Leapin’ Lizards and Legendary Edges

Today, we’re going to discuss Legendary Edges. If you don’t play Savage Worlds, don’t walk away or close the browser in disgust. This topic has a broader appeal beyond the specific, and can be generalized in whatever game you’re playing at this very moment. Let’s go back in the Mad Lab, and get a little grease on our clean, white collars, shall we?

First off, for those not in the know, or who can’t guess by the name, Legendary Edges are those Edges in Savage Worlds which a character can start taking for his characters at Legendary Rank (self-explanatory really, right?). To map this to other systems, it’s akin to Prestige Class stuff or abilities or whatnot available to characters at around 15-20th level (give or take). These are the things which separates the character from the world even more and is thought to transform a hero into a HERO. However, is this truly the case or is it a bit of art and artifice, and a perceptual shift is needed? Is the legacy of other system so ingrained in our psyche it is impossible for us to transcend the mechanical and find solace in the depth and breadth of other offerings (i.e. Edges), a particular setting offers?

What prompted this particular post today is people, from time to time, ask me “Where are the Legendary Edges in X or Y?”

I have answers, believe me. Often, I look at the proposed length of a campaign and think where edges should truly fall. Some folks wrap up their campaigns at Legendary, but for others their campaigns are still going strong. Time is a luxury for most of us and, like in other games, it is passing rare for people to play a sustained campaign past a certain point. There are so many competing distractions. Take video games for instance. It is not uncommon for the next big thing to come out while we’re playing the next big thing. Toes are getting stepped on, and some feel compelled to move through one thing and on to the next.

Our products are designed for sustainability and long-term play, certainly, but we realize there are many folks who may want to play a particular setting for a one-shot, a handful of sessions, or a short (6 or so) story arc, and move on to the next one. (We thank those of you who select our settings next, by the way.) So, we strive for balance and look for ways to maximize fun and enjoyment for one and all. Looking at the core materials, we seek to balance edges considering multiple factors. Some of these factors include making certain edges available at lower ranks (read levels, etc.), so players have an opportunity to enjoy their new abilities before a campaign is ended.

While it is understood some groups start their characters off at higher levels, we must seek the natural starting place for character evolution from the outset which, naturally enough, is the beginning. Plot points are designed with this in mind, so it only makes sense. However, in some settings, such as Iron Dynasty, we do allow characters to have the ability to select an Edge of a higher rank. This is something granting them a certain bit of distinction right off the bat.

Without going blow by blow through each and every setting, consider this writ large. Is an Edge less enjoyable because you get it at a lower Rank? Does it somehow devalue it? Of course not! There are edges in Iron Dynasty for which an argument could be made to rank them up a bit higher, to keep them a bit out of reach, to make them something to strive for, but is the carrot the only thing keeping us in the game or is it a side benefit of the game? A marker to indicate “progress is being made”? Character growth is enjoyable and, let’s face it, we all like to have our characters do the next, cool thing, but it shouldn’t be central in games with a story-forward focus, should it? I’ll ask you to take a long look at your own campaign and how you run your game and how you play as a player. If that’s the end all and be all, that’s all well and good, but you know there is more to the game than the next level up, don’t you?

What a person should consider first and foremost is this: does the setting put forth the pertinent rules and guidelines to fulfill the promise of its proposition? Not one to bandy about numbers, Iron Dynasty has a robust number of edges enabling you to build a character of any stripe within the milieu. We had some folks who thought we had way too many edges, we had other folks who claimed we needed Legendary Edges. I took no offense either way, but am always captivated by people’s perceptions of game sets, and, ultimately, reading the rules is far different from playing the game (whichever game it may be). I wonder what people would’ve thought had we increased the Rank of some of those Edges to Legendary would they have been satisified? Iron Dynasty–and RunePunk for that matter–has a tremendous number of Edges and, if you couple this with the core book, you have a huge number of Edges at your disposal, for you to trick your character out to your heart’s content. If Lord Samurai had been a Legendary Edge, would it have made it cooler? Would it have been something to swoon for and focus all energies toward? I think not.

Game design is art and artifice. The designer strikes a fine line between balance and bravado, and hopes against hope (on occasion) to get things right. Don’t take this as Reality Blurs being against Legendary Edges. On the contrary, we approach design with a nonsensical, sensical approach, an internal logic rules, a devotion to each project built upon logic and passion, and, if a setting needs these things, we give it the proper attention, but all in due time.

I appreciate the value Legendary Edges can bring to a game. They allow for the character who has managed to survive long enough and the player who has managed to get in so many games to have a badge of honor. They can point to their character and say, “Hey. I’ve been building up to this for a long time. Now, I’m the Divine Agent of Amaterasu. Me. If you wanted this build, you should’ve thought of it a long time ago, because I’m in four Edges deep, have the requisite attributes, and am LEGENDARY!” This same effect, I’ll posit as a counterpoint, could just as easily be accomplished at a lower Rank. Certain requisites make some Edges unlikely to be taken at the Rank required unless the focus has been on it from the outset (such as Investigator, Thief, etcetera).

With Legendary Edges, as in all things, half measures are unacceptable. If they are presented, they serve the work, and are not just there from a perceptual desing need. The likelihood is you’ll see Legendary Edges down the road with Iron Dynasty. We’ve given you plenty play with presently. It’s rare one eats dessert before a hearty meal, now isn’t it?

Now, go play your game, collect your XP, but, remember this, it’s about the journey, not the destination. With these words of wisdom for a rainy weekend, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!

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