It has been a long while since I’ve GMed anything. My last attempt was a failed D&D 4E campaign that lasted two sessions before it fell flat and turned me off of GMing for a time. Thinking back on it, I’ve realized that campaign was destined to fail before I even started. My love of board games, in addition to the tactical nature of 4E combat, created a perfect storm of me fighting in ways that a group of unskilled fighters never would. I started the game with one of the two tropes that I absolutely hate in any game, an unkillable bad guy (My attempt at creating a nemesis), and my GM rust had left me with expectations that players would take adventure hooks just because they were there and not role play the scene. Finally one of my players really hated all things 4E. All of these things together made for a game that was unfun for the players and frustrating for me.
After killing the campaign I started to listen to some various RPG podcasts and actual plays, which eventually got me to play in my first convention game. It was at this point that the old GM itch hit me again. I had been reading through Savage Worlds and all these random ideas were popping through my head, and that was when I was jokingly tasked with running a one-shot Savage Worlds game from Kevin as he wanted to play in a game before he ran one himself.
With ten days notice I started to more thoroughly learn the system and create an Indiana Jones/Unchatedesque adventure that would lead the PCs from a small Cambodian village to fighting Nazi’s under an old ruined temple. This was one of the most enjoyable GMing experiences I have ever had. It reminded of my younger days when we would munchkin out characters and start the standard adventure with “You meet in a tavern” which would inevitably lead to a massive bar fight. Although this time around the players were interested in their PCs as more than just stat blocks. They wanted to know where the story was going and how they were going to experience it.
Savage Worlds seems to be an awesome system for the pulp genre. Death is easy to come by, but on average the PCs have the advantage with the wild die system and bennies. In addition to the standard rules I also implemented a bennie rule from Thrilling Tales which allows a player to spend a bennie to change the story/world in a way they see fit (GM has veto power). My players used this rule to do things such as turn two canoes into a pontoon boat and convince some Nazi’s to shoot their commander in the back.
I had a hell of a lot of fun and I would love to run these characters through more off the wall adventures where they can solve crime with their Tommy gun, or drop a boulder on a Nazi’s head to “subdue” him. I don’t see the Savage Worlds system working for me as a good campaign or “heavy” game, but Savage Worlds works perfectly for a “Let’s grab these characters and make some awesome stories” night.
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