Village Backdrop: Ravens’ Cradle (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!
Raven’s Cradle is a prosperous farming community ruled by superstition and folklore; bandits are founded pecked to death nearby, and woe betide any who dare attempt to bring harm to this strange place. It may not be a surprise to veterans – but Raven’s Cradle makes for a pretty perfect fit for Ravenloft and similar settings/games that want to add a bit of folklore/horror in the vein of the Wicker Man to the game.
As always in the series, the pdf does come with notes on local dressing habits (which reflect the local superstitions) and nomenclature, and we do get some whispers and rumors, and a lore section that rewards PCs that do their proper leg-work. And indeed, this place is unique: On a pedestal, in the middle of the village, on an island, there is a massive diamond – and the “Bleakstone” is indeed not something the wise would attempt to steal.
The folklore angle is particularly effective in this supplement, with the belief in the raven spirit being only semi-covert, with special boards prominently displayed, etc. The Ravenloft-angle is also pretty pronounced, in that curses indeed matter in how this place came to be – the spirit noted, the diamond – all is entwined in a rather nice manner. The pdf does come with 2 different sample NPCs, presented in Raging Swan Press’ fluff-centric depiction (i.e. notes on personality etc. are provided, but no full statblocks); in 5e, the NPCs reference the proper NPC default statblocks. The pdf also sports the by now traditional and much appreciated 20-entry-long dressing/event table.
The settlement sports a couple of briefer summaries for other NPCs as well, and notes goods to purchase where applicable. The items that are for sale in the village have been properly adjusted to represent the realities of 5e-gaming.
The 10 keyed locations do come with their own read-aloud lines, and generally are awesome – there is but one aspect I’m not a big fan of: While the cursed diamond is cool indeed, and while I like the symptoms presented, it’d have been nice to get some proper rules for the curse.
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. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.
I enjoyed Steve Hood’s “Ravens’ Cradle” – the supplement knows how to evoke a proper sense of paranoia; it plays upon the PC’s greed, and ultimately asks a series of smart questions – are the PCs justified in trying to break the curse? Isn’t the place better off as it’s now? Things are not as simple as one would think, and I very much like this. I really wished the 5e-version had some crunch to back up the curse-components, though. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
You can get this village here on OBS!
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