14 December 2006

Savage Worlds - It begins

Last night saw the initial steps taken in the Savage Words game I mentioned before.

I had expected that we would just sort character generation and then proceed to further brainstorm about setting and desires for the game - especially since one of the group was unable to make it. However as it turned out, once CharGen was complete we found ourselves getting underway with a simple hook and about an hour and a half of time to play with. It turned out to be a very enjoyable mini-session that gave everyone a chance to get used to the system and the options it offers again, and to show off the various strengths and weaknesses of the characters. Once the fourth PC is worked up and introduced I am very hopeful of a seriously enjoyable game.

The basic premise is that the PCs are all members of a fringe organisation, the Free Brigades: a group of dissidents not happy with the status quo of the setting (where ancient magics and "technology" have left flying city-states in a somewhat tyrannical or bullying position with respect to the terrestrially-bound nations).

For our cast we have:

- Zafir al Kholti, a.k.a. Zeff (me) - A village boy with raw Talent for channelling magicks and an instinctive and graceful fighter whose village was recently levelled by a raiding party from the Sky Cities. (Arabian/Middle-eastern cultural influences)

- Adenaar of the Sword - a warrior monk who has devoted all of his 20 years to learning and mastering martial combat with his longsword and had been sent from the monastery to put his teachings into practice. (Oriental cultural influences)

- Kelvin - an older, portly and somewhat cautious alchemist with a penchant for fire, pies, crossbows and gambling. (European cultural influences I suspect, but it wasn't stated)

The fourth member of the group was sold in concept as a sky-ship pirate, but we shall have to wait a week for confirmation of concept, name and skills.

In terms of archetypes we have two front-line combatants with vastly different styles (blur of instinctive motion vs. calm and studied perfectionist) and a ranged/support guy with alchemical tricks and aiming-time on his side. I am essentially playing the fantasy equivalent of Luke Skywalker - with magicks employed much like the Force is in Star Wars - complete with rebellious, unstudious attitude and stubborness, whilst Adenaar is played more like a samurai or other such meticulous warrior. Personalities, mannerisms and motives will come into the mix much more once the game starts in earnest in the new year and for now we are just settling into the system, the characters and the setting.

As such the mini-session essentially boiled down to a pitched battle with 3 factions represented, setting out the stalls for a more involving plot later on whilst allowing everyone to figure out the mechanical support for their concepts in conflict situations, and how to deal with different types of foes in combat. It played out well: essentially the PCs had information that a meet was about to take place between a member of the local (terrestrial) council and representatives from the Sky Cities and were able to get to the site first and set up an ambush and/or observation. Given Zeff's hate-on for all the sky cities stand for and the stated aims of the Free Brigades, the former was always more likely than the latter.

It turned out that in fact the goods being "traded" (illegally) at this meeting were slaves, captured by the agents of the Sky Cities in a recent raid on nearby villages, and once this little detail slipped out there was absolutely no way that things would go smoothly. Adenaar revealed himself and walked up to the position the deal was going on, Zeff started his Dance and used the magics channelled through it to walk up a sheer incline, empower himself, and appear atop the landed skyship calling the deal off and Kelvin - from his cover - dropped the only one of the parties involved in the trade who was anywhere near combat ready with an unreally perfect shot. It was a classic opening to an ambush scene and could have come straight out of a movie where ambushes always drop people with the first stroke (alas life in RPGs rarely flows as smoothly if adhering to the dice).

What followed was an amusing little fracas during which the councilman and his cronies ran away without their "merchandise" (the lookout being their main loss, though at one point it looked as though they would lose their sacks of money, too) whilst the agents from the sky cities engaged the Free Brigades over whether the slaves would go free. Gratuitous use of Savage Worlds' tricks rule was employed, along with options such as ganging up and throwing alchemists' fire, and when the encounter resolved itself one of the Sky Cities' agents had escaped alone on the ship, whilst her colleagues had all succumbed or been killed - including two magical constructs which were to have been sweeteners in the slaving deal - and the slaves were still chained, but their freedom beckoned.

It was a fun little combat - especially as the tricks, taunts and feints started flying - and each of us players got the chance to see what was on offer and what the characters were capable of. SW is like that though, and whilst combat is not generally what I most enjoy about roleplaying, the simplicity of SW combat combined with its options and cinematic flair has me enthusing about the evening's goings on. The meat of the game will come later, but for now the starter has done its job and anticipation is rife. I shall attempt to keep a worthy Actual Play here as it progresses, but for now I have other things to write and think about.

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