Campaign Ground Rules


General Description

The Savage Earth is intended to replicate a certain genre of action. In this genre, very little armor is worn and characters are drawn much larger than life. Examples in art, literature, and movies include the works of Frank Frazetta, most Hollywood sword and sorcery movies (the Conan model), comic books like Conan, Red Sonya, Arak, Killraven, Ka-zar and Turok.

A short synopsis of the campaign is to be found on the Home Page. A full description of the world can be found here. A description of the campaign city can be found here.


Importance of the PCs

The player characters are not particularly important to world events. They do have influence on those who are important, though. Most PCs will develop a certain notoriety as they progress, for good or ill.


Campaign Tone

Morality 1 2 3 4 5 Some crossover between good and bad.
Realism 1 2 3 4 5 Romantic
Outlook 1 2 3 4 5 Almost everything works out
Seriousness 1 2 3 4 5 More serious than light-hearted
Continuity 1 2 3 4 5 Entirely serial-everything must fit into storyline


Character Building Guidelines

Many character types have an entire page devoted to their creation. Please look up at the menu above and see if your character type is listed there. Example, Beast or Adept. General guidelines are given below.


Characters are built on 75 base points plus 75 points of disadvantages. 5 points of the disadvanatges can be in the form of quirks. These are 1 pt. pseudo disaadvantages. They can change throughout the course of play fairly easily. (ex. dislikes radishes, always puts a copper in a beggar's bowl, only eats with left hand.) Character concepts requiring more points (most animates or adepts) should look into the Limited Experience house rule below.


Normal Characteristic Maxima apply. There are no specialized NCM for non-human characters (with the exception of Animates, which use a modified purchasing system for characteristics.) Instead of altered characteristic maxima, non-human races are given acceptible ranges of characteristics. Further explanation can be found here.
Strength costs 2 character points for 1 point of Strength. The reason for the cost increase is that strength is far more useful in a muscle-powered weapon campaign.

The Savage Earth uses three custom figured characteristics that are integral to the adept system of Devotions. They can be increased or decreased in the manner of other figured characteristics, but only with excellent justification.

Spirit Characteristics
Spirit Aspect Formula
Morphia Body + DEF *
Anima (Active) Dex/2 + Speed x2
Psyche (Int + Ego)/2
*In the case of characters, the average of inherent resistant defenses. Double the final value for every weight doubling of 100kg.


The skill costs and breakdowns are identical with standard fifth edition with the following exceptions.

Combat Skill levels shall have an NCM of 10 points. After ten points are spent on skill levels in any combination, the price doubles.
The only exception to this rule is purely defensive 5 point DCV levels. They have an independent NCM of 10 points. They are figured separately for the purposes of cost doubling. Example: Kodak the Barbarian has +1 CSL: All combat, 8 points; +3 Swords, +3 DCV. The cost would be figured thusly:

  8 +1 All Combat
  +9 +3 Swords
  17 Subtotal
  +7 NCM penalty
  24 Total Combat Skill Levels
  15 +3 DCV Skill Levels
  +5 NCM penalty
  20 Total DCV Skill Levels

For a total of 44 points spent on skill levels.
The purpose of this rule is twofold. It discourages a too-rapid game inflation of combat abilities while at the same time softening the blow of armor restrictions.

Extraordinary Skills
Any characteristic or skill roll that is naturally 18- or greater made and by 10 points or more allows for incredible results. A Breakfall roll off of a cliff without injury, a miraculous perception roll, a oratory that could sway a hardened villain, etc. Exception: Skill levels that alter the roll do not help towards determining the 10 point margin of success.
This is one of the optional HERO rules, and is in keeping with the larger than life nature of the game.

Everyman Skills
The Everyman Skills for the Savage Earth are as follows:

  3 Conversation
1 Deduction
1 Shadowing
3 Stealth
3 Concealment
3 Climbing
1 KS: Homeland
1 KS: Local History

These are fairly generous, but reflect the larger-than-life nature of the characters.

Weapon Familiarites
The breakdown of Weapon Familiarities is identical with standard Hero rules, with the addition of one category. WF: Spirit Weapons is required to use a spirit-enhanced weapon wihtout a non-proficiency penalty. This proficiency allows a character to use a spirit-enhanced version of any weapon he already has a proficiency before..



Perks are allowable with GM approval. Wealth is treated as a Perk. Perks that are gained through the course of role play are generally granted to the character free of charge.

Fringe Benefits
The following fringe benefits all denote standing within Merikian (and particularly Tallonite) society. There are gaps in the tables. This is so that a rough correspondence can be seen from rank to rank. Any title with an asterisk (*) beside it is normally only held by an adept. Should a master also hold an appointment that can only be held by an adept, then the character pays for the more expensive of the two, either a level of Mastery, or the value of the Appointment. For example, if the Bishop of Adala is Highmaster, he pays only 7 points total. (The position of Bishop is worth 7 points, which is higher than the 5 point cost of Highmaster.)

This perk is explained more fully in the section on Adepts. These ranks only apply to adepts who have been ordained by an official body (The Hall of Art in Tallon).

Value Rank
0 Sighted*
1 Adept/Novice*
2 Master*
5 Highmaster*
7 Grandmaster*
10 Archon*

Paladins are included in this group. A Paladin really doesn't have an offical status, but reflects the glory and power of his Master. A paladin is a 4 pt Rank.

Religious Rank
This perk is explained more fully in the section on the Church. All clergy are adepts; the Mastery Perk is not required. Religious Rank replaces it.

Religious Appointment
Value Rank
1 Brother/Sister*
3 Abbot (Sanctuary Priest)*
4 Priest*
7 High Priest (Bishop)*

Military Rank
This perk is explained more fully in the section on the Military

Military Rank
Enlisted Ranks Command Ranks
Value Army Navy
0 Soldier Sailor
1 Corporal Petty
2 Sergeant Chief
Value Army Navy
3 Lieutenant Lieutenant
4 Commander Commander
5 Captain Captain
6 Field Marshall Admiral
7 General* or Warlord*

Legal Powers
This perk is explained more fully in the section on the Law

Legal Powers
Value Rank
2 Constable
3 Lieutenant
5 Judge*
7 High Justice*

Guild Membership
This perk is explained more fully in the section on Guilds
Guildsmen (and women) are rarely adepts. If they are they can be considered to be one rank higher than listed for comparison purposes. A Grandmaster would be considered two ranks higher. Merchants, Traders and craftsmen who operate without a guild license do not have to buy this perk.

Guild Membership
Value Rank
1 Craftsman
2 Trader
3 Merchant
4 Guildmaster
5 Head Guildmaster


Some talents are only allowable as powers. (Danger Sense for adepts, for instance.) Most Talents are allowable, but check with the GM first. There is a partial lsit of disallowed talents below. Talents should be bought when the character is conceived, they are not normally purchaseable later.

Combat Luck
Combat Luck is a valuable talent in the Savage Earth, since the campaign stresses a minimum of armor. There are some significant differences between Savage Earth Combat Luck and Combat Luck as presented in the rulebook. To begin with, Combat Luck is not stackable. If the character has any other form of resistant defense, Combat Luck does not work. This includes armor, natural resistance (ala Animates), or adept enhancement. The single exception is if they are facing a Name Character. A Name Character is a major NPC or another PC. Combat Luck does not function against Name Characters. For that, a character must depend on traditional armor or other resistant defenses. A character who is wearing armor may receive the better of the two defenses (Armor or Combat Luck), but will have to take the combat penalties for the armor.

Example: Gilead has 3 points of Combat Luck and is wearing Leather Armor 12- (2 DEF). This reduces his natural DCV from 5 to 4 while so encumbered. Against palace guards and teeming barbarians, he has a DEF of 3. This is his combat Luck. It is better than his armor defense. If he were to fight Hando the Slayer, veteran of a dozen pit fights and recognized NPC, he would only be able to rely on his 2 DEF leather armor on its 12- activation roll.

Combat Luck is not Hardened, as in the rulebook. This is to make Spirit Weapons (which are Armor Piercing) more frightening.
The maximum value for Combat Luck is 3 points of Defense.

Combat Luck: 4 points for Armor (3 PD/3 ED); Luck Based (-1/2), Does not stack with other armor (-1/2), Nonpersistent (-1/4), Not vs. Name Characters (-1/4)

Some characters are very adept at climbing around and evading pursuit by taking to the city's rooftops. For most folks, this would be a short journey. The roofs are just too treacherous of footing. Those who are skilled at roofdancing may fight and move normally at these heights. It does not grant any special bonus against rain penalties, roofs that are in non-obvious bad repair or too steeply pitched to stand on. Neither does it grant the ability to leap vast gaps between buildings. Roofdancing is more effective in areas where buildings are roughly the same height and thickly clustered. The GM will arbitrate just how far a character can roofdance without needing to descend.

Roofdancing: 4 points for Environmental Movement (no penalties on rooftops or similar surfaces, up to -4)

Monster Hunter
This talent is taken by those who are special trained at fighting Chimeras. It is the Deadly Blow talent applied to Chimeras, or non-mundane animals created through the action of reavers. It does not apply to Riven, nor does it apply to fantastic beasts which are a recognized species, such as Behemoths or Spine Dogs. Basically, the fighter has been trained to recognize certain weaknesses that most Chimerae have, ie. unused to new body, inelegant design, etc. This talent is often taken by characters who are special forces in a city's army, since one of the greatest purposes of such an army is to keep such monsters away from the homeland.

Chimera Hunter: 4 points for Deadly Blow: +1d6 (Only Against Chimeras)

Disallowed Talents
Some talents do not fit into the Savage Earth. Below is a partial list. Most of the Fighting Tricks from Valdorian Age are allowed. 

Beast Speech

Combat Spellcasting

Combat Luck (as written. See above)

Crippling Blow

Danger Sense (This is an Adept Devotion)

Divine Favor

FTL Pilot

Hotshot Pilot

Anything else inappropriate for the campaign that may appear in various supplements (such as Turn Undead from Fantasy Hero.)


In most cases, powers are unavailable to characters. There are exceptions listed in the appropriate sections for characters such as Beasts (who often have killing attacks or enhanced senses), and Animates (who have near-total life support and naturally resistant defenses).

Mutants may purchase powers with the GM's permission. If a power is supernatural in origin, i.e. not a natural extension of the a real-world effect, it should somehow be related to the technology of Spirits.Example, claws are a reduced penetration killing attack, and do not ned to be related to Spiritology. Superfast regeneration does not normally exist in nature and should be related to a being's ability to manipulate its on morphia.

With the exception of Adept's Multipower, Power Frameworks are not available.



Each character type possessing its own section (such as Adepts, Beasts or Animates) has suggestions for appropriate disadvantages. If a concept requires more points than is alotted by 75+75, the following disadvantage is recommended:

Limited Experience
Characters who wish to start the game at a slightly more powerful level may take the quasi-disadvantage of Limited Experience. Each Level of limited Experience is worth 25 points. These points do not count against disadvantage totals. Each Level of Limited Experience means that the character gains one less xp than the standard amount given at the end of an adventure. The minimum award cannot be less than 1, as long as any experience at all is handed out. This slowed experience is a permanent aspect of the character. It cannot ever be bought off. However, once the character has earned enough experience to equal the number of "free" points, he may begin earing at a rate equivalent to the other characters. Note that by this time, they will likely be receiving a reduced experience award anyway, due to the standard house award for experienced characters.

Example: Hank Woodman is an animate. Since Animates are fairly expensive characters, the player decides to take two levels of reduced experience. This grants an extra 50 points, but the character will only receive 1 xp per adventure. Once Hank has achieved 50 xp in this manner, the xp loan is considered "paid", and he may begin receiving xp at the rate for all characters with 50 xp, i.e. 2 xp per adventure.

This rule is to support the concept that animates, being more or less designed and static, change less rapidly than do living organic beings. They start the game with a higher point total, at the cost of slower progression. This rule also helps to make some concepts more workable. Sometimes characters have a really good idea that simply cannot be bought with the allotted 75+75 given to standard characters. Limited Experience is basically an XP loan, with interest.

No category may give more than 25 points of disadvantages, with the exception of Psychological Limitaitons, which may provide 35. These must be rigourously played, though.

Fairly unusal disadvantages such as Susceptibility should be discussed with the GM.



Characters pay no points for equipment and weapons. All items are purchased with money, bartering, etc


This section is for the tabletop game only. Experience award for a standard adveture is 3 points. This may take place in one night or it may stretch over two. In order to prevent the characters from becoming Superheroes, the awards will gradually decrease. The standard award for a character with 50+ Experience points is 2xp. The Stadard award for a character with 100+ Experience points is 1xp.


Combat Rules

Campaign does not use hit location chart, except for flavor if desired.

Knockdown rules are used.

Long Term Endurance is used for some adpet devotions, but mostly the GM tells you if you are tired.

Long Term Endurance is regained at 5 points per hour of rest.

Limited Push is available with Ego roll in life threatening situations.


House Rules

Armor Activation

Armor Activation of more than 11- is discouraged. All armor is considered double encumbering. The reasoning behind this is that the campaign area is a hot and humid environment not conducive to too much cover.


A simple encumbrance chart is figured from the amount of armor you wear, its type and coverage. The modifier shown is the DCV modifier for your chracter based on the DEF of the armor and its activation. Actual pieces of armor worn are immaterial since hit locations are not used. Damage is generic unless someone wants to role-play a wound for dramatic purposes.

Act. / DEF 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
8-         -1 -1 -2 -2 -3 -3
9-       -1 -1 -2 -2 -3 -3 -4
10-     -1 -1 -2 -2 -3 -3 -4 -4
11-     -1 -1 -2 -2 -3 -3 -4 -4
12-   -1 -1 -2 -2 -3 -3 -4 -4 -5
13-   -1 -1 -2 -2 -3 -3 -4 -4 -5
14-   -1 -1 -2 -2 -3 -3 -4 -4 -5
15- -1 -1 -2 -2 -3 -3 -4 -4 -5 -5
16- -1 -1 -2 -2 -3 -3 -4 -4 -5 -5
17- -1 -1 -2 -2 -3 -3 -4 -4 -5 -5
18- -1 -1 -2 -2 -3 -3 -4 -4 -5 -5


Mental Defense

Normally, only adepts may purchase extra Mental Defense. They are limited to a maximum of 1 point spent in Mental defense per 2 points of natural Ego or 1/5 of their Power Pool, whichever is higher. Mental Defense may not be placed inside of the Adept Pool. Mental Defense is considered to be a power that can be dropped at will. An adept can lower their defenses, should they so choose. Mental Defense is the defense against Transformation attacks.

Normals can buy Mental Defense, but this represents months or years of commitment and training. Usually such training can only be provided by adepts and they are loath to impart such knowledge to those not naturally gifted. Normals who are trained to resist spirit manipulation are limited to 1 additional point of Mental Defense per 2 points of natural Ego.

Mutants may be naturally gifted with Mental Defense. If this is the case, then all mutants who share the same morphic strain share the Mental Defense.

All characters have a base Mental Defense equal to Ego/5. This costs nothing. Any additional defense is bought at 1 point of defense for 1 character point.

Example: Master Farallon has an EGO of 18. He has a base Mental Defense of 4. Normally, he may purchase up to (18/2)=9 points of additional defense for a total of 13. However, his Adept Pool is 55 points, which means that he can buy up to 11 extra points of Mental Defense, or 15 total.

Example 2: Anjo the moneylender has an Ego of 13. He has a base Menatal Defense of 3. Since his job requires discretion, he has paid to be trained at the Hall of Art in resisting psychic probing. He can purchase up to (13/2)=7 additional points of defense for a total of 10. This represents dedicated training.


Weapon Quality

To provide some flavor and differentiation between weapons, all weapons are graded by quality. The prices listed in the price list are for weapons of medium quality. Cheaper versions may be bought , but these are low quality weapons that do not work as well as better quality weapons. A buyer may also pay a premium price for a weapon of higher quality. The price difference is listed below:

1/2 price = Low Quality
Normal price = Medium Quality
5x price = High Quality
15x price = Master Work (or morphically enhanced High Quality)

All weapons which are actually tools (ex. a woodsman's axe or a sledge hammer), are assumed to be of low weapon quality. All military and guard weapons are considered medium quality. All spirit weapons are assumed to start off as high quality, but are actually one category beyond, due to morphic enhacement. Wealth people and officers also tend to carry high quality weapons. The difference between the qualities is defined as the weapon's tendency to break in combat. Any natural roll of 18 (including 17 if the opponent has a parrying weapon) on either a to-hit or a block roll will mean a chance for a weapon to break. Weapons will only break against weapons of equal or higher quality.

Example: Thrud the Barbarian is attacking the Wolf chieftain Kor Longhunter. Thrud rolls a 17. He has a medium quality broadsword. Had Kor defended using a low quality weapon, or a non-blocking weapon (such as a flail), Thrud would have no problems, other than a failed hit. However, Kor is using a medium quality battle axe. The GM rules that the haft of the axe is certainly used to defend in an attack, so Thrud's blade snaps.

Had Thrud rolled a hit and Kor decided to block, things might have gone differently. If Kor's blocking roll been a 17 or 18, then his axe would have suffered. Lastly,in this case if Thrud's broadsword were low quality, Kor's medium quality axe would have survived just fine.