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The Douchey DM » Alternate Views, General Gaming, Inspiration, Misc, Resources » 4 Attribute Savage Worlds Houserule

4 Attribute Savage Worlds Houserule

Here are the rules for my 4 attribute version of Savage Worlds.

Reasons for this house rule:

First of all, in a mechanical sense, I don’t think that it’s very balanced to make a character who is tough and brawny have to raise twice the number of attributes over a character who wants to be smart and witty (smarts), resolute and Inspiring (spirit), or fast and nimble (agility). Agility, smarts and Spirit are for some reason far more general than Vigor and Strength, and this seems to make a brawny character far less optimal than a character based on the more general attributes. Further more there is only one skill based on Strength and none based on vigor, meaning that if you choose to specialize in vigor and strength in character creation, your skills will be substantially less than other concepts as you will be paying much more for higher levels of skills than the other concepts (because strong people are naturally stupid/clumsy?). The gain from having a high strength and vigor is substantially less than having high skills , so that means that the concept as a whole is less effective than any other concept having to do with Agility, Smarts or Spirit.

Not even the concept of the brawny character as a combat monster holds up, as an agile combatant will be more able to deal more physical damage in both hand to hand and ranged combat due to higher hit percentages, as well as take less damage due to a higher probability of not being hit, the smarts based and spirit based characters with the intimidate and taunt skills will have more of an effect upon combat than the brawny character, who has a lower chance of doing anything. To add insult to injury, for the majority of enemies (extras), you only need to do one wound to put them down, meaning that for the most part the extra damage a strong character can do will be wasted.

This all adds up to a Strong tough character becoming a very poor mechanical choice.

In a fluff sense, Strong characters should be very viable combatants. That is why they have weight classes in the UFC and boxing, strong combatants tend to dominate. this is the exact opposite of that will happen mechanically in savage worlds, as the agile combatant has a huge advantage over the poor lumbering strongman. If this were the case, they would have weight classes just to make sure that the 105 lb fighters didn’t continually beat up the 345 lb guys! Now, I recognize that combat is very situational, and there are times when smaller guys have beaten larger guys, but in a general sense, the larger combatant has the advantage, rather than the other way around as we see in savage worlds.

Lets also look at what vigor and strength represent.

• Strength is raw physical power and general fitness. Strength is also used togenerate your warrior’s damage in hand-to-hand combat.

• Vigor represents endurance, resistance to disease, poison, or toxins, and how much pain and physical damage a hero can shakeoff.

Now, as a fitness instructor, I will tell you that endurance and resistance to disease/toxins is DIRECTLY linked to fitness. period. it is nigh impossible without someone being a genetic freak to have one without the other.

In order to back my self up, so I don’t look like a complete douchebag here is a good report on the matter with over 30 references to actual studies published in scientific and medical journals. I give this to you rather than the abstracts of 30 studies because it is written in a very readable way for the layman, and if you really feel like you want to, you can look up the abstracts yourself from the references.

http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/physicalactivity/

I have read the abstracts of many of these that pertain to my work, notably U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Leisure-time physical activity among adults: United States, 1997-98. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, 2002. and Kaplan GAA, Strawbridge WJ, Cohen RD, et al. Natural history of leisure-time physical activity and its correlates: Associations with mortality from all causes and cardiovascular diseases over 28 years. Am J Epid 144(8):793-97. 1996.

In a nutshell, the report says that resistance to disease and general heath is directly linked to physical fitness. This means that you would not reasonably have a d12 vigor and d4 of strength, or vice versa, without some form of supernatural or mechanical support, both of which would be edges, not attributes. So having the two concepts be unlinked attributes does not make any real sense in a physical/biological point of view.

Crunch

Modifications to character creation:

Attributes
Every character starts with a d4 in each attribute, and has 5 points with which to raise
them. Raising a d4 to a d6, for example, costs 1 point. You’re free to spend these points however you want with one exception: no attribute may be raised above a d12.

• Agility is your hero’s nimbleness, quickness, and dexterity.

• Smarts is a measure of how well your character knows his world and culture, how well he thinks on his feet, and mental agility.

• Spirit reflects inner wisdom and willpower. Spirit is very important as it helps your character recover from being rattled when injured.

• Vigor represents endurance, resistance to disease, poison, or toxins, and general fitness. Vigor is also used to generate your warrior’s damage in hand-to- hand combat as well as how much pain and physical damage a hero can shake off.

Additional Derived Statistic
Strength is raw physical power and is equal to your vigor die type/2. This is used to determine damage in hand to hand combat, but it also used by certain edges.

For vigor such as d12+1, simply add the fixed modifier. For instance, a Vigor of d12+1 grants a Strength of 7, whereas a d12+2 gives a Strength of 8.

Modification to edges, hindrances and skills:
Skills:
pg 8 Climbing is now linked with vigor. replace “During combat, characters ascend at half their Strength per round if using ropes or with decent hand- or footholds.” with “During combat, characters ascend at half their Vigor per round if using ropes or with decent hand- or footholds.”

Edges:

Berserk pg 21
Replace “he adds +2 to all Fighting and Strength rolls (including melee damage)” with “he adds +2 to all Fighting rolls and gains a +1 bonus to strength”

Brawny pg 21 replace “In addition, your hero can carry more than most proportional to his Strength. He can carry 8 times his Strength in pounds without penalty instead of the usual 5 times his Strength.” with “In addition, your hero can carry more than most proportional to his Strength. He can carry 16 times his Strength in pounds without penalty instead of the usual 10 times his Strength.”

Sweep pg 25
Replace “Requirements: Novice, Strength d8+, Fighting d8+ ” with “Requirements: Novice, Vigor d8+, Fighting d8+”

Acrobat pg 28 Replace “Requirements: Novice, Agility d8+, Strength d6+” with “Requirements: Novice, Agility d8+, Vigor d6+”

Champion pg 29 Replace “Requirements: Novice, Arcane Background (Miracles), Spirit d8+, Strength d6+, Vigor d8+, Faith d6+, Fighting d8+” with “Requirements: Novice, Arcane Background (Miracles), Spirit d8+, Vigor d8+, Faith d6+, Fighting d8+”

Character Creation Summary: pg 38
Replace “Your hero starts with a d4 in each attribute, and has 5 points with which to raise them.” with “Your hero starts with a d4 in each attribute, and has 4 points with which to raise them.”

Replace Replace “Strength” with “Vigor” for the linked attribute to climbing

Hindrances:
page 16 Elderly (Major)
Replace “his Strength and Vigor drop a die type to a minimum of d4, and cannot be raised thereafter.” with “his Strength is reduced by one and his Vigor drops a die type to a minimum of d4, and cannot be raised thereafter.”

Pg 38 Replace ” –1 to Strength and Vigor die types;” under the elderly hindrance to ” ” –1 to Strength and -1 to Vigor die type;”

Damage: Pg 42 replace the entire section with the following text

“Damage: Damage is listed in terms of dice. Projectile weapons have fixed damage (such as 2d6). Melee weapons have damage based on the wielder’s Strength plus another die, as listed under individual weapon entries. A dagger, for instance, inflicts Str+1d4 damage. (We’ll discuss this in detail later on.) A character whose Strength x 2 is lower than the weapon die can use the weapon, but there are penalties. First, the weapon die can’t be higher than his Strength x 2. So if a scrawny kid (2 Str) picks up a long sword (d8), he rolls 2+d4 damage, not 2+d8. A brawny hero with Str 5 rolls 5+d8 when using the same long sword. Second, if the Strength x 2 isn’t at least equal to the weapon die, the attacker doesn’t get any of the weapon’s inherent bonuses, such as +1 Parry or Reach. He still retains any penalties, however (like –1 Parry). If a weapon has a damage listed as Str+d8+2, for instance, then the minimum Strength the wielder must have is 4. The +2 or whatever, merely indicates the weapon is more lethal than other Str+d8 varieties (typically because it is magical or enhanced in some way).

Encumbrance: Pg 43 Replace the entire encumbrance sidebar with the following

“Encumbrance
A character can carry ten times his Strength in pounds without incurring any penalties. This is called his “Load Limit.” A character with a Strength of 4, for example, can comfortably carry 40 pounds. (Ignore normal clothes when figuring weight.) Carrying too much weight inflicts a –1 penalty for every additional multiple of your Load Limit. The penalty applies to all Agility and Vigor totals, as well as skills linked to either of those two attributes. A hero with 4 Strength, for example, has a Load Limit of 40 pounds. He can carry 41-80 pounds at a –1 penalty to his Strength, Agility, and related skill rolls. He could also carry 81-120 pounds at –2, or 121-160 pounds at –3. Characters cannot regularly carry weight that inflicts a penalty of more than –3. They may be able to lift greater weights (up to a –4 penalty) for a few short steps at the discretion of the GM, however.

Minimum Strength: pg 49, 53
Replace all references to a die type for weapon minimum strength to a number equal to half the die type. (d6=3)

Battle suit pg 44
Replace “It increases Strength by one die type, adds +2 to Pace” With “It adds +1 to Strength and +2 to Pace”

Heavy suit: Pg 45
Replace “They subtract 2 from Pace and boost Strength by two die types.” with “They subtract 2 from Pace and boost Strength by +2.”

Opposed rolls Pg 57 “Replace “Strength” with “Vigor”

Cooperative rolls PG. 57 Replace “Strength” with “Vigor”

Jumping Pg. 62 Replace “A successful Strength roll grants one extra inch of distance.” with “A successful Vigor roll grants one extra inch of distance.”

Fighting pg 63 Replace “Example: Buck slices at a croc with his machete and hits with a raise. He makes a Strength roll and adds +d6 for the machete. Then he adds +1d6 to the total for his raise.” With “Example: Buck slices at a croc with his machete and hits with a raise. He rolls d6 for the machete and adds his Strength. Then he adds +1d6 to the total for his raise.”

Breaking Things Pg 65 Replace “don’t count bonuses from raises on the attack roll, nor Aces (even on Strength rolls in melee).” with “don’t count bonuses from raises on the attack roll, nor Aces (even on damage rolls in melee).”

Replace “This keeps characters from shattering swords with a feather and a lucky Strength roll.” with “This keeps characters from shattering swords with a feather and a lucky damage roll.”

Disarm pg 67 Replace “The defender must then make a Strength roll. If the roll is less than the damage, he drops his weapon. ” with “The defender must then make a Vigor roll. If the roll is less than the damage, he drops his weapon. “

Grappling pg 68 Replace “Both the defender and attacker pick either their Strength or Agility and then an opposed roll
is made. ” with “Both the defender and attacker pick either their Vigor or Agility and then an opposed roll
is made. “

Damage: pg 74 Replace “Hand weapons do damage equal to the attacker’s Strength die plus a second die, which depends on the weapon (a long sword, for instance, is a d8) and whether the wielder meets the minimum Strength requirement. An unarmed combatant rolls only his Strength die. ” with “Hand weapons do damage equal to the attacker’s Strength plus a die, which depends on the weapon (a long sword, for instance, is a d8) and whether the wielder meets the minimum Strength requirement. An unarmed combatant applies his Strength+2. “

TAPPY’S NOTE: This may seem like it will make unarmed combat between someone with a strength lower than an opponents toughness an automatic loss, but I don’t really think so. First of all, relative strength to toughness rations SHOULD have an monumental effect on unarmed combat. That is why a knife fight is SO much more deadly than a fist fight. second of all, There are two options for the weaker combatant verses a stronger combatant. First, there are called shots to the head or vitals, giving you a +4 to damage, and then you can get a raise on your attack roll, giving you +d6 to your damage. So a very skilled str 2 combatant has the ability to do 8+d6 damage, which should be able to beat the toughness of even the burliest of enemies (if not, RUN!). This does mean that if the PC has a Strength lower than the opponents toughness the PC must be an exceptionally skilled unarmed fighter, but that is the desired effect. I have mentioned my annoyance several times in the podcast about how in RPG’s smaller, faster combatants wipe the floor with larger stronger opponents, and I that this rule helps balance out that discrepancy without completely hosing the fast fighter.

FURTHER TAPPY NOTE: The reason that unarmed combat is Str+2 is to put it on a general parity with Toughness when attacking unarmed, but weapon damage isn’t increased to a level that is too high.

Injury table pg 76 under “guts 5-9” replace “5-6 Busted: Strength reduced a die type (min d4).” with “5-6 Busted: Strength reduced by 1”

Attack options: pg 79 under “grappling” Replace “Defender makes opposed Strength or Agility to break free (any other action made at –4); ” with “Defender makes opposed Vigor or Agility to break free (any other action made at –4);”

Entangle: Pg 80 Under “trappings” replace all references to Strength with Vigor.

Shape Change pg 93 replace “He gains the animal’s Agility and Strength and linked skills” With “”He gains the animal’s Strength, Agility and Vigor and linked skills”

Telekinesis pg 94 under “Lifting Creatures” Replace “Occasionally a victim might manage to grab onto something solid to prevent itself from being lifted. When this happens, the victim may make an opposed Strength roll versus the caster’s arcane skill.” with ” “Occasionally a victim might manage to grab onto something solid to prevent itself from being lifted. When this happens, the victim may make an opposed Vigor roll versus the caster’s arcane skill.”

Under “Telekinetic Weapons” replace “A caster can use telekinesis to wield a weapon. When this occurs, the weapon’s Fighting is equal to his arcane skill, and its damage is based on the caster’s Spirit instead of his Strength. A sword that does Strength+d6 damage, for example, does Spirit+d6 when wielded by telekinesis. The weapon otherwise functions normally, including granting bonus damage when it strikes with a raise.” with “A caster can use telekinesis to wield a weapon. When this occurs, the weapon’s Fighting is equal to his arcane skill, the caster uses his (Spirit/2) in place of strength. A sword that does Strength+d6 damage, for example, does (Spirit/2)+d6 when wielded by telekinesis. The caster’s (Spirit/2) must meet the minimum strength requirements for the weapon or else suffer the usual penalties. The weapon otherwise functions normally, including granting bonus damage when it strikes with a raise.”

Under “Dropping Things” replace “Victims who are bashed into walls or other solid objects suffer the caster’s Spirit+d6 as damage. If a caster with a d12 Spirit smashes an orc into a wall, for example, the orc suffers d12+d6 damage.” with “Victims who are bashed into walls or other solid objects suffer the caster’s (Spirit/2)+d6 as damage. If a caster with a d12 Spirit smashes an orc into a wall, for example, the orc suffers 6+d6 damage.”

Horse, Riding pg 97 Remove “Strength d12” from the attributes line and add “Strength 6” after Toughness 8

Horse, War Pg 97 Remove “Strength d12+2” from the attributes line and add “Strength 8” after Toughness 10

Soldiers Pg 99 Remove “Strength d6” from the attributes line and add “Strength 3” after Toughness 5

Experienced soldiers Pg 99 Remove “Strength d8” from the attributes line and add “Strength 4” after Toughness 6

Heat pg 106 Replace “An Incapacitated character suffers heat stroke, and may suffer brain damage. Make a second Vigor roll when the character becomes Incapacitated. If that roll is failed, the victim’s Smarts and Strength decrease by one step permanently (to a minimum of d4).” with “An Incapacitated character suffers heat stroke, and may suffer brain damage. Make a second Vigor roll when the character becomes Incapacitated. If that roll is failed, the victim’s Smarts and Vigor decrease by one step permanently (to a minimum of d4).”

Gargantuan Pg 141 Replace “These creatures can also bring their immense weight to bear when moving over creatures or obstacles. Add their Size to their Strength roll when doing so, but subtract the Size of their foe as well.” With “”These creatures can also bring their immense weight to bear when moving over creatures or obstacles. Add their Size to their Strength when doing so, but subtract the Size of their foe as well.”

Replace “Example: Donga, the giant ape of the Red Men in 50 Fathoms, steps on a giant spider (Size 5). His Strength is d12+12, and his Size is 12, so his base damage when stepping on the spider is d12+24 damage. Subtracting the spider’s Size of 5 gives him Str+19 damage. The spider has a Toughness of 11, so it’s very likely squished.” with “Example: Donga, the giant ape of the Red Men in 50 Fathoms, steps on a giant spider (Size 5). His Strength is 20, and his Size is 12, so his base damage when stepping on the spider is 34 damage. Subtracting the spider’s Size of 5 gives him 29 damage. The spider has a Toughness of 11, so it’s squished.”

Strength pg 143-144 Replace the entire section with “Strength is a Derived Trait, not a special ability, but because very large creatures exceed the normal human range of (Vigor/2), you might need a little more information when creating your own creatures. Creatures of human or lesser Strength should be expressed as their (Vigor/2), as you think appropriate. Stronger creatures, such as gorillas, ogres, and so on, have (vigor/2) plus a bonus. The bonus depends on how strong the creature is and how well it can use that strength in combat. Just as with humans, there is variation within each species, however. A mother gorilla may have a Strength 7 (Vigor d12/2+1), while its much larger mate has a Strength of 9(Vigor d12/2+3). Here’s a quick comparison to help you figure out what strength creatures of your own creation should have.

Creature Strength
Creature Bonus to Strength
Gorilla, bear, ogre +1 to +3
Rhino, Great White +3 to +6
Elephant, drake, T-rex +5 to +8
Dragon +9 to +12

Bestiary Pg, 145-159 Remove the Strength Attribute of each creature and add a Strength Derived Statistic of (Vigor/2) after the Toughness Derived Statistic. If the creature has a Strength Attribute of d12+x where x is a positive integer, the creatures Strength Derived Statistic is equal to (Vigor/2)+X.

Bear,Large pg 145 under Bear Hug replace “The opponent may only attempt to escape the “hug” on his action, which requires a raise on an opposed Strength roll.” with “The opponent may only attempt to escape the “hug” on his action, which requires a raise on an opposed vigor roll.”

NEW EDGES

Background Edges

Large
Requirements: Novice,
You are Large for your race, for humans this would mean that you might be somewhere between 6’3” to 6’8” tall and weigh in between 230 and 300 lbs. Add +1 to your size.

Wiry
Requirements: Agility d6, Vigor d6 Novice
You are composed of almost no fat, but instead sinewy ropes of muscle. Your improved Strength to mass ratio gives you an extra +1 to strength and +2 to your running die

Fast-twitch monkey

Requirements: Novice, Vigor d8

You are genetically predisposed to a higher ratio of fast twitch muscle to slow twitch muscle. This grants you a +1 to strength, and +2 to vigor rolls to jump.

Giant
Requirements: Novice, Large,
You are Frikken HUGE! For humans this would put you somewhere in the realm of 6’6” and 7’6” and weigh somewhere in the realm of 350-400 lbs. add an additional +1 to your size

Combat Edges

Dirty Fighter
Requirements, Fighting d8, Smarts d6, Vigor d6, Seasoned
You know the ins and outs of dirty fighting, and can easily target the weakest parts of the body when fighting barehanded. When making an unarmed attack, targeting the head or Vitals only levies a -2 penatly to your roll rather than a -4.

Martial arts
Requirements – Fighting d10, Agility d10, Vigor d6, Veteran
Your bare hands are lethal weapons. This may be due to your special fist strengthening Regimen, a secret Chi technique, or just goo, old fashioned fighting ability. Your unarmed strikes to Str+d4 damage, instead of str+2, and you are never considered to be unarmed for the purposes of melee combat.

TAPPY’S NOTE: This may seem like this edge isn’t too good, but it significantly increases your chance to stun or damage a foe with your unarmed combat. in normal unarmed combat, without a raise or a called shot you cannot damage a foe with the same vigor as yours or higher (basically increasing the opponent’s defense by 4). With this edge, you can threaten a foe with the same vigor, as you can now ace with unarmed combat, which is a huge advantage, even though 25% of the time, your damage will be lower than without this edge.

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14 Responses to "4 Attribute Savage Worlds Houserule"

  1. HyperformNo Gravatar says:

    This is really well argued, and a great part of the much older debate over whether you should split strength and constitution. I like making strength as a derivative trait from vigor/constitution also because you can never imagine someone being really strong without also being really fit, unless they have a significant size advantage and simply by virtue of weight they’ve got an edge (for instance my cats are, as far as animals go, are well-toned killing machines, but simply by virtue of having a weight advantage 17 times over I can pretty much pick them up and hold them down as long as I want and they don’t have much recourse, and I am not very well physically fit at all). I’ll probably end up using these rules if I ever get a savage worlds game in action.

  2. JazzIsBluesNo Gravatar says:

    Excellent article Tappy. I may very well have to put this to use in my Savage games. I will certainly give it a try and see how it plays out.

    JiB

  3. whodo_voodooNo Gravatar says:

    I definitely agree with the changes you’ve made there, will have to include them when I get around to a SW game. I’m curious though why you didn’t shift fighting from being based off of agility to being based off of strength (or vigor with the way outlined here), or would that have unbalanced it too far in the other direction?

    1. TappyNo Gravatar says:

      Vigor is the only attribute that directly influences a secondary characteristic, and in my system it influences two secondary characteristics (toughness and strength). This makes it useful in combat, but not overly useful since only one skill is linked to it (climbing).

      So to answer your question, yes. If Vigor were to determine cost of fighting as well, the pendulum would just be swinging to the other side, making high agility character a less than optimal choice. THere would be much less of a reason to take a high agility, especially if you were making a combat character. If fighting were not based on agility, there would be much less reason to take a high agility character (especially in a fantasy game where guns don’t exist).

      Powerful hand to hand combatants are typically strong AND agile. The system should reflect that, instead of making only strong character better than everyone else… or the other way around.

      but thank you for the question. It was certainly something I considered when thinking about this issue in the first place.

  4. GaryNo Gravatar says:

    I have to admit that this seems Like an elegant enhancement to their rules. I wish they would consider things like this when they work on revisions, but Clint seems dead set against making any significant change to the rules. I might be misrepresenting his position.

    1. TappyNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you very much 🙂

      This is indeed a significant change to the system, which would require the revision of dozens of books. It is simply not a viable choice for a game company to take this stance after their fans have bought many of their books. they don’t want to take the 3.0 to 3.5 fan base hit (or god forbid the 3.5 to 4 hit). I would not begrudge Clint one whit if he looks at this houserule and says “no, it’s too big of a change”.

      However, I think it’s a relatively easy change to institute in your homegame, even with multitudes of supplementary books. I ran a space 1889 game for my wife and stepson with this houserule and had no problem shifting strength into a derived value on the fly for NPCs. To be fair, I am the one who wrote this article. It may be more difficult for someone less familiar with the concept.

      Thank you very much for the comment. I try very hard to come up with elegant crunch solutions, and someone describing my houserule as elegant is high praise indeed!

  5. AzrianniNo Gravatar says:

    You might want to know that this is being discussed on the PEGinc forums at http://www.peginc.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=31837, including a response by Clint.

  6. TrevorNo Gravatar says:

    It seems like you’ve used this to great effect in your games and it seems like it works for you. You’ve done an excellent job at thinking it through and modifying everything to fit your changes. Having said that, I can certainly critique what you’ve got here.

    To my mind, the phrase “and general fitness” is misplaced with the Strength attribute. Considering the various types of muscles, I would say that a pure marathon runner could well have Vigor d12 with Strength d4, while a pure bodybuilder could well have Strength d12 with Vigor d4. Not to get too deeply mired in the science, Strength always struck me as the fast twitch musculature and bone structure while Vigor always struck me as slow twitch musculature and immune system. There is a certain amount of crossover and the d4/d12 difference might be quite a stretch, but it is possible.

    However, it certainly seems like the argument for the condensing of Attributes presented here is predicated on a min/max build-type. It doesn’t matter which attributes one uses, Savage Worlds does not mechanically support a min/max build: the character is, most likely, going to die a horrible death very quickly.

    Note that the requirements for Brawny are only d6 in the attributes. Many of the edges require only a d6 or d8 in skills and/or attributes. To me, this implies that characters are not meant to have d12 starting attributes and/or skills.

    The other problem that I see here is that while you’ve done away with an attribute and replaced it with a derived attribute, you’ve kept the same starting attribute points. This shifts the build from being fairly balanced at the outset to being already above average in at least one attribute (or possibly two, if you count the derived Strength). Add to the mix the maximum points from hindrances and three out of four Attributes could start at d8 with the “dump” Attribute being a d6 or a single Attribute could be d12 with the other three being d6. That’s where it really starts to go sideways from my perspective; characters rarely start at the pinnacle of human achievement and this modification brings that possibility even further into the forefront without having as huge a drawback as having several other Attributes at d4.

    1. TappyNo Gravatar says:

      as to “There is a certain amount of crossover and the d4/d12 difference might be quite a stretch, but it is possible.”

      Yes, Trevor, I agree. A large difference between strength and vigor would be better shown with hindrances and edges. It is totally possible with my 4 attribute system, check it out.

      Quick Note: I’m editing and adding some stuff to the edges and hindrances based on going over things again and some of the good points of people I’m discussing this with.

      I am really enjoying this opportunity to look at and fine tune these rules. Not everyone is going to like them, but again, you don’t have to, it’s a house rule created for various reasons.

      For example, the Glass Cannon
      A: d8
      Sm: d6
      Sp: d4
      V: d8

      Hindrances:
      Anemic (the average die roll on a d8 is around a 5.1, and the average die roll for a d4 is around 3.3. so a d8-2 is just about right)
      Small
      Glass jaw (-1 to toughness)

      Edges
      Wiry
      Fast-twitch monkey

      Yes, it takes two edges to create this type of character, but the glass cannot also does not suffer from the skill glut, and the edges are balanced with two minor hindrances and a major hindrance.

      I used to have this system as 4 points for 4 attributes, but I realized that it made the other builds just suck more, while not really making anything better. a build that is d8 agi, d8 smarts and d6 spirit, would be penalized harshly if there were only 4 points. so after going over it a bit I decided that I was fine with there being 5 attribute points.

      The characters essentially get a single extra advance that must be spent on an attribute. in the long run I think it is better than giving the players less options of what to be good at.

      I also don’t really have that much of a problem with the scenario you describe, as I don’t think a d12 as an attribute does not represent the pinnacle of human achievement. a d12 and a bunch of edges geared to that pinnacle (what ever it is) does.

      a d10 with the right edges can outperform a d12. (it’s called a +2). I don’t have a problems with character’s starting out good at something and then getting better at it. they still have to wait until legendary to get a d12+1 or a d12+2.

      if this were the 5 stat system, it would be a d12, 3 d6’s and a d4, then on the first advance, you can get the d4 to a d6. is that really that big of a deal?

      sa d12 and 3 d6s is fine with me, had to not take two potential edges and take a major hindrance and to minors to get it… sounds fair to me.

      now as to being able to raise all the attributes up to d12’s.. that is really short changing your self in the edge and skill department. it is more mechanically viable in the 4 stat system than in the 5 stat system, with 4 advances less needing to be spent on attribute raises.

      I just don’t think it would be that good of a build even in the 4 stat system,but you certainly could do it.

  7. TappyNo Gravatar says:

    Ok, this was also discussed in the Savage worlds forum, but I hadn’t gotten to the real world implications yet there, so I will start here.

    If we take out “and general fitness” from the strength attribute, which was also suggested by Clint, we are left with “Raw Physical Power”. ok, lets talk about raw physical power and what that means kinesthetically.

    But first I want to take a quick (jeez, I’m beginning to make JiB look laconic here) moment to hit on a specific issue on this matter. When I talk or read about physical fitness in an RPG context, most game books and gamers like to talk about “body builders” and “marathon runners’ when describing the differences between Endurance and Strength. I’m not picking on you specifically, Trevor, we have been trained to think of physical fitness in these very ridgid models. On one hand is the body builder. Powerful, athletic, killy with everything. If this guy punches you in the head, you are out for good. And the other side is the marathon runner. Wiry, fit, and can out last god himself. If you try to go the distance with this guy in any physical way, you will collapse in a pile of your own tears before he will beak a sweat. (ok, I’m hamming it up a little here, but you get the idea).

    The trouble is that Body building is the one sport (if you can call it that) where none of the athletes actually care about physical power. They only care about muscle size, which leads them to build a body that would be severely disadvantaged in actually trying to produce enough power. Their power is even worse when there are in a show, because they are so dehydrated in order to increase the visibility of the striations of their muscles that they would have a tough time lifting at all. That aside, no matter how much you can lift, generating pure physical power is a different animal. The lifting will help, but how much weight you can benchpress is only one factor in generating power.

    Marathon runners are also misunderstood as a phenotype. My mother was an ultramarathon runner and long distance bike rider. She completed 7 iron man triathalons, the ran a marathon in all 50 states and all 7 continents. She rode her bike across the united states twice, and took a year off in 2000 to ride her bike around the world. You would assume that she would have the highest endurance in the world under the body builder vs marathon runner model, but she didn’t. she just trained her body to be very good at running and biking for long periods of time. I mean, don’t get me wrong, she was fit, and had a good VO2 max (I’ll get to that later), but she was no more resilient than any other woman her age (a vigor related trait), and in physical activity that was not running or biking (or swimming for that matter) at a moderate constant pace for long periods of time she had no special endurance.

    We also like to talk about “fast twitch” and “slow twitch” muscles in the same manner. However, the slow twitch muscles that are often describes as Vigor related don’t do any of the mechanical things that vigor does in Savage worlds.

    Vigor related effects
    Toughness
    How long you can hold your breath
    Staying alive when incapacitated
    Soaking Damage
    Natural Healing
    Resisting mental trauma from a failed guts vs fear check
    Resisting a heart attack from the fear table
    Resisting fatigue from multiple hazard types including hunger, thirst, heatstroke, smoke inhalation, radiation, sleep deprivation, cold, and bumps & bruises.
    Resisting disease
    Resisting poison
    Determining the number of rounds to takes the character to drown after being incapacitated by fatigue from failed swimming rolls.
    Resisting being shaken from falling into the water from a ship
    Resisting infection from a monster bite.
    Resisting paralysis
    Resisting stun

    Slow twitch muscles are not any more resilient than fast twitch muscles to trauma (toughness, soaking damage), nor does the type of muscle determine how much of it there is. The factor in resisting damage would most likely be how much muscle, or just general tissue, there is to absorb an impact. If this tissue is muscle, that might also help a body generate power. Slow twitch muscles do not repair themselves any faster than fast twitch muscles (natural healing) nor do they help a body stay alive (resisting death). Slow twitch muscles don’t resist disease, poison, heartattacks, hunger, thirst or anything else better than fast twitch muscles.

    So what do slow twitch muscles do? Well they can be activated for long periods of time, for things like walking, or carrying relatively light loads for extended periods of time, like a backpack, or even an armored vest.

    Strength related effects
    Cost of the climbing skill
    Damage with Fighting and throwing
    Caps fighting and throwing weapons damage (and special abilities of weapons)
    Whether or not some ranged weapons can be used due to Strength minimums.
    Encumbrance thresholds
    Extra jumping distance
    Resisting a Disarm
    Breaking free from grappling

    Most of these do not apply to slow twitch muscle except for one, Encumbrance. This fits right into what slow twitch muscles do very well, sustain loads for long periods of time.

    I don’t think I have to spend much time on fast twitch muscles because they don’t do any of the vigor stuff either, they do the strength stuff that slow twitch doesn’t do.

    How long you can hold your breath, resistance to all those hazards, and natural healing fall under the realm of Cardiovascular heath and genetic factors. Cardiovascular heath is usually rated as blood pressure, heart rate and VO2 max. VO2 max is the maximum capacity for your body to transport and use oxygen during exercise. It is rated in milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute.

    VO2 max has massive health implications, a high VO2 means that your body moves and metabolizes oxygen and energy very quickly. There is an implication of a high Red Blood Cell density, as well as a blood delivery system that had grown to allow more blood flow without increasing heart rate of blood pressure. A high red blood cell density means that your body has developed the ability to create more blood cells than normal, and do this quicker than normal. This includes plasma and other blood cells that are important in healing.

    First of all, this means that the body can perform aerobic oxidation (used in slow twitch muscles) for a long period of time, and a high intensities that would normally be available. This also means that you body has a high lactate threshold, due to the bodies increased ability to metabolize and remove lactic acid from the muscles cells. A high Lactate threshold allows the body to use fast twitch muscles at a higher intensity and more often than would normally be available with the same mass of muscle tissue but with a lower VO2 max. I think it is easy to see the implications here for strength, as we have already discussed how slow and fast twitch muscles represent a lot of the mechanical effects of strength, so it is easy to see how high cardiovascular heath supports a high strength. Without a high lactate threshold, fast twitch muscles can build up enough lactic acid to make them stop working in seconds. This means that in order to have functional power in terms of combat you must have good cardiovascular health, as those fast twitch muscles are firing all over the place all the time, from blocks, attacks, shifting places, dodging etc. with low cardio vascular heath you could not take advantage of your muscular power in a way that would have an effect on combat.

    Cardiovascular health has a huge effect on natural healing and staying alive when incapacitated. When the body is injured, blood comes into contact with collagen, which triggers the platelets to start secreting inflammatory factors and expressing proteins on their cell walls that allow them to stick together making a clot. A strong heart and a developed circulatory system allows more platelets to get to the wound site in time, thereby reducing the severity of shock and exsanguination. Note that this is not the blood shooting out of the wound, but the blood surrounding the damaged tissue. Within an hour of wounding, white blood cells arrive though the circulatory system. These cells eat debris and bacteria (they also kill bacteria with a sudden release of free radicals, much like Savage Worlds Super’s “explode” power… cool, huh?). They also break down the damaged cells, kinda like the decay superpower. I really don’t want to go though all of the healing stages, but I think this illustrates my point well. Being able to make a bunch of these cells, along with plasma and other cells quickly is what helps you not die from massive trauma, and heal trauma quickly. A strong cardiovascular system helps you fight disease with it’s ability to make and transmit white blood cells efficiently. These white blood cells go though the same process they go though with trauma when killing pathogens. A strong cardiovascular system helps repair damage from toxins just like normal trauma, etc.

    Now I haven’t touched upon some of the most important functions of Vigor, toughness and Soaking damage. The factor (as I see it) in resisting force and momentum is the amount of tissue that composes the body, tissue composition, bone size and bone density. Cardiovascular health, no matter how awesome it is, will not help you take a punch. Even at my worst fitness level, I totally could have knocked out my ultramarathon running mom. This is relatively elementary, the more tissue force is acting upon, the more force that group of tissues (known as a body) can take before failing. This tissue is further reinforced by bone, and the size and density of the bone is directly related to how much damage it can sustain before failing.

    Size is just important to resisting trauma. Therefore it makes perfect sense why size gives a bonus to toughness. This appiles to bone size as well as the amount of tissue. This is also why brawny and obese characters should get the bonuses to toughness. They have more actual tissue to absorb the force applied to them than their vigor would otherwise indicate.

    Muscle is surrounded and permeated by a connective tissue called fascia, specifically deep fascia. This connective tissue is very strong, and help support the muscle when it bears weight so it does not tear. There is also superficial fascia that helps bind the subcutis and the dermis together, but it is not as strong nor dense as deep fascia. Fat is made of loose connective tissue composed of adipocytes, or fat cells, that are filled or drained of lipids. This connective tissue is not fibrous, and so it not as resistant to tearing as fascia. This means that a body that has a higher composition of muscle is able to sustain more force than a body that has a higher composition of fat before cell failure.

    Bone density is the last major factor of the bodies resistance to a force applied to it, and the best way to increase bone density is by forcing the bone to bear weight, stimulating a response to add more bone minerals to the bone itself. This can be done though plyometric, resistant or weight bearing exercise, all of which are forms of exercise that build muscle size and power.

    So what is my point in all of this? That toughness should be moved to a factor of strength (oh god no!), or that runners should be as strong as powerlifters? No, certainly not.

    Every single mechanical effect of strength and vigor are all interconnected within the same system. Without significant outside factors (which I will get to) as stronger body is a tougher body. A body that has a high power output has a strong cardiovascular system. A body with a strong cardiovascular system has increased sustained power duration.

    If they are all interconnected and for the most part dependant upon each other it follows that they should be one stat.

    Now you don’t have to agree with me. This is all in the realm of opinion, and hey, if 5 stats is fun for you, go for it. If it makes more sense to you, go for it. I’m not saying that my word is law or anything. It is just one of the reasons I created this houserule for my game.

    1. TrevorNo Gravatar says:

      Now you’re making me feel silly for using the ultra-dumbed down, Cliff’s notes, metaphor version that anyone with an 8th grade education could quickly grasp.

      1. TappyNo Gravatar says:

        I’m not trying to make you feel silly, I just believe that those are flawed metaphors.

        I just wanted to quickly address those metaphors before moving on to my real point. In a nutshell that point is everything that vigor and strength mechanically represent has to do with “General Fitness”, even if you take those words out of the description. therefore they are intrinsically linked, and deviations within that are better represented by edges and hindrances.

        1. Lord MischiefNo Gravatar says:

          Tappy. I really appreciate what you have posted here in regard to your attention to game balance and the like. I thought I independently created a four stat system myself. My take on it was to remove strength as a stat, and push it into the skill catagory. Essentially “strength training” would be a vigor linked skill. To rebalance character generation, players would start with four stat points and 17 skill points.

  8. JazzNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Tappy! Another way to look at the Strength/Vigor problem is to see Strength as merely physical power and ability to absorb damage (i.e., Toughness) and Vigor as health and fitness. A 300-pound couch potato can still exert much more force than a 90-pound gymnast, but has a much lower Vigor, whereas the 90-pound gymnast may not be able to use a heavy melee weapon or carry heavy weights.

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