One-Page Bestiary

Posted: 6 August 2011 in Rules

I’ve mentioned several times now that I like to travel light when gaming away from home. One of the things a GM always needs is some kind of bestiary – friends and foes to aid or oppose the player characters, whether human or otherwise.

For Savage Worlds, I’ve now trimmed my travel bestiary down to one page of notes.

How? Using the soldier archetypes from the Typical Allies section on p. 99 of the rulebook, and some trappings and monstrous abilities. Look what you can do with them…

  • Use them as they stand for pretty much any human or demihuman encounter. OK, by the W&W supplement elves (say) should have Low Light Vision (use GM fiat), a one step advance in Agility (and how do the players know what their Agility was before that, eh?) and All Thumbs (and how are the PCs going to work out that’s missing in the middle of a firefight, eh?)
  • Make them Wild Cards rather than Extras to become major NPCs.
  • Reskin their appearance, speech pattern and equipment to make any kind of humanoid opponent. R.E. Howard serpent men? Check. Goblins and (Experienced) Orcs? Check.
  • Add the Construct ability to make them golems, animated statues etc.
  • Add the Undead ability to make them skeleton warriors or slightly superior zombies. Make them Wild Cards as well to get stronger undead, for instance mummies.
  • Add Arcane Background to make priests, wizards, psions, or mad scientists.

Throw several of them into the blender at once for added weirdness. Robot Dracula from Mars? Slather on Undead and Construct, and make it a Wild Card. Warforged sorceror? Construct plus Arcane Background. Gargoyle? Apply Construct and Flight.

Want a bigger range of threats? The Experienced Soldier is essentially the Soldier with all traits increased by one die step. Decrease all the Soldier’s traits one die step to get an Innocent Bystander. Increase the Experienced Soldier’s traits by one die step to get an Elite Soldier, or by two die steps to get one even better.

Sure, you get more detail and variety in the bestiary or your setting guide, and I’ll use them if I have them with me; but as I say, I can get this lot on a page with room left over. Gotta love Savage Worlds.

  1. R Singers says:

    My plan was always to use inkjet business card templates to create a Savage World stat block for all of the appropriate minis in my collection. But I guess if you don’t have a lot of minis a generic one pager is a great resouce.

    • andyslack says:

      Yup, I did something similar – inspired by the D&D 4e monster statblocks, I did up a set of playing-card sized monster cards. A single page would fit 9 of them, and once printed I laminated them for durability. Worked fine.

      I don’t have a huge number of usual minis – a few dozen perhaps – but I certainly have very few, or none, with me on holiday. I rely on finding something like a chess set I can repurpose.

  2. […] it’s also easy to buff monsters while you do so, much along the same lines I mentioned in the One Page Bestiary. You […]

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