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I'm trying to learn enough Savage Worlds to start running a little experimental game. I keep feeling like the rules are explained poorly, but it may just be that my brain is not ready to learn.

The current bit I'm stuck on is initiative. I'd normally assume that initiative is computed once per combat. That's fairly typical, and would make sense. At the start of combat, each combatant or group is dealt in, then each round turns occur in order. This text is confusing, though:

In addition, the hero adds +2 to all trait tests made this round, and +2 to damage! Reshuffle the deck after a Joker is dealt to any character.

Why is "this round" specified, if it lasts for the entire combat? Does it only last the first round?

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Initiative that lasts an entire combat actually isn't typical. It's mostly particular to D&D, and even then is a modern change introduced after WotC bought the brand. Being The Most Popular RPG In The World will make how it does things seem typical, but in many ways D&D is now in the minority or alone in how it does things. A lot of games are written with the defaul assumptions of 80s AD&D players in mind. If one has never played it, though, a lot of other games' assumptions will be unclear or counterintuitive. This is just one of those. –  SevenSidedDie Apr 25 '11 at 5:04
Huh! Back in the days of 1E and 2E, we rolled initiative once per combat, but a review of rules shows that we were not following them. I wonder how that came about. Thanks! –  rjbs Apr 25 '11 at 11:42
It wasn't an uncommon house rule; maybe whoever was the most experienced came from a game where it was done that way? –  SevenSidedDie Apr 25 '11 at 16:02

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Good question; upon reviewing my Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition, I note it doesn't explicitly say that cards are re-dealt at the beginning of each round. That's how we've always played it, though, because of the implications of the Joker section no doubt. In the Revised Rules, it notes you should reshuffle the deck any round in which a Joker is dealt too.

As a result, I think it's their clear intent that cards be drawn every round, though like many parts of Savage Worlds, they don't bother to state it explicitly.

If you wanted to go to a "one time draw" initiative system, you could just give that person all the Joker benefits for the whole combat, and treat it as a big spotlight time for them. Alternately, if someone gets a Joker, they get it for one round and then they and only they get a new initiative card after. Why? Because Jokers are WILD!

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Agreed, I can't find it explicitly laid out there either, but that's what we have always done as well. –  Cthos Apr 24 '11 at 16:41
It's implied by the Countdown section, "Once the cards are dealt, the Game Master starts the round…" But yes, it's never made legalistically explicit. –  SevenSidedDie Apr 24 '11 at 16:47
I agree. And that's how we've always played it. (And I've play tested for almost every PEG savage worlds game system.) But it's a good point that this isn't clearly stated. But I like your suggestions, it's pretty fair and useful. I chalk this up to being obvious enough that no one noticed it. –  Benjamin Schollnick Feb 25 '13 at 15:34
It's implied again under the "Hold" section of Initiative: "If a character has a Held card when a new round starts, he’s not dealt in." –  SevenSidedDie May 1 '13 at 4:14
There is this thread in the official forums that clarifies that cards are dealt every round: peginc.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=39962. –  sergut Jul 20 '13 at 16:55

Initiative is recalculated (more cards are handed out) every round. That's why it says that.

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I'd normally assume that initiative is computed once per combat. That's fairly typical, and would make sense. At the start of combat, each combatant or group is dealt in, then each round turns occur in order.

Initiative in Savage Worlds is calculated every round

Initiative in Savage World is calculated every round, not once per combat. It is not very special in that respect: there are many other RPG in which initiative is computed every round.

I have not seen the Savage Worlds Explorers Edition, but in Savage Worlds Deluxe it is clear that new action cards are handed every round, although nitpicky people can claim that this information is a bit scattered all over the place and not explicitly said.

On p64 it says: "Shuffle the deck after any round in which a Joker was dealt".

On p65 is says: "Once the cards are dealt, the Game Master starts the round by counting down from the Ace to the Deuce...", and "...when a player draws a Joker (...) add +2 to all Trait tests this round, and +2 to damage totals as well!".

On p69 it says: "Bleeding Out: The injured character must make a Vigor roll at the start of each round after the one in which he was injured and before Action Cards are dealt".

The first and last sentences seem particularly clear to me.

Update: see also the official position on this thread:

yes, new cards are dealt at the beginning of each round

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