Savage Worlds: Never A Dull Moment

I’ve played many an RPG in my time. I like to think of myself as a “Renaissance nerd,” having a wide variety of refined tastes and broad knowledge of gaming. Whether this is the truth, or a self-serving brazen exaggeration is up for debate.
When I’m in the mood, I’ll often revisit favorite RPGs. As mentioned before; I love a wide variety of RPGs. However, there are a select few that never fail to inspire me to start up another campaign, or take the books off of my shelf just to read them for fun.

If I had to name a favorite RPG of all-time, it would be Ars Magica (Atlas Games), for obvious and very biased reasons. Also quite apparent to readers is my fondness for Shadowrun (Catalyst Game Labs). Also in my top five RPGs is a little gem called Deadlands (Pinnacle Entertainment Group) by Shane Lacy Hensley (great guy, by the way!).

Doc Belmont with Shane Hensley!

Imagine, if you will, the 1870’s. The trail of the wild frontier of America is being blazed by the adventurous men and women of the age; this time of cowboys and explorers was the time of great men like Wyatt Earp, and the setting of many a spaghetti western starring American icon of manliness  John Wayne. History, however, has taken a strange turn. The civil war ended with the south winning it’s independence, and the Mason/Dixon line divides the country in half. The mother of all earthquakes has shattered the west coast, and turned half of California into an underwater labyrinth.

Even stranger things are afoot, however, as a very angry native American named “Raven” has unleashed the legions of Hell and mysterious demonic demigods called “The Reckoners,” bringing with them all manner of monsters and magic. This has given rise to cardsharp conjurors called “Hucksters,” whose magic is very real, and Mad Scientists who blur the line between science and sorcery with a supernatural super-fuel called “ghost rock” to power their “steampunk devices.” The dead rise from their graves, and many other things that go bump in the night stalk the wild west.
This wonderful world of the Weird West and its blend of six-guns, sorcery, and steampunk just hits everything good one might want in an RPG setting. This game was NEVER dull.

I DARE you to look at this picture and tell me with a straight face that this setting looks lame…if you did, I’d call you a LIAR!

It had, until recently, fallen off my radar…

Sometimes, in the wake of so many new things to try, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life makes one set some things to the side. You might forget about them for a few months, but Deadlands is one of those settings you’ll eventually come back to.

Deadlands, published in 1996, had a ten year run and was a tripartite setting. The first, Deadlands: The Weird West, was the setting I just described. The second, Deadlands: Hell on Earth, took place about 200 years later in a post-apocalypse setting; it’s what you might get if you threw Fallout and Deadlands  into a blender and hit the puree button. The third (and final) setting in the Deadlands trilogy was Deadlands: Lost Colony, which added a bit of Firefly for spice and set Deadlands … in SPACE!!!

It all ended in 2006. No more Deadlands.

The Weird West didn’t die, however. It just got “harrowed.” (wink wink, nudge nudge to all you Deadlands players)

Enter Pinnacle Entertainment’s Savage Worlds game system.

Savage Worlds (2003) is actually a derivative system of Classic Deadlands and their spinoff game Great Rail Wars. It’s rules are simple, and the game runs (to use it’s tag line) Fast, Furious, and Fun! There have been many “Savage Settings” made for Savage Worlds, but in 2006, they decided to go back to their roots and make Deadlands: Reloaded, bringing the Deadlands setting to the new rules set. At first, I had mixed feelings about this, and there are indeed a couple of things I liked better in Deadlands: Classic. There’s nothing a house rule or two won’t fix, though.

It was about that time that Deadlands fell off my radar for a year or so, and even then I only occasionally pulled out the old books for a look-see. What I came to find out is just how much I had been missing since then! GenCon 2012 was a HUGE wake-up call when I saw the Pinnacle booth. Not only had they made some beautiful hardcover plot-point campaign books for Deadlands (with more on the way!), but they just released Deadlands: Hell on Earth RELOADED! This, of course, inspired me to purchase a few new books and look deeper into Pinnacle’s current catalog.
That’s when I was in for an even bigger shocker…

…I saw a Kickstarter for a new Deadlands setting! Yes, a fourth Deadlands setting is in the works, set between The Weird West and Hell on Earth.

Say hello to Deadlands: Noir! As the title may sound, this new setting is all about 1930’s detective drama, and it’s set in the VooDoo capital of New Orleans. It sorta reminds me of an obscure HBO oldie but goodie called Cast A Deadly Spell, and that’s no bad thing!

The Kickstarter for Deadlands: Noir was asking for $8,000 to fund production of the new setting, and by the end, it had raised over $117,000. The Kickstarter is long over with, but you can see the results of it here:

Well, I guess that’ll learn ME to draw my eyes away from Pinnacle for too long!

Anyhoo, this isn’t the only reason to pay attention to anything Savage Worlds-related. I mentioned before something about “Plot-points.” I’ll tell you that this invention that started with Savage Worlds is one of the biggest God-sends to gaming, and I wish more RPGs would adopt this model. The short of it is that a Plot-Point campaign is a series of loosely-defined adventures. The adventures follows a main plot, with each “main quest” adventure being a “plot point.” Additional side-quests (or “Savage Tales” as they are called) are placed throughout the campaign, able to be run at any time. This format for RPG storytelling is very similar to playing a game like The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind, Oblivion, or Skyrim, what have you. You can enjoy all the game has to offer at any time, and take the “Main Quest” at your leisure.

I’ll most likely write something about the concept of the plot point in a later article, but the other great thing about Savage Worlds itself, is that it’s hands-down the best “Universal Roleplaying” System out there. Savage Worlds not only has a versatile rules set that you can set anything to, but it has a wealth of settings already! There hasn’t been a single Savage Setting yet that I looked at and thought: “I’ll pass.”

Just to name a few…

The Spaghetti Western…with MEAT!


The progenitor setting, described above, but in case you weren’t paying attention…

The year is now 1879, but the history is not our own.

Pinnacle’s flagship product is Deadlands, a horrific journey into the “Weird West.” Mysterious beings called the Reckoners have given life to monsters and magic, causing history to divert from July 4th, 1863 forward. The South has won its independence, California has shattered into a labyrinth of flooded sea-canyons, and a mysterious super-fuel called “ghost rock” has spawned as much war and strife as it has “steampunk” devices.

Players are steely-eyed gunfighters, card-slinging sorcerers called hucksters, mysterious shamans, savage braves, mad scientists, and more who battle against evil and attempt to prevent the “Reckoning”.

“I cast me Magic Missile…at the d’ARRRRRRR’kness!”


High-fantasy Pirates of the Caribbean with magic and aquatic races.

The natives say a trio of witches were discovered working dark sorcery in the land of Ograpog. The three were tried, sentenced by King Amemnus himself, and drowned with the rising tide. But with their dying breath the sisters uttered a dark curse, drowning Caribdus beneath fifty fathoms of water. Soon after, ships from another world drifted through the mists into the “Thousand Isles.”

The visitors are sailors from the age of piracy, dashing corsairs, bloodthirsty buccaneers, or savage sea dogs. They’ve taken to this new world and now sail alongside its strange inhabitants—crab-like scurillians, massive grael, lonely doreen, mysterious kraken, cruel kehana, and the near-human masaquani. Many believe these visitors are destined to defeat the Sea Hags and save Caribdus, but most just seem interested in plundering her for the forgotten treasures of a drowned world.

Normally I avoid anything spider-shaped…but it sounds so intriguing!


Dark fantasy horror

The world of Tarth was a bright and shining jewel. The Great Race Wars were long over, the people were free, and true evil had been scattered to the dark bowels of the earth. The King of Valusia sat upon his throne and ruled his peaceful valley and its honest citizens with a firm yet fair grip.

The future of Tarth was bright. Until they came. And the light went out forever. Evernight™ is a very different kind of dark fantasy setting. This 144-page PDF book provides a complete scripted campaign, from before the arrival of the mysterious and terrifying Masters to the epic and bloody finish. Player characters start as Novices in a familiar fantasy world of elves, dwarves, orcs, and men. They finish as Heroic adventurers in a land draped in eternal night and overwhelming horror.

Watch “VanHelsing.” You’ll get the idea.


Monster Hunting during the Victorian Era

Do you believe in monsters? Well you better, because they’re out there and they mean business! The Cabal of evil formed under the leadership of the monstrous Jack the Ripper has the Victorian world on its knees, and it’s up to you to fight back.

You are the Rippers; once Jack was your ally, now he is your mortal enemy. And he’s not alone!

He’s about to get “Puritan” on your ass!


The title kinda says it all…

A Landless Man. A Wanderer. A Puritan.

Solomon Kane is many things, but above all, he is a hero. In a time of savagery and horror, he wanders the darkest corners of the Earth and battles the evil he finds hidden within. From the savage interior of Africa to the cold forests of Europe, the frigid mountains of Cathay, and the blood-soaked jungles of South America he battles merciless butchers, deathless queens, and even winged demons in his pursuit of righteous vengeance.
Now your hero can follow the Path of Kane. Whether a Puritan wanderer, a misguided pirate, or a soldier of fortune, a time of legend has come and fate has chosen her champions. Kane began the fight against an ancient evil so great it could destroy humanity, but now others must carry the torch into the darkness.

“Sing-along Blog” not required.


All superheroes are dead…now, only the supervillains can save the world!

When all the super heroes of the world are blown to kingdom come by an army of invading aliens who will save the day? Evil…

The only forces left to take on the alien menace are the crafty and self serving super villains!

Band of Demon-beleaguered Brothers


Occult horror during World War II

In the horror of war, dark things rise, and World War II is history’s greatest conflict. The Japanese stalk the jungles of Southeast Asia. Carriers battle in the South Pacific. Tanks trundle across North Africa. Planes duel over England. The Nazi blitzkrieg conquers most of Europe with a genocidal madman at the controls. Prepare to battle the evil of the Axis powers and the hideous things that rise in their wake. This isn’t just war-this is Weird War!

Well, that’s pretty much the very long and not-quite-short of it. I’ll be keeping a close eye on Pinnacle and all the good things they have in store for us. If you haven’t played Savage Worlds before, then I highly suggest you rectify that! ALL Savage Worlds books are available as PDFs, and the Core book is a measly $10. No excuses!

Forget GURPS, people, you want Savage Worlds!

Check out everything at Pinnacle Entertainment Group at

Posted on September 24, 2012, in Role-Playing Games, Text Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. In some states, telling someone to watch VanHelsing is considered aggravated assault.

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