Village Backdrop: Hard Bay (PFRPG) PDF

****½ (based on 2 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game GM’s Resource supplement by Greg Marks

Hard Bay’s fate has ever been tied to the sea. Although blessed with a natural, protected harbour and plentiful fishing, foul weather and a dangerous, unwholesome reputation have conspired to keep the village nothing more than a dreary, isolated place. A vein of smuggling and thievery ran deep through the village until the Sharkrazor pirates were crushed four decades ago. Now administered by three minor noble families, a darker horror than mere piracy lurks within the place. Rumours speak of strange fires set amid a circle of ancient, weathered stones atop a nearby shunned hill when the moon is new and of strange, abhorrent fishmen lurking in the abandoned, half-drowned smuggler tunnels beneath the ramshackle village.

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.

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.

For free samples head over to ragingswan.com/hardbay

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****½ (based on 2 ratings)

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

****( )

The latest installment in Raging Swan Press‘ superb selection of villages is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword,1 page advice on reading statblocks for novice DMs, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

Hard Bay once was a pirate nest – with its sheltered harbor and plentiful fishing grounds, it has all the markings of a village destined for greater things. Since three noble families have been instated here alongside a productive metalworks, the town is affluent, though not overtly so and the Blufonts, Moisans and Gerous have their impressive mansions in the village and while the strange keeper of the light house may seem odd and the drunk head of the metalworks often tries to get strangers to leave, all seems to be relatively well here.

Well. It isn’t. There’s something distinctly WRONG with Hard Bay – something that is represented in the statblock provided. Something in line with the bonfires that can be seen on new moons and the whispers and rumors distinctly hint at something lurking beneath the town’s relatively pleasant exterior. And no, I’m not going to spoil here what the deal with this town that feels a bit like Sandpoint’s evil twin to me, is. Suffice to say that from village statblock to lore and marketplace and yes, even a template, we get all the information we could ask for.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP’s crisp 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one intended for the printer. The town’s map by Thomas Fayen is great, as always in the series and can be downloaded in a player-friendly version on RSP’s homepage. The pdfs come both fully bookmarked.

Author Greg Marks creates an interesting town with a subtle air of threatening things, a subtle wrongness here. That being said, the idea behind the town, while distinctly well-executed, also feels a bit less original than I’ve come to expect from the series – the basic theme herein has been executed in quite a few villages/modules by now and while it manages to put its own spin on the yarn woven, in the company of its extremely well-crafted brethren, it feels a tad bit less original than e.g. a certain xenophobic village deep in the forests of the lonely coast…

Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this supplement – it’s a great offering and the decadent noble families feel distinct and full of narrative potential. Still, overall, it feels slightly less captivating than some of the best Village Backdrops. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


An RPG Resource Review

*****

This book presents a delightfully creepy seaside village, where normal maritime activities like fishing have been traditionally supplemented by piracy and smuggling... and more recently, by something less wholesome. Since the demise of the main pirate gang at the hands of government forces about 40 years ago, the place has been run by three minor noble families... yet things have not improved as most people hoped that they would.

Plenty of information is packed in here, with a stat block for the village, a sketch map, and listings of notable inhabitants, important locations and rumours to be picked up. Tucked away amongst the notes you will find plenty of ideas to spawn events if not whole adventures alongside the reason for which the party has come to the village in the first place.

Naturally each of the noble families has a manor house, and the village also boasts several inns, a marketplace and other businesses such as a metalworks. There's a lighthouse, and a nearby hilltop with some mysterious standing stones.... at the full moon strange lights and chants have been observed. Locals recommend avoiding the hilltop day or night.

This is not a village in which the characters should feel comfortable. It has an edgy feel, a... wrongness... that you should convey through your descriptions. A thoroughly creepy place to set an adventure or two.


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Reviewed first on Endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop. Cheers!

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

Thanks for the review, Thilo. I'm glad you liked Hard Bay - and thanks as always for taking the time to do this.

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