Custom Genre-mixed Setting; looking for advice

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MeusNaer
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Custom Genre-mixed Setting; looking for advice

#1 Postby MeusNaer » Sun Apr 02, 2017 1:53 pm

I have no experience with homebrew content or Savage Worlds and am relatively new to DMing in general (~10 D&D DM sessions, all from official books; I have been playing tabletop games for about a decade though), so I wanted to run what I was thinking by some experienced people -- and everyone I would talk to about this is in my tabletop group (and I don't want to give them spoilers or anything).
We are all a little worn out on combat focused dungeon delving adventures. I thought it would be a great time to play a campaign focused on trying new things. I want to DM a world of my own creation and mix in some mechanics and ideas I haven't seen much in my tabletop experience -- and am encouraging my players to do the same. I decided I wanted to run a genre-mixed campaign and have decided I want to use Savage Worlds as the rules -- none of us have played it before, but a couple of us are pretty interested in trying it out. The plan is to run a chargen/presession and 5 sessions.

I would love any and all feedback people have (I have a work-in-progress document with the story background/adventure ideas at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bSh ... LEQiopTpqk), but there are a few key questions I would like to ask:

Combat is a big time-sink in my normal tabletop experience. I am a little worried about filling 4-6 hour sessions with very few (or maybe no) combat encounters. I am confident that it is a non-issue, but I am not sure how to accurately judge what "a session of content" will be, having never played Savage Worlds and often dedicating a few hours to combat. Are there any guidelines for how to judge a session worth of content?

I want to start the campaign with each of them being established. Sort of a big fish in a small pond finds the ocean type of thing. I intend for them to be major players in some pretty massive interstellar politics and warfare. The rules seem to offer that starting as "Seasoned" is a reasonable option. I am OK with starting them as Seasoned and letting them hit Veteran before the final session. I am just wondering if that's a reasonable rank for the kinds of things I/they want to do. One of my players wants to recruit a following, which is a legendary edge. I don't intend for them to be combatants -- and I doubt he does either. Another of my players originally wanted a bear familiar but that's noted as "Heroic" tier in the fantasy companion. Is starting above Seasoned a bad idea? Maybe I should try to tweak the "Followers" and "Familiar" edges to fit better with Seasoned or Veteran?

When my group played Tenra Bansho Zero, there was a role-playing reward mechanism that just really clicked with my group. Essentially, the other players at the table can reward the other players instead of just the GM. We modified this for D&D and I let the players roll a d6 to whoever did something they thought was really awesome (they each got 3/session). They could use the result from the d6 on any attack roll or skill check. It created some really awesome situations where the party was on the brink of wiping and everyone was doing their best to really play up their actions to get people to roll them bonuses -- which made an already exciting situation a whole lot better. I would like to bring a similar rule to Savage Worlds. I could just let them give each other bennies, but maybe that is unbalanced? Does anyone have a recommendation for that?

I have a session idea where I want to put on a lot of pressure and very real possibility for a party wipe. I have an idea that I like of how to prevent a party wipe from meaning campaign ending, and letting the players know that they can sacrifice themselves without losing their characters. As long as 1 person survives, they will, as a party, receive some heft story advantages. I don't want to super heavily penalize players for dying on this mission, but I still want it to be a really bad thing that they try hard to avoid. Originally I was thinking each player who didn't make it would lose out on their XP if they died, but Savage Worlds doesn't really do XP in a way that that would make sense. If a player chooses to hold out and sacrifice themselves to allow the party to succeed, they shouldn't be individually penalized either... Any ideas on what kinds of penalties might be appropriate for death in this situation?

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Snate56
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Re: Custom Genre-mixed Setting; looking for advice

#2 Postby Snate56 » Sun Apr 02, 2017 2:44 pm

Well, my first suggestion would be to not start right off building your own setting but to take advantage one of the myriad (and I mean Myriad! :lol: ) settings already available in Savage Worlds. This will familiarize yourself and your players with the system. There is a set of Test Drive Rules that include a scenario called "The Wild Hunt" http://www.peginc.com/freebies/SWcore/TheWildHuntDownload.pdf, and if played poorly, likely result in a TPK! Luckily, they come with pre-generated characters to kill off. Combat goes much quicker in Savage Worlds than in most other games so after a few sessions you may not be so against it.

Here is a link to a thread with a bunch of free adventures:
http://www.pegforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=16991

You say mixed genre... are you thinking something in a science fictional realm?

Starting Seasoned is no problem, many people do. In fact, some settings recommend it!

Your Bennie idea is interesting, there is an Edge that allows the passing of a Bennie to a friend, but this sounds like anyone, anytime.
Perhaps a player could spend a Bennie in order to roll a die to add to another player's roll. You'd have to limit it somehow so the players don't get carried away.



SteveN
"Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reasons."
>Mark Twain<

Erolat
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Re: Custom Genre-mixed Setting; looking for advice

#3 Postby Erolat » Sun Apr 02, 2017 4:34 pm

I would start by agreeing with Snate56 and suggest you look at the various settings that are already out there. It is difficult enough to create a game world when you know a system, it is that much harder when you have limited experience with a system.

Having said that I sort of like the concept behind what you have written.
My first comment is actually a question: Will there be access to any Arcane Backgrounds? I understand you have a Mad Scientist as one of your major NPCs but is that just a title or something more? What about Psionics? Both the Cultist and the Marine could reasonably have Psi training. Even the Tactician could as that might explain why he was always so good at his job. What about some of the others? After all with as varied as the planets are there must be one or two that have developed arcane powers.

Second, depending on how much role play your players get into I can easily see each of those "sessions" being two or more sessions long. Your "pre-session" and "first session" could easily be three or four.

Speaking of "pre-session", the group that attacks the passenger liner, are they Republic, Unseen, or Chaos? Your description there was a bit confusing. This is important because if they are the same uniforms as what "rescues" them from the planet you need to expect the party to refuse to join. Even more so if you do truly horrific things on the liner. (Take bets on how long a prisoner can survive in the air lock. Shoot a prisoner for "refusing" the order to stop crying. Chop off a finger, or hand, because there is some piece of jewelry the raider wants. Etc.)

Speaking of rescue, it almost sounds like Villain was placed in prison by the watcher. If so, what is the relation between the Unseen, who hired the watcher, and the low-tech people of the castle? Would they know that the watcher lives in that cave and that the prisoner may go there for revenge? Perhaps this is where your chase can come in as the party attempts to shake the pursuers long enough to get to the cave only to find another group went straight there. Lots of options and possibilities here.

Your last few session ideas really depend on how things have played out up to this point. If they join Chaos then you have lots of lea way on sending them on various missions to get the experience needed to be the right power level for the finale. If not then you need to figure out some way to recruit them into the Republic to work against Chaos. To use your Star Wars analogy; do they join the Sith to overthrow the Republic, or do they join the Jedi and attempt to save it.

Over all sounds like it could be fun.

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Re: Custom Genre-mixed Setting; looking for advice

#4 Postby MeusNaer » Mon Apr 03, 2017 7:16 am

Thanks for the quick responses! Building my own world/campaign is actually something I am really looking forward to. So, although I recognize that there are a wealth of excellent setting options available, I would really like to try building something from scratch. If Savage Worlds clicks for my groups, those other settings will be an excellent fit.

Arcane Backgrounds will definitely be involved. I am going for "Weird Science" with the Mad Scientist, with the idea that he is building all sorts of crazy technology to empower the Syndicate of Chaos. I hadn't really thought about Psionics, but I have no intention of excluding any of the options in the core rule book from the game -- you're right, it may actually be a really good fit for some of the players. I only have vague character ideas from my players at this point, so I will need to see where they want to go with it.

Hmm, Ok. I may need to trim down the content, I guess. Judging duration of content is tough with a system I am unfamiliar with. I will revisit to see if I can clean that up a little. The pre-session I am intending to run on chargen day and just let them get wherever they get to and at a designated cutoff time, I will just narrate them into the prison. I recognize that it may feel like the players don't have control, but I have buy-in on that from the party and that way they can get a feel for the characters (and system) before session 1 without impacting the schedule.

The group that attacks the ship is The Syndicate of Chaos (thanks for the tips on detail). I realize they won't want to get on board, but was hoping to make them feel like they had no choice and make them realize it was their only way off the planet. I could, instead, simply take them in as prisoners if they refuse. Alternatively, I could let the Unseen interrogator find them if they remain on planet (and run something similar where they are still trying to stop the Syndicate). Or even an agent of the Republic who has been sent by the Chaos double-agent. Obviously, how that is handled will have a massive impact on the remainder of the campaign.

My intent was for the town to have no idea, at all, that other societies exist or that Villain is from another world. My intent was to basically have Watcher frame him as some new guy in town who stole something or killed someone and then have the local law enforcement discover and imprison him. The idea of being pursued on the break out is a good idea, I will definitely think more on that.

I am hoping that they join with the Republic (via the Chaos double-agent) to destroy Chaos and expose Unseen. However, it could easily play out otherwise and I think that will all be fine. The major plot points that need to be resolved are "Does the Chaos get squashed or gain power?" and "Is the Unseen exposed or do they continue operating in the shadows?". You are right, they could easily pair off with any of the 3 factions and things could change. That is part of why I haven't fleshed out the other session ideas as thoroughly yet.

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Re: Custom Genre-mixed Setting; looking for advice

#5 Postby ValhallaGH » Mon Apr 03, 2017 8:13 am

Even if you're ready to dive into a new custom setting, I've learned (painfully) that a one-off game is crucial when introducing a new game system.
First, it gives everyone a low-consequence opportunity to mess around with and learn the systems and interactions. Character concepts and mechanics that make a lot of sense in other games can fail in the new system, and Savage Worlds is no exception to that.
Second, it gives you a chance to see the game in play before your decisions become setting canon. This will give you some experience with the combat mechanics, possibly the power mechanics, the wealth of options and improvisational ability of the rules, and get a sense of what all those game mechanics will say about the world you're creating.
Finally, it will give you a hands on appreciation for the ridiculous power of static modifiers in Savage Worlds. A +1 bonus, or -1 penalty, is a big deal in this game, altering odds of Wild Card success by up to 21% (absolute). Even understanding that intellectually, the trained reactions of a Game Master will ignore it in the heat of the moment without some prior experience to alter the reaction.

For an introductory one-off, The Wild Hunt is pretty excellent. It lacks the player-usable powers, but that's a bit of an advantage when everyone is new to the game; casters generally require the most system mastery to use effectively, and that holds true in Savage Worlds.

Good luck! It sounds like you've got a cool idea and some enthusiastic players. Enjoy it!
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"... We're all gonna die."

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Re: Custom Genre-mixed Setting; looking for advice

#6 Postby ValhallaGH » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:51 am

I decided to add an example of how big a deal a +1 bonus can be.
Stand by for numbers. :lol:

As an example, compare d4+1 to d8 against the normal TN 4. I'll include a normal d4 for context.
If an Extra, a d4 gets Success 25% and a Raise 6.25% of the time, the d8 gets Success 62.5% and a Raise 12.5%, and the d4+1 gets Success 50% and a Raise 12.5% of the time. For an Extra, getting a +1 is almost as good as improving two die types.
For Wild Cards, the result is magnified because the bonus applies to the Wild Die as well. If a Wild Card, a d4 gets Success 62.5% and a Raise 19.27%, a d8 gets Success 81.25% and a Raise 24.65%, and a d4+1 gets Success 83.33% and a Raise 27.08% of the time. For a Wild Card (like the player characters), getting +1 is better than improving two die types.
The exceptions will be for abilities that are usually Opposed Rolls (Intimidation and Taunt, Tricks, and some powers), checks with a different TN (Fighting is against Parry), and for Traits that are used to calculate derived values (notably Parry and Toughness). Other than those situations, for a Wild Card a static +1 is better than improving a Trait by two die types. That's not something that most game masters really grasp until after running a few sessions.

Damage uses different calculations, so I won't cover that. I will note that +2 damage is about as good as +1 on the attack roll, but I am offering that unsupported.


Good luck, I hope you all have a blast!
Also, welcome to the forums. Feel free to chat.
"Got a problem? I've got the solution: Rocket Launcher."
"Not against a Servitor."
"... We're all gonna die."

MeusNaer
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Re: Custom Genre-mixed Setting; looking for advice

#7 Postby MeusNaer » Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:18 am

Thanks for the tips. I will pitch a one-shot to my group, but worst case I will be sure to run some battles on my own and play with modifiers to make sure I have a feel for them.

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Re: Custom Genre-mixed Setting; looking for advice

#8 Postby duck-of-doom » Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:40 am

ValhallaGH wrote:As an example, compare d4+1 to d8 against the normal TN 4. I'll include a normal d4 for context.
If an Extra, a d4 gets Success 25% and a Raise 6.25% of the time, the d8 gets Success 62.5% and a Raise 12.5%, and the d4+1 gets Success 50% and a Raise 12.5% of the time. For an Extra, getting a +1 is almost as good as improving two die types.
For Wild Cards, the result is magnified because the bonus applies to the Wild Die as well. If a Wild Card, a d4 gets Success 62.5% and a Raise 19.27%, a d8 gets Success 81.25% and a Raise 24.65%, and a d4+1 gets Success 83.33% and a Raise 27.08% of the time. For a Wild Card (like the player characters), getting +1 is better than improving two die types.
The exceptions will be for abilities that are usually Opposed Rolls (Intimidation and Taunt, Tricks, and some powers), checks with a different TN (Fighting is against Parry), and for Traits that are used to calculate derived values (notably Parry and Toughness). Other than those situations, for a Wild Card a static +1 is better than improving a Trait by two die types. That's not something that most game masters really grasp until after running a few sessions.

YOINK! Are going to borrow that math and throw it at people whenever they speak about bonuses


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