This installment of RSP’s Village Backdrop-series is 10 pages long, 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 at the settlement
Edgewood can pretty much be considered a village akin to Arrowhill – it is a somewhat isolated town, though not excessively so; it lies at the edge of the woods, and it is subject to woes – but yet, this village is completely different. The settlement has the trademark level of detail of the series, sporting a market place, settlement statblock, rumors, naming conventions for villagers and the like, etc. – and its statblock immediately shows a difference from Arrowhill, namely, the status of the village. Unlike the besieged frontier’s town, Edgewood mysteriously seems to be impervious to political upheavals, natural disasters, etc. – the village hence has become pretty much wealthy and, in fact idyllic.
Then, there is the ex-paladin, fallen for the murder of 3 people, after transforming exactly ONCE into a werewolf. There is the culling. Every year, 3 people die in bizarre attacks of wild animals, seemingly chosen at random. 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 DM worth their game can run this as a tantalizing module full of interesting characters.
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.
The Village backdrop-series has an insanely high quality-standard. Know what? Mike Welham, one of the designers I expect to always expect nothing short of excellence from, once again perfectly delivers here. I absolutely ADORE this village backdrop. 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 point where I have to decide which of the countless ideas I’ll run with. This is more inspired than most full-blown mystery modules and is ultimately better, more inspiring, than the couple of pages have any right to be.
This is my favorite Village Backdrop so far. It’s so inspired, I’m hard-pressed to find words to emphasize how damn good it is, even in a series this devoted to excellence. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, + seal of approval and also renders this a candidate for the Top Ten of 2015. I’m not kidding when I’m saying that this is a soothing balm for any DM looking for a perfect, customizable mystery to slightly customize and run.