Using Savage Worlds for an Eberron campaign

Eberron adventurersInspired by Berin Kinsman’s post “Why Savage Worlds is Heir to 3rd Edition” I am thinking about running an Eberron Campaign using Savage World rules. Some of you are probably asking why someone should do this: “If you already own all the Eberron books, why don’t I just use the D&D 3.5 rules the campaign setting was written for?” The 4E advocates will probably recommend getting the updated campaign for Wizard’s latest version of D&D.

Savage Worlds is a rules-light game that is fairly easy to learn and to master and combat is fast, furious and fun (as advertised). One of the reasons why am not entirely happy with D&D 4th Edition is the fact that combat takes ages and that the powers make it necessary that every player has at least a copy of the appropriate PHB or power cards for his class. When playing Savage Worlds it’s enough when the GM has one copy of the rulebook.

Ok, but we still have to convert the whole campaign to Savage Worlds to make this work? Yes and no. Especially the magic system of SW is much different from the one you know from D&D. Converting the Vancian system from D&D 3.5 to SW would be an extremely difficult task and if you ask me, it’s not worth it. Just create characters using normal SW rules and choose Arcane Backrounds accordingly. A wizard or sorcerer for example should use Arcane Background (Magic) while Clerics and Paladins should take Arcane Background (Miracles). In my opinion Artificers could either be handled like mages or you could focus on the item creation aspect by taking the Arcane Background (Mad Science).

SW has a lot of powers that could be easily used to emulate D&D spells and spell-like abilities. Of course you will probably have much less spells than in D&D, but most powers are much more versatile. And if the GM allows it, the players can even break with some classic D&D tropes like allowing arcane spellcasters using healing magic. Your imagination and GM discretion are the only limits here.

Savage Worlds knows no classes, so you don’t have to convert anything there. Just create the character the way you think feels right. The power of SW is that the player is free to create any character he wants without it fitting in the common clichés.

Of course there are some things that should be considered. At first there are the races. You need to come up with appropriate stats and edges for the player races. And although the SW rulebook includes a couple of monsters, the GM will have to create a couple of monsters for his Savage Eberron campaign. But creating monsters and NPCs for Savage Worlds is much, much easier than in D&D 3.5, so that’s only a small hurdle.

One problem may arise, though. One major part of D&D are magic items, something that’s a bit foreign to SW. I may be mistaken, but the SW system was not meant for High Fantasy campaigns. So handing out D&D-like treasure and magic items may become a problem. The good news is that you don’t really need magic items in SW since the game places the focus on the characters and not their equipment.

I believe especially the CSI: Sharn campaign I wrote some time ago would benefit from SW rules. What do you think? Is using SW for D&D campaign a viable alternative?

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

12 thoughts on “Using Savage Worlds for an Eberron campaign”

  1. Fantasy Gear Toolkit for SW is packed with magic items. Only problem in Savage Eberron I see is dragonmarks. Edge with only one Power? How many Power Points? Something completely original?

  2. I think I'll have to check out the Fantasy Gear Toolkit then. I have to admit I haven't put that much thought into Dragonmarks yet, but I think creating original Edges could be the way to go.

  3. There are some conversions already:

    <a HREF="; rel="nofollow">Savage Eberron

    <a href="; rel="nofollow">savagepedia – Eberron

    <a href="; rel="nofollow">Eberron Race conversions

    <a href="; rel="nofollow">Savage Eberron

    <a href="; rel="nofollow">Savage Eberron

    But I still don’t like they interpretations of dragonmarks. It’s must be simple and useful. Fast, Furios, Fun! 🙂

  4. You could use the dragon marks the same way S7S uses the gifts. Free to use for basic ability and make em roll Arcane if they wanna do something "Abnormal".

  5. Savage Worlds can totally run Eberron, but I found that Mutants and Masterminds is an even more fun system for it. I feel that the freeform nature of the rules, and keeping the same general flavor of combat (albeit much faster) really helps keep it "feeling" like Dungeons and Dragons. As a side note, I too had an idea for CSI:Sharn , and I am looking forward to running it with Primetime Adventures. Have you ever considered the Esoterrorists or anything in the Gumshoe system, for running inquisitive oriented adventures in Eberron? I've never used it, but it seems like it could be interesting. Keep up the good work!

  6. I've run multiple Eberron campaigns, including a new PbP one, using Savage Worlds – it works much better than any of the incarnations of D&D in capturing the pulp feel of the world.

    1. That's what I was more or less expecting. SW is a great system especially for pulp style games and Eberron definitively has some pulp feel to it. What rules did you use for races, dragonmarks and the like? Any advice for the GM, who wants to run Eberron with SW?

  7. For anyone who is curious, I've got the beginnings of an SW Eberron conversion on The Immaterial Plane. Most of it is the same as the links to my posts as Amaril on the peginc forum, as Andrew commented above, and are adaptations of some of the other links in Andrew's comment. I think my approach is a bit more conservative but loose.

    I'm having a bit of a hard time with stats for Eberron's vehicles.

    My next article, whenever I find the time, will be a sample artificer followed up with the Dragonmark powers complete with trappings.
    .-= Kristian´s last blog ..The Dice of Life: Introductions =-.

    1. Cool! I think I will have a look later. And don't worry too much about the vehicles. In most cases they are just plot devices after all, so you don't need any stats.

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