I am a fan of cross-genre gaming. I was intrigued when I was introduced to Suzerain: Pocket Universe as the back cover description showed that this was a game that was solidly within my wheelhouse.
In this game, your character is a hero that is a representative of the gods. Their adventures can span the breadth of time and space or just fill up one little corner of your universe. This book is published by Savage Mojo and written by Zach Wellhouse. It is a conversion of the Suzerain game to the Savage Worlds game system. The first part of the game is dedicated to explaining the changes that have been made to Savage World system to better accommodate Suzerain. The major change that you will notice is the increase in level. Instead of play ending at Legendary, a new level has been added and appropriately named Demigod. The purpose in this addition was to give players access to the level of play that one would expect from a cross-genre game such as Suzerain. Character retirement is now recommended at 180 xp as they are now gods founding their own pantheons. In addition to this change there are several minor tweaks made to how the system runs. Bennies are renamed Karma and given extra benefits whilst Power points are renamed Pulse and the Fatigue track was extended to allow for social and mental fatigue to be introduced.
Character creation is not ignored as new Edges and Hindrances are introduced in this book to be more in line with the Suzerain feel. The Arcane background is also altered with this in mind as well. It is renamed Pulse Path in Suzerain and has four different options available. These options are unlocked via the seed Edges of Empowered, Enabled, Gifted, and Sighted. Each one reflects a different take on how magic works for the character and has a series of edges that work with them. This allows the standard wizard of fantasy tradition to the super hero that normally graces the four-colored pages of comic books.
You are most probably wondering why the book has the subtitle of Pocket Universe. The reason for this is connected to how the characters are connected to the gods. They are connected to the gods via Telesma which are gems created by the gods to empower their servants. Each player character in Suzerain has one of these semi-intelligent artifacts. When Telesma come together in groups, they begin the creation of a pocket dimension which provides a stable base of operations in the characters genre-hopping adventures. Ample time is spent explaining the capabilities of Telesma and several Edges and Hindrances are added that directly effect them. As the characters grow in power, so does the pocket dimension hence the name Pocket Universe. Don’t you feel better now that you know?
The last part of the book is dedicated to providing a setting from which play can start and tips on how to run a Suzerain game. The setting provided is called Relic and Edges, spells and descriptions are provided to give you a place to start. The section on running the game is presented in several subsections. Some of the underlying assumptions, like the spirit world, are explained in a more detailed fashion. This gives a better understanding of how these features can be presented to players. On top of this, guidelines are given for how to maintain a high-powered game where time travel is possible and multiple genres will be utilized.
If you are a fan of cross-genre games and Savage Worlds, I highly recommend picking up this book. It does a good job of converting the Suzerain game to the Savage Worlds system without belaboring the reasons behind the changes. The changes that are made to the system make sense within the framework that is given and hold up well upon inspection. I have only two real issues with the book. I wish that it was organized differently. I prefer getting what I need as a player out of the way first and then getting the whats different in the later sections. This makes it easier on me as a player as I can ignore the parts I do not need initially. I also wish that the more effort was put into communicating the flavor of Suzerain. It is stated that Suzerain provides a framework wherein heroes grow into gods but it felt like this idea was overshadowed by the amount of mechanics that needed to be imparted.