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  • Sell me on Scarred Lands

    Alright, the title is a little misleading because I'm already for the most part sold. But, I am interested in getting to better understand the setting and what people like most about it.

    Basically, I'm currently running a 5e game for my in-person group, and once that campaign is finished, I want to start up a new campaign online, to get some fresh blood into my regular gaming group, and to make sure that everyone who is playing is there because they're the best fit for the group, not just because it's convenient.

    I'm strongly considering running Scarred Lands for this next campaign, because it's something that will be new and different for all of us, and because I love so many other OPP products, and an OPP D&D setting sounds awesome. But my knowledge of Scarred Lands is limited to the blurb on the Kickstarter and what I was able to find on Wikipedia. I'd really love to hear from some SL fans, what you feel are the strong points of the setting? Why should I run Scarred Lands over, say, Forgotten Realms, or Greyhawk, or Points of Light?

    According to Wikipedia's article on Scarred Lands, apparently the lands themselves are NPCs? That sounds intriguing, how does that work? There was also something about the Gods being even more present and active influences on characters lives than in most D&D settings, and invoking their names giving some kind of bonus to crafting rolls? I feel like that was poorly explained.

    Finally, one thing I read that would be a huge selling point to me if true was that Scarred Lands makes a point to give in-universe reasons for mechanical features of D&D like Alignment and Classes. This is something that really excites me, and I would be especially interested to hear more about. Especially alignment, and I know I may be opening up a can of worms by asking for an alignment discussion, but I am really curious about what role it plays in the setting.
    Last edited by Charlaquin; 07-30-2016, 09:48 AM.


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  • #2
    I'd really love to hear from some SL fans, what you feel are the strong points of the setting? Why should I run Scarred Lands over, say, Forgotten Realms, or Greyhawk, or Points of Light?
    What originally drew me to it was the monsters. There's a lot of monsters that are unique for the setting, but they fit in and aren't just 'different monsters for differences' sake.' The setting itself is pretty unique too, and if you look at the old stuff you'll see a lot of seeds for new World of Darkness concepts and some similarities to things like Exalted. There's spirits sort of like those in Werewolf. The high elves are called Forsaken. There's spontaneous golems. But it also turns some standard high fantasy tropes on their end. There's a necromancer college town, with necromancers of all alignments studying their arts. The conceit that nature is always good is sort of turned on its head as druids are the ones most likely to serve the titans, remorseless beings of primordial nature. The world hasn't been more or less the same for thousands of years, there was a huge war just a little while ago and everyone's living through the after-effects. The war has for the most part brought life some room to breathe, but the remnants of the war have spawned monsters and mutants.

    According to Wikipedia's article on Scarred Lands, apparently the lands themselves are NPCs? That sounds intriguing, how does that work? There was also something about the Gods being even more present and active influences on characters lives than in most D&D settings, and invoking their names giving some kind of bonus to crafting rolls? I feel like that was poorly explained.
    There's two things it might be referring to with the lands being NPCs.

    First, when the Gods beat the Titans they weren't completely destroyed, so their parts are scattered all over the world. For instance when they 'killed' Kadun, they cut out his heart, chained him to a rock, and threw it into the ocean. The sea now runs red with his blood, and is called the Blood Sea, and created foul titanspawn and taints existing sea creatures. Mormo's blood has polluted a forest while her followers try to find her pieces to rebuild her.

    Second, you have the ushada. Basically, animism. It's kind of like the spirits in Werewolf, except you don't have the predatory nature and the Gauntlet. Ancestor ushada spirit is a big thing, but there's spirits of things and places and totems. The Ushadan belief system holds that the Titans were corrupt and overpowered ushada.

    As for the gods, they're there in the world with you. The war was less than two hundred years ago and witnesses are still alive, and the gods know when you're worshiping them. Basically if you invoke the appropriate god before the appropriate activity, you get bonuses to your die rolls, I believe they cap at 3. Not just for combat stuff but general skill checks. These are things anyone can do, not just clerics. So someone forging a sword to kill their hated enemy will invoke Corean, the Lawful Good Champion and Avenger and god of smithing, even when they plan to use the blade in the name of Belsameth, the Neutral Evil Slayer, goddess of Darkness and Nightmares and Death.

    Finally, one thing I read that would be a huge selling point to me if true was that Scarred Lands makes a point to give in-universe reasons for mechanical features of D&D like Alignment and Classes. This is something that really excites me, and I would be especially interested to hear more about. Especially alignment, and I know I may be opening up a can of worms by asking for an alignment discussion, but I am really curious about what role it plays in the setting.
    There's eight gods and one titan that remains. Each of the eight gods covers one of the alignments, reflecting a distinct aspect of the universe and side of mortal nature. The titan Denev, a being of primal nature, acting as true neutral.

    Because of the omnipresent nature of the gods, generally people will be giving tribute to all of them at one point or another. You tend to pick one you worship more than others, and that one is likely associated with your alignment, or one step away. If you don't pick one, the gods sort of tempt or threaten you one way or another to make a choice.

    There are demigods, too, for more niche needs. The high elves had a demigod that was slain during the war. Since then, they've become Forsaken, unable to sustain their race.

    Regarding classes, I get the feeling they're referring to the cleric and druid split. Clerics serve the gods, who I've already mentioned. Druids are working with the same primal forces of the universe that made the titans, and are often linked to them. Sometimes this means Denev, 'the good one,' who's True Neutral, but often they're worshipers of the actual titans. They can opt out and just be general practitioners as well.

    As old as it is, Scarred Lands would likely still offer you a fresh setting to play around in.
    Last edited by nofather; 08-06-2016, 01:09 AM.

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    • #3
      It's day four of Gen Con and I've been up for 24 hours for the second time in a week, so I can't really give a good pitch. But if you're going to pick a sample product to try out, I highly recommend Hollowfaust: City of Necromancers. It's quite possibly the most unique city book I've seen, and gives you a lot of distinctive and easily-used elements. CtL creator Ethan Skemp wrote large parts of it, and it has the unique pulpy-but-nuanced touch he brings to fantasy.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by nofather View Post
        What originally drew me to it was the monsters. There's a lot of monsters that are unique for the setting, but they fit in and aren't just 'different monsters for differences' sake.' The setting itself is pretty unique too, and if you look at the old stuff you'll see a lot of seeds for new World of Darkness concepts and some similarities to things like Exalted. There's spirits sort of like those in Werewolf. The high elves are called Forsaken. There's spontaneous golems. But it also turns some standard high fantasy tropes on their end. There's a necromancer college town, with necromancers of all alignments studying their arts. The conceit that nature is always good is sort of turned on its head as druids are the ones most likely to serve the titans, remorseless beings of primordial nature. The world hasn't been more or less the same for thousands of years, there was a huge war just a little while ago and everyone's living through the after-effects. The war has for the most part brought life some room to breathe, but the remnants of the war have spawned monsters and mutants.
        Excellent, I like hearing that there are some recognizably CofD-like elements. Definitely a fan of moving away from the "nature good, cities bad" trope because it's such an anachronistic perspective for a midevalesque setting. I've done similar things in homebrew before, so it's good to know this will suit my preferences. You say the world isn't in a state of medival stasis, does that mean Scarn was more technologically advanced pre-titan war and the war set them back?

        Originally posted by nofather View Post
        There's two things it might be referring to with the lands being NPCs.

        First, when the Gods beat the Titans they weren't completely destroyed, so their parts are scattered all over the world. For instance when they 'killed' Kadun, they cut out his heart, chained him to a rock, and threw it into the ocean. The sea now runs red with his blood, and is called the Blood Sea, and created foul titanspawn and taints existing sea creatures. Mormo's blood has polluted a forest while her followers try to find her pieces to rebuild her.

        Second, you have the ushada. Basically, animism. It's kind of like the spirits in Werewolf, except you don't have the predatory nature and the Gauntlet. Ancestor ushada spirit is a big thing, but there's spirits of things and places and totems. The Ushadan belief system holds that the Titans were corrupt and overpowered ushada.
        Oh, ok that makes sense. I got the impression that places might have stats, kind of like the Districts mechanic in Damnation City. That's cool though, always a fan of animistic elements, and it ties in well with Druids. That raises an interesting point though, sounds like ushada are not on good terms with the Titans, but Druids are the most likely to worship the Titans, so I take it Druids don't tend to work with ushada? Or is it like a "good Druids worship ushada and/or Denev, bad Druids worship Titans" kind of thing?

        Originally posted by nofather View Post
        As for the gods, they're there in the world with you. The war was less than two hundred years ago and witnesses are still alive, and the gods know when you're worshiping them. Basically if you invoke the appropriate god before the appropriate activity, you get bonuses to your die rolls, I believe they cap at 3. Not just for combat stuff but general skill checks. These are things anyone can do, not just clerics. So someone forging a sword to kill their hated enemy will invoke Corean, the Lawful Good Champion and Avenger and god of smithing, even when they plan to use the blade in the name of Belsameth, the Neutral Evil Slayer, goddess of Darkness and Nightmares and Death.
        Interesting... I'd like to see how that will translate into the 5e version when the new players guide is finished. I could see that being cool maybe by hanging it off the Inspiration system, but as straight bonuses to things I don't know if I'd care for that idea.

        Originally posted by nofather View Post
        There's eight gods and one titan that remains. Each of the eight gods covers one of the alignments, reflecting a distinct aspect of the universe and side of mortal nature. The titan Denev, a being of primal nature, acting as true neutral.

        Because of the omnipresent nature of the gods, generally people will be giving tribute to all of them at one point or another. You tend to pick one you worship more than others, and that one is likely associated with your alignment, or one step away. If you don't pick one, the gods sort of tempt or threaten you one way or another to make a choice.
        That I definitely like. One God per Alignment (and a Titan for True Neutral) seems like a great way to approach alignment. It does raise a few questions for me, though. I read that Titans don't have alignments but do Titanspawn? Do ushada? And if people generally pay homage to all of the gods, even if they tend to favor one more than the others, does that mean there is generally more acceptance for the Evil alignments?

        Originally posted by nofather View Post
        There are demigods, too, for more niche needs. The high elves had a demigod that was slain during the war. Since then, they've become Forsaken, unable to sustain their race.
        Ok, so Demigods are more where the traditional "The (demi)God of Things" trope comes in, and the Gods have more generalized purviews like alignments and Domains?

        Originally posted by nofather View Post
        Regarding classes, I get the feeling they're referring to the cleric and druid split. Clerics serve the gods, who I've already mentioned. Druids are working with the same primal forces of the universe that made the titans, and are often linked to them. Sometimes this means Denev, 'the good one,' who's True Neutral, but often they're worshipers of the actual titans. They can opt out and just be general practitioners as well.
        Cool. That clear in-universe distinction between arcane, divine, and primal magic is a big part of the appeal of Points of Light/Nentir Vale to me, so it's good to see there's a similar justification in Scarred Lands. Are the non-magic classes specific Things That Exist in the setting as well, or just the standard sort of nebulous classification "dude what fights with weapons and armor", "dude what fights in robes and punches stuff", "dude what sneaks around and opens locks", etc?

        Originally posted by nofather View Post
        As old as it is, Scarred Lands would likely still offer you a fresh setting to play around in.
        Cool! I think I'm starting to get a picture of the general setting, what's probably going to make it or break it for me is the particulars of the world, like the cultures of different cities, religious practices observed by specific gods. All that worldbuilding stuff that my players will probably just skim. Thanks for the detailed response!


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        • #5
          Oh, I picked up the gazetteer, I've been enjoying that quite a bit so far. One thing that caught my attention was the Hollow Knights. What's up with them? I gather they're kind of like a race of Alphonse Elrics. Are they meant as a playable race at all, or are they just non-hostile animated armors?


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          • #6
            You say the world isn't in a state of medival stasis, does that mean Scarn was more technologically advanced pre-titan war and the war set them back?
            Oh, I was mostly referring to the pre and post-war world. Before the war, the titans would create and destroy things at a whim. There was a cycle of civilizations before. Basically, a titan would create some form of life and help them develop, then the titan would either get bored or the other titans jealous and they would come along and wreck it all. Civilizations and races have risen and fallen, and others have picked up the scraps and managed to learn enough to rebuild.

            That raises an interesting point though, sounds like ushada are not on good terms with the Titans, but Druids are the most likely to worship the Titans, so I take it Druids don't tend to work with ushada? Or is it like a "good Druids worship ushada and/or Denev, bad Druids worship Titans" kind of thing?
            Druids are most likely to worship the titans, but they can just be general druids too. Denev is also a bit of a 'good titan' so not all druids are evil. But among the titanspawn you would find druids and not clerics. Clerical magic comes from the gods, while 'nature' magic isn't granted by the titans, but is a smaller scale version of what the titans used, and the ushadan druids call on spirits for their nature magic. The Ushadan think the titan worshipers are focusing too much on a titan, rather than the natural world they are a part of.

            Really, you can have titan-worshipers who aren't evil, but it's a rare thing. They give some reasons for it across the books, like worshiping in hopes to avoid their wrath, or appreciating the positive aspects of the titans. You can easily portray it as good versus bad, but there's suggestions to play it other ways. At least in, I guess it would be called first edition now.

            Interesting... I'd like to see how that will translate into the 5e version when the new players guide is finished. I could see that being cool maybe by hanging it off the Inspiration system, but as straight bonuses to things I don't know if I'd care for that idea.
            I'm not sure how fifth edition works, I'm more of a Pathfinder player. I'd be surprised if they didn't update it.

            It does raise a few questions for me, though. I read that Titans don't have alignments but do Titanspawn? Do ushada? And if people generally pay homage to all of the gods, even if they tend to favor one more than the others, does that mean there is generally more acceptance for the Evil alignments?
            Yes, both do. With the Ushada it can kind of vary in importance, if you're into ancestor worship the alignment of your ancestor would have a big impact, but if you're into totem worship it's more like Werewolf, where there's an ability and a taboo, which is like a ban.

            As for the acceptance for evil alignments, I wouldn't go that far, at least not thinking that it's universal. Certain nations and occupations lend themselves to certain gods more than others do. There's definitely more acceptance for the prayer to other gods, however, especially since it can be done without favoriting one and all the gods fought for the world. Serving Chardun is far more acceptable than serving Bane was, though I think Bane has loosened up lately so that might be a bad example.

            Ok, so Demigods are more where the traditional "The (demi)God of Things" trope comes in, and the Gods have more generalized purviews like alignments and Domains?
            Pretty much. Erias is the Lord of Dreams.

            Are the non-magic classes specific Things That Exist in the setting as well, or just the standard sort of nebulous classification "dude what fights with weapons and armor", "dude what fights in robes and punches stuff", "dude what sneaks around and opens locks", etc?
            They actually have backgrounds to some of them and reasons for them existing, they came up in the various Player's Guides for classes like this. Fighters have existed because there's always been some monster horde attacking and groups were started to keep safe and pass on the knowledge of how to fight and defend against them. I don't know how good the others are, and it seemed like something added towards the end.

            Cool! I think I'm starting to get a picture of the general setting, what's probably going to make it or break it for me is the particulars of the world, like the cultures of different cities, religious practices observed by specific gods. All that worldbuilding stuff that my players will probably just skim. Thanks for the detailed response!
            No problem, needed to be distracted by something. They did a lot of world-building, you're bound to find someplace you like. Rose had some good advice, Hollowfaust is swell starting point to depict the differences. I'm still a little embarassed I didn't know it was made by White Wolf and Onyx Path until deal with Nocturne was announced.

            Oh, I picked up the gazetteer, I've been enjoying that quite a bit so far. One thing that caught my attention was the Hollow Knights. What's up with them? I gather they're kind of like a race of Alphonse Elrics. Are they meant as a playable race at all, or are they just non-hostile animated armors?
            They are sort of like that. They were created by Corean, armor possessed by the resting souls of warriors. When they were going to be granted life again, Vangal jealously cursed them so they remained spirit-powered suits of armor. You can play them but they're at Level Adjustment +7 in first edition and can only be fighters and maybe possibly paladins.

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            • #7
              According to the brochure 'hollow legionnaires' are being added as a character race, I'm sure they'll be much more playable.

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              • #8
                http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...e/ScarredLands

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