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Basic Background

The Scarred Lands setting (originally published by White Wolf), is a gritty style D&D setting. The original setting was set 150 years after the Titanswar, a great world-war in which the gods fought a war against their parents, the titans. The titans were/are tied to the natural world, and were essentially forces of nature … without morals or cares. The gods were offspring of the titans that gained increasing strength from the worship of mortal followers.

We are going to play a fairly low-powered style game, as opposed to the Pathfinder basic setting. I’ll work in several alternative rules to emphasize this aspect.

What i loved about the original setting was the historical background and the careful attention to detail. In advancing the timeline, it simply lets me work in some new challenges and some new details, but we’ll keep with the deep sense of location and history.

For more info on the foundation of the setting, check out:

Scarred Lands Wikipedia entry.
A Fan Page

It is particularly important you get a sense of the gods, demi-gods, and titans that flesh out the backstory of the setting. Somewhat like in mythic Greece, the gods are quite active in the lives of mortals. This has continued — or even increased — since the end of the Divine War, as the gods themselves begin jockeying for worshippers, power, and souls. Here’s an updated list of the major gods and demi-gods in the setting:

Gods & Demigods

Special Rules

The Wheel of Alignment

To add some flair to traditional “alignment” based role-playing, we’ll use these rules i cobbled together long ago for alignment. Also, alignment is particularly important when invoking gods. See the full rules here:

Wheel of Alignment

Hero Points

You’ll get a stock of Hero Points equal to your level divided in two, rounded down, that “refresh” on three occasions: a) they refresh in entirety when you have a good rest. A good rest requires good food, drink, company, a good bed to sleep in, etc. It’s essentially downtime. b) you can ask the gods for their favor and you might get help … by invoking a god or goddess you can gain up to your max Hero Points. Be careful, however, as there will likely be implications of service, sacrifice, or such when invoking the gods. The gods will only award favor for things that are related to their domains or interests. c) you can get a Hero Point by doing something particularly heroic. I’ll be more stingy about this than i might be in a standard campaign … your action really needs to be heroic. By doing something heroic, you are gaining hero points from fate itself.

With your Hero Points, you can:

1. Add +5 to a roll OR re-roll a die on an attack roll
2. Automatically engage a critical
3. Automatically succeed in a skill test related to your “Mastery” (see below)
4. Avoid a death blow by dropping unconscious at your max negative hit points and stabilizing

Major Wounds

This version of Pathfinder/3.5 D&D will likely be somewhat more lethal, given the other adjusted rules. One additional rule related to character death will compensate for this to a degree. When you reach -Con, which typically means you expire, you will instead get to make a Con roll with difficulty 15. If you succeed, rather than dying, you are permanently wounded. You then roll a d6 to find out what ability score (e.g., STR, DEX, INT) is impacted and a d4 for the severity of the wound. This is applied as permanent ability damage to that stat, although it can be healed with certain magics.

Mastery Skills

This is a rule to allow some fudgy bits on skills that can be very important for gaining information. It’s influenced by the Gumshoe system by Robin Laws … the core of the Trail of Cthulhu mechanics and other investigative games. His big beef with most RPGs is that if you really need to get a clue for progressing the story and you fail, you’ll just end up frustrated or the GM will have to put in workarounds to avoid the adventure getting derailed or seizing up.

You can pick a number of skills equal to either your INT modifier or your WIS modifier. Circle these on your character sheet. You can spend a Hero Point to get an automatic 20 on these skills, even under pressure circumstances or other situations in which you could never take 20 anyway. These represent your PCs true areas of strong competence, except for fighting.

Somewhat low-powered magic, but with some twists

All magic will work as written in Pathfinder, but there are a few things I’m throwing in to adjust the magic level down. Plus, I’ve made all your starting PCs spellcasters so it won’t particularly “hurt” you anymore than any one else.

1. Arcane Magic is rare. True spellcasters are few and far between. Consequently, magic items are few and far between. Don’t expect to haul in a bunch of magic items, unless you are creating them yourselves. Divine Magic is also relatively rare and “clerics” rarely go adventuring as the party medic … they are most usually in temples tending to worshipers.

2. Arcane Magic is “fatiguing” to cast. Simple yet powerful rule adjustment. When you cast an Arcane spell, you need to pay for it in Hit Points equal to its level. Divine Magic does not invoke a HP penalty but obtaining divine spells is much harder and using them in accordance to the gods’ wishes is critical.

3. Divine spellcasters must really pray for their spells. They do not need to memorize them in advance, but cannot just pump out Cure Light Wounds time after time. They need to pray to their god, and then complete the ritual. It slows down Divine spellcasting immensely.

4. On the positive side for Arcane Magic, you are able to make use of appropriate foci to boost your spells. Finding something that is sensibly linked to your magic boosts its power, and it goes off as if you were 2 levels higher as a spellcaster. So, a ruby might be able to boost a fireball. It’ll give you good reasons to hunt around for and make use of things you find. You HAVE to have a focus in order to create a magic item.


We won’t track XP, as in our Pathfinder campaign. I’ll decide when adding a level is appropriate. If we campaign longer than the adventure I’ve prepped, there will also be a key component to downtime and studying with teachers.

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