Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Couple New House Rules for Savage Worlds: Showdown

These are a few House Rules I’m experimenting with for Savage Worlds: Showdown

Morale, Surrender, and Retreat

The Morale rules remain more or less the same with the following additions:


Any figures shaken as a result of failed morale will surrender to enemy forces if, at any time until they recover, there is more than twice as many unshaken enemy figures within 8” as there are unshaken friendly troops. Also figures that are shaken as a result of failed morale and are successfully intimidated by enemy within 8” will also surrender.

Any troops that aren’t bloodthirsty should generally accept the surrender of enemy forces and take them prisoner. Prisoners should remain on the table. They are considered to have dropped or surrendered their arms immediately upon surrendering. Troops must be detailed to watch prisoners – at least one per 6 prisoners. The Prisoners will act on their captors card and may be moved at half their normal pace.

Bloodthirsty troops may ignore the surrender of enemy troops and continue as they will…


Any troops that don’t recover from being shaken as a result of failed morale must, on their next action and any subsequent actions until they do recover, retreat at their full half pace away from any visible enemy within 24” or otherwise move towards a friendly base edge.

Units with Muzzle-Loading, Blackpowder Firearms

The following rules apply only to units armed with muzzle-loading, blackpowder firearms in Savage Worlds: Showdown. These are designed to streamline things a tad so that larger actions can be played out.

First units must be declared as “Formed” or “Irregular”. Each type has different rules for unit cohesion and firing. Some units may be deployed as either – but once deployed they must remain as such for the entire encounter (I may change this… allowing such troops to spend an entire action to redeploy – I’d have to do some play-testing…).

For the purposes of cohesion and moving Formed Troops must remain within 2” of other members of their unit. When firing Formed troops will always fire in volleys. They may fire every other turn (i.e. taking one turn to reload between each firing) but may not move more than half pace on any turns that they are either firing or reloading.

(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

Above is an example of a “Formed” unit. As long as they don't move more than half pace the entire unit may fire every other turn.

Irregular troops on the other hand must stay within 2” of at least two other members of their unit, effectively creating mutually supporting “cells” of three or more figures. These “cells”, however, must only maintain the regular 5” unit cohesion (i.e. a member of each cell within a unit must be within 5” of a member of another cell within the unit…). Each full cell of three or more figures may fire once every turn – as long as no member of the cell moves at more than half pace. Cells that are reduced to less than three may not fire but may split up and/or join other or form new cells.

Above is an example of an “Irregular” unit of three cells. Each of these cells may fire every turn as long as no memebers of the firing cell move more than half pace.

Is this totally crazy…? I’ll try it out tomorrow night. I’m hoping it will be intuitive enough and keep the game Fast, Furious and Fun – an hopefully make it faster and more furious (and hence, more fun!) by dispensing with the need to keep track of who is loaded and able to fire and who is loading, etc.

Wildcards can keep track of their loading process as per the normal rules.


  1. I'm not familiar with Savage Worlds, so this may be already covered by something. But if not, you may want something on the retreats rule to allow consideration whether retreating is more dangerous than hiding and shivering for persons under cover of some sort.

  2. In the standard rules there are NO rules for retreating. Morale failure simple means you are "shaken" - can not take actions (fighting or shooting, etc) and can not move more than half pace.

    I had actually thought of trying to incorporate something like like you suggest - or maybe allowing them to move faster than half pace if it would get them to cover... then only move half pace... but for now I thought I'd just leave it at a simple move away from enemy and see how it works out. Further modifications may take place after I've tried these!

    One of the main tenets of Savage Worlds is simplicity - keeping it "Fast, Furious, and Fun". At times, however, I find it a tad too simple and generic... hence house rules.


  3. Operation Warboard used to have rules allowing loss of morale units under cover to stay stationary, while those in the open would head for the nearest cover or run for the farthest point.

    I had an interesting occurence in one game, with an Italian squad in a house. The squad officer had two straight turns of gun jams, then went into LOM (loss of morale) when grenade attacks from paratroopers at the rear of the house wiped out everyone EXCEPT him. So he sat and huddled in the house in fear. Meanwhile, in front of the house, which sat beside a river, a squad of commandos landing to attack from the front were instead chopped to pieces by a concealed LMG across the river. Suffering their own LOM, they ran for the nearest cover....the house. Fortunately, they entered the turn AFTER the grenading, so a handful of terrified commandos broke into the house to hide and captured a terrified Italian officer already hiding there.

  4. Interesting indeed... and yet you do read about weird encounters such as these in memoirs and anecdotes...

    thinkng on it some more I guess I could change it to something like this:


    Any troops that don’t recover from being shaken as a result of failed morale must, on their next action and any subsequent actions until they do recover, retreat at their full half pace away from any visible enemy within 12” or otherwise move towards the nearest cover or a friendly base edge. Once in cover the shaken troops may halt (as long as there are no enemy troops within 12”).

    That would still be simple enough....? Thanks again for your input.

    One other thing I was torn about was allowing formed troops to move whle reloading and firing... I and concerned about letting them move about - at the same rate as irregulars.... but I don't want irregulars to be moving about at full pace when they're trying to fire and reload muzzle-loaded muskets...

    I thought maybe I could say they can't move at all while either firing or reloading (but balance that out by giving them a +1 to morale checks ("One finds courage in your comrades shoulder-cloth" and all that...).

    But that might make them REALLY hard to use... perhaps if I reduced their move to one-third (2", in most cases, vs. 3") not a big difference but SOME difference which might make them a tad more unwieldy - which I think they ought to be.

    I think I'll try that out...

  5. The one third pace would allow the formed troops to fill in holes in files caused by casualties and allow SOME ability to turn to face new threats... but still not be terribly maneuverable while formed up.

  6. I'd be tempted to say they could move on a firing round, depending on the "length" of a round. That could either represent a "volley then charge", or perhaps even firing while walking if they accept a little accuracy loss.

    I would, however, suggest not letting them move while reloading. Reloading a black powder musket would be a pretty difficult project to accomplish while moving. You could perhaps give them the option, if attacked, to break off reloading to move, but they'd have to start the reload over.

    Naturally, ultimately, do whatever works best for you. :D

  7. The Retreat and Surrender rules seem fine to me, though I have no idea why you picked the specific distances you did. On the other hand, the Formed and Irregular rules seem a long way from FFF to my mind. I'm also concerned about the Formed groups being able to shoot more often than the Reload stat of such weapons usually allows (blackpowder weapons usually have a Reload of 2, meaning that they can only fire every third round).


  8. Thank-you very much for your comments, Gordon!

    The distances I chose I pretty much pulled out of the air and thought I'd play them and see how they worked. Having tried it out now I think I should like to shorten the distance to 6” (which would be equal to most opponents pace and thus able to enter close combat on their next move) or even 4”…. And perhaps involve an additional spirit check - i.e. a figure that has failed morale that has more unshaken enemy within 4” or 6” than unshaken friendlies must make a second spirit check to see if they attempt to surrender… on a failure they do so, if they pass they would just retire as per the retreat rules. Perhaps this could be modified in the same way the morale checks are done (-2 if unit is at half strength, -4 if quarter strength or lower)….

    As for the Formed and Irregular I was trying to streamline the firing rules for muzzle-loaded, blackpowder weapons – because, to me, NOTHING could be further from Fast, Furious and Fun, than trying to keep track of which of the SIXTY troops on the table, armed with muzzle-loading is at which stage of reloading/firing!?

    As for letting Formed troops fire every other turn I was essentially giving them the “Musketeer” edge – All blackpowder armed troops in Rippers: The Horror Wars are assumed to have this edge, so I thought why wouldn’t drilled European troops of he Seven Years War…?

    I have to admit the irregulars didn’t work out so well… perhaps I will let them make full moves and continue firing…? But as I said in my comments at the Washington’s Ambush Scenario AAR I’d like to try them out again in different conditions (i.e. not in the thick of a forest!) before doing to much more tinkering…

    I was trying to capture the … I don’t know… the “essence” (is that the word I’m looking for…?) of how the two types of troops were employed during the era – in particular the Seven Years War in North America (the “French and Indian War”) which is the object of my current fascination. Essentially I wanted the irregulars to keep up a steady but small amount of fire but be highly maneuverable and the formed regulars to be able to deliver a big hard punch every other turn but more rigid…

    If anyone’s got other ideas on how to do this I AM ALL EARS!!!

    thanks again,


  9. As someone who takes part in FIW re-enactments I can say it's quite possible to prime a musket while moving, but it's difficult to load the main charge. I've seen some guys do so, but they were moving fairly slowly. Of course none of us have live ammunition buzzing about our ears at the time, which makes a difference!