Savage Suzerain by Zach Welhouse & Alan Bundock. RPG review

SAVAGE SUZERAIN by Zach Welhouse & Alan Bundock, Savage Mojo, Cubicle 7 Entertainment, PDF $19.95/£12.75

Reviewed by I O’Reilly

Savage Suzerain is Savage Mojo’s introduction of the Suzerain setting for the Savage Worlds Multiverse, introducing a new rank for Character development: ‘Demigod’ and a whole bucketful of new Edges, encounters, rules and ideas.

The idea of playing the Super-character has now become one of the modern favourites in RPG’s, with games like ‘Exalted’ and ‘Nobili’s proving ever popular. Are you tired of waiting months for your gutter thief to be able to cut it as a Master Assassin? Or your Thrud the Barbarian has to wade through mountains of Kobolds before they even get near beating a dragon? Well, Suzerain chucks your character’s in at the top level: you start as Demigod’s or are a “Pantheon in the Making”. You have some sort of connection to your divinity (called your Telesmae), and as you meter out Justice you can be plucked from your daily reality and sent off to new worlds, alternate dimensions and new game universes at the behest of your Gods.

Suzerain uses the Savage World’s rules system, so for starter’s you’ll need a copy of Savage Worlds in order to play, but the book also manages to give its own unique take on the system by introducing several new features. It tweaks the Savage rules a little to make them more in keeping with its high-powered setting (expanding the Fatigue Boxes and adding a ‘Debilitated’ condition), as well as giving the Demigod characters a d8 Wild Die and improved Soak roles. This coupled with the new Edges that your character can take on at demigod Rank looks good for some more serious action in-game.

One of the things I enjoyed most from Suzerain was the new Setting: describing the Maelstrom (the realms in between the dimensions), the rules for navigating it, as well as the description of all the possible God Realms that your characters could end up in. Alongside this, and possibly the best feature of the whole book are the ideas for running games that include time travel and inter-dimensional portal hopping. Suzerain suggests that your characters ‘work up’ from Legendary or Heroic rank, before they start playing with inter-dimensional forces, which adds a neat twist to what you could do with very powerful characters from other Savage Worlds Campaigns.

The latter half of the book includes detailed campaign and plot point settings; ‘Savage Tales’ which you can guide your characters through, and use as fillers for a Savage Campaign. Based on the ‘Relic’ setting these Tales are probably the best developed and described bits of the whole book, providing a good blend of history, background, interesting NPC’s and action to keep the players busy.

The artwork and the layout to Savage Suzerain is sumptuous throughout, vibrant and rich in colour and evocative of the super-powered setting. The actual writing of the book is refreshingly optimistic, at a time when a lot of RPG’s attempt to be ‘gritty’ or cynical, with Suzerain you can hear the enthusiasm that the team obviously had for their project clearly reflecting in every paragraph.

On the whole, I think Savage Suzerain is pure brain-fodder for any epic fantasy GM. It manages to add some interesting tweaks to the original Savage Worlds rules, and offers a lot of interesting material to spice up your campaign (especially if your players are beginning to get super powerful, and under-matched by their opponents). A small quibble I would have about the game is that whilst it claims to be usable for any setting, the new Edges and Pulse Paths do not seem to gel as readily with the Modern, Scifi or Super’s setting as it does for Fantasy, but if you intend using it alongside a fantasy campaign then I would say it adds a fresh and innovative direction for Savage Worlds.