Village Backdrop: Azagirn (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!
Azagirn is a dwarven settlement set upon a windswept crag, under the clear blue skies – also thanks due to a rumored curse of some earthen spirit or another; atypical in the extreme, the dwarves tend to their sheep and goats, and even have a pack of trained wolves. Clan Azacral has few visitors these days, but with some legwork, the PCs can unearth the usual assortment of information regarding the village’s lore, and of course, the by now traditional whispers and rumors table.
We get information on local appearances, dressing habits and nomenclature, and indeed, the pdf goes the extra mile in describing the architecture of the settlement, including details on the customs of this town, which includes a propensity for having pet wolves, obviously. As per the evolved structure of the Village Backdrop series, we also get a d12 table of dressing/events, which allow the GM to make the village feel lived in, and indeed, we also receive information on the surrounding areas.
Indeed, the focus on playability is pretty pronounced, with brief passages of read-aloud text included for each of the 8 keyed locales featured. Slightly odd: The read-aloud text is the second paragraph of each locale, instead of the first. It’s a matter of taste, and I get why the GM overview was put first, but I’m not a fan. The village’s leader, Thegn Elren Farsten is a dwarven noble(and yes, she has a beard – as dwarven ladies imho should!) and comes with the fluff-centric description (with mannerism, personality, etc. noted) we’ve come to expect from Raging Swan Press. She is one of two NPCs getting this treatment herein.
My favorite aspect of the keyed locales, though, would be that there are several suggestions for what’s currently going on for each of the keyed locations – 4 of such small scenes are provided for each place, helping you seamlessly create the sense of a place that is alive. The sole exception to this would be a currently empty house, its master missing – which brings me to another aspect: Beyond the means to make this place feel alive, we also get a total of 4 mini-quests/outlines featured in the respective locales. One of these is about a lost bucket – the rope cut off…so do the PCs go down the well? And what happens when the mountain trolls find out about the dwarven settlement? There is plenty of adventuring potential in this otherwise pretty idyllic place….and yes, this kinda connects the place with Lanthorn as a nice nod for fans of Raging Swan Press.
The system neutral version uses the proper old-school nomenclature, and changes aspects that would require a check in other systems to being roleplaying-based.
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. Artwork is b/w and pretty neat. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.
Creighton Broadhurst’s Azagirn is an interesting settlement, in that it exemplifies in many ways the aesthetic of Raging Swan Press – the settlement feels a bit uncommon, but without becoming thoroughly weird; it retains a sense of groundedness that is far from the over the top high fantasy, and it is interesting. Now, Azagirn is not necessarily groundbreaking in any way, but it is a village you can make come alive as an organic place, and it is a place your players will want to defend. The system- neutral version works slightly better than the PFRPG-iteration, due to not missing out on settlement stats. Hence, my final verdict for this version will be 5 stars.
You can get this village here on OBS!
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