By Thilo Graf
This pdf is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advice for reading statblocks for novice GMs, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s check this out!
This pdf introduces us to the village of Apia, nestled around a river, Apia has a good location trade-wise and its sturdy buildings sport more stones, since many have been constructed with the stones from the nearby ruined castle. Speaking of which – for a long time, the town seemed to be in decline. Until a girl went missing.
From here on reign the SPOILERS. Potential players, please jump to the conclusion.
When the searching party found her in the arms of an ettercap and the creature mentioned in flawed common, that the girl’s burns would need honey, the town’s fortunes radically changed: Benefitting from the amount of knowledge the ettercap had on vermin, the town has since become rather wealthy, living of honey that they now may make into a healing alchemical honey. This new honey and prices for them, as befitting of a honey-based economy, are included, as are multiple locales with nice descriptions and a short price list for the inn.
The pdf also comes with d4 rumours and 6 events (though the table only says d4 – one of the rare RSP-glitches!). Now if you’re getting a slightly creepy vibe from this nice, wealthy village…well. The ettercap is fully statted and her visits to town are highly regulated with ritualistic behaviour of the townsfolk to help the creature control its savage urges – all while countless bee-swarms buzz about. (And yes, they come with stats… NOT THE BEEEES!) Yes. essentially, this village, with its rituals, its predominantly female population and its secrets feels like a blending of the best aspects of both wickerman movies, though human sacrifice, as of yet, is not practiced. Or is it? After all, there’s rumoured to be a way for persons to be mummified in honey and subsequently have their corpse turn into macabre healing items… Whether you as a DM use this information to imply cannibalism and twisted honey-based necromancy or just alien pagan rites closer to a harmonic lifestyle or a blending of both – Apia has you covered.
Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect – I noticed a glitch, which is uncommon in the mostly flawless track-record of Raging Swan Press. Layout adheres to RSP’s two-column standard and the pdf comes with two versions,. one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer as well as a gorgeous b/w-map of the town. Speaking of the town’s map: You can download an untagged version of the map as a free web-enhancement for your players, the zip also including a larger tagged version. Nice! The pdf also comes fully bookmarked. Yes! Raging Swan Press got it right this time around – the town is versatile in its usage, the crunch is iconic, the story cool and the map gorgeous. Two thumbs up and this time around, thanks to the extra map download, I also can’t complain about that one. Ben Kent has created a village that oozes potential for good, evil and anything in-between, making the village a truly iconic place that can transport the sense of alienation and threat of otherness so perfectly evoked by the classic Wickerman-movie and move it into your game without falling prey to becoming a bland copy of the movie’s ideas. In spite of the one minor glitch – 5 stars+ seal of approval!
Village Backdrop: Apia is available from:
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