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  • Super Powers, Balancing gear and more

    I'm brand new to both Savage Worlds and D:HoE, so forgive my naive questions. I've got more than a couple!

    Super Powers: Can players select AB(Super Powers) for characters? I'm pretty sure they can't based on page 41's "New Edges." I'm surprised super powers may not be included, which is the reason I ask. Is there a compelling setting or mechanical reason they aren't included?

    Gear and Game Balance: I'm confused about how the larger game plays considering the wild possibilities from things like scrounging. A lucky player could end up discovering a tank, even under unlikely circumstances. How is gear and "cash" usually doled out per adventure/session? I don't see any sort of "wealth by rank" type guidelines and it's hard to understand how the power levels of characters and monsters work out when things like gear comes into the equation. The combat rating system also seems a lazy guide as it doesn't take things like tank-driving characters into account. Maybe I'm being a bad judge of it though, especially if it works well. I haven't really played, after all.

    Dungeon Crawling: Most of the material I've seen for SW and D:HoE doesn't provide for traditional dungeon type scenarios where characters might plumb a base or cavern with numerous encounters in a day's adventuring. How do GMs create or handle this sort of gaming in SW or even D:HoE?

  • #2
    RAW, no, you cannot take AB (Super Powers). In your game if you want radioactive a mongoose to give a character super powers go for it. Sounds fun.

    The two times my players lucked into armored vehicles there were issues with them. One had no weapons and major damage to the drive train. The other was late enough in the PPC that is was less of an issue, though I still took the big weapon away. As for basic gear/cash they were broke more often than not. To be honest most of the scrap they found was traded for ammo or food. (Gotta love how fast automatic weapons burn through ammo.)

    None of the stuff I have seen so far covers a "dungeon crawl" style adventure. I did one that was interesting when the party decided to go check out Area 51. Beyond that they had plenty of stuff to do on the surface or in towns.
    I have way too much time but do not always edit myself properly. Please do not take offense.

    Comment


    • Anarchium
      Anarchium commented
      Editing a comment
      Have you found that scavenging and loot is generally not something to be too worried about, at least until a surprise discovery happens? How do you gauge rewards for characters, and do you have some sort of reward scaling based on their rank? There is no mention about this sort of thing in the SW core book or the HoE setting guide. Other than the diminished starting cash, there doesn't seem to be anything to serve as a guide for appropriate rewards and treasure. Maybe there just isn't such a thing? It's a mystery to me so far.

  • #3
    Originally posted by Anarchium View Post
    I'm brand new to both Savage Worlds and D:HoE, so forgive my naive questions. I've got more than a couple!
    Welcome! To the forum, to Savage Worlds, and to Hell On Earth. I hope you have a blast!
    Don't worry about having questions. We all do, we all did, and we all will. There's nothing wrong with not knowing stuff.

    Originally posted by Anarchium View Post
    Super Powers: Can players select AB(Super Powers) for characters? I'm pretty sure they can't based on page 41's "New Edges." I'm surprised super powers may not be included, which is the reason I ask. Is there a compelling setting or mechanical reason they aren't included?
    By default, no. Only the listed variants of Arcane Background are available, which does not include Super Powers.
    The big reason is setting lore - all magic comes from the Hunting Grounds, which were never that friendly to mortals but became utterly inhospitable by the apocalypse. Super Powers is too stable and reliable to fit that narrative; nothing about it wants to eat the caster, no part of it is going to backlash and incinerate the surrounding buildings, and there's no way it can accidentally unleash a demon upon the earth.

    If you don't care about that then include it and have fun.

    Originally posted by Anarchium View Post
    Gear and Game Balance: I'm confused about how the larger game plays considering the wild possibilities from things like scrounging. A lucky player could end up discovering a tank, even under unlikely circumstances. How is gear and "cash" usually doled out per adventure/session? I don't see any sort of "wealth by rank" type guidelines and it's hard to understand how the power levels of characters and monsters work out when things like gear comes into the equation. The combat rating system also seems a lazy guide as it doesn't take things like tank-driving characters into account. Maybe I'm being a bad judge of it though, especially if it works well. I haven't really played, after all.
    Monetary and equipment rewards should make sense for the situation. A poor village might be able to scrape together $200 of cash, ammo, and spare food as a reward; meanwhile Junkyard can pay up to a couple hundred thousand for a city-saving job but usually won't pay more than $10k.
    Of course, scavenging is exempt from that guideline. Some amazing gear ended up in some really strange places as the world burned up. The utter randomness of the scavenging tables reflects that pretty well.

    Part of the game balance of Savage Worlds, and the one that throws a lot of GMs coming from hit point systems, is that anything can kill anything it's allowed to roll against. There are no "meaningless" or "filler" combats because any combat, any attack, could be the one that kills a main character. Like real life, no Savage Worlds character should enter into armed combat lightly.
    If you don't have Heavy Weapons then you can't roll damage against Heavy Armor - and like cowboys (without dynamite) fighting tanks, you should just ride away instead of picking that fight. Which is why most folks that have armored vehicles are left alone by most of their neighbors.

    Of course, some things can kill tanks anyway. A Syker with slow burn can always kill an armored vehicle within range. An 88mm rocket launcher can kill most armored vehicles, especially with rear / top shots.

    Originally posted by Anarchium View Post
    Dungeon Crawling: Most of the material I've seen for SW and D:HoE doesn't provide for traditional dungeon type scenarios where characters might plumb a base or cavern with numerous encounters in a day's adventuring. How do GMs create or handle this sort of gaming in SW or even D:HoE?
    Dungeons exist, but they typically don't look like dungeons. The "Wizards Tower" around Seattle is a fantastic classic dungeon, the ruins of Dempsey Park on the Dempsey islands off the Gulf Coast of Texas, the interiors of crashed space craft, the bunker tunnels of various ruined military facilities, the sewers and drainage systems beneath pre-war cities, the twisting caverns of a habitat once inhabited by alien castaways, etc.
    Not so much intentional labyrinths and grandiose tombs, but dungeons to crawl through are very real.
    I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

    Comment


    • Anarchium
      Anarchium commented
      Editing a comment
      Helpful answer(s), ValhallaGH!*

      Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
      The big reason is setting lore - all magic comes from the Hunting Grounds, which were never that friendly to mortals but became utterly inhospitable by the apocalypse.
      So many things were thrown into the pot with this setting, I was unsure if I really understood correct about the absence of super powers. This answer is what I was hoping to hear, and it makes sense. Now I can explain to my players why it's not on the board (or conversely, why any super power has to come with a dangerous and inconsistent downside).

      Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
      Part of the game balance of Savage Worlds, and the one that throws a lot of GMs coming from hit point systems, is that anything can kill anything it's allowed to roll against. There are no "meaningless" or "filler" combats because any combat, any attack, could be the one that kills a main character.
      Without being able to judge what characters can typically withstand, encounters could feel unfair or not fun if they repeatedly resolve as too dangerous or too easy. Throw in potential imbalances of scavenging and encounters become harder to judge. As you say, if I give the main villain a tank and the PCs have no way to deal with it, their respective combat ratings have little to say about the reality of PCs having to ride away (or die). Players might be terribly unlucky with scavenging, too, and poor-as-ducks wasters aren't going to last long even without tank-riding villains.

      Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
      Dungeons exist, but they typically don't look like dungeons.
      I'll try to have a look at the locales you've mentioned. Most of what I've seen appears more like narrative "events" rather than something akin to a traditional dungeon crawl. Given how any combat can be lethal, repeated combats in a typical dungeon scenario might be too much. I'm wondering if the system is just not mean to support that sort of play or if it is something that happens all the time anyhow? (That may well be the case!)

      Thanks for the info!

  • #4
    Glad to be of help.
    (This is probably going to run a bit longer than I like comments to be, so I'm going to make this a regular post.)

    Glad the magic answer works for you! I hope it works for your players.

    Yeah, judging combat balance can be wonky. I've found that if the average damage (including Acing) is about the same as the Toughness of the people being attacked then it will be a rough fight; with a severe numbers disparity it can be very dangerous. If average damage is 2+ over Toughness then it will be a dangerous fight (or very dangerous with numbers advantage). If average damage is two or more below Toughness then it's fairly safe, with most attacks bouncing off harmlessly except for that one random attack that causes 6+ Wounds.
    The Combat Rating system, as vague as it is, covers this. And if one side is going to be inside a tank then use the tank's stats for the combat rating.
    Originally posted by Average Values
    d4 = 3.33; 2d4 = 6.7
    d6 = 4.2; 2d6 = 8.4
    d8 = 5.1; 2d8 = 10.2
    d10 = 6.1; 2d10 = 12.2
    d12 = 7.1; 2d12 = 14.2
    I should note that attack penalties can mitigate the danger. Range, recoil, lighting, cover, concealment, and fuzzy situational modifiers like morale can all penalize a foe to the point that the big scary gun misses almost all the time, but when it does hit the players will notice.
    Conversely, bonuses (Wild Attack, Aim, Called Shot, The Drop, Trademark Weapon, etc.) and penalty negation (low light vision, recoil negation, Wound negation, etc.) can exacerbate the danger, making attacks more likely to land, more likely to Wound, or both. Use carefully!

    Scavenging can be really random, but you can hand out enough supplies to keep going as "quest rewards" for helping out various communities. My advice is to treat scavenging as "bonus income" while they subsist on quest rewards.
    And if they do end up with tanks, that's probably okay. They'll get cocky, wander into a tank killing situation, and give you plenty of excuse to take away their tank - by their own actions and decisions through no fault of yours. Also, you can still limit how much ammo they get for their tank's weapons - not the energy weapons, since those are powered by the engine, but the shells and bullets for the ballistics. And if you want to, you can give one random Critical Hit to each vehicle found - that can just destroy a weapon system, break part of the drive train, breach the armor (crew critical), or other glaring weakness.
    My players burned a unique suit of enchanted power armor trying (and failing) to kill a Servitor; your players will expend their super-amazing gear, too.

    Dungeon crawls are doable in Savage Worlds, but they tend to be slower than in most versions of D&D. If the posse gets Wounded then they'll need at least the Golden Hour to patch themselves up, and may need to fall back to base for Natural Healing (i.e. one to eight weeks); one posse I was in spent an in game month hanging around town, waiting for one of our members to heal her two Wounds.
    There's a secondary affect where many (possibly most) GMs and players of Savage Worlds don't enjoy a traditional dungeon crawl (they're very dull from a narrative perspective, wandering around a relatively meaningless location, murdering and thieving from everything encountered) and instead use various other mechanics for successfully navigating a labyrinth and avoiding / defeating the creatures that inhabit it.
    Oh, and most of those dungeons I mentioned either don't have published maps or have established lore that they change and shift. So you'll have to map most of those dungeons yourself.


    Good luck!
    I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

    Comment


    • Anarchium
      Anarchium commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks again for such a helpful answer.

      One of the things I need to keep in mind is environment and situational effects on attack bonuses/penalties, and use that to massage a battle that's too tough or too easy into something more exciting or survivable. That might not always be possible, nor should it be, but those are inherently useful so long as players don't find it heavy handed. The chaotic nature of the system and dice should help the rest along.

      All the same, I was planning on making a much of gear they scavenge, especially over certain value points, to have damage or needing repair before it's really useful. I like your idea of a random critical hit to vehicles. It makes a lot of in-game sense for most found vehicles to have something serious wrong. After all, who is going to leave an intact tank just laying around?

      (Then again, I may leave my players asking that question when they DO find a perfectly intact and gassed up tank just laying about. Muhahaha!)

      As long as it ends up fun for everyone at the table, I don't half mind if they do discover "imbalancing" gear somewhere. Like you say, they're going to destroy or expend most of what they get anyhow. I just need to understand how to balance the game until they do some so they aren't literally rolling over everything the whole time. Your insights are appreciated!

    • ValhallaGH
      ValhallaGH commented
      Editing a comment
      Anarchium Glad to be of help. If you have more questions or concerns that can be addressed by strangers online, please ask. We'll be happy to help again.

  • #5
    If you commit to setting a detailed scene for your players during an encounter, you can set up possible escapes for them without having to spell it out to them. Have a posse get ambushed at camp during the night by a pack of Dogs o' War? Well if you they set up camp on the cliff overlooking the lake, then when they decide that it's a fight they don't want to fight and decide to run, they can all leap in to the lake below (a fine way of parting a posse from troublesome gear). Then the Marshal can run a chase, giving the posse a bit of a head start. Maybe they get run down, maybe they escape, maybe they escape the frying pan only to fall into the fire?
    If you take the time and effort to set up the scenery it can inspire your players, which could lead to them earning Bennies for doing cool stuff/having good ideas, which will help them to survive the encounter, learn from it, and be better prepared in the event they have to face the same hazard/fight later. There are a lot of things in the Deadlands setting that character's shouldn't be enthusiastic about fighting without having been well prepared beforehand. It's a setting where always fighting, and fighting to the death, is bound to just be a meat-grinder for characters (most of whom probably won't have the debilitating psychological baggage/damage that pushes them to charge headlong in to the horde of forty walkin' dead with naught but a wheelgun and an unsurpassed creativity in insult-crafting).

    Giving players the sort of gear they find from scavenging ought to be an appropriate reward, but it should very rarely be in anything like pristine condition. If your posse's road warrior finds a glistening supercharged v8 muscle car with side pipes, expanded fuel tanks, welded armor paneling, and dual Browning .30s on the roof (Assuming a Lurker doesn't kill him when he tries to get in and turn the key), then so what? Now he has a "plug-and-play" vehicle to make his enemies jealous, but it won't really be as special as if he found a barely running poor man's muscle car- a sports car with a turbo-charged v6, blown turbo, head gasket problems, rusty chicken coop wire windows, the fuel tank leaks if filled over 1/3, the shocks are spongy, tires are worn ragged, has a lawn chair welded in place for the driver's seat, a death trap of a wooden doghouse nailed in place of the passenger seat, a hole in the floor of the back seat with the driveshaft whirring beneath it, one working speaker and the stereo has an 8-track of Twisted Sister's 'Under the Blade' glued tight in the deck with the volume knob cranked to max and snapped off, and lastly a rusty sawn-off double-barreled 12 gauge hangs from a leather loop from the cigarette lighter (which is the best maintained part of the vehicle and works every time).
    Half-way broken down, well-worn, unusual items come with a bit of personality to them, but as the player has his character spend time repairing it and incorporating his own ideas in it, they'll enjoy it all the more. Gives 'em something to claim their character is doing during idle times around camp, gives you a way of directing a particular character's attention by leaving clues along a trail to whatever you want him to discover in order to further the current plot, and so on.

    Either way you choose to go, a ****-poor gang of ambushers with some hammers, picks, and shovels and a day of effort can bring that character's new ride to an instant, face-crushing, halt by digging a trench across the road and covering it over with some flimsy material and a bit of dirt So remember it can all be taken away easily if it becomes to much of a pain for you as the Marshal to deal with it.

    And sometimes what the hero finds appears perfectly fine at a glance, but can be hiding a serious problem (not even counting the supernaturally cursed ones). How many times has someone here been in a group where a hero finds a new revolver, pistol, etc. and that character never takes the time to clean it up and check the thing's condition? Most of the time the hero just starts using it. Well that new .357 magnum may have a cylinder that has been worked out of time. It begins shaving lead off the bullets on the forcing cone, until the reliability roll (being rolled in secret by the Marshal) fails and the whole barrel goes flying down range.
    Now that's bad enough because the user may be injured by this if he didn't have a good grip on it, and clearly he's now down a powerful weapon. But then there's the unforeseen problems for the owner, such as if he was showing it off, or had lent it to an ally for them to use as protection, or what have you. Now those who witnessed it, or hear about it, end up losing respect for the hero- if he'd given to an ally to use against a group of attacking enemies and the ally survives despite it blowing apart in his hands, he's going to have some choice words for the hero. All of that can lead to small conflicts, be used to herd players in a direction the Marshal wants them to head, etc.

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    • #6
      Originally posted by Fists of Dorn View Post
      It's a setting where always fighting, and fighting to the death, is bound to just be a meat-grinder for characters (most of whom probably won't have the debilitating psychological baggage/damage that pushes them to charge headlong in to the horde of forty walkin' dead with naught but a wheelgun and an unsurpassed creativity in insult-crafting).
      I suspect that's a lesson at least a couple of my players will have to learn the hard way. That begs a question: is Savage Worlds just the wrong system for a group that likes to have lots of combat? Does its cinematic dressing lead game play away from the sort of "beer and pretzels" adventuring that many groups adore? Or is it, in this case, just a matter of the setting being a poor fit for that sort of play?

      Originally posted by Fists of Dorn View Post
      Half-way broken down, well-worn, unusual items come with a bit of personality to them, but as the player has his character spend time repairing it and incorporating his own ideas in it, they'll enjoy it all the more. Gives 'em something to claim their character is doing during idle times around camp, gives you a way of directing a particular character's attention by leaving clues along a trail to whatever you want him to discover in order to further the current plot, and so on.
      I like this type of thinking. Really, my mindset is that if they DO manage to scavenge up something extraordinary, my goal will be to turn the discovery into a quest that spurs the group into becoming attached and protective of what they earned through time and difficulty rather than mere luck. Turning that tank into a running beast of destructive fury will be all the more exciting if they had to struggle to return it to that point.

      Originally posted by Fists of Dorn View Post
      So remember it can all be taken away easily if it becomes to much of a pain for you as the Marshal to deal with it.
      While that's true, I do my best not to create a bitter sense in players who rarely appreciate having their new-found toys taken away due to an arbitrary seeming encounter. I don't like it when a GM does it to me, and I know most players don't either. As such, I'm more concerned about preventing the game's equilibrium from getting out of whack in the first place, ideally by a better understanding of an at least rough expectation for the distribution of resources in the game. That's why the scavenge possibilities worried me because it could instantly throw any semblance of that out of control.

      After all, what's a good reward for a novice? Is that same reward still considered goo for a veteran? A legendary? Probably not, but there is zero guidance on how it should be handled. To me, it's a sorely missing element in their core rules and settings.

      Still, part of my problem is adjusting my perception of the game and setting from what I might expect to what it actually delivers at the table.

      Comment


      • #7
        Originally posted by Anarchium View Post
        That begs a question: is Savage Worlds just the wrong system for a group that likes to have lots of combat?
        Not at all. But it does punish fighting stupidly. Even the most fortunate of players, the folks that regularly roll 20+ with their d4 Traits, run out of Bennies eventually, meaning they can't do anything to stop taking Wounds. And Wounds take a long time to go away. The kind of relentlessly grinding combat D&D players often expect is generally suicidal in Savage Worlds. Each fight can be fatal, and recovering from a painful fight takes time or resources.
        It also rewards fighting smart. A good ambush is devastating, a smart flanking attack is crippling, combines arms are highly effective, prepared battle fields let you dominate, etc.

        I can't say if it fits your table and group. That's something you have to decide for yourself. I'd recommend giving it a whirl before giving up on it - I've often been surprised at how much I like some things, and dislike others, that I doubted when I read them.

        After all, what's a good reward for a novice? Is that same reward still considered goo for a veteran? A legendary? Probably not, but there is zero guidance on how it should be handled. To me, it's a sorely missing element in their core rules and settings.
        Actually, yes.
        One of the mind boggling aspects of Savage Worlds is that the tight and relatively static number range makes "good stuff" good at any Rank. Like real life, the only reasons you're not excited to get great body armor are you repeatedly refuse to use them or you already have two spares. If you've got a lot of good stuff then more of the same isn't usually interesting or exciting, but different good stuff usually is interesting and exciting.
        Heck, a couple cases of MRE's can be very exciting if the characters have been hungry for a while. Similarly, ammunition for a favorite weapon, at the right time, can light up a table.
        I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

        Comment


        • #8
          Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
          One of the mind boggling aspects of Savage Worlds is that the tight and relatively static number range makes "good stuff" good at any Rank. ... Heck, a couple cases of MRE's can be very exciting if the characters have been hungry for a while. Similarly, ammunition for a favorite weapon, at the right time, can light up a table.
          This IS mind boggling to me, and I guess part of the reason I'm having problems "groking" the balance of resources and wealth in the game. The idea of a posse of legendary characters getting exciting over discovering a case of MRE's doesn't sound, well, very legendary. That sort of jubilee seems appropriate for a novice or veteran, but to my mind, a legendary character should be involved with larger scenarios that rarely involves scrounging up their next meal or a pocket full of ammo.

          Comment


          • #9
            Originally posted by Anarchium View Post
            The idea of a posse of legendary characters getting exciting over discovering a case of MRE's doesn't sound, well, very legendary. That sort of jubilee seems appropriate for a novice or veteran, but to my mind, a legendary character should be involved with larger scenarios that rarely involves scrounging up their next meal or a pocket full of ammo.
            It's not common, but if the legendary trek across 700 miles of blasted, irradiated, toxic, and monster-infested wasteland leaves the characters starving to death, short on bullets, out of missiles, and still having to attack the Combine occupied fortified school building then their joy makes more sense.

            Context is everything.
            I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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