I was marginally involved in a discussion, a few days back, about a player character designed to be, in brief, a tank.
Savage Worlds is a setting in which min-maxers can design characters that are basically killing machines.
This, given the number of points that can be expended on Attributes and Skills, usually means these characters are brainless killing machines, but hey, some like ’em like that.
The problem is, min-maxed characters can somewhat spoil the fun of the game.
The guy that always wins, the fastest gun in the West, the half-drow warrior/wizard/thief raised by dwarven ninjas, basically breaks the story.
And if the point of the game is having a good time by collectively creating a great narrative, well, the guy that crashes through every door and kills every enemy with a single mighty blow in the long run makes the going boring.
If not for the player handling that character, certainly for the rest of the team.
First things first – I strongly believe that problems such as those caused by a min-maxed character should be resolved by the team.
It’s the other guys in the party that should tackle the power players and downsize them.
Talk it out.
And if everything else fails, maroon them mercilessly without equipment or provisions, smack in the middle of nowhere.
More generally, brainless killing machines should be faced with problems they can’t just punch through – hit them in the brain, if you will.
Nothing better than forcing the players to roll that Smarts d4 they placed on their character sheet.
But, through the years, I have also developed another solution.
Why sixty? Because it’s a nice round number, and it is a multiple of six.
Why kobolds? Because they can be found in most fantasy settings, and a rabid kobold can be a concentrate of nastiness and agility, and kobolds find their strength in numbers and speed.
Consider the following, taken from SavagePedia:
Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d4, Vigor d6
Skills: Climb d8, Fighting d4, Guts d4, Notice d6, Taunt d6, Shooting d8, Stealth d10, Throwing d8
Pace: 6; Parry: 4; Toughness: 5
Cowardly: Kobolds will only initiate an attack when they outnumber their targets by at least 2-to-1. If they’re reduced to even odds, make a Spirit roll for them at .2 each round; failure means they run.
Cunning: Kobolds get a +2 to all their Stealth and Taunt rolls, so long as they outnumber their opponents.
Infravision: They halve all lighting penalties.
Sprint: Kobolds can move extremely quickly when necessary; they roll a d10 for Running.
So, ok, your half-drow warrior/wizard/thief raised by dwarven ninjas can chew a single kobold and spit it out without event taking notice.
Four of them? Well, maybe. A sweep attack…
Now six is an interesting number because six is the coordination of a single hex on hex-paper – to wit, a character can be surrounded, and closely pressed, by up to six human-sized characters.
But, considering that kobolds are damn small, we can actually cram a few of them in each hex.
But even with just six fast and furious (ah!) kobolds surrounding him, our tank-character might start to feel the sting.
Double that number, and he begins to be in trouble.
And they are taunting him.
Yes, they are taunting a not-so-smart character.
And there’s more of them.
And they keep coming.
And a few are armed with ranged weapons.
Now, the idea is to divide the sixty kobolds in groups of six or twelve to handle initiative – dealing a single card for each group.
And then just let things go how they should1.
Sometimes is enough to deal a huge amount of damage to the equipment. Leaving the top-heavy character battered and bruised and without a single item undamaged is often a nice way to deliver the message.
Alternatively, getting Killed by rabid kobolds stamped on the character sheet will probably persuade the player their next character should be a little more balanced.
Or a kobold.
The perfect way to deal with power players?
For me, as a keeper, it worked in most cases.
Any other option?
- What about the rest of the team, you ask? Won’t they help their poor harried companion, you say? Or will they just sit back, unpack the popcorn and enjoy the show? ↩