Savage Guns

Tank: So what do you need? Besides a miracle.
Neo: Guns. Lots of guns.

That’s one of my favorite slices of dialogue from the Matrix. It’s also handy advice for dealing with all kinds of situations in the Savage Worlds RPG. Having just emerged from a Wild West campaign mostly in one piece, I’ve got newfound respect for the advantages of shooting your enemies as soon as you see them.

The rules for using guns in Savage Words are pretty simple. At short range (which is where most encounters tend to occur, whether you’re slugging it out with Charlie in the jungle or taking out the man in the black hat at the back of the saloon), the number you need to hit anyone is a basic 4.

Sure, there are modifiers for cover, darkness, longer ranges, etc — but if the dude you’re shooting at is standing in the open and wearing anything except a bulletproof vest or Iron Man armor, it’s actually kind of easy to hit. Much easier than trying to chop through a warrior’s chainmail armor with a sword or gutting some jumping jackass who’s got the agility bonuses of an Olympic athlete.

Not only is it easier to hit — you’re also likelier to score a raise on such a low target number. That means bonus damage. For anyone but Wild Cards, that’s a pretty quick end to any fight.

I don’t think I initially appreciated just how lethal guns were in Savage Worlds before. The first time I ran a campaign that could use them was in Zombie Run. Most of the time, bullets didn’t even slow down those rotting bastards — at least until the Players got their hands on some automatic weapons. That said, I soon learned that a bunch of guns in the hands of the bad guys — even mooks — made things pretty dangerous for the good guys.

As Indiana Jones showed us many years ago, the smart hero doesn’t wade into a melee when he’s got a six-shooter handy. I like that Savage Worlds makes guns dangerous again.

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2 Comments on “Savage Guns”

  1. The line from matrix always makes me think of a much older cult action flick called Split Second. The second of half of this clip, sums it up well.

    EDITED: No embedding or HTML allowed.

    As for Savage Worlds; yup, guns kill people. Way more effective against mooks than heroes. That first time an NPC gets a hit and a raise, and the player realizes just how much damage they can take from one hit, makes them very aware that getting themselves into cover is a damned fine idea.

    • Absolutely. The Wounds rules work well here with the rules for guns. I can imagine an RPG game that still uses hit points where a high-level hero just walks into a blazing gunfight with no real worries. Wouldn’t happen in Savage Worlds.


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