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  • New GM questions

    New GM here, and also new to Savage Worlds. I have a few questions that don't seem to be answered in the books so far. Any advice is welcome and appreciated!
    1. Potions - there are 'minor' and 'major' potions listed in the PFSW core book, but it does not explain the difference between the two (at least that I can find). Do you just use the basic power elements of what power the potion is emulating for the result? e.g., I think a healing potion would mimic the healing power where a 'minor' potion would heal 1 wound. But would a 'major' potion be the same as 'greater healing' which allows you to heal 1 wound after 1 hour, or would it be equivalent to a healing power success with a raise?
    2. Actions - I do not understand how 'actions' and rounds work outside of combat. Combat actions are easy enough, each player and monster gets dealt a face card and goes in the order high to low; then deal new cards for the next round. However, outside of combat there seems to be an infinite number of turns and actions a player can have. lockpicking for instance. Oh, I failed on my first attempt; I'll just try again and again and maybe on my 10th try I will finally have a success. Are there rules governing rounds and actions outside of combat that I am unaware of? Any advice pertaining to rounds/turns/actions outside of combat would be great.
    hopefully this is the correct forum for these types of question.


  • #2
    The explanation for minor and major is at the bottom of pg. 205 under Minor & Major Powers. I'd quote you the rule, but I'm on mobile.

    As for actions outside of combat, it's up to you. In real life, I can spend hours trying to pick a lock; it's usually the cop showing up that stops me. I generally run one attempt by two party members before circumstances dictate they can't make that particular check anymore.


    • #3
      Welcome to Savage Worlds!

      Re: Actions
      Actions and turns outside of combat are no different from actions or turns within combat. A turn is still roughly 6 seconds long, and a character is still limited to 3 actions per turn. The only difference is the "measure" of time outside of combat usually doesn't make such distinctions important. A character can technically spend a half hour trying to pick a lock, but at some point the GM is going to need to decide whether they keep going until they succeed, or if the lock is ultimately beyond their skill.

      For this reason I tend to use the "one action, one roll" approach. The character gets one shot to succeed and that's it. The mantra of Savage Worlds is "Fast! Furious! Fun!," and having a player continually roll at the same task is none of those. However, there are several ways to make that player's one shot easier. They can declare they are dedicating more more time to the task*, and teammates can use always use Support rolls. Under optimal conditions, picking a lock can receive as much as a +4 bonus to Thievery, making it virtually an instant success.

      It's also worth mentioning that sometimes the term "round" is nebulous. For example, in a Quick Encounter or Chase scene, a "round" might be measured in minutes, or even hours. For simplicity sake, it's often a good idea to retain the 3-actions-per-round rule, including Multi-Action penalties. Multiple Actions are a general measure of the character's ability to multi-task. Even if a round is stretched out over an hour, the pacing of the round remains the same. So you want your players to focus their actions over that hour, not try to whittle it down to actions-over-minutes... if that makes sense to you.

      Hope this helped.
      * If you're familiar with d20 rules, think of dedicating more time to a task as "taking 10" or "taking 20", except it's just a static bonus of +1 or +2.
      Last edited by Deskepticon; 05-06-2021, 06:30 AM.


      • #4
        Also, if a player were to say "I try again and again", depending on the difficulty, this also increases the chance to get a critical failure.

        As Deskepticon pointed out, in Pathfinder there is the concept of taking 20, which basically assumes the character tries until they succeed, but it also gets every possible result on the way. So if you were to disarm a trap you would actually activate it, because "take 20" assumes you rolled a 1 somewhere on your way to the 20 (actually, I think, Pathfinder simply forbids take 20 on rolls that would have bigger consequences when failing...).

        But as prior posters said: Just tell them "make one roll, that represents your total effort to pick this lock" and have them roll, maybe with a bonus if they give you a reason (like taking their time). If they want to try again, just tell them they need more information on the lock or better equipment before they can try again.


        • #5
          What everyone else said, plus don't forget the players can also spend bennies to reroll a failed (non-crit) skill check


          • #6
            Thanks all, this is great information!


            • #7
              I’m a fan of the “Let it Ride” philosophy - if a character (or group of characters working together) fails a skill roll, it means that task simply isn’t possible unless circumstances change (e.g., the character learns new information, develops new skills, acquires new tools, or has more time, to give a few examples).