So on Thursday, the Savage Rifts® Game Master’s Handbook was released to the kickstarter backers. After work, I downloaded my copy and while I couldn’t get started reading it right away. I had a game to play in that evening, I did start reading it on Friday, and just finished reading it today. You can see my thoughts on the Player’s Guide in part 1, part 2, and part 3. This book is broken down into four chapters, and here are my thoughts on this book.
Chapter one covers in more detail what is going on in North America. It breaks things down into sections starting with a brief history of the world from just before the fall to now. It then moves on to giving more information about the living conditions in North America. From there it moves on to the different powers that are struggling for control. After that we get some information on the major players in those powers. After that we get a brief description of each of the major (campaign changing) events that have happened since the original setting was put out. We also at this point get a timeline of events at the end of the chapter. In many ways, I wish that a substantial portion of this chapter would have been included in the Player’s Guide. After reading that book, I didn’t feel like I had as good a grip on what was going on in the setting currently. After reading this chapter though, I had a much better idea of how all of the pieces fit together.
Chapter two drills down into the heartland of North America. We get more details on the Coalition States, the Federation of Magic, and the Tomorrow Legion. These are the intended player organization (Tomorrow Legion) and the main antagonists (Federation of Magic and Coalition States). Again even more of this information is player friendly (not covering setting secrets), and probably would have been helpful in the Player’s Guide. I do like the details especially on the Tomorrow Legion which is a new edition to the setting and the Federation of Magic which I don’t believe was covered in any detail when I was following the line.
Chapter three gives information on running the game. It starts off by giving a list of some of the themes of the settings and then talks about how they fit together (especially some of the contradictory ones). It follows that with a discussion on how this setting plays differently from normal Savage Worlds settings, which was one of the things that concerned me when reading the players guide. The fact that damages are going to be a lot higher especially when rolling 6 or more dice depending on the attack and how the setting rules are meant to in part balance some of the more “gonzo” parts of the settings. There is also a discussion on how magic interacts with technology like the power and robot armors. There is also a side-bar on how other Savage Worlds settings magic would be tweaked in this setting. All in all a very useful chapter for prepping and running the game.
Chapter four is the final chapter in this book. It covers a random adventure generator, contacts and allies, rewards, Ley Lines and Rifts. The adventure generator is very much based on the principle that the characters are members of the Tomorrow Legion and doing tasks for Castle Refuge. It has some interesting options and looks like it can spark some good session ideas. The contacts and allies section covers some of the qualities for the different contacts that the players can develop. The mere inclusion of this section implies that contacts and allies are more important to this setting that most of the other Savage Worlds settings I have seen (the big notable exception is Rippers Resurrected). The rewards section talks specifically about the kinds of rewards that you should consider giving out. It also covers the kind of salaries the characters should have if they are members of the Tomorrow Legion. Again this section pulls in some of the ideas raised with the previous reference to contacts, but it also brings back in the post apocalyptic theme with the concept of rewards of barter materials. It then goes on to talk about setting up changes of requirements (you do a favor for one group to get paid in goods that a second group needs who then pay you with goods that a third group needs so that you can trade that to get something you want. The final section of this chapter covers ley lines, nexuses, and rifts. In it we get some tables for generating random ley lines and rifts and a brief discussion on ley line storms including tables on how they impact magic and their general effects. We end this chapter with a short discussion on how the characters can manipulate rifts (more details will be coming in future books we are told).
Over all I would say this book has a lot of very useful information, some of which I would be inclined to share with the players. The only thing that I felt was missing was a section of monsters, but that was to be included in a third book. So I am now back to waiting on it to see how it all fits together.