Village Background: Greystone (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible GM's Resource by Creighton Broadhurst

The sharp-pointed hills huddle closely together as the land rises inexorably through the deepening shadows toward the Mottled Spire's looming titanic bulk. Shrieking wind scours the desolate, treeless hilltops and fills the tangle of uncharted steep-sided, rock-strewn valleys cutting through the hills.

Civilisation's creeping tendrils did not linger long in such a hard place. A century ago, settlers from Languard founded Greystone as a fishing village and rebuilt the shattered ruin of the Shard as a lighthouse and watchtower. However, the harsh weather, isolation and events of a certain terror-filled night doomed their efforts to failure.

Now, the decayed ruins of Greystone yet cling to the vertiginous, landward flank of the Mottled Spire and are still visible from Languard's ramparts. Most of the buildings are little more than crumbling facades built over the mouths of the numerous caves riddling the rock. Linked by steep and narrow roads hacked from the Spire's living rock, these homes once sheltered almost 200 souls. Sickly briars and the flotsam of countless winter storms now choke many of the roads rendering them all but impassable—only the nimblest or strongest travellers find the going easy.

A nameless aura of fear and decay hangs over the crumbling, wind-blasted ruins. Seemingly perpetually shrouded in shadow by the Mottled Spire's looming bulk dark legends cluster thickly about the village. Stories of ghoulish hauntings and myths of the degenerate, inbred survivors of the original settlers lurking amid the ruins along with the village's isolated position, conspire to keep decent folk away.

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.

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An review


This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 12 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 6 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Sharp-inclined hills huddle together in the deepened shadows of the Mottled Spire, where, once upon a time, settlers from nearby Languard founded a fishing village and outpost for a watchtower/lighthouse. Linked by steep and narrow, inhospitable inclines, the village that was here may once have housed up to 200 people...but nowadays, greystone is a shadow of its former self, with not even 70 souls remaining...and whether they'd constitute humans ultimately depends on your definition of the term, for there is a reason the almost palpable shadow of fear clings to this settlement, seemingly clouded in the spire's looming shadow in perpetuity.

Astute fans of the series will notice that no settlement statblock in the traditional sense is included here as a concession (probably) to the transition to multi-system support the series has undergone, though frankly, I am missing it. That being said, the settlement does come with the traditional notes of villager nomenclature and dressing as well as local lore...which does make for an amazing warning, as the houses are supposed to contain tunnels, shielded from the light of day, tunnels that allow the degenerate inhabitants to move from place to place unseen by the light of days. Some murmur about the massacre that once took place here, when the strange antediluvian structures were found beneath the manor that belonged to none other than dread Dagon, who gets a basic deity write-up here.

I already mentioned the deformities, which are represented by a 12-entry strong table accompanying a template. The template also sports 12 cosmetic deformities (erroneously headed by a d20 instead of a d12 in a cosmetic hiccup). Beyond Tommi Salama's superb cartography of the village, the pdf comes with a second gorgeous map drawn by the Finnish master of cartography, which depicts the labyrinthine caves below the hills, allowing for easy two-step functionality here. In short: This is basically a great set-up for a truly creepy village, with the closest analogue I can think of being a blending of the village in Darkest Dungeon and a backwoods horror movie flick à la Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Strange carvings, mostly rendered unintelligible, weirdly mixed architectural styles and two tables to depict minor details for the caverns or add in small events can be found here as well, though the die to roll is d12, not d% as noted here. These cosmetic glitches, however, should not be taken as an indicator that this pdf contains anything but the most impressive of prose, which generates an atmosphere so thick you can almost cut it.


Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant 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.

Creighton Broadhurst, master of Raging Swan Press, is an absolute master at depicting desolate places, decrepitude and a general sense of a world that has moved on, to paraphrase the classic King-sentiment. Indeed, even among the offerings he has penned, this stands out. Seen from a neutral point of view, I should not be half as impressed by this as I am - from a rules-perspective, the template didn't blow me away and the lack of a statblock for the village is a minor detriment...though frankly, here it is less relevant.

Why? Because this is, in short, an adventure in disguise: Throw the PCs in and have fun. Haven't prepared anything? Whoop out this pdf, read it (5 minutes, tops), make a few notes...and bingo, you'll have an adventure on your hand. Just watch the PCs interact with what they find. The atmosphere is amazing and in my mind, I can almost hear the voice of Darkest Dungeon's ancestor say "Ruin has come to our noble village..." In short: This is an installment that lives by virtue of its phenomenal prose. In fact, were it not for these minor complaints, I'd consider this on par with the very best of all offerings in the series, as the atmosphere evoked is perhaps only rivaled by the brilliant Kennutcat. Still, there are a couple of uncharacteristic minor hiccups herein and, while the prose is pure amazing, the crunch supplementing it feels slightly less inspired. Hence, I will rate this at 5 stars, with an explicit recommendation for anyone looking for a truly atmospheric settlement.

Endzeitgeist out.

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Is now available at the Paizo store--and you can grab a free sample here!

Good to have some free Greystone sampling stuff out there, in all its' myriad of systems. ;)

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

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Glad you liked it, Endzeitgeist! Thanks very much for the review.

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