Savage Worlds is a multi-genre roleplaying game created by Pinnacle Entertainment. So it’s no coincidence that the Savage Worlds rules have some similarities with the classic Deadlands rules. But other than Deadlands which comes with an original background, the Savage World rules are suited for any campaign. And if you don’t want to create your own campaign there are quite a few SW campaign settings available at your FLGS and you can get dozens of “one-sheet adventures” at the official PegInc site for free!
The “Explorer’s Edition”
The SWEE is the newest edition of the SW rules. It’s a 160 pages paperback book and of smaller size than usual roleplaying game rules. The advantage is that you can easily carry the book around and check out the rules with ease instead of hauling around a whole library of books. And in most cases you don’t need anything more than this book, your campaign, dice, and a deck of poker cards to play or run SW.
Continue reading “Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition” Review
Although I am no avid fan I like superhero comics, movies and computer games. I also own “Mutants & Masterminds“, the superhero RPG by Green Ronin. But I’ve never actually played in or even run a superhero campaign. Especially after watching “Dr. Horrible” I would like to run a short superheroes campaign perhaps using Savage Worlds or the beforementioned M&M. But I am still unsure how I should pull it off.
- Homebrew setting or an already existing universe?
Shall I create my own setting or shall I go with some preexisting world like the Marvel Universe? The problem with the latter is that shall the players play their favorite heroes from the comics or original characters?
- Silly or serious?
I mentioned “Dr. Horrible” before. The “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” was a superhero musical in three episodes by Joss Whedon (you’ve probably seen it). “Dr. Horrible” is great comedy. Creating a campaign following the “Dr. Horrible” route would probably allow funny characters and a lot of laughs. But you also could take the genre more serious and create something like the recent Batman movies. I always had some trouble with running “funny” campaigns, so I would probably run a darker campaign.
What are your thoughts on superhero roleplaying campaigns? Please share your experiences in the comments. I would love to read your ideas on the subject!
Running a horror campaign is very hard work. Imagine a scene where the players should be in horror, frightened, excited and then someone tells a silly joke, a mobile phone rings or your mother calls from the upper floor and asks if someone want some sandwiches. And in an instant all you’ve worked for as a GM is ruined. But there are some simple but efficient tricks to make your work as a GM easier.
- Turn down the lights
I usually darken the room when we play “Call of Cthulhu” or similar games. Then I get some candles and use only them for illumination. If someone complains that he can’t read his character sheet just use more candles. Bright artificial light usually distracts from the creepy atmosphere you want to create. If you run a SF-horror campaign you can utilize a flickering neon lamp for quite a nice effect. But this should be used sparingly because it gets old fast.
- Creepy music
Another easy trick is to use creepy music in the background. And by creepy I don’t mean the latest Britney Spears album! Soundtracks from movies like “A Nightmare on Elm Street” or “John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness” work great. Refrain from using music with vocal and keep the volume down. If used correctly illumination and music set the mood even before the game started.
I love using props. When playing games like “Call of Cthulhu” handing out newspaper excerpts and other handouts to the player makes the game feel more real. And this almost everytime improves the sense of horror. A friend of mine has a sheep’s skull that he sometimes brings along when he runs a game and places it in front of his GM screen. This adds a nice touch.
- Turn off the mobile phones
That should be a requirement for every gaming session! Just ask your players to turn off their phones. It makes things so much easier!
- No eating at the gaming table
Nothing destroys the mood faster than someone munching chips at the gaming table while the GM tries to describe the supernatural horror in all its details. Instead of having food at the table all the time, make pauses to have something to eat. During the meals turn of the lights again and let your players relax.
- Voice and sounds
One way to get your players attention especially when it’s supposed to be creepy is to talk with low volume. Usually they will listen more closely (especially if you robbed them of most of their sight by turning the lights down). When something dramatic happens become louder. Some GM even shout, stand up for more effect or even use maniacal laughter (if it’s appropriate).
In one adventure scratching sounds played an important part, so I scratched with my fingernails over the underside of the gaming table for some great effect.
- Don’t overdo it
The most important advice is: don’t overdo it. If you constantly scratch under the table, flicker the lights, do creaky-door sounds all the time, it gets old fast. After a while your players will not be in fear but they will probably throw their dice at you just to make it stop. So use props, voice and sounds sparingly.
I hope these simple tricks will help you improve the mood in your horror adventures! And if you know of more tricks, please let all of us know in the comments!