So, I’m writing this in hopes of sparking conversation. But, I get the feeling it will get me lynched.
Now, as some of you may know, Savage Worlds quickly became my “go-to” system. There are very few things that I can complain about when it comes to this fantastic system. Now, I will be the first to admit that I have never picked up or played using a GURPS book. I have heard great things about that system, but when you find something that already works pretty damn good, why look for the same thing elsewhere?
When I first got into Savage Worlds and finally wrapped my head around the way the system really works, I was absolutely hooked. There wasn’t a bad thing I could say about it and I promoted it in any way that I could. I loved the “bolt on” feel that it had and could apply it to ANY genre I could think of. It’s a feature of the system that I still have a hard time believing it can be done better with any other system. You really can take anything that you enjoy (comic books, TV shows, movies, you name it) and “savage” it. What more could you ask for?
But, (there’s always a “but’, isn’t there?) I have started to really question the benny mechanic. If you’re new to Savage Worlds and don’t understand what this is, I can tell you the most basic concept of it- “bennies” are nothing more than tokens that you get at the start of each session that you can turn in to your GM to allow a re-roll most die rolls during a session. You can also be awarded more during a session by the GM for various reasons. That’s the simple answer.
The problem I am starting to have with the benny mechanic is that it almost feels like a way for the players to make sure not to fail. I know that not every player will always use them, but 9 out of 10 times, we, as gamers, don’t want to fail. We want to see our characters to bad-ass things in bad-ass ways. Failing doesn’t usually equate to being a bad-ass. And now I know there are plenty of other systems that don’t have a “re-roll” mechanic built into it, therefore failure does happen. Doesn’t make those characters any less of a bad-ass, right Jaime? No it doesn’t. But, we have commonly come to accept failure in these other systems because “that’s just how the game works”. But, not in Savage Worlds, right? We have poker chip mulligans!
There are times that I really do enjoy the bennies, but overall, I am starting to dislike them. I’ve noticed that they can help strip some of the tension in the game. Most of the time if a player fails a roll, it just becomes “ehh, oh well. I’ll spend a benny”. And in many cases, it turns that failure into a success. Players have lost the ability to really feel the impact of a failed roll. And when you can use them against damage your character just received, where’s the tension? Again, does it always work this way? No, of course not. But, it does happen. This is just another way to desensitize ourselves to the dangers that come our way in these games. GM- “Your character just took 3 wounds!
Player- “I’m gonna spend a benny to soak that. *spends a benny and rolls* No I didn’t”. Straight to limp…… Tension- lost….. And this works the other way against players too. They just got the shot of a lifetime off… Hit the big bad with 3 wounds! Holy crap, everyone is excited! GM- “I’m gonna spend a benny to roll to soak that. *rolls dice* Yeah, you didn’t do shit”. Players erection- destroyed
I understand that these are minor (mostly) situations and a mechanic that the system was meant to use. I don’t hate it by any means. It’s just something that I have been thinking about lately when it comes to Savage Worlds. Will this make me not play the system? Hell no! I love the system and it will continue to be my “go-to” system. This is just one aspect of the game that I have come to not like so much.
What are you thoughts on bennies? Or any “re-roll” mechanic for that matter? Do you enjoy them in your game or do you think we should live by “may the dice fall where they may”? Please comment below and let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading everyone!