It's all Fast And Furious -- Until It's Not

The inverse ninja law in action figure form
Over on Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque today, Jack Shear has tips on how to build your own escalation die for use in the RPG of your choice.  The escalation die, for those who don't know, is a mechanic from 13th Age in which (basically) the players get escalating bonuses to their combat rolls if a fight starts dragging on too long.  Jack suggests its use with Savage Worlds, and I have to admit that I have experienced a few combats where it would have been a good thing.

I like Savage Worlds combat overall, but occasionally the dice just don't want to cooperate and something that should be fast, furious, and fun becomes a slog through a bog.  The most infamous example I can think of from my own experience was a ninja ambush during a short-lived pulp campaign I ran about four years ago.  It should have been pretty simple -- four seasoned Wild Cards against eight ninja extras -- but (in a hilarious example of the inverse ninja law) once seven of the ninja had been eliminated, the players just couldn't hit the last one.  I tried to make him escape, but they naturally kept chasing after him (what player is going to let some damned mook that showed him up escape?) and they unnaturally kept missing their rolls. 

I could have fudged a roll, I suppose, but that would require me to roll behind a screen.  I roll in the open; you kind of have to if one of the players is your wife and you don't want the other players thinking you're cheating in her favor. 

In any case, they finally caught him and slaughtered him, but that was a half-hour wasted chasing one worthless ninja that could have been spent doing something, anything else.  Just a little bonus to somebody's roll could have nailed that ninja a little sooner.  I hope to get a The King is Dead campaign going by the end of the month or the middle of June, so maybe I'll give the escalation die a try in it.  The rule would be that Wild Cards get a cumulative +1 to hit every round after the first up to +6. 

Of course, "Wild Cards" covers NPC vampires too...


  1. I like the idea, but I think I'd go for a max of +4. I feel like +6 is insanely high for Savage Worlds.

  2. Four wild cards against a mook should have been getting a gang up bonus of +3. There's always wild attack/tricks/test of will, too. That said, I've had some drawn out fights myself. It can get to the point of being monotonous.

    1. Admittedly, this lucky-ass ninja wasn't played as an idiot. I kept him moving and he never let the PCs gang up on him. I admit that in retrospect I made things hard on myself.


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