Savage Worlds at Chicago Gameday 41
I played Savage Worlds for the first time at Gameday 41 this Saturday. The event was set in the Steamscapes setting by Eric Simon, who was also our GM. Our PCs were railroad inspectors for the Great Peninsular Railway, a grand rail system stretching the breadth of the Indian subcontinent; the railroads were being sabotaged by… someone, and we had to figure out whom. Tim Jensen and Sabe Jones were at the table with me.
I will say, this event un-sold me on Savage Worlds. Not that Eric did not run a great game; he did! But while SW is a great minis skirmish system — the exploding dice, playing card initiative with special results on Jokers, and some other bits are totally wonderful in play — there’s not much else that really floats my boat. I also gave up reading my copy of the Explorer’s Edition because I didn’t enjoy the writing at all. I’ve bought four different editions of SW over the years without reading annoys them until now; I am a freaking idiot.
(Aside: Also, playing with LEGOs for minis is pretty damn cool. Eric had assembled some great pieces.)
But! Let me say that as someone who generally vehemently dislikes steampunk, Eric’s Steamscapes setting is really cool! This game was intended to show off Eric’s new Steamscapes: Asia book, which was Kickstarted recently. I want to delve deeper into some of the developer’s notes he’s posted on his website, but in talking with Eric it was readily apparent to me that he gave a lot of thought to creating a genuinely respectful setting product (“Asian, not ‘Asian-themed’ “), one that gives these cultures their due and doesn’t revel in 19th-century colonial B.S. He seems well-aware of his own privilege and sought out co-creators who could do justice to the cultures covered in the product. There’s a good amount of diverse art in the products I’ve seen, too.
I can’t tell you how cool it was to play a Sikh character; this is the first PC I’ve ever played that even remotely resembles people in my family. And we were Indians (save for Sabe, who was an ex-pat Brit) in India solving an problem threatening the safety of Indian people. We even learned about HIndu-Muslim Syncreticism, which I had no clue about.
I have no real intention of playing SW again, and like I said, I don’t care for steampunk much at all. But I am definitely going to take a closer look at Eric’s work. This seems less steampunk — thought there is steam automata and clockwork devices and all that; though no magic, thankfully — and more alternative history with a twist. Which is freaking cool.