Bataar--one of the few remaining city-states of note in Akara. This is important to note, that they are one of the few remaining. The Great Dying, or the Cataclysm, or whatever name your people have for it has led to much of the world crumbling into a place where survival slumps to impossibility.
Bataar remaining intact is important. It is here that two of the most important luxury goods can be bought: colored dyes and poisons. A thousand different poisons, a thousand different colored powders, and body paints, all of which can still be somewhat safely made as the ecosystem of the Barrow Marshes has yet to be obliterated by the Great Dying.
But such fortune will not last long. The dark-skinned fisherfolk of Bataar--henceforth referred to as the Bataash--are a people as pragmatic as they are sly. As they note the changes in their swamp water, the disappearance of important fish, the refugees trying to trek through hellish marches to reach the city proper, it becomes clear that something must be done to prevent this sweeping wave of annihilation.
And they know too that that answer lies in Tarnak's legendary Monolith and the shards pouring in from the alien dimension to which it connects. But there is no such gateway in Bataar, and the shards found there are found in deep cracks that lead into the marshes or plucked from the bodies of merchants and scavengers alike.
So then, what to do? Bataar's whole way of life is threatened and the magic they need to potentially protect it is a continent away. But there is still some trade--Tarnak's mercantile elite still need their colors and their poisons--and Bataash's assassins have honed their craft in the most dangerously valuable place they could.
And so it manifests. Bataash's upper class brings forth their best weapons--silver tongues, sly schemes, subtle poisons--and uses them to delve into the scavenger-infested Tarnak. Some will go and search the World Torn Apart, and others will try and pry shards and shard secrets from artificers and invokers, and hopefully, Bataar will learn well the way forward.
But there is conflict in this swamp-city too. The upper class wage their own shadow wars against one another. The city's leader, known as the Overseer, has a life forever in danger. The fish are dying, and the people restless. Refugees try and take over the Barrow Marshes and must be driven out or assimilated. Chaos has infested the city; festivals grow thin, and a ladder manifests in the horridity of it all that can be climbed to the top. But once you reach that peak what will you find? Corpses beautifully dyed in red and blue and yellow and orange. Frogs singing in the thrushes with songs doubling as quiet dirges. Paranoid fisherfolk confronted with the extermination of everything they've ever loved.
Anxious, the life of the Bataash. Uncertain.
This is life in Akara. Make the best of it, while she still exists at all, scavengers. Perhaps there is survival out there. Somewhere. Somehow. Perhaps.
- text by Scavenger’s writer & designer Marquis Hartis
If you haven’t grabbed it yet, you can get the Scavenger 5e playtest on DriveThruRPG here or a direct download here. While you’re reading through it please remember that this is a playtest, many of the concepts are not set in stone yet so we want your opinion!
Now that you have read through it please let us know what you think by discussing it on Facebook, Twitter, Discord, and Reddit. In the near future we’ll also have a survey for more detailed responses.
For now we’ve created this FAQ to answer some questions and confusions that have arisen from the playtest.
FAQ for Version 1.0
Rule Changes in Scavenger
Use of “attribute”
All instance of attribute in relation to a character’s ability scores should be read as “ability score”
When do Death Saves reset?
Currently this is a lifetime number, it never resets. We wanted a setting that pushed the lethality harder than in core 5E, so we decided to make it so that you can only fall to 0 HP a number of times the entire character's life before death inevitably comes
Encumbrance should be calculated as 5+StrMod+ConMod+IntMod+Container Capacity.
Is the 2nd level Max Spell Level/Spellcasting Points by Level Table correct?
No, the 2nd level Max Spell Level should read “1st”
Some shardcasters have spells that aren’t on the list.
These are incorrect and will be updated.
Kith and Morg
The kith and morg are the two races that are found on Akara aside from humans.
Kith are humanoid, smaller, agile, tribal hunters, using night vision. They live in primitive huts in the forest. Most of them can be found living hidden within the Woods of Woe
Morgs - humanoid, tall, very strong, slower, muscular, four hands, a dying race, not very numerous.
"I was hiding across the pond, just beneath some bushes bone-dead. HE was sitting there, all four arms crossed over that trunk-chest, one foot locked in a trap. The Kanumans talked freely. One said that the Morg was too thick to understand what they were saying. Another was explaining the trap to a younger slaver, maybe an apprentice. Only I saw the twinkle in that Morg's eye. That twinkle that appears only when the answer forward is grasped--grasped like the necks of those slavers when the Morg quickly undid the trap and snapped their spines like they were breaking some poor refugee's wood-doll. Then he winked at me. At ME. Shit. Never think a Morg stupid because of their muteness. He's reminded me of this lesson a dozen times since."
Fantastic news, the Scavenger illustration "Explorers" was selected to be part of Spectrum 26: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art. It is rewarding to be selected among some of best fantasy artists in the world.
Good news everyone! The Scavenger Adventuring Gear booklet is now available in our shop!
Created during the last #inktober challenge, this is a collection of 31 black and white illustrations of weapons, armors and adventuring gear from the world of Scavenger, each with its own description. This booklet is ready to inspire you or to be used in any role-playing game adventure.
You can get the booklet in different variants:
Scavenger is something of an apocalyptic world. The pitch for it is simple: the world of Akara is dying, and the World Torn Apart is humanity's last hope for survival. This is not a unique pitch. Change a few words and see what happens: the world of Athas is dying, and Sorcerer-Kings (or psionics or the Dragon or…) is humanity’s last hope for survival. Another: The world of Crifoth is dying, and a traitorous archdemon is humanity’s last hope for survival. In other words, on the surface, these apocalypse-plagued worlds can strike readers as pretty samey.
But there’s always a bit of nuance that separates them. Example: Crifoth is a game about people fighting against literal Hell to escape slavery. That last bit is key, since demon-human slavery is a bigger focus than in Dark Sun. Aesthetic, too, separates these worlds. In Athas magic is environmentally murderous, there is no metal, and psionic powers makes even the mundane strikingly weird. These are ways to keep the apocalypse fresh by changing how it feels in terms of “What is my character looking like?” or “What is my character fighting against?”
Scavenger includes similar elements, but we wanted to take it somewhere else too. Instead of exploring only apocalyptic fantasy like some of these other great pillars have, we wanted our setting to tell types of stories that, so far, have been absent in tabletop gaming.
This is the Refugee Story.
Let’s put it like this: Scavenger isn’t just about surviving an apocalypse. It’s a story about being displaced. Your characters are being forced to move from one part of Akara to another, and in some instances forced to move into an entirely new universe. In this way, it’s intensely personal; instead of a focus on killing enemies or eating everything you find or rushing to get as much power as possible or becoming the biggest fish, the focus is on where do I go now and what happened to my loved ones after they scattered and what are the dangers of this new home.
To some, this might sound boring, but Scavenger is still a world for 5th Edition. There are monsters and combats and weird magics and all kinds of things that we (and all D&D player's) have come to love. There are striking villains and places desperately in need of heroes. There’s cool loot to find and weird dungeons to explore. But at the heart of it sits the theme of displacement. Scavengers haven’t forgotten the history of their world. They remember their homes, their old lives, and are trying to recapture that somewhere new. They, and almost everyone else that lives in Akara, are refugees forced to go to increasingly more alien extremes to rebuild their lives.
And all this isn’t to say that Crifoth or Dark Sun are worse than Scavenger. Crifoth is a setting I enjoy thoroughly, and Dark Sun is an absolute masterpiece and the first fantasy setting of its kind. Both offer tremendously cool experiences to be shared. It’s because these settings are such great pillars that the Scavenger project wants to take a new route to keeping the apocalypse fresh. We’re still working out the kinks but we think we have something here that, when applied to your normal games, will keep you coming back for more.
Scavenger is unique in that it draws from an aesthetic so far untapped in mainstream fantasy. Inspirations from Bronze Age civilizations, Punk culture, neolithic times, and piece-meal wealth color Akara as a place where everything you find, you put to use, no matter how esoteric it can be. Here is a suite of "standard" weapons and armor that scavengers wear - though standard is hard to define in a place where everything is the sum of its parts. You can follow Dominus on Instagram for more Scavenger #inktober designs.