Village Backdrop: Denhearth (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible GM’s Resource by Jacob W. Michaels

Perched high up in the mountains on an isolated plateau, the village of Denhearth long dwelled under the deep shadow of the red dragon Cinderblaze. Established as a base for the red dragon’s army and minions, the residents suffered almost as much as those the dragon terrorised until he was slain by the gold dragon Galiantana. Now, under the direction and protection of Galiantana, Denhearth is famed for its Academy of Draconic Arts, a school of sorcery that welcomes all with the blood-born ability. But recently, the gold dragon has withdrawn from public life and rumours swirl as to her whereabouts (or death). With its second draconic ruler laid low, Denhearth could be ripe pickings for any who wish to loot her hoard—or to revenge themselves upon the village—and its leaders are desperate to prevent their secret from getting out.

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 a 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 a free sample, please visit ragingswan.com

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A Golden Change of Pace


Denhearth is a bit of a different offering in the Village Backdrops line. Unlike most of the villages in the product line, this one isn't full of creepy evil things the PCs must defeat. Instead, it seems like a place the PCs would want to go to for reasons other than to gain XP. Denhearth is home to a sorcerer academy, created after the resident ruling gold dragon defeated an evil red dragon and routed his army. Much of the rest of the village is based around serving the academy.

There are some interesting denizens who are statted up, a half-dragon chupacabra and a dragon disciple/sorcerer. However, the stats are the most interesting part of these characters. Granted one is just a glorified guard dog, but the humanoid doesn't feel unique. Not much is mentioned about his personality other than that he is a cliche disgruntled professor. Likewise, the village exists to support the academy, but other than the dragon's den and the academy the rest of the locations feel like they could exist anywhere. I would've liked more dragon or academy theme.

I really liked the key idea of a village ruled by a just dragon who has suddenly become a recluse. The idea of a sorcerer academy seemed like an interesting prospect as well. However, I don't feel that this Village Backdrop is as well developed as the other offerings in the line. The villagers seem flat. Whereas the product description states that those in positions of power are trying to keep word of their patron's withdrawl secret, nothing much is said about this in the body of the supplement, let alone how the characters are dealing with it. I found the adventure hooks to be uninspiring. What ails the gold dragon is left up to the DM, a common trend in Village Backdrops. However, other offerings in the series have given a chart of suggestions, this one does not. The magic academy is an interesting concept but is also underdeveloped and would really have more potential to shine as a Place of Power in that series.

Denhearth is a decent offering in the series. Because of its presentation and design it could easily be used in a youth game. There is no overarching apparent evil here. A magic academy would easily appeal to fans of the Harry Potter series. Although I find the threats to be rather traditional and done, young adventurers would probably enjoy encountering the kobolds in the nearby area and helping a sick dragon.

I chose not to give Denhearth a star rating. I do not feel that I am the target audience for this supplement and that my rating would be biased toward my love of the grittier offerings in the series. For youth, highly recommended. For more adult players, this may seem cliche or underwhelming.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

*****

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page 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

Situated high atop the mountains on an isolated plateau, Denhearth has suffered long from the vile predations of the powerful red dragon nick-named Cinderblaze - until the vile creature was slain by the benevolent gold dragon Galiantana - under her auspices, the village prospered and even saw the creation of a fabled academy, established to guide those that have the sorceror's gifts towards a wholesome and controlled application of their draconic gifts.

But, alas, all golden ages (Get it? ... -.-...sorry, will put a buck in the bad pun jar later) must end eventually and noble Galiantana has not been seen in quite a while. Some rumor her to be dead, while others only fear her to be missing; in any case, Denhearth, with its academy, seems rife for the picking by the forces of darkness once again. Now, as always, the village comes with copious information on both local color (like nomenclature, clothing habits and the like), lore to be unearthed via the respective skills, rumors and events as well as magic for sale; and yes, the rumors, questioning e.g. the parentage of dragon-blooded locals and similar interesting hooks provide a neat and uncommon, yet sensible angle to the village's plot-options - which include btw. options to develop Galiantana's absence in various ways.

Unlike most recent installments of the series, this time around we get two damn cool sample statblocks, the first of which would be a CR 8 sorceror/dragon disciple, while the second would be a half-dragon chupacabra - yes, you read right. Oh, and the fellow is one of the anti-theft security measure of the local shop, which deserves its name "The Hoard."

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.

Jacob W. Michaels' Denhearth is a thoroughly compelling settlement - with a unique angle, capable NPCs and a surprising emphasis on kind characters as a beacon of light, the place not only will be useful for the PCs, it'll be a place they WANT to keep safe - which ties in perfectly with the numerous options and narrative directions a GM can take the village. Considering all of that, the uncommon locale and cool premise, we have a prime candidate for a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.


Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

Is now available at the Paizo store!

You can grab a free sample, here. Enjoy (or else...)


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


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Thanks, Endz! Glad to see you liked it and my streak of five stars continues! :)

And glad you liked the gold dragocabra. That was fun to create and I totally want to throw one up against some PCs one day.

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

Thank you for the review, GreatKhanArtist. i'm sorry the village didn't work for you 100%, but I'm very grateful for the time you spent reviewing the book!


As Creighton said, thank you so much for the review and I'm also sorry Denhearth wasn't your favorite. It was definitely a little lighter fare than some of my other work for Raging Swan, but I hope can be a fun interlude for some parties.

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