Sunday, March 25, 2012

Some Words of Wisdom From the Deadlands Reloaded: Marshal's Handbook

Ever read something and go "these words of wisdom are something everyone should read?"  Well, I've been reading through the Deadlands Reloaded: Marshall's Handbook (review will be forth coming) and I had one of those moments.

The advice given can be applied to any game, assuming you trust you GM to be able to follow them.

You  might  be  wondering  about  the difficulty of  the encounters listed throughout this book.     Are     they intended    for    characters    of    Novice Rank? Seasoned?
The answer is none of the above. The encounters  are  created  to  reflect  the natural  (or  in  some  cases  unnatural) organization of the characters or creatures listed.  That means your group had best be warned that this isn’t like certain other games that automatically set  the  challenge  level  to  something they  can  deal    with.    Sometimes  a horrific  abomination  simply  needs  to be avoided,  or  clever  tactics  or  hired guns employed to defeat it.
We  do  this  both  because  it’s  more natural  and  it’s  more  of  a  challenge. Besides,  any  system  we  create  would have a difficult time fitting the nature of  your  posse.  If  a  big  game  hunter hires on a squad of expert riflemen to cover  his  back,  it  doesn’t  make  sense hat  suddenly  every  rattler  has  four buddies as well. That means that just as with a larger party is safer (though it might not fit your posse’s plans to keep a low profile). Of course, it also means the heroes have to feed the Extras and provide food,   water,   and   ammo   for them as well. And don’t forget some of these apples are no doubt rotten.
All   that   said,   the   Marshal   should tweak  encounters  to  fit  the  nature  of his party. You’ll have a good handle on what your party can manage after a few sessions,  without  the  need  for  some sort of formula.

Almost seems like sandbox style game advice.  No charts to balance encounters, no CR ratings.  What is a GM to do?

Do what we always did before the charts and CRs were added.  Follow you gut and make the game fun.


  1. Despite the huge differences in game systems, Savage Worlds fandom and the OSR have a lot of common ground.

  2. Just tripped over this post while rummaging through your site for other stuff, and the game notes on balancing encounters has been reprinted and expanded in the recent Savage Worlds Deluxe (the core book), and as someone with far too much 4E experience lately (it's what our usual GM is used to...) the notion that not every encounter should just be waded into is great, although if I do succeed in my plan to GM a SW campaign when the current 4E campaign wraps up I'm going to have to warn our players that this ain't 4E anymore!


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