Fantasy Roleplaying in Savage Worlds
Savage Worlds is an excellent universal RPG system, and notable for its flexibility. There are dozens of settings available to extend its basic functionality, including several expansive fantasy settings. However it’s still been lacking in the classic old school d20 style fantasy that most people know and love. The following Races and Edges have been designed to remedy that and can be dropped into any SW fantasy setting. Although they are greatly simplified compared to traditional fantasy classes, they help provide the flavour of d20 class-based systems while still staying true to the Savage Worlds Fast Furious Fun motto. New people coming Savage Worlds who are used to class-based systems in MMOs or d20 RPGs should find this a comfortable and familiar way to get started.
I’ve also added Edges that emulate several of my favourite Prestige Classes, because I’ve had so much fun playing them in the past that it seems a shame not to have them in Savage Worlds fantasy. These Edges also have improved and expanded versions so that players can have the feeling of their characters progressing in a similar way to class and level-based systems, but still allowing for lots of flexibility.
Except where noted, these extras are completely compatible with the Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion, but can also be used without it. You should also be able to play converted d20 adventures without too much difficulty. For help with adventure conversion I highly recommend Zadmar’s excellent d20 converters on his Savage Worlds page. Also his Monster Finder is incredibly useful when creating your own fantasy adventures.
Weapons & Armor
Basic Savage Worlds doesn’t have a huge amount of choice when it comes to medieval / fantasy style weapons and armor. For more options please see my Savage Worlds Extended Weapons & Armor list. Note that the medieval items listed are all based on real weapons and armor of the period, as strange as some of them may sound!
Powers in Savage Worlds work a little bit differently than magic in most d20 games. After some experimentation, I’ve found that the simplest and most effective way of running fantasy magic is to use the No Power Points setting rule (Savage Worlds Deluxe page 95). It makes bookkeeping a lot easier and keeps things Fast, Fun, and Furious. I also find the the Backlash rules are a little odd — taking 2d6 damage for failing a Detect Arcana spell seems a bit harsh and counterproductive. Generally I adopt a simpler rule:
Rolling 1 on the Trait die: caster is Shaken.
Critical Failure: caster takes 1 level of Fatigue (unless otherwise specified below). This damages the character temporarily, but allows them to recover by resting, similar to how d20 spells are regained.
Although Savage Worlds has a Knowledge (Arcana) skill, it is rarely used, which seems a bit of a waste. Consequently in my games I recommend that magic users start with spells equal to half their Knowledge (Arcana) die, and can only memorise spells up to the level of their Knowledge (Arcana) die. This helps balance things the game a bit, by making magic users have to use extra skill points in order to have a wide range of spells ready to use.
It’s also a not a good idea to use raw Powers from the Savage Worlds book — magic users should not be casting something as bland as Bolt. To become a spell, a Power should have a trapping associated with it, and preferably a cool name a well. So instead of Bolt, a wizard should know a spell called something like Shalman’s Searing Flame or Chilling Shard — same Power but with a different trapping and additional effect (and a more fun and imaginative name). I strongly recommend that GMs and players of magic-using characters grab a copy of Zadmar’s fantastic (and free!) Savage Spellbook, which adds a lot of old school flavour to the standard Savage Worlds Powers.
Harsh Environment: Only the tough survive in the wild without the benefits of civilisation. Barbarians start play with a d6 in Vigor and a d4 in Survival.
Freedom of Movement: Barbarians disdain armour as the sign of a weakling and fight nearly naked. This enables them to more easily evade incoming blows and use their painted and tattooed bodies to intimidate enemies. While wearing only minimal clothing (loincloth, kilt, or bikini), they add +1 to Parry and +2 to Intimidation.
Tribal: Barbarians grow up in small tribal groups and are unused to discourse with other societies. They also obviously scar or tattoo their bodies with their tribal markings. When not among their own tribe they suffer a -2 penalty to Charisma. In addition they may only learn a maximum of 2 languages: their tribal language and the common language of the party, which they speak with a strong guttural accent.
Unprivileged: Barbarians don’t have the benefit of spare time to learn abilities beyond the essentials for survival. Although human they do not get a free Edge during character creation.
Note: Rather than being an Edge, I’ve made Barbarian a race instead. This allows players to easily make Conan or Red Sonja style characters as well as Barbarians from societies similar to ancient Celts or African tribespeople. It’s a different approach than the standard d20 class, but it makes more sense in practice given that so many of the traditional d20 Barbarian Feats are already available as standard Savage Worlds Edges.
Who are you calling short?: Goblins are small, so have -1 Toughness, but are also -1 to hit.
Bouncy: Goblins start with a d6 in Agility instead of a d4.
They’ll never know what hit ’em: Goblins start play with a d6 in Stealth.
We like it in the dark: Goblins have Infravision.
Nobody loves Goblins: Goblins possess the Outsider Edge. Obviously.
Shiny!: Goblins like taking stuff. If it’s not nailed down, they will pick it up. If it is nailed down, they will fetch a crowbar.
Low Light Vision: Tieflings ignore attack penalties for Dim and Dark lighting.
Hellish Resistance: Their demonic heritage allows Tieflings to resist the effects of fire. They gain +4 bonus against all heat damage.
Demonic Bloodline: Tieflings display the obvious artefacts of their demonic parentage, including horns and tail. They automatically possess the Outsider Edge when in the mortal realm.
Demonic Legacy: Magic comes easy to those who are bred from demons. Tieflings start play with a d6 in Spellcasting or other Arcane skill.
Use the racial abilities of normal Elves, but with the addition of:
Fragile: Dark Elves are thin-skinned. They have -1 Toughness.
Spell Resistance: Dark Elves have a natural immunity to spell effects. They always possess the Arcane Resistance Edge.
Underground Sight: Dark elves have eyes adapted for living underground. They possess Infravision. However abrupt exposure to bright light (such as daylight) temporarily blinds a Dark Elf. Additionally they suffer a -1 penalty to all skill rolls while operating in bright light.
High Elves are haughty and reclusive, believing themselves to be superior to non-elves and even other elves. Use the racial abilities of normal Elves, but with the addition of:
Ancient Learning: High Elves begin with a d6 in Spellcasting (or other Arcane skill)
Haughty: High Elves disdain dealing with lesser races. They have a -2 Charisma in dealing with non-Elves, and -1 Charisma with other Elves.
Wood Elves are dark-skinned forest dwellers who tend to be reclusive and distrusting of non-elves. Use the racial abilities of normal Elves, but with the addition of:
Mask of the Wild: Wood Elves begin play with a d4 in Stealth and a d4 in Survival.
Recluse: Wood Elves are suspicious of non-Elves. They gain the Outsider Hindrance when dealing with any other race.
New Background Edges
- The Wizard Edge is a replacement for the standard Wizard Edge given in the Savage Worlds core book. It’s designed for campaigns that use the optional No Power Points rule. You can either use this one or the original in your own campaigns.
- The Bard uses the Perform skill for playing music normally and for his magical Bardsong, thus he doesn’t need to spend skill points on Spellcasting. The Bard spell book is deliberately limited to a relatively few spells all of which have a psychological or restorative effect to balance this and to give Bard characters a unique flavor. This Edge replaces the Troubadour Edge from the Savage Worlds Fantasy
- The basic level of each Background Edge is only available at character creation, but further Edges from that Background can be taken as the character grows i.e. they work like d20 class Feats.
Requirements: Novice, Knowledge (Arcana) d6+, Perform d8+, Arcane Background (Miracles)
While he is singing and playing the Bard is able to use his musical ability to tap into the powers of the Gods. He may use his Perform (Spirit) skill to channel this arcane power via his music, negating the need for him to possess any specific spellcasting skill. He may cast the following spells from the standard Power lists, but only with the Sonic trapping: Banish, Bless/Curse, Boost/Lower Trait, Confusion, Dispel, Greater Healing, Healing, Slumber, Succor, Warrior’s Gift, or choose from the new Bard Songs listed below.
The Bard may sing his songs unaccompanied, which allows him to also perform other actions simultaneously (such as wield a weapon), but with the usual multi-action penalty. If the Bard uses a musical instrument such as a lute, drum, or bagpipes it will require the use of both hands to perform, but he adds +1 to his Perform rolls.
The Bard begins with a number of spells equal to half his Knowledge (Arcana) die, and at any one time can memorise a maximum number of spells equal to his Knowledge (Arcana) die. Bards can learn a new song by studying with another Bard of at least Veteran level, or by taking the New Power Edge each time.
Bard Anthems affect all allies within a Medium Burst template centred on the Bard.
Power Points: 2
Duration: Until battle is joined
All affected allies get +1 Pace and +1 Intimidation while charging into battle, and +1 to their Fighting roll and Damage on their first blow only (+2 with a Raise). Once they have joined battle this song ceases to have any effect.
Power Points: 3
Duration: 3 (1/round)
Affected allies gain +1 Parry and +1 to recover from being shaken (+2 with a Raise) while under the effects of this song.
Power Points: 4
Duration: 3 (1/round)
Affected allies gain +1 Toughness and +1 on all Fighting and Shooting rolls (+2 with a Raise).
Requirements: Seasoned, Bard
The Bard has travelled wide & far across the land, gathering knowledge and gossip from many sources. She gets a +1 to Common Knowledge and Streetwise rolls.
Requirements: Veteran, Bard
The Bard can now sing unaccompanied as a free action, and no longer incurs a multi-action penalty for her song.
Requirements: Novice, Knowledge (Religion) d6+, Spirit d8+, Arcane Background (Miracles)
The character has been ordained as a Priest or Priestess of a formal religious system. He must choose a trapping for all of his spells that is appropriate for the deity he serves (will vary dependent on setting). For example, Light trapping if he worships a Sun God, Electricity if it’s a Weather Goddess, Necromantic if it’s the God of Death, etc.
His Deity will grant him Divine Protection as a reward for his dedication: +2 to opposed rolls to resist magical effects.
Requirements: Novice, Agility d8+, Fighting d6+
Duelists are masters of light, agile fighting styles. While using a light blade and while wearing no armor or shield, a Duelist adds +1 to Parry.
Requirements: Seasoned, Duelist, Fighting d8+
Experienced Duelists know exactly where to strike for maximum penetration. While using a light blade and while wearing no armor or shield, a Duelist adds +1 to Damage rolls.
Requirements: Veteran, Duelist, Agility d10+
Veteran Duelists are capable of maximising the advantage of flanking manoeuvres to catch an enemy off-guard. When flanking, their Gang Up bonus is +2 instead of +1.
Requirements: Heroic, Duelist, Fighting d10+
Heroic Duelists can evade almost any blow. While using a light blade and while wearing no armor or shield, the Duelist may add +2 to Parry instead of +1.
Requirements: Seasoned, Intimidation d8+, Soul Drain
Necromancers have made a particular study of the powers of Death, and receive a +1 to damage or duration with any spell cast with the Necromantic trapping.
Requirements: Novice, Human, Spirit d8+, Strength d8+
The Paladin is sworn to smite the forces of evil. When acting selflessly to right a wrong or defend the innocent, he receives +1 to all melee damage rolls. If he behaves in any way contrary to his Oath, he loses this bonus until he has made atonement with his god.
Lay on Hands
Requirements: Seasoned, Paladin
Within an hour of combat the Paladin may attempt to heal any other wounded character by laying his hands upon him and praying. If he succeeds in a Spirit roll he removes one Wound from his companion. He may only perform this once per day per character.
Aura of Courage
Requirements: Seasoned, Paladin
The Paladin’s intense belief in the power of his god makes him immune to all Fear effects.
Requirements: Veteran, Paladin
Undead creatures cower at the Paladin’s holy presence. The Paladin gains +2 to attack them in close combat.
Requirements: Novice, Knowledge (Arcana) d8+, Spellcasting d8+, Arcane Background (Magic)
The magician has received formal training in a school of magic and is more disciplined in her spellcasting. She may ignore 1 point of penalties for maintaining a spell. The Wizard begins with a number of spells equal to half her Knowledge (Arcana) die, and at any one time can memorise a maximum number of spells equal to her Knowledge (Arcana) die.
Requirements: Seasoned, Knowledge (Arcana) d10+, Spellcasting d10+, Wizard
The Wizard attunes herself to the magic of one of the Elements: Fire, Water (Cold/Ice), or Air (Electricity). All spells cast with this trapping have a +1 bonus to their damage or duration. This Edge can only be taken once, so choose wisely!
Mastery of Counterspell
Requirements: Veteran, Knowledge (Arcana) d12+, Spellcasting d12+, Wizard
When the Wizard uses Dispel to counter a spell she may choose to turn the spell directly back on its caster rather than simply negating it.
- Whereas the Background Edges are available to starting characters, Prestige Edges are generally only available to characters of Seasoned level and higher, and can require a significant amount of character training beforehand to fulfil the prerequisites.
- These Edges and their prerequisites are derived from the Prestige Classes in the 3.5 edition of the World’s Oldest Role-Playing Game. Like the original d20 classes they are extremely powerful Edges to have, but require significant work to qualify for them.
- The Bladesinger Prestige Class has some extremely powerful abilities. To help balance its power, Bladesong spells are limited to self-casting, and only become available at one level higher than normal spellcasters.
Requirements: Seasoned, Elf or Half-elf; Shooting d8+, Arcane Background (Magic), Marksman
All arrows fired by the Arcane Archer become magical and inflict +1 damage.
Requirements: Veteran, Arcane Archer
The Arcane Archer makes a Shooting roll to imbue an arrow with a Fireball spell at the cost of 2 Power Points (or -1 to Shooting if using the No Power Points Setting Rule). This has the effect of a Blast spell with Fire trappings centred on where the arrow hits its target. On a failed Shooting roll the spell fizzles and the arrow has no effect. On a Critical Failure the Fireball spell goes off centred on the Archer instead.
Requirements: Heroic, Arcane Archer
Arrows fired by the Arcane Archer now inflict +2 damage instead of +1.
Requirements: Seasoned, Elf or Half-Elf, Agility d8+, Strength d6+, Fighting d8+, Knowledge (Arcana) d4+, Perform d6+, Acrobat, Arcane Background (Magic)
The character has received training in the ancient Elven art of Bladesong, which focuses arcane energies through her sword. While wielding a longsword or rapier in her main hand, nothing in her off-hand, and wearing only light armor, she may use her Perform skill to cast one of the following spells (if known) on herself once per combat round as a free action. All Bladesong spells must have the Sonic trapping and are limited to a range of Personal only.
- Arcane Strike (Smite)
- Blur (Armor)
- Boost Trait
On a Critical Failure on the Bladesong roll the spell will have the opposite effect than the one intended, e.g. Arcane Strike will lower the weapon damage instead of increasing it, Blur will make the Bladesinger easier to hit instead of harder, etc.
At any one time the Bladesinger can memorise a maximum number of spells equal to her Knowledge (Arcana) die.
Requirements: Veteran, Bladesinger, Agility d10+, Fighting d10+
The Bladesinger increases the power of her song, and now has the ability to perform one of the following Bladesong spells (if known) on herself as a free action.
- Dimension Door (Teleport)
- Warrior’s Gift
Requirements: Seasoned, Dwarf, Vigor d8+, Fighting d8+, Brawny, Dodge
The Dwarven Defender is a one-dwarf defensive wall. Once per combat he may choose to take a stable defensive stance. As long as he continues to stand on his spot without moving he receives the following bonuses:
- +1 Parry
- +1 to recover from being Shaken
Once a fight is over the Dwarven Defender must succeed in a Vigor roll or take one level of Fatigue due to the exertion involved in maintaining his stance.
Requirements: Veteran, Dwarven Defender
The Dwarven Defender’s defensive awareness allows him negate all Gang Up bonuses against him.
Requirements: Heroic, Veteran Defender
The Dwarven Defender learns to soak up blows that would cripple lesser mortals. He adds +1 to his Toughness.
Requirements: Seasoned, Stealth d10+, Perform d8+, Dodge
The character has been initiated into the mysterious cult of the Shadowdancers. She is able to blend completely into any shadow big enough to contain her form and becomes effectively invisible to the naked eye while doing so. She adds +4 to her Stealth.
Requirements: Veteran, Shadowdancer
The Shadowdancer can step into one shadow and out of another within range of her Smarts x2. Both shadows must be at least her size in order for this power to function. (This is similar to the Burrow power with a Darkness trapping)
Requirements: Heroic, Shadowdancer
The Shadowdancer gains a +2 to resist any mind-affecting spell or ability (e.g. Fear, Intimidation, Taunt etc.)
Requirements: Legendary, Shadowdancer
The Shadowdancer can summon an undead Shade from the nether realms at will. This takes one action if used in combat. If the Shade is destroyed or dismissed from the material plane in any manner, the Shadowdancer must make an immediate Vigor roll or suffer one level of Fatigue.