is the thing I think every New Savage GM Should Know.

Funny... In over 15 years of gaming and GMing, I never balanced anything out. I just made up villains and encounters that sounded like they be interesting, scary, fun or whatever else the story required.
That lead to high-level characters chasing and finally confronting a small rag-tag band of goblin coach-robbers as well as a pair of low-level PCs going up against a powerful wizard.
Running away was always an option in our group, as was making a stand and dying a hero's (or was that fool's?) death.
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GreenTongue
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clint wrote:
GreenTongue wrote:
It is not unusual for opponent toughness progression to be 11, 11+1wound, 11+2wounds, 11+3wounds instead of 11,12,13,14.


No offense, but I think that is misleading a bit. That progression and in fact the very rule is indeed "unusual."

Very few people add wounds, and of those that do, I've never seen anyone (until perhaps now) who uses a 1 to 1 ratio of Toughness to Wounds.

I'm not really certain that detailed specific house rules that work for one particular group really fall under the category of what every new Savage Worlds GM should know.

Thanks for the "Reality Check." Corrected.
It was intended as an example, but clearly it was a poor choice to include it.
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Bill
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The information presented here is very good. Really read Clint's advice about reading the book completely at least once and play the game as is for a decent while before attempting a change.

I have been running the game since the first hardback book was introduced and I am still learning nuances so another good rule is: Use the Forum to ask a question. Almost everyone has and almost everyone learns from either thier own question or one someone else submits.

As far as balancing an encounter, well it is a question that comes up quite a bit so supplying the information is probably a good idea. However, no matter how hard you try this is a game of dice and sometimes the encounter goes as planned and sometimes the dice wildly favor one side. Thus don't forget your GM bennies can be used by you, the GM, for anyone!

Most of all, have FUN! It is your game so play and enjoy it. If everyone is having a blast you are doing it correctly!
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GreenTongue
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

8 ) How to convert the damage from the old system?
+1 = 1d4, +2 = 1d6, +3 = 1d8, +4 = 1d10, +5 = 1d12

Consolidation of additional info from this thread:
http://www.peginc.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=17804
Clint wrote:
Yeah, you won't find any weapon (usable by PCs at least) that is innately more than Str+4 (Str+d10) I think. Anything beyond that is a magical bonus, and that still acts as a bonus.

So just figure it as mentioned above; look up whatever the normal damage is for that type of weapon and convert than to a die type. Any bonuses beyond that still act as a bonus.

So a cutlass that does Str+5 would figure as a normal cutlass (Str+2) to Str+d6+3.

Anything that does go beyond Str+5 "naturally" would just rollover to bonuses anyway. Str+6 would be Str+d12+1, Str+7 = Str+d12+2, and so on...

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GreenTongue
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

grubman wrote:

... remind them to spend bennies.

While reminding yourself to give them more when they do things that make the game Fun.
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cr0m
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PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey guys, I'm a new Savage Worlds GM, and this thread was really helpful. I think probably all of it could be sidebars or even a couple of sentences in the GM section without too much extra bloat. It's awesome that SW rules are so efficient and concise. That's my kind of game design!

I don't really understand why some of you wouldn't want a way to figure out bad guys vs good guys. Even if not all fights are meant to be won, and even if experience is the best teacher, for guys like me who picked SW because I don't have a lot of time to game and it's FFF, why not help us out?

I've got the first session of my game next week with a bunch of new players, and a TPK or frustrating combat could nip it in the bud. And I don't have much time between then and now to run test combats, etc. I barely have the time to sort out my villains and dig up some maps. Smile
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Emiricol
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

#1 is the thing every new GM should know. Give the GM tools to make the adventure he or she wants to make, it's not a bad thing.

Edited for grumpiness


Last edited by Emiricol on Mon Dec 22, 2008 6:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
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SavageChristian
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that some detailed information on balancing encounters is important, particularly for new GMs. I had to entirely redo the first mission I designed for my Necessary Evil campaign after the 6 K'Tharen Warriors and their K'Tharen Commander wiped the floor with the group.

I felt genuinely bad.

Admittedly, balancing NE is likely more difficult than balancing a fantasy adventure -- due to the wild variation of character creation possible.

But it would be nice to have some "DC comparisons" like those in the Hero System rulebooks over the years. Hero is easy to balance, even for new GMs, because it gives you the range of benefit and walks you through the math.

I don't think SW needs to walk players through the math, but a "avg dam of villain should be x" etc. would be nice.
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Clint
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cr0m wrote:
I don't really understand why some of you wouldn't want a way to figure out bad guys vs good guys. Even if not all fights are meant to be won, and even if experience is the best teacher, for guys like me who picked SW because I don't have a lot of time to game and it's FFF, why not help us out?


I don't think anyone is opposed to providing a way (it's in the very first post after all); I think it's just being acknowledged that it isn't necessary for "every" new Savage Worlds GM and that the idea of "balancing mechanics" can easily, but shouldn't, overshadow two things...

1. "Unbalanced" encounters promote the verisimilitude of a setting. And that is both unbalanced against the PCs' and also for them. Sometimes they will face overwhelming opposition, but sometimes they need to be the overwhelming opposition. It's not saying no encounters should be "balanced," but not to accidentally promote the idea that every encounter should be balanced. Which as noted in point 2 is going to kind of be impossible.

2. "Balancing mechanics" lead to the idea that encounters can be mechanically balanced. Seems pretty obvious, but in SW they are at best loose guidelines. It's easier to balance a system where all of a character's capabilities are tied up primarily in the stats on their sheet, but SW is designed for player choices in combat (not just character stats) to have a significant impact. What the players choose to do in a specific combat can have a dramatic impact on the final result, and there isn't any kind of mechanics that can gauge individuals like that.

That's where "test combats" and starting with light opposition and building up can really help the Savage Worlds GM. It's not just a matter of getting used to the system, but an instinctive feel of how the players act in combat and the choices they make, which will make a big difference in how "balanced" an encounter is.

Anyway, just wanted to clarify what I felt was becoming a miscommunication. I don't think anyone is against guidelines for balance for those that want it; I think they are just concerned it could lead to false expectations, which could then lead to disappointment.
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Boldfist
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clint wrote:
That's where "test combats" and starting with light opposition and building up can really help the Savage Worlds GM. It's not just a matter of getting used to the system, but an instinctive feel of how the players act in combat and the choices they make, which will make a big difference in how "balanced" an encounter is.


Not that Clint needs someone to agree with him (after all, he's the guru) but let me say this is really the key point in Savage Worlds "balance".

Two separate groups could handle a combat in two completely different ways. And in one combat you would say "that was very balanced" and the next combat is "wasn't even close to being balanced". Even using the same characters vs the same NPCs. This is because Savage Worlds offers so many ways to handle a situation depending on the type of characters being played and the type of players playing them.

For example, if a group of Hack N Slash players all decide to make stealthy characters but still play them as warriors they will easily get slaughtered by typical mooks. However, take a seasoned group of Savage Worlds players and give them Novice characters they could take out a force of very difficult NPCs using good tactics (Gang Ups, Tricks, Taunt/Intimidate, the Drop ect) and their Savage experience.

So "balanced" really depends on player style & their character types more than it does the NPCs they are fighting.
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FrostMage
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 8:08 pm    Post subject: DICE Reply with quote

As far as balancing the monsters to the party, I find this quite difficult. I've thrown a Wild Card drake at my party and they took it down without even getting cinged. But they almost died when I threw a group of zombies and an arcane using Wild Card at them. The dice are usually what decides the outcome of alot of the battles in my game. If the players dice are hot, then the battle is easy for them. If MY dice are hot.... h'oh boy it's gonna be a rough night. Twisted Evil

Just a thought,

FM
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Adam Baulderstone
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to agree with Clint and Boldfist. I do think Clint's guidelines are useful but guidelines are all they are.

As an aside, I think the backlash against the guidelines is due to many Savage Worlds GM's coming from a certain fantasy game that had both very specific rules on the challenges a group should face based on their advancement, as well as the treasure they should expect as they advanced.

A lot of GM's felt handcuffed by the system, and I think they are worried about the idea of Savage Worlds going done that path. That's why it's a touchy subject.

But I think Clint's method is a good middle-ground. It's enough to be helpful to a new GM, without turning the game into a treadmill. It would be impossible to do that with Savage Worlds given its loose advancement system, but I also understand why any step in that direction make some GM's uncomfortable.

Savage Worlds with its quick prep is much easier to run sandbox-style than a lot of games out there (50 Fathoms is a great example). Sandbox play and balanced encounters are two playstyles that don't always mesh well.
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zeth
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All GMs of all games should always present the air of full on rules fairness and secretly cheat like a mad bastard. If your going to hit a total party kill to soon because of a bad result skew the dice or soften the result to keep the game going.
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FrostMage
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Zeth: I never said I didn't cheat the dice every now and then. Just that sometimes the players couldn't role themselves out of a paper bag and sometimes the dice are really exploding. Razz

I was very interested when I read the ideas for creating balanced encounters and I think it's great for someone who wants that kind of thing. But personally, I just throw whatever I think is appropriate for the story and see what happens. Most times the party can plow through anything I throw at them. But there are those rare and precious moments when they get scared out of their pants and think, "this is it. TPK." #gunbattle But they usually manage to pull through relatively unscathed.
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fanchergw
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FrostMage wrote:
But personally, I just throw whatever I think is appropriate for the story and see what happens.

To my mind, this is the way it should always work, regardless of system. The problem comes when systems tie XP to winning fights and defeating foes. When you remove this link, as many modern game systems do, avoiding or fleeing encounters becomes just as viable a strategy as fighting. This just makes sense. Smart strategy is always to find better ways to bypass obstacles and leave combat as a very last resort. This is true in the real world, and should be just as true in RPing.

Gordon
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Adam Baulderstone
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zeth wrote:
All GMs of all games should always present the air of full on rules fairness and secretly cheat like a mad bastard. If your going to hit a total party kill to soon because of a bad result skew the dice or soften the result to keep the game going.


Hmm. I really can't agree with this advice for "all GMs of all games". I know some people are firmly against the idea of character death, but my last group was unanimous in the feeling that a game with no risk of character death wasn't worth playing.

We had a GM for a while who shamelessly fudged rolls on our behalf, and every combat was a case of rolling dice meaninglessly until she decided out opponent was dead. It just didn't work for us.

I always made every roll openly. Whenever a character swung at an opponent I would announce their Parry and when they hit I would announce the Toughness. The whole game was transparent. I find Savage Worlds works very well with this philosophy, as bennies work as a form of legalized fudging.

That's not to say there is anything wrong with the way you play. We just have very different tastes. I just question the "all" part of your statement.
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GreenTongue
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I always made every roll openly. Whenever a character swung at an opponent I would announce their Parry and when they hit I would announce the Toughness. The whole game was transparent. I find Savage Worlds works very well with this philosophy, as bennies work as a form of legalized fudging.


This is a great way of playing that has freed many GMs from a confrontational style. The GM as a moderator and not as an Opponent.
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UmbraLux
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I question the premise behind balancing encounters. Why is 'balance' a goal? When it comes to story, which is better: the story of a group battling a series of evenly matched foes and over coming them one by one, or the story of a group of heroes who find a way to defeat a powerful foe no one gave them a chance against? When it comes to game, do you prefer the 'level grind' of superficial advancement (if the opponents are always the same relative power you're not advancing) or the tactical challenge of finding a weakness to exploit?

One reason I prefer SW over D&D is the lack of a requirement for balance. In SW few, if any, opponents can't be taken out by a prepared team working together. Even non-combat oriented characters can turn the course of a combat with a timely trick.

Those are just my preferences though. Others have different goals. Which brings me to this...

Quote:
All GMs of all games should always present the air of full on rules fairness and secretly cheat like a mad bastard.
If this were true for 'GMs of all games', why do most consider it 'cheating'? Frankly I consider it unethical if it requires lying to the players to 'present the air of full on rules fairness'.

Different groups want different things from a game. That's why many refer to a 'social contract' - the players (including GM) should agree on what and how they're playing. That applies to both balance and cheating.
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Emiricol
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

UmbraLux wrote:
Personally, I question the premise behind balancing encounters. Why is 'balance' a goal?


Some GMs like to throw the party some encounters that are neither cake walks nor TPKs.
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Lord Inar
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 11:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

UmbraLux wrote:
Personally, I question the premise behind balancing encounters. Why is 'balance' a goal?

It might be easier to think of balance as a yardstick rather than a goal.
It is always good to know what approximately would be a balanced encounter so you can skew it in either direction to suit the story.
This discussion of a "balanced encounter" is merely an aid to the GM, not a game mechanic as it is in D&D.
I really like the comments about how removing XP from a direct relationship to combat also removes the need for balanced encounters.
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