Resource: B+
From 52 reviews
Game: A
From 736 reviews

Streets of Bedlam

Deluxe (Explorer's) Edition

Contents

Publisher Description

Bedford and Lamrose. Two sides of the same river. Two sides of the same coin. One, an affluent metropolis teeming with industry and aspiration. The other, a cesspool of crime and vice. Both dirty, both begging for the match that will set this whole city on fire.



Bedford and Lamrose. Locals call this place Bedlam. It’s a fitting name.

 

A "Savage" Sin City-esque Setting [ edit ]

Streets of Bedlam is a campaign supplement for a neo noir modern city.  "Bedlam" is actually two adjacent cities, Bedford and Lamrose (essentially separate cities of the haves and the have nots.  It's designed to be added in place of a major American city of your choice.

What's in the Book?

Streets of Bedlam focuses on violent "neo noir" stories in the vein of Sin City, Boondock Saints, Reservoir Dogs, or The Godfather.  To enable such adventures there's over twenty pages describing the city itself, about forty-five pages of NPCs, and a thirty-plus page adventure.

There's also more than ten pages of new rules for interrogations, investigations, and "rep" (reputation with the three major groups of the city: the cops, the criminals, and the public).  The investigation rules include optional rules for quickly developing investigation scenes by dealing cards (from a standard playing card deck).

Character Creation

The book isn't just for GMs however: there's also roughly seventy pages of character creation material.  Less than ten pages of that is actually new skills, edges, and hindrances though; most of it is instead devoted to "archetypes".  There's a great variety of archetypes, from standards like the Badge (cop) to the (crime) Boss, to more interesting ones like Monster (think Marv from Sin City, or Batman) and Valkyrie (warrior prostitutes, clearly patterned after the Valkyries in Sin City).

All of this of course leverages the core Savage Worlds rules, which are perfect for the cinematic nature of a Bedlam campaign.  The setting was published for the Deluxe Edition of Savage Worlds, but it can easily be used with the latest (Adventure) edition of the game, as it hasn't changed much between editions.

Savage Worlds, Deluxe (Explorer's) Edition - Rules SummaryCollapse

Character Creation [ edit ]

As with most games, Savage Worlds characters have attributes, in this case five of them (essentially the D&D attributes, without Charisma).  Attributes are measured as a die type, so a weak character would have a d4 Strength, while an incredibly strong one would have a d12.

Players can also select a race for their character (or remain human to get an extra edge), and a number of skills.  Just as with attributes, skills have die-type-based ranks.  Raising skills higher than their associated attribute costs double, but otherwise there are no restrictions, so you can make a cowboy/hacker/biologist if you so desire: there are no class limitations.

Finally a player selects Edges, which provide special benefits to the character, similar to feats in Dungeons and Dragons or advantages in GURPS .  To gain edges characters can take on hindrances (similar to GURPS disadvantages).  Every edge costs the same in Savage Worlds (no varying point costs like in GURPS), and there are only two levels of hindrances (Major and Minor; one major or two minor provides an Edge).

There are also a somewhat limited number of hindrances and edges compared to some other generic systems, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing.  While it does mean less customization options, it also means new players can review their options much quicker, speeding up character creation overall.

Core Mechanics [ edit ]

To succeed at an action in Savage Worlds, you roll a die based on the associated skill, and then also roll a separate "wild die" (a d6).  Either dice can "ace" ("explode"), which means that if you roll the maximum number on the die, you get to re-roll it, and add the result of all the rolls together.  You can then choose to keep either your original die or the "wild" one (whichever rolled higher), and if that die's result is 4 or greater (after any penalties), you succeed.

Players also start with "Bennies", and can earn more during play through good role-playing.  These "Bennies" can be used to re-roll any roll, giving characters another chance to succeed at critical actions.

Combat [ edit ]

When it comes to combat, Savage Worlds uses a deck of regular playing cards to determine who goes in what order.  The higher the player's card, the sooner they go in initiative, and if a player gets a joker as their card they can go at any point (and also get a bonus to their rolls that turn).

Between it's wild dice, "aceing" (ie. exploding) dice, bennies, and jokers, and various other factors, there are a lot of ways to succeed even when your skills are low, although of course higher skills are clearly a benefit.  All of this leads to a system that's more "fun" and cinematic, but also a bit less realistic, and also potentially more "swingy" (compared to, for instance, a system like GURPS).

But is it Any Good? [ edit ]

Aggregated Review Scores

SourceAverage Score# of ReviewsAs Of
Drive Thru RPG4.6 / 5424/6/2022
Good Reads4 / 544/6/2022
RPG Geek7.17 / 1064/6/2022

Streets of Bedlam essentially tries to make a Savage Worlds supplement for adventuring in Sin City ... and by and large it delivers on this promise, as evidenced by the fact that the game is an Electrum best seller on Drive Thru RPG, where it has an average rating of 4.6 / 5.

Conclusion

If you're looking for a modern crime story, cop story, vigilante story, or some combination thereof, set in a world that resembles Sin City and other neo noir movies, coupled with the fast-playing and cinematic rules of Savage Worlds, Streets of Bedlam is going to offer everything you need to get your campaign going.