Savage Worlds is a generic set of RPG rules that can be applied to many genres and settings, be they purely historical, or set in fantasy or sci-fi worlds. Savage Worlds largely based on the rules for the Wild West horror game, Deadlands (which you can play under these rules!), and has been expanded into a system that can be applied to any setting. This system is known for its use of different polyhedral dice to represent a character's ability and skill level (1d4 for the lowest, through 1d12 for highest), and playing cards to represent combat initiative order. Players roll their die to meet a target number, and the game uses exploding dice--they get re-rolled and the result added if they come up with the highest result. Playing cards are handed out at the start of combat and players act in order of the value of their cards.
The mechanics of the game are, for the most part, good and easy to understand, though there are a few small issues with some aspects. The use of exploding dice creates some irregularities in terms of probability. For example, players rolling a d8 to have a slightly better chance of rolling a 10 (by rolling an 8 and then re-rolling to hit at least a 2) than player rolling a d10, even though a d8 attribute is supposed to be the weaker of the two. This only happens in limited circumstances and only accounts for a small difference. Playing cards determining initiative is a very interesting and unique mechanic that can make combat more dynamic than in other games. This use of different die types for ability/skill rolls, and playing cards really sets Savage Worlds apart from other gaming systems that typically have you rolling the same d6s or d20 repeatedly and adding a modifier, but these mechanics do add a bit of overhead to gameplay.
Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition's main strength is that it somehow blends versatility and brevity. It's a relatively short book for an RPG rulebook, but it gives you so much, and it's easy to get a game going. You don't even need to read through the entire 160 or so pages to be able to run a game--and you'll be able to run games in multiple settings once you know the basic rules. The game even includes 5 adventures, two set in medieval fantasy worlds, two modern-day settings (one with a horror twist, and the other with a crime theme), and another in outer-space. There's enough material to create your own setting and adventures. There are rules for pretty much anything you want to do, from melee with ancient weapons, to piloting space ships, to magic. It even has some nice rules for modern-day combat tactics, such as supressive fire, and semi-automatic weapons.
Though Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition offers a great place to start, the system is enhanced by settings that expand upon the base rules. Once you learn the rules, pick up some sourcebooks and setting guides that offer setting-specific rules and rich background material for your adventures. We look forward to reviewing some of these settings in the future.
Read the full review at GeeksaGogo.com!
[4 of 5 Stars!]