Village Backdrop: Victory Elm (system neutral)
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!
Standing amid gently roiling hills, Victory Elm derives its name from the massive tree that gives the village its name; goats graze on the hills, though the absence of any other tree nearby may seem odd to some. While a few hill giants remain nearby, the village has attempted to entice the creation of additional settlements to make the place less remote, but so far to no avail. The items for sale in the village have btw. been properly adjusted to represent the realities of old-school gaming.
Why “Victory”, you ask? Well, some years ago, hill giants acted as a vanguard for fire- and frost giant masters, and failing to uproot the mighty elm, it became a rallying point that saw the eventual defeat of the giants. Yes, this pretty much has “Giantslayer”, “Against the Giants” and the like written all over it. Today, but one living being in Victory Elm remembers these days – Cyrrun Belatros, an elf, who has recently fallen ill (and who comes with a full fluff NPC-write-up) – and at the same time, a strange blight ravages the land, with the elm infested by aggressive termites and wasps. Suffice to say, rumors about the giants gathering don’t help the sense of trepidation haunting the place.
It should also be noted that this village features a museum still holding fabled weaponry from the last altercation against the giants, and we do have a war memorial as well. Nice! The magic weapons that remain here have btw. been properly adjusted to more conservative old-school realities.
As always with the series, we receive full notes on the surrounding locales, have information on local nomenclature and dressing habits, as well as a section of lore and some rumors that can be used to reward PCs for doing their legwork. The 20-entry dressing/event table allows you to jumpstart the adventuring quickly and painlessly as the PCs explore the place, and one of the locales does come with its own additional table of 6 sample events. One of the strengths of the other iterations would be the presence of more rules-relevant aspects in this one; in the system neutral version, these obviously are mostly based on roleplaying, but this does not change the fact that the hooks are more complex than usual.
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.
Mike Welham’s Victory Elm manages to capture a borderlands-vibe very well; the looming threat, the sense of melancholy and an era of peace ending, the threats that are here – this is a fun village that particularly will do its job exceedingly well if you’re planning a vs. giants-type campaign. The supplement does lose a bit of its overall appeal in contrast to the other two versions, courtesy, system-immanently, of it having not as much meat behind its tale, but remains a good offering. My final verdict will round down from my final verdict if 4.5 stars for this iteration – if you play PFRPG or 5e, definitely get those versions, even if you usually prefer the more roleplaying-focused aspects of the system neutral versions.
You can get this village here on OBS!
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