Review: Savage Worlds Adventure Deck by Pinnacle
If over twenty-five years in the RPG hobby have taught me nothing else, it’s that all players love having power over the game. It’s only natural, given that the player/GM compact that makes RPGs work cedes almost all power to the GM, who becomes pretty much the alpha and omega of his game world. It pretty much has to be this way, but deep down even the best-adjusted player wants to seize the reins of the game and put his own spin on it.
The Savage Worlds Adventure Deck from Pinnacle was created to sate this primal craving, and it does the job superbly. The $9.95 PDF consists of one page of rules, seven pages of card fronts with full-color art, and five pages of optional card backs, allowing the buyer a choice of how to finish his cards.
It’s Your Cut
Being a purely PDF product, there is a fair bit of assembly involved. The cards must be printed out (ideally in color and on cardstock) and cut apart. The instructions suggest affixing the printouts to regular playing cards, but I found it was easier to just print the backs on separate sheets of 110# cardstock and then tape the fronts and backs together. The resultant two-ply cards offer a decent level of stiffness that allows the deck to be easily shuffled and have proved robust enough to endure long ten gaming sessions so far without noticeable wear.
Each card sports unique color art and the standard is extremely high. I’ve always been impressed by the quality of Pinnacle’s art, but the Adventure Deck is really something special. Despite being rather small and quite detailed, the art looks wonderful on the cards and does a good job of illustrating each card’s effect. It’s well worth seeking out a high-quality printer to produce your Adventure Deck.
The way the deck works is that at the beginning of each game session each Wild Card is dealt one card for each of his ranks, so that a Novice would get only one card, while a Legendary character would get five. A given player may only play one card per session, and players may trade cards among themselves freely.
The cards can produce a wide variety of effects, from combat buffs like Adrenaline Surge (a character gets another full action, including movement) to metagame benefits like Turncoat (a hero somehow convinces a minor foe to do him a favor, from helping the hero escape to telling him the location of the Big Boss’ hideout) or even downright crazy like Out Of The Frying Pan (the hero and his allies escape capture, death, or other bad situation, only to find themselves in some other predicament later at the GMs discretion).
Not So Fast!
The biggest problem with the Adventure Deck is that the broad spectrum of abilities granted by the cards can make trouble for a GM by derailing carefully planned plots or finely-balanced combats. Whether this is a dealbreaker or not will be a question for each individual GM, but in my experience they have not broken any of my adventures, and have even bailed out my posse on a couple of occasions when combats proved a bit more deadly that I had anticipated.
The $9.95 price point also seems a bit high, given the going rate for PDF products. I imagine the profusion of art must have driven the cost up quite a bit. I personally think the Deck is well worth the cost, but I have heard (understandable) grumblings from some that the Action Deck costs only $19.95, and is a deck of physically printed full-color cards.
Overall, my players and I have really enjoyed using the Adventure Deck. It adds just a little more chaos and pulpy flavor to a game system already chockablock with action and style. One of my players likes the card so much he even took the Edge included in the deck’s rules that allows him to draw and play an extra card per session. I can’t think of a more ringing endorsement than that.
Pros: Great art, Make a fun game MORE fun
Cons: Requires considerable assembly, Too much randomness for some GMs, Expensive
Source: Purchased from RPGNow
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