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Savage Worlds

Entry updated 2 April 2015. Tagged: Game.

Role Playing Game (2003). Pinnacle Entertainment Group (PEG). Designed by Shane Lacy Hensley.

Like GURPS (1986), Savage Worlds is a generic system, designed to allow players to participate in worlds based on any literary genre, from science fiction to urban fantasy. But where GURPS emphasizes the accuracy with which it simulates fictional realities, Savage Worlds concentrates on providing entertaining gameplay, through the medium of a deliberately simplified set of mechanics derived from those of the designer's Great Rail Wars miniatures game (see Deadlands). As might be expected from its ancestry, the system assumes that physical models will be used, making it easier to visualize tactics during the intense battles that have become one of the hallmarks of the game. Savage Worlds was intended to appeal to existing players of Role Playing Games who wanted an uncomplicated set of rules which would enable them to participate in thrilling adventures with an uncompromised Sense of Wonder. In this, it has been highly successful. A slightly revised second edition was released by Great White Games (GWG) in 2005, followed by the Explorer's Edition in 2007 and the Deluxe Edition in 2011, both from Pinnacle Entertainment Group.

Many settings have been made for Savage Worlds, often with included adventures which use a standard structure – inspired by Computer Role Playing Game designs – of a broadly linear spine surrounded by modular sub-stories (see Interactive Narrative). Many of these worlds have been created by professionals, but even more by amateurs. Some are original, while others adapt existing works. Of the various original milieux, the most prominent science-fictional example is Slipstream (2008 PEG) designed by Paul Wade-Williams, a Retro-Pulp reality inspired by the Comic-strip heroics of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. The setting is a Pocket Universe which can only be reached through a Black Hole. As lost races and otherwise extinct creatures tend to accumulate inside Hollow Earths, so the detritus of the galaxy has drifted into Slipstream, which is inhabited not only by humans but also by Bird Men, Lion Men, Robot Men, the Psionic Psiclops and the superintelligent double-brained Babelonians. Light, heat and air are emitted by the vortex from which new arrivals are ejected into this separate reality, while the fragments of shattered worlds provide environments which are variously desert-like, completely frozen or covered in jungle. As Gordon faced Ming the Merciless and Rogers struggled with Killer Kane, so characters in Slipstream must confront Queen Anathraxa, an artificial woman who is the setting's evil dominatrix. As this summary may suggest, Slipstream is a very knowing fiction; its Ray Guns and rocketships are deployed with élan.

Related works: Savage Worlds Showdown! (2004 PEG) designed by Shane Lacy Hensley is a tactical Wargame using miniature models which is derived from the Savage Worlds rules. Of the many original settings associated with the game, some of the more interesting are Evernight (2003 PEG) designed by Shane Lacy Hensley, set in a Sword and Sorcery world which has been conquered by the forces of evil, Tour of Darkness (2004 PEG) designed by Teller, an occult version of the war in Vietnam, and Necessary Evil (2004 PEG) designed by Clint Black, Scott Pyle, in which supervillains must save the world from alien invaders who have already destroyed Earth's Superheroes. The Savage World of Solomon Kane (2007 PEG) designed by Paul Wade-Williams is a separate Role Playing Game, based on Savage Worlds and set in the occult 16th century of Robert E Howard's eponymous Puritan adventurer. Adaptations of milieux from other games to the Savage Worlds system include Space 1889: Red Sands (2010 PEG) designed by William Reger, Clint Black, Matthew Cutter, Joel Kinstle, Piotr Koryś, Tony Lee (see Space: 1889) and Deadlands: Reloaded (2006 GWG; rev 2010) designed by Shane Lacy Hensley, B D Flory (see Deadlands). [NT]


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