Assassination in Savage Worlds

Brother Oleg

In my Dark Heresy campaign, one of the players is playing Brother Oleg – an Imperial Assassin.  I have been trying to work up some scenarios for him, but have run into some difficulties.

The whole purpose of assassins is to take out high-value targets that are well-protected and generally immune from the sort of mayhem that a party of Player Characters can dish out just by leaping into the fray screaming “Huzzah!” (or “Praise the Emperor!” or whatever).  To be an effective assassin you really want to be able to kill someone with a single blow (or shot, or whatever), usually from concealment, and then get away without getting into a major firefight.  You leave the stand-up fights to the Guardsmen and Arbitrators.  There are a few problems with this in Savage Worlds.

1)  Generally, high value targets are Wildcard characters, meaning that they have several wounds, and some bennies to soak up damage.  In order to drop them in one shot you not only need to generate enough damage to blow through 4 wounds (16 pts plus their defense) but you really need to generate a couple of wounds on top of that to put the damage so far over the top that even spending bennies won’t be enough (so really 24 points or more, plus the target’s defense).  Those are some pretty high numbers to be hitting, even assuming that you go for the head shot, the aiming modifier, etc.

2)  Alternately, you can have a target who is a mook – really easy to assassinate (one wound does it).  But how many mooks are going to be high value targets?  Sure you are great at popping off guards and the like, but that’s really a job for a Guardsman sniper, not someone who has trained to be among the most lethal killers in the galaxy.  There is a limit to the number of high value targets who are mooks that the GM can supply – high value targets in the universe of 40k are things like Genestealer Patriarchs, High Priests of the Ruinous Powers, Eldar Farseers, and traitor generals.  Treating these characters like mooks just doesn’t give the right feel for the campaign.

(It ought to be noted that high value targets typically run around without helmets on in the world of 40K, which at least makes them slightly more vulnerable to assassination.)

It seems like some sort of advantage needs to be added to give that real “assassin” feel to an assassin character – something like an advantage that prevents the target from using Bennies to soak injury (though imagine the howls of protest when some chaos assassin plugs a PC that way),  I’ll need to think about this a bit more, but something needs to be added to bring assassins up to snuff in the world of 40K.

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5 thoughts on “Assassination in Savage Worlds

  1. I’ve been thinking about that as well. With his rifle, Oleg can switch it to 3RB, which gives him a +2, his Marksman edge gives him another +2, that pretty much erases the -4 penalty for a headshot.

    But another thought is: Assassins get the “Headshot” ability. On a raise, on a headshot, they either do double damage or they do an additional +4 damage. This could be in lieu of the extra damage dice. On average, with Oleg’s rife, he’d do 11 points on average, (2d8+2 damage) plus an additional 8 points for a total of 19 points. (this is the +4 bonus version.)

    The double damage version this becomes 30 points of damage (2d8+2+4) on average. With a 6 toughness, that becomes 6 wounds.

    This is bit meandering, but this is one way to work around the issue.

    • Two she-bears says:

      It seems to me that the solution should mostly make use of existing rules, and just fudge one or two things. An advantage like the “headshot” ability you mentioned is close to what I am thinking of. It would need to have prerequisites (like Marksman), be available only at higher levels, and have some pretty strict requirements such as aiming, headshot, etc. so the assassin would be required to set up the shot, rather than just crank it out.

      There would also need to be a stabby version.

  2. Ed, it looks like I might have an early Birthday Present for you. It seems that the Deluxe edition of Savage Worlds has a new edge: Assassin. Gives the Assassin a +2 to damage when he can approach or catch his target unawares. This includes for Range Weapons.

    We also missed “The Drop”. If Oleg can catch someone unawares, i.e. sneak up on them, you can get The Drop and get a +2 aim on your attack, melee or sniper and to damage. Add in a headshot, that’s almost an automatic raise for most ranged combat.

    So let’s work it out: Oleg stealths into a position and gets a bead on his target. His to hit roll is d8 +2 (Aim) +4 (The Drop) +2 (3RB) -4 (Headshot) = d8 +4, so on average he hits his target (8.5) and he gets a raise at short range.

    Damage then becomes 2d8 + d6 +2 (weapon bonus) +4 (The Drop) +4 (Headshot) +2 (Assassin) = 9 + 3.5 + 12 = 24 points on average. That would have been 3 wounds and Vigor save on Brother Uriah. Minimum damage would be 15 points, enough for 2 wounds, and maximum damage would be 34 points or 3 wounds and 4 Vigor saves. Ouch.

    As I said, you have a birthday present due you, and I can get you a copy of the new Explorer’s edition of Savage Worlds Deluxe.

  3. markwalt says:

    I have a few thoughts regarding assassination. Make the target a mook, but make the situation difficult.

    For example: Brother Oleg has to take out a noble. The noble is a mook, and one shot will take him out. But he’s well guarded, usually in the public eye, and when he’s not, there is plenty of surveillance. Brother Oleg’s task would be to somehow bypass security, sneak past the guards (you don’t want to kill the guards), get into his bedchamber, and then kill him, but make it look like a natural death or cause someone else to be blamed, and then get back to the party without the party knowing he was gone.

    The danger is not in the assassination itself. That part’s a synch. The danger is in getting caught.

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