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Village Backdrops: Apia (PFRPG) PDF

***** (based on 2 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game GM’S RESOURCE by Ben Kent

Along the shores of the Illgen river hard against the ruins of a once-mighty castle lies the village of Apia. The village marks a convenient spot to cross the river, but more than that offers a pleasant place to slake a thirst or enjoy a sumptuous meal. The canny know to order Sanna’s golden mead during their stay at the Bee's Knees Inn while others might notice a certain sweetness to the local food, or a strange hum in the air, but only a few note the higher than average number of bees buzzing about the village. Few bother to investigate the old and dilapidated castle anymore, after being cautioned by the locals that the structure is both already well-explored and dangerously unsafe - which is true, but avoids mentioning that the old ruins are not entirely abandoned...

Village Backdrops are short, richly detailed supplements that each present a single village ready to insert into almost any home campaign. Perfect for use as a waystop on the road to adventure, as an adventure site themselves or as PC’s home, Village Backdrop present the details so the busy GM can focus on crafting exciting, compelling adventures.

For free samples head over to ragingswan.com/apia

This product is a Dual Format PDF. The downloadable ZIP file contains two versions, one optimised for printing and use on a normal computer and one optimised for use on a mobile device such as an iPad.

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PZOPDFRSP101269E


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Product Reviews (2)

Average product rating:

***** (based on 2 ratings)

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NOT THE BEEESSSSS!!!! (Oh yeah, this one does it right!)

*****

This pdf is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advice for reading statblocks for novice GMs, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's check this out!

This pdf introduces us to the village of Apia, nestled around a river, Apia has a good location trade-wise and its sturdy buildings sport more stones, since many have been constructed with the stones from the nearby ruined castle. Speaking of which - for a long time, the town seemed to be in decline. Until a girl went missing.

From here on reign the SPOILERS. Potential players, please jump to the conclusion.

Still here?
When the searching party found her in the arms of an ettercap and the creature mentioned in flawed common, that the girl's burns would need honey, the town's fortunes radically changed: Benefitting from the amount of knowledge the ettercap had on vermin, the town has since become rather wealthy, living of honey that they now may make into a healing alchemical honey. This new honey and prices for them, as befitting of a honey-based economy, are included, as are multiple locales with nice descriptions and a short price list for the inn.

The pdf also comes with d4 rumors and 6 events (though the table only says d4 - one of the rare RSP-glitches!). Now if you're getting a slightly creepy vibe from this nice, wealthy village...well. The ettercap is fully statted and her visits to town are highly regulated with ritualistic behavior of the townsfolk to help the creature control its savage urges - all while countless bee-swarms buzz about. (And yes, they come with stats... NOT THE BEEEES!) Yes. essentially, this village, with its rituals, its predominantly female population and its secrets feels like a blending of the best aspects of both wickerman movies, though human sacrifice, as of yet, is not practiced. Or is it? After all, there's rumored to be a way for persons to be mummified in honey and subsequently have their corpse turn into macabre healing items... Whether you as a DM use this information to imply cannibalism and twisted honey-based necromancy or just alien pagan rites closer to a harmonic lifestyle or a blending of both - Apia has you covered.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect - I noticed a glitch, which is uncommon in the mostly flawless track-record of Raging Swan Press. Layout adheres to RSP's two-column standard and the pdf comes with two versions,. one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer as well as a gorgeous b/w-map of the town. Speaking of the town's map: You can download an untagged version of the map as a free web-enhancement for your players, the zip also including a larger tagged version. Nice! The pdf also comes fully bookmarked. Yes! Raging Swan Press got it right this time around - the town is versatile in its usage, the crunch is iconic, the story cool and the map gorgeous. Two thumbs up and this time around, thanks to the extra map download, I also can't complain about that one. Ben Kent has created a village that oozes potential for good, evil and anything in-between, making the village a truly iconic place that can transport the sense of alienation and threat of otherness so perfectly evoked by the classic Wickerman-movie and move it into your game without falling prey to becoming a bland copy of the movie's ideas. In spite of the one minor glitch - 5 stars+ seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.


*****

The Village Backdrop series gives that most needed of thing for any campaign that is going to do any traveling, detailed locales. Those places your PCs are going to be traveling to and through. With a genre that loves to over detail and fluff the importance of every place out there, this was one of those PDFs that I found to be refreshing, as Village Backdrop: Apia presented this village as exactly what it is, a normal place.

Apia is a village founded upon the remains of a previous settlement, built within the shadow of a castle's ruins. Born from those who originally came to loot what was left of the castle and the surrounding ruins of the previous town, and the people who seem to always be there following adventurers, a community of tents slowly built into the standards one expects to see within a village (bars, taverns, general store). That probably would have been all there was to the history of this town if not for an encounter one evening that changed everything for this village and its people.

An ettercap known as M’yxtix encountered a local child, hurt and in need of aid. Rather than following her first instincts, the realization that the villagers would hunt her down if the child fell to more harm led her to the unthinkable, she offered aid and “rescued” the child. Teaching the villagers the healing properties of honey to aid in the child's burns she ingratiated herself to the townsfolk, and was welcomed into their lives. She currently lives within the ruins of the castle with her “pets”, several large spiders. The village, since that first meeting, has become a bee-keeper central, and has rebuilt their economy around honey and it's many uses, both in culinary applications as well as as a health aid. And yes, we get a step into the fantastical there, with an alchemical honey potion, and the Mellified Man (a mummification process that turns one's remains into an uber healing component in battling poisons or disease).

Lots of cool little details here, including a table for random village events including things like a town dance, baking contests and harvest season (tied to crab-apples), and wild animal attacks. Prices for everything offered up gear wise (honeyed foods, tavern drinks, the alchemical honey), detailed interesting NPCs, a small bit of intrigue and even a matter of secrecy involving theft going on within the village all add up to one very cool little spot on the road to stop off and get to know the locals.

Bookmarks, fully linked Table of Contents and a really nice old school feel map of the village all put the finishing touches on a product I was already looking at giving a solid 5 star rating to. Well worth the price of admission, and a prime example of how to design a cool community without over doing it.


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