The King is Dead

Savage Worlds Edges and Setting Rules

Collected here are the Hindrances, Edges, and Setting Rules I’ve created on the blog so far.  Not all of them are great, but I think there’s a few gems.


Beast Companion
Weird, Seasoned, Spirit d8+, Beast Master

Many of the great pulp heroes have special animal companions;  Zorro has Tornado, the Lone Ranger has Silver, Tarzan has Jad Bal Ja and Nkima, etc..  These companions are beasts of exceptional intelligence and ability who outshine their brethren as brilliantly as their masters do normal men.    

After a character takes Beast Companion, her companion animal is promoted to a Wild Card.  In addition, the companion beast gains 8 points that may be spent to improve Attributes, Edges, and Skills in the following combination:
  • Attributes = 1 point
  • Edges = 2 points
  • Skills = 2 Skill points for every 1 point spent
Edges are obviously limited to those appropriate to the physical capabilities of the animal.  No animal may purchase Professional or Social Edges (so no chimpanzee Gadgeteers or dolphin McGyvers).

After promotion to Wild Card status, the companion beast advances as a typical Ally (Savage Worlds Deluxe p. 81). 

Example: Tornado (AKA Toronado, Tempest)
Surprisingly smart and fast as the wind, the black Andalusian (or mustang) stallion Tornado is Zorro's most frequent ally in his fight against injustice.  On Tornado's back, Zorro is able to nightly outrace the Comandante's soldiers.  

Tornado begins as a normal Riding Horse.  Zorro's player spends 4 points on Attributes (Agility +2, Smarts +1, Spirit +1), 2 points on Edges (Fleet Footed), and 2 points on Skills (Fighting +1, Notice +1, Stealth +2).

Attributes: Agility d12, Smarts d6 (A), Spirit d8, Strength d12, Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d6, Notice d8, Stealth d6
Pace: 12;  Parry: 5;  Toughness: 8
Special Abilities:
  • Fleet Footed -- Tornado rolls a d10 when running instead of a d6
  • Kick -- Strength
  • Size +2 -- Riding Horses weigh between 800 and 1000 pounds
Casanova (for use with Setting Rule: Fear of Intimacy)
Background, Novice, Spirit (or Guts) d6+

Your affections are easily given.  You do not suffer the usual Charisma-based penalty to your Fear check, but your reputation has suffered for it.  Instead of the GM rolling on the reaction table, targets of your seduction attempts always begin at Uncooperative -- or Hostile if they have personal reasons to dislike you (see "Persuasion" on p. 26 of Savage Worlds Deluxe).

Master Decanter (for use with Wine Tasting)
Weird, Novice, Agility d6+
You have an uncanny knack for decanting. You add +2 to all decanting attempts.

Trained Palate (for use with Wine Tasting)
Professional, Novice, Spirit d6+

Your character has made a study of the art of wine-tasting (or had it forced upon him). You know what flint, leather, and black currant taste like from bitter experience. You add +2 to wine-tasting rolls.

God-Like Palate (Professional Edge)
Professional, Heroic, Trained Palate, Spirit d10+

Life experience has refined your senses far beyond the normal man. You add +4 to wine-tasting rolls (including the +2 from Trained Palate).

Soul Mate (for use with Setting Rule: Fear of Intimacy)
Weird, Seasoned, Spirit D8+, character must have previously succeeded on a Fear check against Fear of Intimacy with subject

There is one person in the universe with whom you can really speak your heart.  You do not roll Fear checks when facing a situation that would call for a Fear of Intimacy check with this character.  This soul mate may be a player or non-player character, but the benefits of this Edge are lost if the character dies (and is not resurrected by a Genesis Device or the Phoenix Force or something like that).  At the GM's discretion, the Edge may apply to alternate universe versions of the soul mate.  This Edge may be taken again to apply to a new character upon the death of the original soul mate (or if the setting is just into that kind of thing).




In some Savage Settings, words cut as deep as steel. It may be scheming courtiers in Heian-Kyo or catty debutantes at Almack's, but they'll use Intimidate and Taunt to defeat their foes as decisively as any swordsmen by inflicting Anguish on their opponents.

Anguish is a Hazard -- a source of Fatigue, just like Bumps and Bruises, Hunger, and Thirst. In non-combat scenes, successive Shaken results in tests of will inflict Fatigue on the target, as the emotional stress and mental anguish eventually result in Incapacitation.
  • Recovery: Fatigue levels from Anguish are recovered immediately in the next scene. Individual Game Masters may wish to require the player to run an Interlude or otherwise soliloquize as their Wild Card comes to terms with the source of their Anguish.
  • Incapacitation Effects: How a character Incapacitated by Anguish reacts will vary dramatically depending on the setting. A Regency gentlewoman may literally faint, overcome with emotion. A Baroque period courtier may retreat from Versailles to plot vengeance from his or her country estates. A Tokugawa era samurai may challenge his opponent to a duel -- or even lose his cool entirely and draw his sword in the Shogun's presence! In any event, the character Incapacitated has "lost" that social encounter and must leave the scene.
Example: Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are having a tiff. Darcy taunts Elizabeth about her prejudice towards him based on their first meeting; he scores a raise and she is Shaken. Elizabeth, being a healthy young woman accustomed to long walks in the countryside, scores a raise on her Vigor roll and is both unshaken and able to act normally. Darcy would need to score another Shaken result against her in order to inflict Anguish upon her.

Elizabeth taunts Darcy about his overweening pride; she scores a raise and he is Shaken. Darcy fails his Vigor roll on the following turn. Elizabeth scores another raise (getting to use her +2 bonus from her successful Test of Will in the previous round) and now the Anguish of this argument has Darcy Fatigued. If Darcy is Incapacitated in the following rounds, he will be forced to confess his love for Elizabeth and then immediately flee the scene.

Anguish can be combined with Social Combat as characters interject personal attacks in order to weaken their opponents' arguments. Doing so imposes a multi-action penalty, though the result may be worth it if the opponent misses an entire round of the argument (or two, or three) trying to recover from Anguish.

In settings that track social status -- such as Iron Dynasty and Pirates of the Spanish Main -- being publicly incapacitated by Anguish results in loss of Fame or Reputation. It can be recovered through dueling or humiliating the opponent in a test of will on another occasion.

Dreadful Anguish
In some settings, such as Regency England and Heian Japan, Anguish can be particularly deadly. The GM may require a character Incapacitated by Dreadful Anguish to make a Vigor roll before the next scene. Success indicates the Wild Card is fine; a failure indicates the character has contracted a Short-Term Debilitating disease; a critical failure means the disease is Minor Debilitating Long-Term Chronic. (See "Disease" on page 87 of Savage Worlds Deluxe.)

Dreadful Anguish can also be combined with Dramatic Tasks. A character may write a spiteful letter as a Dramatic Task, taking five "actions" to write the letter and requiring a minimum of five successes in the skill or skills used to compose the letter (there is no reason the writer could not switch back and forth between Intimidate and Taunt). If the writer fails to reach five successes, he or she gives up the attempt in frustration, unable to find the right way to express him or herself. Action cards are drawn as usual; club cards represent an attack of writer's block while jokers grant a burst of inspiration. The scores for each "action" should be recorded; they are what the defender will roll against when he or she reads the letter. Incapacitation resulting from an anguishing letter forces the same Vigor roll against disease as Anguish gained from a face-to-face encounter.

Cooperative Skills

Sometimes a character's expertise in one area gives her an edge in another. It might be an understanding of Knowledge (Electronics) that gives a high-tech thief an insight in Lockpicking or a hard-boiled P.I.'s skill at Intimidation that lends him a hand at Streetwise, but sometimes a single character may combine skill rolls just like a group Cooperative Roll (Savage Worlds Deluxe, p. 63). For every success and raise on the "helper" skill, the character may add +1 (up to +4) to the "main" roll.

Example: Batman hits the streets to find out where the Joker is hiding. The GM and player don't want to run a series of interrogations, so the GM allows the player to roll Intimidation and add the successes to a Streetwise roll. Batman rolls his Intimidation of d12+2 and scores 3 successes. He adds +3 to his Streetwise roll of d12+2 and gets an 8 (even Batman rolls low sometimes). The GM rules the raise means Batman tracks the Joker down in next to no time after brutally scaring the crap out of a bunch of thugs, and one scene later he comes crashing through the Joker's skylight.

Count Up/Count Down

One thing I've found in running sword duels in Savage Worlds is that the standard "count down" initiative system gives a lot of the ability to control the fight to the character with worse initiative.  What I've started doing is "count up/count down;" the character/player with lower initiative declares his action, the player with higher initiative declares hers, and then play proceeds from high to low.  This means that if the character with worse initiative declares he is doing Full Defense, the character with better initiative can declare a Wild Attack to counter it.  I've always gotten the impression that fencing is more about anticipating and countering your opponent's maneuvers than it is about simply being faster, and count up/count down for initiative definitely skews combat that direction.

Fear of Intimacy

In many cultures throughout history (ex. Heian Japan) and fiction (the planet Vulcan), the expression of powerful emotions has been censored by societal norms.  In such a setting, the GM may require a player to make a Fear check (rolling either Spirit or Guts, depending on the setting) in order to overcome their character's fear of public censure in order to admit and/or act upon a socially-unacceptable desire or impulse.  In most settings, failing the roll will result in a Fear/Nausea result but settings that emphasize extremes of emotion may instead result in Terror and call for a roll on the Fright Table (Savage Worlds Deluxe p. 85).

In the most obvious use of this rule -- forcing characters to screw their courage to the sticking place in order to confess love -- the object of affection's Charisma is used as a negative modifier on the Fear check and a positive modifier on the Fright Table as per the normal "Fear penalty" rules.  In other words, the more desirable the beloved, the harder it is to admit love.

Additional penalties or bonuses may apply depending on the setting.

Example 1 (Fear/Nausea):  Ranma Saotome is a Japanese high school student in an anime/manga-based setting.  As the Japanese public education system discourages the free time that allows American high school boys to (frankly) learn how to talk to girls, Ranma is unable to tell his fiancee Akane Tendo of his feelings.  When a new, smooth-talking rival wins a smile from Akane, Ranma tries to win her back with a confession of his love.  She really is kind of cute (Attractive - Charisma +2), so Ranma applies a -2 penalty to his Fear check.  Failing the roll, he is stricken with self-doubt that leaves him Fatigued in the coming "Anything Goes Salsa Dance" battle.

Example 2 (Terror): Sir Lancelot is a noble knight in a medieval setting of powerful passions.  He has fallen hopelessly in love with his liege's wife and sneaks off to a tryst with her during a formal hunt.  Approaching the beautiful Guenivere in a secluded forest glade, he rolls to overcome the battling demands of love and honor and fails.  The queen has a +6 Charisma (Very Attractive and Noble) so Lancelot suffers a -6 penalty on the Fear check and adds a +6 penalty on the Fright Table.  He ends up with a Fright Table result of 21+, suffers a heart attack, and dies.  Hooray!  The Round Table is saved!


A grimoire is a book of spells and magical learning that functions as a set of permanent, reusable scrolls.  Grimoires may also be used as tomes to allow trained spellcasters to learn new powers (see Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion) and many in Gothic or horror settings are also works of Forbidden Knowledge with all the bonuses associated with them (see Savage Worlds Horror Companion).  Most grimoires contain only 1d4+1 spells in the midst of all the extraneous information; ancient, powerful grimoires may contain more, but they will be highly sought-after items.

A character with the necessary training may cast spells from a grimoire as per the rules for scrolls (Power Points are provided by the grimoire itself, the reader may not use her own Power Points to power the spell, unused Power Points are lost, etc.) with the proviso that the page of the grimoire used does not crumble into dust after use.  Like most magical items, the grimoire regenerates Power Points (again, see Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion for details).  Each spell listed in a grimoire has its own Power Point pool (see table 7B in Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion), making immediate repeated castings of the same spell difficult if not impossible.  As with conventional scrolls, however, the Power Point totals may vary depending on GM adjudication; the grimoire of a powerful contemporary sorcerer (Aleister Crowley, the Simbul) may have 1d4+1 extra Power Points per spell while an ancient book of eldritch lore (the Necronomicon Ex Mortis) might have 1d6+1 up to 1d12+1 extra Power Points.

Most settings will require users of a grimoire to be trained in the mystic arts.  Some settings may instead allow for characters with appropriate Knowledge Skills (Arcana, Occultism) or simply knowledge of archaic languages (Ancient Egyptian, Classical Greek) to use a grimoire without formal magickal training.  In such a setting, the corresponding Knowledge Skill would be used instead of Spellcasting, or a Smarts roll might be used if the setting only requires knowing the language.  This is appropriate for high-action settings where ordinary people stumble into the supernatural (like in “The Mummy” (1999)) or settings where Edges and Skills are at a premium.  In a setting where true wizards mix with ordinary people in over their heads, it would be appropriate to apply a -2 penalty for untrained use to ordinary people attempting spells; failure might well be catastrophic (“Evil Dead II”).

I've been doing the math on the Power Points provided for the example scrolls in Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion; it looks like instant duration powers get enough Power Points to cause their maximum effect but ongoing powers vary between having enough Power Points to last between five and nine extra rounds.  It would make more sense to me if a single duration had been used -- one minute (10 rounds) seems logical -- but I suppose I'll just go with seven rounds/minutes/whatever total for the powers I will hereafter delineate.  (Seven is a nice magical number.) Cost is very simple: $50 per Power Point.

There's a few powers in the main list that don't have scrolls, and some of these are exactly what I think would be appropriate for the ritual magic use a grimoire evokes.  Since the places I am most likely to use grimoires are in a Pirates of the Spanish Main or a Regency/Gothic campaign, I'll also turn to 50 Fathoms and Savage Worlds Horror Companion to fill out the scroll cost/Power Points list:

from Savage Worlds Deluxe...
Cost     Type
$150     Banish* (3 Power Points)
$250     Divination (5 Power Points)
$200     Havoc (4 Power Points)
$150     Mind Reading (3 Power Points)
$100     Slumber (2 Power Points)
$500     Summon Ally** (10 to 14 Power Points)
- $700
$550     Warrior's Gift

from 50 Fathoms...
Cost     Type
$550     Becalm (11 Power Points)
$500     Mend (10 Power Points)
$250     Quake (5 Power Points)
$500     Settle Storm (10 Power Points)
$400     Storm (8 Power Points)
$600     Summon Elemental (12 Power Points)
$400     Water Walk (8 Power Points)
$250     Zephyr (5 Power Points -- though a caster can extend it up to 4 hours by rereading it over and over and over again)

from Savage Worlds Horror Companion...
Cost     Type
$200     Banish Entity* ** (4 to 24 Power Points)
- $1200
$400     Bind Entity** (8 to 24 Power Points)
- $1200
$500     Consecrate Ground (10 Power Points)
$450     Corpse Senses (9 Power Points)
$1000   Drain Years (20 Power Points)
$600     Enhance Undead (12 Power Points; the Zombie scroll allows one to raise 4 zombies, so I built this to match that)
$450     Grave Shroud (9 Power Points)
$550     Grave Speak (11 Power Points)
$200     Nightmares (4 Power Points)
$500     Spirit Shield (10 Power Points)
$650     Strength of the Dead (13 Power Points)
$200     Summon Demon** (4 to 24 Power Points)
- $1200
$400     Summon Spirit** (8 to 24 Power Points)
- $1200
$300     Suppress Lycanthropy (6 Power Points)

* Banish and Banish Entity are the same power for all intents and purposes.  Banish Entity costs more Power Points for more powerful entities; I assume this is to add extra risk and worry to a horror campaign.  I would use Banish in more lighthearted, action-driven campaigns where encountering evil entities is not a primary threat (like most fantasy campaigns) and Banish Entity in campaigns where supernatural evil is more threatening (like Pirates of the Spanish Main or Regency/Gothic).
** This power cost different Power Points depending on the size of the Spirit die of the entity you are seeking to control.  Different-priced scrolls are therefore available.

Example Grimoires

The Holy Bible
Cost: $0 to $85,000 (see below)
Powers: Banish or Banish Entity (see below)

In settings that use Christian mythology, the Holy Bible enables even the most humble soul to stand against the forces of Satan.  Simply reading aloud from any passage works as the Banish or Banish Entity power against minions of Hell; unlike normal grimoires, the Bible is considered to supply as many Power Points as needed.  It can be used by anyone literate in the language it is printed in.  In the modern day, free versions are available for digital download while antique, gilded Bibles can run tens of thousands of dollars.

The Drowned Book of Prospero (for Pirates of the Spanish Main)

Cost: Priceless
Powers:  Banish Entity (30 Power Points), Becalm (15 Power Points), Bind Entity (30 Power Points), Settle Storm (10 Power Points), Storm (8 Power Points), Summon Elemental (30 Power Points).

 …But this rough magic
I here abjure…I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than ever did plummet sound
I’ll drown my book. – William Shakespeare, "The Tempest"

The famous spellbook of the sorcerer Duke Prospero, this tome was believed destroyed by Prospero himself when he left his island but was recovered by the half-demon Caliban in an attempt to learn his former master's arts.  The Drowned Book is heavily water-damaged and imposes a -4 penalty on a user's first attempt to read it.  It contains a unique version of Bind Entity that allows a user to bind the Wild Card air elemental Ariel to her service permanently; Ariel was promised freedom by Prospero and will be a sullen and faithless servant (see 50 Fathoms for air elemental statistics).  The Drowned Book of Prospero also includes much of the duke's learning on elementals (acts as Forbidden Knowledge against elementals) and many... unsavory... details Prospero gleaned from the witch Sycorax about icthynites (acts as Forbidden Knowledge against icthynites; see Savage Worlds Horror Companion).

Possession of the book would bring great power to the crew who can wield it, but it will also make them the target of governments and powerful individuals who seek Prospero's secrets.  Caliban himself is still alive and seeks to regain "his" book; treat him as a full-blooded icthynite (the years have wrought a sea-change upon him) with Smarts and Spellcasting d8.


A mob is a swarm (Savage Worlds Deluxe p.141) composed of humans (or sentient humanoids) who have been incited into a violent frenzy. 


Raising a mob requires a standard Social Conflict (SWD p.96) made to an audience large enough to potentially form a vengeful throng; crowded street corners, public forums, and town halls are likely venues.  This Social Conflict may be opposed if the prospective mob has a leader (the corrupt mayor or pacifist preacher); if it is not, the GM should be judicious in assigning modifiers to the Persuasion roll based on how dangerous the opposition to the mob might be ("But he's a vampire!") and how much incentive the mob has ("He's carried off our attractive cousins!"). 

Margin of Victory/Result
Failure/The prospective mob disperses.
Tie/The prospective mob is unconvinced.  The audience disperses unless a new argument can be made by the players (which would usually mean "unless a different player character succeeds on a new roll").
1-2/A mob the size of a Medium Burst template is motivated to action.
3-4/A mob the size of a Large Burst template is motivated to action.  The rabble-rousers may substitute two Medium Burst mobs instead.
5+/A mob the size of a Large Burst template is motivated to action.  This mob is treated as a Wild Card.  The rabble-rousers may substitute two Wild Card Medium Burst mobs instead.

A single player character may only control a single Large Burst mob or two Medium Burst mobs at a time.  If the audience is sufficiently large and the situation calls for it, attempts may be made by other characters to raise more mobs.  If the original Social Conflict was made as a cooperative roll, any characters assisting in the roll are disbarred from making their own individual attempts; they've already had their say.


A mob of unarmed people is simply a standard swarm in most respects -- though less cynical GMs may allow that for Smarts d4 instead of Smarts d4 (A) -- save that it occupies a larger template because it is made of bigger creatures.  "[A] character can stomp to inflict his damage in Strength each round" should be amended to "a character may use brute force to inflict her damage in Strength each round" but the effect is identical.  Rabble-rousers inside the mob's template are considered immune to the mob's damage.

An armed mob may instead inflict 2d6 or 2d8 damage depending on what kind of weapons they are carrying and GM generosity.  If the mob is carrying torches, then add +2 to damage; every round characters are attacked by a fire-wielding mob, they must check to see if they catch on fire (SWD p.88).  A mob may also choose to inflict nonlethal damage (SWD p.74) if it is motivated to bring someone in for justice.

Persuasion Modifiers

On page 62 of Savage Worlds Deluxe, the "Modifiers" subheading under "Trait Tests" advises a +2 bonus to easy Trait tests, a -2 penalty to difficult tasks, and a -4 penalty to very difficult tasks.  Examples in the "Situational Combat Rules" section later on (like the "Suppressive Fire" example on page 71) show that a combination of penalties can exacerbate the penalties to -6 or more.  Let's extrapolate from that.

How about:
  • Suggested course of action is in NPC's best interest - +2
  • Suggested course of action is not in the NPC's best interest: -2
  • Suggested course of action is actively against NPC's best interest: -4  
  • Suggested course of action violates social mores: -2

Players may choose to rid characters of Hindrances by spending Advances.  A Minor Hindrance costs one Advance; a Major Hindrance costs two.  The GM may determine it is not possible to buy off all Hindrances in a given setting depending on sociological and technological limitations.

Self-Improvement may have different trappings depending on the setting.  While psychological Hindrances like Big Mouth and Doubting Thomas may be removed by having the character simply learn better, physical Hindrances may require more consideration.  In a setting with limited medical technology or magical healing, buying off One Arm may be a matter of the character learning to compensate rather than replacing the arm; in a sci-fi or fantasy setting, it may mean literally regrowing the arm.  

Certain Hindrances -- Blind, Elderly, Habit (Major), and Young -- are special cases.  Blind and Elderly have special compensations attached to make up for their harshness (a bonus Edge for Blind and extra skill points for Elderly); the GM may rule that buying off these Hindrances costs three Advances.  Habit (Major) assumes that it may be bought off for one Advance in settings where Self-Improvement is not used; in settings where Self-Improvement is used, it costs two Advances like any other Major Hindrance.  Young may not be bought off except by the passage of time; the Hindrance description already accounts for these changes.

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth

With this Savage Setting Rule, everything you thought you knew about the Gang Up Bonus is wrong.  Multiple foes attacking a single target hinder each other; the bonus usually gained from ganging up is applied as a penalty instead.  Two Jedi battling a Sith suffer a -1 penalty to their rolls; a swarm of Norman knights cornering Errol Flynn find themselves suffering a -4 penalty to their rolls.

Recommended for solo hero games and settings that emphasize honorable duels and individual heroism -- chanbara, pulp action (or why would every Savage Worlds pulp setting include an Edge that negates the Gang Up Bonus?), wuxia, etc.

White Hats & Black Hats

In a Western setting, wearing a white hat adds a +1 bonus to Persuasion rolls while wearing a black hat adds a +1 bonus to Intimidation rolls.

Wine Tasting

Wine-tasting requires  a Cooperative Skill roll.  Before drinking a wine, a character may make a Knowledge (Wine Connoisseur) roll; successes and raises on this roll can add to the Spirit roll made to actually experience the wine. Intellectual knowledge of wine can help, but the only way to truly know wine is to taste it!

Wine Rankings

Wines are complex, fickle things. French wines are infamous for needing to "breathe" -- to oxidize upon exposure to air -- before their true richness is revealed while Italian wines are good from the first pour but lack the nuances of French wines.

Wines are ranked on a scale of 0 to +4 with the number indicating the bonus added to the wine tasting roll. Random wine rankings may be determined by the following rolls (note that only French and Italian wines have been discussed in the volumes I have read so far; I'm sure Texas wines would be off the scale entirely ;) ):
  • French - 1d8 - 1-2 = 0, 3-4 = +1, 5-6 = +2, 7-8 = +3. (French wines add +1 to their score after breathing for one hour or being decanted.)
  • Italian - 1d6 - 1-2=+1, 3-4=+2, 5-6=+3; if the result is 6, roll again, and if the result is 6 again the score is +4. (Italian wines receive no decanting bonus.)
Decanting Wine

French wines (and presumably some others) can be improved by aerating or decanting the wine -- pouring it into another container thus allowing it to mix with the air and "breathe." Decanting is an Agility roll; success adds the +1 bonus for "breathing" without having to wait an hour.


  1. Just a basic math issue:

    The companion beast gains 8 points that may be spent to improve Attributes, Edges, and Skills in the following combination:

    Attributes = 1 point
    Edges = 2 points
    Skills = 2 Skill points for every 1 point spent

    Tornado begins as a normal Riding Horse. Zorro's player spends 4 points on Attributes (Agility +2, Smarts +1, Spirit +1)
    2 points on Edges (Brave, Fleet Footed) <-- this would be 4 points, 2 per edge.

    2 points on Skills (Fighting +1, Notice +1, Stealth +2).