Village Backdrop: Thornhill (5e)
This installment in Raging Swan’s Village backdrop-series, converted to 5e, is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with a total of 5 pages of content for the village of Thornhill, so let’s take a look!
The village of Thornhill is situated at the border of a vast marsh, to be more precise on an island encircled by deep, sluggish waters and surrounded by an ancient, yet formidable stockade of old timbers – the only access point to the village being one bridge. At least without access to boats!
We get 8 short entries of notable folks, describing the dramatis personae of the village before we’re introduced to 10 notable locations in the village. It should be noted that a lizardfolk shaman living at a nearby island is considered to be a part of the village as well as a guardian of what the lizardfolk consider to be a holy site. On a nitpicky side, village lore DCs span 10, 15 and 20 and are based on Intelligence checks, which renders the highest DC pretty high – tying that to a proper Int-based skill may have been prudent re proficiency.
To add further color to the dreary place, we also get a table of 6 rumors, which PCs can unearth via Charisma checks. The pdf includes a general primer on how the people look like (including nomenclature) and some pieces of local lore on the village before we are introduced to more detailed descriptions of the 10 notable locations of the village.
Unlike in the PFRPG-version, we get no sample statblocks herein – instead, the pdf has been fitted with additional information pertaining a curious local paste, events for the aforementioned isle and its surroundings, etc.. Beyond these, we get short entries on trade & industry and law & order as well as 6 different events.
Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect – I noticed that the classes tend to be bolded, but there are exceptions to this rule to be found herein. Layout adheres to the crisp b/w-2-column presentation we’re by now accustomed to and the pdf comes with two versions – one for printing and one for screen-use. Both pdfs are fully bookmarked.
All right, first of all, I feel obliged to note that this is a perfect example of concise writing – with just a couple of sentences, the village’s descriptions manage to evoke a sense of backwardness, desolation, decrepitude and forlornness. Thornhill is a harsh place and one that may erode the minds of those unwilling or incapable of bearing the hard life there. The subtle winks and nods towards the ever-present threats of the nearby swamp, via lizardfolk etc., could be easily used by a halfway-decent GM to create an Innsmouth-type of scenario and I think that is exactly what I’ll do.
A (very) minor issue the pdf may potentially have at your table is, that if you have already used a lot of 3pp-material, you may have encountered the map of the place before…but that’s about it regarding my gripes with this one. Creighton Broadhurst’s Thornhill remains a great, if not pleasant place you will want to inflict on your players. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.
You can get this evocative village here on OBS!
You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on their patreon!