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Invoking Hindrances

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  • Invoking Hindrances

    When designing my Swift d12 system, I wanted to keep the rules streamlined, so I decided to introduce a simple mechanic for handling Flaws. The approach I used was to make them primarily descriptive, and allow players to "invoke" each Flaw once per session in return for Karma Points.

    It struck me that the same approach would also work rather well for Hindrances in Savage Worlds, so I came up with a quick conversion:

    Invoking Hindrances

    Players can invoke each of their Hindrances once per session. This must be done before making a trait roll, and the player should explain how their Hindrance gives them a disadvantage in this particular situation. If the GM accepts the explanation, the player earns a Benny, but also suffers a –2 penalty to their roll, and must draw a card. If the card is Clubs, there is a further complication; the penalty increases to –4, and failure is treated as if it were a critical failure.

    Players cannot spend a Benny to reroll an invoked Hindrance.

    Example 1

    The Game Master tells everyone to make Notice rolls as they approach the cave. Lexi invokes her Overconfident Hindrance; she's not scared of some smelly old cave, so she'll just go marching straight in without bothering to look for signs of danger! She draws the Five of Hearts, and makes her Notice roll with a –2 penalty, but Aces her roll and succeeds anyway.

    Example 2

    Rylan disturbs a dragon while exploring its lair. The Game Master decides that this scene will be resolved as a Chase, and asks for a maneuvering trait roll. Rylan invokes his Greedy Hindrance in the first round, and announces that he's been distracted by the dragon's treasure hoard. He draws the Seven of Spades and makes his Agility roll with a –2 penalty, failing the roll. Looks like he's going to need that bonus Benny for a Soak roll!

    Example 3

    Big Brak launches a furious attack against a human adventurer, and decides to invoke his One Eye Hindrance; the player describes how the human ducks around Big Brak's blind side, putting him at a disadvantage as he tries to swing his axe. He draws the Ace of Clubs and suffers a –4 penalty to his attack – failure! The GM declares that Big Brak loses his grip on his axe, and accidentally tosses it away into the river!

    Summary

    This rule obviously turns the "fluffy" Hindrances into more of a benefit than a drawback, but it works extremely well in Swift d12, where I've found it really encourages the players to add some interesting narrative to the game. I see no reason why the same solution wouldn't work just as well in Savage Worlds.

    My older Hindrance Cards idea also gave players a more direct means of earning Bennies, helping to take some of the pressure off the GM, but it always felt a bit handwavy during play. By contrast, the "invoke" rule feels more like the players are paying a fair price for their bonus Benny.

    My blog: Savage Stuff. I've also written some free tools and supplements.

  • #2
    I've being doing something similar for a while, I just refer to it as being handicapped or compelled by a hindrance. I found it works well and I do have my players write out keywords or brief sentences for their more fluffy hindrances, so it's easier for them to find ways of using them in game. I also have a list of those hindrances and keywords, so I can make suggestions where appropriate. I also encourage players to make suggestions for another player. Mostly just implementing things I've learned running FATE games and working Aspects.

    Comment


    • Zadmar
      Zadmar commented
      Editing a comment
      I know others have used Fate-style compels in the past, but I wanted a mechanics-based solution (with clearly defined penalties) rather than the freeform narrative-based complications used in Fate. For the sake of player agency, I also give players full control over when their Hindrances are invoked, rather than allowing the GM or other players to invoke them.

      It's really just a personal preference thing of course, but this is a very simple solution I used in my own RPG, and it proved very successful, so I thought it'd be interesting to convert it to Savage Worlds.

    • kronovan
      kronovan commented
      Editing a comment
      Yup, missed the part about you wanting to make this more structured. That makes sense and I can see where having it in writing could make some players more aware of the idea and encourage them to use them more. I'm personally not bothered by the GM or other players suggesting them, because just as with FATE my players have the final say as to whether or not they except any suggested handicap or compel.

      I could comfortably say my players would have a problem with having it limited to only 1 opportunity per session. While in my sessions there are players who only use a hindrance once, I have other players who evoke a hindrance almost every encounter. They do that through clever and creative RPing and it's honestly not something I'd want to discourage with a cap. Those players do often finish the session with more bennies than others, but nothing that's been session breaking or unbalancing. One of my better hindrance RPers even has the Elan edge for their PC. I could however see limiting it to once per encounter.

    • Zadmar
      Zadmar commented
      Editing a comment
      The "once per session" limitation is designed to prevent people triggering their Flaws/Hindrances over and over, however a "once per scene" restriction would probably work too, particularly if there was a cap on how many Bennies you could hoard.

  • #3
    While I think this was sort of the intention behind Hindrances, I appreciate the depth you've given it. And the examples you gave are great "outside-the-box" ways to look at various Hindrances.

    The penalty to roll makes perfect sense (these are drawbacks after all) and the added level of Complications is a really nice touch.

    While I've had a Heroic player run back out onto a battlefield to drag off a wounded extra, or a Curious character follow an obvious red herring, I think these rules help allow players view their Hindrances as story-building elements rather than an occasional drawback.

    Comment


    • #4
      Originally posted by Deskepticon View Post
      While I've had a Heroic player run back out onto a battlefield to drag off a wounded extra, or a Curious character follow an obvious red herring, I think these rules help allow players view their Hindrances as story-building elements rather than an occasional drawback.
      I think it can also be useful for GMs who might otherwise be a little stingy with the Bennies (a complaint I've heard on more than one occasion), as it gives the players a direct means of awarding themselves Bennies.
      My blog: Savage Stuff. I've also written some free tools and supplements.

      Comment


      • #5
        This is an awesome idea. Thanks for sharing! I'm gonna pitch it to my players ASAP

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