Your Traits are both inherent Attributes (Agility, Smarts, Spirit, Strength, and Vigor) and learned Skills. They are rated based on a single die: d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12. Whenever you attempt an action that's risky or interesting, you roll the die for that skill or attribute and try to reach the target number, which is usually 4. If you are untrained in a skill you are attempting, you roll a d4, with a -2 modifier. There are other penalties and bonuses that can also be applied. Because you are a Wild Card—in this case a hero—you also get to roll a Wild Die, which is a d6. This is rolled along side your regular roll, and you take the highest of the two rolls. Additionally, dice explode (called an Ace in Savage Worlds): if you roll the maximum result on a die, you get to roll it again and add the results together. This can happen again and again, with dice repeatedly exploding.
If you roll 4 over the target number, you get a Raise. This means the success is even greater. This goes up at 8, 12, etc.
Rolling double ones means something especially bad happens and is known as a Critical Failure.
Every player gets 3 Bennies at the start of each session. They do not carry over from session to session. You can use a Benny to reroll the dice and use the better of the two results, although they cannot be used on a Critical Failure. Bennies can also be used to Soak damage in combat to avoid getting hurt, which we'll get into in a moment. Alternatively, a Benny can be spent to change your combat initiative and redraw a card, or regain 5 Power Points if you have an Arcane Background. You can earn more Bennies in a session by doing something clever, roleplaying, or are affected by a Hindrance in a scene.
The GM also gets Bennies; one for each player. These can be used by an NPCs or for narrative purposes, and are put in a general pool. Each of the GM's Wild Cards—unique allies, villains, and/or monsters—gets two Bennies when they appear in the game, which are separate from the general pool.
Initiative in combat is based on poker cards, used as Action Cards. You go in order from aces to deuces. If there is a tie, then suits are done in reverse alphabetical order: spades, hearts, diamonds, and finally clubs. If you draw a Joker, you can go at any point in the round and you add a +2 to all Trait and damage rolls for the round. If an enemy draws a Joker, they get a Benny to put in the general pool. There are Edges and Hindrances that can also change your initiative, making you faster or slower. Cards are drawn at the start of every round, not just the start of combat.
During your turn, you can perform one Action. Additional actions—up to 3—can be performed, but each one inflicts a cumulative -2 penalty on all of the actions taken. You can also perform free actions, such as speaking a few sentences, dropping an item, or falling prone. You can also move up to your Pace as a free action, and perform your action at any point during the movement without penalty. You can also Run, which gives a -2 penalty to all actions during the turn, but gives you an extra d6 of movement.
When Fighting in melee combat, your target number isn't a 4; instead your opponent's Parry skill is your target number. Ranged attacks use the Shooting skill, and is against the default 4 target number, but can be affected by cover and distance.
On a hit, your opponent rolls damage against your Toughness. Toughness is based on the Vigor attribute and any Armor. If it succeeds, you are Shaken. Shaken is a representation of being nicked, bruised, or rattled, but not really hurt. While Shaken, you can only take Free Actions, including trying to overcome your Shaken status. Overcoming Shaken requires a successful Spirit roll, or you can spend a Bennie (you can spend it even if it's not your turn). Also once you are Shaken, every additional hit becomes a Wound. If the damage roll is a Success and a Raise, then you're Shaken and take a Wound. Each Wound adds -1 penalty to all rolls, until you get Incapacitated after three wounds. You can make a Soak roll with Vigor to try to negate some damage, but it costs a Benny.
Fighting and Shooting aren't the only options, of course. Your talents may instead be stealth, taunting your foes, or running away to better cover. Some other actions are listed below.
Support & Test
The two most important actions to remember are Support and Test. Even if your character has no combat skills, you can still support your allies or test your enemies to influence the tide of battle. And these actions can be done outside of combat as well!
Sometimes you may want to cooperate or help an ally with a task. If it's possible, you declare which of your ally's skills you are attempting to support. Success grants your ally +1 to one skill total this round, and a raise adds +2. A Critical Failure subtracts 2 from your ally's total. The maximum bonus from all Support rolls is +4, with the exception of Strength checks.
Example: Ren is hit and Shaken, but Amos successfully uses Persuasion to say, "Get up! You can do this!" to give Ren a +1 on his Spirit roll to overcome Shaken.
Example: Zarin is using Research to find information on an obscure death cult, and Amos succeeds his Religion skill with a Raise to narrow down certain references, giving Zarin a +2 bonus.
The opposite of Support, Test tries to make things more difficult for your foes. Tests are resisted instinctively, so the "attacker's" skill roll is opposed by the attribute it's linked to. For example, tripping someone is an Athletics roll versus Agility since that's what Athletics is linked to, and taunting is linked to Smarts. Fighting, when used as a Test instead of an attack, is compared against Agility instead of Parry. If you win the opposed roll, you can choose to make your foe Distracted (they perform actions with a penalty) or Vulnerable (they are easier to hit). If you win the opposed roll with a raise, then your target is also Shaken.
Example: Meriel grabs a pinch of flashpowder from her sleeve and tosses it towards an enemy. She rolls Performance (because it's part of her act) and gets a raise against his Spirit, hitting him square in the face with bright particulates. He is now Distracted and Shaken.
Example: Tor'in is up against an opponent that seems to parry every blow. So Tor'in uses his Fighting skill to feint, which is against his opponent's Agility. Tor'in succeeds, and his opponent is now Vulnerable, which gives everyone a +2 bonus to attack him.
Other Combat Actions
- Aim: Shooting rolls assume that your character is moving around, dodging incoming attacks, and keeping an eye on the chaotic battle. Aiming focuses your attention and aims to make a more accurate shot. If you Aim a ranged weapon at a target and take no other action, then on your next turn you ignore up to 4 points of Range, Cover, Called Shot, Scale, or Speed penalties; or add +2 to your roll. You have to be stationary in order to Aim.
- Defend: Focus all energy on defense, which increases your Parry by 4. The bonus lasts until the beginning of the next turn. You cannot perform any other action.
- Hold: You can resolve your turn later in the round. If a new round begins, you are not dealt a new Action Card but can go at any point. If you want to interrupt an action, you make opposed Athletics rolls, and whoever rolls highest goes first.
- Readying: Characters can "ready" up to two items per turn as a free action. Readying means drawing, holstering, or otherwise moving an item into or out of a familiar and easy-to reach location.
- Running: You can increase your Pace by your Running die (usually a d6, which cannot Ace).
Shooting rolls assume a character is moving about, dodging attacks, and keeping an eye on the chaos around her. If she focuses her attention and aims, however, she can make a much more accurate shot.
If a character spends her entire turn Aiming a ranged weapon at a particular target and takes no other actions, on her next turn she may ignore up to 4 points of Range, Cover, Called Shot, Scale, or Speed penalties; or add +2 to her roll. Her attack must be used on the first action of her next turn or the bonus is lost.
The shooter must be "stationary" to Aim. She can’t walk, run, ride a horse, or otherwise move under her own power.
The victim may not move, is Distracted and Vulnerable as long as he remains Bound, and cannot make physical actions other than trying to break free.
Breaking free is an action. With success, a Bound character improves to Entangled; with a raise, he’s free.
Melee and ranged attacks suffer a penalty when attempting to hit a target behind Cover.
Light Cover (-2): A quarter of the target is obscured.
|Defending||A character can choose to focus all her energy and skill into defense against melee attacks with the Defend maneuver. This increases her Parry by +4 and takes her entire turn—she cannot perform Multi-Actions. She may move normally but may not run. The bonus lasts until the beginning of her next turn.|
|Distracted||The hero subtracts 2 from all Trait rolls until the end of his next turn.|
The victim can't move and is Distracted as long as he remains so.
Breaking free is an action. With success, an Entangled hero is free of one particular entanglement or grappler.
A hero may choose to wait and see what happens by going on "Hold." This allows her to resolve her turn later in the round if she wishes, and lasts until it's used. If a character is on Hold when a new round begins, she's not dealt a new Action Card but can go at any point in the round she chooses.
If a character on Hold wants to interrupt an action (including a rival who was also on Hold), she and the opponent make opposed Athletics rolls. Whoever rolls highest goes first. In the rare case of a tie, the actions are simultaneous.
If the character interrupting fails, she loses her Hold status but gets a turn after the foe finishes his. She may take whatever actions she wishes when her turn comes up—she's not locked into whatever she was trying to do when she failed to interrupt.
|Incapacitated||Incapacitated characters may not perform actions but are still dealt Action Cards for the remainder of the encounter in case they recover or must roll for other effects such as Bleeding Out. Edges or Hindrances that affect card draws, such as Quick, Level Headed, or Hesitant are ignored when the hero is Incapacitated.|
Ranged attacks suffer a −4 penalty to hit prone characters from a range of 3" or greater (this does not stack with Cover) and subtract four points of damage from Area Effect attacks.
If a prone defender is caught in melee, his Parry is reduced by 2 and he must subtract 2 from his Fighting rolls.
Standing costs a character 2" of movement.
|Shaken||Shaken characters are nicked, bruised, or otherwise rattled. They may only take free actions, such as moving (including running). At the start of their turn, Shaken characters must attempt to recover from being Shaken by making a Spirit roll. This is a free action.|
|Vulnerable||Actions and attacks against the target are made at +2 until the end of his next turn.|