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  • Facing

    There is a rule that is detailed for shields that I have always ignored and have wondered to myself why it is put into the book:

    Shields add to a character’s Parry as shown below. Cover subtracts from ranged attacks from the front and
    shielded side (attacks from the rear or unprotected side ignore cover).
    I have always applied the benefit of a shield to its user.


    Savage Worlds has no rules for facing.

    Characters can affect all spaces that are adjacent to them. See the diagram below, where "x" is the character and the 1 is ALL of the places that the character can affect with most melee attacks. The character threatens all of those locations with a Gang-Up bonus. The character effecively faces all of them at once. When is the shield user not protected? The character can always be turned in a way so that their shield faces the target.

    Reach 0
    1 1 1
    1 X 1
    1 1 1
    Reach 1: Spears
    For fun, I will add a diagram for a reach of 1. This makes spear-users and other characters with Reach very effective. Put a spear-user (such as a wizard with Leadership edges) behind a row of allies and they can add a Gang-up to all of them.

    Reach 1
    2 2 2 2 2
    2 1 1 1 2
    2 1 x 1 2
    2 1 1 1 2
    2 2 2 2 2
    The ruling for shields has had me wonder to myself if Savage Worlds has had facing rules at some point in the past. When I started playing SW I had thought that it was odd that it did not have facing rules. I am glad that it doesn't, as even in the games that use it, facing adds only a little bit of tactical benefit for far a greater increased complexity.

    Also, all of the players that use Minds Eye (and not minis) would also play without facing. Personally, I prefer minis as it keeps everything very clear to everyone, but even then there are many encounters that even I run in "minds eye".

    Does anyone use their own facing rules in Savage Worlds? If so, please share! Even though I am currently happy to not use facing, the shield rule has made me wonder (again) why that is specified in the book. We could save two lines of print by removing it.
    Last edited by SeeleyOne; 06-14-2019, 06:09 PM. Reason: the spacing above tables removed itself for some reason. Maybe titles will help.

  • #2
    I use a kind of 'facing shorthand'. The assumption is that the defender is dynamic, moving around and otherwise trying to be hard to hit, and thus will always be facing the direction most useful to themselves at any given moment. So, for shields, against a group of simultaneous attackers, they can block the maximum theoretical number permitted in that moment. And against non-synchronous attacks, there's no issue with turning quickly to face the attackers as they come. For ranged attacks, you can also use the shield at-will, but a surprise attack (or one from a sufficiently hidden attacker, even if occurs when you're already aware of the danger in a general sense) will bypass the shield.

    Note that these rules mean that when facing a shield-bearing opponent whom you can surround, going On Hold so that you can all act on the same number means not only getting Gang-Up, but also forcing them to decide who does NOT get the shield bonus.


    • #3
      Shields, mainly in SWEX, aren't a powerful solution, nor a useful 2nd weapon. So, when you say "Savage Worlds has no rules for facing." I reply "Amen, brother".
      I absolutely ignore that rule, 'cause it's the only specific reference to a "facing" in the whole manual. With the same shield, the character can easily parry all the attack he receive during the round, from every adiacent square, and "even though we might see figures standing perfectly still on the table-top, in “reality,” they’re circling each other, wrestling back and forth, and moving erratically." (from Firing into Melee paragraph). Also, he can roll Perception to notice an approaching Stealth enemy right from behind, with no penalties. So, why we should keep having that Front-Left facing for the shield??? No way, not at my table
      Shields aren't so useful/powerful, so removing that limitation do nothing to the balance of the fights.

      The only exception I usually permit at my table is versus a shield-wielder character caught with The Drop. I suppose he isn't actively defending himself with the shield raised, so no bonus here (also, it's VERY common to aim to a visible part, normally not covered by the shield, for example the head, thanks to the huge Drop bonus, so you can have the shield bypassed anyway...).
      "Balance is the key, Trapping is the word." - - Lord Lance

      Proud reviser of the SAVAGE FREE BESTIARY


      • #4
        There's no "circling" unless you're moving around on the tabletop. Purely narrative combat is too imprecise. In any case, rolling Notice to detect a hidden enemy means nothing if you're being shot in the back.