The Game: Necessary Evil
The Publisher: Pinnacle, who used to call themselves Great White Games, who used to call themselves, err, Pinnacle.
Degree of Familiarity: I've come close to running Savage Worlds a few times, but always ended up doing something else instead.
Books Required: Savage Worlds and the Necessary Evil Explorer's Edition
I've perhaps unfairly always thought of Savage Worlds as a bit bland, mostly because it looks like Deadlands with some sense and continuity. Which is a bugger, because Deadlands didn't have a wonderful system. It had a fragmented mess that was at best average, but stuck in so many people's minds because it had a lot of tactile elements: cards, all manner of dice, poker chips, and so on. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if one of the reasons for using stones to represent point pools isn't a (sub)conscious callback to Deadlands, and how much fun it felt.
But Savage Worlds came along and smartened things up and made the system into a fairly generic pulpy system, a True20 to Deadlands' D&D3. In fact, that's a good comparison. Both True20 and Savage Worlds lack flavour to start with, have a single unified power framework that relies on specific settings to make sense of, and actually tend to get out of the way in play. I'm not sure if that last one's actually true of Savage Worlds, but enough people think it is that I'll give it that one.
I think another reason for my initial knee-jerk rejection of Savage Worlds was just how the rulebook reads. Parts are drier than a Wigan pub after a rugby match. Parts hearken back to the annoying over-familiarity of Deadlands' writing style, "helpfully" voiced by a skull in a jester's hat and clown makeup. I wish I was making that up. The latest version of the rulebook, the Explorer's Edition, has been rewritten for clarity without boredom and drops the mascot, but I don't have that version. Still.
Necessary Evil itself is a setting full of conceits. Aliens - the V'Sori - have invaded Earth and blown the superheroes to kingdom come. Villains, used to avoiding capture, have to save the world. After all, what's the point in conquering a smoldering hunk of rubble? Motivations run from the entirely selfish ("I'm the rightful ruler of the planet, not these alien twats!") to the actually altruistic ("Wait... I just saved those civilians, and I liked it.") which gives me flashbancks to the original concept behind the Thunderbolts. Which is kinda cool, really. Ultimately, it feels a bit like City of Villains, so I can dig that.
Headers, page numbers, and other "important" text is flagged using Comic Sans. Comic Motherfucking Sans. While not as pissing annoying as Marvel SAGA (where the entire book was Comic Sans) it's still bloody annoying. But it makes me flash back to the Freedom Force computer games, so I'll forgive it for now.
I know it seems like I'm on some downer against Savage Worlds, and I'm really not. As always in one of these review sections, I'm just going on a bit about whatever comes into my mind at the time. I mean, it's not like BRP, where the system makes me want to do violence to people just because it hasn't fucking died yet.
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?
Bugger off, I wanted to quote the Shadow. I want a villain who isn't a villain, not really. He fell into a life of crime because it was easy, and once he realized how deep he'd got in, he owed one too many people. Of course, now the V'sori have levelled the playing field, things might just change once again.
That speaks to why he became a villain to start with, but what can he do that a life of crime was so easy? I'm thinking he can shrink, kinda like the Atom. Less like good ol' Ray, and more like Atom Girl/Shrinking Violet of the Legion of Super-Heroes, he couldn't give a toss about scientific exploration. He's all about infiltrating places, stealing stuff, and shooting people.
As a codename, I'm thinking "Virus", real name Lou Green. His whole city was shrunk by an Atlantean scientist hoping to study part of Earth, but that unlocked his natural power--were it not for his natural size being subatomic, Lou would have been able to grow immensely tall. He's stolen plenty of artefacts from abandoned hero bases, including a flight belt, energy batons, and blast pistols.
Necessary Evil includes options for human, Atlantean, or hybrid characters. I go with human. It's easier that way. I get one free Edge. Woo!
Right. Attributes and Skills are both rated in die types. Buying a Skill up to the associated Attribute is one point per die, going over is two points per.
Right. All of them start at d4, with 5 points to raise them. That'd be nice, but we've got 5 Attributes and d6 is supposed to be average. Oh well. Leave Spirit at d4, raise Agility to d8, and set the others to d6. I can change those later.
15 points. The list is nice and short, if nothing else. I know I want high Fighting, Shooting, and Stealth. I raise Shooting to d10 (5 points), and Fighting and Stealth both to d8 (3 points each). Guts is very useful, and helps offset Virus' otherwise crappy Spirit. Raise that to d6 (3 points). Finally, something in Streetwise--let's say just d4 for now (1 point).
4) Edges and Hindrances
As a Necessary Evil character, Virus starts with Arcane Background: Super Powers for free. I also have one Edge to spend from being human. Characters can normally select one Major and two Minor Hindrances, but Super Powered characters get five extra power points from selecting a second Major Hindrance. I'm going for that.
Heartless is a good one for the first Minor, Virus doesn't like killing but has nothing against it. He's also greedy; he's after more than his fair share of the loot because as he sees it, he's put in more than his fair share of the work.
For majors, Overconfident is a given. He's not met a heroic base he couldn't crack, and the V'sori haven't found him yet. Hell, he naturally avoided the effects of having his entire city shrunk to microscopic size! Nothing can touch him. However, he's Terminally Ill. Lou doesn't know it yet, but the interaction of his powers and the technology that awoke them is playing havoc with his body. Individual molecules try to grow and shrink at the same time, and someday soon he's going to grow too fast and tear himself apart.
I can spend that on two Edges, or a whole bunch of other stuff. (4 points to spend). Bear in mind that I've already got one Edge banked. 1 of those points goes towards doubling starting cash, and another
Two points remaining. That goes on Two-Fisted; he's not ambidextrous but knows how to use both his hands to fight. That last Edge is held in reserve, in case I want more power points.
15 power points to spend so far. Shrink costs 3, and adding the Microscopic and Density modifiers makes the total cost 11. 6 poins of Flight, to move at 4xPace, but put into a Device (Flight Belt) costs 4 points. I cash in that last Edge for Power Points, giving me five more points. Two levels of Growth costs 4 points, but allows some funky overpowering maneuvres up close. That last one point goes on Deflection. One point, from reflexive size-shifting to avoid incoming attacks.
Shopping time! I've got $2000 to spend on equipping Virus. A suit of DuraWeave armour costs $500 and adds some protection when up-close and personal. His signature guns are HeroKiller pistols, $300 each. With $900 left to spend, I look elsewhere. The pistols have been modified to fire trick ammunition, cannisters of adhesive and concussive explosives in place of the normal high-power ammo. Five rounds each is $500 total. Outfitting each gun with a Ruger Target-Eye system eats the last $400, but it's worth it.
6) Secondary Stats
Charisma starts at 0, and nothing I've gone for modifies it. Toughness is normally 5, but shifts to 7 when Growth is active. Parry is 6, no modifiers. Pace is also 6, and flight speed is 24.
That was painless, though it helps that I didn't have to take too long deciding on Edges; the ability to go for Big Honking Power gets rid of a lot of indecision.
Real Name Lou Green
Threat Rating Novice
Origin of Powers Victim of Sizemorph Technology
Attributes Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d4, Strength d6 (growth d10), Vigor d6
Skills Fighting d8, Guts d6, Notice d4, Shooting d10, Stealth d8, Streetwise
Charisma 0; Toughness 5 (growth 7); Parry 6; Pace 6 (fly 24)
Hindrances Greedy, Heartless, Overconfident, Terminally Ill
Edges Arcane Background (Super Powers), Power Points, Two-Fisted
Gear Duraweave armour, custom HeroKiller pistols with TargetEye systems, 5x rounds Adhesive ammo, 5x rounds Concussion ammo
(4) Flight Pace x4, Device (flight belt)
(4) Growth Size +2, Strength +2, Toughness +2
(11) Shrink Density, Microscopic