Review – Savage World of Flash Gordon

Flash!  Aaaaaaah!  Yes, the dulcet tones of Freddy Mercury and Queen bring back memories of the brilliant camp-fest that was the 1980 Flash Gordon movie. Of course, Flash Gordon is much older than that, and all of that comic, movie, and TV heritage is honored in the Savage Worlds Flash Gordon RPG.

The book begins with a history of Flash Gordon, including an intro by Sam J. Jones, the blond, buff Flash from the 1980 movie, and then moves on into character creation. The cheese level is appropriate, with Mongo this and Mongo that (“it’s only 10 Mongomiles away!”), and a solid list of races. Want to play a hawkman? Sharkman? Lionman? Marmosetman? (OK, not that last one.) They’re all represented. The rules also include a number of updates that I expect to see in the new edition of Savage Worlds coming out later this year, but I’ll discuss those in tomorrow’s update. The setting rules include a number of new Hindrances and Edges, as well as tweaks to some of the arcane backgrounds, such as “schools” for psionic power that limit your power selections. My favorite new Hindrance is “Glass Jaw”, which basically makes it hard for you to soak wounds; on the flip side, if you want to play a Determinator, you can take Iron Jaw and Determination to get a free soak roll without spending a benny.

A major new mechanic in Flash is the Cliffhanger, which allows the players to activate some sort of serious peril which the GM must then enact; if the players deal with the situation, they get special rewards like the new “Conviction” token, which allows an extra d6 to be added to a roll. I’ll be interested to get feedback from people running this mechanic; I think it may turn out to be a tough challenge for GMs to improvise a cliffhanger on demand.

A similarly challenging ruleset is the Romance mechanics; I will be curious to see how often they come up in games. I know quite a few players who would enjoy them, and even more who would either shun them or goof on them without mercy. I think this might play out like ETU, where your group can define whether you’re playing Interview with the Vampire, Buffy, or Scooby Doo.

On the gear front, Flash provides a plethora of blasty-thing weapons, as well as a large assortment of vehicles, including a number of rockets. The book also includes a solid gazetteer of Mongo as well as what looks to be a fun Plot Point campaign and an assortment of Savage Tales.

Overall, I like the pulpy setting and the Plot Point campaign, and I think the flavor of Flash comes through clearly. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the rule changes and what they might mean for Savage Worlds in general.

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