The Vigil Watch series, for the Scarred Lands 5E setting, is a collection of shorter supplements focused on certain geographic locations of Scarn. At only 8 pages of content each, it’s a tight fit, but they all do a good job of presenting the location and the gameable elements of it. The first three also contain very nice maps, two of which could turn into battlemats, with the third more “city and environs”.
For the buccaneers at your table, the Blood Sea is a perfect place to set a swashbuckling game of piracy and plunder, sailors and shipwrecks. This title provides focus to the area in the Blood Sea known as the Toe Islands. They are five small islands used as bases for pirates in the region and are said to be the literal toes of the titan Kadum, the one whose blood makes the Blood Sea the Blood Sea.
Each island gets a paragraph of two of summary, relevant mechanics that could also be lifted for similar regions (for example, specific diseases, navigating inclement weather, the dangers of reefs, or landing on rough shores), and potential encounters. The five islands include mist-laden and cursed(?) Algos; volcanic and mineral-heavy Cyri; the tropical jungl of Mori, home to the Water Runner Tribe of druids; rocky Roh Ahnon, where the powerful pirate band “The Empire of the Sea” makes their headquarters; and Thalien, covered in abandoned ruins – including a site perfect for a great “dungeon”.
The supplement also includes “Tears of the Weeping Maiden”, an adventure that delves into the mystery of one of the Toe Islands. It’s more than an outline but is still relatively brief in description, though the events could vary in actual play length, depending on if the DM wants to elaborate on any segment and bring in elements described earlier in the description of this particular island. It’s an expedition-style adventure, so has much opportunity for spills and thrills (and kills!).
As we move westward from the Blood Sea, we come to the land south of the Plains of Lede and the settlement founded by the Riders of Mansk, led by one Tivvien Klesh. The Yorling of Mansk began as a simple camp, which became an outpost, then a town, and grew to a bastion of stability in the region near the Blood Basin. Harking back to the early days of the game, Mansk is a perfect location for players to use as a base while they adventure in the region and build up a reputation. There’s enough information for a DM to build upon and flesh out over time.
While an adventure isn’t included in this chapter, there are plot seeds involving the bands of manticora who occasionally trade in Mansk, the politics among the local barbarians who consider the founders of Mansk to have given up their old ways, and a local’s missing sibling.
Mechanics-wise, this chapter has statistics for a number of local threats, including new Titanspawn and Unredeemed orc threats.
As we continue west past the Kelder mountains, skirting the forest of the Ganjus along the northern border, and following the lake to its southwesternmost point, we arrive in the spiritual heart of the burgeoning Manticora Confederacy, the city of Leoni.
Having only had brief detail in the Scarred Lands Player’s Guide, this is a nice chapter to read through to learn more about the manticora. They are semi-nomadic, so permanent settlement in the city is only now becoming more frequent. While the city is relatively calm inside, the compromises some of the manticora have needed to make is a good jumping-off point for intrigue and political plotlines. Little plot hooks involving the residents or locations are sprinkled throughout the text, with a number of more explicitly presented encounters providing story/adventure ideas.
If the manticora are going to feature heavily in your game, either as NPCs, or if there’s a PC in the group, this is a great chapter to read to learn of festivals, customs, and culture. Like Mansk, it’s also a great location to use as a home base, offering many amentities to adventurers and acting as a good staging ground for adventures far afield.
Speaking of nomads and city-states, chapter 4 focuses in on the Redeemed Ironbred. Rejecting their creator and with no settled home, hunted by their Titanspawn brethren, their culture is nomadic with a really cool structure. A roving city-state, the Iron Citadel is a concept or idea of the Ironbred people rather than a fixed fortification, and it’s presented with as much detail as a city or settlement would have, covering structure, warfare, trade, culture, etc. What’s also neat is it’s not homogenously Ironbred either, as a number of orcs are also members of the Iron Court.
Beyond the cultural information, which is really nicely written, the geography of the Sweltering Plains is covered, along with the dangers of the land. There are examples of and rules for specific hazards, as well as some additional antagonists to use. Like the other chapters, it feels like a lot gets packed in a small space.
I can’t pick a favorite so far, they all have very different utility, so it’s hard to compare. Chapters 1 and 2 remind me of The Isle of Dread and the wilderness adventures centered around Threshold in the Expert (Blue) Box. Chapters 3 and 4 present unique and interesting locales, primarily highlighting non-traditional peoples and cultures in F20 games – so there’s something fun in all of them! You can follow the Affiliate links in the chapter titles above or this link to DriveThruRPG to pick up these supplements!