I just started running Savage Worlds (SW:EX) and ran into a minor issue on my first session. The SW:EX book says in the Character Creation section that an average human has a d6 for any given stat. That means my "average human" NPCs (bandits, villagers, etc) have d6 across the board unless they're outside the norm. I also assume they have a d6 in any skill that's within their area of expertise, unless they're especially talented.

One of my players, who has played a fair bit of SW with a different edition (I'm not sure which), mentioned in an off-hand way to one of the other players that d4 is the human norm. This got me a bit worried that my mooks aren't as weak as they should be.

Can someone clarify, preferably with a citation, for SW:EX? Bonus points for other editions.


5 Answers 5


On page 6 of the Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition, it says

Attributes and skills are ranked by die types, from a d4 to a d12, with d6 being the average for adult humans.

  • \$\begingroup\$ In addition, it's common sense. The stats start at D4, and you have 5 pts to boost the stats. If you apply a +1 step to each stat, you have D6. Thus average humans have D6 in each stat. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 15:30
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It's only common sense if PCs are not exceptional compared to the rest of humanity. That's why it wasn't obvious to me. That and my apparently poor reading comprehension. \$\endgroup\$
    – cr0m
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 18:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've also heard it defined that a d6 is average for an adult human with training in the skill. For instance, a d6 Shooting means that the person has been practicing for a maybe several months and has developed their skills to where they are average among the other trained soldiers in their army or whatever. I personally do not have a d6 in Shooting because I have virtually no training in it, despite being an average adult human. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 18, 2014 at 4:30

I use this rule of thumb:

A celebrity has d12 in their specialised skill. (Muhammad Ali, Steve Jobs, Michael Schumacher, The Red Baron.)
A professional has d10 or d8 in trained skills.
Skills associated with a profession are at d6 or d8.
Other skills are at d4 or untrained.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Very nice way to think of this. I am going to have to remember this guideline... Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 15:30

The best way to find an "average human" for an NPC Extra is to take a look at some of the statblocks in the official books. If you look at the typical "soldier" in the Allies section of the core rulebook, you'll see it has d4 in Smarts, d6 in all other attributes, d4 in Stealth, and d6 in the other skills (including combat skills). The "experienced soldier" has two attributes at d8 and the rest at d6, combat skills at d8, and a couple of combat Edges.

If you have SWD you can also look at the Fires of Ascalon one-sheet adventure in the back, where you'll see the "Village Fighting Men" have Smarts d4, other attributes d6, Fighting d4 and Notice d6.

There are some even better examples in the Fantasy Companion, but to cover some of the more "average" types:

  • Bandit: d6 in all attributes and relevant skills.
  • Citizen: d6 in all attributes, d4 in combat skills, d6 in other relevant skills.
  • Mercenary: Vigor d8, all other attributes and relevant skills at d6.
  • Courtier: Smarts d8, other attributes d6, primary skills d8, Fighting d4.
  • Town/City Watch: d6 in all attributes, combat skills d8, other skills d6.
  • Militia: d6 in all attributes, combat skills d6, other skills d4/d6.

So we can see that citizens (covering "everything from farmers to crafters") and courtiers would typically have Fighting d4, while most bandits, mercenaries and village militia would have Fighting d6, and the Town/City Watch (described as competent guardsmen) have Fighting d8. The Horror Companion also has a "typical cultist" who has Smarts d4, but all other attributes and skills d6, as well as a "Police Patrolmen" who has Spirit d8, other attributes d6, combat skills d8, other skills d6-d8.

So I would argue that most humans have d6 in all attributes, sometimes with a single d4 or d8. Most would also have d6 in skills related to their profession, or d8 if they're particularly well trained, but only d4 (or unskilled) in other skills.

Regarding the ratings for different die steps, it's worth taking a look at the section on Professional Edges, which "reflect many years of practicing a particular trade". A character with a Professional Edge is described as being "far more competent in his chosen field than most others - far more than just having a d12 in that occupation's skills". Most Professional Edges require d8+ in the appropriate traits, and many of them grant a +2 bonus to certain skills.

Thus the Professional Edges help to differentiate between a skilled professional (d8+2) and someone with exceptional talent but without professional training (d12). Both get the same result on average (if you ignore the Wild Die), but the professional is far less likely to make silly mistakes (12.5% chance of failure at TN 4, instead of 25% chance for d12). For a Wild Card, d8+2 is far superior to d12 - not only because the +2 is added to both the trait die and wild dice, but also because it means the character will only fail at standard difficulty tasks if they roll snake eyes.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The age of a question on this site is completely and totally irrelevant, so there's no need to draw attention to it in your answer. As long as you feel your answer adds something that none of the others do, you should give it no matter how old a question is \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 13:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ It might also be worth making it a bit clearer in your answer that the figures you state (which I agree with) are for Extras, and that the situation for PCs is different as they are Wild Cards \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 13:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, I've changed it to mention NPC Extras - although I think the same guidelines could also be applied to Wild Cards, the references are specific to Extras. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zadmar
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 13:19

There are to answers to this.

a) SWEX Page 131

Consider this Game Master’s Rule #1 when it comes to NPCs: Don’t “design” them! ... Just give them what you think they ought to have in their various skills and attributes and move on.

b) Some source books have approprate genric NPCs like Citizen in the Fantasy Companion Page 108.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Right, that note is exactly why I assume that they are the human norm unless they're special in some way. But that's also why I needed to know what the norm is! \$\endgroup\$
    – cr0m
    Commented Oct 15, 2011 at 0:34

Skill scala

d4-2 : not acquired

d4 : novice (beginner)

d6 : amateur (regular)

d8 : Professional (it's his job)

d10 : expert (among the better in his job)

d12 : master (among the best in his job)

d12+1 : leader of his country

d12+2 : maybe champion of the world

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is definitely the skeleton of an answer, but it could use some fleshing out. At the very least, the question specifically asked for a citation to be provided. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Oct 26, 2014 at 23:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Indeed - please tell us what parts can be based on citation of the rules, and what parts you're extrapolating or making up yourself. Making stuff up is fine, but we need to know which parts are which, and it does need to have some basis in citation for the purposes of this question. I imagine at the very least the d6 assignment is roughly supported by the same thing Jadasc quotes, for example. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 26, 2014 at 23:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I asked for a citation to back up your answers, so no matter how good an answer is, without a citation, it won't be as good as an answer that has one. \$\endgroup\$
    – cr0m
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 19:21

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