Village Backdrop: Ronak (PFRPG) PDF

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Nobody knows Ronak exists. Or, more precisely, nobody remembers. Ronak was the last hope of a dying trade company, a desperate attempt to settle and explore a distant swamp. When the colony found nothing but lizardfolk (exterminated in short order), the trade company did not have enough gold to retrieve their employees. Ronak never heard from civilization again. Centuries later, the dwarves of Ronak believe civilization to be but a myth. Over the generations, they have become more savage, reverting bit by bit to a primitive state. They are haunted and guided by the ghosts of the exterminated lizardfolk who seek the continuation of their culture. The dwarves speak a hybrid of Dwarven and Draconic, build thatch huts amid the colony’s ruins and worship a mixture of half-forgotten dwarven deities and heathen serpent gods. Most disturbingly, some dwarven children now bear scales and jagged teeth. Perhaps one day soon the lizardfolk will be born again, this time from dwarven mothers.

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. It comes in two different 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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This installment of the Village Backdrops-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Ronak is a dwarven company’s trade-outpost – or rather, it was. The company has gone belly-up ages ago, leaving the ancestors of the Ronakee stranded in the middle of the swamplands, on lands that once belonged to lizardfolk, dutifully exterminated by the dwarves. This can be unearthed via the village lore provided in the tradition of the series…and it kinda is weird. Why? Because the very first sentence on Ronak is “Nobody knows Ronak exists. Or, more precisely, nobody remembers.” Considering that baseline, a paltry DC 15 check seems a bit odd here… On the plus side, we get proper settlement stats for PFRPG.

Anyways, the dwarves of Ronak are insular, yes – and they are, to a degree, forsaken by civilization. You see, the ronakee dwarves no longer truly believe in outside civilization; they are guided by the spirits of the lizardfolk they slaughtered, slowly becoming ever more degenerate, savage…and, most disconcertingly, reptilian. This slow change is also represented in the way in which the whispers and rumors and map are depicted – we have a fortified village of huts on a hill; the villagers are isolated and their demeanor and appearance reflect that; the marketplace section provided also focuses on more shamanistic aspects.

Similarly, the classes of the movers and shakers of the village adhere to the more primitive bent; the drug used to communicate with spirits, sawleaf, which is harvested in the bitter bog, makes for a nice piece of crunch. The scaled dwarves of Ronak btw. get a racial variant - +2 Str and Con, slow and steady, low-light vision and +2 to saves vs. spells and spell-like abilities as well as two mutations from a list of 6 that include weak bite and claw attacks. Strange: The bite attack is weaker than the two claw attacks. Why would you ever choose it? +1 natural armor, swim speed 15 ft., hold breath and better Stealth and movement in swamps can also be found.

From the temple to the humble spirithouse, the village is pretty neat – though it should be noted that no event-table is provided this time around – instead, we get a bit of consideration regarding the event that changes all: The arrival of PCs. Much like insular tribes in real life, the arrival of PCs must be seen as a cataclysmic upheaval for the village and its societies…and the repercussions you can weave there are most assuredly really exciting.


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports solid b/w-artwork and great b/w-cartography, this time around provided by Maciej Zagorski. The pdf comes in two versions – one optimized for screen-use and one for the printer. The pdf is properly bookmarked for your convenience.

Jeff Gomez’ set-up here is really interesting. I like the idea of colonialists succumbing to their own sins; there is a definite Heart of Darkness-vibe going on here; similarly, the angle regarding the destructive force of contacts with advanced civilizations is something I really enjoyed. And yet, Ronak didn’t 100% click with me; perhaps it’s the scaled dwarf-angle (seen that before); perhaps it’s the mutation factor…or that it doesn’t go full-blown either Chinua Achebe or Joseph Conrad with the colonialist angle…This is, don’t get me wrong, a pretty inspiring village (though the low lore DC makes no sense to me), but it is a village with a concept that could have carried a more forceful execution or a stranger transition. The concepts underlying the premise are so strong, they could have yielded simply more. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

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I like the idea of this one. It reminds me of HPL's "Doom That Came To Sarnath".

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


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