Pitfalls of GMing Savage Worlds

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Jounichi
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RE: mgtzx, Zadmar & islan

#21 Postby Jounichi » Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:04 pm

Yes, I made a mistake with regards to First Strike and/or going on Hold; the free interrupt attack triggers whenever a target moves adjacent, and not only when they move to attack you.

As for the running past...like Zadmar linked above it's not in the RAW, but it's also GM's call. It's how my table has been running it for years, but then we don't play with a mat and use abstract movement (which does make combat a little confusing at times). If you're running through a line of guys, you should be rolling Strength (or Shield Bash) to push your way through; and if you're that close I don't see why they wouldn't get a free attack as you pass them by.

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Re: RE: mgtzx, Zadmar & islan

#22 Postby islan » Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:13 pm

Jounichi wrote:if you're that close I don't see why they wouldn't get a free attack as you pass them by.


It's come up more than once on these forums: Withdrawing from Melee requires you to first be in Melee, which is typically engaged when one character attacks another; once a melee attack happens, then they are considered to be in melee. Of course, it's still not a "hard" rule and many given (particularly non-combat) situations can be better suited with things like Strength checks as you noted, but when you start having things like Reach and First Strike, it can become important to differentiate between "melee" and "adjacent".

For instance, if a guy with a sword is fighting a guy with a spear (Reach 1), either combatant can move back 1" without activating Withdraw from Melee, while if the guy with the spear is 1" away at the beginning of his turn then he can Withdraw from Melee without incurring a free attack (since he is out of range of his foe before withdrawing).

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Re: RE: mgtzx, Zadmar & islan

#23 Postby Zadmar » Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:32 pm

islan wrote:For instance, if a guy with a sword is fighting a guy with a spear (Reach 1), either combatant can move back 1" without activating Withdraw from Melee, while if the guy with the spear is 1" away at the beginning of his turn then he can Withdraw from Melee without incurring a free attack (since he is out of range of his foe before withdrawing).

I'm pretty sure it's based on your own weapon. So the guy with the spear could retreat 1" without a problem, but if the guy with the sword withdrew 1" he'd be withdrawing from combat and face an attack.

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#24 Postby TheLoremaster » Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:37 pm

islan wrote:And I believe the "running past them" example above means that they were not in melee combat, and therefore were not withdrawing from melee.

That was my intent, yes. I've seen many players habitually apply the "threatened area" rule from d20 to other systems that they assume it also applies in SW. It does not; you gotta do something to get that effect. It's not passive, it's active.
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#25 Postby amerigoV » Mon Aug 05, 2013 1:02 pm

D-Rock wrote:
Volt875 wrote:Granted they aren't many utility spells but there are a few topics about that on the forums here already. My personal favorite way is to give magical trappings to the skills. Wizard wants cast Lemounds Tiny Hut? Survival roll please.


That just blew my mind. I had been wondering how to give casters more noncombat utility. That's perfect!



It really is a ton of fun when you expand to skills and edges.

I wrote up the following when my Psionist took the Professional Edge (+1 to his roll)



Migraine selects Professional (Psionics) – a +1 to his Psionics roll (now a total of +2 with the Armor). A bit of flavor text:


Parallel Processing [Professional (Psionics)]
As Migraine’s abilities have grown, he has sensed that he has neared his optimal potential in his overall skill (d12). To some degree, this is a bit vexing and he has pondered on ways he can squeeze out any more ability in this area.

The idle, mundane chatter of his companions after a recent battle has given him insight into some new possibilities. He thought to himself, “why aren’t the others even trying to think about what to do next? Why are they not using their brain?” With a flash, Migraine reached out with his mind and found what he was looking for — excess capacity! While some of his companions might have the ability to think deeper, their day to day concerns keeps them from truly focusing their minds. “But their loss is my gain” thought Migraine.

Migraine has spent the last couple of battles experimenting with tapping into his companion’s brains to assigning minor “tasks” associated with his psionics. Much of it has been to enhance targeting during swirling melees. Another task he has planted are spell preparation cycles and the mechanics to transfer it smoothly into his own mind to power the spell. For example, he might use Dorrell’s mind to better target a dangerous foe that he has a better line of sight to, or use Ava’s mind to prep his next Mind Blast, or to start an enhancement of Speer’s fighting abilities before fully entering her mind himself.

While crude, it is effective. He senses his powers working more smoothly and reliably. And there is still plenty of room in those minds for improvement!
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#26 Postby ValhallaGH » Mon Aug 05, 2013 5:31 pm

Volt875 wrote:Number two was not having to have twenty fights to wear down the PCs so the final boss seems a threat. It just doesn't seem necessary to me. Granted, I haven't had time to fully test number two yet but perhaps the other forum members can chime in on it.

You got that one right. :cool: :blam:

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#27 Postby DGMiller » Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:00 pm

ValhallaGH wrote:
Volt875 wrote:Number two was not having to have twenty fights to wear down the PCs so the final boss seems a threat. It just doesn't seem necessary to me. Granted, I haven't had time to fully test number two yet but perhaps the other forum members can chime in on it.

You got that one right. :cool: :blam:


If it looks like it'll be too easy for a BBEG fight, add some minions and give them some reasons to spend out most of their Bennies before the fight. If it then looks too tough, find some reasons to give out a few Bennies. Or let them use another Adventure Card. I love SW for scaling on the fly.

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#28 Postby Volt875 » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:14 pm

D-Rock wrote:
Volt875 wrote:Granted they aren't many utility spells but there are a few topics about that on the forums here already. My personal favorite way is to give magical trappings to the skills. Wizard wants cast Lemounds Tiny Hut? Survival roll please.


That just blew my mind. I had been wondering how to give casters more noncombat utility. That's perfect!

I just started running a War of the Dead campaign and the players have adapted to the system well.


Haha well, I didn't come up with the idea. I stole it off the forums. I can't remember from who unfortunately.
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#29 Postby jcayer » Thu Aug 08, 2013 2:43 pm

My group came from 4E. DO NOT PLAY FANTASY TO START. I can't say that with enough emphasis. Play the Wild Hunt, play sci-fi, play anything, not fantasy.

As several people have already stated, combat is far different. It took my players a while to get the hang of it since it is such a departure from D&D. Staying out of fantasy will help break them of those habits.

Enjoy.

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#30 Postby amerigoV » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:46 am

jcayer wrote:My group came from 4E. DO NOT PLAY FANTASY TO START. I can't say that with enough emphasis. Play the Wild Hunt, play sci-fi, play anything, not fantasy.

As several people have already stated, combat is far different. It took my players a while to get the hang of it since it is such a departure from D&D. Staying out of fantasy will help break them of those habits.

Enjoy.


I agree with that advice, although I cannot say I followed it :). But it still turned out OK. It will feel more natural for players to have their PCs take cover and consider the terrain in non-fantasy genres, which will enrich your fantasy game long-term.

The other fun part is to see the player's reaction that you cannot just "Detect Evil -- Kill it and take their stuff!" when you do other genres. I did a Deadlands one-shot (Feast of Famine, with some added material) and I just savored the moment the players figured out who the bad guy was but they could not immediately nuke him until they actually had proof.
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#31 Postby ValhallaGH » Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:49 am

I'd say that the biggest pitfall is that, in Savage Worlds, tactics matter. Tactical choices matter a lot more in Savage Worlds than they do in other games, because combat can be insanely dangerous (as any GM that's had a player roll 50+ damage can attest).

This means that fights that would be trivial in other systems can be a meat grinder in Savage Worlds, if the chump Extras use good tactics. And big boss fights can be very simple if the big boss uses bad tactics.
Of course, if the players use bad tactics then the GM has to hustle not to kill all of them. And if the players use great tactics then the GM has to hustle to give them any kind of challenge (without cheating) - though when they sigh with relief and cheer their easy victory, you know that the players were worried and aware that their foe could have crushed the party if they hadn't been clever. That's a good thing.

The good news is that good Savage Worlds tactics are very similar to good real world tactics. Grab cover, get a localized numerical advantage (usually by using the terrain to limit the foes you fight at once), get the target into the open (tricks can be great for this), and kill them.

Stay Savage.
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#32 Postby The Dread Polack » Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:07 am

If you've only played D&D, then fantasy SW will be very tough. If you've played enough different RPGs, you should be flexible enough to adapt to SW. My group did 2 different SW one-sheets before doing any fantasy, and that might have helped. We had no real trouble grasping SW, other than the sort of adjusting you'd expect. Things like "Oh, so I really need to take cover or go prone against ranged attack. Okay," and, "I need to save bennies to unshake..." etc.

Most of my pitfalls in GMing Savage Worlds have been helping players adjust. As GM, it is quickly one of my favorite systems since it seems to be built for making my job easier.

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Re: Pitfalls of GMing Savage Worlds

#33 Postby GM MEGALODONJC » Sat Apr 15, 2017 3:52 pm

Hi there savages just got savaged known about the savage worlds system from Kurt Weigel from game geeks.

I have run many systems over the last 25 yrs+. What I was starting to notice is it was becoming more and more apparent that I was spending over 15 to 20 hrs for prep for adventures only to find that the prep I did wasnt needed as the PCs have that knack of doing the exact opposite.

Then I found Savage worlds. They had the GM in mind as well as fun for the players. I became a GM more out of necessity as people and friends I told about D&D 1ST ed. They didn't want to spend the crunch time to become familiar with the rules and in my experience I think GMs are not as appreciated nor some players may not know the degree of thought processes that we go through to come up with a compelling and interesting challenge can be a challenging task. However Savage worlds is a flowing system allows much flexibility to any approach and growing up with d20 I can say after a quarter century in the hobby its a nightmare to run. Its close to studying for an exam rules upon rules it used to be straight forward but not lately.

I am currently working on a tutorial based adventure with the FFF in mind. I break down my adventures into a series of scenes centered around the mission goal. Sometjing tangible and usually most challenging based on genre. Once that is established I proceed to flavour the adventure according to aspects surrounding the mission story and on this case the main purpose of this first game is to teach basics.

To keep things simple I have asked the players to think of the kind of persona they want their character to be.
Then I goto the beastairy and select the best templates.
**In past attempts to put together a a gaming group has left me with no players because no one wants to put the time into actually doing it by the time you educate them with all the things they should consider youve lost their interest. After they play a game if they like it which will probably occur in this case because were starting play right away this works better for people who have never played a RPG.

So now I have my purpose of the game. Teaching basic mechanics within an interesting adventure. I am a huge fan of Traveller and thats where I am focusing the setting. Sandbox hard sci fi (more or less).

Ok so for teaching lets break it down to around 5 parts.
1. Starship battle (semi chase scenario)
2. Landing on the planet where the mission is.
So no we need to create an interesting planet...
Is it day or night easy. Take ur deck of cards and draw if its a black suit spades or clubs its night.
Piloting roll at a -2 if it fails remember Tn are 4. So say the pilot character rolls a 1 its a difference of 3 so the ship takes 3d6 damage.
(a task failed could create another opportunity to teach repairs for example)
You could go one step further and get everyone not strapped in to make an agility check at a -2 to see if they brace. If they fail then you can perhaps go over how trait tests and damage to their character works.

I write some notes regarding what might happen pass fail just to be prepared short form so that u keep it flowing.

Now as you can see we havent even disembarked from the ship but weve already taught several mechanics.

2. Planet explore well we need to dress the world with some key questions.
Atmosphere (are pressure suits needed?)
Is atmosphere acidic corrosive? How will that affect your players. You can use tables of dice rolls or draw cards. A club indicates a complication so draw a card for each one.
1. Atmosphere high club = vaccuum or high gravity (affects fatigue maybe)
2. Temperature and so on.

As you can see we have just started but Ive already answered alot of questions regarding the environment of the adventure.

Then the other scenes will include encounters with plant and wildlife unlikely in a vaccuum or maybe?

Hazzards perhaps a chase involving various hazzards as they cross parts of unstable terrain or by a creature or pirates local inhabitants or whatever you decide.

Another more serious combat involving enemy wild cards and extras.

Survival food and water will be important to add a layer of intrigue.

Say its a wrecked vessel you're hired to recover the flight recorder from and bring back loved ones personnel effects. Wrecked ship has a plethora of possibilities and then u need a basic map of ship and what will be waiting for them.

Hope this helps every one.
Also you as GM can wing it but I would suggest you have a good understanding of the core rules and have some ideas prepared.
Until then happy Easter to all and keep playing.

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Re: Pitfalls of GMing Savage Worlds

#34 Postby HawaiiSteveO » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:29 am

Great topic & comments.

- I've only run 2 SW games (reloaded), second time was better but still little wobbly on the whole parry / toughness / shaken / spirit chain of events. 3rd game coming up this weekend, feel more comfortable with it now. Keep thinking of toughness as armor class (D&D grognard!) - I guess it kind of is but still have to stop & think for a moment. Part of it is I want to keep game moving but it's ok for me to slow down a little bit and make sure I get it right.

- the whole game feels faster somehow. When we've played D&D it seems the time flys by and we usually don't get as far as I planned. First two times with reloaded we finished early with time to spare. Pacing is a GM gig no matter what game, although I was surprised on both occasions as we finished early.

- I also mentioned in deadlands forum keeping track of edges can be tough. The BBEG in the last fight had 11 edges! Even with a cheat sheet it was tough to remember them all.

- overall still in the toe to to fight stage but going to introduce tricks and tests of will next session, I guess partially my fault as players only know what I tell them with new system.

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Re: Pitfalls of GMing Savage Worlds

#35 Postby Freemage » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:42 am

HawaiiSteveO wrote:Great topic & comments.

- I've only run 2 SW games (reloaded), second time was better but still little wobbly on the whole parry / toughness / shaken / spirit chain of events. 3rd game coming up this weekend, feel more comfortable with it now. Keep thinking of toughness as armor class (D&D grognard!) - I guess it kind of is but still have to stop & think for a moment. Part of it is I want to keep game moving but it's ok for me to slow down a little bit and make sure I get it right.

- the whole game feels faster somehow. When we've played D&D it seems the time flys by and we usually don't get as far as I planned. First two times with reloaded we finished early with time to spare. Pacing is a GM gig no matter what game, although I was surprised on both occasions as we finished early.

- I also mentioned in deadlands forum keeping track of edges can be tough. The BBEG in the last fight had 11 edges! Even with a cheat sheet it was tough to remember them all.

- overall still in the toe to to fight stage but going to introduce tricks and tests of will next session, I guess partially my fault as players only know what I tell them with new system.


For Edges, many of them can just be folded into the basic stats and eliminated. You don't have to write down "Fleet-Footed", just note the new Pace and Run Die. If one of three weapons is a Trademark Weapon, put that +1 in the weapon's description text, along with Range, etc.

And I'm a strong fan of doing your own text blocks as part of your prep work. You can eliminate visual clutter, focus on the stuff you need to know, and add things to it to make sure you can quickly decide what to do and what rules are involved. My stat-blocks will include notes on spells (Range, duration, damage and other effect) after the spell-name, full weapon stats after each weapon name, and so on. If a character has an Edge that makes Tests and Tricks more likely (Tricky Fighter or Strong-Willed, for instance), I may even note the Success/Raise effects of those tactics in the stat-block. It's more prep-work, but it makes running the combat infinitely smoother, as I never have to pick up a book mid-game unless it's to rule on player actions.

And yes, Savage Worlds is MUCH faster. Combats are shorter, usually, both in terms of the number of rounds AND the time a single round takes, than most other games I've played. (Dusk City Outlaws is an exception, but that game's mechanics are so light it's only a couple steps shy of pass-the-stick). If you're finishing early consistently, don't hesitate to start adding things. An additional combat encounter can work, but I'd suggest taking advantage of the opportunity to use non-combat resolution (Chases, Dramatic Tasks, etc) more regularly, or even just good old-fashioned roleplay scenes.

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Re: Pitfalls of GMing Savage Worlds

#36 Postby galu » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:36 pm

HawaiiSteveO wrote:- I've only run 2 SW games (reloaded), second time was better but still little wobbly on the whole parry / toughness / shaken / spirit chain of events. 3rd game coming up this weekend, feel more comfortable with it now. Keep thinking of toughness as armor class (D&D grognard!) - I guess it kind of is but still have to stop & think for a moment. Part of it is I want to keep game moving but it's ok for me to slow down a little bit and make sure I get it right.


Dnd 2E or later, I guess? :twisted:
(I think Basic, od&d, Labyrinth Lord and the likes are really fast until... Wizards get lots of spells. This comes at a price of being deadly though)


- the whole game feels faster somehow. When we've played D&D it seems the time flys by and we usually don't get as far as I planned. First two times with reloaded we finished early with time to spare. Pacing is a GM gig no matter what game, although I was surprised on both occasions as we finished early.


Generally it is faster. Try to run an Adventure path module. What is 3-4 sessions with the intended system will take 1 game night with SW.

I think you shouldn't slow down, but rather add content. This is not necessarily more work, just think of reusable content. Example: a group of gargoyle who can be slain only can provide a 10 minute battle scene. OR you could say that they are not necessarily hostile, and they might be able to help with fighting the basilisk (being immune to petrification), but only for a price.

The Man with no name could butcher the two gangs in the poco mexican village... But after 1 shot, they offer him a job, and he can play the two sides against each other, and behave like a badass on screen.

The common thing in these examples is that the "combat scenes" are replaced with "roleplay scenes" which might, or might not lead to fighting. THis also means that it is perfectly the same amount of work, nothing additional. (you just need the stats, but nothing else)


- I also mentioned in deadlands forum keeping track of edges can be tough. The BBEG in the last fight had 11 edges! Even with a cheat sheet it was tough to remember them all.


Freemage is right, write them straight into the stat block. Don't have three separate entries for "fighting d6" "weapon: dagger d4" and "dual wielding" just write something like dagger d6/d4/*2. you can include other actions (taunt, sweep, riposte) pre-calculated too.

- overall still in the toe to to fight stage but going to introduce tricks and tests of will next session, I guess partially my fault as players only know what I tell them with new system.


I think tricks and tests of will is the best part in the combat system. Adds options, but stays rules light. The guys will like it 8)

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Re: Pitfalls of GMing Savage Worlds

#37 Postby HawaiiSteveO » Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:30 pm

- I also mentioned in deadlands forum keeping track of edges can be tough. The BBEG in the last fight had 11 edges! Even with a cheat sheet it was tough to remember them all.


Here's what BBEG had (it was a handful, I suppose I could have rewritten whole block as suggested but still, lot of work for game usually easier on GM! I starred ones that I see could be added to block easily):
Hard to kill
Improved arcane resistance *
Improved Frenzy
Improved Sweep
Improved tough as nails *
Level headed
Martial arts
No mercy
Quick
Quick draw
Trademark weapon


Using Guess Who's Coming to Donner next session - aside from tricks and tests of will also considering using ally rules for battle at end henchmen vs. frozen dead to introduce ally rules and tricks / tests. This might also add some time to session so we don't finish 60 minutes early! Bigger ring-a-ding-dong-dandy at the end and introduce some SW flavor to it!!

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Re:

#38 Postby kronovan » Thu Apr 20, 2017 1:11 pm

The biggest problem I've seen with players coming from D20 is the need to adjust to the action economy, which is much tighter in SWD than almost any edition/flavor of D20. I've seen D&D fans literally walk away from the table a few times, due to frustration with the Multiple Action Penalty (MAP). SWD lets you take as many actions you want, but at an elevating penalty. On the other hand players of some flavors of D&D are very accustomed to taking a move + main action (can be multiple depending on class) + some lesser action, to the extent that not having the guarantee of that is frustrates them. There's some free actions in SWD, but in general to do the number of actions you could take in a D20 round you'll need a special edge or just live with the MAP.

My advice if you have such players at your table, is to try to gage their level of frustration. If a number of them are continually showing signs of displeasure, you might need to relax the MAP. I did just that in a cyberpunk campaign I had with 3 4e players, by only applying the MAP to the 2nd action and scaling it accordingly for even more ; I.e 3 major actions became -2/-4/-4. That saved the campaign from being abandoned & worked to keep multi actions at mostly 2, which I could live with as GM. On a similar note make sure you're well versed with what free actions are allowed when Shakened and I highly recommend using the errata'd rule for the Shakened condition.

I also can't stress enough the benefits of encouraging players to max their hindrances. Encouraging them to roleplay around a hindrance can be a good reason to reward a bennie and they can be good sources for adventure hooks. As well, if creating your own adventures always try to think of ways that dramatic tasks, social conflicts & Interludes might be inserted into encounters, and resist the urge to have adventures that are a series of combat encounters strung together.

jcayer wrote:My group came from 4E. DO NOT PLAY FANTASY TO START.


I find that the worse case scenario, because of 4e's on-steroids action economy of move+major actions+minor action and so many interrupts & reactions you'd swear they're being pulled out of a magicians hat. It never hurts to find out if such players played that D&D edition into Epic tier, and then remind them of how much it epically failed with stifled combat encounters. I've found SWD to be a hard sell to 4e fans regardless of what genre is played. Not so hard a sell to 5e players on account of WoTC having gotten wise to the pitfalls of 4e actions and consequently simplifying things.

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Re: Pitfalls of GMing Savage Worlds

#39 Postby Freemage » Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:32 pm

HawaiiSteveO wrote:
- I also mentioned in deadlands forum keeping track of edges can be tough. The BBEG in the last fight had 11 edges! Even with a cheat sheet it was tough to remember them all.


Here's what BBEG had (it was a handful, I suppose I could have rewritten whole block as suggested but still, lot of work for game usually easier on GM! I starred ones that I see could be added to block easily):
Hard to kill
Improved arcane resistance *

Using Guess Who's Coming to Donner next session - aside from tricks and tests of will also considering using ally rules for battle at end henchmen vs. frozen dead to introduce ally rules and tricks / tests. This might also add some time to session so we don't finish 60 minutes early! Bigger ring-a-ding-dong-dandy at the end and introduce some SW flavor to it!!


Okay, so just to give you an idea--I took those Edges, added them to the Goblin Stat Block, and then typed up the following:

Wee Foo (Goblin Martial Artist)
Initiative: 2 cards, if both below 6, draw until you get a 6 or better
Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d4, Vigor d6
Climbing d6, Fighting d6, Notice d6, Taunt d6, Shooting d8, Stealth d10, Throwing d6, Swimming d6
Pace: 5; Parry: 5; Toughness: 6
Ancestral Short Spear (Str+d4, Quick Draw, +1 Fighting or Throwing)
* Stab 'Em All: (One Fighting roll against all adjacent targets, No MAP)
* Stab Stab: (Two attacks, no MAP, two Fighting Dice with one Wild Die)
Goblin Punch (Str+d4, always armed, two strikes with no MAP, roll two Fighting and one Wild)
Ankle Sweep (Str+d4, Strike all adjacent targets, no MAP)
Infravision: Goblins halve penalties for dark lighting against living targets (round down).
Size –1: Goblins stand 3-4’ tall
Vicious Bugger: May spend a bennie to re-roll damage
Stubborn Bastahd: +4 to resist powers (including friendly), +4 armor vs. powers, Ignores Wound Penalties when rolling on Incapacitation table.

That conversion--using C&P to get the baseline goblin stats, and then add the effects of all the Edges listed, with formatting thrown in, took all of ten minutes (due to a last-moment edit to get some things I missed/erred on). I've got nice flavor text for the attacks and abilities, too, rather than the gamespeak names.

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Re: Pitfalls of GMing Savage Worlds

#40 Postby JamesG » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:11 pm

Freemage wrote:Okay, so just to give you an idea--I took those Edges, added them to the Goblin Stat Block, and then typed up the following: <Snip>

Just wanted to say that stat block was pretty sweet. Great example!


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