So I’ve been working on an idea for a Borderlands-ish game for Savage Worlds— SF semi-apocalyptic setting, lots of crazy OTT stuff, largely tongue-in-cheek, hordes of badguys that the goodguys take out in a spray of bullets, that sort of thing. And hero durability is an important aspect of this… SW is not a system of attrition, like Pathfinder. It’s a game in which you are often fine, fine, fine, dead. So taking a cue from the game that inspired it, this homebrew of mine is looking to use personal deflector shields.
My first idea was to have a system where shields gave you a certain number of “free soaks,” negating a number of wounds as you took them. A weak shield would give you one, a great shield would give you three or four. The problem is, this felt a little too much like just putting hit points back into the game, which sorta negates the whole point of the “up, down, or off the table” structure of Savage Worlds.
A new idea have had since and like better is giving shields a rating that subtracts from incoming damage, from d4 to d12+x, just like an attribute. An average shield probably has a value of d8 or d10. Every time you take a hit, your shield’s rating goes down by a step, until it’s finally depleted after d4 and needs to recharge.
So imagine for a moment you have a d10 shield and a Toughness of 6. Someone pulls out a submachine gun and shoots you, hitting twice and rolling 2d8 each time to get totals of 9 and 10. The first hit is against your full d10 shield, so you roll and get a 6. The first hit’s damage becomes (9-6=) 3, well under your Toughness of 6, so the bullet bounces off your shield, reducing its rating to d8. The second hit, you roll your shield’s new rating of d8 and get a 3. The second hit’s damage becomes (10-3=) 7, which overcomes your Toughness of 6 and you become shaken, while your shield’s rating drops to d6.
The effect of this: well you can see in the example above that without the shield, you would have been shaken and had two wounds (shaken on the 9, wounded twice on the 10 because it got a raise over your Toughness), while with the shields, you end up just shaken. The nice thing about shields being a die rating is that you don’t really need to “track” it, just have the right size die handy. The reduction in die size with each hit both simulates the way deflector shields traditionally “go down,” as well as adding some tension to the fight. (“My shields are all the way down to d4! Run for cover!”)
The big question is, how do your shields recover? I’m thinking maybe they go up by +1 step at the beginning of your turn (up to their maximum), or fully recharge if you draw a joker for initiative.
The other question is, how do you handle allies, particularly large groups of them? I’m thinking that they probably have a “group shield value” that drops by one the first time that group is hit on a turn but only the first time. The same way allies’ ammunition levels simply drop a step after every fight, all allies in a group have the same effective rating as an aggregate of all the wild shots that have flown around in the combat. (But since large groups of allies are often being shot at by large groups of opponents, having the rating go down with every hit would deplete the shield immediately on the first turn.)
Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? Keep in mind that the system needs to be “Fast! Furious! and Fun!” and has to scale quickly in large combats. I’d be interested to hear what other savages out there might have to say!