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As characters get to Legendary in Savage World (Fantasy) they abilities soon seem to out class the Powers the creatures have. For example, most powers are saved with a attribute, say Agility, if you get a Raise then the Agility roll is -2. Well for most legendary characters getting a 6 with Agility is not that hard (assuming d10 60% chance, with Arcane Resistance 85% chance). Even then if they are hit then their Toughness is much more than the damage that is done.

Any ideas about how to fix this without breaking Savage Worlds system?

Wash up

  • I really liked @gomad answer (i would like to bless two answers) but @SevenSidedDie's answer just pips it for me.
  • I think the real problem is that the saves are vs a flat value. We are going to test using the caster roll as the save which a lot of powers do use.
  • I have been allowing Arcane Resistance against creatures powers like Fear. I am not sure if this is correct.
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4 Answers 4

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Savage Worlds is a remarkably robust system—there is very little you can do that would actually break the system as it's just not that fragile. As long as you keep in mind the principle that things should be "fast", you'll be fine.

  • If you're having problems with flat saves, make them opposed. This will bring the high stats of a Legendary creature into play against your PCs' similarly-Legendary stats.

  • Pair up your creatures in complementary ways. You have a Lich that has fancy powers but is a bit squishy, think of all the nasty things it has already summoned or created to serve it—demons, dark squamous things, soul-devouring intelligent gems, powerful servitor undead, grave golems, etc. Pair up your Power-chucking Lich with a combat monster, perhaps with some weakening effects in its arsenal that trigger off hits. Then put your Lich behind the combat monster, where the wizard belongs.

  • Make sure your Legendary critters fight unfairly. They've almost always got home advantage, so make it count.

    • Magical wards can keep the PCs at arm's length while Powers rain on them with impunity, and they'll scramble to solve the "puzzle" before taking too many hits so they can paste this weenie.

    • A winged creature in a cave isn't going to sit around and be hit—it's going to use its extensive knowledge of the chaotic, upside-down landscape of the ceiling to always be in cover when the PCs are shooting and swooping down at precise, practiced locations for devastating charge damage. If it's got ranged abilities then they're really in trouble, since it can play hide-and-seek for as long as it takes to wear down PCs who don't get creative.

    • A well-prepared humanoid opponent is going to have traps and contingency plans for all sorts of things that would help in combat. Drop the PCs in a pit that's large enough that the Agility roll has that nice big -4 penalty. Drop portcullises to separate them and make them sitting ducks. Drop boulders on them. Make 'em hurt, but also show them how if they scout their fights better (or get creative right now) they too can take advantage of the terrain.

Despite all this, don't worry too much if not every fight is a nail-biter. Your players will appreciate a challenge, but they'll also remember fondly the time that the Lich Lord was pasted with a single mighty swing of an axe whose damage Aced like crazy. Savage Worlds is built for those kinds of unpredictable moments. Keep in mind your PCs' strengths and weaknesses and play on those, but share in your players' moments of glory when they just wipe the floor with the badguys. After all, they are legends!

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"If you're having problems with flat saves, make them opposed. This will bring the high stats of a Legendary creature into play against your PCs' similarly-Legendary stats." I have talked to my players and we are going to try this out. Thanks for the idea. –  David Allan Finch Nov 4 '10 at 9:59

This is a system-agnostic recommendation:

Play your bad guys smart!

I want to direct you to what I consider the bible on the topic, John Wick's Play Dirty. But here are some examples of what I mean:

Remember that most of the time, PCs are invading a territory the monsters / bad guys / enemies know like the back of their hands. A dungeon is the NPCs home. They'll use every advantage:

  • Choke points
  • Escape routes
  • Blockable passages

Plus, like I said, the bad guys live there. They have had all the time in the world before these arrogant adventurers showed up to turn their home into a meat grinder for intruders. They'll do all of this and more:

  • Use and even create cover to fire from protected positions
  • Spy on the intruders and report in time to make intelligent decisions
  • They'll lay traps that would make you scream if you were a player

Don't forget that as well as living in the adventure environment, the bad guys also live in the game world. They know the rules as well as the PCs, and they'll use them to their advantage.

In Savage Worlds, this means they'll scare, taunt, and disorient PCs to score Shaken results. Let's say you've got a typical fantasy dungeon populated with a whole tribe of small, evil, non-humans - like goblins. I never played a fantasy game in SW, but I know that the TN for ranged combat is just 4+2 per range increment - take 100 goblins, firing in waves of 50 each (so half are firing while half are nocking another arrow). Somebody is gonna get hit! Even if they're only Shaken - that's when the cadre of knife-wielding goblins rushes out - each one intent on killing a human so he can be a candidate to marry the chief's daughter!

You don't need bigger, badder, monsters to challenge badass PCs. You just need bad guys that treat encounters like life-and-death situations for themselves, their families, and / or their cultures.

Play smart. Play tough. Play, as John says, dirty.

EDIT: Tucker's Kobolds are another perfect example of what I'm talking about here.

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I do tent to play creatures to not there best, but to what is realistic, that is they will run, they will fight to tatical advantage, they will parley. But once character toughness gets to 10 then even Aceing once is not enough you need to do it twice or three times. 100s will do this but 10s is just a pain to roll over and over again and nothing. Also this does not solve the basic limit on powers which have fixed save TN which are easy to beat at Legendary. –  David Allan Finch Nov 2 '10 at 10:56
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@David - So pile it on! Use massed missile fire to drive the PCs into a choke point - like a narrow passage - then drop flaming pitch on them from above! Have your PCs been spending all their advances on Toughness and Agility? Have they been neglecting Guts? Make them roll to stand their ground while their NPC retainers die screaming, the scent of burning flesh mingling with the acrid smoke of the pitch. If they fail, they break, presenting a very easy target for missile fire from the goblins! –  gomad Nov 3 '10 at 16:44

I guess I'm not sure what you're asking, and if you really mean "creatures" and "powers" when you say "creatures" and "powers."

Most attempts to resist powers, like magical spells, are opposed rolls with the caster's arcane skill roll vs the defender's whatnot.

Is there some specific list of creatures you're concerned about? In SWEX I don't see any creatures with fixed-TN powers... For Legendary characters, use Legendary opponents.

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I mean creatures. I am not too worried about creating Legendary NPCs as I can create them myself using the same rules as the players. I mean standard creatures like Undead, Dragons and such like that can challenge PCs that are at 100 plus xps. There are a lot of powers that are vs the casters rolls but a lot are vs a flat save value. –  David Allan Finch Nov 2 '10 at 10:49

What would you do if you were a PC hired to defend a town attacked by a bunch of legendary 'bad guys'? If your attacks didn't have much effect you'd find a way to change that. Maybe you'd reduce their save ability (nobody says you can't just invent such a spell, or a poison, or an increased gravity room where it's harder to dodge…).

Monsters and beasts in an RPG live where they live for the same reason we do—it's the best bet for them. Maybe one monster lives where you place it because of natural protection, while another has found mushrooms that increase the damage it does with its breath weapon. Maybe living safely down here all these years has allowed the manticore to evolve new powers or more virulent poisons. Maybe the dark elves and the gnomes down here have been mating and given birth to the terrible troglodytic beardy elves who can combine their power to increase the difficulty of resistence…

Additionally, the stats given for entities in SW are not intended to be fixed and unyielding. They are the average for that critter. Bigger, badder versions of the same sort of beast exist and they might have powers that are much harder to shrug off.

"We– we'd killed thousandsa of Goblins… It wasn't even going to be worth unsheathing my sword… but… but then this Goblin with… with spines came out of a cave and it just paralysed everybody… I only escaped by pretending to be dead, and snuck away while it was eating my wife the elf ranger…" :)

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Thanks. Yes it is true that you can fudge stats to create bigger and better creatures, I have done so. I think my problems is with the power saves themselves not the creatures. –  David Allan Finch Nov 4 '10 at 10:03

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