Village Backdrop: Macrimei 2.0 (OSR)
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!
Know then, young prince, that in the days of yore, when Atlantis had first sunken into the seas, there was a place called Macrimei, situated amid windswept hills in colder climes, where ruins howl of ages long past, its populace descendants of a once glorious culture, now reduced to a state that is but a shade of their former glory; a place where once towers of ivory pierced the sky, everything looks as though a certain Cimmerian’s sandaled feet had cut a swath through the landscape. Into this desolation came the wizard Anazturex with his own private little army of henchmen, dubbed after the strange local deity “Soryan”, his Sons of Soryan. It’s been years under this small magocratic rule, and nowadays, everyone is barred from the red obelisk where Soryan’s supposedly worshiped, as the wizard’s tower watches over a village born in ruins.
It is rumored in town, that one day a strange silvery child appeared and subsequently vanished…and the wizard’s tower has an odd tendency to disappear for weeks on end, only to suddenly reappear…but to what ends, no one knows. Oh, and in case you are not too keen on the reveal of the nature of the wizard, an alternative is provided as a designer’s suggestion…kudos for going the extra-mile!
Now, the lore and flavor, the writing – is top tier. This being an expanded version of a shorter pdf originally released for PFRPG. It also provides new material in pretty compelling ways. To be more precise, we get the usual expansion pertaining the surrounding locality, the law of the land, customs, etc. Dressing in particular is remarkable: For example, the dressing/event table sports 20 entries…but the pdf goes beyond that, providing some smaller sub-dressing suggestions for visits to certain keyed locales. We also get well-written fluff-only write-ups for NPCS, 5 to be more specific – these reference wizards instead of magic-users, so if that bothers you, consider yourself to be warned.
The artifact, the Orb of Soryan is still here, but unlike the botched 5e and PF2-versions, it actually works in a pretty smooth manner, getting old-school rules functionally right, and using a no-frills roll-under mechanic to activate. Nice! Minor nitpick: Destruction caveat would have been nice, but oh well. It also references caster level, which might upset some purists.
Editing and formatting are formally good, and slightly weaker when it comes to rules. 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.
In case my ample allusions to the genre-classics were not ample clue: This village is a perfect bow before the tropes of Swords & Sorcery, a village dripping flavor and atmosphere out of every pore; just as useful in a post-apocalyptic scenario, Macrimei is a fantastic village that manages to evoke the primal sense of the ancient, of decay and ages long past with panache and prose so concise and dense, you feel like you could cut it. While it could just as well be tinted through the shades of high fantasy, unlike most sojourns of PFRPG into the genre, I’d strongly advise against that, for this village backdrop GETS what makes Sword & Sorcery so amazing – it’s neither flowery prose, nor the themes…it’s the room for growth, for question-marks, the precarious balance of blanks and filled-in information, the tone.
I seriously LOVE John Bennett’s Macrimei.
And I do enjoy this OSR-version, in spite of it being almost system neutral – it’s my firm conviction that this would have benefited from a few added OSR-stats here and there…they don’t take much time to make and don’t take up much space, so that would have rendered this pretty much a book you can simply pick up and play. That being said, this iteration does not share the issues of the 5e and PF2-version, and is the first iteration of Macrimei for old-school games…and frankly, considering that, I maintain that this is very much worth getting if you remotely enjoy sword & sorcery. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
You can get this pdf here on OBS!
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