Saturday, October 9, 2010

Savage Worlds

Today we finally started our Savage Worlds game. Just as I do with our Pathfinder game, I'm running a custom campaign of my own design using the Savage Worlds system. You should take that term "design" with a grain of salt, because I'm making up everything - and I mean everything - as I go along. There is no design, in other words. The setting is in the far-flung future, on a planet called Sxibi (pronounced SHI - bee, which rhymes with Libby). Sxibi is an all-city planet, based loosely on Asimov's Trantor, which revolves in orbit around the black hole at the galactic core. It's sky is lit by the glow of dozens of sparkling suns illuminating a local nebula's gas clouds, but most residents never get to enjoy this sight. Sxibi is home to over a trillion souls from all species and walks of life from around the galaxy, and when you have that many people, the vast majority of them live by necessity miles beneath the surface, or at least nowhere near the uppermost levels. Only the wealthy get to play up top.

We only had three players today: my youngest daughter opted out, and of the neighbors next door only the boy was free. My oldest daughter played Lucia G. Cithog, a mostly human scientific experiment who escaped from the lab and is on the run. She's a goth chick whose hair changes color to match her mood, and who doesn't get excited about anything and can't be bothered to care. My girl says she took this approach because of the problems we were having in the Pathfinder game. By getting into character and role-playing the apathetic goth girl, she won't feel tempted to try to be bossy and run the show. She will "go with the flow." She told me this tonight at lights out. I thought it was a thoughtful approach on her part and I thanked her for her initiative. It's funny: while we were playing this afternoon I thought she was having a miserable time. She was kind of moping and seemed rather disinterested. I asked her what was wrong and if she was feeling ok. She replied that she hadn't had her morning coffee yet. I was too dense to catch what she meant, and thought she was talking about real life. A few minutes later I asked again if she was sure she was ok. This time, for a split second, she smiled energetically, all teeth and energy, nodding her head, then went back to deadpan and said, "I'm in character." I'm liking where this is going and how she's creatively tackling the teamwork problem.

My next oldest girl plays a character named Ramoka, from the planet Sherarie. Her species is completely a product of her own imagination. She is seven feet tall and covered head to toe in purplish fur that glows in the dark. She has long, pointy ears, and her six arms end in hands with sticky claws. She is an excellent climber and archer. We didn't actually get much play in today (we had some final character sheet prep-work to complete, and the kid next door hadn't even started a character yet), so we haven't had a chance to see what Ramoka's personality will be.

The boy next door created a Japanese half-human, half-"acid dragon" character named Kai Z. Suzuki. I'm guessing the encounter with the black dragon during our last Pathfinder session made a big impression on him. Anyway, we decided that his dragon wings give him an edge, so this gave us our first chance to create our own Edge (Savage Worlds doesn't have flying or wings listed as Edges). His character is still maturing, so he does not yet have a breath weapon, and his scales are not yet armor grade. While dreaming up all his features, out loud, he got really excited when he decided that the last time a half-dragon sheds before death, his scales will be made of pure platinum. Pretty cool stuff going on in that kid's head. I added my own herpetological twist by rolling 2d20 and determining that he would be shedding in the next six days, which means his eyes are somewhat opaque and milky blue as he nears ecdysis. Anyway, Kai comes from the medieval era of our own planet, and aliens went back in time and abducted him for experiments or slavery or something, brought him forward into our game's epoch, and now he has escaped. There seems to be no shortage of folks evading the authorities in this game.

They also made friends with an obese NPC named Tox Cudann. Points to the first reader who can tell me where I got his name. He's an obese pilot with the MacGyver Edge (too cool that they made an Edge called MacGyver...and yes, it's exactly what it sounds like). They'll be seeing more of him, though they got separated in Customs (see below).

My wife said go ahead and create a character for her, too. She asked to be a robot, one who is street smart and can obtain all kinds of information from the nets, kind of like R2D2. For her Hindrance she chose Quirk: her character is liable to break into song and dance at inconvenient times. She also has wheels instead of legs, which will make mobility interesting. Sadly, she didn't get a chance to play because she was cooking dinner.

The characters got to know each other as passengers on the space flight bound for Sxibi, right as the ship was popping out of hyperspace. We had a little discussion about the nature of general relativity and how the perception of time varies with different frames of reference. I babbled some nonsense about how the technology of the future seamlessly blended light speed, time travel, and "between space" to permit intragalactic travel without all the heartache of your loved ones aging and dying while you're away. The characters watched out through their portholes as the ship descended first into Sxibi's atmosphere, then into a massive tunnel miles wide that burrowed straight into the city's metallic exoskeleton. There the ship merged with Sxibi's internal traffic, millions of ships gliding through the world-spanning tube, with many lanes vertical and horizontal alike. Think of it like our interstate highways, but in three dimensions, and they're wrapped inside a series of interconnected buildings on a massive scale. Their ship descended into a sub system further down via another tunnel, decelerating as it went, and soon they were below ground level, though there was no way to determine that visually. Eventually the ship eased onto a landing pad, the passengers disembarked, and the characters found themselves in Customs.

While wasting away in the horrendously long Customs line, they learned that everything was going to be tied to their retinal patterns. Money, access, advertisements, you name it, kind of like in the movie Minority Report. Everyone who comes to Sxibi gets their eyes scanned at point of entry. So along comes this squirrely guy while they're waiting - literally a diminutive squirrel-like humanoid - who approaches them in line and sells them lenses to change their retinal patterns. Eventually they neared the front of the line. A robot was scanning everyone's eyes, and from that point forward, that scan would be the basis for all their future transactions. It was then that the players had to make their first decision: should they wear the fake lenses for the initial scan? Or should they get a legitimate first scan and then use the fake lenses as needed down the road? Lucia went ahead and popped in the lenses for her scan. Ramoka and Kai kept their lenses pocketed and had legitimate retinal scans taken. What impacts this decision will have down the road is anybody's guess.

And that's where we stopped play.

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