Previously I gave a brief overview of the Savage Worlds ruleset and I stated that I was going to try running a session in Low Life, a game setting by Andy Hopp. I was slightly worried about doing two things in one night: introducing a completely new ruleset to my players and throwing them in an extremely wacky world. Like I said before, Low Life is what would happen if Jim Henson and Ralph Bakshi collaborated on a Mad Max movie. As it turns out, my group slipped right into their roles, joining in on the toilet humour and loving the creativity of the setting.
One player created a Wurm who had no arms and used his body to yield weapons. He was a hoarder who spent all his starting clams on useless junk to fill the pockets of his bitchin jacket, all used as improvised weapons to be thrown at baddies. There were two tizn’ts. One was a gator/dog/rabbit with a mean chommp who ate unconscious baddies if you weren’t watching carefully. Another was a rhino/monkey/eagle with a Smellcasting attitude and an over-active butt-hole.
Before the end of the night they shat on a preacher, stole junk from garbage bins, and bottled animated fart clouds for later Smellcasting. And this was all of their own accord! The Savage Worlds rules are light weight which let them concentrate their efforts on being imaginative and exploring the game world. It was easy for everybody to join in on the toilet humour and loosen a button or two on their dirty shirts and enjoy the ride. Or fart.
The players thoroughly relished the initiative system. It was quick to determine who goes in what order and switching it up every round kept players on their toes and avoided off-topic table-talk. They were engaged and engrossed throughout the entire session. The creature names were delightful, too. I think it felt good for them to say “I’m going to take a big chomp out of this Wanker over here!” And unlike Pathfinder, which can be a Game-Of-No, it was a welcome change to be able to attempt crazy things. In Pathfinder, questions such as “Can I do [such and such]?” are answered with “No that’s a special ability of [insert class] and they get that at [some high level].” My players’ frequent disappointment would often become my own disappointment. The rule system makes the GM out as a bad guy. In this game world, they just roll an untrained skill roll and hope they ace it to beat a 4!
If I were to discuss any complaints about the Savage Worlds system thus far it would be that raises are a pain in the ass to calculate. In order to succeed a player rolls their die and has to beat a number, usually 4, unless it’s melee combat where it’s the target’s Parry number. Every 4 points the player scores above that number is a “raise”. If you get 1 or more raises on an attack you get an extra d6 when rolling the subsequent damage. Different characters have different parry scores meaning the math for raises changes from character to character and numbers aren’t easily memorized. We have smart people sitting around the table and despite that I became the “raise” calculator and players would always look to me to tell them whether they get the extra d6.
All my players were left with a good taste in their mouths, despite all the poo that landed between their teeth, and most are itching to play Low Life again, probably because they now have crabs. It’s going to be difficult to find a regular time to host game sessions because I can’t end our current Pathfinder campaign, Rise of the Runelords. But I’m definitely going to be running this on nights that some players can’t show up. It’s an awesome alternative to cancelling a game night! And besides. Who’s going to find out where all the poo is going?