The aim of this work is to set the scene for the whole Rituals of Choice Adventure Path, especially for those who intend to play. Indeed, DMs are encouraged to provide their players with a copy each, facilitated by the availabilty of this product as a free download. It's always difficult to play a character effectively when he is more familiar with the setting than his player is, and the intention is to provide sufficient local knowledge to equip the player with what his character knows. Players are also recommended to read the Gazetteer chapter of Arcana Evolved (the DM at least is going to need a copy) to familiarise themselves with the geography of the area.
In keeping with the epic scope of the adventure path itself, the opening discussion is about the role of character choice in shaping the outcome. Ethical, moral choices must be made during the course of these adventures, and they matter not just for the character or the party, but for the future of the world. Scary stuff, but that of which great and memorable campaigns are made. Players - and their characters - need to recognise the special nature of the campaign world, where normally-abstract concepts like duty and honour take on a whole new meaning and those who do not agree with your choices are not necessarily evil, just of a different and equally valid opinion.
This explained, we get to hear the viewpoint of a local bard, Lomen Taverson, as he describes the world that the characters will inhabit and in particular his home town of Far-Rough where the story begins. He's quite an opinionated chap, and characters will have to make up their own minds how much is fact and how much is Lomen's 'spin' on the situation and personalities involved. It is very detailed, and players who are not into this kind of deep background should be having a serious think about whether they wish to embark on this adventure path at all: you really won't get the most out of it if you are not prepared to immerse yourself to this level, and may spoil the game for other players who will.
After a timeline running from the mist of time to the present (1759), there's a look at the different races to be found in the area and attitudes towards them. Finally there is a list of optional backgrounds which the DM may allow characters to have as appropriate, all tied into the area and the campaign. It's quite possible to play a character from outside the area, of course, but one truly embedded and part of it may feel a greater connection to events as they unfold.
Overall, this presents an interesting and thought-provoking introduction to the campaign; and certainly should enable groups to decide if this is for them in terms of the depth of background involved.
[5 of 5 Stars!]