Thursday, July 30, 2009

On The Success of Savage Worlds

Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems like there’s been a tremendous surge in discussion about Savage Worlds as of late. Sure, Uncle Bear’s been preaching the Gospel of SavWo for a while now, but it just seems like the already-impressive stable of articles about Savage Worlds has really expanded quickly recently.

I mean, here’s just a few of the SavWo articles of the past week:

The Bone Scroll

The Chatty DM

Gnome Stew

Geek Life Project


I don’t see it all deriving from any one article or movement. I really think what’s happened is that Savage Worlds is really hitting a pretty key (and increasing) demographic. Let’s face it, a lot of us are firmly into the “slammed with work responsibility” or “two kids and a picket fence” phase of our lives. We don’t always have the time to plan our games or learn intricate systems at 29 or 39 like we did when we were 19. You throw a low-prep, affordable, well-supported, "fast, furious, fun" system to folks in that certain range, you're going to get good results.

I think as the hobby gets older, Savage Worlds (along with easy-to-pick up games like one of my favorites, Castles & Crusades) can only go up in terms of interest and popularity. Throw in a price of $10 for the RPG itself, and you have a pretty good incentive to give it a shot. Pinnacle also seems to treat their fans well, which is always a good thing when you want missionaries.

So kudos to Savage Worlds for making a product people truly seem to want. I can’t guess at their market share right now, but I can only guess it’s on its way up. Thoughts?


ChattyDM said...

The question is though.

Is Pinnacle's buisness model viable? I mean sure I'll buy the 10$ explorers edition eventually but that won't sustain them in the long run.

I assume that Pinnacle also produces setting books, right?

Zachary The First said...

They do--Plot Points settings and the like. Have a look-see:

pauljessup said...

Savage Worlds is not their primary source of income- DeadLands is (as well as Solomon Kane....both use Savage Worlds but are stand alone books and don't require it).

DeadLands is kind of there iconic game- Pinnacle has been doing DeadLands since the 90's. As a setting it rocks.

Also- my guess as to the recent surge in popularity is Origins. They had a lot of SW games being run at Origins, and most of the recent "Savage Worlds is AWESOME!" posts come from people playing the games at cons and buying it.

pauljessup said...

Also, remember that Savage Worlds isn't even close to being a new game. They've been out and publishing the game since 2004. So far, it's pretty viable.

Personally, I just hope that people keep making unique settings for Savage Worlds- that's one of its core strengths. The gritty, pulpy, weird settings like Rune Punk and the like.

I fear that too many third party people are going to try and cash in on the popularity and just convert over D20 modules and settings. And I think this is a shame. Savage Worlds is a very interesting system, and games made directly for it are weird, interesting and unlike anything else I've ever played.

noisms said...

I dunno, I just find the thing really anaemic and flavourless. And I can't put my finger on why, but whenever I've played it I've had this strange feeling of apathy, like I just can't engage with the thing and don't care what's going on.

I think to a certain extent this is a problem with all generic systems though.

Alex Schroeder said...

When we were looking for a one-shot alternative to our regular gaming session, we found that we were all interested in learning more about Savage Worlds. None of us have been playing it at a Con. I do know a player has been playing Deadlands for a while now, and he keeps telling us how awesome it is, though.

Ryan said...

The funny thing is that the $10 edition is the third incarnation of SW. [More of a reprinting with slight modifications than a new edition altogether.] It has been building a devoted following for 6 years.

Plus I can't help but think Ken Hite's new Savage Worlds setting has helped draw in a new round of players.

Huss said...

I just talked about this situation and how it is affecting my current game group in Episode 157 of Fear the Boot. I'm just discovering the coolness of SW

Olman Feelyus said...

I think one factor of the continued success and growth of SW is Pinnacle's excellent license policy. About a year ago, they released their new license, which was actually two licenses: one for publishers and one for fans. To get the publisher's license, which is necessary for any product using SW that you want to sell, you simply have to ask. So far I haven't heard of anyone getting rejected and we're getting quality products like The Evil DM's Legends of Steel and Adamant's Mars. The fan license simply asks that you put a logo on the front cover and some text on the first page. It's basically to protect Pinnacle legally, but otherwise you are free to do what you want. Fans love that kind of freedom and there is a ton of great free fan-made SW stuff out there now.

These two streams complement Pinnacle's existing product line, with their setting and plot point books, which are either unique new settings or based on some pretty cool licenses (Pirates of the Spanish Main, Solomon Kane).

On top of that, they have excellent GM and con support, with a two-man team who run a merits system dedicated to encouraging con and in-store play. It's called the Savage World Explorer's Society and you get free stuff, GM aids, stickers, that kind of thing. They always have a huge presence at Origins and at many of the larger regional cons. Plus, you usually have a few Savage zealots in every corner of the world who are running a game or two at the smaller local cons.

A great podcast that is tightly connected to the SW community is The Game's The Thing. Aside from being a great listen, you'll get a really good sense of the positive attitude that defines the Pinnacle community from the two hosts.

Chuck said...

Savage Worlds quickly became my system of choice. Encounters are quick and easy design. Running the game is a breeze. The system is easy to tweak to match pretty much what ever setting, genre or feel you want for your campaign.
There are a lot of things folks have to get used to, especially when it comes to Powers/Trappings and Bennies. But once the players start realizing the strength of the system, they relax and worry more about the story than game mechanics.

Thasmodious said...

I'm another that is just stepping onto the wagon, literally. One of the posts linked above (the guest post on Chatty's) was the one that finally convinced me to go ahead and get it, and I've been reading and plotting ever since.

Zachary The First said...

That was a very good guest post on Chatty’s site. I’m thinking it got a few folks looking at Savage Worlds either again or for the 1st time.

PatrickWR said...

I just posted a writeup of our 12th Savage Worlds fantasy sandbox session. It's the longest campaign I've ever GMed. Although we (players & GM) don't quite fall into the "slammed with work/family obligations camp" (yet) we are pulled in many different directions all the time. Plus my players like heroic games, and SW gives us that in spades.

I'm hoping to pick up the Fantasy Toolkit at GenCon, and hopefully chat with some of the folks at Pinnacle behind SW's continued support and popularity.

DNAphil said...

I am playing in my first Savage Worlds game at GenCon this year, and fully plan to come home with the rule book, as well as the Necessary Evil setting.

Zachary The First said...

I am really on the fence about Triple Ace’s Savage Worlds setting Hellfrost. The setting sounds really interesting, but in addition to the book already out, there’s going to be a Gazetteer and Bestiary. I’m a little tired of 3-book series right now. I don’t know if the Player’s Guide will be enough to run it, though.

Will said...

I love Savage Worlds. I have yet to get through an actual session of the game, but I've managed to put together plenty of game material and do some solo playtesting. I love the system because it lets me be as creative and wacky as I want without having a massive set of rules to cover every contingency.

That said, I think some people like SW and some just don't. It fits some gaming styles much better than others, just like any other game. I think it's going to get more popular, but I couldn't guess as to the extent or timing of said popularity.

David said...

I'm enjoying Savage Worlds as one of the games in our rotation. The rules have some rough spots, but I find it works very well for a dynamic, story-focused style of play.

Martin Ralya said...

Thanks for the mention, Zack! Kurt's our most dedicated Savage, and I've been looking forward to his review for a while now.

There are a ton of things I like about Pinnacle's approach with SW, from the plot point settings to the fantastic $10 rulebook. I can't wait to delve deeper than my one session, and I agree that it seems to be hitting its stride right now in terms of exposure.