The Game: Streets of Bedlam
The Publisher: Fun-Sized Games (I think)
Degree of Familiarity: Quite a lot with the system, none with this particular game
Books Required: The core and the Savage Worlds Deluxe book (well, it recommends Deluxe, though it'd work with other versions).
I backed this game on Kickstarter, and I like the way it's turned out. It's basically a neo-noir, ultraviolent setting with the Savage Worlds system, taking inspiration from Sin City and similar properties. It's basically what Haven wanted to be and failed. The writing is good; there are some grammatical issues here and there and I kinda think a pass for clarity would have been helpful, but the book is easy to follow, the world is well-realized but not detailed so heavily that your eyes glaze over, and the game is highly focused on the tone and genre it wants, and I like that.
One weird thing: "God" is written as "G*d" in the book. Now, I'm aware that some religions traditions demand it, and if this is a requirement for the writer of the book, OK. But it shows up in areas that clearly aren't talking about the Abrahamic god (one of the Edges is called "Modern God," and it's spelled that way), but it's written normally a couple of times when "god" is used in a general sense. The predominant religious influence in-setting is Catholic, too, so it's not like it's an in-setting thing. I don't get it, and I find it jarring, but maybe that's just me.
Anyway, let's make a goddamn character.
First thing we do is pick an Archetype, which replaces "race" in most Savage Worlds games. Hmm. You know, as tempting as it is to make a Boss (as in crime), I find myself attracted to Drifter. I like the "unrelated outsider who gets swept up in the events and is generally decent" kind of character - the title character in El Mariachi springs to mind, though you could make an argument for Clive Owen in Shoot 'em Up. My guy is just passing through Bedlam (that's the twin cities of Bedford and Lamrose, by the way), but he's going to wind up staying longer than he expected.
Attributes: d4 in each to start, plus five points to spread around, same as it ever was. I kinda want my character to be a fighter*, because a) I haven't made one in a while and b) it's in-genre. I'll put Agility in Strength up to d8, and put the other die into Vigor. Low Smarts and low Spirit, but that's life.
*I mean, apart from the MMA fighter I made the other day, but that's different. Shaddup.
Skills: I'm supposed to take Drive, Fighting, and some kind of trade. There are new Skills in this book, too.
Well, I don't think I'll bother with Drive. My guy hitchikes. Or train jumps, how about that shit? Bedlam totally needs a trainyard. But I will take Fighting. And, oh, blimey, the Skills aren't written on the sheet. Boo.
Anyway, I want Climbing, Fighting, and Lockpicking. Actually we'll say this guy was a locksmith - that's how he knows how to pick locks, thanks very much. I'll take Notice and Streetwise at a d4 because going higher would cost more. Taking the three I mentioned plus Shooting and Stealth at d6 puts me at 12 points spent, so I'll jack Fighting and Lockpicking to d8 and add Intimidation at d4.
Edges & Hindrances: I get World Traveler, with the effect that I get two Knowledge Skills at d6. OK, sure. I'll take Knowledge (Hobos) and Knowledge (Engineering). I get Permanent Outsider; I have a low rep with Authority because I'm a drifter. Plus, I'm a Big Ol' Softie; I take a -2 to resist someone giving me a sob story.
Backstory: I'm either running from something or running to something. Hmm. If I'm running to something, it's not that I couldn't get there, it's that I just... don't. Weird example, but think of John Candy's character in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles - he wants to go home, but he doesn't have one. His wife has been dead for years.
The alternative is that I'm running from something and I get into trouble to calm the nightmares. I think I like the first idea. My guy (Manfred "Manny" Clay) had a kind of life, once. He had a girlfriend and a home. But he was largely dissatisfied with his life, got to drinking, and wound up doing time somewhere north of Bedlam. When he got out, one of the guards (who was always a dick) gave him a postcard that he'd actually received four years prior, from his ex-girlfriend. It said "Come and meet your daughter." His daughter would be just six now, and he can't quite seem to get it together enough to get on the train back home.
Now, I can, if I wish, take more Hindrances and get some more points, so yeah, I'll do that. I'm also gonna change my Engineering Knowledge to Prison Culture, because that makes more sense. I want the Priors Hindrance, because that makes sense. And, screw it, I'll take Heart on Your Sleeve (anyone playing on my sympathies gets +2 to the roll). And I'll take Poverty, so I start with half the money I normally would. That'll make Priors a Major Hindrance, but I suspect that's because that guard really talked me up as a holy terror in the joint.
That gives me four points. I'll spend two and bump Spirit to d6. It doesn't look like I get a free Edge; the example character doesn't seem to get one. I'll assume I don't, so I'll spend my other two points and buy Ready for Action - I can't be ambushed (combination of living on the street and having been to prison).
Derived Traits: See? After you've done Edges and Hindrances! Parry is 6, Toughness is 5, Pace is 6, Charisma and the other two kinds of Rep at 0.
Gear: I have a duffel of old clothes, $100 to my name ('cause Poverty), a set of lockpicks, and I would get an old truck or car, but I'll forgo that since I jump trains to get around.
And now I do three descriptive sentences, one for physical, mental, and social. So:
Physical: Manny is lean, wiry, always has a few days worth of stubble and always keeps his hands free.
Social: Manny doesn't make eye contact unless he intends to fight you or kiss you. He speaks clearly and in short sentences.
Mental: Manny wants to go "home" and meet his daughter, but he has no idea what that would actually mean. It's just something he says.
And that's me done!