This installment of the Village Backdrops-line is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page advice for novice DMs on how to read statblocks, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Oakhurst lies nestled deep within the tangled forest and its remote location has not only attracted those hiding from authorities, but has also resulted in inbreeding to the brink of madness – insular and hostile in nature, the fact that ears decorate the wall behind the bar of the town’s inn should come off as a not-too-subtle hint that people “don’t like dem strangers ’round here” – hence rumors and village lore already paint a rather twisted image of the place…
Even before the PCs can find out the true nature of the weird religious practices found there. With a significant half-goblin population, even before the dread secret of a prominent family in the town is revealed (including a modification of a template – no, not going to spill the beans here…), the sense of stupor, hopelessness, brutality and alcoholism that suffuses the town’s prior and inhabitants evokes a climate of fear and subliminal threat that hearkens back to one reading for the first time about Innsmouth. Yes. That good. And no, it’s not yet another gillmen/hybrid-inbreeding-angle, but something similar, yet twisted and different.
Statblock-wise, we get a half-goblin fighter 4 statblock and two statblocks that feature the same being in different forms as well as 4 sample events – have I mentioned the red herrings?
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP’s 2-column b/w-standard and as always, a high-res version of the map can be downloaded at Raging Swan’s homepage. The cartography of the village is top-notch and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two different versions, one optimized for screen-use and one for the printer.
John Bennett is a great author and one that is steadily building a reputation for delivering – and this is a great example why. A perfect example for the art of concise writing, evoking maximum effect with minimum word-count can be observed herein – each sentence hits home and weaves a surprisingly concise tapestry of a scene none too pleasant. The palpable sense of dread found herein and the sheer atmosphere make this pdf feel so much longer than its default page-count and should ensure that any Dm worth his salt will get at least one adventure or sidetrek out of this location – perhaps even so much more. This is what a drop-in-location should be like: Evocative, atmospheric, intriguing – easy 5 stars + seal of approval.