Archive for the ‘Savage Worlds’ Category


Sons & Daughters – Android ROM Cartridges

   Posted by: Andrew Linstrom

The advanced design of their positronic brains allowed many androids to survive the War’s tides of EMP with their cognition and sanity intact. It’s their very sentience that saved them, the unintentionally EMP-resistant lattice of precious and rare metals that comprise their heuristic processors. These processors allow androids to learn from experience, to build up skillsets and increase their capabilities beyond those programmed into them at the factory. However, these skills are developed with experience and over time. To allow androids to quickly adapt to new tasks, they are outfitted with at least one expansion slot capable of housing a ROM cartridge containing expertise on a certain pre-programmed skill.

When an android slots in a ROM cartridge, there is a brief period lasting from a few seconds to just over a minute during which interface subroutines integrate the contents of the cartridge with the android’s brain. The length of this process varies by the complexity of the data on the cartridge and the android’s own familiarity with the subject, but the process occurs in the android’s equivalent of a subconscious, allowing it to continue its affairs without having to stop and consciously chew on the new information. Once completed, the skill software allows the android to perform the role or task programmed into the cartridge, whether it’s computer repair, conflict resolution, building houses, or what have you.

A drawback to the ROM cartridges is that the taught skill is not seamlessly integrated into the android’s own experiences and heuristic learning methods. The level of competency programmed into the cartridge is fixed and cannot be added to by the android. An android may use the data on a cartridge to begin teaching itself the skills stored therein, but it is like learning the skill anew from a textbook. The skill as it exists in the ROM cartridge and as it exists in the android’s own experience-based learning system are distinct, a snarl within the android’s logical architecture keeping the two apart.

Though androids were developed by a variety of tech companies before the War, the specifics of the patents on positronic brains led to a certain amount of standardization in the systems relating directly to the heuristic processors, including the ROM cartridges. Any android with a working expansion slot can install most any ROM cartridge, regardless of the cartridge’s manufacturer. These compatibilities have allowed a number of communities to survive in the years after the War, with a scavenged library of ROM cartridges allowing their androids to become tin-skinned sages, practicing and teaching those essential skills that keep the wasteland at bay and allow life to continue.

Android ROM Cartridges (Savage Worlds)

Robot characters are assumed to have a expansion slot for receiving android ROM cartridges. Android ROM cartridges either come with a skill, such as Healing, and a die rating, such as d6, or with an Edge. When a robot first installs a ROM cartridge it hasn’t interfaced with before, it must wait a number of rounds equal to the ROM’s skill rating (6 rounds for a d6 skill, for example) before it can use the skill from the cartridge. During the waiting period, the robot suffers no penalties and can act normally. After the waiting period, the robot can use the skill on the cartridge at the rated strength as if it had the skill itself. Some ROM cartridges confer the bonuses of Edges instead of skills.

There is no waiting period for installing a ROM cartridge the android has interfaced with before; the benefit is received instantaneously. This applies only to the same physical cartridge, not similar cartridges with the same skill and rating. To help keep track, color your cartridges with details like the manufacturer and the official corporate or military title of the cartridge’s promised competency. For example, a ROM cartridge with Lockpicking d4 on it might be a Schlage Basic Countersecurity Trainer.

When a ROM cartridge is removed, access to the skill on the cartridge is lost. A robot character cannot improve the skill rating on the cartridge with advances, but it can count having the skill’s ROM cartridge installed as having access to a teacher for the purpose of learning it as a new skill. If a robot character has both learned a skill and has the same skill on a currently installed ROM cartridge, the character rolls the higher of the two die types.

New Hindrance

ROMless (Major)
You were built without an expansion slot for android ROM cartridges, or you were built with one but it has become damaged beyond repair. You cannot install android ROM cartridges. (Robots only.)

New Background Edge

Extra ROM Slot
Requirements: Novice, Robot race
You were built with a second expansion slot for android ROM cartridges, or you have had another one installed. You may have up to two different android ROM cartridges installed at a time, receiving the benefit for both. There is no additional benefit for installing two cartridges with the same skill on them.


Bricks of Rage: Legos as RPG Minis

   Posted by: Andrew Linstrom

Note: Some may argue that the correct plural of “Lego” is “Lego,” and not “Legos.” Feel free to continue arguing.

The Bricks After Ragnarok

In 2009, The Day After Ragnarok was announced, and I was very, very excited. I want to run a DAR campaign as soon as the book was available. (Sooner, even. I pestered Kenneth Hite for a preview, and he was gracious in offering us a peek of early chapters.) Savage Worlds uses miniatures by default, so what should we use? Pulp miniatures would be appropriate, and are out there, but I didn’t own any, and the outlay would be expensive. Plus, you have to paint minis if you want them to look good, and once they’re painted, they’re done. They don’t change to reflect your character changing. There are also a plethora of pulp-appropriate figure flats, a colorful and less expensive option, but flat tokens ain’t really my thang.

Enter Legos!

Pics provided by my buddy Morgan Ellis, from our DAR game at Gamex 2011.



Legos are configurable, moderately posable, and come pre-painted! Once painted, a miniature represents the same character or recurring archetype. A Lego minifig, on the other hand, can become someone else entirely with a simple swap of heads and parts. Lego sets come in a variety of genres. There’s even a company called BrickArms that produces Lego-proportioned weapons, perfectly and compatible with Lego dimensions.

We acquired sets from the Indiana Jones line, since the accompanying minifigs look perfect for a pulp game, and my buddy Keenan also managed to score some sets from the similarly appropriate, sadly discontinued Lego Adventurers line. The Motorcycle Chase set supplied bikes. The Flying Wing set gave us the flying wing plane (which I flipped the engines around to turn into an RAF rocket plane) and a fuel truck that became part of the party’s convoy in the campaign, and later served as a flatbed with the tank removed. The Race for the Stolen Treasure set provided a cargo truck that became our 2.5-ton truck and a troop car that became our Jeep.

From BrickArms, (who no longer sells direct, but instead through resellers) I ordered one of their big modern packs, their era-appropriate “World at War” pack, and a pack of blades, and we were almost set. The Day After Ragnarok still needed its iconic monsters: the brood of Jormungandr’s blood, giant serpents. I commissioned my friend, the exceptionally talented Kelice Penney at Careful, It Bites, to sew me some plush snakes of appropriate scale. I was more than pleased with the result.

Kelice's snakes menacing those poor adventurers in our Gamex 2011 session.



The campaign ended up being a lot of fun, and I was pleased with how well Legos functioned as RPG minis. I’ve kept them around and use them as minis for most of the convention games I run, and for the ones I play in for which the provided miniatures aren’t quite as accurate or as fun as using Legos.

Some Suggestions For Using Legos In Your Game

  • Lego minifigs tend to fall over, especially when laden with props. Stick them on a thin 2×2 or 2×4 base for stability.
  • Be creative with mix-and-matching. This Army Men on Patrol set from the Toy Story line of all places provided a handful of minifigs that, with a simple head swap, turned into great-looking soldier types. Plus, now I’ve got green heads for sticking on other minifigs to make orcs, mutants, or what-have-you.
  • The other Legos in your sets can be adapted into props and furniture for the characters to interact with on the battlefield. Tables to flip over for cover, barrels to hide behind or target, altars to lay victims on, treasure chests to fight towards. The tank off the back of the fuel truck, with attached hose, became a prop for a character to interact with during the DAR con game, spraying snakes down with caustic fluids.
  • Keep your parts organized. I move my gaming Legos around in a clear-sided parts separator, with separate compartments for minifigs, vehicles, headgear, accessories, tools, melee weapons, and my bags from BrickArms. I keep the BrickArms weapons in their original tiny bags, since they’re small enough to slip between the compartment walls and the closed lid.
  • With Legos, a little prep goes a long way. I’ve wasted a lot of my players’ time making them wait for me to pick out minifigs, pick out their weapons, and snap them on bases. On the other hand, I’m a mostly improvisational GM, so that’s hard to avoid. But if you’ve prepared your encounters, take a few minutes to put the NPCs together. It’s way less work than painting up minis, and you’ll be able to keep up the tempo during your game.
  • Don’t consider Legos cheaper than metal miniatures. They aren’t. They are, however, customizable and reusable, and potentially a greater value.
  • If you’re running a con game, let the players put their own minifig together. It’s playing with Legos! Who doesn’t want to play with Legos?
  • Try not to get too obsessed with making things perfect or perfectly representing the situation. They’re Legos! Have fun!

That’s it for now! Share your thoughts on using Legos as minis in the comments. Are there other customizable mini options that you’re fond of?


Sons and Daughters – The Cold, Dead Hands

   Posted by: Andrew Linstrom

“I’ll give you my gun when you take it from my cold, dead hands!”
-Slogan, National Rifle Association, pre-war gun rights advocacy group


Heirs to the tradition of the pre-war firearms enthusiast, the members of the reclusive and widespread gun cult calling themselves the Cold, Dead Hands (individual members referred to as Dead Hands for short, or derisively as Coldies) are devoted to the collection and understanding of guns. Their organization is monastic in its structure, with its initiates sequestered away for months as they learn to repair, build, and operate the lethal machines that define their existence. They revere the gun as an embodiment of birth and death, of creation and absolution, and honor the tradition of American gunmakers as saints, chief among them the holy trinity of Samuel Colt, John Browning, and Eugene Stoner. Stolidly neutral towards the other factions, the cult maintains a presence in most major settlements, buying and selling and maintaining machines of death, and its friars hire themselves as mercenaries for short terms, in order to gain valuable battlefield experience with their weapons and to spread the good word of proper firearm discipline and maintenance. Most others view the Dead Hands as strange for being just a little too into guns, but welcome the benefits their company brings.

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Sons & Daughters – Introduction

   Posted by: Andrew Linstrom

The War came and went, and it left us behind.

It must have been a mistake, our grandparents say. Their parents had stopped preparing for it years before. The War finally came, anyway, and our grandparents and parents were safe here. Our little town, hidden away, wasn’t worth the attention of the greater troubles that had come to the world. They were left to watch with their telescopes and listen with their radios and their televisions and their satellite internet as their world died all around them. It fell apart to fire and steel and plague and rust and it broke their hearts. You can still see it on their faces, behind the love and worry and pride.

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