So last night on our weekly Nerds-International Happy Hour, we had a great discussion about various systems doing various settings justice. That may be the wrong word, but you get the idea.

So, we started out about talking about Savage Worlds and how it does so many settings so well, but it just didn’t seem like it did fantasy so well. Now, let me make sure to put this out there- THIS WAS NOT THE OPINION OF EVERYONE! What I’m about to write will strictly reflect MY views on different systems for different settings.


So, I will say (once again) that Savage Worlds is easily my “go-to” system. The “low-prep, can do just about anything” ability of that system is fantastic! But, I will say, it doesn’t work for me when we talk about a few different settings. For example (and I know I will get a lot of pushback on this, as I have many times already) I don’t think that core, out of the box handles fantasy magic well. There, I said it. Let the hate mail begin.


Call me old-school, but I prefer a more robust magic system for my fantasy games. For this, my vote still goes to Dungeons and Dragons (especially 5th edition) and Pathfinder. To me, those systems just “feel” right for a fantasy setting. Now, I will fully admit that I haven’t shopped all the resources for third party when it comes to fantasy for Savage Worlds. But, I have been told that something like Shaintar does high fantasy VERY WELL. But, I hold my opinion to wanting my D&D and Pathfinder for the magic systems. To me, there actually is something cool to the wizard going through a spellbook and preparing those spells. A wizard taking the time to do his research to uncover old arcane secrets. Now, I will say that in the traditional sense, Savage Worlds would handle something like spells for a sorcerer just fine. When you take it from a D&D class, anyhow. And I really have to say that I enjoy the diversity in “roll to hit” or “roll to save” or “it just hits” that the D&D and Pathfinder system uses.

Edge of the Empire Game Masters Kit cover only

Now let’s talk about Star Wars. I’ve heard this quite a few times too- “Savage Worlds does Star Wars just fine”. And I’m sure for a lot of people, it does! I don’t deny that. But for me, I feel that Fantasy Flight Games NAILED a true Star Wars feel with their narrative dice system. I can very easily see Star Wars being done in Savage Worlds to feel just like that- Savage Worlds. That’s not a bad thing! I just prefer the FFG system BIG TIME for Star Wars.

This has become kind of a new “hot topic” over at the N-I community. I know I have a part in getting this controversy going, but why lie, I thrive on it. I really thing that by having these discussions, we all can learn something from it. For everyone to get together and speak their opinions, we all get to maybe hear a new side of the take we hadn’t thought of before.

And something else I don’t deny at all is that when I first found out about Savage Worlds and starting playing/understanding it, I jumped right on the “THERE’S SAVAGE WORLDS AND NOTHING ELSE!” train. I did that for quite a while. But when I started to yearn for more “feel” out of my games, I went back to look at old and new systems. In the end, I learned one thing for sure- each system does it’s own “thing”. Whether you like that “thing” or not is up to you. I don’t think there is one “all encompassing system to rule them all”, but Savage Worlds comes pretty damn close.

I also hope that folks don’t take this as “Savage Worlds” bashing, as some people have taken it that way before. This is just a way of me getting myself out there to say “Hey, there’s lots of systems out there! Find out which works best for what you’re trying to get out of it!” I love Savage Worlds… A lot! But does it do everything I want a system to do? No. Is that bad? Hell no. They have done a fantastic job with it and continue to do so.

What do you think? I’d love to hear what you have to say about the topic!


7 thoughts on “Edition Wars? Oh no, it’s System Wars!

  1. I too find Savage Worlds a great system that nevertheless does not do justice to every genre and premise under the sun.

    I’ve run low-magic fantasy with SW and it was fun but I absolutely see how those who prefer high magic fantasy settings might be disappointed with the Powers system — I recommend picking up Triple Ace Games’ Hellfrost Players’ Guide, if only for the oodles of new spells.

    I never used SW for SW (get it?) but FFG’s system doesn’t really appeal to me.

    Last but not least, I know there’s a very successful Lovecraftian horror book for SW (Realms of Cthulhu?) but I wouldn’t dream of using SW for the genre. I don’t think it can possibly do a better job than classic CoC, one of my all-time favorite games.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think the problem is far less Savage Worlds and far more you personally on this one Jamie. The problem has nothing to do with Savage Worlds, D&D or any system in fact and everything to do with the player. Imagine for a moment that you have are part of a poker league that plays No Limit Texas Holdem. Two nights a week you and a random assortment of other poker players from the area get together and play at various venues throughout town. The problem is no matter how good you are at anything every time you sit down at the table you are playing Texas Holdem.

    One day you decide you enjoy 5 card draw better because the mechanics are just more enjoyable building your own hand and having no clue what anyone else is building instead of Holdem where you can see most of their cards face up in the middle of the table and they are building a hand from some of the same cards. Does that make Holdem a bad game because you decided you prefer the mechanics of Draw? Does it mean Draw is a better game for you as a player?

    No. It means that you woke up one day in the mood to play a different mechanic. It doesn’t matter what deck of cards you used, what venue you sat in, who you played against you were in the mood to play something different. Doesn’t even mean you are bored of the old game!

    Think about board games. Could you play your favorite board game using the mechanics from Monopoly? What about replacing the mechanics of Monopoly with those from Chutes & Ladders? If you want to play Axis and Allies but all your friends want to play Risk you might have fun playing with your friends, but it more than likely wouldn’t “scratch the itch” you feel to play Axis and Allies.

    Thus the adage of Wil Wheaton comes to mind, “Play more games”. I personally abhor D&D’s class system but I miss some of it’s mechanics. Not enough to ever run D&D again but I might consider playing in someone else’s game sometime. I enjoyed when you ran FFG Star Wars for me, but again it bumps me with with classes and I lose interest. I keep asking JiB to run Fate for us sometime because it sounds fun. The point is I am still a dyed in the wool Savage Worlds fan and GM purist. I think the system does everything I want it to do, from Battletech to High Fantasy, from Crime Drama to Star Wars, but that love affair is mostly as a GM. While I definitely enjoy the system as a player sometimes you just wake up wanting to play something else.

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  3. This would be an excellent topic to discuss live on the RPG Brewery along with a few other Nerds, but you’d need a moderator I think, in order to avoid a shouting match or people talking over each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When it comes to D&D (and Pathfinder), I really liked the changes they made from the previous AD&D to 3rd ed. Never really liked the THAC0 system, nor the idea that your dexterity or constitution bonus didn’t help your saves versus area effects or poisons for example. As of 3rd ed forward, your AC was the number needed for you enemy to hit you, and your saves were a bonus instead of a fixed number that went down as you levelled up. It streamlined things tremendously.

    But other aspects bugged me. Such as the many and varied bonus and penalty types (I.e. Magic bonus, morale bonus, dodge bonus, enhancement bonus, etc.), it was a pain to keep track of it all on a PC sheet.

    Then they introduced DR (damage resistance), energy resistance, some spell effects might force you to roll percentile to see if you actually hit (Blur and Displacement). As for spells, some of them hit automatically, some you had to roll to hit, and then the target gets a saving throw and/or has SR (spell resistance). It was way too much for me. at one point. That and all the splat books they were coming out with. Eventually I said enough. I need a simpler system and I had the older Shaintar book and that introduced me to Savage Worlds.

    I have tried other systems, as a player at least, in order to see if I liked them or not and I do own a few that I’d like to try to run. But Savage Worlds will always be my go to system from now on.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Heh. Okay, anecdote time. From the very beginning, Shane has always said Torg should not be converted to Savage Worlds and only played with the original system. Of course, now, he’s worked on the new edition of Torg, and I’m sure some SW influence may be seen, but it’s definitely it’s own beast.

    Thing is, we all play different systems. They all have their benefits (and in some cases drawbacks), but usually that all comes down to personal preference. I know folks played Torg with SW, but to them it was worth the effort required to add the rules they needed (and ignore those they didn’t care about)…but those folks weren’t Shane Hensley, I tell you that. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup. In the end, I totally get and promote that it’s ALL player preferences. Again, Savage Worlds is my 100% go to system, I love it. I just like different systems for different settings


  6. As for Star Wars, there’s been a few different systems for this franchise. I remember the old West End Game’s d6 system, and then there was the d20 system.
    I’ve played and ran the D6 system and I thought it handled Star Wars well, but I had nothing to compare it too as it was the only adaptation out there at the time.

    By the time the D20 version came out, I was already stepping away from that system and did not believe that it would handle the cinematic style of play.

    But I have tried the new FFG Star Wars game and I love it. I like the way it seems to encourage all the players to add and suggest how to interpret the die results.

    Liked by 1 person

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