It was a few years back when I saw Sean Patrick Fannon at a local gaming convention. He had just unveiled his upcoming plans for a role-playing game based on one of my favorite things. It was a cartoon I would race home to watch. I begged my parents to buy my as many figures and vehicles as I could. Even today, I still have a number and even add more when the opportunity arises. The last game that came close to doing this for me was the d20 Modern game that later came out with its own variation of rules—Spycraft. Now, SPF and Evil Beagle Games has brought his own special flavor of Savage World to something I hold near and dear.
First Impressions for the Upcoming Game
One of the things I enjoyed early on was how this game was being marketed. Shoot me–I love it when my hobby and my profession collide. Understand, it is a licensed product from a Kickstarted boardgame, Venom Assault. That is something I may actually be forced to pick up because of the rich and vibrant world they were creating here. This team decided not to stop with bringing one property, but several forward into 2018.
But, what they did here was start weaving their stories through games played at various RPG conventions. They invited people to join them online, granting Codenames through Twitter or by joining in one of their demo games as the product was being finalized. They were finding a way to intermingle social media engagement, real life events, and gamification. It was certainly fun to watch.
Along the way, they were dropping art, taking polls, and sharing what was up with the game all the while. The other thing it did was get me chomping at the bit for the new game—a game that I managed to get a preview copy of the other day as one of SPF’s Patreon backers.
It’s Savage Worlds, Right?
Yes…and no. Okay, the real answer is yes. Fannon is a long-time gamer and had been playing Savage Worlds since its earliest inception. At it’s core, it most certainly is Savage Worlds…but, it has a twist—or, several, actually. Those of you familiar with Sean’s work on Savage Rifts will recognize a lot of things here. From the book itself, “Borrowing heavily from the work on the Savage Rifts® project, players will discover a lot of front-loaded awesomeness for their heroes by way of the Vocation Frameworks and Hero’s Journey Specialization tables.”
For some people, this is a problem. Others, however, really enjoy it. Here’s where the line in the sand is drawn. I know a lot of people that enjoy playing Savage Worlds and they are proud they can fit a new character on half an index card. With all the options beginning characters in Freedom Squadron get, fitting it on half a sheet of notebook paper is probably going to be about as close as you’re gonna get. On the benefits side, you get a lot of things to help define your character—a lot of things your brand spanking new character can do. The downside of this is, for some people, it’s just too much to handle and takes away some of the simplicity of the Savage Worlds system.
Savage Worlds is Deceptively Simple
As the team over at the Savage Worlds GM Podcast will tell you, the rules for Savage Worlds are relatively simple. The ways in which they can be applied are where the beauty lies and knowing all those nuances is where the real power of the game comes from.
So, by frontloading a Savage Worlds character, you get to expand their toolbox right up front. Of course, in Savage Worlds, any character can try anything. The additional ranks, skills, and advantages a character receives in Freedom Squadron helps them be the colorful, larger than life character they are meant to be. What it could also mean is that the game will be easier for those experienced with Savage Worlds are going to end up picking up Freedom Squadron faster. On the other hand, for newer players—new to the system—Freedom Squadron’s more advanced characters are going to put a spotlight on more options that newer players to Savage Worlds don’t always get to experience and learn so early on.
Some More Specific Notes About the Game Rules
I’ve been wanting to play a spec ops military campaign for awhile. I wanted to use Savage Worlds to do it. There was a lot of talk, including with some of the guys from the SWGM podcast. One of the things that kept coming up was special operations team members being expected to have certain levels of competency. With standard Savage Worlds, that could be a bit difficult to do and still make them different enough in more than just personality. One of the thoughts was to start character out more advanced, like Seasoned or higher. Sean’s way has them starting out at Novices, having to meet requirements, but providing them enough extra options that all of their initial character buys aren’t being used up just to meet those requirements. There are some other things I’m digging about how he handled making soldiers different and the new Advantages alone can help bolster any similar Savage Worlds game.
Another thing done in Freedom Squadron is not giving beginning characters a codename. They must earn it. It makes it special. It’s kind of a cool reward for hanging around, playing your character, and doing cool stuff.
Another thing is that this game uses the latest version of the Savage Worlds rules released with the Flash Gordon RPG. I still have to pick that up, so know what I’ll be ordering next. But, from everything I have seen so far, I can make use of this game without buying another new edition of the SW game.
Also, I haven’t even touched on the Plans & Operations Manual, which helps drive the game, but I will soon in another post.
Two-Fisted Action in Colorful Costumes
I did a lot of talking about the system in generalities, but that’s only part of the story with this game. I mentioned that is based off of our collective memories of a bygone era as well as a board game. There is a rich history that has been developed for this story. This isn’t just a Real American Hero. Freedom Squadron has gone international and is set in the near future after World War III. They’ve brought in mysticism and super science—all in ways that we remember from the cartoons we grew up on and in new ways you’d hope they were updated. Some things obviously have the serial numbers scrapped off and some are completely new—or, “what I would’ve done” scenarios from the mind of SPF.
If you’re looking for some cool adventure where you get to spew out witty one-liners and drop some bad guys in exotic locales all around the world, you’re gonna love this game. In fact, this game is enabling me to bring people who haven’t played RPGs in years (or ever) into the fold.