Village Backdrops: Idyll
This installment of RSP’s Village Backdrop-series is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look at the settlement
As always with Raging Swan Press’ critically-acclaimed Village Backdrop-series, we are introduced to a sample town herein, complete with settlements statblock, local nomenclature, market place-information on magic items for sale, some sample lore to be unearthed via Knowledge-checks and, obviously, some rumors and adventure hooks.
A brief glimpse at the village map shows that the settlement is close to a little stream – and, frankly, if “idyll” as a name evokes pastoral scenes and romantic notions of a farmer’ life…you’d kind of be right. Export-wise, Idyll is pretty much defined by the tasty meats the village produces. At the same time, there are numerous interesting components that set the village apart, first of which would be the propensity for ancient artifacts littering the nearby landscape and the fact that 4 odd monoliths, one in each cardinal direction, seem to guard the place. The constantly optimal weather conditions may also spark the paranoia of the characters… and indeed, rather oddly, the village is governed by an odd council that seems to encompass the worst discrepancies of the alignment spectrum, thus rendering it rather impotent.
Magical characters may also notice a curious phenomenon, namely, that neither alignment-detection, nor proper scrying seem to work within the confines of this village and the fact that people of such vastly diverging ideologies seem to peacefully coexist also hints at the true nature of this unique settlement – a nature I am not going to divulge in this review, instead leaving you with the information that I haven’t seen the idea executed thus anywhere before – and love it! While I briefly considered spoiling the truth here, I believe that this is indeed for the best – you’ll see once you read about this unique village yourself.
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 Idyll once again is a perfect reminder why he ranks among the authors who continue to score seals of approval – Idyll is an inspired, intriguing settlement that begins with a mystery and offers a great answer to it, one that makes sense on multiple levels. The potential for uncanny valley-esque creepy-factors is here, as is the option for players to later utilize the village’s unique properties for their own agendas – if they dare and manage to come to an agreement with the village’s masters, that is. So, how to rate this, then? Well, while the village is less versatile on its own than the best in the series, it does sport a truly awesome concept that I have never seen before – a concept that is so cool and chock-full of narrative potential, I am practically forced to rate this 5 stars + seal of approval – yes, that good.
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