Both for Shadows of Keron and other campaigns, as my Savage Worlds PCs start to creep up the ranks, I’m thinking ahead to what would happen at Legendary rank.
Research first; this can’t be a unique problem, what did other GMs do? (As well as hopefully being of interest to readers, this post collects the links I’ve found in one place in case I want to review them again.)
Wiggy wrote a famous piece called Life Begins at Legendary, one of his Whispers from the Pit series (I can only find them on SavagePedia at the moment), in which he advocates planning new Edges at the start of a campaign, so that you know where people can go. Triple Ace Games also has a download on Resource Management aiming to explain what Noble or Rich PCs do with those Edges; that’s on my shopping list now.
Meanwhile, The Most Unread Blog on the Internet. Ever. has a set of experimental characters advancing from Novice to Legendary in the series Savage Worlds Characters Are All The Same. This supports my theory that SW isn’t very sensitive to differences in PC rank, level or what have you. It also suggests that it’s better to take a wide spread of skills at d4 initially, relying on your Wild Die for success, and then build them up during play, than it is to take a high starting skill level; and that characters overlapping into each other’s roles in the party might not be as much of an issue as I thought.
The official forum at PEG Inc. has a thread on this; the poll results show an overwhelming view that rank doesn’t matter. Except for one, my players would agree.
And of course there is Savage Suzerain, which adds the Demigod rank; that starts at 120 experience and runs to 180, after which the book recommends retiring the PCs as the gods of a new pantheon. (Meanwhile on the PEG Inc. forum, some GMs have run groups up to 200 or even 300 experience, though I can’t find anyone going beyond the 300 XP mark or a five year real-world duration; that may be because SW itself has only been around about a decade.) Suzerain has a few extra Legendary and Demigod Edges, but not many; that’s not unusual for setting books, and the fact that I can’t find a swath of them in any setting suggests SW just doesn’t need them.
THE SCALE OF THE PROBLEM
One point that keeps coming up in the research is that by Legendary, a PC has only taken 16 advances, and even by 200 experience (28 advances) there are still a lot of things players want to do with their characters. Let’s suppose a Novice PC starts with d6 in all attributes, one free Edge for being human, no Hindrances, 7 skills at d6 and one at d4. It would take him 30 advances to maximise all attributes at d12+2; at least 20 to maximise all his skills; and there are 109 Edges in the Deluxe Edition, even if you only take them once each – some of them can be taken several times. If you have an Arcane Background, for example, you’d need about 50 advances to get all the powers.
So to be “the character who has everything” you’d need somewhere in the region of 150 advances, or 750 experience, which would take you on average 375 sessions to acquire. At one session per week, that’s over 7 years’ play. I know of campaigns that have lasted over 20 years, but only one individual PC that did, and the player was quite happy with continuing picaresque adventures.
Even a Legendary character, then, has taken less than 10% of the theoretical maximum number of advances. There’s plenty of room at the top.
I could make up some Legendary Edges. That would be a work I might never use, and goes against this year’s resolution to use up some of my backlog of published items.
I could adapt some from other sources. The approach that looks easiest here is to make the Champion abilities from Sine Nomine’s An Echo Resounding Legendary Edges.
I could take a look at the Resource Management download and build up what can be done with existing Edges. That is probably the option most in line with the way SW operates.
I could leave the whole topic alone until the PCs are pushing the edge of Heroic. At the current rate of progress, the most frequent players (currently halfway through Seasoned) will reach that point in about September 2013, and the least frequent player not until mid-2027. (The only disadvantage of this is that it makes it harder to steer the campaign towards an end goal, as we won’t know what it is until we get there; but since only one of the players has a specific end-game in mind, that is probably OK.)
I could ignore the problem completely, as PCs who last beyond Legendary still have a lot of Edges, Powers etc they could take.
None of the published stuff I have deals with Legendary in any detail, supporting the idea that being Legendary isn’t that big a deal in SW. Even Suzerain skips it; there are a group of new Heroic Edges, mostly dealing with the character’s patron deity, and some Demigod rank Edges, which I suppose I could adapt.
Where does that leave me? Not worrying about it; firstly because most of my players just want to keep having adventures, and secondly because being Legendary isn’t much of a game-changer.