I'm planning on running a post-apocalyptic setting for my Savage Worlds campaign, and one thing I want to do is to make Wild Cards have less of an advantage over the average inhabitant of the world-they take more to kill, but basically they don't get as much of an edge-there's less mercy for them.

One thing I've considered doing is replacing the d6 Wild Die with a d4, to make things less powerful (I want to leave Acing in so that there's a chance of getting, say, 11 on the Wild Die, but you'll need to Ace twice to do so). However, will this create issues? Should I instead, say, limit the use of Wild Dice to a few select instances?

EDIT: When I say that I don't want the Wild Cards to have much of an advantage over an Extra, I more meant to say that I want to keep the distinction, but mess around with it to be more lethal in general-I'm okay with frequent and horrible failure, as it fits the feel of the game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You might be using the wrong system if you're taking away a key element of the pulp action that Savage Worlds is known for. \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    May 17, 2013 at 23:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Savage Worlds is known for pulp action, sure, but I think that it's easily adaptable per genre; I'm thinking of the sort of thing that one finds in Setting Rules. \$\endgroup\$ May 17, 2013 at 23:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Absolutely. It's 'default' is pulp, but its very easy to tweak according to what feel you are going for. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    May 18, 2013 at 15:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Possibly related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/22744/… \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2013 at 15:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Seen it-not the same as changing the Wild Die, but got me thinking on the subject. \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2013 at 19:26

4 Answers 4


Working with a d4 Wild Die will have a number of effects on the system. Note that I haven't yet run the numbers on the exact changes to probabilities with this change, but I believe that the general trends I've identified will hold:

  • You will reduce the average die total on trait rolls, but the results you get will be more 'swingy', as 25% of the time you will get a 1 on the d4, and 25% you will get a raise. This may make the system feel a little more arbitrary and luck based as on average, results for PCs will be less consistent. It will also increase the frequency of critical fails, and depending on the setting this could have a major impact on the dangerousness of characters with Arcane Backgrounds and the unpredictability of Skills with bad outcomes when these are rolled.
  • It becomes more important to spend advances on raising skills and attributes in order to compensate for the lower Wild Die. This is likely to lead to fewer Edges being taken by your players. As Edges are more important than skills for defining the 'niches' that each PC fills, you may well end up with PCs that are more similar in terms of what they are good at.
  • Average damage rolls will be lower as there will be fewer Raises on successful attacks. This will impact on the value of Edges relating to Damage such as No Mercy.

Regarding other suggestions to achieve what you are trying to do:

  • Removal of the Wild Die altogether is a huge change, and will have a massive impact on all sorts of areas of the game. Even if you only consider doing this for certain rolls, I would be very careful, as it is likely to have consequences on other areas of the system that will be difficult to correct for.
  • Most suggestions around this raise NPC abilities rather than lower those of the PCs, as this is a far easier angle of attack with tried and tested methods. For example, you can introduce more gradual 'levels' between Extras and Wild Cards including Extras with 3 wounds, Wild Cards with no Wounds, Extras who only use a Wild Die in their 'expert' skills, varying the number of bennies available to different NPCs.
  • If you want to make PCs more 'squishy', then an obvious area to look at is the way wounds and injuries work. Gritty Damage and Critical Fails are both setting rules that could be used to help reinforce this feel, as well as being frugal with the number of Bennies you reward during each session.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Very nice! I like the statistics there. What I've settled on so far is "d4 Wild Dice, Critical Fails, Gritty Damage, Jokers Wild (as the only way to get Bennies), Blood and Guts, No Power Points, and Specialization (for weapons)", which is perhaps too many Setting Modifiers for one game. \$\endgroup\$ May 18, 2013 at 1:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KyleWilley You've basically making a system that is supposed to be quick and easy complex to fit the tone of the game. Find a system that fits the tone better. Hop in the general chat and we can discuss possibly. \$\endgroup\$ May 21, 2013 at 15:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not sure I agree here. Apart from the d4 WD, the changes Kyle is making are all described in the core rulebook, and it is expected that they be used exactly in this way. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    May 21, 2013 at 17:02

The basic Target Number for a success 4 and 8 for a raise are built into the system and assume that the players will have their Wild Die. If you remove the Wild Die or change it from a d6 then the basic chance of making a 4 for normal trait check become harder. A simpler solution if you really want to have NPC on a more equal footing is to always roll a wild die for the NPC. This way you don't need to change the scales for TN etc. There is no reason that most NPC can't still only have one wound which reduces you GM work load.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a common suggestion I've seen in forum discussions to make Extras more dangerous in a gritty game. +1! \$\endgroup\$ May 17, 2013 at 23:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not necessarily looking to make the Extras more dangerous-I want everything to hold an edge. Good answer regardless. \$\endgroup\$ May 17, 2013 at 23:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kyle Everything will have and edge. Try it and see—since dice explode, there's no such thing as a "safe" fight or conflict. It'll be even moreso if everyone has a Wild Die. \$\endgroup\$ May 18, 2013 at 0:39

Here's the usual difference between Wild Cards (PC or NPC) vs. Extras regarding probability. As you can see, WCs are much more competent than Extras.

What if you change the Wild Die to d4? Things start to look up for the Extras.

You could also change how acing works, a common house rule is -1 per ace (i.e., if you ace and the next roll is 1, you don't get anything).

If you combine both approaches, it looks like you'll be closer to what you want.

Before messing around with the rules though, I'd try using it to my advantage. How do you plan on playing this PA? If sort of Road Warrior or Fallout, I'd have one or more WC villains and lots of extras to gang up on PCs (learn your combat options, they make a great difference).

If you're leaning more like The Road, where the PCs encounter very small groups of antagonists, I'd consider having them being wild cards as well.

Also the Setting Rules Critical Failure and Gritty Damage are your friends. (Though I personally despise the complexity of Gritty Damage and find it runs against Fast, Furious, Fun).

I haven't seen much complaints against Savage Worlds being too "easy", quite the opposite. Have a go at these tips and if you and your table want to ramp up the game, change the system (be careful not to break it, though).

Phil makes an excellent point: if your players find themselves spending more points in skills to compensate (an less in edges), you'll miss out a lot of flavor in your game. This makes it a deal-breaker to me, might not be to you.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I ran a session tonight-not with the full on apocalypse rules, but just with the d4 modification, and it was hilariously pathetic; it was a Mafia themed one-shot, but it basically ended up like Snatch, with constant epic failures. \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2013 at 5:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this what you were after? \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2013 at 13:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ It wasn't too far away from it. \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2013 at 13:52

Keep in mind that lower dice actually have a better advantage for specific TNs. If you replace the wild die with a d4, your players will have an easier time hitting a TN of 6. This is easy to plot around as a GM, but important to be mindful of so you don't actually make it easier for them.

Here's a link to a previous answer of mine regarding the statistics: Aced d4s vs skill development in Savage Worlds

  • \$\begingroup\$ Lower individual dice do work better, but when you're taking the best of two it matters a little less. The mode of rolls from our session (of the better of the two) was 2, and while that says horrible things about our experiences with probability, they certainly weren't getting better to six. Basically, what you wind up with is the better of the two-the d4 has a better chance to ace, but the other die will usually be higher and have a better shot. \$\endgroup\$ May 20, 2013 at 17:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Toast No wait, entirely my bad. I looked at some more graphs and you're right: there is a 1–2 percentage point boost for TN >=4 across skill die sizes. Ironically, my original point was that it's easy to misinterpret stats and graphs, and now I have demonstrated it by doing so myself! :) I withdraw my objection and you can have a +1. \$\endgroup\$ May 20, 2013 at 17:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. It took me months to first wrap my head around this concept. =D I don't think GMs should worry about it, because A) it's a tiny percent boost and B) it's easy to increase the TN to eliminate the advantage. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ryre
    May 21, 2013 at 17:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, the so-called boost is only true for Extras at TN 4. Wildcards get better results regardless. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 27, 2013 at 0:18

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