I am converting Return to the Keep on the Borderlands into a Savage Worlds test. Mainly because that adventure is very localized and has all the basic role-playing elements (Hack and Slash, Intrigue, Mystery, Diplomacy etc.) which makes is a good testing ground for my players and I to feel out the system as a possibility of a full move from 5E.

As I was converting some of the encounters and monsters I stumbled across a place where there were what amounted to what would be considered in 5E as a Glyph or in an old Dragon article a Skull Trap.

Basically, Skull Trap was a 2nd or 3rd level Necromantic spell that allowed the caster to imbue an intact skull to be more or less like a landmine. If disturbed it would explode and all in the radius would take damage.

Since Savage Worlds leans mostly on Power Points and they regenerate insanely fast I have seen that they tend to essentially invest the Power Points and they don't regain them until the trap is triggered.

Are there other ways to adjudicate this? I realize there are a number of settings out there with varying magic systems and I have seen the Savage Vancian versions but they don't seem to really work for me.

Essentially, is there a way for a power to be used to create a trap that lasts indefinitely without investment of Power Points and if so what are the balance issues of allowing this? I had thought to allow it but increase the casting time significantly for long standing effects.


1 Answer 1


Savage Worlds uses two different solutions

For NPCs
It is a special ability that they can just do. The trap would be similar to a blast power, centered on the trigger (a.k.a. the skull). Touch the skull, everything in a Medium Blast Template takes 2d6 damage.

If there is an ongoing cost to use such abilities, that needs to be stated in the specific ability.

For Player Characters
The easiest resolution is to use the Arcane Devices rules (page 153) to leave a triggered blast effect. Characters with the Artificer Edge can create arcane devices.
The expected trapping limitations (notably Range) would probably reduce the Power Point cost by one. (See Limitations on page 150.)

Other possible solutions include:

  • purchasing magical traps similar to landmines (landmines with a trapping change).
  • constructing a trap with magical trappings (probably with a Dramatic Task or Quick Encounter; but Savage Worlds lacks crafting rules, so adjudication is required).
  • other ideas (my coffee has run out, so my creativity seems to have run out).

The issue with indefinite spell effects that have no ongoing cost is that it is unbalancing. Specifically, it removes the balance mechanics of magic and replaces them with "time spent". If fighter-types could hack at a random post for 30 minutes to create a blade storm trap - which unleashed all 30 minutes of blows onto a creature that came within five feet of the post - then the existence of indefinite, no upkeep spells would be balanced.

For non-player characters, comparative balance is not a concern. The existence of the Invulnerability monster ability is proof of that.

For player characters, comparative balance is a real concern. People dislike feeling overshadowed, and allowing a mage to transform all his power from days off into combat power during adventures - with no ongoing cost - makes it trivial for magi to overshadow non-casters. That is a design concern for PEG, since it impacts the Fun! of FFF, and they chose to disallow it.

Good luck!

  • \$\begingroup\$ After we tested a bit I was going to probably go with slower regeneration of PP, and for the purposes of this spell effect it would be significant cost to those PP so they couldn't just make 30 a day. Also, the old Skull Trap couldn't be moved once armed so they can't just carry them around either. The lack of crafting solutions is vexing for SW for me and will likely be that for my players as well. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 11:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth It doesn't matter how few per day a mage could create. If it's more than a warrior can create then it's unbalanced in a way that will probably be unfun for non-magi. \$\endgroup\$
    – ValhallaGH
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 1:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there a setting that has a decent crafting system in SW? I am looking at Lankhmar for a version of powers that I am looking to look at templating. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 3:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth Not that I know of. Good luck! \$\endgroup\$
    – ValhallaGH
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 3:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .