[RPG] Smallest practical party size in Savage Worlds


I've got a group I'm trying to get into a regular weekly game, but the problem I'm having is that there are only three players who can come consistently. Then, if even one is busy or gets sick, we're looking at two players and the GM, and it starts to seem like a "why bother" sort of situation.

I'm wondering, from more experienced players and GMs, what's the practical minimum for a fantasy Savage Worlds session? I suppose theoretically you could have a game with a GM and one player, just exploring the world and fighting monsters ad infinitum. But at the same time, the complimentary nature of a party's skills and combat abilities, not to mention the fundamentally social nature of the game itself, makes that seem less than appealing.

I know these sorts of games don't have a minimum set in the rules, and a lot will depend on the exact nature of the session in question, but in your experience is there a guideline worth knowing? Something like "don't bother playing with less than three players," or even something more specific like "combat is best with at least four players but RP stuff can be done with two" or "Savage Worlds works with 2-3, but D&D needs more like 6"?

Best Answer

The core rules don't say how big or small a group can or should be. Indeed, it's not really an important concept compared to other roleplaying games, such as Dungeons & Dragons (where it's strongly recommended that you have the "core four" types at least).

I've run many Savage Worlds sessions for as few as two players (both one shots and multi-session campaigns) and it generally works out. Pinnacle mentioned a while back that they are even working on a solo Savage Worlds adventure, so I imagine it could even work in a one GM/one player game.

Going a bit beyond the scope of the question, I think that there are things that need to be run a little bit differently with a small group than you would with a 4-6 player game:

  • Combat needs to be a bit smaller and/or more rare. Especially since in Savage Worlds characters can be killed by a single bullet, it's important that the characters aren't going to have half their firepower eliminated with a lucky die roll. If something goes wrong, there is only one character around to pick up the slack. Many adventures from Pinnacle already scale for this by saying things like "two enemies per player" for setting up combat.
  • Characters probably ought to be more well-rounded, since you don't have enough characters to fill all the specialized roles.
  • Allies are an excellent way to help in combat and fill in any skill gaps. The core rules explicitly state that they ought to be controlled by the players and, especially if they are Extras, I find that they generally are simple enough that anyone familiar with Savage Worlds can play them along with their own character. For small games I usually give at least one out.
  • If your players enjoy roleplaying, consider relying more on that than the mechanical rolls since that is oftentimes enhanced when you have more time to put each player in the spotlight

So in short, it totally does work with only a few players. You might need to tweak the scenario a bit along with the number of enemies, but there is nothing mechanically preventing it from being run with only a few players.

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