Review of Savage Worlds Deluxe, Part 1

Dear JourneymanGM!

I am confused about the new Deluxe edition, and want to know if I should or need to upgrade from my Explorer’s Edition. Would you be able to give us a blog post with the low down on what the changes are, less from a technical and more from a practical perspective? How does the game change from the player’s and/or GM’s perspective with the new rules? Or is there an excellent resource that already covers this?

Savage Worlds Deluxe

Surprisingly, the guy is scantily clad while the girl is dressed modestly.

Lindevi over at the RPG blog Triple Crit sent me this comment requesting that I write up a description of the new Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition and how it differs from the Explorer’s Edition. I’m always willing to take requests for blog topics so I’ll happily oblige!

First off, I’ll make it clear that this isn’t so much an upgrade from the Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition, but truly is a Deluxe Edition. There are some minor changes to the rules, but by and large, it consists of new content to supplement the rules you already have. You can still use settings and book supplements with either version and can mix them freely at the gaming trable. Also, Pinnacle, ever supportive of their fans, is releasing free PDF updates of a lot of the additional content and rules changes on their Downloads page, so you can still get all of the goodness without feeling like you’re being forced into ponying up the extra money.

But still, having all the cool stuff in one book with new art is great and there are a lot of clarifications and such that you won’t get from the PDFs. So here’s a big lowdown of the differences:


The Explorer’s Edition is a paperback 6.5″ x 9″ book and costs a mere $10 (heck yeah!). The Deluxe Edition is a hardback 11″ x 8.8″ book that costs $30. The latter has a completely new layout. Whereas the Explorer’s Edition only had artwork previously seen in their other settings, Deluxe Edition also has some original artwork. My favorite is some great pictures of crusaders charging into battle. There’s also full page advertisements for some of their settings, including a great Deadlands picture of a red-eyed gunslinger at night.

Rules Changes

There’s a nice fan-made list of rules changes at this forum topic and Pinnacle has released the complete text of the updated rules for Damage and Healing for free. These streamline the rules and make them more fast, furious, and fun. I’d also like to point out that Leadership Edges are a whole lot more useful since they now work on other Wild Cards in the party. They’ve also officially axed the Guts skill, but have a note saying that it’s still used in horror settings and specifically mentions Deadlands as an example. All in all, I’m perfectly happy with the rules that are added, and while I was happy before them, I’m glad to have them now.

Clarifications and Notes

The extended combat example even has a picture.

Pinnacle decided that with a Deluxe Edition, they could afford to include more pages with more examples. There’s an extended, detailed description of combat to help people get used to how it works and clarify misunderstandings with Shaken and other situations. Also of great use is a number of “Design Notes” where the people at Pinnacle explain why certain mechanics work the way that they do. It’s a lot of interesting stuff that better explains the game, and if you want that, it may be reason enough to buy Savage Worlds Deluxe. I imagine it could also be very useful for a new player who is still trying to get used to the rules of Savage Worlds.


There aren’t any new Skills or Hindrances, but there are about twenty new Edges. Most of them are designed for melee characters and martial artists, making them a more interesting character type. There are a few new general purpose Edges, my favorite of which is Liquid Courage (down 8 oz of alcohol and get a bonus to Vigor plus ignore one wound level).

It’s worth noting that there’s also an Edge called Elan which is a bit overpowered because it adds +2 to all benny rolls, including Soak rolls. It was clarified on the Pinnacle forums that this also applied to the initial Soak roll. In order to make it a bit more balanced, I just houserule that the +2 bonus only applies if you reroll your initial Soak roll.

Ten new races are now available in addition to Human, ranging from Android to Elves and Atlanteans to Saurians. Each have their own racial benefits and drawbacks. In addition, there’s rules for creating your own races by picking and choosing from a large list of benefits and drawbacks. If you’re playing a fantasy or sci-fi game, these are invaluable.

This awesome picture was in SWEX, but sadly didn't make it into SWDX

We’ve also got two pages of “Archetypes,” which are partially-made 0 XP characters of a certain profession. So you want to make a Rogue, but don’t have time to stat it? Take the “Rogue” archetype, give him some Hindrances, buy some gear, and you’re good to go. This also works great for a GM who suddenly needs stats for that NPC the players decided to kill.

Arcane Backgrounds will be happy to know that there are new powers like Blind, Confusion, Disguise, Intangibility, Mind Reading, and Summon Ally. There’s also rules for adding specific elemental effects to your magical powers. For instance, you get mechanical benefits if you use the Cold/Ice trapping with attacking and buffing powers. They also tweaked the powers to make them more balanced (namely Bolt because now you can do multiple bolts OR extra damage, but not both). All in all, I think some good additions were made.

Also included is a new section on setting rules, describing different optional rules and what settings you might want to apply them to. For instance, there’s a rule called “Heroes Never Die,” which works well for a Pulp game and “Gritty Damage” that works well for a more lethal game. As a GM, I like making sure that the rules fit the setting of the game that I want to run and I think it’s a great idea to provide rules that you would use sometimes, but not all of the time.

To Be Continued…

There’s a lot to talk about, so stay tuned next week for Part 2 of this review! I’ll be giving a detailed description of each of the new subsystems included, provide a review of the five new one-sheet adventures, and give my final thoughts on what value the book as a whole adds for a GM, Player, and Savage fanboy.


Posted on December 3, 2011, in Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thank you for indulging my curiosity! When I noticed the new book had come out, I wasn’t sure whether or not to laud or dread its arrival. I think that if I do end up running a Deadlands game, I’ll pick up one of these for the table but still encourage my players to get the $10 Explorer’s edition for themselves. Looking forward to the second half, and thanks again!

  2. I used Savage Worlds Deluxe during my summer Deadlands mini-campaign and it worked just fine. The only thing to consider is that if you want to use the new powers in Deadlands, you’ll have to make up which arcane backgrounds are allowed access to which ones (if any of them are). Or you can do without them just fine (I did).

    And if you’re suggesting the players getting books for a Deadlands game, they can get an Explorer’s Edition sized version of the Deadlands Player’s Handbook. It’s got the exact same content as the big version, it just has more pages so that they could shrink it down and still fit it all in. It’s supposed to be released sometime this month.

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