There has been a lot of chatter recently about the revised version of Savage Worlds (codenamed Savage Worlds Black ) coming out soon-ish. This has gotten me thinking about how I might revise this game I love.
I’ve always thought Hindrances are trying to do too much, and their role became muddy as a result. On the one hand, they create mechanical drawbacks to balance the bonuses points characters get from them. On the other hand, encourage players to roleplay complex characters whose actions lead to more interesting stories.
Compare the Hindrance Small to Heroic. Each is a Major Hindrances. Small give a –1 to Toughness, which means one out of four times you take damage, you become be shaken or suffer a wound you otherwise wouldn’t. Heroic means you are quick to put yourself in danger to help other, which is pretty much how I roleplay most of my characters anyways.
The fact that you get points for taking Hindrances encourages people to power game them, which means maximizing the mechanical benefits, while minimizing losses. It’s pretty easy, for example, to take Heroic, Loyal, and a minor Vow to fight evil.
For me, the more important goal is creating interesting and complicated roleplaying opportunities, not the min/maxing, so if I redid Hindrances, I’d do something like this:
1. Everybody gets the extra four points to spend on their character that they previously would have gotten for taking the one major and two minor Hindrances.
2. Hindrances do not give any more points.
3. Hindrances do not include mechanical penalties.
4. Instead Hindrances are ways to earn Bennies, with something that I’m calling an Exchange (working title). This means you follow your Hindrance and it puts you in danger, makes you automatically fail at a task, or otherwise complicate the story, you earn a Benny. Either the GM or the player can propose an Exchange, and both have to agree to it for it to happen.
Here are a few examples of Hindrances from the core book and what an Exchange would look like:
Exchange: You can earn a Benny by revealing information that you really shouldn’t, like telling your nemesis your plans to defeat them or giving away who your BFF has a crush on.
Exchange: You can earn a Benny in exchange for automatically failing a check that relies on vision, such as overlooking a thief sneaking into camp or missing the last shot that might stop a foe from escaping.
Exchange: You can earn a Benny by putting your self in danger in order to protect a less powerful NPC, such as by rushing into a fire to save young girl’s kitten or trying to rescue townsfolk from slavers who clearly outnumber you.
Exchange: You can earn a Benny when you small stature prevents you from doing something the rest of the party can, such as pulling yourself up through a window or fitting uniforms used to infiltrate the Dark Lord’s stronghold.