I'm playing Savage Worlds for the first time. My character is starting as an assassin type with no ranged ability(Assassin and Martial Arts edges to start). I'm worried about dying to gunfire as I attempt to close on my enemies (those who aren't taken unaware). Are there any stats or edges which can help me avoid ranged attacks?


4 Answers 4


Use Better Tactics

More so than most roleplaying games, tactics are very important in Savage Worlds. Stand out in the open during a gunfight and you will get shot. The idea is to fight smarter. This is the best way to improve your ranged defense.

Focus first on not being seen

You'll want to pay attention to the Stealth rules. If they don't know you're there, they can't shoot you. Also, the Assassin Edge only works if they don't know that you are there, so this is your priority anyway.

The section on Stealth gives a whole table of modifiers that will give you bonuses to not being seen:

  • Crawling: +2
  • Illumination
    • Dim light: +1
    • Darkness: +2
    • Pitch darkness: +4
  • Cover
    • Light cover (half or less): +1
    • Medium cover (more than half): +2
    • Heavy cover (small part e.g. peeking around a corner): +4

When you're spotted, try not to get hit

You've blown your cover (and the chance to use the Assassin Edge), but you still need to close the gap. Just like in real life, it's pretty tough if not impossible to dodge a bullet once it's been fired. Fortunately, there are some things that help with this:

  • Crouch: Move at half pace and ranged attacks suffer a –1 penalty
  • Illumination: If it's too dark to see, they can't shoot at you
    • Dim light: –1
    • Darkness: –2
    • Pitch darkness: –4
  • Take Cover: If you have something in between you and the target, they can't hit you
    • Light cover: –1
    • Medium cover: –2
    • Heavy cover: –4
    • Near Total Cover (e.g. arrow slit): –6

There are two tactics that are also effective at making yourself harder to hit, but they don't really help your goal of trying to get closer to your enemy:

  • Go Prone: Provides Medium Cover (–2 to be hit) against any attacks greater than 3" away
  • Get Farther Away: If they have range penalties, they'll have a harder time of hitting you.

Consider Some Edges

I'm mentioning these after the tactics because I think that tactics are more important in Savage Worlds. Good tactics give more bonuses to not be hit than Edges do, and that's by design.

Again, not being spotted in the first place is the best way to not get shot (and will allow you to use Assassin). These Edges help with that:

  • Thief (Novice, Agility d8+, Climbing d6+, Lockpicking d6+, Stealth d8+)
    • +2 Stealth in urban environments (also +2 Climbing, Lockpicking, and disarming traps)
  • Woodsman (Novice, Spirit d6+, Survival d8+, Tracking d8+)
    • +2 Stealth in wilderness environments (also +2 Tracking and Survival)

When the lead goes flying, these will help you get to safety:

  • Dodge (Seasoned, Agility d8+)
    • –1 penalty to ranged attacks against you if not surprised
  • Improved Dodge (Veteran, Dodge)
    • –2 penalty to ranged attacks against you (replaces –1 penalty)

I'll repeat again though, tactics are more important in Savage Worlds. Yes, a –1 penalty to be hit from the Dodge Edge is nice, but a –2 from Medium cover is better.

Is Magic Available?

If magic is available in your setting, you also have the option of the deflection power. With a success, attackers take a –2 penalty to hit you. With a raise, that penalty increases to –4.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. It's Hell on Earth. My character is an escapee from a Combine program that raises humans as stock for infiltration cyborgs, conditions them in assassination and hand to hand techniques. Really wanted him to feel deadly yet... incomplete. He's been raised in isolation, very lacking in practical and survival skills, really only knows how to follow orders and sneak and kill. An unusually strong internal moral compass is all that saved him, he killed his handlers and ran when it came time to be blooded on an innocent. Being tactical feels... right. Thief might fit that mold as well. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 26, 2015 at 23:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user3542923 In that case, yeah, using tactics and taking the Thief Edge sounds just about right. The only you escape from the Combine, the best armed faction in the Wasted West, and survive the wastes without training is by being smart. Also I'm guessing the Combine would consider the character expendable after completing a mission, so staying alive by being smart, rather than being trained (as represented by the Dodge Edge) sounds like a good fit. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 27, 2015 at 3:45

The Dodge edge (pg 37). Requirements: Seasoned, Agility d8+ Unless they are the victim of a surprise attack and taken completely unaware, attackers must subtract 1 from their ranged attack rolls when targeting them (even in close combat). Characters who attempt to evade area effect attacks may add +1 to their Agility roll as well (when allowed).

Improved Dodge (Veteran) ups it to -2.


Taking Fleet Footed increases your pace by 2 and your Running die to 1d10, which is useful for clearing pistol ranges in a single round. Another good edge to take is Quick, which requires a d8 Agility, but lets you act on a 6 or better in combat, increasing your chance of going first and decreasing your chance of going last.

Taking Cover and Dropping Prone for a handful of Rounds and counting enemy ammunition works. Most Assault Rifles have 10 3-round bursts or 3 Full Autos and a 3-round burst, but can't take Single Shots. Some Pistols can double tap, but that heavily cuts into ammunition.

Ammunition is also heavy, so most realistically designed NPCs don't have more than 2 reloads for their main gun and 1 reload for their sidearm if they are trained soldiers. Most non-soldier NPCs logically have 1 main weapon and 1 reload. And unless they are part of the demolitions crew, they likely shouldn't have explosives and if they are. no more than like 2 or 3.

So counting the enemies expended rounds on a foe by foe basis, tells you when it is safe to advance again. It is a trick they used in the old west.


As above, but another Edge you might want to consider is Fleet Footed. It'll let you close the distance to melee quicker.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer needs to be able to stand on its own. Please edit your answer to summarize what you are referring to regarding "as above" for this to make sense by itself. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 27, 2015 at 12:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Because of user-controlled sorting on the page and because this is not a thread on a discussion forum, there is no reliable "above" that others can understand. Take the tour for a taste of how this site is different from a forum. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 27, 2015 at 13:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel bad that you have a negative score, so I just wanted to let you know that I think it's an interesting edge that I'm going to be considering. It would help with stealthing to a target in less turns; fewer chances of getting noticed, more reliability; and getting to a target in less turns if discovered. Both of those seem extremely useful. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 27, 2015 at 14:40

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