Two things I like in games are starting as a schlep and having characters die the first session. The DCC-RPG does both of things fantastically well with its funnel mechanic.
I also like Savage Worlds. Rolling different kinds of dice is neat. I think it might go back to the wonder factor of when I first learned D&D from the older kid who lived across the street, "This pyramid one is a magic-user's dice. It only goes up to four, but they are still cool because they always hit with their magic missile and can also do weird stuff. The double pyramid is the Fighter's die. They are tough. This one has 12 sides, you don't use it too much." I guess this was sorta inaccurate, but the idea that certain dice are for certain things still feels cool to me.
The dice chain in DCC-RPG is also floating somewhere in this space of changing the kind of die based on circumstances and ability, but I really like its centrality to Savage Worlds.
The absence of classes in Savage Worlds is also a selling point for me. I like the loosey goosey anything goes aspect and it seems like it's easier to wing stuff. That may or may not be true, but call me Peter Kropotkin, I'm gonna stick with the abolition of the class system.
So here is my attempt at shoehorning the 0-level funnel into Savage Worlds.
Each player has four characters.
These are Extras, not Wild Cards (don't get the extra d6 and get killed after Shaken). After the end of their first adventure, they will become Wild Cards and get the Wild Die and ability to suffer wounds.
Since Savage Worlds is normally a point-buy, we need to change that. Over in the SW Forums there was this thread about random character generation. It uses a D&D style 3d6 to consult a table to see what the attribute score would be. I can hear groans from my buddies having to look up each roll for four guys each, so I came up with this idea instead. It might be a bit nuttier on the edges, but I'll find out when I run it.
For each character roll ten tensiders to determine attributes.
Evens are going to be good and odds will be bad.
Evens increase a stat by one step, odds decrease stats by one step. If a stat would go below d4, each step is a -1.
Choose a few skills that every character will have. One should be a broad Job/Occupation Skill. Anything that relates to their prior occupation falls under this. Start this skill at a d8. It can't ever be increased and does not have an associated attribute. The rest of the skills should start at d4s. Throughout the funnel adventure, the player may increase one skill per character at anytime (this includes starting new ones off at d4). Additionally, whenever a character is killed, that player gets another skill increase to use immediately.
Here's the starting skills for the Ganymede mining disaster game I'll be running at BashCon.
Job (starts at d8)
(Rest start at d4)
Occupation. This ties into their Job skill, either make a random table or find one like 100 Mining Jobs for a Stultifying Corporate Future
Edges: No One gets a starting Edge, though they will at the end of the funnel, preferable one that relates to what they did during the adventure.
Hindrances: Each character gets a random hindrance that the character can cash in for edges when they get to the end of the funnel and hit Novice and become a Wild Card. Here is a random hindrance generator. You could also roll and count off in the book. The best bet would be to make a table specific to what you'll be running. I think I'll put together an OUTER SPACE table that I'll post shortly.
Depending on the game type you may also want to give some starting items. I think in the Mining disaster game everyone will have a Future Phone.
Now its time to get to thinning the herd and figuring out who has got what it takes to survive a Mining Disaster, or zombie outbreak, or dhole infestation, wizard strike...