Tabletop Game: Scarred Lands
A campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons
3.5, published by White Wolf
under their Swords and Sorcery imprint. In 2013, Onyx Path Publishing and Nocturnal Media — both run by White Wolf alumni — bought the Scarred Lands rights, with plans to reimagine the setting and system.
Scarred Lands takes place on the planet Scarn, 150 years after the second great war. The world is still in ruins from the conflict and its aftermath.
In this world, the Titans created pretty much everything, including the Gods. But just like they created everything, they also destroyed everything - thus making room for new creations. The Gods, who depended on the prayers of mortals for their own sustenance, could not easily accept the wanton slaughter of their followers.
For a while, the Gods and Titans coexisted. They even fought the first great war together, united against psionic extradimensional invaders.
The second war was all of the Gods together, picking off the Titans one by one. It is heavily implied that the Gods and their mortal followers would never have had a chance if the Titans had ever truly united against the threat.
In the end, the world (what was left of it) belonged to what has since then been known as The Nine Victors. This is now the ruling pantheon of the world, consisting of the eight main Gods and the only remaining Titan, Denev the Earthmother, a Captain Ersatz
for Gaia. Ever since the war she has been sleeping inside the earth, trying to heal the land from the damage caused by the war.
The primary gods are
- Corean, the Avenger - Lawful Good (son of Denev and Kadum)
- Madriel, the Redeemer - Neutral Good (daughter of Mormo and Mesos, twin of Belsameth)
- Tanil, the Huntress - Chaotic Good (daughter of Denev and Hrinruuk)
- Hedrada, the Lawgiver - Lawful Neutral (son of Denev and Golthain)
- Enkili, The Trickster - Chaotic Neutral (son/daughter of Gulaben and Lethene)
- Chardun, the Slaver - Lawful Evil (son of Mormo and Gormoth)
- Belsameth, the Slayer - Neutral Evil (daughter of Mormo and Mesos, twin of Madriel)
- Vangal, the Reaver - Chaotic Evil (son of Lethene, Chern and Thulkas)
The thirteen titans consist of
- Chern the Scourge
- Denev the Earth Mother - True Neutral
- Gaurak the Glutton
- Golthagga the Shaper
- Golthain the Faceless
- Gormoth the Warper
- Gulaben, Lady of the Winds
- Hrinruuk the Hunter
- Kadum the Mountainshaker
- Lethene, Dame of Storms
- Mesos, Sire of Sorcery
- Mormo, Mother of Serpents
- Thulkas the Iron Lord
Most of the setting resolves around Ghelspad, the most civilized continent on Scarn. Later, the setting would begin to detail Termana, an untamed continent where civilization struggles to survive. The desert continent of Asherak, the Asian-themed Dragon Lands and the icy realm of Ferilik would also be mentioned.
Scarred Lands has examples of
- Abusive Parents: Mormo and Gormoth to Chardun. Hrinruuk raped Tanil. And the Titans in general didn't care that their constant reshaping of the world on a whim was harming the Gods' followers and thus the Gods themselves.
- Abusive Precursors: The Titans.
- Affably Evil: Hrinruuk was the most charming of the Titans, and everyone who met him had a hard time not liking him. Even so, he only cared about himself, and would kill and rape at his pleasure, being so self-centered that he gave no thought to their pain.
- Colaxis is said to have the personality of a storytale knight, being witty and courteous even in battle. The weird thing? He's a giant spider who's the champion of Sethris, the demi-goddess of revenge.
- After the End: The apocalypse was one hundred and fifty years ago.
- Alien Sky: Scarn has two moons. One is the home of Belsameth, and considered a bad omen.
- Alternative Calendar: Each year has 16 months, two for each god.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Not always used. It's pointed out on occasion that some Titanspawn (creatures associated with and main servants of the Titans) have turned to the worship of the gods. For the most part though, it's a non-issue. The monsters in this setting are mean.
- And I Must Scream: Most of the Titans were punished this way; they couldn't be killed, so most were dismembered or otherwise rendered physically helpless and sealed in some Tailor-Made Prison unique to each, still fully conscious.
- The Archmage: Yugman the Sage, one of the handful of characters in the setting who's past level 20.
- Ax-Crazy: Special mention goes to Vangal and his followers, even more so because his weapon of choice is a pair of axes.
- Bad Powers, Bad People: Subverted by the necromantic magocracy of Hollowfaust. They're necromancers, but rule one of the safest cities on Ghelspad, and are interested more in knowledge than power. That said, most of them are of a neutral alignment and aren't necessarily nice or fair. A few are even evil, but a restrained evil that the rest find tolerable.
- Balance Between Good and Evil: In this case, the balance exists, but isn't truly necessary. The gods know they aren't invincible, and aren't eager to go the way of the titans. They've all agreed to a Divine Truce that prevents them from directly warring on one another, instead pursuing their goals through their servants, as well as any personal conflict.
- Base on Wheels: The underground dark elf city Dier Drendal is periodically moved by a legion of golems, to keep their dwarven enemies from finding it.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Chardun, who was conceived by Mormo and Gormoth so that they could test the limits of divine endurance.
- Black and White Morality: Subverted - the alignment system is used, but the good and evil gods are mostly allied to each other. Mostly.
- Blood Magic: Blood Mages use Titansblood to augment their powers, and gain some druidic spell casting ability as well.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Invoked with Yugman the Sage, who is said to not see the world in black and white, but in a color of his choosing.
- Body Horror: Quite a few of the monsters, and some of the spells as well. In particular is Gormoth and his cult called The Twisted. Gormoth was known as the Shaper, and was the first Titan to create sapient life. But after the other Titans poisoned him, imprisoned him and stole his secrets, he was driven insane, and began to use his powers to take out his anger on mortal beings. His Twisted continue this tradition, although partially for experimentation and sacrifices instead of just fun.
- Came Back Wrong: What Belsameth tried to do to Jandaveos, the demigod of elves. Had she succeeded, he would've come back evil, and a powerful partner for her.
- Children Are Innocent: Sure, children are innocent. Monsters who look like children are another matter.
- Church Militant: The church of Corean places a lot of emphasis on crusades of good.
- Circus of Fear: The Carnival of Shadows.
- Crapsack World: Arguable. There are many heroes and active good gods working on repairing the world, but it IS a very a dangerous place.
- Deal with the Devil: Inverted. A story tells how a man once sold his soul so he could become a sorcerer. He spent the rest of his life being as good a man as possible, treating his friends and enemies with respect and donating much of his income to those who needed it. Despite this, he still knew that one day his soul would be claimed. On his death bed, the stranger he sold his soul to comes to claim him. The man laments that he tried to leave a good life so others wouldn't have to damn themselves the way he did. The stranger chuckles, and as white wings envelope the man, he says that the world would be a much darker place if fiends were the only ones who heard desperate prayers.
- Defiled Forever: The goddess Tanil, who is permanently depressed. If it's because her own father raped her, if it's because she got her revenge by pretending to let him join the Gods in the war and then murdered him, or if it's because of how the war destroyed the land... well, take your pick.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The setting actually discouraged this. The books emphasize that the Gods are likely to be far more powerful than any player character, and they're nearly all-powerful on their home planes, which they never leave. The Titans are so powerful that they aren't even given statistics. Because of this, epic level characters and feats are rarely used in the setting, although not directly taken out.
- Draco in Leather Pants: In-universe, probably the reason the Titan Hirinruuk has a cult, despite his abhorrent personality and habit of creating powerful monsters to hunt (he made the Tarrasque so he could have something to stop being bored after the excitement of the Divine War ended). He even looks the part, seeming for all the world like a normal, if Bishōnen, man who is stated to be the most charismatic of the Titans. His lead cultist is implied to be an ex-girlfriend.
- Dream Land: A plane called the Dreamlands, ruled by the demi-god of dreams Erias. The main location of his mortal worshippers, the Drifting Isle, is also influenced by dreams. Blood Bayou is also revealed to be a dream land, which is why reality keeps shifting there.
- Dystopia Justifies the Means: Many followers of the Lawful Evil God Chardun are fighting to create a global Police State where everyone is under the feet of the hierarchy. Then again, they'd be free to be... ambitious, and thus advance in the hierarchy. As an added bonus, they will all go to hell when they die, starting out at the bottom of its food chain.
- Eldritch Abomination: Most of the Titans.
- The Slarecians as well, who were originally beings of pure thought before they got trapped during the world's creation.
- Eternal English: Justified in regards to Titanspeech. The Titans developed the language as a way to communicate with their followers, but they weren't interested in keeping up with changes so their worshippers were ordered to keep it the same.
- Ethical Slut: The goddess Idra and her followers. Idra's mother Tanil may have been this, before her rape at the hands of her father and the scarring of the land.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Vangal in regards to Madriel the Healer. Being a god of destruction, Vangal finds the notion of healing others to be alien, and even disturbing.
- Evil Twin: The goddesses of Good and Evil are twins. With Madriel being the good twin and Belsameth being the evil twin. They often impersonate each other. Especially with Belsameth impersonating Madriel, but the reverse also happens sometimes.
- Evil Overlord: Chardun is the god of evil overlords. The main mortal example is King Virduk, ruler of Calastia and quite possibly the most dangerous man on Ghelspad.
- Experience Points: Actually given a justification. Every person has a thaumaturgic field, which grows as they gain power. This field is what lets wizards store their spells, and is also the source for the almost supernatural abilities that classes like rogues and monks gain. Whenever a character does something that costs XP, they're actually just bleeding off part of their field.
- Extreme Omnivore: Gaurak the Glutton. He ate every living thing on the moon. Also, his creations the fatlings and gauntlings, both of which are afflicted by supernatural hunger.
- Eyeless Face: The late Titan Golthain and many of his followers: Golthain got his face mutilated by his fellow Titans, and his followers tend to remove their own eyes in his honor.
- Also the Blood Maidens: After the gods won the war against their parent Titans, they sealed them since they could never be killed. One of the Titans, Kadum the Mountain Shaker, was chained and flung into the deepest oceans, where the sea now runs red from his constantly bleeding wound where his heart was cut out. As a result of the exposure, all nearby sea life became tainted by the Titan's blood. Among the resulting monsters were the Blood Maidens, who look like beautiful women with long black hair and pale skin. When seeing their faces, the creature's monstrous nature becomes clear. Instead of a normal face, the Blood Maiden has only a giant circular, eyeless maw, like a lamprey.
- For Happiness: One character interpretation of the Titan Gulaben.
- Freudian Excuse: In-universe, this is sometimes applied to the Lawful Evil god Chardun, who is believed by some to have become evil because of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his Titan parents. His followers, who consider mercy a weakness, think this is nonsense, and that the torment only brought his true nature to the surface.
- Gender Bender: As the prime Chaotic Neutral deity, Enkili has two main forms: a storm goddess and a trickster god.
- Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: The other character interpretation of the Titan Gulaben.
- The Gods Must Be Lazy: Usually averted with some attempt at justifying some more questionable examples. The Gods did free the world from the Titans, and have a close relationship with their followers. Because they can only manifest one avatar in the world at a time, they usually save them for truly important emergencies. They're also said to be busy with keeping the universe functioning, and sometimes can't take action unless a situation relates to their sphere of influence. But it's not satisfactorily explained why they don't take care of some of the bigger threats to save their followers the trouble.
- Gods Need Prayer Badly: The big difference between Gods and Titans. Also a main motivation for most of the major conflicts in the world, from the Titanswar itself to the powerhunger of the evil Gods: They need worship just as much as the good Gods do, but mortals are more inclined to worship the good Gods since these have more positive energy (healing, blessings et cetera) to offer.
- A variation is found in Vangal, the Chaotic Evil god of slaughter. He doesn't draw his power from prayer, but from violence, especially violence comitted by his followers. Technically he does need worship too, the worship just takes the form of mass murder.
- Great Big Library of Everything: The Library of Lokil. It is the only remaining part of the city of Lokil, which was destroyed during the Divine War, and its destruction may have been prevented by the god of knowledge Hedrada himself. They're very careful regarding visitors, and the sages constantly work to expand the knowledge held by the library.
- The Grim Reaper: This is one interpretation of the god of death, Nemorga. It's not necessarily his true form, but it's how most common people visualize him.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Vode Nulan was a warrior mage obsessed with ridding the world of evil. When he spent a year empowering a blade for that exact purpose, he called on Madriel to give it one final blessing. Instead, Belsameth disguised herself as Madriel, and cursed the blade to drive him to become incredibly destructive in his quest. When he finally realized what he had become, Vode took one final step to rid the world of evil—by killing himself.
- There are other examples in the series. Oberyn Amethyst fights against the oppressive Calastia regime, but actually hates all humans equally because it was humans who killed her family. Thadorius the Titanstalker hates everyone, and will kill any titanspawn he encounters, regardless of alignment.
- He Who Must Not Be Named: The fallen god of the forsaken elves is refered to as "That Which Abides". But it's not that people are afraid to speak his name, it's that they can't remember his name. Chern erased knowledge of his name from the world as one final "screw you" before he was killed.
- Heteronormative Crusader: The Lawful Neutral God Hedrada and Lawful Evil God Chardun are both merciless bastards with harsh and arbitrary laws condemning love, sexuality, and, well, positive emotions in general. Hedrada is the one most prone to discriminate against homosexuals and promiscuous people. The laws of Hedrada's holy city Hedrad consider homosexual love and heterosexual promiscuity to be crimes punishable by death. It even has strict punishments for public hugging. Granted, this city also kills monogamous heterosexuals who enter relationships without getting the blessing of the church first. However, as a monogamous heterosexual, you CAN get the blessing of the church, while homosexuals and promiscuous people can not. Storytelling-wise, the blatantly homophobic etc. laws of Hedrad are used to highlight that the God Hedrada is in fact NOT a good God.
- It should also be noted that Hedrada is usually written as having good tendencies, it's mostly in Hedrad that his negative aspects are in full force.
- Hit So Hard the Calendar Felt It: The gods made their own calendar after the Divine War ended.
- Horror Hunger: Many of Gaurak's servants are afflicted by this. His fatlings are so obese that they can only move because they sweat oil, and the gauntlings are cursed to be forever tormented with agonizing hunger. Both eat constantly.
- Humans Are Ugly: In the short story anthology "Champions of the Scarred Lands", a slitherin remarks to his captive that as he understands it, she's an ideal example of human beauty. He himself finds her smooth, hairless skin disgusting and her non-hunched over body ridiculous.
- Humble Hero: Barconius, leader of the city of Mithril and Corean's main paladin. An anecdote in a spell that allows the caster to create a clone of an enemy's shadow relates when Barconius was told after defeating a cabal of shadow casters that one of the shadows might have been his, laughed and responded "Then it's no wonder the villains were felled with such ease".
- I Did What I Had to Do: Sadly unavoidable in such a nasty setting. One prime example is the Order of the Morning Sky, who are often forced to burn villages infected with a virus that changes the populace into monsters to prevent the virus from spreading.
- Kill One, Others Get Stronger: The demonic outsiders known as ferals possess this trait.
- Kung-Fu Wizard: The Order of the Closed Book, who can multiclass as wizards and monks without penalty.
- Land of One City: Due to the devastation of the Divine War, half of the countries on Ghelspad are city states.
- Love Goddess: Idra. Sex forms a big part of her religion, but a lot of value is placed on genuine love.
- Magic Knight: The most prominent examples are the Calastian battle-mages. A few other prestige classes are this too. The Asaatthi are a whole race of these guys.
- The Magocracy: Several, including Hollowfaust the City of Necromancers, and its rival city-state Glivid Autel.
- Meta Plot: The "Dead God" trilogy of novels deals with the efforts of the high priest of the elven demigod's efforts to resurrect his deity. He succeeds, and a follow-up supplement details how his return has affected the elven kingdoms of Termana, and the rest of the world. However, the series always emphasized that the final decision on anything was up to the DM, and encouraged them to ignore whatever they didn't like. There were a few other alterations to the series as time went on.
- Moral Guardians: Spoofed in the supplement Mithril: City of the Golem. Coffee is a controversial subject, with some believing that it's a gift from Corean to keep the people awake and alert. Objectors claim that it's a curse sent by Vangal to disrupt the city.
- Well, sort-of spoofed. Unbelievably enough, medieval Middle-Eastern civilization and then early-Rennaissance Europe each took this controversy very seriously. Modern Mormons still consider coffee verboten.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Mesos, Titan of magic, had six arms and wasn't above using swords. The spider-eye goblins and narleth are monsters with multiple appendages.
- Nay-Theist: Due to the destruction that the Divine Wars caused, there're some people who feel that the world would be better off without gods or titans. The other variant is mentioned, people who acknowledge the gods' existence, but question by what standard they are "gods," a philosophy most people in the setting take a dim view of.
- Neglectful Precursors: While the Titans can't be killed, the Gods were still pretty sloppy in disposing of their remains, which have tainted the land and its creatures. However, the worst examples apply to Titans who were killed by the evil gods. One passage believed to be written by Chardun says that the aforementioned Blood Sea was the fault of Vangal, who decided to chuck Kadum into the ocean after they bound him.
- Ominous Floating Castle: You can make your own!
- Parental Incest: Hrinruuk raped his daughter Tanil, resulting in the birth of Idra. Mesos also tricked his daughter Belsameth into coupling with him while he was in disguise, conceiving Erias, the demigod of dreams.
- Plaguemaster: Chern, of course. His sorcerers and druids as well. Vangal, as the son of Chern, is the god of pestilence. However, his prefered method of killing is a bit less...subtle.
- Priceless Paperweight: The pantheon of Gods managed to slay the titan Kadum (aka The Mountainshaker). The mighty titan's source of power was his heart, so the goddess Belsameth (aka The Slayer) ripped it out... and has since used it as a footstool.
- Rape and Revenge: The goddess Tanil and her father, the Titan Hirinruuk.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Idra is one of the gentler deities, but shows no mercy to rapists.
- Ritual Magic: Introduced in the first Relics & Rituals book.
- Rodents of Unusual Size: The Slitheren, rats who were mutated by the remains of the fallen titans. Some are just generic rat men, but there exist tribes who have powers based upon which titan's flesh their ancestors consumed.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: As grim as things may seem on the surface, the developers tended to emphasize the hope of the setting. The devastation of the land? Denev is slowly knitting the world back together, and her druids are hard at work as well. The millions of monsters running around? All of them can be killed, and there are many organizations devoted to doing just that. The seemingly unstoppable advance of the Calastian empire? The possibility that the tide could turn against them is brought up several times, and they have a lot of enemies. There's a lot of work to be done, but the ultimate fate of the world is in the players' hands.
- Snake People: The asaatthi. They used to rule the world, and had unparalleled skill in magical and martial arts.
- Squishy Wizard: Justified - magic causes the body to release extreme heat for the spellcasting actually a side effect of the Titan Mesos attempting to put himself back together, meaning that heavy armor becomes an oven to any mage stupid enough to wear it.
- The Starscream: One of the villains is a being called Momus, AKA The Jack Of Tears, who rules over his own part of the world. He has four lieutenants, and all but one of them is planning to usurp him and betray each other. Mormus's well aware of this, but he lets them continue their machinations just because it amuses him.
- Stripperiffic: Justified - using arcane magic releases heat within the spellcaster's body, explaining the core rule systems ban on wizards using armor while also giving the caster the buff protection from cold with the side effect of making any heavy clothing really uncomfortable to wear. Some cultures embrace the skimpy garb this situation tends to require, while some with more modesty wear scant clothing under loose fitting robes that they can quickly cast aside when they need to use magic.
- Suddenly Sober: There's a low level spell that allows you to do this. Sometimes, young sorcerers will instinctivly cast it on a drunken parent.
- Unperson: You may be asking yourself why the setting doesn't technically have a god of neutrality. Well, it did. His name was Urkanthus (son of Denev and Thulkas), and he was the only god who objected to the Divine War, foreseeing the damage it would cause. While most of the gods were willing to continue the debate, the evil gods...weren't. After murdering him, they destroyed his writings, his temples and all memories of him. This was also the fate of Gulaben, because her pleasure inducing powers would've been too tempting for others to try to release her.
- Denev has a bardic order that can do this, if someone angers them enough.
- Villainous Glutton: Gaurak, of course. Many of his worshippers also fit the Trope, becoming horribly obese creatures called fatlings.
- Vice City: Shelzar, the aptly named City of Sins.
- Was Once a Man: The power of the Titans tends to turn people into their idea of perfection-fatlings are priests of Gaurak who ate a sacred melon that is only palatable to his chosen, and hags are women who desired dark magic, which gave them Age Without Youth.
- Wicked Witch: Belsameth has the general appearance in her favored form. Note the word "favored"; she's actually Madriel's identical twin, and thus actually a Hot Witch. She, however, hates her sister with a passion and only takes her true form if she thinks there's a large gain she can get from it.
- The Wonka: Yugman the Sage. Very powerful? Yes. Extremely knowledgeable? Definitely. Comes off as a complete kook? Oh yeah.
- World Half Empty / World Half Full: The setting is not strictly in either category. The world has been torn apart, the Titans' remains taint the world, there are thousands of monsters everywhere, the evil gods are as active in the world as the good gods, and the possibility remains that the titans could be resurrected. However, despite the dangers of the setting, it's rarely suggested that those dangers are insurmountable in the long run, and there are plenty of heroes and hope to be found.
- Worm That Walks: One of the monsters described in the "Creature Collection II: Dark Menagerie" are vermin hosts, former human vagrants who were cursed by one of the evil gods who was angry that they happened to pray to another god other than him to let them live another day in their dismal squalor. From this Disproportionate Retribution he had various vermin (rats, roaches, leeches, spiders) burrow into their skin, giving them Cursed with Awesome powers as they are able to use their new abilities to control their own swarm of vermin, turn into giant anthropomorphic versions of those vermin, and disintegrate into swarms to help escape enemies or commit espionage (which the spider vermin hosts do most of the time). As a side note, they're able to reproduce The Virus style by allowing one of their vermin to infect a person, whose whispers of power and whatnot usually cause them to accept them thereby summoning a larger swarm of that vermin which turns them into new vermin hosts while inheriting some of the memories of the previous ones. This is also squick because, mind you, the vermin are always moving under the host's skin to find more comfortable areas to rest (which includes large rats!).