Monthly Archives: October, 2012

Review: All Things Zombie: Final Fade Out

All Things Zombie: Final Fade Out is Two Hour Wargames’ latest version of the award-winning All Things Zombie game. Like most 2HW rules sets, it sits on the borderline between skirmish wargaming and roleplaying, and is designed to be equally viable for competitive, co-operative or solo play. Ed Teixeira, the author, says he expects this to be the final version, as he would now prefer to work on expansions and scenarios rather than keep updating the rules; mainstream games companies, take note and follow his example, please.

This is a 106 page book (or in my case, PDF file). You’ll probably be seeing a lot of this on the blog going forwards, so for this post I’m focussing on changes since the second edition.


  • Characters now have skills as well as Rep and Attributes. Don’t worry though, there are only two: People and Savvy. Pep is for interacting with NPCs, Savvy is for – well, pretty much everything else. (There are more Attributes too, including Medic which helps in healing people.)
  • Reloading – optional but recommended. Previous versions of ATZ assumed that you had ammo, and you just reloaded when you had to, end of story. If you add this rule, you can fumble a reload and be staring at a zombie over the sights of an empty gun. Oops. However, drawing is still a free action, so this is where you pull out your backup weapon. You do have a backup weapon, don’t you? I can see this increasing the tension quite a bit, and it is entirely in line with the genre.
  • Lack of sleep. In this version of the rules, you don’t get many quiet nights, what with all the screaming and zombies and all, and it can leave you groggy (i.e. with a lower Rep) at the start of an encounter. Never mind, once the adrenaline starts flowing you get your full Rep back.


  • To my mind, the most significant change is that zombies are now Rep 3 unless they can see you, in which case they activate as if they were Rep 4, but are still Rep 3 for other purposes. This shifts the balance of play in favour of the humans, as the zeds will activate less often.
  • In Sight is updated to the Chain Reaction Final Version standard, namely roll Rep d6 and look for “passes” (scores of 1-3) rather than the earlier 2d6 vs Rep. However, zombies don’t trigger In Sight tests.
  • Your Star (PC, in effect) now always starts as a Citizen, then turns into a Ganger or a Survivor (your choice) either once he meets the criteria or if he survives to day 21 of the outbreak. Police and military figures are NPCs who disappear after 30 days (having turned into Gangers or Survivors by that point).
  • There are fewer reaction tests, and those that remain are more clearly worded (at least, in my opinion).
  • Melee has changed in that you no longer split dice between opponents, you fight them in turn and lose 1d6 each time one ties with you. Perhaps more importantly, zombies now roll 3d6 in melee rather than 1d6. In no version of ATZ do you want to face multiple zeds in melee, and in this version you really, really don’t want to do that.
  • Zombie placement happens as soon as it is triggered, rather than at end of turn. The mechanism for placing them has also changed from picking a quadrant to a clock face arrangement, which I suspect means the zombies will be more evenly placed. It’s also easier to remember than the old method – I memorised it the first time I read it, whereas in ATZ: BDTZ I had to look it up in every game.
  • The vehicle rules look different, but I almost never use vehicles anyway – engine noise draws zombies like flies.
  • Encounters, contact, PEF and NPC movement, and items are more like 5150: NB versions than the old ATZ: Better Dead Than Zed rules. I like the new way better.
  • Pre-generated NPCs. One of the main breakers of game flow for me was stopping to generate the NPCs my Star met. No longer, just roll some dice against a table and you can see their stats and possessions. If I understand the rules correctly, you can get more stuff by looting the bodies than you can by searching buildings; that is likely to shift things even further towards “shoot first and ask questions later” than was already the norm in ATZ.
  • Random events have changed. However, my favourites (the dog and the black chopper) are still there. I can’t see cellphones working for more than a day or two after the power goes out, though; none of the servers would be going much more than 48 hours after that. So I may swap that event for something else.


  • Day One, the initial encounter sequence to ease your Star into the game. There is an updated version of this free to download from 2HW, though.
  • The example scenarios. These are replaced with little sections suggesting you pause as you read through the rules to play out a short vignette illustrating things like In Sight, shooting and melee.
  • Being able to play as a cop or soldier. However, since there are reaction tables for both, you could easily add them.


At least, the ones I use often enough to spot differences…

  • Only ATZ has zombies, obviously.
  • 5150: NB has Bonus Dice for the Star (and possibly Co-Stars). ATZ: FFO and CRFV do not. 5150: NB Stars are thus more resilient.
  • Star Power, Larger Than Life and Cheating Death in ATZ cannot be used against wounds inflicted by Zombies. Do not boogie with zombies, they will mess you up.
  • Buildings are simpler in ATZ than 5150. (There are no buildings in CRFV.) Specifically, the internal areas and movement between them are replaced by two simple rules: Anyone in a building is concealed; anyone stationary in a building is in cover. I think I like this better than the more complex rules in 5150.


The new rules are better aligned to the game objectives (survive and prosper), and overall I think most of the changes are improvements. As with all THW rules, you are rewarded for sound tactics and keeping your eye on the mission objectives. You still have to kill zombies to increase your Rep, though.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5.

Savage Worlds–Chain Reaction Experiment 3

I’m determined to get this working; the concept is a Savage Worlds game using Chain Reaction as a GM emulator. Third time lucky, perhaps…


This is a Chain Reaction Final Version patrol scenario, featuring SG-13 vs Jafar. I dice for Enemy Activity Level and get a 5, as always. There are two PEFs in section 6 and one in section 5. To succeed, the player group must spend one action observing the centre of each of the 9 sections. I don’t want to invest the time in a full-blown Player Character at this stage, so I’ll just use an Experienced Soldier and make him a Wild Card… meet Lieutenant Stoner, recently promoted to command of SG-13.

  • One hex on the battlemat is 2”, and running dice which generate an odd total of inches moved are rounded up. PEF movement is reduced to 6” and 12” rather than 8” and 16”, to bring it in line with SW Pace.
  • Scrub is light cover, small trees are medium cover, big trees are heavy cover. PEFs and groups can see (and resolve) each other if there are fewer than 3 hexes of tree foliage separating them, including the hexes they are in.
  • There is one initiative card drawn per side, and enemy groups of PEFs act in increasing order of distance from the player group.
  • Figures are Soldier archetypes and count as Rep 4 unless they have snake head masks or binoculars, in which case they are Experienced Soldiers, who count as Rep 5. The PC ( Lt. Stoner) and the first Experienced Soldier NPC encountered are Wild Cards, others are Extras.


“It started as an ordinary patrol…”


I draw one initiative card for each PC (one) and one for all opposing forces – this is actually normal SW procedure, rather than the one card per group I used in experiment 2 (Arion’s escape from Tainaron). Normally in SW, friendly NPCs are controlled by the players and move when the relevant PCs move.

4 of Spades: PEF1 moves towards PEF 2 and stops 4” away. PEF2 and PEF3 both move 12” closer to the player group.

2 of Hearts: SG-13 runs onto the board and into cover in section 8. Stoner resolves PEF1 as a false alarm. (If the other team members were Wild Cards, I would have them scan sections 7, 8 and 9, but as there is only one Wild Card/Star present that’s not viable.)


“We moved up the centre of the area we’d been ordered to sweep. I thought I saw something moving, but it was a false alarm.”


9 of Diamonds: SG-13 moves cautiously through cover towards the middle of the board. This brings Stoner close enough to PEF3 to resolve it; it is another false alarm.

3 of Spades: The remaining PEF splits into two.


King of Hearts: SG-13 goes On Hold, reserving its action until later in the turn, as the PEFs are quite close now and I want to be able to react to whatever they do. Not using On Hold has been a major oversight in my solo SW games to date, and I expect its proper use to bring me much closer to the kind of tactical play I get with CRFV or 5150.

7 of Diamonds: PEF3A moves 12” through cover towards SG-13 and resolves as four Jafar. PEF3B does likewise and resolves as 6 more Jafar. I decide it’s fair for SG-13 to interrupt the enemy’s actions at this point, and it comes off hold and shakes out into a rough firing line, with each one burst-firing at the closest Jafar. (I did consider using Suppressive Fire, but unless the opposition is prone in heavy cover, I think burst fire comes out ahead statistically, which is in line with current tactical thinking as I understand it – short, controlled bursts rather than full auto into the shrubbery.) Stoner wounds one of the two Experienced Jafar, removing him from play; one team member hits but fails to damage his foe, another misses, and the third doesn’t have a clear Line Of Sight. Those Jafar who were under fire take a Received Fire test, pass 2d6 (they get 4d6 for this roll, one extra for their leader and one extra for being in cover, so it’s not surprising), and each shoot at their nearest enemy. They are at –2 to hit for having run, so only one hits, and his staff weapon (equivalent to a laser rifle) does 10 damage, shaking the team member (who has Toughness 7).


“Suddenly, we blundered into a dozen or so Jafar who had been stalking us, using the forest for concealment.”


This was a really bad time to get a poor card. However, I notice I have been missing the NPC Movement Table for the past couple of games – oops. Let’s start using it now, shall we? Neither Jafar group outnumbers SG-13 by more than 2:1, which determines their possible actions by selecting a column on that table.

9 of Spades: The Shaken Jafar recovers, but it takes him all turn. Both Jafar groups want to move to a position in cover where they can open fire on SG-13, but one is already in such a position so it stays put. A fusillade of laser bolts zap through the undergrowth, but thanks to the cover modifiers only one hits, Wounding a team member. SG-13 takes a Man Down test and passes 1d6, which is just enough for it to Carry On. The fire from the second group triggers a Received Fire test, but again SG-13 carries on.

2 of Spades: SG-13 has taken casualties, and is outnumbered more than 2:1. Discretion seems by far the better part of valour at this point, so the team falls back to its entry point at the run, with the team doctor making pickup on the wounded guy, and Stoner dragging the Shaken one, who stubbornly refuses to recover.


“After due consideration, I decided upon a retrograde manoeuvre, and the team withdrew in good order, recovering its casualties as it went.”


9 of Hearts: SG-13 goes first, and runs off the board. (I fudged the movement for SG-13 this turn and last as I was under pressure to hand back Table Mountain for other uses!)


The wounded guy recovers. Stoner gets one experience point for surviving (he would have got a second for succeeding).


This went a lot faster, mostly because of drawing fewer cards, and I’m pretty pleased with how well it worked.

Suppressive fire doesn’t seem to be terribly effective. I’ve noticed this in a number of SW games.

I’m sure I can get this to work with a little more tweaking. My main motivations for trying are first, that a solo SW game would be good both for exploring the rules further and maintaining my level of knowledge; and second, that eventually I’d like to play alongside my players, with a game “AI” running the opposition. The second objective, of course, could be achieved simply by playing one of 2HW’s games straight, and we’ll see how that goes in due course, once I have All Things Zombie: Final Fade Out properly figured out.

Shadows of Keron Episode 21: Blood in the Snow

A small group again this weekend although Athienne and Garstrewt did join in by Skype partway through. Since I still want them present for the denouement of Vengeance of the Branded Devils, I turned to the Viking adventure in the SWD core rulebook, transplanted it to Northeim, and advised the group that in a flash-forward adventure taking place after Vengeance, Gutz had taken his pals back to his home village to show off his bling and prove to his doubting childhood friends and family that he had made good.

The parallels with Beowulf were sufficiently strong to convince Athienne’s player, who is an English teacher, that they were in fact replaying that story. This was a theory close enough to be useful.

Nessime’s player sought divine intervention, and after a ridiculous number of raises on her Knowledge: Religion roll, managed to contact Ymir, King of the Frost Giants, and ask for his advice on the best route to the nearest ice troll. He answered truthfully, and after a long trek and a tough fight, they managed to kill a five metre tall ice troll. This would have been really useful if the ice troll concerned had had anything to do with the assorted murders and kidnappings they were trying to sort out.

On finally tracking down the miscreants responsible, adroit use of Puppet to start a brawl among the kidnappers and to mind-control the hostage through the party’s rescue plan (ensuring she went the right way at the right time), followed by The Warforged’s signature Blast power into the dogpile, resulted in a bloodless success for the group.

Pity about the ice troll, but its head has greatly increased Gutz’ reputation in his hometown, so not all was lost.

Arion: When the Ship Lifts…

Here’s an experiment I’ve been thinking about for a while; using Chain Reaction as a GM emulator for Savage Worlds combat. PEFs and NPC actions will be governed by CRFV, while combat and any roleplaying activity is under SW. CRFV Rep 4 opponents use the Soldier template in SW, while Rep 5 use the Experienced Soldier template (with Block and Combat Reflexes as their two combat edges). The first Rep 5 encountered is a Wild Card. Activation die rolls are replaced by SW card draws for initiative. The rest of it I’ll make up as I go.


Arion, Berenike, Coriander and Dmitri have escaped from captivity and are now trying to get back into the Dolphin so they can leave the planet Tainaron and return to New Hope City. The map setup is as it was for the first CRFV scenario (the Dolphin hasn’t moved) but Arion’s crew enter from the other side of the board and succeed if they get aboard the ship with Arion still able to fly it – he may be Wounded, but not Incapacitated.

EAL is still 5, and there are PEFs in board sections 1, 3 and 6. The ship is off-map beyond sections 1-3, and must be boarded via the far edge of section 2. One hex is 2”. Berenike is an Experienced Soldier Extra, and Arion’s other crew are as previously statted. The blue die near Arion shows the turn number. Maps: Cry Havoc Fan, Wydraz. Figures: eM4.



Ace of Hearts: PEF in section 3 ("PEF3") moves 16" towards nearest PEF.

Queen of Spades: Arion runs onto the table. Only Berenike has Stealth (because I’m treating her as an Experienced Soldier for the moment), so we may as well move quickly.

Jack of Spades: PEF in section 6 ("PEF6") moves 16" toward enemy through cover.

4 of Hearts, 3 of Hearts: The girls run up after the guys, but Berenike (not doubt because of her mercenary training) overtakes the others.

2 of Hearts: PEF1 rolls two 6s and fails to move.

I realise at this point I’m not moving the PEFs far enough, but doubt it has made any difference so far, so simply resolve to do it properly from turn 2 onwards. I also observe that PEFs move faster than a Savage Worlds figure would normally, but so be it – it will speed the game up. However, I decide to round up any half-hexes of running to compensate.


Joker: PEF3 moves 16" towards the crew through cover, leapfrogging PEF6.

AC: PEF1 moves 16" directly towards PEF6.

6S: Holding their actions so they can move as a group, since they all go before the last PEF, Arion and friends run for the edge of the board, hoping to sneak around the flank while the PEFs are otherwise engaged. Unfortunately, only Berenike is fast enough to get into cover on the far side of the open ground – she’s obviously done this before.

5H: The last PEF moves 16" towards the crew through cover.


AS, QH: Going together on the Queen of Hearts, Arion and Coriander run along the board edge. Arion rolls a 6 on 1d6, and Coriander a 1; they thus move 12" and 7" respectively, and I decide that although it doesn’t have a direct line of sight, PEF8 can have a Notice roll to spot them as they rush across the gap between trees, 30 yards away. As a Soldier archetype would have Notice d6, I use that; it rolls a 2 and is oblivious. There is no LOS between the two groups which isn’t blocked by foliage, so I don’t resolve it yet.

JH: A PEF noves 16" through cover towards the crew.

AD, 10H: Going together on the 10 of Hearts, Berenike and Dmitri run after their friends. This time the nearest PEF notices and will raise the alarm when it gets a turn.

7H: The observant PEF notices our heroes, raises the alarm (quietly, via tactical communicator), and moves 8" towards the crew through cover. Dmitri can now see it, so I resolve the PEF as a "C" – "Here they come!" It runs out to be five Soldiers, of which I decide one is Experienced and the overall leader, with another 4 Soldiers in support 6" to their right. Ouch.

The group of 5 opens fire on Dmitri. They have Shooting d6 (except the leader who has d8), and are firing 3 round bursts from M-16 equivalents (+2 to hit and damage) at short range in good light (no modifiers). They must have run to move that far (-2 to hit). However, there seems to be no modifier in SW for a running target; so, they each need a 4 to hit. The d6s roll 1215, and the d8, a 3 – lucky for Dmitri! He takes one hit at +2 damage, or 2d8+2. 4+6+2 = 12, which is now compared to his Toughness of 9 (5 for him, 4 for a kevlar vest against bullets). Since the damage is at least equal to his Toughness, but doesn’t exceed it by 4, he is Shaken and I lay the figure on its side to remind me.

The group of 4 fires at Berenike, but they have an additional -2 to hit because she is in medium cover (trees). They roll 1246 and score one hit, with no bonuses. 11 damage means she, too, is Shaken.

3S: PEF5 moves towards the other remaining PEF. Coriander can now see it, so I resolve it; four more soldiers. They can see Coriander, Dmitri and Berenike, so I decide to roll randomly for each one to see who he shoots at. Two decide to fire at Berenike, and one each at Coriander and Dmitri. The two shooting at Berenike miss due to her cover, the one shooting at Dmitri misses because of a bad die roll, but the one shooting at Coriander hits with a raise, so rolls 2d8+1d6+2 = 14 and Wounds her. Cori is a Wild Card with Bennies though, and makes a Vigour roll to soak the damage – d6 (her Vigour) plus d6 (Wild Die), and rolls 66. The 6s are "aces", the highest possible roll, which means I keep the 6, reroll and add the new scores (3, 5) before picking one. I choose the 11, which is a success and a raise and so negates two wounds. She is no longer wounded, which removes the shaken condition as well. Go Cori!



KH: The four green soldiers go first. They have the best shots at Berenike and Coriander, so two of them burst-fire at each. They need a 2 to hit Dima, and a 4 to hit Berenike (her cover negates their +2 bonus for burst fire). The ones firing at Dima roll snake eyes and miss! The others hit Berenike once for 9 damage, but because she is an Experienced Soldier in a flak jacket, her Toughness is 2 + 4 (half Vigour die) + 4 (kevlar vs bullets) = 10, so they do her no harm.

KC: Berenike rolls to recover from Shaken – she rolls a d6, her Spirit die, and gets a 4 – she spends her turn recovering from Shaken, but she can still move at half Pace, so steps behind the tree trunk to get Heavy Cover, -4 to be it.

JD: Arion moves around to flank the four green soldiers, and fires his pistol at them. He hits the closest one thanks to his Wild Die, and aces the damage roll for a ridiculous total damage of 28 – nobody gets up from that, and the soldier drops. That group now takes a Man Down test and pass 2d6 so they will return fire on their turn – Arion has succeeded in drawing their attention away from his friends. (Note to self: Get Arion a proper gun! The Glock 9mm just doesn’t cut it.)

10H: The three green soldiers shoot at Arion. Base 4 to hit, -2 for cover, +2 for burst fire. Rolls of 356 mean two hit; the 6 is an ace so is boosted to 8 by a reroll, which means that hit will do an extra d6 damage. The first hit causes 14 damage and Arion decides to soak it by spending a benny; he fails to do so, and decides to keep the other bennies for later. He takes a Wound and is Shaken. The second hit does 16 damage, doing another Wound, and I again decide to keep the bennies for later.

8S: Dmitri rolls to recover from Shaken, rolls a 1 and a 2, and decides to spend a benny to recover instantly. He moves into cover with Berenike and fires at one of the soldiers, Shaking him. I decide Shaken isn’t worth a Man Down test, so they carry on.

2S: The remaining PEF stays put.

2C: Cori fires three single shots at different blue soldiers – I reckon this has a better chance of putting at least one down than a burst. She rolls 244 on her Shooting dice, and 3 on the Wild Die; they have no cover at all, so she hits two of them. Damage rolls of 5 and 14 mean one is incapacitated (and may be dead, but we won’t know until after the fight) but the other gets away with it. However, that triggers another Man Down test, although sadly they carry on.


Joker: Cori falls back towards Arion and the ship, steps into cover, and burst-fires at the enemy leader. Base target number is 4, and she rolls at +2 for burst fire, +2 for joker, -2 for target in medium cover. She rolls 1 (wild die) and 6 (skill die), rerolls the 6 to get a 16 (double ace), and inflicts 2d8+1d6+2+2 damage on the enemy boss – 21, or success and two raises against his Toughness of 11. Shaken and two Wounds; he’s not having that so spends a "GM benny" to soak the damage. A 1 (Vigour) and a 3 (Wild Die) don’t help, so he spends another and gets enough to remove one Wound. As he has a Wound left, though, he is still shaken. His men pass 1d6 on the Man Down test and will return fire when they can.

9C: The green soldiers go next; the larger group pours suppressive fire on Berenike and Dmitri, while the smaller group (confident Coriander has already fired, which would not help them under CRFV) charges into melee. Oh, and one of them (not the boss) recovers from Shaken. The suppressive fire does nothing, and thanks to botched running rolls, only one of them gets into melee range. He rolls a 4 on his Fighting die of d6, which is not enough to beat Berenike’s Parry of 7, so he misses.

8D: Berenike’s turn. She rolls Fighting d8 = 3, less than the trooper’s Parry of 5, and misses. She could disengage but that would give him another attack.

7C: It’s not obvious to me what the blue soldiers should do, so I roll on the PEF movement table and they decide to stay where they are.

6H: Dmitri goes into melee with the trooper fighting Berenike. As there are now two of them against one, Dmitri gets a +1 gangup bonus on his Fighting die, cancelled out by the -1 for using an improvised melee weapon (pistol); he hits with a raise and does d6 (Str) plus d6 (hit with raise) plus d4 (small improvised weapon) for a total of 8, enough to shake the other guy.

3C: The remaining PEF splits into two. ("I’m so excited I could split! Oh wait, I have!")



AH: Blue soldiers. They know there is someone over to their right who has shot at them, so they move that way through cover, cautiously.

JS: Green command group. The boss takes all turn to recover from shaken, so I decide they will wait for him, and then next turn charge into the melee with Dmitri.

10S: Dmitri, who decides to clobber the stunned trooper in front of him and shift the odds in his and Berenike’s favour. He fails to hit, though, even with a gangup bonus.

9C: Coriander fires a burst at the next trooper to enter melee, inflicting 20 damage and removing him from play.

8C: Arion spends this turn recovering from shaken, but has the presence of mind to step into heavy cover.

5S: Berenike twats her opponent, shaking him; since he is already shaken, this escalates to a Wound and removes him from play.

5H: The surivor of the "charge into melee" group deserves two man down tests, I think; he passes 1d6 on each and will halt and make a rushed shot. I think burst fire at Berenike makes most sense; +2 for burst, -2 for medium cover (she was in heavy but must’ve moved about in the melee); he rolls a 5 and hits, but an unimpressive 2 damage leaves Berenike unaffected.

2D: The PEFs. The first rolls "move 16" toward enemy through cover"; given that there is automatic weapons fire between it and the enemy, and no cover, it will move as close as it can without exposing itself, then stop. The other gets the same result and does the same.


AS: Blue soldiers. A group Notice roll to see Arion, and another to see Coriander, I think. (These work like PC rolls, with Wild Dice.) The group spots both, so I roll at random for each to see who they shoot at; all three pick Cori, the rats. Two hits. The first does 14 damage, which Shakes her, but I don’t bother to soak it as I can always spend a benny later to recover instantly. The second does 22 damage, which causes two wounds (note that the number of wounds from a damage roll can never exceed the number of raises, even if the target is already shaken); that’s worth soaking, so she does, spending a benny and soaking one wound.

KS: Berenike moves up next to Coriander and burst-fires at the lone green soldier in front of her, Shaking him.

QH: PEF. Moves 8" towards nearest PEF, and bumps into it (it’s already within 4" so can’t stop 4" away). The other PEF can’t close 16" and stay in cover, and is already as close as it can get, so it stays put. I would give Dmitri a Notice roll to resolve them, but he’s otherwise engaged and that part of the board is crowded anyway.

JD: Green command. Melee didn’t work out too well, so each of them will burst-fire at random at Dmitri, Coriander or Berenike; one at B, three at C, and one at D. Berenike is Shaken, Coriander is Shaken again and so now has a second Wound, and they miss Dmitri. Coriander keeps her last benny to handle Incapacitation should it occur.

9H: Coriander. She rolls high enough to recover from Shaken with a raise, meaning she can act this turn. I have a new plan now, so she runs for the ship, firing at the shaken green soldier as she goes. Not entirely unexpectedly, she misses.

8S: Dmitri runs for the ship too, firing at the shaken green guy on the way past. He misses too, but sooner or later one of them will get lucky.

6C: Arion runs for the ship, and doesn’t bother shooting because I don’t think he has a clear shot at any point; he uses his action to radio the Dolphin to open the door for him.

5C: Long green soldier. He fails to recover from shaken, but since he can still move half Pace and people are shooting at him, he moves into cover.



Jokers: All the green soldiers! The one on his own will use this turn to recover from shaken. The others will burst fire at random towards Berenike (1-3) or Dmitri (4-6). The two on Berenike both hit thanks to the joker; she takes 15 and 8 damage, and is Incapacitated (it’s no fun being an Extra in this game, trust me).

AD: PEF. Still wants to move 16" through cover. Still can’t do it.

KC: Arion runs for the ship, and makes it into the airlock.

QS: Dmitri heaves Berenike over his shoulder and waddles towards the ship. I can’t find a rule for this in SW, but it seems reasonable and I press on to avoid the game bogging down in rules checks – however, I doubt he can run.

QC: The blue soldiers saw Dmitri hobble past, and have their best LOS to him, so all fire on him – note that as he moved first, he gains the bonus for the cover he finishes his move in. None hit.

8D: Berenike isn’t doing anything now except bleed over Dmitri’s clothes.

3D: Coriander runs for the ship, and doesn’t fire because there’s no obvious LOS to target.


AS: Coriander barges past Arion and runs over to the opposite airlock hatch, which she opens, and then goes prone in the hatchway, reloading. (You’ll see.)

AD: Blue soldiers. They move to a better firing position and shoot at Dmitri again. Two hit, and Dmitri is shaken twice, causing a Wound.

QH: Green soldiers. The run across open ground to the next group of trees, except the one on his own who puts suppressive fire on Dmitri. Not that it does him any good.

3D: Arion runs for the bridge, closing the door behind him.

2D: The PEFs try to close up on each other. Stupid PEFs.


Joker: PEFs. They both move up through cover (or at least where the PCs can’t see them) towards the ship.

QS: Arion is still going for the bridge.

9H: Cori is waiting for the ship to lift.

7H: Green troops. I use the PEF movement table for them and they make a run for Dmitri’s position, merging into one force as they do so.

7C: Blue troops. Again I use the PEF table, and they try to close up with their friends, stopping 4" away – but they’re already there.

2C: Dmitri grabs Berenike and moves to another clump of trees, delaying the inevitable.


KH: Green troops – they put suppressive fire on Dmitri’s position, so the blue ones can try melee again. It does them no good.

JC: PEFs. Both close in on Dmitri.

7H: Arion reaches the bridge, drops into the pilot’s chair and powers up the ship.

7C: Cori goes On Hold, so that next turn she can act earlier.

6S: Blue troops. They move into melee with Dmitri, and two hit because of gangup bonuses. However, the damage (5 and 6 respectively) fails to get through.

4S: Dmitri clobbers one of the blue troops, shaking one.



10C: Arion makes a Piloting roll to lift the ship and turn it so Coriander’s gun bears on the green troops. His -2 for being wounded cancels the +2 for Ace, and he succeeds.

Cori acts out of sequence because she is On Hold, and takes the green troops under suppressive fire from the rear, shaking two. I decide this is triggers a Received Fire test, and the group will return fire at her when they act. She is in heavy cover (-4 to be hit).

9H: Blue troops, in melee. All miss, and the shaken one stays shaken.

6C: Green troops. Return fire at spaceship, but miss Cori; one recovers from shaken.

3D: Dima in melee. He hits one for 22 damage, and that one takes a permanent nap.

2C: PEFs. Both roll double 6 and stay put.



Dmitri could go now, but will hold his move until later…

KC: Arion manoeuvres the ship around so Dmitri can climb aboard.

QC: Coriander suppresses the green troops again, shaking two.

Joker: Dmitri clobbers the remaining blue guy, shaking him, then retreats onto the airlock ramp.

7S: The blue guys are all shaken, and roll to recover; they manage but will spend all turn on it.

5D: Green troops recover from shaken and two can act. This means five can shoot, one fires at Cori and four at Dmitri; thanks to the cover penalty, all miss.



First, I roll for Berenike to see if she dies of her wounds. As per Savage Worlds Deluxe p. 78, I make a Vigour roll for her, and get a 4 – a 3 or less would have meant death, and an 8 or better that her wounds were superficial; but on a 4 she is Incapacitated. As per pp 68-69, I now roll 2d6 for an injury – this will last until all her wounds are healed. A roll of 8 (guts) followed by a 6 (busted) means her Strength is reduced one die type until she heals. Speaking of healing, Coriander can now heal her psionically, and does so – this is better than leaving her to heal naturally as she has a lower chance of dying while doing so this way. As Berenike has survived her first scenario and will thus be around a little longer, I roll for her personality; 1d20 on the table on p. 81 – 20, Heroic. Oh dear, another White Knight.


This didn’t work as well as I expected. Firstly, it was much slower than any CRFV or 5150; that was at partly due to having so many initiative cards in play, so if I do this again I will have one per side.

Secondly, I had to keep reminding myself that the tactical play is different – specifically, once a character has taken an action, they can’t do anything else; you can walk up to them and shoot them, they don’t mind. That meant I could take risks I wouldn’t have taken under 2HW rules, like breaking cover to fall back. The NPCs could have done this by using the On Hold rule, so I need some way of deciding when they do that.

The GM-less Savage Worlds isn’t quite ready for prime time yet, I fear.

Arion: Jailbreak

Arion, Coriander, and Dmitri are languishing in a cell when the door opens, and a shadowy figure with a large bag and a bunch of keys enters.

“Berenike!” cries Dmitri. “You’re alive!”

“Berenike?” cries Arion. “Great! We’re here to rescue you…”

After last encounter’s fiasco, Arion & Co are still using the CRFV rules, but a non-standard scenario, in which we meet Dmitri’s contact, Berenike…

Berenike is Merc #7 from the 5150 NB generator (I diced for that), and so has Rep 5, Fit 5, Pep 3, Sav 4, Sci 0, and carries a BAP. As there is a definite shortage of girls with guns in my figure collection, she’ll have to use Coriander’s old figure. We join the group as Berenike has just broken into their cell to free them.


Everyone is in Building 1. For simplicity’s sake, Berenike has brought a bag of guns so everyone is armed as per their figures.


Objective: Get everyone off-board alive via the far edge of section 2. Note that this means avoiding combat is a Good Thing.

Special Rules: EAL remains at 5. Parapets on the roof are low enough to shoot over, but high enough to provide cover for someone fast moving doubled over – however, if such a person has to fire, the shot is rushed. Jumping off the roof requires a challenge test: Success means lose 2" movement, failure means Stunned.


Activation: Arion 4, PEFs 6 (do not activate).


The randomly-deployed PEFs actually have good LOS to building 2 and to the escape route around building 4, so Arion’s crew fast move out of building 1, around the courtyard, up the stairs and onto the roof of building 4. The plan is to move across the roof of building 5, jump over the wall, and then sneak around the Inn. White disks indicate people on the roof; the different starting positions and fast move results by Rep have spread them out nicely into single file.


Activation: PEFs 5, Arion 3.


The PEFs move at random; the statement "moving through cover at all times" helps PEFs enormously, usually by sending them to flanking positions; but this time it helps the party, as one PEF moves around building 4 the other way – it could have come right up to them, but not without breaking cover. A second moves towards the party but without getting LOS on them, and a third moves towards the second.

The player group fast moves across the roof of building 5. Arion is OK, but Berenike fails the challenge test and is Stunned. The others didn’t quite have enough movement to jump off.


Activation: Arion 5, PEFs 1.


Coriander and Dmitri jump off the roof, and Dmitri is Stunned. Berenike recovers. The PEFs mill about inside the courtyard, with several moving directly towards the party through cover, only to be stopped by a wall.


Activation: PEF 5, Arion 1.

The PEFs are definitely interested in building 6; maybe it’s the mess hall. One, however, moves directly towards the Star through cover – to give them a sporting chance, of the several possibilities available to it I choose to send it towards the Alep Gate, where it is most likely to cause trouble.

Arion and crew wait for Dmitri to recover from his stun.


Activation: Arion 5, PEFs 2.


Arion and crew fast move up the outside of the wall. The PEFs have now decided to be interested in the Alep Gate and all move out of building 6 towards it. Oops.


Activation: Arion 4, PEFs 3.

The crew continues to fast move around the Caravanserai wall and are now only a few inches away from escape!


The PEFs, however, have other ideas. The closest one moves out of the gate and has to be resolved – luck is with us and it turns out to be a false alarm! The second PEF follows it and resolves as four soldiers, one Rep 5 and three Rep 4. Time for an In Sight test; red dice show number of passes.

The enemy leader opens fire at Berenike, knocking her down. She passes 2d6 on the recovery test and is Stunned. Arion shoots at the leader and kills him outright. (Both sides pass their Man Down tests.)

One soldier shoots at Arion and hits for a KD result, Arion is Stunned but the crew carries on regardless. Coriander then shoots Arion’s assailant, knocking him down; he is now Out Of the Fight but his colleagues carry on.

Dmitri doesn’t get a go because he passed 0d6, and the remaining two squaddies don’t have LOS to the crew so can’t fire.


Activation: Arion 4, troops 1.

Arion retrieves the wounded Berenike and fast-moves off the board while firing at the surviving soldiers. (How heroic is that?) I picked Arion for this because (a) he has the best chance of passing d6 for the fast move and (b) if by any chance the soldiers engage him in melee, as a Star he doesn’t have to drop Berenike. The rest of the crew fast move off the board after him, firing as they go. This brings them into LOS of the soldiers and triggers an In Sight test.

Arion goes first and fires once at each soldier, missing both but triggering Received Fire tests. They both take a rushed shot at him. Four of the six shots hit, with results of Obviously Dead, Out Of the Fight, and Knocked Down twice. Arion’s Star Power saves him, turning both the OD and the OOF into Stuns. I stop rolling at that point, as passing more Star Power dice won’t help, but I could roll sixes and lose some dice for the rest of the encounter.

Having seen this happen, Dmitri doesn’t fire, because the odds of him hitting are not good, but the odds of a received fire test triggering a return fusillade are high.


The soldiers now get a turn. One rolls over his Rep on the In Sight resolution table so ducks back – this would be weird normally, but as someone is shooting at him it makes sense. The other is made of sterner stuff and takes two shots at Cori and one at Dmitri – he could get lucky and drop everyone. He misses Cori as she is fast moving, and Dmitri because he rolls low. Cori and Dmitri take received fire tests – Cori rolls atrociously and has to take a Cohesion test, which she passes, and carries on; but Dmitri is outgunned so ducks back into the nearest cover, which is the Caravanserai wall.

Now it’s Cori’s turn, and she hoses down the remaining visible soldier – rolls of 5, 5, and 6 to hit, appropriately enough, and wounding rolls send him OOF. The last soldier has to take another man down test but carries on because he is in cover.

Almost as an afterthought, the remaining PEF splits in two. Probably the best outcome for Arion.

Turn 8

Activation: Arion 2, Soldiers 6 (don’t activate).

Coriander and Dmitri both retrieve wounded, picking up their significant others, and fade away into the sunset. Arion would recover this turn, but we can’t rely on the other side activating after us, so it’s better to be dragged off the board.


Arion and Berenike both pass 2d6 and return at full Rep. The next encounter will be a Raid: Attack trying to get back into the Dolphin and escape Tainaron.

All Things Zombie Reboot

In honour of Zombtober, and bearing in mind the continued lack of Garstrewt and Athienne, this weekend the guest game was All Things Zombie: Final Fade Out. In about 90 minutes we created characters, ran through some rules examples – a firefight, for example – and played the Day One scenario (a free web supplement from the 2HW site).

The Warforged’s player generated a character with Rage and Brawler, which he declared was a doomsday-prepping survivalist kendo teacher who had been praying for this day for years; Nessime’s player created a Greedy Medic; Gutz’ player had a Runt/Born Leader car mechanic armed with a nailgun; and I had a character with very little background beyond having Poser and Rage, because I spent most of my time interpreting the rules for the others, who have never played ATZ before. All the characters were Rep 4 Citizens.

This session didn’t flow as smoothly as I’d hoped – I really should have played a couple of games solo first to get the hang of the rules, but I thought I could get away with it because I’ve been playing so much 5150: NB. (One of the advantages of solo play is I can stop and puzzle over a rule I don’t understand for as long as I want; that’s much more stressful for me when I’m introducing new players to a game I want them to like and don’t understand how to do something.)

Still, by the end of Day One we were holed up in the nuclear bunker underneath the kendo teacher’s combination house and dojo, and the mechanic and the doctor had both seen and killed a zombie (the doctor took its head off with a spade, while the mechanic was still coming to terms with it being a former friend).

The players took this badly-prepared session in good heart, and decided to think of it as the cut scene introducing the game (they are all keen videogame players). We agreed to finish off the outstanding Savage Worlds scenario (Vengeance of the Branded Devils) next time we meet, then try another ATZ game, and then I’ll hand over the reins to the Shadowrun GM for a session. Meanwhile, I’ll shift my solo focus to ATZ for a while to get the hang of it, and GM the game until everyone is comfortable enough with the rules not to require explanations.

Their plan for the next encounter, incidentally, is to raid a military base for guns and explosives. On Day Two of the zombie outbreak. I do not think this will go well.

Maros and the Orcs

Here’s a bit of solo fun also intended as a text example of how to run Savage Worlds… Tell me what I’m doing wrong, or where I could use better tactics!

Orcs are harassing the nearby villages, and Maros of the city watch has been ordered to take a few men and scout around. Maros is a Fighter: Fencer from Savage Worlds Deluxe p. 18, equipped with leather armour, shortsword and shield. His three men are Soldiers from SWD p. 81; one (#1) is equipped like Maros, the others (#2 and #3) have bows and daggers rather than sword and shield. The orcs and orc chieftain are on p. 139 of SWD. We’ll worry about Maros’ hindrances and finances if he survives to become a regular feature. Note that I consider a shield bash as an attack; Your Mileage May Vary.

Maros is a Wild Card PC and so has three bennies. The orcs also have three bennies, one for the PC and two for their own Wild Card (the chieftain).

This report uses Hex Map Pro on the iPad, and one of the maps from Cry Havoc! One hex is one inch. Scrub is light cover, 3-hex trees medium cover, 7-hex trees heavy cover (and the central hex blocks line of sight). All page references are to Savage Worlds Deluxe.


It’s late afternoon, and the orcs have made a campfire and are settling in for the evening; they are, however, expecting trouble this close to a human city, and count as alert guards (p. 26). Maros and his men choose this moment to approach from the north-west.



Maros makes a Stealth roll, and his troops make a group Stealth roll (pp. 26, 63) to close up within 6" of the orcs (after that, they would need to make individual rolls). The orcs oppose this roll with a group Notice roll; once you get this close it doesn’t matter if they are alert or not, they still get a chance to notice. (Note that rolls are made for each group of like figures, in this case Maros and the Chieftain are unique, and the troops and orcs are each a group.)

Maros rolls a 2 on his Stealth d6 (skill die) and a 3 on his Wild Die; his score is 3, and he adds +4 for heavy cover (any line of sight from the orcs to him passes through a large tree) for a final score of 7. The troops roll a 2 on their Stealth d4, and a 3 on their group die (which is effectively a Wild Die); their score as a group is 3, and again they add +4, for a final total of 7.

The orc chieftain rolls a 2 on his Notice d6 (skill die) and 5 on his Wild Die, so his score is 5 (the better of the two). The orcs roll 4 on the Notice d6, and 1 on their group die; their score is 4. As the humans have beaten the orcs and are not yet in combat, they can close in up to 5 x their Pace, or up to 30". They stop just outside the 6" range where they are sure to be noticed.



The humans draw a 2 of spades, and the orcs a joker. As the soldiers are under the control of Maros’ player, they act when he does. Since they are as yet unaware of our heroes, the orcs do nothing. The human archers take Aim (an action, which precludes their moving), #2 at the Cheiftain and #3 at the closest orc. This will grant them a +2 on their shooting roll next turn.


I reshuffle the deck because a joker was drawn last turn. Maros draws a King of Hearts, and the orcs a 4 of diamonds.

The archers now fire at their targets. #2 rolls a 4 on his Shooting d6, and adds +2 for Aiming last turn, +4 for having The Drop (the orcs are unaware of his presence until he looses an arrow), and -4 for shooting through heavy cover (the trees). His score is 4 + 2 + 4 – 4 = 6, and since that is more than the base Target Number of 4, he hits the chieftain. He now rolls the bow’s damage (2d6) and gets a total of 8 damage. This is less than the chieftain’s Toughness of 11 (8 for him and 3 for his plate corselet), so he is uninjured.

Soldier #3 rolls a 1 with like modifiers, and so scores a 3 – this is less than the TN to hit, so he misses.

(There are no range modifers as the archers are within a bow’s short range of 12". I did consider making called shots to the head, but they are at -4 and would have meant the archers needed a 6 to hit at all.)

Maros and soldier #1 charge orc #3. They are close enough that they don’t have to run, so they can avoid the -2 penalty for doing so when they attack. Maros rolls a 1 on his Fighting d12 (the muppet) and a 6 on his Wild Die; he rerolls that and gets another 6, then another 6, then a 2, for a score of 20. He gets a +1 gang-up bonus as soldier #1 is attacking the same target, and another +1 from his Florentine Edge against a foe with a single weapon and no shield, for a total of 22. The orc’s Parry is 5, and Maros has beaten that by 17 – a success and four raises. Unfortunately, only the first raise counts, and gives him an extra d6 of damage. He rolls 3d6; one for his Strength (d6), one for the weapon’s damage (an extra d6 for a shortsword) and one for hitting with a raise. He rolls 5, 5, and 6 for a total of 16 – but wait, the 6 is an ace, so he rerolls it and adds the result, getting another 4 for a total of 20. Comparing that to the orc’s Toughness of 8 (7 for him and one for his armour) I see Maros has scored a success (Shaking the orc) and three raises (inflicting three Wounds). The orcs decide to spend one of their bennies to soak that damage; the orc rolls his Vigour d8 and gets an 8, which is an ace so he rolls again, getting a 6, for a total of 14. The Target Number is the usual 4, so that is a success and two raises, each of which eliminates a Wound; since all of the Wounds have been soaked, the orc is unhurt and the Shaken condition is thus removed.

Note here that although the Orc would have been Incapacitated by a single Wound, we need to keep track of how many the sword blow inflicted, as the soak roll has to get rid of them all to stop him being Incapacitated.

Soldier #1 now attacks. He rolls a 6 on his Fighting d6, which is an ace; the reroll is a 4, and he gets a +1 gang-up bonus, so his total score is an 11. This is 6 more than the orc’s Parry of 5, so he hits with a raise, and will inflict 3d6 damage (1d6 for him, 1d6 for his sword, 1d6 for the raise). The damage roll is 2, 3, 1 for a total of 6, though, which is less than the orc’s Toughness of 8, so he is unharmed – and just as well, since the orcs’ other two bennies are tied to the Wild Card chieftain and can’t be used for anyone else.

The orcs now move into combat, with the chieftain joining in on Solder #1 and orcs #1 and #2 lapping around Maros. They have no ranged weapons, but rather than charge the archers are joining in the melee in the hope that the archers won’t want to risk hitting their friends.

The chieftain attacks soldier #1, rolling a 12 on his Fighting d12 and a 5 on his Wild Die. He discards the Wild Die and rerolls the 12 for another 4; he also gets a +1 gang-up bonus as the soldier is already engaged with orc #3. His final roll "to hit" is 17, which exceeds the soldier’s Parry of 6 (2 basic, +3 for Fighting d6, +1 for a medium shield) by 11 – since he has a raise, he will roll an extra d6 damage. He rolls d10 (Strength) plus d10 (greataxe) plus d6 (raise) and gets 4, 8, 6 respectively – the 6 is an ace so he rerolls and gets another 4, for a total of 22 damage. That exceeds the soldier’s Toughness of 6 (2, +3 for Vigour d6, +1 for leather armour) by 16, scoring a success and four raises. Maros doesn’t have any Edges that let him share bennies with allies, and as an Extra the soldier has no bennies of his own; so he is instantly Incapacitated and removed from the table. (He may or may not be dead; we check that after the fight.)

Orcs 1-3 now attack Maros. Their gang-up bonus of +2 is reduced by one because he has the Florentine Edge, but they are both rolling at +1 even so. They score 2, 1 and 3 on their Fighting d6 skill dice, so even with that +1 they will not beat Maros’ Parry of 8-9 (2 basic, +6 for Fighting d12, +1 for medium shield vs those on his left) – and notice at this point that the two orcs have to ace their Fighting rolls to stand a chance of hitting him. This is fairly common, and in play means that the players’ high-Parry warriors tend to draw the GM’s Wild Card "boss monsters", as they go through mooks like a knife through butter.



Maros draws a Queen of Hearts, and the orcs a Jack of Hearts. Luck continues to be with the humans.

Maros’ archers now step out of cover to get a clear shot at the orc chieftain. and both fire at him. A 1 and a 3 are not going to do any good, though, and given that even if they do hit him, they need to roll at least 11 on 2d6 to even Shake him, he is not worried and will stay in the melee.

Maros uses his Two-Fisted Edge to stab one orc with his shortsword while shield-bashing another (p. 75). The sword first, against orc #1; Maros rolls an 8 on his Fighting die (a d12) and a 4 on his Wild Die (a d6), chooses the 8, adds +1 for a foe with one weapon and no shield, and since that total of 9 beats the orc’s Parry, he hits, inflicting 2d6 damage. That proves to be 8, equalling the orc’s Toughness and thus Shaking him – I invert the orc’s token to show this, as I would lie the figure down on the tabletop.

Maros now makes an opposed Strength roll against orc #3 to execute a Push, which he will convert into a shield bash if successful. The orc rolls his Strength of d8 and gets a 4; Maros rolls his Strength (d6) and a Wild Die (d6) getting 6 and 3 respectively – the 6 aces, he rerolls and gets a 3 and then adds his usual +1 from Florentine for a total of 10, beating the orc by 6 – success with a raise, which pushes the orc back 2" and inflicts Strength + 2 damage on him – Maros rolls his Strength (but no Wild Die, as this is a damage roll) and gets 4, which even with the +2 for a medium shield isn’t enough to hurt the orc. Maybe he should grab his buddy’s sword. Meanwhile, he pushes orc #3 straight back through the fire; I decide this doesn’t count as an obstacle, so he doesn’t take extra damage; had he been shield-bashed into a solid wall right behind him, he would have taken 1d6 damage per inch of pushback as he was squashed against it.

All the orcs now move in on Maros, to get gang-up bonuses which will help them to hit him. The Shaken orc makes a Spirit roll to recover; he gets a 4 on his Spirit d6, which is a success, but not a raise – he will spend all turn composing himself.

The chieftain rolls an 8 on his Fighting d12 and a 2 on his Wild Die; he has a +2 gang-up bonus (+1 per extra attacker, but reduced by one point for Maros’ Florentine Edge) so has a total of 10, which beats Maros’ Parry of 9 and so hits. He rolls 2d10 damage for his greataxe, getting a 1 and an 8 for a total of 9; that beats Maros’ Toughness by one, so he is Shaken but not Wounded (you have to beat Toughness by at least 4 to Wound an opponent).

Orc #3 rolls a 5 on his Fighting d6, and adds +2 for gang-up to get a 7 – still less than Maros’ Parry, so he misses. Orc #2 rolls a 3 and also misses. (Note that even though the mooks have very little chance of hitting or hurting Maros, they can still help their boss by providing gang-up bonuses.)



Maros draws a 5 of Clubs, and the orcs draw a 7 of Clubs – for the first time, they go before the humans, and decide to carry on thrashing Maros. You should be up to speed with how that works by now, so I’ll simply say that the chieftain hits Maros again and does 9 damage, Shaking him again. Since Maros is already Shaken, that escalates to a Wound; Maros will roll at -1 to everything if I allow that, so he spends a benny to soak the damage – note that you have to make that call after individual attack that damages you, although sometimes it’s a good idea to soak and sometimes it isn’t. In this case, since being Shaken doesn’t affect Parry, soaking makes sense because the odds of the orc mooks Wounding Maros again are low.

Maros spends a benny, reducing him to two, and makes a Vigour roll to soak the damage. He rolls 1 for his Vigour d6, and a 4 on his Wild Die – a success! This soaks one Wound, and since he now has none left, it also removes his Shaken condition.

As one often can when rolling for groups of mooks, I roll 3d6 for the orcs’ attacks and get 2, 2, 5; none of that is getting past Parry 9, even with the +2 gang-up bonus.

Payback time; the archers again shoot at the orc chieftain, figuring that although they might hit Maros (p. 73, Innocent Bystanders), he’s probably going to die in battle against four orcs anyway, so… They both get a 5, and there are no modifiers. Both hit and do 2d6 damage; #2 rolls a 9, which fails to penetrate the chieftain’s Toughness, and #3 rolls 2 damage. We’ll gloss over that.


Maros draws the 10 of Spades, the orcs draw the 3 of Hearts.

Archers first; they shoot at the chieftain, and both score 2. Oh well. Maros attacks the chieftain, first stabbing him with a sword – he rolls a 12 on his Fighting d12, and a 3 on the Wild Die; rerolling the d12 gets another 12, then a 7 – a total of 31. Impressive, and deserving an extra d6 damage. 11 damage is rolled, and this Shakes the chieftain. Maros now shield bashes him as before; the chieftain rolls a 2 on both his Strength and Wild dice, while Maros rolls 4 on both dice; a success, so the chieftain is pushed back one inch.

The orcs go next, and although Maros’ shield is facing away from them all so his Parry is reduced to 8, none of them roll high enough to hit him. Meanwhile, the chieftain makes a Spirit roll to recover from Shaken, and gets a 9 having aced the die – he recovers immediately, barges back in, and just barely misses Maros, solely because the latter’s shield is still in the way.


Maros draws the King of Hearts, the orcs draw a 10 of Spades. Maros attacks orc #3, hitting with a raise, and dealing 13 damage, Incapacitating him. He shield-bashes the chieftain because, hey, he could get lucky; he pushes the chieftain back 1" but does no damage. The archers fire at the chieftain; one misses, one hits with a raise, and thanks to acing one of the damage dice inflicts 17 damage, scoring one Wound on the chieftain. The chieftain spends a benny and makes a Vigour roll to soak the damage; he succeeds with a raise and is unharmed. The orc chieftain now has one benny to Maros’ two.

Note here that while Savage Worlds has no hit points as such, bennies fill much the same ecological niche, in that it’s often difficult to take out the boss monster until you have scrubbed away all his bennies.

The chieftain decides to keep going and sort out those archers before they do him a serious injury. As they are adjacent, he can use his Sweep special ability to attack both of them with a single Fighting roll at -2; he rolls a 10 on his Fighting die (d12) and a 6 on the Wild Die, followed by a 4 – also a total of 10, and a success with a raise. Although there is only one roll to hit, damage is rolled separately – in this case, 2d10 + 1d6 per archer. Soldier #2 suffers 8 damage vs a Toughness of 6 and is Shaken; #3 suffers 17 and is Incapacitated.

The orcs swing at Maros without effect.



Maros gets a 5 of Spades, the orcs a 10 of Clubs, so the orcs go first.

The orc chieftain misses soldier #2; orcs #1 and #2 miss Maros. Soldier #2 dare not withdraw (p.76), since the orc chieftain would then get a free attack at him as he broke off, but can go on Full Defence; he makes a Fighting roll of 3, and since this is worse than his Parry of 5, it has no effect.

Maros withdraws from combat to help his surviving man, and both orcs get a free attack at him; neither hits. Maros makes a Wild Attack on the chieftain (+2 hit, +2 damage, -2 Parry – p. 76); he rolls 11+2 = 13 on his Fighting die and 6+2+2 (+2 for the wild attack, +2 for the ace reroll) on the Wild Die. This gives him a 13 to hit, which is raised to 14 by a +1 gang-up bonus as the orc chieftain is already fighting soldier #2. That’s a hit with a raise on the chieftain’s Parry of 8; Maros rolls 3d6+2 and gets 3, 3, 6; the 6 aces so he rolls another 6, then a 1, +2 for the wild attack, giving a grand total of 21 damage; a success with two raises, so the chieftain is Shaken and has two Wounds. He uses his last benny to soak that, aces his Vigour die, and gets a soak total of 12 – success and two raises, negating all Wounds and Shaken. However, he is now out of bennies.

In passing, I note that my PCs have developed the habit of saving their last benny to reroll Incapacitation rolls if they get that far, because they believe it reduces the chances of character death to do so.



Maros, 5 of Hearts; orcs, 5 of Clubs. Hearts trump clubs, so the humans go first. Soldier #2 stays on Full Defence and aces his Fighting skill roll, so his effective Parry this turn is 11. Maros makes another wild attack on the chieftain and shield bashes him to boot; the attack barely hits, but the damage of 11 is just enough to Shake the chieftain, and a success with a raise on the shield bash pushes him 2" into the shrubbery.

The orcs all close in on Maros and stab at him with orcish nastiness. The chieftain and orc #1 miss, but orc #2 aces his Fighting roll and hits. Both his d8s for damage ace, and he does 23 damage – compared to Maros’ Toughness of 6, that’s a success with four raises. Maros spends a benny and rolls Vigour to shake the damage; he rolls a 5 (Vigour die) and a 2 (Wild Die) and achieves one success, so he is now Shaken with three Wounds. That looks like a bad idea, so he spends his last benny to reroll; this time he gets a 5 and a 6, rerolls the 6 because it aced and gets a further 3 – a total 9 is a success and a raise, each of which negates a Wound. Maros is now out of bennies and is Shaken with two Wounds.


Maros: 4 of Hearts, orcs: 3 of Hearts.

Maros withdraws from melee and flees. The soldier is not in melee and just flees. The orcs all get a free attack on Maros; the chieftain hits and inflicts 9 damage – success with a raise, so Maros collects another Wound and is Incapacitated. The other two orcs miss. Maros makes an immediate Vigour roll (p. 68 – note that Extras don’t roll until after the fight ends); he rolls 5 for Vigour (d6) and 4 for the Wild Die, so has a result of 5. This is a success, so he has an injury which will disappear when he is fully healed. Rolling 2d6 on the injury table (p. 69) shows that Maros was hit in the gut, and a further 1d6 roll of 3 tells me his Vigour is reduced one die step to d4 until he is healed.


I could run a Chase as the orcs chase down the surviving soldier, but this post is already long enough, I think, so we’ll move to the aftermath.


Orc #3, soldier #1 and soldier #3, as Incapacitated Extras, must each make a Vigour roll (p. 78). Orc #3 rolls a 5 against the usual Target Number of 4; he is alive but Incapacitated. The soldiers roll 2 and 3 respectively, both failing, and so both die.

What next? I decide that the orc chieftain should make a reaction roll (p. 26) to see what he thinks of Maros, now unconscious at his feet. He rolls an 8 on 2d6; neutral. OK then, what is his personality like? I roll 1d20 on the ally personality table (p. 81) and get a 9 – Bright.

"Kill the human!" shriek the orc mooks.

"No," rumbles the chieftain. "He can tell us about the human defences. And he fought well; he will make a strong slave."

Maros is tied up and carried off by the victorious orcs. Meanwhile, his surviving trooper returns home… I roll for that worthy’s personality a get a 14, Clueless; he reports the action, but in such vague and imprecise terms that the city watch is unable to work out whether Maros is alive, and if so, how to help. Maros is on his own…

Converting Coriander

One thing that 5150: New Beginnings doesn’t have rules for is psionics. Coriander being psionic is an important part of her character concept, so she went through three stages of conversion.

Stage 1: Sacked!

The idea here was: I can’t convert her because there are no rules for psionics. So she’ll have to go home.

That stage lasted less than five minutes, and led into stage 2…

Stage 2: You Can Do Anything With Challenges…

Of course, I thought, I can always create a new career and some appropriate challenges. I started doodling and came up with these guidelines, presented here to stimulate discussion and in case anyone wants to use them.

New Career

En – Psion. Uses LWC reaction tables. Primary skill: Savvy. Each psion may select three powers, whose use is usually resolved in play by Savvy challenges. Powers are treated as Fields of Expertise.

Coriander’s powers in this stage were based on those she had in Savage Worlds, and looked like this; essentially I assumed success is a minor success, a raise is a major success, and a major failure is brainburn.

Boost/Lower Trait

This allows the psion to increase or decrease a target’s skill dice. The target and the skill must be specified before any dice are rolled. The challenge difficulty is 2 if trying to boost a skill, or the target’s Rep if trying to lower it.

  • Major Success: Adjust target’s skill in psion’s favour by 2d6.
  • Minor Success: Adjust target’s skill in psion’s favour by 1d6.
  • Minor Failure: No effect.
  • Major Failure: Psion is Stunned.


A psion with this power counts as medically trained and equipped with a First Aid kit (whether he actually has one or not) for purposes of applying First Aid. When rolling Recovery Tests after the battle, a wounded character attended by a psionic healer rolls one additional die – this works the same way as a Leader Die on reaction tests.

Mind Reading

This allows the psion to extract information from NPCs. The main advantage this has over normal Pep challenges to gather information is that the target may not realise he has been interrogated. The question must be stated before any dice are rolled. The challenge difficulty is the target’s Rep.

  • Major Success: Psion gains answer to one question, target is unaware that he has been probed.
  • Minor Success: Psion gains answer to one question, target is aware that he has been probed.
  • Minor Failure: No effect.
  • Major Failure: Psion is Stunned, target is aware that he has been probed.

So, Coriander looked like this: Rep 4 Psion (LWC), Fit 3 Pep 3 Sav 4 Sci 0. Charismatic. Powers: Boost/Lower Trait, Healing, Mind Reading.

That took a couple of hours’ thought, and led to stage 3…

Stage 3: Just Play The Game!

The key with any game conversion is to convert the outcomes, not the mechanics. I asked myself: What are the in-game consequences of Coriander’s powers? Well, she heals people, gets information from NPCs (usually by reading their minds) and boosts traits (usually her own Persuasion or one of Arion’s traits).

I then asked myself: What is the simplest way to get those outcomes in 5150 using the existing rules? Answer, give her medical training and let her count as always having a First Aid kit (to represent the laying on of hands for healing); give her a reasonable Pep score and the Charismatic attribute for persuading people (mind reading); and say that Arion’s bonus dice are actually the result of her boosting his traits (boost/lower trait).

And that’s why Cori is a Doctor in 5150 NB. Sometimes I have to go through this kind of process to get back to an end position I feel comfortable with.

Arion: Tainaron Patrol

"Ah, Tainaron. Best mercenary hiring hall in the sector. And do you know why that is, Dmitri?"

"Yes, but I expect you’re going to tell me anyway."

"Because it’s a balkanised planet where they’re constantly shooting at each other! It has more military actions per year than any dozen planets combined. Oh, look, now they’re shooting at us as well! And I was so worried they wouldn’t let us join in…" Dmitri peers out of the bridge window at the tracer zipping past, and starts involuntarily as a couple of rounds spang off the viewport.

"Don’t worry about it. It’s only 12.7mm, the meteorite shielding is perfectly capable of fending that off indefinitely. As you well know."

"So, are you going to tell me why we’re here? I only ask because, you know, it might be useful in deciding where to land…"

"One of my old contacts had her cover blown. She needs a ride out of here before they damage her pride. Or her fingernails."

"Oho, ‘she’ is it? Is this an old contact, or an old flame?" Dmitri is punching numbers into a keyboard.

"Why does she have to be one or the other? There… home in on that frequency. That’s her rescue beacon." Coriander pokes her head in through the bridge access hatch.

"Is this one of those ‘Hot LZs’ you boys are always talking about?"

"I’ll let you know when we get there," says Arion. "Oh hey, like the new outfit!"

"Yeah, well, I’ve been wearing those robes for over a year now, so it’s definitely time for a new look."


I wanted to try Arion under Chain Reaction: Final Version because one of the things that slows me down in other THW products is the range of reaction tables for different troop types. It’s a clever way of reflecting differences, but it’s slower than the original idea of one reaction table fits all. I also like the idea that the CRFV NPC movement table tells you what a group’s tactical deployment will be – I miss that, and I think that’s why it feels like I have to do more thinking for the NPCs in 5150: NB.

Character creation in CRFV is a snap: The Star is Rep 5, Grunts are Rep 3-5. I decided to make Arion Rep 5 and stick with the idea of Coriander and Dmitri as both being Rep 4 for simplicity. The figure has whatever weapons it has, and nobody has armour, skills or attributes. Job done.

In story terms, Arion & Co are looking for Dmitri’s contact, or at least the beacon she was using to summon help.


This is a CRFV Patrol encounter. Arion, Coriander and Dmitri begin aboard the Dolphin, which has landed just off the edge of the main board. To succeed, Arion must spend one full activation stationary with LOS to the centre of each board section, then exit the table from the edge by which he entered.

I roll 2d6 for Enemy Activity Level, taking the higher score: 1, 6 so the EAL begins at 5 (since it may never exceed 5). As usual, rather than spend time generating terrain, I just grab one of my battlemats and lay it on Table Mountain. The PEF generation rules (p. 31) give me PEFs in sections 1, 3, and 6. I decide that any other figures encountered are soldiers looking for Dmitri’s contact.



Activation: PEFs 4, Arion 1. It’s not immediately clear to me what the PEFs’ effective Rep should be, but I decide to use the EAL for the sake of expediency, and check whether that’s right later.


PEFs go first. Starting with the one closest to the PCs, that in section 6, I roll 2d6 vs EAL (5): 1, 6 = pass 1d6. As there are other PEFs on the board, the ensuing roll of 5 means it moves 8" towards the nearest enemy, staying in cover at all times.

Using the same rules, the second closest PEF (in section 3) moves 16" through cover towards the PCs, and the last one moves 8" towards the nearest friend stopping 4" away.

Arion’s original plan was to fast move up the centre of the board and thus gain LOS to several section centres at once, but this will place him in the crossfire between two PEFs so is a bad idea. Also, the rules suggest that he can only "collect" one section at a time. Instead, he moves into section 8 and gains LOS on the centre of section 9.

After reading the In Sight rules a couple of times I decide that since both Arion and the PEFs are in cover, they can’t see each other.


Activation: Arion only.

Arion observes section 9 and crosses it off his list.


Activation: Arion only.

Arion and his crew move up through cover to a place where they can observe the centres of board sections 4, 7 and 8.


Activation: Arion, PEFs.


Arion observes section 8 – it seems reasonable to start with the one he is in. The PEFs move according to the rules, and I’m intrigued by how well the simple statement that they must move through cover for the relevant movement results drives one into a great flanking position. By now, another is only 4" away, so I decide it must be visible and resolve it.

I roll 1d6 on the PEF resolution table, cross-referencing the die roll (1) with the EAL (5) to reveal a result of X – "There’s nothing out there, no worries mate." That PEF is removed from the board. A small, furry woodland animal perhaps, or a simple case of nerves.


Activation: Arion 4, PEFs 4. As per p. 9, this doesn’t count as a turn and I reroll – note that in other THW rules sets it would still count as a turn, but neither side would move. This is because in other rules something could still happen, for example in 5150 NB the police might get closer.

Unbelievably, the rerolls are doubles several times, but eventually we get to Arion going on a 4, then the PEFs on a 3. Arion stays put and observes section 7. He could have done that on the first turn, and in real life probably would have in case of ambush, but at a metagaming level I knew there wouldn’t be any PEFs in sections 7-9.

The PEF now in section 4 wants to move 16" towards the PCs while staying in cover. It can’t do that, but there is a way for it to sprint between two stands of trees without the PCs having LOS to it, so I decide it does that. However, after 10" it can’t get closer without breaking cover and triggering an In Sight test, so I decide it stops there.

Since Arion is active and observing that section, I decide he can take a Challenge test to resolve the PEF (p. 25). I decide that success will mean he sees and resolves the PEF, while failure means he decides there is nothing there and ignores it. 2d6 (1, 5) vs Rep (5) = pass 2d6, success.

Resolving the PEF gives me a B result, a small group, and a roll of 2d6 (6) on the How Many Grunts table tells me there are three of them. I pick three figures at random from my box of soldiery, and get three guys with assault rifles. It’s not immediately obvious what their Rep should be, so I roll on the Party Generation Table on p. 7: Rolls of 2, 3, 5 are each subject to a +1 modifier for the figures being military, so we have two Rep 4 Grunts led by a Rep 5 Grunt. Who is which will be obvious to me as two of the three figures are the same pose, so they can be the Rep 4s.

Time for an In Sight test. Everybody rolls modified Rep d6 vs 3, looking for passes; the red dice next to each figure show how many it achieved. Note that everyone is in cover, so their opponents roll one less die than normal; also, the former PEF moved, so rolls one less die than that. This means the soldiers roll 3, 2 and 2 dice; Arion rolls 4 dice; and the crew roll 3 dice each. Notice how the rules reward ambushes.


Arion goes first (4 successes) and fires his BAP twice at the enemy leader. He rolls 1d6 plus Rep for each shot and scores 8, 9. Both shots miss as the target is in cover. The enemy leader now takes a Received Fire test, rolling 4d6 vs Rep (the usual two, plus one for being in cover, plus the commander’s Leader Die): He passes 4d6 and so returns fire. He rolls 1d6 + Rep for each of his three shots; 9, 10, 10 means he hits Arion twice. Arion rolls 1d6 vs weapon Impact (3) for each hit: A 1 is an Obviously Dead result, and a 3 for an Out Of the Fight result. I don’t much like that, so resort to Star Power (p. 5): I roll 5d6 for the OD result and get 3, 4, 4, 5, 6. The 3 reduces the wound from OD to OOF, and the 6 is lost from my pool for future rolls in this game. I could roll to reduce the OOF to Stunned, but decide not to because I will still be OOF, there are no extra penalties for having multiple conditions of the same type, and a bad roll could reduce my dice pool further. Arion is now out of it, and needs to be recovered and healed off board.

Coriander and Dmitri now take a Man Down test. They roll 4d6 vs Rep (4); two as usual, one for being in cover, and another one because Coriander has taken over as leader. They pass 4d6 and Carry On.

Now, the enemy leader may act – note that although he reacted to coming under fire by shooting earlier, he is now active and might fire again. I roll 1d6 vs Rep as he is a Grunt, and get a 4 – he passes 1d6 so looks at the Available Actions list. As he is able to fire, he does so; three shots at Coriander get him 7, 9, 10. 7 always misses, 9 misses if the target is in cover, so only the 10 hits. He rolls 1d6 vs Impact (3) and gets a 3; Coriander is Out Of the Fight, and has no Star Power under CRFV with which to contest that decision.

A second soldier now acts. He passes 1d6 vs Rep so can act, and fires at Dmitri. 9, 9, 10 so one hit – and on a 2, Dmitri is OOF.

Notice that the third soldier, Coriander and Dmitri are unable to act before the firefight is over.


It seems clear that the opposition can kill or capture Arion’s crew at will; since the rules allow me to decide which, and I’ve grown attached to the little bundles of stats over the years, they are captured. The next encounter will therefore be a jailbreak.

All three of the crew now roll 2d6 vs Rep on the After the Battle Recovery table (p. 24). Arion passes 2d6, the others each pass 1d6, so everyone recovers to normal Rep before the next scenario.


I expected CRFV to be faster in play than 5150 NB, and it is. However, it was only when I played it that I realised how much more brutal it is, and how much more tactical sense the PEFs display.

CRFV has no rules for improving a character, however, and because eventually the recovery table will reduce his Rep, the best you can do is not get any worse. Consequently, while CRFV is fine for a skirmish wargame, I won’t use it as an RPG in its own right – and to be fair, all it’s intended to do is let you try out the core ideas of the THW rules before you buy them.


Figures: eM4. Battlemats: Wydraz, Cry Havoc Fan.

Shadows of Keron Episode 20: Windborn

Another short Savage Worlds session with few attendees this weekend, so I ran a flash-forward adventure after the end of Vengeance of the Branded Devils – the Zandorian adventure from Beasts of the Dominions. (I don’t want to finish Vengeance without Garstrewt and Athienne being there, as it might have been written for them.) As usual, no spoilers, but this is a nice four-page adventure featuring one of the titular Beasts.

The party made short work of most of the encounters, thanks to the careful use of Puppet and Blast powers by The Warforged, Boost Trait by Nessime, and thrown axes by Gutz. A hostage was rescued, bad guys were fried, a considerable quantity of bacon was taken as loot, and only the Big Bad caused any real problems – you have to be canny how you take the boss monster down.

They weren’t canny, but they pumped enough Blast and Bolt powers into the boss that it didn’t matter. Peace, as they say, through superior firepower. Although they did get covered in filth as usual, and Nessime realised that she no longer has the Holy Handkerchief, which she successfully delivered to the Ninth Alchemist a couple of sessions ago.

The Warforged, being the character who plays most often, is a few experience ahead of the rest and has just reached Heroic. Since I expected the campaign to go a few advances into Legendary, this is almost exactly the halfway point; he has expressed a desire to retire as one of the Alchemists of Gis. We’ll see, plenty of time for that later.

A short, simple scenario with three players is just in the sweet spot for me, and I think that is more about my style as a GM than anything else. Regardless, as often happens with the Beasts & Barbarians scenarios, I find my normal jaded attitude replaced by enthusiasm and a will to play. I can’t decide which I’d rather play, SW or 5150; mind you, I don’t have to – I can play both, and more.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 77 other followers