Way, way back in the 70’s when I was a youth, I was introduced to Solomon Kane via comic books. Eventually I found my way to the Robert E. Howard pulp classics and read them – and Solomon Kane took me to Conan. So when I signed up for the Solomon Kane event at FG Con 9, I was more than curious to see how a puritanical adventure against evil and deviltry would play out inside the Savage Worlds RPG.
Jingo, one of the founders of the Society of Extraordinary Gamers, hosted a gaming session for myself and two other lucky gamers. Everyone was fairly new to Savage Worlds and one hadn’t used Fantasy Grounds before, so we were a bit slow to get started but Jingo kept things smooth and orderly without getting frustrated.
Everyone was fairly new to Savage Worlds
My fellow gamers were also a bit less gamed jaded than myself, with one of the two being very new to RPG gaming, so I merely suggested solutions or actions and otherwise followed their leads. I tried to push a little here and there, but generally wanted to just do my job.
After playing a supporting character the night before, I wanted more of a main-line role, and took a Swordsman/Duelist that I named Theo (Tay-o) who was an arrogant, jingoistic Frenchman that had a skill set that did indeed make him rather dangerous. The other players took an English Captain with a range of leadership skills and an Italian Courtesan that carried a brace of daggers that she could toss with respectable accuracy. We made for a rather odd group, with little to no investigative or arcane knowledge but we could do pretty well in straight-up fight.
We didn’t really get a straight-up fight!
I don’t want to ruin Jingo’s tournament module by saying much about the adventure specifically. I will say that we didn’t really get a straight-up fight! Almost immediately it looked like we were going to go down under a wave of axe-wielding foes! The good Captain had a knack for dramatic last-minute timing and played an adventure card that saved us from the immediate peril and we quickly retreated to a safe location.
The numerous raiders – whom were only visible in moonlight – and naturally they didn’t tend to stay in pools of soft moonlight, instead preferring to go indoors and attack the villagers.
The Captain’s moral compass wouldn’t let him ignore the cries of the villagers
We responded to the attack on the villagers even though my inner voice told me to do something else. The Captain’s moral compass wouldn’t let him ignore the cries of the villagers and splitting a party of 3 is rarely going to have a good outcome. So we rescued the threatened villagers and then followed the other route – which did indeed prove to be the solution.
What did I learn here about Savage Worlds? Well, I sort of thought that ranged attackers have it fairly easy in terms of getting hits. I was having a fairly rough time of it at first with melee with just a 6 parry – which negated me done to around a 40% hit rate and was watching ranged attacks hit on 4’s which is closer to a 60% hit rate.
I also learned that doing enough damage to punch through armor and the like can also complicate things. My fighting combo – a rapier and a main guache – are fine for lightly armored opponents, but these guys were right on the edge between medium and hard difficulty and I stayed a bit on edge through out the session.
The session itself was very well managed by Jingo who was clearly an experienced and patient GM with many years of experience. When something happened that wasn’t clear, he would take the time to explain it, and this happened with some frequency given our newness to Savage Worlds. Since we had some fairly green players, he also made some more overt hints or suggestions and pulled at least one punch. When he made a mistake (like once – when he moved 20 villagers individually instead of enmasse), he’d point it out which, for me, is a learning moment.
Savage Worlds can deliver combat that doesn’t bog down an entire evening
All in all, I came away having gained some more valuable Savage Worlds experience and I am still liking what I am seeing in the game system. The upbeat tempo of the game is as good as I was hoping to see – only taking 15 minutes to resolve combat vs 90+ minutes in other systems is really, really appealing to me. My games currently tend to be a battle night or an role playing night and I’d rather have a better balance and more regular rhythm between action and role play. It looks like Savage Worlds can deliver combat that doesn’t bog down an entire evening which in turn is going really help in the pacing of gaming sessions. I will be able to do things like start a combat 30 minutes before the the session should end – and be reasonably certain that the combat will conclude and not need to end the session with combat in progress (or stop early in order to avoid doing that).