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After looking at the Test Drive, I do not see anything about party sizes. Is there a standard Savage Worlds party size? I want to try out the Tomb of Terrors one-shot with the Test Drive rules, but have no idea how many players to grab to try it out.

What should the typical Savage Worlds party size be?

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In my experience, a max of 5 PCs to 1 GM is a good number. It's hard to pay attention to each PC with more players than 5. –  Toast Jul 22 '13 at 21:52

6 Answers 6

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Since there's no specific mention of the number of players, lets look at the challenges in the pdf. We'll go over each plot point, and see what dice/rolls are needed to succeed. There's a quick tl;dr at the end if you just want my opinion on party size. Potential spoilers below!

  • Prequel: if players were drinking, they get +2 vigor and -2 smarts.
    It will prove advantageous for most players to be drunk (unless they rely on smarts!)
  • 1) Common Knowledge at -2.
    A d8 in Common Knowledge gives slightly better than 50% chance of success. However, a raise on this roll informs the PC that a legion of undead lie below. At this point, my PCs would probably attempt to set the entire catacombs on fire; ymmv. Regardless, they should be able to grab some quick supplies from above. I would probably have the NPC soldier join them upon learning.
  • 2) Strength roll to jump 2" (or build a bridge)
    A piece of rope, a ladder, even a broken door can circumvent this challenge if no-one has the strength for it.
  • 3) Fight two rat swarms
    Assuming your party has torches, this is pretty trivial. Otherwise, stomping them works well.
  • 4a) Fight eight zombies with a guaranteed surprise round.
    How the group uses the surprise round will largely determine how difficult this is. Setting the zombies on fire will mean your group wins unharmed; charging in blindly might result in a few wounds. Since the backstory explains that the PCs have already encountered zombies, they should be familiar with the headshot weakness.
  • 4b) Vigor roll at -2 (zombie poison on death)
    Good thing you drank that alcohol, right? A d6 vigor gives a 50% chance of passing this drunkenly, and I would house-rule that a PC can only be poisoned by the gas once.
  • 5) Fight Bone golem with N zombies
    The first real challenge. A notice of 4 spots the golem's weakpoint, and a raise prevents the golem's surprise round. Once the weak point is spotted, a called shot at -4 will seriously wound the golem. A shooting skill of d10 gives a 50% chance of hitting the call shot. The GM can provide additional zombies (if any) based on the parties success this far.
  • 6) Fight Necromancer (novice)
    The necromancer's main strength is his bolt and zombie powers. If you've prevented his ritual, he's a slightly buffed novice spell caster. If he completes the ritual, then he has 50 PP and gets more if he kills a PC. He's easiest to kill with arrows or a greatsword to the head, as his advantage is in firing long-range bolts.

So how does all this help? For one, we can see that most of the challenges require abilities easily obtained by novice characters. A d10 shooting skill is the highest required die for a 50% success chance, and passing that roll will make short work of the bone golem.

The combination of skills required isn't really varied either. One character focused on smarts (knowledge, notice, spellcasting), one character focused on agility (parry, shooting), and one character focused on vigor (tanking, melee fighting) should be able to pass all the challenges. A specialized gun-toting holy warrior could likely solo the entire challenge.

My advice, based on these stats and a little gut intuition, is to have a minimum of 3 party members and a max of 5. If the PCs make it to the final chamber with full resources, add some zombies to increase the challenge.

A lot of the difficulty will also depend on the experience of your players. Experienced Savage World players know the best way to position themselves on the board, take advantage of movement, and minimize area of effect damage against them. Newer players who are still learning these concepts will struggle more.

tl;dr: For this specific challenge, a party size of 3-5 seems ideal. Less characters will have trouble with some of the challenges, more will make them trivially easy.

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Savage Worlds doesn't exactly define a standard party size. And, like most open-ended point-build systems, doesn't define "standard roles," either.

That said, the nominal limit seems implied by the bennies coin sets being about 50 coins... the expectation is that players start with 3, and earn up to 3 more, and the GM gets 1 per PC and 2 per wildcard character... for 7 per PC, plus 2 per wild card, and really, one wild card per PC sounds about right... so that puts 5 players at right about 45 in use.

Not that the system can't handle larger group sizes. It's just the bennie sets I've seen are all 50 tokens, and 50 tokens really only supports about 5 PC's.

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So for a one-sheet adventure that doesn't mention a party size, the bennies make up for the party size? I don't want to run this adventure and have it be ridiculously easy or difficult because of the number of players involved. –  lathomas64 Dec 27 '11 at 16:20
    
For a one-sheet, presume it is written for no more than 5p. I suspect they write for the normal 3-5 player group size. But that I can't prove. –  aramis Dec 28 '11 at 0:17
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Incredibly late, but you can always adjust adventure difficulty on the spot with more mooks (extras) and/or more bennies. –  Yianes the Sneak Mar 8 '13 at 12:22
    
The size of the coin set is almost certainly more closely correlated with market-research of the average home group size, manufacturing costs, and desired price point. I would expect system-based party size expectations to come a distant last, especially since the system doesn't have any such expectations to begin with. –  SevenSidedDie Jul 22 '13 at 19:17
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I still think that it's highly unlikely they're hiding a group-size expectation/recommendation in a token set. –  SevenSidedDie Jul 22 '13 at 22:58

This is not specified but a lot of adventures have N times players characters for the number of monsters. A lot of groups are 3 to 6 players we normaly try for 5.

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I run two games. One had six players (now five), the other three.

The six player game has the problem that the group can become very diverse and the individual members quite specialised. Some players simply have nothing to do during certain scenarios. Combat can take a long time. But there is a lot of ideas and input into the game. We all have a lot of fun. If one or two people can't make it, it's no big deal to continue onward and simply drop a baddie or two if need be.

The three player game is a lot more cohesive. The players are all involved all of the time. The characters are complementary. However, when one person can't make it the ideas dry up very quickly and the game can grind to a halt without GM intervention.

I recommend starting with four players if you can. It's not too many players to handle, and the players should be able help each other out as they learn the game.

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There is no such thing as the typical size of a Savage Worlds adventuring party. The game design acknowledges that the size of the group is a result mostly of out-of-the-game factors (in particular, the size of your gaming group) and contains several features that balance the game regardless of the size.

  • Bennies: The gamemaster receives a bennie per playing character. More players give the gamemaster additional bennies to make the enemies more of a challenge.
  • Extras: Extras in Savage Worlds are exactly that, extras. You can throw half a dozen more at any point without much problem. From the mechanical point of view, they make the life of the party a bit tougher but not much. From the history point of view, extras are everywhere: some friends of the bad guys arrive to the saloon, some zombies appear from the tombs behind the trees, some reinforcements come from a near building, etc. As Deathkraiser has pointed out, many adventures state the number of extras depending on the number of players (e.g. twice as many).
  • Bennies reloaded: One of the duties of the gamemaster is to give bennies to reward good role-playing. You can give more or less of this to keep the adventure as challenging as you like it.

Finally, note that there are no classes in Savage Worlds. Everybody can do everything. You cannot find yourself in a situation in which "we must be at least three so that one can heal, one can fight, and one can open locks". Every single character can do everything... although they cannot be very competent in everything, of course. ;-)

(As a personal note, I have played Savage Worlds with groups as small as three and as big as eight.)

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I've noticed a lot of adventures list creatures as something like this:

Wild Dogs: 2 per player

Thus, it doesn't really matter how many people you play with. Play with the number you're comfortable with.

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"The number you're comfortable with" is a good start, but could you go into more detail? For example do things fall apart with only 2 characters because important roles are left unfilled? Do you run into trouble with 10+ characters, because it's hard for the DM to justify all those wild dogs not ganging up on 1 player and killing them in a single round? –  Oblivious Sage Oct 21 '12 at 0:51
    
I think that is when you have the dogs surround the group so they aren't positioned to gang up on any one character. –  lathomas64 Jul 22 '13 at 21:49

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