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Village Backdrop: Silver Bluff (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/22/2018 03:52:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Silver Bluff is a mining town with a twist - sprung up as little more than a better camp, it began in a promising manner...but then, the mine's silver started to run out. Let’s just say that the local population did not take kindly to these changes and the ramshackle ethnic composition alongside the lack of a governing body mean that this is very much a dangerous place to be. As far as the system neutral version is concerned, the pdf uses proper nomenclature, like thief, etc. and the conversion of the marketplace section is nice.

The vast chasm that separates the camp from the mine is also one of the reasons why this village is haunted by howling windstorms, which also influence the dressing habits of the place. The pdf does feature notes on nomenclature, appearance of locals and 6 rumors for your convenience. The village also features notes on the local tavern, paranoid representatives ...this is not the nicest place to spend your time, though e.g. mountain climbing equipment and a local dwarven cleric can help adventurers here. The pdf also features no less than 6 sample events...and one glorious hazard, which would be the semi-sentient, disintegrated machine that slowly regains its sentience and becomes a lethal, unique hazard - stopping it will be hard. The hazard has been converted properly into the context of old-school games.

In an example of less is more, the notes of what's hidden in the chasm feel a bit less intriguing and tied to the settlement - by emphasizing the wind theme instead, it would have become even more compelling...but that may just be me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Mike Welham's Silver Bluff is an evocative village with unique hazards and a nice theme. While it does not reach the apex of the series, the village still remains an excellent purchase and is well worth the low asking price. The system neutral version does not lose any component of the appeal of the original iteration. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Silver Bluff (SNE)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for the marvellous review, End. I'm glad this conversion worked for you!
Village Backdrop: Silver Bluff (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/22/2018 03:50:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Silver Bluff is a mining town with a twist - sprung up as little more than a better camp, it began in a promising manner...but then, the mine's silver started to run out. Let’s just say that the local population did not take kindly to these changes and the ramshackle ethnic composition alongside the lack of a governing body mean that this is very much a dangerous place to be.

The vast chasm that separates the camp from the mine is also one of the reasons why this village is haunted by howling windstorms, which also influence the dressing habits of the place. The pdf does feature notes on nomenclature, appearance of locals and 6 rumors for your convenience. The village also features notes on the local tavern, paranoid representatives ...this is not the nicest place to spend your time, though e.g. mountain climbing equipment and a local dwarven cleric can help adventurers here.

The pdf also features no less than 6 sample events...and one glorious hazard, which would be the semi-sentient, disintegrated machine that slowly regains its sentience and becomes a lethal, unique hazard - stopping it will be hard...and I wished it and hazards like it had been more prevalent here. Big kudos for the 5e-conversion here, which retains the deadliness of the cloud and properly recalibrates it for 5e’s rules.

In an example of less is more, the notes of what's hidden in the chasm feel a bit less intriguing and tied to the settlement - by emphasizing the wind theme instead, it would have become even more compelling...but that may just be me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Mike Welham's Silver Bluff is an evocative village with unique hazards and a nice theme. While it does not reach the apex of the series, the village still remains an excellent purchase and is well worth the low asking price. The 5e-version retains all the aspects that made the PFRPG-version work really well. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Silver Bluff (5e)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for the marvellous review, End. I'm glad this conversion worked for you!
Village Backdrop: Needlebriar
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/14/2018 05:24:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press‘ Village Backdrop-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Needlebriar is an isolated community, situated in a remote region of a duchy; it is also, in a nice change of pace, a Halfling community. The village takes its name from the rows upon rows of thorny hedgerows that can be found in and around the place, providing a natural series of borders. The red flowers of the hedgerow, as some claim, bloom in this vibrant a color due to the local custom of folks burying their dead beneath them. This rumor, though, is incorrect – like a full half of the rumors circulating around, for a veil of secrecy suffuses the place: The climate is warm and humid, with most Halflings walking through the settlement in heavy cloaks, which may raise a few eyebrows.

The supplement, as always, does sport the classic components we’ve come to expect from Village Backdrops – i.e., we get notes on the nomenclature of the locals, their dressing habits, etc. As always, we get rewards for PCs that do the legwork: Village lore may be unearthed and, as noted before, we do get a couple of whispers and rumors. However, in this pdf, we can see the fruits of Raging Swan Press’ patreon support in a rather impressive manner: For one, we do get write-ups for no less than 6 different NPCs. The write-ups do contain e.g. notes on gender and the suggested class levels for the characters; the write-ups are fluff-centric and as well-crafted as we’d expect from John Bennett.

Now, the PFRPG-version of the village obviously comes with notes for a settlement statblock, but a glimpse at where usually we’d expect the marketplace-section, we instead get an evolution of the formula: We still have the general marketplace section, but move one step beyond. You see, while it’s not new to see sample notes for costs of taverns and food/etc. to be included in village backdrops, we now have the individual locations sport the notes for specific services and items. This is surprisingly convenient: Instead of a more or less abstract marketplace, the services and goods are allocated to the places where they can actually be purchased. However, there is more going on: John Bennett, back in the day, introduced a serious array of dressing to a couple of his older settlements, vastly increasing the flavor or the places. Needlebriar does sport a pretty impressive list: A table of no less than 20 entries can be used by the GM to really amp up the tension and unique flavor of the place.

Unusually humid days may see dogs panting loudly…and some of these dressing/entry-sections can be used as events to jumpstart the action…there is, for example, one entry where a badly mauled, bloodied man is running down the streets…so yeah, there is a sinister angle to the village, but I am NOT going to spoil it…or the reason for the strange twitches that seem to plague a lot of folks from the local population. Beyond these, we get a great b/w-picture of the settlement and notes on the surrounding area, allowing the GM to better situate the village within the individual campaign setting. Another improvement over the classic formula of the Village Backdrop formula would pertain the respective entries for the locations of interest: Instead of having a single 6-entry event table, we have individualized event tables for the respective locations (under the “What’s going on?”-headers), which adds a further level of customization to the settlement. Beyond these specialized events, there is a further level of convenience added to the pdf. The respective entries have adventure/sub-quest-hooks added: For example, on Thorn Island, we have a druidic lore angle that may be very important if you choose it to be – for the strange proceedings in the place have something to do with Hunger Devours Moon. What is that? What is truly going on in Needlebriar and its weird Halflings? Well, I could spoil the angle, but frankly, that’d be a disservice to the great supplement. It was actually a hard decision on whether or not to mention the name, but frankly, it is too good an example for the quality of the inspiring prose herein. And better yet, the respective events can actually sport rules-relevant components.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard. The original b/w-artworks are impressive and the cartography of the place is excellent and in b/w. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. As always, we get the pdf in two versions: One optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer.

John Bennett is an impressive author. I have yet to be disappointed by his supplements, and Needblebriar is no different: The changes to the formula of the Village Backdrop-series are great and actually further improve it, enhancing the immediate usefulness for the GM. Beyond the excellent prose, the village excels at immediate usability: Simply dropping the PCs into the village will be enough to provide adventuring opportunities for at least a session or two.

The individualized events and dressing-tables allow you to use this village as a go-play supplement. This works perfect without any kind of preparation: You can conceivably just whip this out and read the read-aloud text for the individual locations and the pdf itself as you go and have a great time. The central angle of the village is interesting and the extensive dressing, events and hooks make this basically a free-form sandbox in disguise.

Yes, you can use this as a backdrop, but it is strong enough to work as an adventure on its own as well. While the leitmotif is not necessarily new, the prose elevates it in its evocative execution; the added convenience and focus on usefulness at the table further add to the value of this pdf. Needlebriar is a phenomenal supplement, even in the context of the Village Backdrop-series and the insane quality-level the series has established. A fantastic village, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval – if you’re looking for a great environment to explore, this delivers in spades.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Needlebriar
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Creator Reply:
Thank you, End! I'm delighted you enjoyed Needlebriar so much!
Village Backdrop: Needlebriar (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/14/2018 05:22:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press‘ Village Backdrop-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Needlebriar is an isolated community, situated in a remote region of a duchy; it is also, in a nice change of pace, a Halfling community. The village takes its name from the rows upon rows of thorny hedgerows that can be found in and around the place, providing a natural series of borders. The red flowers of the hedgerow, as some claim, bloom in this vibrant a color due to the local custom of folks burying their dead beneath them. This rumor, though, is incorrect – like a full half of the rumors circulating around, for a veil of secrecy suffuses the place: The climate is warm and humid, with most Halflings walking through the settlement in heavy cloaks, which may raise a few eyebrows.

The supplement, as always, does sport the classic components we’ve come to expect from Village Backdrops – i.e., we get notes on the nomenclature of the locals, their dressing habits, etc. As always, we get rewards for PCs that do the legwork: Village lore may be unearthed and, as noted before, we do get a couple of whispers and rumors. However, in this pdf, we can see the fruits of Raging Swan Press’ patreon support in a rather impressive manner: For one, we do get write-ups for no less than 6 different NPCs. The write-ups do contain e.g. notes on gender and the suggested class levels for the characters; the write-ups are fluff-centric and as well-crafted as we’d expect from John Bennett.

Now, the system neutral version of the village obviously puts much of the research in the hands of the referee, but a glimpse at where usually we’d expect the marketplace-section, we instead get an evolution of the formula: You see, while it’s not new to see sample notes for costs of taverns and food/etc. to be included in village backdrops, we now have the individual locations sport the notes for specific services and items. This is surprisingly convenient: Instead of a more or less abstract marketplace, the services and goods are allocated to the places where they can actually be purchased. The items have been properly adjusted to refer to old-school classics. References to classes note thieves, but, since some of my readers want to know the like, the pdf refers to wizards and druids, not magic-users.

However, there is more going on: John Bennett, back in the day, introduced a serious array of dressing to a couple of his older settlements, vastly increasing the flavor or the places. Needlebriar does sport a pretty impressive list: A table of no less than 20 entries can be used by the GM to really amp up the tension and unique flavor of the place.

Unusually humid days may see dogs panting loudly…and some of these dressing/entry-sections can be used as events to jumpstart the action…there is, for example, one entry where a badly mauled, bloodied man is running down the streets…so yeah, there is a sinister angle to the village, but I am NOT going to spoil it…or the reason for the strange twitches that seem to plague a lot of folks from the local population. Beyond these, we get a great b/w-picture of the settlement and notes on the surrounding area, allowing the GM to better situate the village within the individual campaign setting. Another improvement over the classic formula of the Village Backdrop formula would pertain the respective entries for the locations of interest: Instead of having a single 6-entry event table, we have individualized event tables for the respective locations (under the “What’s going on?”-headers), which adds a further level of customization to the settlement. Like the 5e-version, the system neutral version unfortunately sports a minor conversion-relic from PFRPG in one of the entries, where the save and condition should be modified.

Beyond these specialized events, there is a further level of convenience added to the pdf. The respective entries have adventure/sub-quest-hooks added: For example, on Thorn Island, we have a druidic lore angle that may be very important if you choose it to be – for the strange proceedings in the place have something to do with Hunger Devours Moon. What is that? What is truly going on in Needlebriar and its weird Halflings? Well, I could spoil the angle, but frankly, that’d be a disservice to the great supplement. It was actually a hard decision on whether or not to mention the name, but frankly, it is too good an example for the quality of the inspiring prose herein.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups apart from the conversion relic. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard. The original b/w-artworks are impressive and the cartography of the place is excellent and in b/w. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. As always, we get the pdf in two versions: One optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer.

John Bennett is an impressive author. I have yet to be disappointed by his supplements, and Needblebriar is no different: The changes to the formula of the Village Backdrop-series are great and actually further improve it, enhancing the immediate usefulness for the referee. Beyond the excellent prose, the village excels at immediate usability: Simply dropping the PCs into the village will be enough to provide adventuring opportunities for at least a session or two.

The individualized events and dressing-tables allow you to use this village as a go-play supplement. This works perfect without any kind of preparation: You can conceivably just whip this out and read the read-aloud text for the individual locations and the pdf itself as you go and have a great time. The central angle of the village is interesting and the extensive dressing, events and hooks make this basically a free-form sandbox in disguise.

Yes, you can use this as a backdrop, but it is strong enough to work as an adventure on its own as well. While the leitmotif is not necessarily new, the prose elevates it in its evocative execution; the added convenience and focus on usefulness at the table further add to the value of this pdf. Needlebriar is a phenomenal supplement, even in the context of the Village Backdrop-series and the insane quality-level the series has established. In spite of the minor conversion relic, this is simply a fantastic village, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval – if you’re looking for a great environment to explore, this delivers in spades.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Needlebriar (SNE)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Village Backdrop: Needlebriar (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/14/2018 05:19:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press‘ Village Backdrop-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Needlebriar is an isolated community, situated in a remote region of a duchy; it is also, in a nice change of pace, a Halfling community. The village takes its name from the rows upon rows of thorny hedgerows that can be found in and around the place, providing a natural series of borders. The red flowers of the hedgerow, as some claim, bloom in this vibrant a color due to the local custom of folks burying their dead beneath them. This rumor, though, is incorrect – like a full half of the rumors circulating around, for a veil of secrecy suffuses the place: The climate is warm and humid, with most Halflings walking through the settlement in heavy cloaks, which may raise a few eyebrows.

The supplement, as always, does sport the classic components we’ve come to expect from Village Backdrops – i.e., we get notes on the nomenclature of the locals, their dressing habits, etc. As always, we get rewards for PCs that do the legwork: Village lore may be unearthed and, as noted before, we do get a couple of whispers and rumors. However, in this pdf, we can see the fruits of Raging Swan Press’ patreon support in a rather impressive manner: For one, we do get write-ups for no less than 6 different NPCs, which have btw. been properly assigned 5e-stats from the default NPC-roster, where applicable. The write-ups do contain e.g. notes on gender and the suggested class levels for the characters; the write-ups are fluff-centric and as well-crafted as we’d expect from John Bennett.

Now, where we’d expect the marketplace-section, we instead get an evolution of the formula: We still have the general marketplace section, but move one step beyond. You see, while it’s not new to see sample notes for costs of taverns and food/etc. to be included in village backdrops, we now have the individual locations sport the notes for specific services and items, which have been properly converted to 5e. This is surprisingly convenient: Instead of a more or less abstract marketplace, the services and goods are allocated to the places where they can actually be purchased. However, there is more going on: John Bennett, back in the day, introduced a serious array of dressing to a couple of his older settlements, vastly increasing the flavor or the places. Needlebriar does sport a pretty impressive list: A table of no less than 20 entries can be used by the GM to really amp up the tension and unique flavor of the place.

Unusually humid days may see dogs panting loudly…and some of these dressing/entry-sections can be used as events to jumpstart the action…there is, for example, one entry where a badly mauled, bloodied man is running down the streets…so yeah, there is a sinister angle to the village, but I am NOT going to spoil it…or the reason for the strange twitches that seem to plague a lot of folks from the local population. Beyond these, we get a great b/w-picture of the settlement and notes on the surrounding area, allowing the GM to better situate the village within the individual campaign setting. Another improvement over the classic formula of the Village Backdrop formula would pertain the respective entries for the locations of interest: Instead of having a single 6-entry event table, we have individualized event tables for the respective locations (under the “What’s going on?”-headers), which adds a further level of customization to the settlement. As a minor note of complaint: One of the entries for local events still refers to the PFRPG-save – that should be Constitution and the condition should have been changed. So yeah, the respective events can actually sport rules-relevant components.

Beyond these specialized events, there is a further level of convenience added to the pdf. The respective entries have adventure/sub-quest-hooks added: For example, on Thorn Island, we have a druidic lore angle that may be very important if you choose it to be – for the strange proceedings in the place have something to do with Hunger Devours Moon. What is that? What is truly going on in Needlebriar and its weird Halflings? Well, I could spoil the angle, but frankly, that’d be a disservice to the great supplement. It was actually a hard decision on whether or not to mention the name, but frankly, it is too good an example for the quality of the inspiring prose herein.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups apart from the save-conversion-relic. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard. The original b/w-artworks are impressive and the cartography of the place is excellent and in b/w. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. As always, we get the pdf in two versions: One optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer.

John Bennett is an impressive author. I have yet to be disappointed by his supplements, and Needblebriar is no different: The changes to the formula of the Village Backdrop-series are great and actually further improve it, enhancing the immediate usefulness for the GM. Beyond the excellent prose, the village excels at immediate usability: Simply dropping the PCs into the village will be enough to provide adventuring opportunities for at least a session or two.

The individualized events and dressing-tables allow you to use this village as a go-play supplement. This works perfect without any kind of preparation: You can conceivably just whip this out and read the read-aloud text for the individual locations and the pdf itself as you go and have a great time. The central angle of the village is interesting and the extensive dressing, events and hooks make this basically a free-form sandbox in disguise.

Yes, you can use this as a backdrop, but it is strong enough to work as an adventure on its own as well. While the leitmotif is not necessarily new, the prose elevates it in its evocative execution; the added convenience and focus on usefulness at the table further add to the value of this pdf. Needlebriar is a phenomenal supplement, even in the context of the Village Backdrop-series and the insane quality-level the series has established. While the conversion relic is slightly annoying, it is not enough to drag down what must be considered to be a great supplement. All in all, this is fantastic village, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval – if you’re looking for a great environment to explore, this delivers in spades.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Needlebriar (5e)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Creator Reply:
Thank you, End! I'm delighted you enjoyed Needlebriar so much!
Thank you, End! I'm delighted you enjoyed Needlebriar so much!
Village Backdrop: Tigley (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/08/2018 03:26:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement

All right, just in case you're not familiar with Raging Swan Press excellent series of villages - here's the deal: Each village backdrop showcases one particular village and so much more: We get information on magic items for sale in the place, key NPC-information, notes on local nomenclature and lore that can be unearthed (depending, as befitting of old-school gaming, on the referee and roleplaying) as well as 6 local rumors and sample events - the latter of which should be considered to be adventure hooks the GM can develop into full-blown adventures or just use to add local color to the supplement. We also get notes on dressing customs as well as nomenclature, providing some local color. Unlike the 5e-version, the system neutral version does not sport the remnant settlement statblock information. Depending on your personal gaming aesthetics, you should be aware of the fact that the marketplace sells a +1 leather armor and a +1 dagger, which may be a bit much, depending on your tastes. Further plus of the system neutral version: We get old-school gaming stats for werebats: Descending AC, HD value, damage, defense and movement rate are noted. Solid, though a unique ability would have been nice – you know, a sonic scream or the like.

The village of Tigley is situated cliffside atop a massive canyon through which a stream flows, jutting from a spire, towering over a massive swamp; the little settlement has only recently managed to recuperate from a massive earthquake. Tigley itself is a peculiar settlement - sporting, for example, a dry well from which swarms of bats emerge in regular intervals or an old codger who asks for a "Lazy Toll" to cross the nearby rope-bridge. The village also features an interesting custom: With the local cemetery falling down during the earthquake, it has become custom to bury the dead in the nearby lake, the sink.

In a smart take on a concise supplement, the significant amount of bats and demands of certain spells like fireball mean that bat guano farming is a pretty industry here alongside paper press and hemp. The local orphanage is a constant reminder of the recent cataclysm the village has endured, in spite of the relatively few kids living there and, surprisingly, there is a werebat herein - one that has sworn off the bloodthirsty ways of his kin. There would also be local troublemakers like a gifted stone-mason who also happens to be a rather nasty bully.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Steve Hood's Tigley is a nice little village - its industry and population feel organic and concise; the local color is superb and the quirks and traditions mentioned conspire to make the village feel organic and alive. There is also an array of rather interesting material the enterprising GM can utilize to craft adventures from - though, ultimately, in that regard, Tigley falls a bit short of the best installments in the series.

While there are several unique and compelling ideas herein, just throwing your PCs into the village will not write adventures in itself; unlike the best of the Village Backdrops, you'll need to prod a bit more, help craft a bit more investment and trouble, for Tigley could have used more pronounced conflicts that tie-in with its great local color - as provided, some minor disputes and a bully are the most prominent issues. In any other series, Tigley would be considered to be absolutely glorious, but considering the superb quality of the series as a whole, it does fall slightly short of the best in the series. The system neutral version is a good conversion, though the werebat stats could be a bit more interesting; I do own more interesting old-school stats for that critter from the AD&D-days of yore. Still, as a whole, this is a solid conversion, well worth a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Tigley (SNE)
Click to show product description

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Creator Reply:
Thank you for this review, End. I'm sorry the System Neutral Edition version of Tigley wasn't a total success for you, but I'm jolly grateful for the time you spent on your review.
Village Backdrop: Tigley (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/08/2018 03:24:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement

All right, just in case you're not familiar with Raging Swan Press excellent series of villages - here's the deal: Each village backdrop showcases one particular village: We get information on magic items for sale in the place, key NPC-information, notes on local nomenclature and lore that can be unearthed via mental attribute-based skill-checks as well as 6 local rumors and sample events - the latter of which should be considered to be adventure hooks the GM can develop into full-blown adventures or just use to add local color to the supplement. We also get noted on local dressing habits and nomenclature for more local color. In the 5e-version, we have a pretty glaring remnant from the PFRPG-origins of this pdf, though: The settlement statblock notes, which mean nothing in 5e, are still here.

The village of Tigley is situated cliffside atop a massive canyon through which a stream flows, jutting from a spire, towering over a massive swamp; the little settlement has only recently managed to recuperate from a massive earthquake. Tigley itself is a peculiar settlement - sporting, for example, a dry well from which swarms of bats emerge in regular intervals or an old codger who asks for a "Lazy Toll" to cross the nearby rope-bridge. The village also features an interesting custom: With the local cemetery falling down during the earthquake, it has become custom to bury the dead in the nearby lake, the sink.

In a smart take on a concise supplement, the significant amount of bats and demands of certain spells (like fireball) mean that bat guano farming is a pretty industry here alongside paper press and hemp. The local orphanage is a constant reminder of the recent cataclysm the village has endured, in spite of the relatively few kids living there and, surprisingly, there is a werebat herein - one that has sworn off the bloodthirsty ways of his kin. There would also be local troublemakers like a gifted stone-mason who also happens to be a rather nasty bully. The pdf does sports a brief sidebar that provides quick and dirty rules for werebats that left me singularly unimpressed. Other than that, references to 5e-default stats have been concisely implemented.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good for the most part, I didn't notice any glitches apart from the aforementioned PFRPG-relic. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Steve Hood's Tigley is a nice little village - its industry and population feel organic and concise; the local color is superb and the quirks and traditions mentioned conspire to make the village feel organic and alive. There is also an array of rather interesting material the enterprising GM can utilize to craft adventures from - though, ultimately, in that regard, Tigley falls a bit short of the best installments in the series.

While there are several unique and compelling ideas herein, just throwing your PCs into the village will not write adventures in itself; unlike the best of the Village Backdrops, you'll need to prod a bit more, help craft a bit more investment and trouble, for Tigley could have used more pronounced conflicts that tie-in with its great local color - as provided, some minor disputes and a bully are the most prominent issues. In any other series, Tigley would be considered to be absolutely glorious, but considering the superb quality of the series as a whole, it does fall slightly short of the best in the series. Additionally, the werebat rules provided are pretty weak and the conversion relic isn’t impressive either – my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars…and frankly, I don’t feel like I can round up for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Tigley (5e)
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for this review, End. I'm sorry the 5e version of Tigley--particularly the crunch--wasn't a total success for you, but I'm jolly grateful for the time you spent on your review.
Village Backdrop: Quey's Glade
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/31/2018 06:07:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Village Backdrops-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Quey’s Glade is an idyllic village, situated in the deep woods. Mighty trees contain lookouts, and as befitting of such a place, there is a garden, curated by druids, where rare plants may be found. The mighty oak Bastionbark rises in the vicinity, and indeed, creatures of fey origin, like pixies, treants and nymphs are among the inhabitants of this wondrous place. And yes, there is a really nice isometric artwork of the village to complement the neat map.

As always, the dressing habits of villagers and notes on village lore can be found for PCs of a more scholarly bent; for PCs seeking to socialize, there are 6 different whispers and rumors to encounter. It should also be noted that we get a fully fleshed out market-place section, and, suffice to say, a proper settlement statblock for this strange place.

What’s strange about Quey’s Glade? Well, it’s a haven of sorts. Enchanted by powerful magicians of the fearie, the settlement seems to actually be mobile; at least that would be one explanation. You see, when you’re hunted by monsters through the forest, when intense, negative emotions coalesce, then you may well find yourself transported to the haven that is Quey’s Glade. Here, folks age as they wish, time flows strangely and the magics of the First World suffuse the land…but there is a downside to the potent forces that enchant this place (responsible for the danger rating of 20…): The negative emotions that trigger the magics of the transportations have also attracted quite a few potent and deadly creatures , making the surrounding woods anything but safe. And yes, Quey’s Glade indeed does wander…allowing for the relatively painless transition from region to region and use as a hub.

There is another aspect to this sanctuary: As progress marches on and fell entities are deprived of their prey, the places where Quey’s Glade may draw upon are slowly diminished, one by one. Then again, this place in wondrous in the best of ways: Have I mentioned the awakened porcupine fighter?

As far as law and order are provided, fey, being more dangerous, have their own part of the settlement, feyhome, and industry-wise, the druidic savoir-faire of the place is responsible for e.g. trade with rare plants and similar goods. Since the village is particularly partial to saving escaping kids, there is plenty of adventuring potential inherent in the place, with unintentional “kidnapping”; as a hub where time and space mean less and as a bridge with the realms of the fey, this furthermore sports quite an array of excellent adventure possibilities. If you do need to jumpstart the adventure aspects, you can, as always, rely on the 6 events provided for your convenience.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant and printer-friendly 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with an amazing map by Maciey Zagorski. The artwork, also in parts by Mr. Zagorski, as well as William McAusland, similarly is really neat and evocative. As always, we get two different versions – one optimized for the printer, one optimized for screen-use – kudos!

Mike Welham is an insanely talented writer; beyond his ability to write neat crunchy components, he is also capable of creating truly intriguing locales, characters, etc. Even better, he is not easily categorized: Each of his pdfs sports a distinct and unique identity, making him one of the most versatile designers I know – which is particularly interesting, considering that he manages to excel at almost every aspect he attempts. His designs also tend to be rather unique, which is a particularly prevalent notion here.

Frankly, my first response was “Why hasn’t this been done before?” The trope of the magical village that “saves” the kids from the horrible fate they were destined to meet…it’s a classic trope, and one that was executed with panache aplomb here. The presence of the quirky characters adds a fresh sense of the magical as well. (And can provide a superb angle to Oleander’s Sanctuary, penned by yours truly, but that as an aside.)

While this is amazing for all systems, in particularly for rules-dense pathfinder, this also sports an additional, really cool role: Know how the passage of time is subjective here? Well, this is a GREAT way to justify e.g. higher-level characters using Everyman Gaming’s Childhood Adventures-rules…or, you know, a way to make kid-characters, whose players have outgrown them, catch up with their real-life players, become adults – all without requiring that the GM retool impending dooms, invasions or similar, time-relevant components. In short, this can literally be a linchpin to hang a truly transformative event upon!

Even in the ridiculously amazing Village Backdrop-series, this is an outstanding offering. My final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Quey's Glade
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Creator Reply:
Thank you so much for this review, End. I'm delighted you enjoyed Quey's Glade so much!
Village Backdrop: Quey's Glade (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/31/2018 06:06:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Village Backdrops-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Quey’s Glade is an idyllic village, situated in the deep woods. Mighty trees contain lookouts, and as befitting of such a place, there is a garden, curated by druids, where rare plants may be found. The mighty oak Bastionbark rises in the vicinity, and indeed, creatures of fey origin, like pixies, treants and nymphs are among the inhabitants of this wondrous place. And yes, there is a really nice isometric artwork of the village to complement the neat map.

As always, the dressing habits of villagers and notes on village lore can be found for PCs of a more scholarly bent; for PCs seeking to socialize, there are 6 different whispers and rumors to encounter. It should also be noted that we get a fully fleshed out market-place section, properly adjusted to OSR-style systems.

What’s strange about Quey’s Glade? Well, it’s a haven of sorts. Enchanted by powerful magicians of the fearie, the settlement seems to actually be mobile; at least that would be one explanation. You see, when you’re hunted by monsters through the forest, when intense, negative emotions coalesce, then you may well find yourself transported to the haven that is Quey’s Glade. Here, folks age as they wish, time flows strangely and the magics of the First World suffuse the land…but there is a downside to the potent forces that enchant this place (responsible for the danger rating of 20…): The negative emotions that trigger the magics of the transportations have also attracted quite a few potent and deadly creatures , making the surrounding woods anything but safe. And yes, Quey’s Glade indeed does wander…allowing for the relatively painless transition from region to region and use as a hub.

There is another aspect to this sanctuary: As progress marches on and fell entities are deprived of their prey, the places where Quey’s Glade may draw upon are slowly diminished, one by one. Then again, this place in wondrous in the best of ways: Have I mentioned the sentient porcupine fighter? Nice plus for fans of older games: Rogue has been properly adjusted to instead pertain to the thief class, etc. – nomenclature is concise.

As far as law and order are provided, fey, being more dangerous, have their own part of the settlement, feyhome, and industry-wise, the druidic savoir-faire of the place is responsible for e.g. trade with rare plants and similar goods. Since the village is particularly partial to saving escaping kids, there is plenty of adventuring potential inherent in the place, with unintentional “kidnapping”; as a hub where time and space mean less and as a bridge with the realms of the fey, this furthermore sports quite an array of excellent adventure possibilities. If you do need to jumpstart the adventure aspects, you can, as always, rely on the 6 events provided for your convenience.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant and printer-friendly 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with an amazing map by Maciey Zagorski. The artwork, also in parts by Mr. Zagorski, as well as William McAusland, similarly is really neat and evocative. As always, we get two different versions – one optimized for the printer, one optimized for screen-use – kudos!

Mike Welham is an insanely talented writer; beyond his ability to write neat crunchy components, he is also capable of creating truly intriguing locales, characters, etc. Even better, he is not easily categorized: Each of his pdfs sports a distinct and unique identity, making him one of the most versatile designers I know – which is particularly interesting, considering that he manages to excel at almost every aspect he attempts. His designs also tend to be rather unique, which is a particularly prevalent notion here.

Frankly, my first response was “Why hasn’t this been done before?” The trope of the magical village that “saves” the kids from the horrible fate they were destined to meet…it’s a classic trope, and one that was executed with panache aplomb here. The presence of the quirky characters adds a fresh sense of the magical as well. (And can provide a superb angle to Oleander’s Sanctuary, penned by yours truly, but that as an aside.)

While the system neutral version obviously lacks the massive rules-synergy that e.g. Pathfinder offers, it does have its appeal – namely, that it taps into the OSR’s tradition of weird geographies, of strange places, and acts as a relatively low-impact hub to connect all manner of strange places.

Even in the ridiculously amazing Village Backdrop-series, this is an outstanding offering, one that loses nothing in its system-neutral version. My final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Quey's Glade (SNE)
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Creator Reply:
Thank you so much for this review, End. I'm delighted you enjoyed Quey's Glade so much!
Village Backdrop: Quey's Glade (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/31/2018 06:03:28

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Village Backdrops-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Quey’s Glade is an idyllic village, situated in the deep woods. Mighty trees contain lookouts, and as befitting of such a place, there is a garden, curated by druids, where rare plants may be found. The mighty oak Bastionbark rises in the vicinity, and indeed, creatures of fey origin, like pixies, treants and nymphs are among the inhabitants of this wondrous place. And yes, there is a really nice isometric artwork of the village to complement the neat map.

As always, the dressing habits of villagers and notes on village lore can be found for PCs of a more scholarly bent; for PCs seeking to socialize, there are 6 different whispers and rumors to encounter. It should also be noted that we get a fully fleshed out market-place section, one that has been properly adjusted to 5e’s rules and aesthetics.

What’s strange about Quey’s Glade? Well, it’s a haven of sorts. Enchanted by powerful magicians of the fearie, the settlement seems to actually be mobile; at least that would be one explanation. You see, when you’re hunted by monsters through the forest, when intense, negative emotions coalesce, then you may well find yourself transported to the haven that is Quey’s Glade. Here, folks age as they wish, time flows strangely and the magics of the First World suffuse the land…but there is a downside to the potent forces that enchant this place (responsible for the danger rating of 20…): The negative emotions that trigger the magics of the transportations have also attracted quite a few potent and deadly creatures , making the surrounding woods anything but safe. And yes, Quey’s Glade indeed does wander…allowing for the relatively painless transition from region to region and use as a hub.

There is another aspect to this sanctuary: As progress marches on and fell entities are deprived of their prey, the places where Quey’s Glade may draw upon are slowly diminished, one by one. Then again, this place in wondrous in the best of ways: Have I mentioned the awakened porcupine fighter? And yes, the NPCs noted herein mention the 5e-NPC stats upon which they are based.

As far as law and order are provided, fey, being more dangerous, have their own part of the settlement, feyhome, and industry-wise, the druidic savoir-faire of the place is responsible for e.g. trade with rare plants and similar goods. Since the village is particularly partial to saving escaping kids, there is plenty of adventuring potential inherent in the place, with unintentional “kidnapping”; as a hub where time and space mean less and as a bridge with the realms of the fey, this furthermore sports quite an array of excellent adventure possibilities. If you do need to jumpstart the adventure aspects, you can, as always, rely on the 6 events provided for your convenience.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant and printer-friendly 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with an amazing map by Maciey Zagorski. The artwork, also in parts by Mr. Zagorski, as well as William McAusland, similarly is really neat and evocative. As always, we get two different versions – one optimized for the printer, one optimized for screen-use – kudos!

Mike Welham is an insanely talented writer; beyond his ability to write neat crunchy components, he is also capable of creating truly intriguing locales, characters, etc. Even better, he is not easily categorized: Each of his pdfs sports a distinct and unique identity, making him one of the most versatile designers I know – which is particularly interesting, considering that he manages to excel at almost every aspect he attempts. His designs also tend to be rather unique, which is a particularly prevalent notion here.

Frankly, my first response was “Why hasn’t this been done before?” The trope of the magical village that “saves” the kids from the horrible fate they were destined to meet…it’s a classic trope, and one that was executed with panache aplomb here. The presence of the quirky characters adds a fresh sense of the magical as well. (And can provide a superb angle to Oleander’s Sanctuary, penned by yours truly, but that as an aside.)

The 5e-version of this settlement is very intriguing, in that it manages to retain the wonder associated with the other versions; while the book does not have the same sort of rules-synergy of PFRPG or the same wealth of strange laces to connect as the system neutral iteration, this one does have different, intriguing synergy effects, namely the connection with e.g. the intriguing 5e-fey-themed adventures out there.

Even in the ridiculously amazing Village Backdrop-series, this is an outstanding offering. While this one, so far, offers imho the least amount of synergy beyond the confines of its pages, that is due to the relative youth of 5e and what’s out there for the system, not on any shortcoming of this pdf. My final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Quey's Glade (5e)
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Creator Reply:
Thank you so much for this review, End. I'm delighted you enjoyed Quey's Glade so much!
Places of Power: Oleander's Sanctuary
by Jacob M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/24/2018 11:01:32

First, a disclaimer as I want to make readers aware of my potential biases: I do a lot of writing for Raging Swan Press, and have had a lot of products reviewed by this author, Thilo Graf (perhaps better known as Endzeitgeist). That said, I felt it was important to give Graf's work a review, as his feedback is often the only comments other 3PP authors receive on their products.

Let's start with a word about the art and maps — by William McAusland and Maciej Zagorski — which are some of my favorite aspects of Raging Swan's projects (they often inspire me as an author). Alone, these components typically justify the price of Raging Swan's PDFs, as even if you didn't want to use a single word of the location, you have enough to come up with your own ideas. Map and artwork are, as usual for the line, well done here and leave me wishing I had such talent.

As for the text, Graf creates an interesting locale, pulling from various tales in ways that are at times very familiar while also offering options for how a GM wants to use it. The remote animal sanctuary known as Oleander's Sanctuary offers healing to familiars and animal companions, but also transformation, making them potentially smarter, deadlier, or more adaptable. One of my favorite parts of this Places of Power is the system Graf wisely offers for PCs who want to alter their own companions, making this a highly usable area for players who would like to upgrade the mechanics of a companion but don't want in-character to swap out a companion as if it were disposable. (Graf discusses that idea in his comments on the product.)

Oleander's Sanctuary offers several other options for how it may be used, with much of it highly adaptable to a GM's purpose. The eponymous Oleander, for example, is never fully statted, leaving what exactly she (or he, as the character is gender fluid) is up to the GM. She's set up to be the classic trope of the mysterious host, who may look and sound different with each appearance, with characters perhaps not realizing they are talking to one and the same person. Graf offers suggestions to even transform this from a more rural/fey-style setting to one of strange alienness. Though it's only referenced briefly in a couple locations, I like the idea that this sanctuary may be opposed by various druids who see it as an abomination, a nice swerve on the traditional linkage with druids that might be expected at such a location.

Now, all of that said, parts of this may not sit well with some gaming styles. The handful of intelligent animals surrounding this location are very well-described and fully fleshed-out (though not gives stat blocks) in ways that for me evoked the animal characters of Lewis Carroll's "Alice" books or C.S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia." Graf includes a good suggestion of how the sanctuary could be used for those playing a game with a more down-to-earth tone, but even then a pince-nez-donning owl could be immersion-breaking for some players. Some won't blink an eye at such a portrayal, but a GM may have to consider if this would work with his or her players.

Finally, to steal Endzeitgeist's format (which seems appropriate for a product he wrote): Editing and formatting are good; I noticed a few minor errors in the text (misplaced commas and the such) but no serious glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized to be printed out, as well as alternative versions for 5e and system neutral gamers (though I've not looked at those versions). The cartography is well-made and in b/w. Supporters of Raging Swan Press' patreon can get access to a player-friendly, key-less version of the map, at least to my knowledge. For me, this rates 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for purposes of this platform, as Thilo shows he's perfectly capable of designing his own content as well as those he prolifically reviews.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Oleander's Sanctuary
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Village Backdrop: Fulhurst Moors (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/22/2018 04:47:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Village Backdrop clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What once was a lush forest inhabited by brutal savages, is now a desolate windswept moor where the waters of Blackraven Creek burrow into the acidic, infertile soil. Haunted by will-o'-wisps attracted in times long gone by, the plain is now home to peat-diggers - a harsh folk that reflects the unpleasant environment they live in. The anxiety of the populace is almost palpable, as the locals await a doom most dire.

Unbeknownst to them, one greedy individual has struck a pact with the dread will-o'-wisps and the resulting tragedies have not managed to warm the local folks to strangers. It should be noted that this version sports a properly modified marketplace section of minor magic items to get.

Beyond brief notes on the diverse population that includes the best and worst of people (including proper references to 5e NPCs), we have the usual 3 village lore entries that players doing their legwork can unearth. Beyond these, we also get a write-up of local appearances, dressing habits and nomenclature, we also get the traditional 6 whispers and rumors. Similarly, no less than 6 different events can be used by the GM to establish the proper mood. Big kudos: The special moonshine that is sold in town comes with proper 5e-effects.

Now, in Pathfinder, we got a sample statblock – in 5e, we instead gain something I actually prefer: A massive ½-page table depicting uncommon will-o’-wisps. These creatures are no less deadly than their common brethren, but they seem to prefer a more…specialized diet…like folks that drowned, that became insane, etc. – each of these sample wisps comes with a brief, fluff-only entry that makes each of them a great potential antagonist for an investigation…and if you combine them, you can challenge even experienced players! (The modification of the rules is btw. dead simple, though the pdf does point out how to proceed there.)

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's superb, streamlined and printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard. The pdf's b/w-cartography is just as awesome as I've come to expect from the series. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Okay, my first impression was "Oh yeah, another swamp/moor"-village - but know what? This is VERY distinct from anything you'd expect in a SWAMP. While Jacob Trier's village works with the tropes, it also subverts them -no degenerate fish-people, no voodoo cults, no looming lizard-men, instead painting a picture of a village of hard-working people that cover the broad experience of humanity and morality, suffering from a climate of fear invoked by some vile individuals. Fulhurst Moors may not be a nice place at first glance, but it can be the town where, once the loyalty of the populace is earned, the evil rooted out, PCs may find haven even if hunted by the king. Remote and believable, with a rich history to develop and hooks galore, Jacob Trier's village is great. Jeff Gomez’ additional design has made sure that the 5e-version is just as worth getting as the PFRPG-iteration, perhaps even a little bit more so. All in all, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Fulhurst Moors (5e)
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Creator Reply:
I'm delighted you enjoyed this village so much, End! Thank you for the review.
Village Backdrop: Fulhurst Moors (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/22/2018 04:46:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Village Backdrop clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What once was a lush forest inhabited by brutal savages, is now a desolate windswept moor where the waters of Blackraven Creek burrow into the acidic, infertile soil. Haunted by will-o'-wisps attracted in times long gone by, the plain is now home to peat-diggers - a harsh folk that reflects the unpleasant environment they live in. The anxiety of the populace is almost palpable, as the locals await a doom most dire.

Unbeknownst to them, one greedy individual has struck a pact with the dread will-o'-wisps and the resulting tragedies have not managed to warm the local folks to strangers… It should be noted that this version sports a properly modified marketplace section of minor magic items to get.

Beyond brief notes on the diverse population that includes the best and worst of people, we have the usual 3 village lore entries that players doing their legwork can unearth. Speaking of the NPCs, and since some of my readers are consider that a pet-peeve: Nomenclature-wise, some characters are referred to by names like “rogue” and “wizard” instead of “thief” or “magic-user.”

Beyond these, we also get a write-up of local appearances, dressing habits and nomenclature, we also get the traditional 6 whispers and rumors. Similarly, no less than 6 different events can be used by the GM to establish the proper mood. Big kudos: The special moonshine that is sold in town comes with proper effects tailored to old-school gameplay – kudos!

Now, in Pathfinder, we got a sample statblock – in the system neutral version, we instead gain something I actually prefer: A massive ½-page table depicting uncommon will-o’-wisps. These creatures are no less deadly than their common brethren, but they seem to prefer a more…specialized diet…like folks that drowned, that became insane, etc. – each of these sample wisps comes with a brief, fluff-only entry that makes each of them a great potential antagonist for an investigation…and if you combine them, you can challenge even experienced players! Now, in the system-neutral version, it would have been nice to get some slightly different suggestions when compared to 5e, since the rules-lighter games tend to e.g. not differentiate between damage types, or at least, to a lesser degree, but that is me nitpicking at a high level.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's superb, streamlined and printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard. The pdf's b/w-cartography is just as awesome as I've come to expect from the series. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Okay, my first impression was "Oh yeah, another swamp/moor"-village - but know what? This is VERY distinct from anything you'd expect in a SWAMP. While Jacob Trier's village works with the tropes, it also subverts them -no degenerate fish-people, no voodoo cults, no looming lizard-men, instead painting a picture of a village of hard-working people that cover the broad experience of humanity and morality, suffering from a climate of fear invoked by some vile individuals. Fulhurst Moors may not be a nice place at first glance, but it can be the town where, once the loyalty of the populace is earned, the evil rooted out, PCs may find haven even if hunted by the king. Remote and believable, with a rich history to develop and hooks galore, Jacob Trier's village is great. Jeff Gomez’ additional design has made sure that the system neutral version is very much worth getting, in spite of my nitpicks. My final verdict for this version will hence clock in at 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Fulhurst Moors (SNE)
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Thank you for this review, End. It is much appreciated!
Be Awesome At Village Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/03/2018 04:49:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little design-guide clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so this pdf is basically a brief DIY-design-guide to villages, published by arguably the most prolific publisher of truly phenomenal villages. Raging Swan Press’ excellent cadre of authors has, under the auspice of Raging Swan’s mastermind Creighton Broadhurst, created some of the best villages you can find for any system out there, so yeah, the author knows what he’s talking about. The advice here pertains villages of a somewhat gritty, Greyhawk-ish, yet fantastic theme, but most of the advice can easily be extrapolated to pretty much any context.

The focus here is villages, and after a brief introduction, we begin with the basic village design tips: Conflict, flavor, etc. are noted – this section btw. also includes some reminders for the GM to not forget a couple of crucial, basic components. The basics out of the way, the former tie in with the peculiarities of village locations – these are similarly presented in a concise and easily graspable manner. So yeah, the prospective designer in all of us gets a concise and interesting check-list here.

That out of the way, we enter what I’d think of as the second section of the pdf, where we get a massive generator to speed up the process: We can determine government, alignment, prominent features, industry, population, conflicts, notable buildings, secrets…and the latter comes with some added notes. 100 ready to go village names (and some suggested naming schemata) also help here.

Then, the book ges into the details: Street and road names and names to consider! We also get some naming conventions for them, as well as suggestions for other landmarks that may similarly be named. Beyond this section, we also mention village festivals as a way to add local color to a village and proceed to get 10 fully depicted and easily adapted types of village festivals to include and expand upon, ranging from cheese racing to the dance of the dead. 20 sample events and traditions finally complement this pdf.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top.notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant b/w-standard in either 2 or 3 columns, depending on the pdf’s needs. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions – one for print use and one for screen use. The pdf sports several nice b/w-maps of sample villages to jumpstart your imagination.

Creighton Broadhurst knows what he’s doing – while the main focus here is undoubtedly classic, gritty fantasy, the material herein can be extrapolated for pretty much every system and setting; the advice collected herein remains viable even in a modern context, in truly rural areas. In short: This humble little generator does a fantastic job and is well worth getting. It is not an omni-design book and instead focuses, crisply and concisely, on its designated task. I consider this well worth getting. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Be Awesome At Village Design
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Hooray! Thank you, End, for the review. I'm delighted you enjoyed it!
Village Backdrop: Skaalhaft
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/01/2018 05:01:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Village Backdrop-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Skaalhaft is an utterly unique place – situated in the aptly-named blood bay, the place is a whaler’s village unlike any you’ve seen – instead of the more mundane prey, this should be considered to be a draker’s village…or a magical beast-er’s village…for while other places may be content with hunting mere animals, Skaalhaft’s population makes a living of much tougher and deadlier prey. The kills brought in by the powerful hunters (5 sample vessels with their own specialties are provided). It should be noted that we get information on local nomenclature, dressing habits and mannerisms, which adds some nice depth to the settlement.

As always, we get a proper settlement statblock for Skaalhaft – and considering the occupation of the vast majority of the village’s folk, the low danger rating (0) is pretty surprising. Then again, strangers come to this place to purchase all kinds of strange ingredients for alchemical and arcane practices. PCs that do their leg-work can unearth some lore about the village and there even is a wayhouse, where two of the wealthiest patrons of the settlement can be found – these, alongside 3 other NPCs, come with an expanded NPC-write-up: Sans stats, but with mannerisms, distinguishing features, etc. And yes, there is a proper market place section of items to procure.

6 whispers and rumors and 6 sample events can be employed by the GM to further add spice to the exploration of the village…but the pdf actually goes one step beyond what we usually get in these pdfs: We get a massive 20-entry dressing table to add further life and color to the village…and the unique customs and traditions of the village are also provided – including the collective mourning traditions. The surrounding environments also are mentioned and discussed, allowing the GM to fit the village properly. As a place defined by fantastic economies, there also is the black room – a pocket dimension where dark magic is practiced….and that made me recall Twin Peaks. The main plot brewing here behind the scenes is interesting, though it does pale in comparison with the thoroughly amazing premise of the village.

Adding a sense of the grim and pre-industrial aesthetics of e.g. Dishonored, there is the Grey Mill – a place where the carcasses of the fallen creatures are processed by grim women and children, all in the name of the strange traditions of this place, for, while Svaad Ruun nominally runs the village, it is in truth shackled by something stronger: The bonds of tradition and the way of life here – even though the run-off of the Grey Mill has transformed the local fauna into hideous and potent mutants, making the bay even more dangerous.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with a really nice b/w-artwork. The b/w-cartography by Maciej Zagorski is great, as pretty much always in the series. The pdf comes not only fully bookmarked for your convenience, but also with a second version: One version of the file is optimized for screen-use and one is optimized for the printer.

Jeff Gomez’ Skaalhaft is a thoroughly inspiring little settlement: Its unique premise is employed in a rather evocative manner and makes sense – in a world where fantastic creatures abound, it is bound to be a matter of time before the humanoid races find a way to standardize and specialize in their hunt and consumption. Skaalhaft, as such, is a window into an all-too-often neglected component of fantasy games and adds serious depth to the game – particularly if you enjoy Playground Adventures’ amazing Creature Components-book (which makes components taken from critters really matter). In short: This is a great, inspiring little pdf, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Skaalhaft
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Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, End. The first for 2018!
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