Village Backdrop: Shroudhaven (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible GM’s Resource by Mike Welham

Nestled in a deep valley, Shroudhaven has never seen sunlight in the centuries since its founding. A long-forgotten war drove refugees to the valley where a persistent thick fog had permanently settled, a side-effect of magical might employed during the war. The fog shields its residents both from the elements and from those who might seek to destroy them merely for who they are. For most of those dwelling in Shroudhaven are undead. A dark reputation—like the pervasive fog—hangs over the village, but those spending time with the villagers tell a different story, one in which the battle against the base urges.

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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An Endzeitgeist.com review

*****

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of 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!

Shroudhaven is a foreboding place - nestled within a valley that is defined by not having seen proper sunlight due to the eponymous shroud above the village, the place greets travelers with signs proclaiming that law-breakers will be eaten and that necromancers are forbidden around here. Yeah, you probably can see where that goes, right? Indeed, beyond mannerisms and exquisite artisanship that could hearken to the genesis of the place, with the famed theater mellavious, the place seems affluent and culturally more than relevant - and it does feature a ghast population. And vampires. Yeah, this place can be dangerous...though the undead do try to put visitors at ease and ultimately convince them of their civilized nature. As always, we do btw. receive a proper settlement statblock for the village.

The local undead do hunt for "feral undead" beyond the village's confines, though, as some research can unearth, we find out that locals have a hard time leaving the place...they are subject to a wasting disease until they return. As always, we do receive notes on appearance and dressing style, though this time around, we do not receive sample names. However, 6 rumors and events provide further adventuring potential, in case an eccentric vampire wizard seeking to synthesize artificial blood, a ghast-run manor-house-come-in. And yes, there are farms, courtesy of restricted daylight spells, a cathedral and the relative affluence of the place is also reflected in the marketplace section depicting magical items to pursue.

Speaking of farms, ghasts and vampires...know how the undead here require sustenance? Well, there is another type of farm. Yes, it includes the nightmarish combination of words "chemically" and "lobotomized." And yeah, any semblance of civility and culture here is skin-thick at best; sure, you don't eat intelligent people...but let's not talk about people made deliberately non-intelligent. Urgh. Similarly, the curse of the place has special conditions - ones that allow for semi-regular (once a decade) explorations beyond the confines of the place. After all, the place may have sucky weather - but there are so many distinguished people here! Have I mentioned that they sell magic mushrooms here?

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.

Mike Welham's Shroudhaven reminded me of the classic horror-movie/satire "Society", as seen through a feudal/pseudo-Victorian filter of decadence and manners. The write-ups of the NPCs themselves paint a sympathetic and even kind picture...and honestly, the horrific aspect here lies in the fact that shroudhaven may well be the kindest possible solution for the undead persons; so can you really blame them? Don't they have a right to exist? Beyond the veneer of polite society, beyond the horror that you can or cannot emphasize, shroudhaven is an uncommon village that generates questions and responses - whether it's finding shelter, a solution...or involves copious amounts of kindling and pitchforks.

This is an engaging village and an exercise in concise writing -while I have seen the angle been done before, I have never seen it done in this concise and unique a way, with a focus on the leitmotif of consumption - cultural and literal. My one gripe here is that the curse of the place could have really used some cool, unique mechanical representation, though that is offset by the nice market place and settlement statblock. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars + my seal of approval - if you're looking for raw content, this one delivers the most of the three iterations.

Endzeitgeist out.


Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

Is available at the Paizo store!

And you can grab a free sample here. I hope you enjoy it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Liberty's Edge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2012

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thank you ever so much for the review, Endzeitgeist! Shroudhaven was a bit of a departure for me, so I'm glad you received it well.

Now I have to track down and watch Society.

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