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  • Condensed Statblock

    Like many of you, I grew up with old D&D and other systems from a simpler age. I was also a HUGE fan of Star Wars d6. And one of the things these systems did (mostly to save page space for printing cost purposes) was to condense stat blocks. It's something I have been doing for some time. Now, I don't mean the approved in-text copy per the SWADE Writers Rules where you can cite creature and the page number and product it appears in. I mean something even fasterer, furiouser, and funner!

    Here's my take on a short state block with a wink towards old D6 Star Wars:


    Evil Mutant Thugs: Traits d6 except: Fighting d8 (parry 6), Athletics d8. Pace 6. Tough 6 (1). Mean, Quirk (weird cosmetic mutations). Scrap armor (AV1), brainbeaters (Str+6).


    The goal is to eliminate the needless repetitive nature of many statblocks, which was a horror to be found in D&D 3.5 to be sure. Even GURPS had a way to shorthand various NPCs and with 4e sadly went back to full blocks fo every bloody thing. (And apologies if this idea has already been tried in SW ... I'm not sure?)

    So, any discussion on this. I think PEGs creatives may want to consider this as a way to really cut down on unnecessary page count. Indeed, one could use an even shorter state block in the main body copy for each encounter entry, instead of summarizing all NPCs on the last pages,

    Thoughts? Opinions?

  • #2
    Savage Worlds stat blocks are already pretty short and very easy to reference at a glance (assuming proper bolding is used).

    One issue with just saying "Traits d6" is that it means the creature/character is not untrained in anything. It's fine if you say "Attributes d6", but I think skills are better off being explicitly listed.

    Another "quality of life" benefit of the official stat block is that Parry and Toughness are listed on the same line, making it easy to quickly reference a target's defences. Your proposed stat block sort of jumbles everything together, which could potentially cause a GM to search through the block to find that info if a creature has a longer list of skills. And when it comes to Heroic or Legendary threats, which may have half a dozen or more Edges, or creatures with unique special abilities, your "condensed" stat block can get to look quite messy and confusing.

    Obviously you can do whatever you like at your table if this is easier for you, but I would personally find it more confusing and frustrating to read. I would not want PEG to change their official stat block, and I also would not encourage any SWAG or Fan products to deviate from that format either.
    Last edited by Deskepticon; 07-01-2021, 11:13 AM. Reason: Minor typos

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    • #3
      Interesting thoughts. I simply think eliminating redundant skills for lower-level or main creatures would be a huge improvement and cut down on excessive verbiage. Now for Wild Cards or heroic types, yes - I can see a full block being necessary. I've never played in a game with Heroic or Legendary threats, as they are as rare as driven snow, so ... ymmv.

      An Orc is an Orc, so why a full stat block you have to reference in another book. Just slap a quick stat block in so the PCs can slaughter the things (or be in for a surprise when it Aces 4 times and drops one of the PCs, heh heh) and move on.

      Good point on the reskinning of names for edges/hindrances/racial abilities. It does lend "flavor" to the NPC, but one that the PC will not "see" unless the GM narrates it so? Personally, I could care less about the reading of the thing as opposed to the play. It needs to be super, super fast - something I can glance at for under 1 second and then roll and shout. Otherwise, it can devolve into a bunch of (insert overly complex game here) players all sitting around reading their books during the session. I've seen that WAY too many times.

      It's really a matter of statting according to the use of the creature. If it is there to be blasted apart, use a quick stat block. Something that is more narrative or less combat-y or is a Wild Card, by all means go full out.

      I put Parry next to Fighting as that is when it is used - no other time. As for toughness and parry, I'd be open to using symbols like they did with (was it 3.5 D&D?) other products, such as a shield symbol and crossed swords. Again, cut down the word count for a quicker read, using symbology where appropriate. Just thoughts for the next iteration of SWADE as i worry about feature bloat coming into the game. I like SW to be more Basic D&D and never getting to 3.5 D&D.
      Last edited by The Radioactivist; 07-01-2021, 07:32 PM. Reason: typos, added thoughts

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      • #4
        I always like when someone shares their moments when they think a little outside the norm in their games. I personally wouldn't want to do this for some of the same reasons as Deskepticon listed. But it sounds like you have found a good way to save space in your character sheets. Could be useful for extras/NPC's (sorry I'm still working on the savage game terminology).

        Random thought, does this forum consist mostly of Game Masters? I don't see game talk from a pure players' perspective here.

        Ack...out!
        (insert better catch phrase here)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by The Radioactivist View Post
          An Orc is an Orc, so why a full stat block you have to reference in another book. Just slap a quick stat block in so the PCs can slaughter the things (or be in for a surprise when it Aces 4 times and drops one of the PCs, heh heh) and move on.

          ... It's really a matter of statting according to the use of the creature. If it is there to be blasted apart, use a quick stat block. Something that is more narrative or less combat-y or is a Wild Card, by all means go full out.
          I may have misunderstood your initial post. I originally thought you were suggesting PEG change the way they write stat blocks in general, but now it seems you're merely suggesting they use a condensed format when writing adventure paths /savage tales, etc. I suppose any dedicated bestiary is to have full stat blocks.

          That changes my opinion slightly. When reading about a specific encounter, only the information pertinent for that encounter really matters. If a scene includes foes that are simply meant as fodder, then I agree a full stat block is largely unnecessary. I would still use bolding and separate lines, though. Maybe something like:

          Street Thug
          Attributes:
          d6, Strength d8
          Core Skills: d6
          Parry: 6 Toughness: 6 (1, leather)
          Attacks: Wooden bat (Fighting d8, Str+d4), Intimidation d8

          ??

          Good point on the reskinning of names for edges/hindrances/racial abilities. It does lend "flavor" to the NPC, but one that the PC will not "see" unless the GM narrates it so? Personally, I could care less about the reading of the thing as opposed to the play. It needs to be super, super fast - something I can glance at for under 1 second and then roll and shout. Otherwise, it can devolve into a bunch of (insert overly complex game here) players all sitting around reading their books during the session. I've seen that WAY too many times.
          Forgive me if I seem confused, but I didn't mention "reskinning" anything in my post.

          As far as looking at a stat block and quickly finding the needed info, that's precisely why I didn't care for the example in the OP. To me personally, it wasn't very conducive to speedy referencing.

          I put Parry next to Fighting as that is when it is used - no other time.
          Ehh, sorta not really tho.
          Parry is referenced when the character is attacked, and Fighting is referenced when it is attacking. Those are very separate situations that often occur at different times during a round. Ideally (IMO) you'll want to split offensive and defensive stats into separate lines... kinda like I did for the street thug above.

          As for toughness and parry, I'd be open to using symbols like they did with (was it 3.5 D&D?) other products, such as a shield symbol and crossed swords. Again, cut down the word count for a quicker read, using symbology where appropriate. Just thoughts for the next iteration of SWADE as i worry about feature bloat coming into the game. I like SW to be more Basic D&D and never getting to 3.5 D&D.
          I honestly don't see a need to use special symbols or abbreviations, etc. Just as long as the info is grouped in a way that makes logical sense, I think players can infer the meaning. After all, I think you can expect most GMs to have a working knowledge of the system. Take my example above...
          Attacks: Wooden bat (Fighting d8, Str+d4), Intimidation d8
          ... That contains all the information you need to go on the offensive, both physically and non-physically (i.e., Tests). Everything is on one line, so there's no need to scan the rest of the stat block. It even tells you what the weapon is made of so the GM can pick the right Hardness in the event of Breaking Things.

          And as I mentioned in my previous response, proper use of bold lettering is vitally important to avoid "text wall" syndrome. It's something I would definitely continue to implement.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by The Radioactivist View Post
            Evil Mutant Thugs: Traits d6 except: Fighting d8 (parry 6), Athletics d8. Pace 6. Tough 6 (1). Mean, Quirk (weird cosmetic mutations). Scrap armor (AV1), brainbeaters (Str+6)
            Okay, hold up. Are these Evil Mutant Thugs supposed to be dumb or not? Because I honestly can't read your intentions here. Are these supposed to be stereotypically dumb mutated brutes or are they normal mean people granted a combat edge by mutation?

            Now, whatever your answer is, that's not the point. The point is that I couldn't tell your intent from the statline. Did you intend for them to be stereotypically dumb mutated brutes and just feel too lazy to note their lower Smarts in their statline? Or did you intend for them to be normal mean people granted a combat edge by mutation with a normal d6 in Smarts? The ' condensed' statblock' leaves questions in my mind.

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