Notes on Rules


Because there are a few SW rules which can be a bit confusing until one gets used to them, and also because there was a DLR-specific rule which we were not using correctly previously, this page will outline the way combat and Fate Chips work.

Dice rolls: An important thing to note about almost all dice rolls in Savage Worlds is the concept of "aceing," also referred to as "exploding dice." This means that whenever a die rolls its highest number (4 for a d4, 8 for a d8, and so forth) that number is kept and the die is rolled again, with the result being added; this can repeat. As a result, it is theoretically possible to roll a 37 on a d4.

There are two (sometimes more) types of characters in the Savage Worlds system. Player characters, along with boss villains, major NPC's, and a few others, are considered Wild Cards. Everybody else is considered an "Extra." Extras are incapacitated as soon as they take a single wound, whereas Wild Cards can function with up to three wounds (although they take a -1 per wound on all Trait rolls.) In addition, Wild Cards get to roll the "Wild Die," which is an additional d6 on all Trait rolls, and take the larger of the two rolls, although there are some circumstances (normally associated with Arcane Background skills) in which a 1 on the skill roll produces consequences regardless of the wild die. It should also be noted that damage is not a Trait roll.


Initiative: When combat (or any other time-based sequence in which it matters what order characters take actions in), initiative is determined for each round. To determine initiative, each player is dealt a card from the Action Deck (which is a standard deck of playing cards with 2 Jokers). There are Edges and Hindrances which can affect the draw (for example, the Quick Edge grants a redraw on any card below 6.) The Marshal receives a card for each logical group of antagonists, sometimes one but sometimes more. Players act in initiative order, from aces to deuces. Ties are broken by suit, in the order spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs. Jokers get to choose exactly when they go, even interrupting another action. Jokers also cause the player receiving them to get +2 on all rolls for the turn, and they grant each player a random draw from the Fate Chip bag. In addition, Jokers cause a reshuffle at the end of the round; the standard convention is to allow the player with the fewest Fate Chips to reshuffle the deck, and that player receives a random Fate Chip for doing so.


On each player’s turn, (s)he may take an action and a free action at no penalty. A free action is movement up to one’s Pace, saying or shouting a few words, resisting opposed rolls are the normal free actions. Actions include drawing a weapon, attacking, initiating a Test of Wills, using a power, and just about anything else one can do. A character can attempt more than one action, but if so there is a -2 penalty to all rolls for each additional action (so if a character wanted to use a power and fire a revolver, there would be a -2 penalty to both rolls. Add a third action and the penalty to all three becomes -4.) In addition, a character may not perform the same exact action twice in the same round. This means that while a character can fire a pistol with one hand, or fire one pistol with each hand at a -2 MAP (multiple action penalty), the character cannot fire a pistol with the same hand twice in one round. Note that there are a few weapons that have higher rates of fire, in which case firing to the full ROF is one action. (Note also the option for “fanning the hammer” with single-action pistols.)


The base target number for all actions except melee combat is 4; however, there are often penalties to the roll. For ranged combat, these penalties can be assessed for range, cover, moving targets, or other situational modifiers; in addition it should be noted that simply falling prone (which can be done as a free action) imposes a -2 penalty to ranged attacks. If the target number is reached the attack succeeds. If the target number is exceeded by 4 it is considered a “raise,” and an attack inflicts an additional d6 of damage. Additional raises have no effect on attack rolls, although they can affect other rolls.

There are a number of options characters may take in combat (for a fairly complete list see the "Savage Worlds Combat Survival Guide,") but I want to make a mention of one of them here: the Called Shot. Either in melee or ranged combat, a character may announce that (s)he is attempting a called shot to a specific target. Against normal humans, a called shot to an arm or leg is at -2 to hit; it does no extra damage but may bypass armor or cause another effect. A called shot to the head is at -4 to hit and does an extra 4 points of damage. A called shot to a tiny target, for example the heart, is at -6 to hit but normally does no more than the extra 4 points of damage that a headshot does; however, for some of the less mundane opponents this may be useful.


Once a target is hit, damage is rolled. (Note that you cannot use Fate Chips on damage rolls; see below.) Most melee weapons do damage as St + a die type (so, for example, St + d6 for a saber) in which case the player rolls the indicated die and his/her St die. Note, however, that the weapon die is not allowed to be larger than the St die; if it is, the die type is reduced to match the St die; this is one reason it is good for melee fighters to have high St. Ranged weapons typically do specific damage (such as the Colt Peacemaker’s 2d6+1). All damage dice do explode as normal, however. Once damage is rolled it is compared to the target’s Toughness. This is where some people get confused.


If the target is NOT Shaken: A damage roll equal to Toughness through Toughness+3 (i.e., a success but not a raise) will cause the target to be Shaken. If the roll does result in a raise, a wound is inflicted for each raise. The target may attempt to Soak (see below.)


If the target IS Shaken; A damage roll equal to Toughness inflicts one wound, but it would require 2 raises to inflict a second wound. This is essentially a reward for hitting a Shaken target, making the first wound easier to inflict. The target may still attempt to Soak.


Note also that targets can be Shaken by raises on Taunts or Tests of Will. While neither of these actions can inflict a wound, they can make it easier for an ally to wound the target in a follow up.


Once an Extra receives a wound they are immediately Incapacitated. Wild Cards may function with up to 3 wounds, but receive a -1 on all Trait rolls for each wound (also for each point of Fatigue, but that’s another story.) Note that in the past I have not been scrupulous about enforcing wound penalties; that will be changing. Wild Cards are Incapacitated when they receive their fourth wound.


Shaken status: A character that is Shaken may move up to his/her full normal movement, but may not take any action except to attempt to recover from Shaken status. To do so, the character must make a Spirit roll. A success means the character is no longer Shaken, and a raise means the character may also take a normal action this round.


Soaking: When a character is wounded, (s)he must immediately decide whether to attempt to “Soak” the damage. To do so, the character must spend a Fate Chip (see below) and roll a Vigor test. Each success and raise on the test removes one wound (from the current attack only; wounds that were there before remain in any case. And they also inflict wound penalties on the roll.) If the character successfully soaks ALL wounds just received, (s)he also recovers from Shaken status automatically.


Incapacitation: Incapacitation does not mean the character is dead, although (s)he might be. When a character is Incapacitated (s)he must make a Vigor roll (Note: For this campaign, all Wild Cards are given the “Hard to Kill” Edge as a freebie, so there are no wound penalties on this roll.) A result of 1 means death; a failure means a permanent injury (there is a table); a success means an injury that goes away when all wounds are healed, and a raise means the injury goes away in 24 hours, even if all wounds are not healed. On the other hand, a coup de grace is still possible, in which case the character is quite dead. Probably.


Healing can be accomplished via a number of arcane powers (Blessed, Weird Scientists, Shamans, and Martial Artists all have the ability to use the power) or via the Healing skill. The Healing skill must be performed within one hour of the character being wounded, and takes 10 minutes to perform.


Fate Chips:


This is another place in which I was making an error previously. Note carefully the explanation of Red and Blue chips.


While normal Savage Worlds contains generic “bennies” which are all alike, DLR (as a holdover from the original game) has three types of Fate Chips: White, Red, and Blue. These are drawn randomly from the Fate Chip bag.


Each character begins each session with 3 random chips unless modified by Edges or Hindrances; each player also has the opportunity to obtain more during play, whether via using Hindrances, doing awesome things, or when a Joker is drawn from the Action Deck. Here is how they are spent:


White Chips: The white Fate Chips work like normal SW bennies. Players may use them as follows:

    To attempt Soak rolls, as outlined above.

    To reroll any Trait test (which can include attack rolls but not damage)

    To instantly recover from Shaken status. For this use the chip can be played at any time —       even between an opponent rolling damage and having the damage implemented.


Red Chips: Red chips may be used as though they were white chips. In addition, a player can spend a red chip in order to add the result of a d6 roll to any Trait test that is already rolled. (This is not a reroll with an extra d6 as we had been doing previously. This is an addition to an existing roll.) If the red chip is used in this manner the Marshal gets a random Fate Chip from the bag.


Blue Chips: Blue chips may be used as white chips. In addition, they may be used for an additional d6 to be added to an existing roll (as red chips) without granting the Marshal a draw.


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