Savage Abilities - Savage Fan Creation Review

Savage Worlds is a very customizable system. Thanks to its simplicity it is quite easy to create new content either by "reskinning" existing material or by following the guidelines included in the companions. Unfortunately, outside of those two approaches there isn't much in a way of official advice on expanding the system. If you are looking for a more granular approach to designing savage content, you should definitely check out Zadmar's Savage Worlds stuff. It is a gold mine of great tools and rules-building supplements. Let's have a detailed look at Zadmar's  newest creation - Savage Abilities.

Savage Abilities

Savage Abilities by +Richard Woolcock  is a free supplement designed to help you with creation of new Edges, Hindrances, Templates and Powers for the Savage Worlds system. As with other publications by the author, you get an extensive list of options that you can combine into Savage Worlds abilities. Each option comes with a point cost, so you can balance your newly created abilities against the Savage Worlds standards.

Before we delve into the content proper, let's look at the layout and graphic design of the document. Most of the free supplements and conversion found online have a somehow spartan design. Usually a decent, readable layout with maybe few graphics and ornamental fonts. Not Savage Abilities - this product can be easily confused with a small press professional release. It has a standard RPG two column layout on a readable pastel background and it even comes with professional looking art and a beautiful cover (by artist Storn Cook). The grahpic design has a "feel" of the earlier Svage Worlds publications from Pinnacle. Honestly, I have seen paid products with a much worse design. As a person who appreciates graphic design, I tip my hat to the author for this approach.

The book itself offers options and advice on creation of Edges, Hindrances, Monster and Creature Templates, Powers and Crafting of items. Each chapter comes with example Abilities and adds a new interesting ways of looking at particular abilities. The Edge chapter lets you create Races trough the Edge mechanics, allowing for type of subraces (people with elven blood or high, wood or dark elves for example). Not only this will add flavor to your setting, but thanks to the point-buy system, it will be balanced against other Savage Worlds aspects. You get another "extra" within the Powers chapter. Thanks to the point cost of each part of the Power and categorizing those options into "schools of magic", you can introduce an Ars Magica inspired freeform magic system. Author goes to the great lengths explaining this mechanic followed by advice on using it. The whole Powers/Magic chapter is a great resource if you want to create a magic-rich setting. The options here, act as modifiers to the "option effects" from the end of the book. Oh, and also, this option allows you to create utility spells, that some people are missing from Savage Worlds. Want a "knock" type spell? Well, just create a Power that gives the mage a temporary boost to lockpick skill. It was at this point where I was definitely sold on the book!
The Crafting system is just a cherry on the top. While it might not be amazingly fast, it uses simple mathematical formulas to give you the price of raw materials and time needed to create any item, by using just its cost and the craftsman skill ratings. This is a great addition, that can be used as-is during campaign downtime or as a reference when PCs are ordering custom equipment from craftsmen. I can see myself expanding this system with scavenging, to be used in a post-apocalyptic campaigns.

The last chapter is the meat and potatoes of the book. It hosts almost 150 different options that you can combine into creating any of the Abilities explained in the previous chapters. The options are grouped into categories that allow for easier navigation. You can find here options for combat, senses and movement among others. While this is not a complete list of things that can be achieved in Savage Worlds, it gives you an amazing starting point into creating a plethora of new abilities!

My only (minor) issue with the book is that it uses the multiplier of 12 as it's basic unit costs. The author explains his reasoning behind it, but for whatever reason I would prefer a system based on 5s and 10s. Probably, because as humans we are used to the decimal system. This, combined with the vast amount of can lead to a small brain-overload, especially if you don't come from a math or programming background. Nevertheless this (and other of the author's suplements) should be your to-go products for creating new balanced content for Savage Worlds.