Varsovian
 member, 1444 posts
Tue 9 Oct 2018
at 21:45
Savage Worlds: Wildcards mechanics
So, I keep thinking about Savage Worlds and there's one concept I have trouble wrapping my head around: the Wildcards mechanics.

Why would some characters (PCs, notable NPCs) get this kind of rules, while others character don't? These rules make the Wildcard characters tougher and more effective than other characters with similar stats. Isn't it giving these characters a kind of unfair plot armour? What do these mechanics represent?

Could you help me conceptualize it?
nauthiz
 member, 583 posts
Wed 10 Oct 2018
at 05:50
Savage Worlds: Wildcards mechanics
Pinnacle actually has a design document of sorts that will probably answer your question the best since the answer is based on what sort of game they were trying to make when designing (and then revising) Savage Worlds.

http://www.peginc.com/freebies/SWcore/MakingofSW.pdf
BFink
 member, 52 posts
Wed 10 Oct 2018
at 06:56
Savage Worlds: Wildcards mechanics
IIRC the idea behind Savage Worlds was that it was meant to be Fun, Fast and Furious, so, effectively, the PCs were to be given that unfair advantage over the other characters, similarly to the majority of literature/movie heroes. Characters are HEROES and, as such, they are better at dealing with any redshirts they encounters. Hence the additional d6 and extra rules.
NowhereMan
 member, 252 posts
Wed 10 Oct 2018
at 07:32
Savage Worlds: Wildcards mechanics
Notably, Wild Cards are the only characters that can critically fail as well.
Varsovian
 member, 1445 posts
Wed 10 Oct 2018
at 16:52
Re: Savage Worlds: Wildcards mechanics
BFink:
IIRC the idea behind Savage Worlds was that it was meant to be Fun, Fast and Furious, so, effectively, the PCs were to be given that unfair advantage over the other characters, similarly to the majority of literature/movie heroes. Characters are HEROES and, as such, they are better at dealing with any redshirts they encounters. Hence the additional d6 and extra rules.


See, this is something I have trouble getting behind. Yes, in some scenarios, it's expected that the characters are larger-than-life, are able to deal with many opponents easily etc. But I feel that it should be solved by the GURPS approach: if the characters are supposed to be more impressive than average people, they should just have better stats and skills. It makes sense to me - while giving the heroes a set of rules that give them advantage over characters with similars stats doesn't.

Also, what about scenarios where the characters aren't supposed to be so lucky, competent etc.? In other words: can you play a scary horror game with SW, which has this built-in mechanism for giving the PCs advantage over dangers, monsters etc.?

I don't know... I'd really like to GM this game, because I like the simplicity. But the Wildcard concept just ruins it for me :(
nauthiz
 member, 587 posts
Wed 10 Oct 2018
at 19:56
Re: Savage Worlds: Wildcards mechanics
The primary mechanic behind Wildcards, the extra D6, is to maintain the fast and streamlined mechanics, while also adjusting the success probabilities in a way that maintains a specific feel that just increasing the dice size does not.

Wildcards are also supposed to be important compared to the mooks, minions, and other fodder in the world in order to keep combat streamlined while still being able to have large scale battles that don't bog down with lots of bookkeeping.  This also allows some level of tactical gameplay using all the units/characters in a fight without that large scale battle taking hours, or the group focusing in just on "our heroes" while ignoring what's going on around them for purposes of time expediency.

That's why Wildcards have health levels (as opposed to the tri-status of "Up", "Down", and "Out" for mooks/minions) and get the extra D6.

Savage Worlds is a universal type of system in that you can play a wide variety of genres under it.  It is not a universal system in that you can play every type of scenario you want.  Savage Worlds characters always have a certain feel to them whether they're in a Western setting, Fantasy, or Sci-Fi.  Additional mechanics introduced in certain official/licensed Settings as well as in various genre Companion books help adjust that feel to a degree, but the core of the game was still built around a system designed to be "Fast, Furious, and Fun" and that tends to shine through no matter what.
Varsovian
 member, 1446 posts
Wed 10 Oct 2018
at 20:27
Re: Savage Worlds: Wildcards mechanics
Okay, and what does "Fast, Furious and Fun" actually mean in the SW context? This phrase is often cited to explain the game's feel, but it doesn't really explain much...
NowhereMan
 member, 253 posts
Thu 11 Oct 2018
at 03:26
Re: Savage Worlds: Wildcards mechanics
It means that the rules were designed specifically to keep gameplay fast, not bogging down in complex combat or other complex situations, keep it furious, attempting to keep players on the edge of their seats as much as possible, and fun, well, fun.
Boomcoach
 member, 79 posts
 Gaming since 1975
 Bluffton, IN
Wed 17 Oct 2018
at 17:03
Re: Savage Worlds: Wildcards mechanics
I have played some enjoyable SW horror themed games, Cthulhu-ish and otherwise.  If you want the characters to be more "normal", it is perfectly possible to have them not be wild cards, this will limit the edges they can select and they will not get the wild die.

I don't know of many games where the players are not a "cut above" the common folk, but I see no reason it wouldn't work.  I also played a con game with SW, where we were max-minned (as opposed to min-maxed.)  All characters were seriously flawed and we had a great time!

I prefer my characters to be a bit better than the average mook, even in horror games, but that doesn't mean it has to be that way.

I remember someone comparing Robert Howard's horror works to HP Lovecraft's.  In both instances the protagonist is caught up in a desperate struggle against a horrific situation.  HPL's protagonists feel overwhelmed and attempt to find a way to escape, RH's protagonists feel overwhelmed and it really ^%$#es them off! I usually prefer the latter, but a good GM can make the former work as well.
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1421 posts
Sat 20 Oct 2018
at 02:53
Re: Savage Worlds: Wildcards mechanics
Here is how I look at it,

Remember in Harry Potter when Ron gets poisoned? Slughorn was there and considerably more skilled than Harry, yet it was Harry that saved Ron. Why? Well, because Harry had the ability to act, where-as Slughorn was dumbfounded and shocked.

That difference is what makes Harry a wildcard and Slughorn not. Slughorn is more skilled, but Harry has an extra something about him that allows him to step up and go that extra mile when it really counts.

This is why simply adding extra skill is not the answer, because the difference is not about extra skill.

I've seen the same thing in the real world, professionals who know the facts and figures of their profession and yet lack the ability to improve upon the tried-and-true even when they have more skill, training, and even experience.

I've even seen it in doctors, which is downright terrifying when said doctor is about to perform surgury on you.
Varsovian
 member, 1447 posts
Wed 24 Oct 2018
at 15:52
Re: Savage Worlds: Wildcards mechanics
Hm. That's close to my thinking, yes... Thanks for your input!