Saturday, August 24, 2013

Savage Worlds Mass Effect

I wrote this about a year ago, and initially posted it on my old blog and the Giant in the Playground boards. Since I like it, I thought I would port it over here.


These are designed to take place between Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2, and are pretty preliminary. They're also designed to be pretty plug-n-play with SW, focusing more on mechanical representation than making sure that prices are accurate and all.

Please, feel free to feedback.

Human: Humans start with the Lucky edge and one other of choice, but also have the Flaw: Outsider. While a growing power in the galaxy, the human rise to power has created a number of enemies.

Salarian: Salarians slight build results in them having the Small hindrance. However, their quick minds mean they begin with a d6 in Smarts, and the Quick Edge.

Turian: Turians begin the game with a d6 in both Fighting and Shooting to represent their military training.

Asari: All Asari begin with a single novice Biotic Power of choice, 5 Power Points, and a d4 in the Biotics skill. If they choose they Arcane Background: Biotics, they gain these in addition to the powers provided by the background. Asari also have a +1 to Charisma and Mind Reading as a bonus power. Mind Reading is a separate skill from Biotics, and begins at a d4. Asari have strong personalities, however, and have a minor personality hindrance, usually tied to their stage in life (Maidens tend to be Curious; Matrons tend to be Cautious).

Krogan: Krogan are perpetual Outsiders, but all have the Healing Power, which functions only for themselves, and operates off their Vigor attribute. This is a free action every 10 minutes. They begin with a d6 in Vigor, but their Smarts requires two points per dot to increase. All are considered to have the Brawny Edge.

Quarian: Quarians begin play with a d6 in the Repair skill, but also have the Outsider flaws and a -4 against poison and disease. However, the also begin with an environmental suit, which provides +2 Armor, +2 against negative environmental conditions, and negates their penalty against poison and disease unless breached. Armor designed for Quarians takes this suit into account.

Drell: Drell have a +4 to resist heat. They also have an Eidictic Memory, allowing them to recall any information they have been exposed to; this results in a +2 to all knowledge skill checks, including common knowledge. However, their memory can be triggered involuntarily, requiring a Spirit roll lest they fall into a fugue state and 4 point penalty to all trait rolls while in the grip of memory. With success, there is only a 2 point penalty. With a raise, there is no penalty. A Bennie may be spent to remove the penalty, as well.

Hanar: Hanar are fully aquatic, and thus cannot drown, move at full speed while swimming, and have a d6 in swimming at character creation. They likewise possess four additional limbs, allowing them to take multiple actions. They also secrete poisons from their limbs, allowing them to paralyze in hand to hand combat. They move by means of levitation packs powered by mass effect fields, giving them the equivalent of Flight (albeit at a slower base pace of 5). However, they also possess significant disadvantages. As jellyfish, they lack physical strength, so their Strength can never advance beyond 1d6, and requires two points to raise at character creation, or two advances during gameplay. Their Vigor and agility likewise require two points per step, but do not have caps. Their stilted speech and strong religious beliefs also marks them as Outsiders.

Elcor: Elcor move very slowly, having a base pace of 3 and only a d4 running die. Likewise, they are unusually Cautious, compared to most other species. Their speech patterns cause them to be regarded as Outsiders, and their slow reactions require that they spend 2 points per upgrade to Agility, with a cap of d6. However, they have great strength, beginning with a d8 and able to increase it to d12+2 through normal advancement. They are also quite large, gaining +1 to Size, and tough, gaining +2 to Armor and the Brawny Edge. They also have a base d6 in Vigor.

Batarian: Batarians have a rough reputation, resulting in Outsider status, but they also begin with a d6 in Intimidation. They have also earned the racial enmity of Humans, bringing their penalty to Charisma regarding humans to a -4. Unsurprisingly, they have exceptional vision, getting a +2 to Notice when vision is involved, and the equivalent of low-light vision.


Most guns still have the old-style, ME1 integral heat sinks. This gives them tremendous longevity, but also means they will shut down if over-fired, going into emergency cooling.

Each shot fired adds 1 to a weapon’s heat load; at the end of each round, subtract 1 from the current heat load. Should a weapon reach its full heat load (indicated by the number of shots), it will shut down for three full rounds as sheds heat; after those three rounds, it will have reset to 0 heat. Shutdown is very common with combat shotguns and sniper rifles.

Newer-style weapons are becoming more available, especially in the military markets. These weapons shed their heat sinks upon reaching maximum capacity, allowing them to be reloaded (a non-roll action) and fired much more quickly. They are, however, limited by the number of heat sinks carried; without a heat sink, the weapon will not fire. Over-riding this will cause extensive damage to the weapon.


Omni-tools are, at the very low end, the world’s best smart phone. With extranet access when near a node, the extent of what can be considered “common knowledge” is pretty vast. Civilian models include the ability to function as a flashlight, scanning system, do basic repairs, dispense medi-gel (when provided a source), basic programming, hacking, video and audio recording and communication, breaking items into “omni-gel” (a semi-liquid amalgamation of plastics, light alloys, and ceramics), and, of course, video games, movies, and music.

Military and top-end commercial omni-tools are more robust, especially in the minifacturing capabilities. With finer control and fewer safeguards, these omni-tools allow the use of various “tech powers”, making use of hard light, onboard VI, and available materials (including an on-board supply of omni-gel).

Anyone with the Tech skill may use their omni-tool for basic tasks, including the Healing power (if they have a supply of medi-gel). Those with the Tech Arcane Background may use an omni-tool for any of their powers. A standard, civilian, omni-tool will usually have 5 Power Points, which recharge at a rate of 1 per minute. More advanced omni-tools will have 10, 20, or even 30 power points, while some will have greater recharge rates, or be optimized for use with certain powers.


There are two Arcane Backgrounds: Tech and Biotics. Each has unique features compared to the usual SW mechanics.

Arcane Background: Tech.
Arcane Skill: Tech (Smarts)
Starting Power Points: None. Dependent upon device.
Starting Powers: 1, plus devices.

A Tech character has learned to make use of the varied capabilities of omni-tools. In addition to learning the basics of Tech skills and the omni-tool, most pick up a specialty... a power that they can coax out of almost any omni-tool, using its on-board power.

As mentioned above, those with the Tech background do not have their own Power Points. They must, instead, rely on the power points in the devices they use. Some devices will have power points dedicated to certain devices, such as armor with dedicated shields (the Armor power). Devices with dedicated powers can be used by anyone with the Tech skill. Those with the Arcane Background, however, can use those points to also fuel their own powers, subverting the design for their own purposes.

Available powers for the Tech Arcane Background are: Armor, Barrier, Blind, Bolt, Dispel (Tech), Greater Healing, Healing, Invisibility, Mind Reading (Tech), Puppet (Tech), Smite, Speak Language, Stun, Succor, Summon Ally (drones). Those powers with a (Tech) notation will only function against other tech powers; you can turn off a Tech-based Armor power or barrier with Dispel, you can crack a computer or robot’s memory with Mind Reading, or control a device with Puppet, but you cannot use these on people, animals, or directly on biotic powers (though Dispel may be targeted at a biotic amp). Many offensive powers will have suitable trappings; acid, cold, eletricity, heat, light and sound are all possible. A power with different effects is a different power; one can learn Fire Bolt and Acid Bolt as separate powers.

Arcane background: Biotic
Arcane Skill: Biotics (Spirit)
Starting Power Points: 10
Starting Powers: 3

Biotics are born with small nodules of element zero within their bodies, allowing them to generate mass effect fields with an effort of will. For most species (all save the asari), this would usually result in only minor effects, as the electrical fields generated by the neural system are insufficient and not coordinated enough to generate more powerful fields. To this end, biotics are fitted with implants. These cybernetic devices amplify and direct the mass effect fields more precisely, allowing far greater effects. Most human biotics are fitted with L3 or later models; the old L2s have greater potential, but tended to have negative side effects. Most aliens have a system similar to the L3 in place.

Biotics can supplement their power with “bio-amps”, external devices which attach to a port on the brainstem. These devices provide additional power points to a biotic, and recharge far faster than natural reserves. One’s natural reserves (10 Power Points) recharge at a rate of 1 per hour; most amps will recharge at 1 point per minute. While any combination of natural and amped power points may be used, they continue to recharge at their separate rate. Amps cost approximately 50 credits per power point capacity, though local market conditions may make them more or less expensive, and those above 10 Power Points are frequently far more expensive military models.

Available powers to a biotic background are: Armor, Barrier, Blast, Bolt, Burst, Damage Field, Deflection, Entangle, Fly, Havoc, Pummel, Stun, Telekinesis, Wall Walker. Biotic powers seldom have effects such as those listed on page 106 & 107.