Lost Crown at Avatar
Neverwinter is in the Forgotten Realms, so the Forgotten Realms campaign guides and novels can be useful for getting the “feel” for the realms.
About 27 years ago, a nearby volcano erupted, destroying half of the city (these events were detailed in the Forgotten Realms novel Gauntlgrym). The city is slowly rebuilding, but it’s an odd mix of ruins and new architecture.
Plaguechanged and Spellscarred are both permanent conditions and character themes from the new Neverwinter book. Everyone who plays in Encounters may get a theme— they’re in the goodei bags from Saturday and they’ll be in the Neverwinter campaign book. They are both related to the Spellplague.
About 100 years ago, the goddess of magic, Mystra, was assassinated, and the spells she used to hold the universe and the Realms together (the Spellweave) collapsed. The results were catastrophic and are known as the Spellplague. At least two, if not three, different worlds crashed into each other. Geography had to be rewritten. There are lands where magic doesn’t work as expected. Some places were better protected than others. One of the more dramatic changes was the Underdark— formerly a series of caverns, the breaking of the world opened a deep chasm above the Underdark, exposing it. It’s now a deep, black scar on the land, and of course the denizens have had greater access to the surface as a result
Thay has emerged as one of the stronger nations out of all this chaos and death. Previously, the country was ruled by a mageocracy of the Red Wizards, and to an extent, that is still true. Except the prime ruler is a lich, and if you’re not undead in Thay, you’re either a slave, or you’re food. If you’re lucky, you’re valuable food.
Plaguechanged, I think, refers to a location that is still being afflicted by the Spellplague. Spellscarred refers to someone who has been injured by the Spellplague and bears a magical scar as a result. Seldra has a Spellscar, as do some of the PCs (it’s a character theme).