The Secret of the Key Islands – Melee Mods
When I was creating a number of pre-made characters for this campaign I realized that any melee character I create will be be left in the dust pretty quickly. Not just in terms of the damage they can dish out, but also because they won’t be able to really utilize the awesome generated loot that Savage Borderlands offers. As a result I’ve worked up a new type of equipment, called Melee Mods.
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Melee Attacks in Borderlands
Melee Mods aren’t a piece of equipment featured in the Borderlands video games. Instead, in the video games, melee attack damage benefits from a bonus every time a character levels up. Additionally, melee damage and effects are highly dependent upon purchased skills (or talents, or whatever). What this means is that some characters become very good with melee attacks, and prefer them. I am thinking of Krieg here. In some ways, what I’m planning for Melee Mods would take the place of Relics.
Melee Mod Basic Mechanisms
The same couldn’t be said of how Savage Borderlands worked by default. In Savage Worlds, melee damage combines the die-type of a character’s Strength with the damage of a specific weapon. It’s a good system, but it’s also a very static system. Especially because most characters will want to stick with a trademark weapon. While the Edges that benefit melee combat are wonderful, they don’t give the same feeling of power as holding a custom-built gun.
During Character Creation
Melee Mods will, hopefully, solve all of those problems. During Character Creation, every character will have a “signature melee attack”. Essentially that means that the player can choose what kind of melee attack they’ll use. It could be their fists, it could be a glowy sword or a buzzaxe, or any other reasonable melee weapon. It’s the player’s choice.
- Damage: Modifies the damage any melee attack does. Usually comes in the format of STR + YdX + Z (where the X, Y, and Z equal a number between 0 and 12)
- Special Properties: Melee Mods have a wide array of special properties that they grant. Quite often, this is where they’ll really shine.
It then comes to damage. Remember how I said that in the default rules for Savage Worlds, melee attack damage was equal to your Strength plus the weapon’s damage die? With Melee Mods every melee weapon, regardless of size or type, will start off doing the same amount of damage: your Strength die. You did read that correctly. Unless you have a Melee Mod equipped, you’ll always just do damage equal to your Strength die.
If that seems harsh, consider that Melee Mods will supplement that damage. Melee Mods determine how good your chosen weapon is. Regardless of whether your character uses a Great Sword or a Stiletto, they can deal pretty awesome amounts of damage. Melee Mods will start by granting STR + d4 damage, and go up from there.
It won’t always be a directly linear progression in damage boosts, at least in terms of die types. Otherwise the damage melee attacks do would likely far outstrip the damage a gun could do. Instead, the melee damage boosts provided by Melee Mods will be a bit smaller than for guns, but far more consistent.
Melee Mod Side Effects
Because Melee Mods change how melee damage works at such a fundamental level, there are some changes that have to be made to accommodate those changes. They include:
- The Bruiser Edge is no longer available.
- The Improvisational Fighter Edge is no longer available.
- Improvised Weapons no longer result in a Fighting penalty, because Melee Mods amplify them. Additionally, your parry is not reduced. Penalties for thrown melee weapons do apply unless a Melee Mod specifies otherwise.
- The Martial Artist and Improved Martial Artist Edges are no longer available.
Melee Mod Special Properties
In addition to a damage boost, Melee Mods will also have one or more special properties that can impact your choice of which mod to use, or whether to use one at all. Some of the options available during item generation include:
- Elemental Damage being added to melee attacks
- Increased Pace
- Increased Parry
- Armor Piercing
- The “Thrown Weapon” keyword, which gives the weapon a range, and removes any penalties associated with throwing a melee weapon. Unless your Melee Mod specifies this, no melee weapon is considered a Thrown Weapon (even a tomahawk).
I may add more special properties as you suggest them, or as I continue to think of them.
Feedback is Welcome
I’d love to hear any feedback you would be willing to give. Simply comment below, or contact us. I’m very open to suggestions on changes to the mechanisms, or ideas for Legendary Melee Mods.
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