Dungeons and Dragons versus Savage Worlds

Most of the differences are pretty transparent. Savage Worlds is technically classless (so to speak), uses dice in different ways, has a wound system instead of hit points, includes disadvantages (hindrances), isn’t quite level based…

To me, however, the biggest difference is in terms of philosophy. D&D – particularly 4th Edition – is all about control and balance. Savage Worlds is chaos in comparison.

In 4E, if the GM designs an encounter with one goblin per party member, they pretty much know the outcome. Sure, the dice might go crazy one way or the other which would slightly impact the hit point mitigation. The math is pretty solid.

The same encounter in Savage Worlds has much more downside. The exploding dice are always a potential danger; a simple goblin has the potential to kill a PC in one shot. In addition, Savage Worlds has a death spiral. Most characters (unless they have a special ability) take a -1 per wound on every roll. In Savage Worlds it’s always better to avoid combat or try to get the drop on an opponent.

In Deadlands, you don’t even get armor. Most characters will want to keep the baddies at range as they hide behind cover. Welcome to the 19th century.

Fate Chips (aka Bennies) are the characters best friend then. The basic fate chip allows you to re-roll any skill roll, Soak wounds, or remove a Shaken condition.

Soaking wounds allows you to attempt to reduce the damage that you’ve just taken. So when that Goblin just aced a bunch of damage dice and did three wounds to you, you can spend a chip to try to reduce that number.

A Shaken condition is pretty much like being stunned. You are vulnerable.

I love the Fate Chip economy. It really makes you think about when to use them.

Most characters get three at the start of every session. They can earn more during play by:

The Game Master may also give you more bennies for great roleplaying, overcoming major obstacles, or even entertaining everyone with an outlandish action, side-splitting in-game joke, or other memorable act.

You should hand out a benny anytime a player does something particularly clever, finds a very important clue, or generally advances the plot. You should also hand out bennies for great roleplaying. If a Loyal character jeopardizes his life to save his comrade, he definitely deserves a benny for his efforts. It never hurts to reward a player for a great line, side-splitting in-game joke, or even a rare serious and dramatic moment.

Dungeons and Dragons versus Savage Worlds

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