Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern (system neutral)
This installment of RSP’s Village Backdrop-series is 11 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 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look at the settlement!
So, Black Wyvern would be the final village in the vicinity of the town backdrop Deksport, situated on the relatively lawless Picaroon Peninsula. And guess what? It was founded by a pirate captain and named after his ship. Did not see that one coming, right? Sarcasm aside, the village actually does have a somewhat unique angle: The base premise of the village would be evil colonialist pirates displacing similarly evil local goblinoids and orcs…but it turns out that the pirates inherited more than they could chew: An ancient moon oak, gnarled, withered and used to execute countless folk, has gained sentience and now looms over this place an arboreal overlord that controls access to the woods…and to an extent, the population here.
The settlement comes fully equipped with notes on its characteristics and the PFRPG version’s marketplace section has been replaced with an artwork of a tree sporting hanged men – appropriate. Nomenclature is similarly covered, though, oddly, mannerisms and dressing habits are nowhere to be found. On the plus-side, we receive village lore, the usual 6 whispers and rumors for hooks and red herrings as well as more precise details on the local population and sites of interest within the beautifully mapped village.
An extra section on local industry and law and order (or their relative lack of) complement the pdf alongside 6 sample events you can use to jumpstart proceedings if the PCs are idling. That being said, the final page is a one-page illustration of the dread tree…a great b/w-artwork, for sure…but while I can’t complain about a lack of stats in a system-neutral pdf, I still wished the space had been used to highlight the proceedings further with more dressing. You know, the full blown “Evil plant overlord angle. Mind-clouding sap in the local brew; the flung corpses that spit forth thorny seeds, shamble around and collapse to spread the seeds of the horrid plant-thing. Some creepy cult iconography or a table of strange utterings à la “Death to you, life for your seed.”
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any 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.
Richard Green’s Black Wyvern has a more unique angle than his last pirate-y settlement, so that’s a definite plus. On the downside, this village is very straightforward in how it’ll work in play and doesn’t fully capitalize on the straightforward angle. If you depict a threat this explicit in its focus, why not make it shine and go all out? The pdf certainly has the space to further elaborate on the creature and its unwilling subordinates in question and certainly could have used the added room. As a whole, this feels like one of the weaker installments in the series and is slightly briefer as well, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars. However, since this is the system neutral version, I at least wasn’t missing a proper unique adversary statblock, which is why I’ll round up for this one.
You can get this village here on OBS!
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