This week’s recommendations come by way of intrepid commenter Heptapod.

He sent an email saying:

I wanted to evangelize about Savage Worlds as a system. It’s simple and generic. Plus the core ruleset is just $9.99. $9.99! It requires a set of standard D&D dice but combat is fast, easy and there are tons of free resources. The only thing is that you either buy a campaign setting, work off something else (high fantasy D&D with savage world rules, vampire in savage worlds, et al) or creating something entirely from scratch. Being a certain kind of gamer, I’m always pleased with generic systems so I can be imaginative and write my own stories.

So I went digging and I found Pinnacle Entertainment Group’s webpage (which is *AWESOME*) and found the link to the store where you could get a download of the core ruleset for the aforementioned price (but I also found the link to the Deluxe Version from Amazon!)

The website also has all sorts of interesting essays with ideas on how to get a good, solid, fun game up and running in minutes.

He also pointed out to me this:
While looking up stuff about Savage Worlds (check out the system, it’s very simple, fast based combat, etc) I stumbled upon The Douchey DM who has a few essays on gaming in the vein of Jay’s Mindless Diversions.

Spending only 10 minutes there, I encountered two BRILLIANT essays (one on losing fights, another on Schroedinger’s Gaming Table (seriously, I’d love to see a big discussion on that last one)).

So those essays have gotten me back in the mood to start gaming on a regular basis again, with a regular over-arching storyline (something that hasn’t happened since our DM got his shift changed at work to Saturday nights)… and I suspect that they might get the fires lit in your belly too.

So that’s my (our) recommendation for you this week.


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. Not to mention there are Test Drive rules! They’re FREE!

    They *WANT* you to try out the system because it’s that good.

    It’s why they always say “the first one is free”.

    • There are a couple of problems with the “intentionally losing” idea. The first is that in a lot of games, loosing a fight is tactically boring. The system is designed to allow and encourage players to win, and when players take a dive the resulting combat isn’t very fun. D&D 4e has this problem (or at least it did before it changed the balance on all the monsters. I’d stopped playing before the major balance tweaks came in). 3e monster design was a bit erratic, so it only had this problem some of the time.

      The other problem is that because losing a fight removes character agency, it also removes player agency in most game systems. Sure, it would be really interesting if the brigands took your stuff and left you stranded at the side of the road, but you have no guarantee that that’s what will happen if you choose to loose.

      FATE seems to have a good solution: If a character is doing poorly, the player (or GM for NPCs) can offer a concession–letting him lose but also define the consequences of the loss. And the rules encourage (but do not require) the opposing player to accept the offered concession.

      • As a DM, I liked the idea of random encounters by the (2nd ed) book. If there’s an encounter, you’ve got a terrain, you roll some dice, you look stuff up on your homespun table, and that’s what the party gets. On my tables, I always liked to throw in strange encounters–0nes that require guile or roleplaying to successfully navigate. An example is that my party once came across some mewling kittens in the desert. These mewling kittens were really adults of a quasi-intelligent psionic species. They’re not evil, but they’re totally going to take your food and shiny stuff if they can. It was a great encounter; the whole party was eventually knocked unconscious and some of their best stuff stolen, even as they got into a fierce-as-characters, laughing-as-players argument about what to do with the poor, parched kittens.

        So, I had set up a situation where the players could metagame and be boring, or “lose” and have fun. They played the game to make it fun, turning it into a game-wise successful encounter, even if their characters lost, so I gave them good XP. And that’s how they eventually DMed when the next cycle happened, and I thought it was breathtaking when I had a character get assassinated by vorpal sword. I didn’t feel personally defeated at all.

        • > So, I had set up a situation where the players
          > could metagame and be boring, or “lose” and
          > have fun. They played the game to make it fun,
          > turning it into a game-wise successful
          > encounter, even if their characters lost,

          That’s awesome.

          > so I gave them good XP.

          Good, you didn’t forget the *actual* cookie.

      • I cannot agree with your reading of that essay at all. It’s not about forcing losses or telling players to take a dive; it’s about stopping/reducing metagaming and, to a lesser extent, poor DMing, especially in games that are storytelling based.

        As a DM, you should generally not be putting your players in scenarios where it’s ‘win the fight or game over’. Combat should be part of the story, not be a perfunctory exercise to determine the manner of victory 100% of the time.

        • I see that essay as being geared towards players, rather than GMs. Whether PCs get into a “win or game over” scenario shouldn’t be dependent on hard-line universal rules. Such determinations should rely on game, theme, and setting.

          In certain genres, the real possibility of “Game Over” has to exist. When I’m running Cthulhu, then somebody might get eaten (though that’s usually “Flee or Game Over”). When I’m running Dark•Matter, a lot of the fun happens when the players are trying to recover from their initial Fish-ups.

          And sometimes when I’m running D&D, I and the players both understand that the fight elements are a board game that is played to win and leave it at that.

  2. Anyone who’s a fan of Savage Worlds should consider attending PolyCon (A gaming convention held in June in San Luis Obispo, CA). We might have a special surprise for the SW fans.

  3. “But it does make me wonder if there’s some theoretical exercise, a sort of Schrodinger’s Gaming Table, where a group of male games, exposed to an RPG, are both simultaneously nice guys and douchebags, until a woman is present to observe them, then they are one or the other …”

    Throw in married and single gamers and your experience gets a lot more interesting.

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