Savage Masterdeck 01: Basics

The Deck

If you have a standard Savage Masterdeck set, it is made up of 104 cards. Of these cards, 83 are Enhancement cards, 17 are Subplot cards, and 4 are picture cards.  All are used differently at some point during the game. But all have some similarities as well.  Both Enhancement and Subplot Cards are structured the same and are the primary focus of this section.

Enhancement Cards

Enhancement cards have a top half that is white and a bottom half that is gray.  The top area of the card is the Enhancement side. When the Players have these cards in their hands, they  only have to worry about the top of the card.

Subplot Cards

Subplot cards are distinctive because they have the word PLOT on them first. When a player is dealt a Plot card, he should turn it face up on the table and alert the gamemaster immediately. The gamemaster will then tell the player whether or not that particular subplot can be used during the adventure. If it can, then the player keeps the card in front of him for later use. Otherwise, he puts it in the discard pile and the player draws an additional card.  If it’s a subplot card, repeat the process. If its an enhancement card, the player keeps the card in his hand. If the player draws a subplot card and simply has no interest in pursuing it, he may choose to discard it. No character can have more than two subplots in effect at any one time.

Subplot cards do not count as cards in the character’s pool/ hand (see The Hand vs. The Pool). A character who receives a subplot card should draw another to put into his hand – regardless of what happens to the subplot.

The Basic Card Structure

There are 3 types of Cards – Enhancements, Subplot and Wild Cards.  The Enhancement and Sublot cards have the same general structure but different effects if in the players hands.  Wild Cards are also called Picture cards and have wildly different effects when in play.

  1. The Card Number -The Card Number is at the top of the card’s face.  Each card has a unique number.  There are 100 Enhancement/Plot Cards and 4 Wild cards (not numbered)
  2. The Card Name – This identifies the type of card.
  3. The Enhancement/Subplot Line – This short paragraph outlines the effect the card has on gameplay. There are 2 types of cards in this respect: Subplot and Enhancement. Both are explained below.
  4. Initiative Effects – Here is where the Savage Masterdeck makes its major change to Savage Worlds. After distributing the Initiative Cards as nirmal in Savage Worlds, a single card is then flipped and accompanies the GM’s initiative cards.  The Card’s initiative effect that round according to the effects and the suits of each initiative card distributed.  This is explained more below.
  5. Approved Actions – The last section on the card lists the Approved Actions for that round.  This shows what actions, if any, are approved during a particular combat round. This line is explained later.

1 thru 3 are explained in the Enhancement or Subplot section, while 4  and 5 are explained in the Initiative section


How Many Cards do Players Get

The number of cards given to each character is based on the number of player characters in the party.

Card Distribution Chart

Number of Player Characters Number of Cards for Each
1 5
2-5 3
6+ 2

Trading Cards

Cards may be traded between players on a one-for-one basis only. No player may give or receive a card without receiving or giving an equal number of cards.

The Hand vs. The Pool

The card “hand” and the”pool” are mentioned several times. It is a major part of the Savage Masterdeck system.

In and Out of Rounds

Most of the time, characters are “out” of rounds during an adventure. A round is any time period where something very important to the adventure is happening – or, at least, something very intense. Whenever fighting breaks out in an adventure, the characters are automatically “in” rounds; sometimes, the gamemaster will put the characters “in” rounds when the tension of the adventure has grown to a peak, or when something time-critical is happening (called interaction rounds, which can cover any period of time from five seconds to representing much longer periods of time).

Out of Rounds: Whenever player characters are not in combat rounds, All the players cards are considered in their Pool and playable. They can be played at any time simply by placing the card into the discard pile and applying their bonuses or effects. Any number of cards may be played in this manner, as long as this does not violate any other rule. However, in Combat Rounds, it is explained below.

In Rounds: Once the action of the adventure enters a round sequence, the players pick up their cards and should hold them in their Hand (unplayable). At this point, players cannot play or trade any of their cards until they have been put into the player’s Pool.  After a character performs an action during a round, he may place a card face up into his Pool (on the table in front of him). At this point, all the players and the gamemaster can see the card. At time after the player has placed the card into his pool, he can then play it or trade it with other players on a one-for-one basis.

There is no limit to the number of cards a player may have in his character’s Pool at any one time. Cards received as part of a trade are placed in the character’s Pool. Cards received from approved actions must go into the player’s Hand first, and can only be played into a hand at least one round later. Other means of receiving cards (use of leadership or rally cards, or the inspiration effect) are discussed in other areas of the text.

During rounds, there is no limit to the number of cards a player may have in his hand or pool. After rounds are over, the players pick up their cards. They may have to discard cards because cards in their hands may not exceed the total on the Card Distribution Chart. Subplot (all red) cards and most joker cards never count toward the player’s hand total (the wild card is an exception).

The Card Piles

The Card Deck – The card deck is the remaining cards after player characters have been given their cards. It should be set out on the table where everyone can see it. This deck will be used to draw cards from to determine initiative and to replenish player character hands at different times. When this, card deck runs out, shuffle the discard pile and the initiative pile and start over again.

The Initiative Pile – The top card on the pile is always the card effecting the current initiative for the current round. The Claim card cannot remove a card from the initiative pile.

The Discard Pile – When a card is used by a player, or discarded for some reason, it ends up on top of the discard pile. This is the pile referred to in the description regarding the Claim card.

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