Village Backdrop: Edgewood 2.0 (system neutral)
This installment of RSP’s Village Backdrop-series is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, one of which is a pretty epic b/w-map of mythic Gloamhold and surrounding area, so let’s take a look at the settlement
Edgewood can pretty much be a somewhat isolated town, though not excessively so; it lies at the edge of the Shadetimber woods, and it is subject to woes. Founded roughly a hundred years ago, it wasn’t affected by major upheavals since its founding, but in spite of this, the town hasn’t seen much population growth since the original 90 settlers. The settlement has the trademark level of detail of the series, sporting a market place, rumors, naming conventions for villagers and the like, etc. Available, I think, for the first time in a version more in line with old-school sensibilities, the marketplace section alongside the lore and rumor tables have been properly adjusted to focus on roleplaying. The items available reflect the decreased power-level, and class-references, where applicable, have been adjusted to represent the GOCs – the good ole’ classes. 😉
The 2.0 version of the settlement greatly expands the notes provided in trade & industry, law and order, and presents a massive 20-entry table of dressing and events that lets you customize the village and add unsettling or strange occurrences to the process of exploring this place. Similarly, we now get a page that features a beautiful b/w-artwork of the region alongside notes on the surrounding locales.
Edgewood is an idyllic place – where it not for one phenomenon. Every year, there is the Night of Terror, a culling where 1 – 3 villagers are slain in a seemingly random, but always brutal attack, and no matter how far you run, you will be hunted down, and you will be returned to Edgewood, by circumstances most bizarre if you do try to run. It’s just a matter of time. And paradoxically, even those escaping are not exactly fated to die – they often survive, only to witness others perish. The Night of Terror is not always on the same night either – and while there are signs to herald its arrival, meddling has so far not yielded reprieve, and seems to have worsened the state of affairs, making the villagers less likely to cooperate. They will probably also point towards the failed efforts of the local fallen paladin Cleauregard. Speaking of which: The NPC-fluff-write ups we’ve come to expect from the series? They are much more detailed herein than even what we’ve come to expect from Raging Swan Press.
This culling is what makes up the central angle of this village – a case of “death for you, life for my crop”? An ancient curse? A strange conspiracy? All of these may be possible and certainly, from strange monuments to other theories, quite a few of the individuals herein have their own ideas of what is behind this culling – do the bees, for example, know more? Coincidentally, the local bee keeper seeks to expand into establishing a 13th hive. Not any hive, the 13th.
A good supernatural mystery, a good horror story – both have in common that they evoke subtle themes and potential meaning – they must provide a sense of meaning that sends the minds of the investigating players wandering, that makes them put together pieces. This pdf is chock-full with exactly these symbols, these subtle nudges. The pdf’s mystery also remains valid due to not one, but multiple sample ideas for the resolution being provided and due to making components like e.g. “resurrecting victims” a concise part of the evoked mystery – the cleric and the revived person actually died soon after…
This is one damn glorious adventure – no, I’m not saying “backdrop” or “supplement” – I’m saying adventure. With 15 minutes of work, any referee worth their game can run this as a tantalizing module full of interesting characters. The return to Edgewood adds further fuel to an already excellent set-up.
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 nice map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs on RSP’s homepage. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.
Edgewood is one of my all-time favorite Village Backdrops. Mike Welham, one of the designers I expect to always expect nothing short of excellence from, once again perfectly delivers here. I absolutely ADORED this village backdrop in its original iteration, and it has lost nothing of its splendor. This is a superbly compelling, tantalizing supplement that is suffused with subtle nods that send a creative mind spinning in possibilities – the pdf is subtle and less explicit than most and is infinitely better off for it – whether a strange curse, fey shenanigans, lovecraftian horrors, tainted bloodlines or just planar wagers gone awry, Edgewood supports a vast array of exceedingly awesome storylines.
To the point, in fact, where the settlement inspired me to the extent where I have to decide which of the countless ideas I’ll run with. This is more compelling than most full-blown mystery modules and is ultimately better, more captivating, than the couple of pages have any right to be.
If anything, version 2.0 has held up remarkably well; visiting this place once more made me realize that this still is one of the best entries in the entire series. And considering that this is the first system neutral/old-school-iteration of this settlement, I can only do one thing – tell you to get this ASAP! You will not regretting this little masterpiece of a village!! 5 stars +s eal of approval!
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