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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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GreenTongue
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 11:09 am    Post subject: What every new Savage GM should know? Reply with quote

1) How to balance the opponents to the party?
Clint has proposed a "Damage Rating" system for checking out the lethality of your encounters:

Try getting a Damage Rating for your PC's. Take half their Strength plus
the bonus from their "standard" weapon. You can average this to figure out a Damage Rating for the group as a whole. Then compare the Damage Rating to their opponents Toughness.

If it's equal, then the PC's have an edge over an equal number of opponents (where 2 Extras equal 1 Wild Card).

If the Toughness is a point higher, then the fight should be about "even."

If the Toughness is 2 points higher, then it will be a (pardon the pun) tough fight (1 opponent for every 2 PC's).

If it's 3 points higher, the PC's are in trouble (1 Opponent for every 4 PC's), and generally the progression continues to double.

So if your group has an average Damage Rating of 5 and you throw a 10 Toughness NPC at them, then you should have about 16 PC's or understand that it may take 4 PC's four times as long to take him down.

===
A basic points cost would be along the lines as follows
* 1 per attribute over d4
* 1 per skill
* 2 per edge
* 1-3 per racial ability (as per racial creation rules in the Toolkits, this covers most every additional thing) Double this total if the enemy is a Wild Card

=== Latest update by Clint
To figure DR now, I'd just halve the characters' damage dice. As in...

Str d6 + Rapier d4 = 3,5+2,5 = 6
Str d10 + longsword d8 = 5,5+4,5 = 10
Bow 2d6 = 3,5+3,5 = 7

===
2) Is the system really this bland?
It is all about the Trappings.
The Savage Worlds rules provides the mechanics for play. It is up to the Player and the Game Master to establish the "Look & Feel". The clearest example of this is the Arcane Background rules however, this applies to ALL the other rules as well.

===
3) How to control the usefulness of Bennies in a game?
If the players don't have enough:
* Offer bennies to PCs to play up their hindrances.
(This gets the hindrances into play more and the GM gets to guide the story by tempting the players.)
* Hand them out for crazy heroics
* Hand them out for great dialog.

If the players have too many:
* Throw more extras against them.
* Make them make more opposed skill rolls so they chew 'em up with re-rolls.
* Offer a tip from the GM in return for a benny
* Allow them some editorial control in return for a benny. e.g.
Q: "Is there a rope I can swing on over to the pirate ship?"
A: "Gimme a benny and there will be."

Having few bennies available will make your game "Gritty and dangerous," having many will allow the players to take greater risks with less chance of failure/death.

===
4) Why is there so few Skills in the game?
A Skill check should ONLY be used when there is a real question about the PC being able to succeed. If it is something the average person can do, there is no need to even roll for it.

A skill check is for determining the results of a story altering event.

Again go back to trappings, for example the Lockpicking skill can be used to overcome any mechanical device that is resisting. Be it a computer system or disarming a bomb. (Setting specific of course.)

Another example is Shooting. It can be used for anything that requires aiming a device. Be it a microscope or a bow.
=


Last edited by GreenTongue on Mon Feb 01, 2010 7:52 am; edited 4 times in total
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Pet Rock
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am an old GM who is new to the Savage World's system, and I think this is pretty niffty. Thanks GreenTongue (as well as Clint, and anyone else who helped create this list).
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fanchergw
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With regard to (1), I think this is unnecessary. Because winning fights is not necessary to gaining XP in SW, there is no need for fights to be balanced. This is a concept from other systems that simply doesn't apply here. Running away from, or sneaking past, confrontations is a perfectly valid means of succeeding. Only when a fight is truly unavoidable (trapped in a box canyon, etc.) should any thought be given to balance at all. Even then, other strategies like negotiation or outright bribery may still be possible. SW is designed to encourage players to think beyond combat as the solution for all problems.

Gordon
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seanwalsh
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think (1) is unnecessary because, as a GM, I sometimes want to be able to predict the likely outcomes of certain storyline encounters.
For example, in one of my first sessions, I wanted the bad guys to overrun the village forcing the good guys to flee, however, I underestimated the power of 5 wildcards, and the players handily defeated the enemy's "overwhelming" force.
The village was saved, but my storyline needed some work.
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Harshax
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think a new GM (assuming new players to SW as well) needs to reinforce the many options available to characters in combat. This seems to be the number one topic of discontent among new GMs and players who typically gloss over what you could do.
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GreenTongue
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

5) How big is my burst template?
A small burst template is 2" across.
A medium burst template is 4" across.
A large burst template is 6" across.

A cone template is 7.5" to the center of a 3" circle. (9" tip to tail)

( Not the 3", 5" and 7" you would expect. There is no "center" square. )
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fanchergw
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you happen to be playing on a hex mat, it actually works better to use 3", 5" and 7". That way, you don't even need the template; you just pick a center hex and add 1, 2 or 3 rings of hexes around it. As long as you do it the same for everybody, the difference is a wash.

Gordon
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GreenTongue
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

6) What is Common Knowledge?
( This is like Part II of (4) Why is there so few Skills in the game? )

Common Knowledge is the information that the average person would know about a subject from their stated Character Background.

This is covered in detail in Whispers from the Pit #4.
http://www.peginc.com/Games/Savage%20Worlds/Downloads/WftP4.pdf
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steamdriven
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

some good ideas here but 1 I feel would make the rules less FFF. if the players are getting a good kicking and start to die they are not running away. all people new to SW should know that in SW you CAN run from a fight and some times that is the only way to go.
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Pet Rock
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Running away may not always be possible, from a player's point of view. You only have three wound levels, and you expect to take at least one (hope not to take any, but that' something else). Wound penalties reduce Pace, if I recall. But even if they don't most creature move as fast as a human or faster.

It all adds up to not getting away. Not unless everyone goes in the different directions ("herding cats") and you kiss one PC good bye.

Plus, all of this is a moot point right after the first PC goes down. It's almost guaranteed that at least one other PC refuses to leave a PC behind, and so on, and so on...or am I the only GM with heroically suicidal PC's?
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GreenTongue
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pet Rock wrote:
Running away may not always be possible, from a player's point of view.
<snip>
Plus, all of this is a moot point right after the first PC goes down. It's almost guaranteed that at least one other PC refuses to leave a PC behind, and so on, and so on...or am I the only GM with heroically suicidal PC's?

The LOYAL hindrance does seem to be a popular one to take but then it's not a hindrance unless there is a risk involved. Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some general advice.

Understand the rules and how they can be used to cover a variety of actions without the need to double the core rules in size.

That the rules are not the be all and end all. Players should be encouraged to have fun and leave rule interpretation to the GM.

The game need not end at Legendary. Legendary is not an upper limit--it's just a Rank, same as Novice. When every character has virtually every Edge, then it's time to start afresh.


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AFDia
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't like the 1. rule because I don't think it isn't very important for game mastering. Just start with weaker enemies and let the next ones be stronger and so on. At a certain point you will know how powerful enemies can be in SW,

After few times of GMing SW you should know approximately what you can do and what you can't.

In general, I don't like the "players should be able to kill everything they see" mentality, so if they want to fight the dragon, they should try but don't whine if they will get wiped. Wink

The other rules sound very nice!


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Clint
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wiggy wrote:
The game need not end at Legendary. Legendary is not an upper limit--it's just a Rank, same as Novice. When every character has virtually every Edge, then it's time to start afresh.


...or past time that the GM should have been willing to make up (or seek out resources for) Edges specifically designed for his players and their needs. Wink
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shadd4d
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wiggy wrote:
Some general advice.

Understand the rules and how they can be used to cover a variety of actions without the need to double the core rules in size.

That the rules are not the be all and end all. Players should be encouraged to have fun and leave rule interpretation to the GM.

The game need not end at Legendary. Legendary is not an upper limit--it's just a Rank, same as Novice. When every character has virtually every Edge, then it's time to start afresh.


Wiggy


I couldn't have said it better, although I'll try and expound.

New GMs should try to understand and work out how they will explain the system to the players; there are...nuances that make it a lot more interesting and exciting and FFF when used, such as tricks and tests of will. I think one of Wiggy's notes from the pit deals with tricks and lays out quite a few, which make a good handout for the players. While I used it to introduce to my players, I don't fully feel comfortable with demonstrating tests of will and tricks by having the bad guys do them before the players grasp what they mean and how they can be uses although as a GM you might have to fudge a tad in order to make sure that...Grasshoper survives the lesson.

Also familiarize yourself with the combat system as well as the free combat survival guide. It helps; it's also a must-give to players.

One thing about new GMs is that you probably have new players; enjoy the learning experience together.

Remember as a GM to be as familiar with the rules as you can be. I've run quite a few games, but I'll admit one of the things that I tend to forget from time to time is gut checks. That's one of many things a GM needs to be aware of.

Now, not to make it daunting, here's some simple advice: Have fun.

Don
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Judge Holden
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 7:47 am    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.


You learn that by doing. My first 'big battle' I 'swarmed 4 wild card PC's with 20 humans mooks and one WC, thinking they'd totally slaughter my PC's. In the end 5 npc's were left and ran away from my victorious players.

I'd advise doing out-game test-battles sometimes, to see what your players can defeat, and when they go down.

It all depends on your player' stats, tactics, and general behaviour as to what they can and can't handle.

And if I remember it well: (I think) Wiggy once said:"A Novice party can handle the same as a Legendary party. They just have to play smarter!" Laughing
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GreenTongue
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

7) How do I avoid high toughness opponents killing my game fun?

If your players are not having fun trying to beat your high toughness (11+) opponents, reduce their toughness and give them Wounds instead.

(Remember it is YOUR GAME, you can do this.)

<snipped> (The example was a house rule and detracted from the point I was trying to make. Which was that there are optional ways to create "tough" opponents.)

While using Tricks, Gang-ups, Range, Called Targets and other options is the "expected" way to overcome toughness, causing wounds gives a feeling of progress that some groups need to keep the game FUN.
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Pet Rock
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wendigo1870 wrote:
You learn that by doing...

...I'd advise doing out-game test-battles sometimes, to see what your players can defeat, and when they go down.

It all depends on your player' stats, tactics, and general behaviour as to what they can and can't handle.

This i understand, but I don't want to learn by doing, and accidentally slaughter my party when there is a method to help double check it (things still get through, I know, but every little bit helps).

For example- and I understand this isn't D&D, but it's what I have run the most of- I made a pretty cool troll barbarian as a solitary bad guy for my party. Experience told me trolls are tough, but solitary foes against a party are unusually short lived. So, he was a multi-head cyro beast. Challenge rating all fit, templates assigned, and the party was at near full strength. All in all, by the stats, he looked like he would last only a two rounds. Descent battle, but hardly anything the party couldn't handle. More encounters were planned afterwards.

I, through my troll, dropped four out of eight heroes in the first two rounds, and took out two more in the next round. The last two, at less than half hit points, barely managed to fell the beast. Dice rolls were average for me- abysmal- and for the party- frighteningly good. Still, I hazard to use this creature again, and the crew retreated to raise their dead, heal, and recharge their spells.

So, I'd like a little something to fiddle with, in the hopes it will help me from slaughtering the party.

(and no, they really couldn't run away. Most of the party had a 20 foot move, with none greater than 30, and this monster had a 50 foot move, plus full attacked on a charge)

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Clint
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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.

In fact, I'd say what every GM should know falls more under...


1. Read every single sentence. The rulebook does not spend paragraphs reiterating rules and forcing you to pay for a higher page count. It provides the rules as concisely as possible to explain the exact effect. If the rulebook is just skimmed through or spot read, important rules will be unavoidably missed.

2. Always remember (no matter what similarities may seem "obvious") this isn't like the other game system you played. And yep, that even applies to Pinnacle's own previous systems (in fact, especially to that). Savage Worlds probably does the same thing in the end, but the way it gets there will be different. So sometimes when it seems the rules are taking a wrong turn, it's really an amazingly fast shortcut to the same destination.

3. Play the game as written (making sure to use all the rules) for several sessions before considering changing any of the rules. This is not an insult to your intelligence or years of experience with RPGs; there simply are aspects of the system that do not become apparent to anyone without actual play experience. Trust us, every single one of us has discovered things of this nature, even the professional game designers with multiple decades of experience. We've all had the "Duh!" moment where suddenly a rule clicks into place like a final jigsaw puzzle piece only due to playing the game.

4. After you have done the above, change the rules. Seriously, go ahead; it's important to change the rules. We can't tell you what to change or exactly how to do it because you need to change the rules based on two criteria. One is the setting, and there are some ideas in the book on how to do that, but find something that works for you. But the second and most important is to change things to fit your group.

No one can make up rules what will fit every individual gaming group. Ultimately, such "house rules" are unavoidable just to fit everyone's unique playing style. We may all be gamers, but we're also all individuals, and we have to accept our uniqueness. Fortunately, Savage Worlds is an easy system to adapt once you have some experience in how it plays (remember #3 above?).

When you do change a rule, just be sure to do two things at the very begining.

A. Make doubly sure the system doesn't already cover it in some way. Because of #1, all it takes sometimes is missing one sentence to miss a very important rule. And because of #3, some game effects only become obvious in how the rules as a whole interact in play. And sometimes, it can just be the name of a thing (Marksman could be a Sniper Edge and Streetwise can be used for getting information from anyone not just contacts on "the street").

B. See if it can't be done by inclusion of Edges or Hindrances. These are the life and breath of the system and the very soul of the "cool factor" and uniqueness of characters. If the game needs something special, then most likely one of these will cover it.

5. Accept that the book will not cover X. I don't know what X is because it will be different for each group and each game even, but it's not something that necessarily needs a rule, just a ruling. No system can cover every single eventuality in game, and really, what's the point. The game has one rule for all that... you. That's the GM's job; if something isn't covered, make a ruling and keep the game going. If the same thing keeps coming up, then you can make a house rule for it, but for the oddball stuff, just use common sense and the basic system mechanics to come up with something yourself.

Just understand that SW takes the stance that the rules are there to cover what will come up almost every game session for the majority of gamers, and that the GM is there to cover everything else.
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