Hi True20 fans, Matthew E. Kaiser here. You may remember me from my half-sane scribblings in various and sundry True20 books.
I thought I'd let you all in on a little secret. My Totems of the Dead setting, currently published for Savage Worlds, was originally going to be a True20 setting at one point way back in the early stages of development. In fact, looking back now, I can see a lot of places my work on True20 and Totems of the Dead have influenced one-another.
As this post will reveal, Totems of the Dead is a setting I’ve had kinking around in my head in one form or another for a very long time.
The earliest cross-influence of the ideas that eventually coalesced into Totems of the Dead can be seen in my first published work, with several Native American monsters like the spirit-horse, thunderbird, and wendigo making appearances in the True20 Bestiary, as well as some Scandinavian beasts like the Draug.
Later on, while I was writing the Adept’s Handbook, some ideas I had been developing for a pre-Columbian fantasy setting with Vinland style Vikings in it drifted into the True20 Adept’s Handbook manuscript. Here you will find a True20 version of the herbalism skills and rune magic, blood magic, seidr, shamanism and ritual magic systems I had been originally been developing for what was at the time, my own as yet unnamed homebrew setting.
The same influence can be seen to a lesser extent in the Warrior’s Handbook, with feats like Totem Animal, and some of the Native American weapons. There is also some Native American and Nordic themed art in the book from the orders I put in at the time.
As an Aside to Warriors and Warlocks fans, that book also had some influences, but that is a story for another time and possibly another message board.
It was also about this time that my gaming group started to switch from True20 to Savage Worlds by popular demand. Now my group still loves True20, but we tend to drift from one system to another (FATE seems to be the latest craze, but that is beside the point). So now I began developing my setting in a Savage Worlds context. For whatever reason the Savage Worlds rule set seemed to click ever so slightly better with the setting than my earlier True20 attempts.
Even as I started delving into Savage Worlds, some elements of True20 continued to influence the way I did things. The way I handle Sorcery and Corruption in Totems of the Dead is partially influenced by my experiences with Blue Rose’s magic system. Even the True20 concept of Virtues and Vices got me into thinking about internal character struggles which fed into my development of the Bravery and Despair setting rules in Totems of the Dead.
Now that Totems of the Dead is being unleashed on the general gaming populace, only time will tell what directions I will be able to take the setting in the future.