Town Backdrop: Wolverton (PFRPG)

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Town Backdrop: Wolverton (PFRPG)

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A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game GM’S Resource by John Bennett

Wolverton rests on the rocky shores of the far-flung Lonely Coast. The mighty fortress Caer Syllan keeps a protective eye over its harbour which hosts ships from all over the world coming to trade for the precious metals and gems pulled from the nearby mines. A muddy, noisy place, Wolverton is home to hardy frontier folk eking a living from the earth while contending with half-goblin tribes, packs of shadow wolves and other monsters dwelling in the nearby Tangled Woods.

Although the town serves as Lord Locher’s seat and the capital of the Lonely Coast Wolverton’s muddy streets are far from safe. While regular patrols ward Wolverton and the surrounding villages from monstrous incursions, new threats rise to weaken the Lochers’ iron-fisted grip. Merchants tired of high taxes and tariffs secretly plot ways to take power while in the streets smuggler gangs fight one another in a vicious turf war. Beyond these threats lurk even greater dangers. In a black stone tower, a vile necromancer plots his path to lichdom and the conquest of the Lonely Coast while a villainous monster secretly makes his home in the previously abandoned sea caves of Morveren’s Galley. Thus, brave adventurers will always find a welcome among the folk of Wolverton!

Wolverton stands on the Lonely Coast, but is easily adapted to almost any GM’s home campaign.

Town Backdrops are short, richly detailed supplements that each present a single town 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 a PC’s home, Town Backdrop present the details so the busy GM can focus on crafting exciting, compelling adventures.

For a free sample head over to ragingswan.com/wolverton

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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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This pdf clocks in at a massive 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page statblocks by CR-index, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let's take a look!

First of all, this is a kind of full circle for me - when I started reviewing, Raging Swan Press' free mini-setting The Lonely Coast immediately grabbed my attention and made me buy Retribution, their first module. Now, hundreds of reviews of Raging Swan Press-supplements later, this book provides the fully detailed information on the largest settlement in that remote stretch of land, the town of Wolverton. Hence, it is only appropriate that we begin this book with a proper introduction to the stretch of land, including traveling distances, weather etc.

Now, if you know the village backdrop-series (and you SHOULD!), you'll be familiar with the formula used for this town - we receive a full-blown town statblock, information on what magic items can be bought, town lore, nomenclature, dressing habits, etc. However, as befitting of a larger settlement, Wolverton is more than just a village on steroids.

This becomes readily apparent from the extremely detailed map to the sheer number of notable places provided. (As always, player friendly maps can be downloaded on raging Swan Press' homepage.) 28 different notable locations at a glance are provided, and for conveniences sake and to help navigation, we also have them grouped by type - see, THAT is considerate! Wolverton is a walled city at the coast, situated atop some cliffs and the castle of the local pseudo-aristocracy, the Lochers, situated on a promontory. The town features a quarter separated from the rest of the town by cliffs (keep the rabble out) and sports a massive river flowing through it, the Arisum. Hence, the town also features several bridges that span the river and the town is fortified with solid walls.

So far, so good - but what is going on in the place? Well, a metric ton of things: let's begin with whispers and rumors - as opposed to just 6 for a village, we receive a FULL PAGE of 50 rumors, each of which has the potential to spark a full-blown adventure! Another example for this pdf going above and beyond would be the inclusion of information for kingdom-building and using Wolverton in conjunction with such a campaign. Festivals and traditions like "Wolf's Night" provide more than just a bit of local color, in the aforementioned example, townsfolk bake wolf-shaped biscuits and children get to eat fang-shaped sweet bread while adults in wolf skin walk the streets to scare children. Now if you can't use this festival to e.g. convert something Halloween/samhain-themed or make a lycanthrope-plot more interesting, I don't know! Weekly markets and a total of no less than 50 entries of sights and sounds (think of them as mini-hooks, dressing, etc.) spanning two-pages further enhance the unique and detailed perspective one gets of the glorious town.

Of course, if you prefer hooks to be less subtle, perhaps the 50-entry strong, two-page spanning table of events might do - from street urchins trying to steal from the PCs to being recruited for the theatre to pouring rain that renders the muddy roads difficult terrain, these events not only are interesting, they are, most of the time, downright inspiring, especially for the brevity with which they have to work. Oh, and if THAT still is not enough, you'll be happy to know that properly and fully developed hooks are interspersed throughout the whole book.

Now the town itself has plenty of truly interesting locales and places to inspire the prospective DM - take an inn, " The Hare and the Ass", which has recently been taken over by a half-orc. Said half-orc was raised by dwarves and thus knows the recipe of the Thunderhammer clan's famous beer, seeing quite a few visitors as a result - in spite of the latent xenophobia exhibited towards the green-skin.

While at no point obtrusive, fans of Raging Swan press will rejoice at e.g. small Easter-eggs and tie-ins with Hosford and other locales in and around the Lonely Coast. What this pdf acts like, can be best described as the massive linchpin that ties the whole of the Lonely Coast and its peculiarities together, rendering the whole picture more concise - while adding flourishes to just about every component of the area.

The various taverns, people controlled by intelligent helmets - we have *a lot* going on here - including strange experiments, no less than 3(!!!) major smuggling gangs (including their own conflicts, moralities, leaders and headquarters), burgeoning sorcerous power among those that should not e able to exhibit it (and some intrigue there...) - we have * A LOT* going on in this town - enough to cover a bunch of PC-levels!

Beyond this extremely detailed town, though, we also receive statblocks of its inhabitants - from merchants and peasants, reeves and high priests, rulers, veteran watchmen and a whole slew of smugglers and low-lives can be found herein - including the signature detailed fluff to supplement all of the named NPC-statblocks - background story, personality, mannerisms, distinguishing features and character-specific hooks - anything you ask for, it's here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I did not notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' b/w-two-column standard, is printer-friendly and generally nice to look at. The artworks range from thematically fitting stock art to pieces I haven't seen before and the cartography is awesome - the town makes sense and looks rather neat. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use, one to be printed out, and both come excessively bookmarked.

I can't comment on the print-edition since I do not own it (yet).

John Bennett delivers the final missing piece of the puzzle that is The Lonely Coast and much like many a puzzle, this one piece makes the whole picture seem all the more enticing. As a hub full of adventuring potential, Wolverton elevates the other pdfs in and around the Lonely Coast by serving as a plausible, cool town full of local color, nice customs and adventuring potential. Even when used on its own, though, the town shines - Wolverton has taken to heart all the little improvements of the "small" series- extremely detailed, with rumors, sights and hooks galore, it also provides a multitude of flavors of adventuring it supports: Wilderness? No problem. Dungeon? Why not. Coastal caves? Covered. Courtly intrigue? Possible. Shadow War? Jup, feasible. You name it, this place has the means to provide an extremely detailed canvas for your brush.

Wolverton is more than just an oversized village backdrop - it is a full-blown, thriving, pulsing town rife with adventure potential, a place filled to the brim with details and local color, expertly crafted to serve as a hub for PCs, to support a plethora of playing styles...and still retain a unique identity. An impressive feat indeed and well worth 5 stars + my seal of approval, as well as a nomination as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2014.

Endzeitgeist out.


Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

Is now available at Paizo!

And you can download a free sample, here. I hope you enjoy it!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

Huzzah! Happy to see this come out!


More of this kind of product, please! After a brief skimming, I can see a ton of potential in this kind of product, just like Village Backdrop.

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

Heine Stick wrote:
More of this kind of product, please! After a brief skimming, I can see a ton of potential in this kind of product, just like Village Backdrop.

Have no fear - we are absolutely plotting more of this kind of release! I'm glad you've found it useful!


To put this in a bit of context, until very recently I was searching for a plug-and-play town sized roughly at 1,800 citizens. Specifically I wanted something I could use to portray a town in the Way of the Wicked adventure path, since said adventure path didn't include a gazetteer for the town.

With a few very minor tweaks, Wolverton would have been perfect for the job. For various reasons I'm waiting a bit before I hit the plug-into-campaign button.

So yeah, products like Town Backdrop seem like they might fill an important niche in the GM toolbox.

I'll see if I can write up a review of the product, if time permits.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

Heine Stick wrote:

To put this in a bit of context, until very recently I was searching for a plug-and-play town sized roughly at 1,800 citizens. Specifically I wanted something I could use to portray a town in the Way of the Wicked adventure path, since said adventure path didn't include a gazetteer for the town.

With a few very minor tweaks, Wolverton would have been perfect for the job. For various reasons I'm waiting a bit before I hit the plug-into-campaign button.

So yeah, products like Town Backdrop seem like they might fill an important niche in the GM toolbox.

I'll see if I can write up a review of the product, if time permits.

A review would be very appreciated, thank you! As for Way of the Wicked, I do not own the books but I have read all the module descriptions and I definitely think Wolverton would work well in a WotW campaign. When I wrote this supplement, I made sure to include a lot of different conflicts and villains the GM could use to design their own adventures. There are quite a few individuals that could work as allies or competing interests to evil-aligned NPCs.

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

Heine Stick wrote:


I'll see if I can write up a review of the product, if time permits.

I'd love to read a review if you've got the time. Thanks very much for the offer!

The Exchange

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

This is great, I love these backdrop products and have been looking forward to the Wolverton offering.

One thing - the Town Maps web enhancement download on the Raging Swan website links to Prayer's Point maps.

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

Ah curses. I will fix that later today. Thanks for letting me know.

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

I've fixed this now. Thanks again for mentioning it!


Reviewed fiirst on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and Lou Agresta's RPGaggression and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop. Cheers!

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thanks for the marvellous review. John will be delighted, no doubt!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Yes, I am! Thanks again for the review. I'm glad to wrap up the settlements of the Lonely Coast with a bang!

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