Monday, January 12, 2015

(SW) Fearsome Critters: Cake Walk

Savage Worlds is the role-playing game that bills itself on being "Fast, Furious, and Fun." Over the years I've played elvish warriors, pulp adventurers, steampunk cowboys, cyborg assassins, and other action packed player characters. So when I was offered a chance to review Fearsome Critters: Cake Walk, a new one-shot, introductory adventure for Savage Worlds written by John Beattie, with art by T. Jordan Peacock,  and published by Fabled Environments, I wondered what sort of heroic (or anti-heroic) archetypes players would be asked to try one. Then I read the adventure and found out:

Animal Control Officers.

Yes, you read that correctly.

I know what you're about to say next; "Animal control? You mean shooing raccoons out of chimneys and chasing after stray cats? No magic swords, tommy guns, or "vazed-plazma-rivles-in-ze-vorty-vatt-range?"  Outside of the rare rabid rottweiler, what sort of adventurous life is that?"

Well, it depends on what sort of animal you're trying to control. Without giving too much away, in Fearsome Critters: Cake Wake you play members of a special division of animal control that deals with "unusual" fauna and a call from an abandoned snack cake factory leads the players into the very different pest than they bargained for. While reading this humorous adventure (no spoilers here) I realized that Cake Walk reminded me of West End Games' classic Ghostbusters RPG, a game I have many fond memories playing back in middle school when I was a budding gamer.

As an introductory adventure, it's a great way to acclimatize a group of new players to the Savage Worlds engine. It contains just about everything you'll need including five pre-generated PCs and a blank, campaign-specific record sheet for original PCs; a detailed map of the where the action takes place; player handouts; and since Savage Worlds is a miniature-centric game, full color figures including shipping containers and a pair of trucks. This scenario is designed to be a one-shot, just the thing for new players or a quick game to run either at a convention or as a delightful, palette-cleansing, diversion from the usual gaming routine. However, it also includes a few one-page adventure seeds for those who want to draw this out into a larger campaign.Those familiar with Fabled Environments line of gaming maps will recognize the hard work and quality the publisher put into this product.

Obviously, Cake Walk is meant to be a far-less serious adventure than what most gamers expect. In my experience, deliberately humorous games can be rather difficult to pull off well. It often takes a GM with no small amount of comedic skill themselves as well as the ability to think fast if PCs take the adventure outside the author's intended path.  Unless you're gifted at improv, it's very hard to deliver a good punchline when the audience is re-writing your material as you go. It's also works best when PCs also have a great sense of humor and are capable of playing for laughs. That makes GM's job is much easier. Of course, how much humor you choose to inject into Cake Walk is the GMs call.

Cake Walk also tries to get PCs to try to solve their problems with role-playing rather than resorting to gunplay and melee. Your character's most dangerous weapon is a can of pepper spray. How the situation turns out will depend greatly upon how well they can puzzle out the mystery of the Golden Creme Delights Factory and how they react to what they find within. For some, it can be quite refreshing from the usual hacking, slashing, and blasting that are used to resolve most RPG adventures.

Therefore, if you're looking for a light-hearted change of pace or want to give neophyte Savages something easy to play for their first few games, Cake Walk is an excellent and fun-filled choice.

No comments:

Post a Comment