This first installment of Raging Swan Press’ Subterranean Enclave-series clocks in at 10 pages, 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!
What is this series about? Well, in one sentence: “Village Backdrops for the Underworld.” That’s the truth in theory – i.e. you’ll find a settlement statblock, a market place, a couple of notable folk and places, lore and rumors, sample events – by now you know the formula that works so extremely well. In practice, this is rather different beyond the formal criteria. Once, when the slums of the city of Fairhaven plummeted into the underdark, squashing an enclave of dark folk and subsequently cutting off the survivors from both the upper world and the realms below, people were forced to work together – the result being a most unlikely constellation:
In Severed Umbra, now once again opened and a vibrant trading spot with the realms below, regular folk coexist with the enigmatic dark folk, having adopted their mannerisms and habit of dressing. Surrounding a lake that is the home to weird phosphorescent fish makes for a cool general location and the village is also sporting a place where lizards are cultivated for their meat as well as a dark rag outfitter, psychotropic shroom addicts, a psychotic halfling evoker ( level 9, fully statted) and a fully statted dark stalker co-leader of the town. Beyond these obvious hooks, acclimatization to the dark and actually kind dark stalker healers (!!!) make for further odd, yet pleasant peculiarities.
Better yet, aforementioned sample events prove to be pretty helpful in driving home the special considerations a place like this requires.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w–standard, with superb cartography in b/w. As always, you can download player-friendly maps on Raging Swan’s homepage. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer, with both being fully bookmarked.
I couldn’t have imagined a more suitable writer to kick off the new series – Mike Welham’s Severed Umbra is delightfully unconventional and distinct, with more hooks than you’d imagine to find in the pages of such a supplement – possibly even enough to base a whole campaign on this camp of former outcasts, forged together into an unlikely unity. The one problem I see with this pdf is that it sets a very high standard for the whole series and the pdfs to come – I hope other authors can match this cool locale. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval for a great place indeed!