Sunday, November 8, 2015

Beasts & Barbarians On Air! Final Preview

It's almost time for the first episode of The Beggar King, our Beasts & Barbarians campaign for Savage Worlds. On Friday November 13th at 10:00 pm EST, you will be able to follow the arguably best RPG campaign I've ever been a part of. My hope is that this may give your own group ideas or tips on how make your own games memorable with any system, online or not. I also hope you'll find this entertaining even though a RPG session is an interactive experience rarely as fun to watch as it is to participate in.

It's been two months since we last played this game. In the meantime, I ran some one-shots that most of the players have joined for some of the games. One of those games, The Heart of Darkness, was recently recorded and is available on YouTube. I needed the break to refuel and prepare but now I'm anxious to get my boys back. Judging from their feedback, I get the impression they are excited as well. One of them cannot join us yet because of his work schedule but I look forward to his return.

As promised in the previous preview I will now expose the Setting Rules I will use for The Beggar King. Most of them are straight from Beasts & Barbarians Golden Edition and Jalizar, City of Thieves, some are taken from other settings, inspired by other Setting Rules or house rules. While most of them are proven and tested, some of them, particularly house rules will be introduced for the first time.

Beasts & Barbarians Golden Edition

Henchmen and Right Hands

Henchmen have three wounds and no wild die while Right Hands have a wild die but no wounds. I've rarely used this rule before but plan on using it more to challenge the player and highlight some important NPCs without giving them Wild Card status.

After the Adventure

This includes Savings and Events. Savings means regardless of many Moons (B&B currency) they've accumulated, once they've gone back to town to carouse they're left with just enough to resupply and pocket change. 100 Moons per rank is all they're left with at the beginning of the next adventure. This is game is about daring exploits, not looting the bodies to carry around thousands of gold pieces for that vorpal sword.

The Events are what happened during downtime between adventures. The player draws a card from the action deck and the DM comes up with something according to the results on a table which can be good, bad or somewhere in between. It can drive a whole sub-plot and I will certainly use that as inspiration for the next adventure. I will limit the option to pick a card to only one player at a time in order to avoid confusion and to shine the spotlight on only one player at a time.

I usually hand-waive resource management and use common sense instead of micro-managing an economy. I've never once been a part of a fun "count your money" or 'let's haggle with the merchant" encounter. With only two hours to play I'd rather use that time for more interesting scenes. As for the After the Adventure Events, the last chapter of our campaign was one long adventure with no breaks in between so we didn't get a chance to use it. Now we will.


Beasts and Barbarians uses the Blood and Guts, Born a Hero and Joker's Wild rules from Savage Worlds Deluxe. Bennies for everyone on a Joker and they can spend bennies to re-roll damage. Those two are very popular in our group.

Jalizar, City of Thieves


A character that has spent enough time in Jalizar or is from there gains one contact per rank. This works like the Connection Edge but the character must spend a Bennie to activate it and can only use it once per session.
I did something slightly different with this. A few months ago I asked every player to design two NPCs with ties to their character, one friendly and another one unfriendly. I want to use the friendly NPC as a Contact or story hooks and the unfriendly NPC as a potential minor enemy or story hook. Only two players worked on that so I can guess they are the only ones that will benefit/suffer from this Setting Rule.

Looking Miserable

Appearance is everything in the city of thieves. If you look like a beggar or put on an otherwise non-threatening appearance, when rolling to see if surprised, potential victims have a -2 to that roll.

Life as a Thief

This is a rather extensive collection of rules meant to expand on thieving operations such as begging, concealing items, disguise, forgery, pickpocketing, shadowing, tightrope walking and traps.

There is only one roguish character in the group so I'll use those if the need arises. I prefer the shadowing rules in Deadlands Noir over the ones in Beasts and Barbarians so I'll be using these. Disguise isn't as Fast (as in Savage Worlds Worlds' Fast, Furious and Fun motto) as I'd like so I'll likely simplify it to one roll instead of having to roll for preparation AND interpretation.

House Rules

Critical Failures

You cannot spend a Bennie if you roll snake eyes. Untested.

Loincloth Hero

I'm changing how this edge works. Instead of granting a free soak roll while wearing no armor it gives a +2 bonus to soak rolls like the Unarmored Heroes Setting Rules in Lankhmar City of Thieves.


This is inspired by the Role rule in Streets of Bedlam. On select episodes, I will direct the spotlight on one character. This may be the result of an "After the Adventure Event" table result or because the story simply demands it.
There are three different roles for these Spotlight sessions: Hero, Sidekick and Plot Twist.

The Hero is the star of this episode, the spotlight is on him. The outcome of this episode will have repercussions and affect that character only.
He can do the following:
  • Implicate one of the characters with the Plot Twist role to gain a Bennie, but only one. This must put that character in trouble in one way or another.
  • Spend a Benny to gain a +4 bonus to any rolls made toward escaping a bad situation. Once that character is out of immediate danger, the bonus no longer applies.
The Sidekick is there for the Hero, he's there to make him look good. As such, he can do the following to help him out:
  • Deliver a uplifting speech in a non-combat situation to motivate the Hero. This is similar to how Interludes work in its execution but must relate to the situation at hand. Consequently, the Hero gets a +4 to his next roll.
  • Share his Bennies with the Hero as per the Common Bond edge but with the Hero only.
The Plot Twist is the wild card. He's the special guest star. He can be a the guy that arrives at the right time to save the day or he can be the one who's arrival will make things worse for the Hero. Here's what he can do:
  • Spend two Bennies and arrive at the scene providing additional help. The player must also provide the circumstances that lead to this and can be vetoed by the GM.
  • Inject his character into the scene but his character must bring complications with him. Maybe he was being chased or followed. Or maybe his own goals competed against the Hero so he steals the MacGuffin right under his nose. Maybe he makes his appearance as the villain's hostage. Regardless of the reason, every player-characters at the scene receive a benny and the Hero can play an extra Adventure Card in this scene, but only once per session.
  • Find an excuse to leave the scene and give the Hero an important bit of information (provided by the GM).
This has yet to be tested but I like the idea and I think the players will have fun with it. We like collaborative storytelling and improvisation. I look forward to the results. I will revisit this House Rules as needed then.

And this concludes the previews for The Beggar King. I hope you enjoyed it and will be following the "show".

Happy gaming!