The Scourge of the Scorn Lords
Meatlandia Book III
Old-School Essentials is THE modern dominant force in the OSR gaming scene, with a growing number of third-party products continually being released. Knight Owl Publishing continues to release new material under the OSE license. The Scourge of the Scorn Lords: Meatlandia Book III is the third and final installment of the Meatlandia trilogy. This latest sourcebook features a post-apocalyptic, wasteland-themed setting, along with a dazzling array of random tables! Written for use with Old-School Essentials—The Scourge of the Scorn Lords: Meatlandia Book III is the follow-up to The Chaos Gods Come to Meatlandia and Worm Witch: The Life and Death of Belinda Blood—requiring only the OSE Core Rules or other compatible OSR systems.
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The Scourge of the Scorn Lords is presented in three parts, with each part geared toward a specific purpose. Part one provides information on the Scorn Lands, regions, and the people. Part two is loaded with gameable material: new classes, equipment, psionics, and more. Part three is for the referee’s eyes only: details the Scorn Lords, bestiary, and referee tools. We’ll explore each of the three sections and then the totality of the book.
The Scorn Lands
The Scorn Lands is a vast swath of peninsular land separated from the mainland by mountains and the sea. It’s located south of Meatlandia and far to the southeast of the island of Annalida. The Scorn Lands comprises diverse and desolate landscapes bordered by mountains on three sides and the sea to the west. The landscape features ten distinct geographical regions: canyons, desert, foothills, mesas, mountains, oases, sand dunes, scrublands, sea cliffs, and wastelands. Each is briefly presented and includes a d12 “Encounter Table.” These tables are diverse and not simple one-liners like we find in other books.
Other information accompanying the geographical regions are the unique peoples and the seven great cities, home to the Scorn Lords and their palaces. The seven great cities of The Bone Fortress, The City of Joy, Dust City, Scorn Town, Vultureville, Wogsalg, and Zhen Town are only given short overviews, but that’s more than enough to convey their central themes and give Referees an overarching feel of each. The people of the Scorn Lands are as unique and diverse as the land in which they live. Thirteen classifications of people are given short entries, including the likes of gladiators, hermits, druid-like monster honchos, and Myrmeke, ant-like creatures.
The desolation and isolation of the Scorn Lands are very real for the players. New mechanics are given for Dehydration for both player characters and their animal companions. Sandstorms are also a real threat, and rules for these new environmental threats are given. Survival is paramount; accompanying the new rules are player-facing survival tips.
This first section of the book does a fantastic job conveying the look and feel of the Scorn Lands in short, succinct, bit size entries. Readers may want more information, but they will have a solid foundation for building their (Referee) stories in the Scorn Lands. Players should feel like they know enough to comfortably get started.
This section opens with four new setting-inspired characters classes—Fade, Mentalist, Monster Honcho, and the Myrmeke.
Fade – Elusive humanoids with a unique ability to fade from notice. Their ability is not invisibility but rather an uncanny knack to simply go unnoticed and easily be forgotten. Their inherent abilities make for interesting roleplaying and combat options, particularly Speak While Hidden, which allows the Fade to remain hidden and communicate with others. Fun fact: their Anti-Martyr ability gives a (4+CHA modifier)-in-6 chance that a Fade’s companions immediately forget them when they die.
Mentalist – Mentalists strive to unite their every aspect into a single, powerful whole through spiritualism. Their powers appear similar to Magic-users, but there are fundamental differences. A Mentalist’s power comes from within, not a book, diety, or worm. Spells are powered by Psychic Strength Points, requiring no preparation. Every Mentalist has equal knowledge of Psychic powers.
Monster Honcho – Lone wanders of the Scorn Lands. They collect teams of animals and monsters, with no differentiating between the two—both are creatures in their mind. Although still sociable around people, they have absolute respect for the animals in their care. The Monster Honcho is a different take on the Druid class that is befitting the setting. Class abilities allow them to charm, speak with, and summon creatures.
Myrmeke – By far the strangest of the new classes, the Myrmeke is a four-legged, two-armed ant. Their class abilities mimic real ant species—falling from heights without harm, the ability to carry extremely heavy objects for their size, and highly developed olfactory senses that let them follow trails and communicate with other Myrmeke. Fun Fact: They can speak common.
Various equipment lists are given and cover the usual range of areas, like adventuring gear, armor, weapons, beasts of burden, land vehicles, and vehicle modifications. Each list provides all necessary information, and most of the items are given a short descriptive entry. Items such as armor and weapons with descriptive entries in the OSE Core books are not duplicated here.
Psionics powers are potentially accessible to all players and NPCs through what are called “Wild Talents.” There are twenty-three psionic powers detailed, four of which are restricted to the Mentalist class. The others form the basis of the Wild Talents. All are presented in the familiar format of spells from the OSE Core books. During character creation, all players roll to determine if their character possesses a Wild Talent. If they’re fortunate enough to have one, they determine how many Psychic Strength Points (PSP) they have and their specific talent. The new Mentalist class already has access to this new ability.
Regarding the rules for Psionics, they are minimalistic and can be summed up easily. PSPs power psionic abilities, each of which has a set PSP cost. Once initiated, psionic powers may continue to be powered from round to round (or turn) by paying the PSP maintenance cost. However, movement is reduced to half speed while powers are activated. PSPs are regained at a variable rate per day under most conditions.
Psionic powers are not new to OSE. Another publisher, Planar Compass, also has a set of Psionic rules in their issue of Planar Compass #1. The difference here is that psionics powers, as envisioned by the authors, are potentially accessible by all players, not just specialists like the Mentalist class.
Referee’s Eyes Only
The last part of the book contains those things the referee needs to bring the Scorn Lands alive. First, there are the Scorn Lords, which include a brief history of their origins followed by a bestiary and ending with a collection of Referee tools that facilitate play.
According to the brief history given, the Scorn Lords are all brothers and sisters of immense parentage and power. Each Scorn Lord spread highlights all the particulars necessary to bring them into the game. In addition to their stats, other entries address each of their unique powers, political situations, size and strength of their armies, and if and how they might recruit adventurers. The bestiary provides Referees with thirty-one new monsters, humans, and demi-humans to further populate the Scorn Lands as NPCs and adversaries. Each entry details the necessary stats and gives all the pertinent information needed—this is in keeping with the OSE style established in the Core book. The Referee’s Tools are a mix of random tables that help to provide on-the-fly set dressings, a village and villager generator, and a few magic items. Of note, there are “trackers” for tracking the adventurers’ interactions with Scorn Lords, consumption of Oasis Water, and villages visited.
I want to draw readers’ attention to the fact that no space has gone unused. The insides of the covers and their associated endpapers have been filled with additional gameable material. In the front, we find the Vehicle Mayhem charts used to create and customize vehicles. At the back are two different tools. First, there is a Scorn Lords quick reference sheet, followed by a two-page Giant Insect Generator.
This collection of resources forms an excellent toolbox for Referees to make the Scorn Lands more vibrantly rich and alive.
The digest-sized book is beautifully put together. The heavy-duty cover boards, paste-down endpapers, and chunky spine ensure it will stand the test of time and repeated use. The covers are full-color with a silver foiled title. The paper is a nice medium weight with a near-matte finish, which is an improvement over the paper used in Worm Witch: The Life and Death of Belinda Blood. Throughout the book, wonderful illustrations are used to good effect. The layout is neat, clean, and easy on the eyes. A standalone, inserted grayscale map of the Scorn Lands is included with each book.
Writers Ahimas Kerp and Wind Lothamer have created a strange and vibrant fantasy setting that is likely to appeal to a broad audience. Not only does it connect their previous books in the Meatlandia triptych, but The Scourge of the Scorn Lords’ themes of isolation, desolation, survival are also common themes in the fantasy genre that have broad appeal.
For those that have previously purchased books in the Meatlandia series, you’ll want to grab a copy of this as well. In addition to completing the three-book series, it further builds on existing setting details and ties everything together. Or, if you’re a completist…
The Scourge of the Scorn Lords is another extremely well-developed, written, and executed sourcebook from Knight Owl Publishing.
Other Books in the series we’ve reviewed:
May I Introduce the Worm Witch?
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