Village Backdrop: Brackendale (5e)
This installment of RSP’s Village Backdrop-series is 13 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 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look at the settlement!
Brackendale is very much a nice low-level frontier’s town – it is a fortified village nestled in a shallow vale, surrounded by goblinoid-infested wooded hills, with the arrival of The Six changing the region’s balance of power drastically. Since then, one of the adventurers has moved to Lady Cross, and one has died, but there is a tension here. The supplement btw. also has a subdued tie to Tigley, with two of the adventurers hailing originally from that place.
You see, the adventurers, at one point, were not particularly successful at their job…until one fateful day, when they were extremely successful. Why? How? I am not going to spoil that, but suffice to say, the event left the fellowship of the Six sundered, with tensions among the adventurers flaring time and again.
As always, we do get notes on village lore and 6 whispers and rumors that may or may not be true; as per the evolved formula of the Village Backdrop-series, we also get information on the surrounding locales, and notes on local nomenclature, dressing habits, and the like. A big plus as far as I’m concerned would be the inclusion of a d8 wilderness dressing table for the vicinity. Nice!
As far as customs and traditions are concerned, we have some interesting, albeit discontinued, traditions that involved dressing up as goblins to be pelted, and otherwise, a life in tune with the seasons, including snow goblins and the like. The pdf features a table of 12 dressing-entries/events that allow you to add further details to the settlement.
The pdf sports a total of 8 keyed locales with more detailed descriptions, including read-aloud text to paraphrase. The “What’s going on” entries that allow you to make individual locales more dynamic are focused on two different locations, with 6 suggestions each. This time around, no direct quest hooks are provided for the individual locales.
As a nice bit of service, we get a marketplace section, appropriately adjusted for 5e. It’s a minor aesthetic aspect, but I’m not a big fan of the adventurers using the default NPC stats here. Getting at least some custom features would have been nice and made them more interesting.
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. We get pretty neat b/w-artwork. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.
Steve Hood is a talented author, and more importantly, he gets Raging Swan Press’ subdued Greyhawk aesthetics perfectly; he examines the fallout of an adventuring party here, and does so in an interesting manner that takes into account how much a group of mighty individuals might influence the dynamics of a village. I like this angle, and in many ways, this settlement behaving a bit like a drama/mystery to be uncovered, is nice. On the downside, the mystery per se is not that exciting, and in some ways, this settlement works best when used in conjunction with Tigley and Lady Cross as part of an exploration of the region. If the adventuring party had been a bit more complex in the way they’re depicted, this’d probably have excited me more than it did.
As a whole, this is a nice offering, which is why my final verdict will be 4 stars.
You can get this settlement here on OBS!
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