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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.


        • Lord Lance
          Lord Lance commented
          Editing a comment
          Sorry, but I can't understand your post (language barrier, I suppose).
          What I mean is:
          SW has absolutely no other rules about facing. The only one that (oddly) still remain in is the shield that you have to set in your turn. Then it stays "set", in those direction... even if (for example) you are Grappled or Pushed prone! It's a big, forced abstraction. There are a lot of abstractions, in RpG systems, of course; there's nothing bad with abstractions. However, SW has no tons of rules like this one:

          In SW we don't know how to measure the line of sight, if we need to touch an angle, or the center of the square. There are no differences if I see a target behind a wall while I'm about 45° between the wall and his flank etc. etc.
          So, if the SW GM has to make lot of decisions based on common sense (thanks God), why he should still have that Shield Facing rule in his game!?

          If a single enemy attacks me in melee while he's in front of me, my Parry is (let's say) 7. If that enemy attacks me in melee, but before he moves around me so he's in the square "behind" me, my Parry is always 7. He doesn't hit my back, because the System is saying me that my figure is constantly moving/circling, so there's no "back square penalty". Also, if I'm heavily wounded (3 Wounds suffered), my Pace is now 3, my attacks suffer -3... but my Parry against that enemy that moved behind me... it's still 7. So we have lot of abstractions... but if an archer is a couple of squares from me, and he moves around me for 3 or 4 squares, now he laughs at me, 'cause my shield is curiously set to cover 2 useless sides, probably all the enemies in the turn will move around to shoot me to the uncovered side, laughing at me. But still, I, heavily wounded and surrounded by enemies in melee, can easily Parry their blows from every side, using my Shield parry bonus.

          Finally, the "approaching enemy" thing I said before. I mean: as already said lot of time, in SW there are no rules about facing. So, let's say I'm in combat, on a squared map. There are 2 hidden assassins. One of those is 6 squares in front of me. The other one is 6 squares behind me. Let's say the first one moves stealthy: I have an opposed roll to try to spot him. All right. Now, let's say the second one, moves stealthy too. He's behind me, but no SW rules says something like "if the enemy is in your rear arc, then you have -4 penalty to Notice him". This mainly because... there's no "back arc". As said before, my character is continuously "rotating", moving around (in his square), so I can Notice everything around me with no penalties. BUUUUT, if that second assassin that I easily spotted moves from my "behind", and stops at a couple of squares from my character, then he can throw his dagger and my shield is still set to cover a useless, fixed arc. Sigh.
          Last edited by Lord Lance; 06-25-2019, 03:43 PM.

        • Lord Lance
          Lord Lance commented
          Editing a comment
          "There's no "circling" unless you're moving around on the tabletop." I'd like to precisely quote this reply of your. And I'd would point you again to the specific quote in the Savage Worlds manual (I have the SWDEE in my hands now) that says exactly: "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." This is inserted at page 82, and while it's explaining a totally different thing (ie. you can hit a totally different target while you were aiming to another one), I think it's an important detail that explain that the figures you place on the map aren't "frozen" until you move them in another place or "rotate" them (side note, you can't actually "rotate" a figure, no need to do that, and so no rules are provided for that).

          I'd like to give another example: partial helms, like motorcycle helmets, protects on 50% chance vs. an Head Shot. So, if you have a face for the shield, then you should have a face even for your head... If you have it, then if I hit you "on the back", the motorcycle helmet would cover with 100% chance (it's opened on the front side). But we have no rules for that. This is because the figure is always moving, always turning around, 'cause he's fighting, looking around, twisting the torso etc. So, from every side of the map, in every moment of the turn, we have 50% chance to have a lucky hit and shot that poor Biker in the face, on the unprotected side.