Rules Lawyering

Character Building in Savage Worlds

Outside of a few specific settings like Savage Rifts, the implied order of build for characters in Savage Worlds is Race, Traits, Skills, Edges and Hindrances, Gear, and Background Details. This approach is sound from a game mechanics perspective; it minimizes any iteration on the character design. However, it may not be optimal from a roleplaying perspective, as it puts some of the most important details (background, Edges, and especially Hindrances) at the back end. In the spirit of Machete Order for viewing Star Wars movies, and with a hat tip to the Savage Worlds GM Podcast, I offer the follwing revised order:

  1. Concept: Start with developing a basic idea of who the character is. Swashbucking, cocky smuggler captain? Naive but gifted farmboy? Noble-born agent of the rebellion? This basic concept will inform your background details as well as your mechanical build choices, especially…
  2. Hindrances and Edges: Choosing the right Hindrances for your character helps reinforce your concept. Is your smuggler captain Overconfident? Your farmboy Clueless? Your noble Loyal? Choosing your Hindrances up front also helps define the number of Edges or skill points you will receive. If you want to simplify the iteration process later, try to select Edges that either have common requirements or simple ones, or choose only one complicated Edge (like thief). If humans aren’t the only option in your setting, you may want to keep an extra Edge in your pocket so that you can select it if you pick a human when you choose
  3. Race: Racial choices typically add extra flavor to your character, including some mechanical effects. If you didn’t pick human, you’ll pick up some sort of benefits to replace the free Edge, and if you did, you can add the Edge on here.
  4. Traits: Now you need to go back and select your Traits (Attributes and Skills) to make sure you can meet your Edge requirements. If you can’t, you’ll need to step back to Edges again and make another pass (but keep those extra Edges in mind for advances).
  5. Gear and Derived Statistics: With everything else in place, selecting the appropriate gear and deriving Parry, Charisma and so on is easy.

With this order, character creation puts character first, and allows the player to get as close as possible to a concept she’d enjoy playing.

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