Interview with John Dunn of Melior Via

John Dunn is president of the Savage Worlds licensee Melior Via. Their first setting is Accursed.

To start off, tell us about yourself and your history in gaming.

Accursed is a collaborative creation of Ross Watson, Jason Marker, and John Dunn. Each of us have been gaming for more than twenty years, and all of us have been involved in writing for a number of different game companies. Our credits include work on RPG products for Shadowrun, Robotech, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, Malifaux: Through the Breach, and the various lines of Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay. We initially met through Fantasy Flight Games, when Ross was the line developer for Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay. However, we have now worked on a number of different projects together in other lines and with other companies as well.

Describe Accursed for us in the form of an elevator pitch.

In Accursed, Hellboy meets Solomon Kane. The game world allows players to take on the roles of characters transformed by curses. They are Dhampir (Half-vampire charming rogues), Golems (living creatures crafted from unliving materials, similar to Frankenstein’s monster), Ophidians (Snake-men), Vargr (werewolves), Mummies, Mongrels (men with bestial limbs and other body parts grafted onto their bodies), Shades (living ghosts), and Revenants (the living dead). The Accursed are this world’s only hope. They must learn to embrace their curse or to fight against it, and find some way to free themselves forever of their Witchmark.

What works of fiction helped inspire Accursed?

Certainly dozens of classic horror works and novels played a major influence, including Dracula and Frankenstein, but those are given. Our Witchbreeds are based on classic movie monsters, and those films certainly factor as a major influence for us. In general, the classic Universal and Hammer Horror monsters are a primary resource. From fiction, Howard’s Solomon Kane stories played a major influence in the way we developed the setting, but Mignola’s Hellboy and classic fairy tales also fed strongly into the type of world that we envisioned. Finally, the Castlevania line of video games provided a look and feel which certainly has some similarities to the world we sought to create and populate.

What aspects of Accursed do you believe cause it to stand out from other fantasy settings on the RPG market?

Accursed is meant to encompass the Fast, Furious, Fun of Savage Worlds, but it also needs to force the players to make challenging decisions for their characters. Characters can become more powerful monsters by embracing that curse or they can attempt to recover their lost humanity by denying it. Gamemasters need to challenge the players with difficult decisions regarding this. As the PCs act in ways that either deny or embrace their curse, Gamemasters respond by developing the monster’s abilities or by restoring elements of their humanity (at the cost of their monstrous abilities). In essence, it becomes a social pressure cooker for the GM, as he challenges the players with tough choices that have campaign defining ramifications. This creates multiple tiers of play, as the characters can embrace dramatic action at the same time as they make hard decisions.

Many Savage Worlds settings feature what is known as a Plot Point Campaign. Will Accursed have one, either in the main setting book or a future supplement?

Yes, the full version includes a Plot Point Campaign in the “Adventures in Morden” chapter.

Are there any additional supplements you intend to publish for Accursed?

Our Kickstarter enabled us to assure the production of a number of different add-on products. Here’s the list:

  • Two poker decks, featuring the main book’s artwork. (Available from DriveThruCards)
  • A set of four 1-sheet adventures, written by Shane Hensley, Sean Preston, Adam Jury, and Colin McComb.
  • An adventure written by Sean Patrick Fannon.
  • An adventure written by Rich Baker.
  • A novella by Richard Lee Byers.
  • A novella by Mel Odom.
  • A sourcebook written by George Ziets and Chris Avellone.

Beyond that, we’d like to eventually create additional sourcebooks and adventures.