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Isekai Genre: How to do Advances?

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  • Isekai Genre: How to do Advances?

    I just recently got hooked on The Rising of the Shield Hero, and I really like the idea of running a short campaign where the players play themselves stuck in a fantasy world and they get multiple advances each session. One of the things I like about Shield Hero is that Naofumi has to work with the abilities he has. Naofumi will always be high defense and never be good at offense. He is stuck with the shield no matter how many times he levels up.

    How would you simulate this type of feeling in Savage Worlds where the character is forced into a specific class and can only get certain perks on level up? Savage Worlds is designed to have a lot of level up choice, and going Isekai basically removes it. I thought about manually making an advance list beforehand for each player where I choose what they get so it at least makes sense thematically. But my friend suggested making a list of non-background edges the character qualifies for and rolling dice to see what edge they get.

  • #2
    Isekai is a narrative framework, about characters being placed in a setting that isn't their own.
    Tarzan and Flash Gordon were all about the genre at the beginning of the 20th century. Sliders and Dr. Who are more modern takes on the genre, but they hang onto their world-hopper McGuffin to go explore new worlds.
    My point is that Isekai is still Isekai without the class restrictions. The class restrictions are part of the MMORPG-style world, which is what many Isekai go to for some reason.

    How to recreate the limitations of class restriction?
    Create MMO-style classes.

    I'd have each Advance come with a defined Skill increase, and one of three defined Advance choices - increase a class-appropriate Attribute, gain a specific Edge, or increase two class-appropriate Skills.
    At each Rank increase, throw in some "freebie points" to increase one Attribute and two Skills of the player's choice. That allows some customization beyond the class; you can call it "profession" or "hobby" or whatever fits the rest of the style and tone.
    One of the benefits is that you get to have the player characters experience a "character creation" scene. Maybe classes are randomly determined, maybe everyone gets a choice. Maybe each class can only be taken once.

    Good luck!

    P.S. Personally, I'd have everyone choose a "class concept" and choose their advances to fit that theme. But I am not a fan of class systems.
    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.


    • #3
      How powerful do you expect the character to get over the course of the "short campaign"? This drives how much work you need to put in.

      Going with a class or stealing iconic frameworks from SR, you can simply require two advances per rank be appropriate Iconic Edges. On the front end, you have to collate Edges into appropriate lists, but it looks like you were expecting that.

      Alternately, take ValhallaGH's suggestion about concept and codify it in a Hindrance. Reward the players for buying into the setting.