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Beasts & Barbarians: Campaign primer

This post is meant for the players in my own upcoming Beasts & Barbarians campaign, but you can freely use it for your own campaign.

Links: Beasts & Barbarians Quick Start guide, Savage Worlds Test drive. You REALLY should read the quick start & it's recommendable to read the later parts (rules) of the Test drive too.

The campaign

Fight of the priestesses

A lot of the campaign depends on the characters to be created, but it will be partially separate short adventures in various locations, partially tied to one location. One of the characters being a Borderlander noble would fit my plans very well. The game is supposed work even if half of the players miss a session.

Big change from D&D -like games

-Combat doesn't give any xp and can be deadly, so it's sometimes wiser to avoid fights. Any additional XP comes from fun and interesting gameplay, and optimal efficiency isn't generally fun and interesting.

-If everyone in the group is a combat machine, it just leads into stronger opponents and characters struggling in most non-combat situations. It's good for everyone to have some fighting skills though, and even a few characters that are mainly fighting types.

Heroes on horses, surrounded by villagers and soldiers-Min-maxing a character can lead to very bad play experience. An edge or two improving survivability (Hard to kill, Nerves of steel, Elan) isn't a bad idea.

-There's no numerous magic items, and magic is more rare, much darker and less straightforward by nature. And there's no PC elves, dwarves, halflings etc - just humans.

-Characters want to enjoy their lives, so while they seek for wealth, they seek wealth so they can use it on booze, women or whatever pleases them. A bigger treasure means more fun.


Character concept first. Nationality and ethnicity, social status (Noble, merchant, priest, outsider etc.), what's his/her history, flaws and weaknesses; combat injuries, health issues because of poisoning, disease or inbreeding, whatever you can come up with. Think about character's motivation, whether it's hunting down a murderer, finding your parents after long slavery, atoning from horrible deeds of past, raising a child or reclaiming your birthright - or something else. You can use B&B / Savage Worlds edges/hindrances or character concepts for inspiration (possibly combining more than one), browse B&B book as it has very inspirational pictures or check my B&B miniatures articles if you want to find inspiration from miniatures. You can also use movie & literature characters as inspiration. And Conflict -encouraging hindrances are available for use, if you want to do a more challenging character.

Savage Worlds is quite logical in both character creation and gameplay, meaning that ideas quite easily translate into game mechanics. Create an interesting and flavorful character concept first, and you can use the concept to create the character.

Roleplaying vs. Action in the campaign

There will be a lot of action and combats in the game, but there's always room for roleplayi t a use of benny this way to make a distraction to happen for example.

And when situation gets tense and you're playing an aggressive character or a character who's about to get p issed, remember that there's many levels of aggression before you just shoot one's head - threaten to hit, get a grip of one's throat and threaten to hit, hit, put your hand on the handle of the sword, threaten to attack, draw the sword and point with it, make an attack that stops right before it hits target's head, impale his leg...

About Hindrances, Edges and Skills

As Hindrances define the character, you should start creating your character from hindrances.  if you have difficulties on defining your character, you can check my random hindrances generator. Be open-minded, you might find it fun to test something outside your comfort zone! If you create a similar character every time, games won't feel much different. If you're used in playing a heroic character, you should choose something different from Heroic and Loyal, unless you really have a great twist for that character.

Cultists and thieves

I allow maximum bonus character points even without any hindrances, but I can guarantee that playing a character with no troublesome hindrances will take away a lot of fun and guarantees that character is much less in the spotlight than the others, and will have much less bennies available.

Loincloth hero is a great edge, but remember – you can't be used to ignore 'Shaken' result! If you want to make a warrior/soldier -type, an armored warrior isn't a bad choise.

It's good to have at least one character with some Knowledge (Battle) -skill, preferably another backup leader too. Also, at least one character with good Healing -skill is important. It doesn't hurt to have a backup healer or two either. 

Thievery- and scouting skills as well as knowledges and languages will find their use in the game, not to speak of social encounters. And having an arcane character in the group makes things always interesting!

Background and descriptions

One or two paragraphs are enough for my game, as some character details are being created on the fly. Brief history and character motivation are the most important details. How hindrances have been received are good to explain in the background, as well as other unique features (Trademark weapon for example). If you're creating a Noble, I'll require more detailed background story with details of owned property, servants etc.

If you want, you can also describe a person or few from the past; A woman your character has weakness for, your nemesis, a merchant that you've befriended with...

Photos in larger size in Diorama-like photos for starting Sword & Sorcery game inspiration


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