Review Part 2: Savage Core Rules Changes

In yesterday’s post, I talked about the content of the Savage World of Flash Gordon as it relates to the actual setting. Today, I’m talking about core rule changes.
One of the major shifts is in the skills list. Climbing, Swimming, and Throwing have been combined into one skill, Athletics, which is Agility-based; Lockpicking is generalized to Thievery; and a specific list of Knowledge specialties is provided. A new skill, Performance, is added and linked to Spirit. In general, I like these changes (despite some echoes of that other system), with the possible exception that they make Strength even less important as a stat, since the Athletics skill is no longer linked to it.
A second significant change is the addition of four new states to the game – Distracted, which gives a -2 on trait rolls; Vulnerable, which gives a +2 on actions and attacks against the target; Entangled, which confers Distracted and also prevents movement; and Bound, which is Entangled plus Vulnerable and incapable of any physical action other than attempting to break free. These states play into the next major changes, which involve grappling, tricks, and tests of wills.
The Grappling rules are modified mostly to take the new states into account. Instead of an opposed Fighting roll, grappling is an opposed Athletics roll (unless you’re a Martial Artist, in which case you can substitute fighting). Success means you’ve Entangled your foe, a raise means he’s Bound. If you’ve already Entangled a foe, another success also means he’s Bound. Escaping a grapple is an opposed Strength roll (not Agility, which helps offset the loss of Strength as much of a factor in skills), and an opposed Strength roll can also be used for damage. Martial Artist is a big win here, since it can be used not only in place of Athletics but also in place of Strength on any of these rolls. I think these rules make Grappling a little more interesting without drifting into the realm of sub-turns and general rules insanity.
Tests of Wills and Tricks are also changed to take advantage of the new states. Tests of Will now involve opposed tests of Smarts, Spirit, or any linked skill, while tricks involve Strength, Agility, or any linked skill. A successful Test of Will Distracts the foe, while a raise gets you a roll on a new “Creative Combat” table, which can Shake your opponent, heal your character, give you a benny, or even add a free turn! Tricks work similarly, except that the opposed tests are based on Agility and Strength, and the foe becomes Vulnerable on a success. The Creative Combat table comes into play on a raise here as well. This is probably my favorite rule change; I think it makes Tricks and Tests of Wills much more attractive as combat options, and it also somewhat mitigates the effect of the previously-revised Shaken rules (more on those in an earlier post), since Shaken is not automatically the result of a raise on one of these actions.
One last minor change – the Aim action can now be used to shoot a weapon at Extreme range (4x long range) at a -8 penalty, or -6 with a scope. Snipers rejoice!
Overall, these core rule changes look solid, and I expect to see most or all of them in the next edition. I’ll be interested to hear from Flash players and GMs how they work out in practice.

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