Pawns of Destiny: Retrospective

Pawns of Destiny was my second Beasts & Barbarians campaign, and like the first (Shadows of Keron) it worked very well. I love Umberto Pignatelli’s Dread Sea Dominions, I love Savage Worlds, and when the GM loves the rules and the setting, everything comes together.

Note, it doesn’t matter what the rules or the setting are, but it does matter that the GM loves them, because it’s contagious. It took a while to win this group over to Savage Worlds, but after about 15 sessions they got it. I am astonished that they put up with it long enough to do that, but it will make subsequent games easier, as once you’ve learned the rules, you’ve learned the rules.

What else did we learn?

  • This group wants a story arc. I had to retrofit one partway through the game; Beasts & Barbarians is unusual as a Savage Worlds setting in that it doesn’t have a plot point campaign.
  • Using pregenerated archetypes was good to get the players into Savage Worlds quickly, but for future games I’ll ask them to create their own – how your players build their characters is a good steer for the GM on what kind of adventures they want to play.
  • There’s no need to start PCs at Seasoned. All it does is make the campaign shorter, as my campaigns all seem to peter out shortly after the group hits Legendary. There is no real reason for that, and many games keep going for much longer; but not mine. However, I must make an effort to keep the next game going longer, as players still had viable plans for developing their characters further into Legendary – they have now grasped the idea that what differentiates PCs is Edges.
  • Savage Worlds is a game where non-combat characters are still viable in combat, and parties of mixed experience levels work well together. As a Seasoned PC, Ghost could hold his own as a front-rank fighter next to the two Legendary warriors, although they had a wider range of options (and were much more resistant to mind control); U’wahz, the classic absent-minded sage, loaded up on Command Edges late in his career and made a significant difference to the party by shouting advice from the back.
  • There’s no need for demi-human races. Just as well, since they don’t fit the setting. I’m not a huge fan of them anyway, to be honest. (Especially gnomes, for which I bear an irrational hatred.)
  • There’s no need to change settings for any future fantasy campaign with this group. Everyone likes the Dominions, and the kinds of adventures I want to run fit in nicely there.

Completing this campaign clears the decks for me to switch over to SWADE, which is just as well as several of us are getting tangled up trying to remember which rules apply under which circumstances. The GM rota for this group won’t put me back in the chair for at least six months, maybe longer, so I’ll put Beasts & Barbarians back on the shelf for now and turn my attention elsewhere.

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