Village Backdrop: Hornwall
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!
Some places may seem nice, but aren’t – not really. While the village lore allows PCs that do their legwork to know about some of Hornwall’s prior problems, and while he whispers and rumors do help, there is something about this place. The inhabitants are muscled, and exhibit poor hygiene; there are much more men than women, and many wear hodgepodge leather clothing, in spite of the village per se not looking poor. The intense mien the locals seem to have, which is also exhibited by the 5 sample NPCs provided (all with the usual details regarding mannerisms, background, etc.), might well be a result of Hornwall’s ghosts, for phantoms and ghoulish apparitions haunt streets and countryside. Oddly, these have not been realized as proper haunts, which is seriously a missed chance here. Or are they due to the pollution the lye shop generates? Perhaps a strange reaction of the forces of nature?
Anyway, we do get a total of 12 dressing/event entries to add a sense of dynamics to the supplement, and indeed, this tense angle…is executed throughout. When a hunting party returns, there is a ritualistic greeting and response. All the time, something seems off. This is also represented in the read-aloud text for the 8 eyed locales. On a rules side of things, no marketplace section or settlement statblock is provided, which is particularly in this village, a bit of a missed chance.
Why? Because Hornwall is boiling, and the supplement has an outline for a prolonged adventure, for a chance to seriously alter how this place behaves in the future hardcoded into its setup. This could have easily found some sort of representation in settlement stats or the like. Note: I really, really enjoy the angle here – including the consequences outlined. In many ways, this settlement feels like something straight out of the Witcher games, and oozes this great, down to earth dark fantasy vibe I enjoy.
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.
Jeff Gomez’ Hornwall is not necessarily a new angle, but it is a rare one, and one that has been executed exceedingly well here. I tried to omit spoilers to the best of my ability here, mainly because I think that this book’s subtle angles and growing slow-burn unease works best if the players slowly unearth the truth. I very much enjoyed this one, and while I think that the supplement could have made more use of PFRPG’s peculiarities, it is, as a whole, a village backdrop I can gladly recommend. 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
You can get this well-executed slow-burn environment here on OBS!
Oddly, I haven’t received the other two versions of the village, which is why there is only this review.
You can get the system neutral iteration here on OBS.
You can get the 5e-version here on OBS.
You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!
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