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Totems of the Dead: Game Master's Guide to the Untamed lands $10.00
Average Rating:4.4 / 5
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Totems of the Dead: Game Master\'s Guide to the Untamed lands
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Totems of the Dead: Game Master's Guide to the Untamed lands
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/25/2016 08:42:54

Totems of the Dead : Game Master's Guide begins with a section giving very generic advice for the Gamemaster. I honestly feel disappointed by this section that doesn't give me the answer to "How can I make a ToD adventure different from any adventure in another setting ?" This part of the book looks unorganized : we get one page of "Brief History" while the main details are present... in the Players' guide ! Likewise, the very short summary of (uncredited) Joseph Campbell's The hero with a thousand faces (the "hero's journey") doesn't tell me what is specific to gaming in the Untamed Lands.

The bestiary makes the bulk of the book, as well as its main interest. Here you can find a full menagerie tailored for this fantasy world based on Pre-Columbian America. This is followed by a shorter section with stock characters for all cultures of that world. The adventure generator is quite original, while the "Nameless Horror generator" remains interesting, but it is close to what is already found in some other Savage Worlds settings.

The last main section consists of several Savage Tales set in the different cultures of the Untamed Lands, as well as some plot hooks. Once again, this material is not uninteresting but does it manage to capture the quintessential nature of "Conanesque" Sword & Sorcery tales ? I must say I'm not entirely convinced.

In my opinion, the best thing that setting rules can do is to convey a special atmosphere so that players (and GMs...) can feel it's different from the basic D&D game. A mere description, as in a travel guide, is not enough. I think ToD Game Master's Guide fails this objective since the rare flavouring rules (ex: Pow Wow) are found... in the Player's Guide.

Three stars for the common audience (but this book may fully satisfy gamers adamantly enamoured of Pre-Columbian America).

[3 of 5 Stars!]
Totems of the Dead: Game Master's Guide to the Untamed lands
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/11/2011 23:04:23

WHAT WORKS: I love a good bestiary, and this is a very good one, as well as random tables, and this has both an adventure generator and a nameless horror generator. Worth the price of admission right there.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: In a perfect world, it would be nicer if the Player's and GM's guides had been folded in together, but my understanding is that would have proven prohibitive to printing costs, if for no other reason than the information in each book feels SO complimentary to the other that each book feels a bit anemic on their own.

CONCLUSION: Totems of the Dead is a nice twist on the Swords and Sorcery genre, and with the release of the GM's Guide, players and GMs have a ton of material available for tribal butt-kicking action. The monsters in the bestiary may be a tad too specific to the setting to be of use for non-Totems of the Dead games, although a little re-skinning can go a long ways, and that Nameless Horror generator can be busted out in a variety of games...(say you need something for the Whateleys to summon in a pinch in your Deadlands game, for instance). Another great product from Gun Metal Games.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/10/apologies-for-lack-of-reviews.html

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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