Village Backdrop: Gull’s Roost (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!
Gull’s Roost is a safe place where law abides –PCs are bound to be impressed by the beautiful village: Originally created as a summer resort for nobles to escape (akin to how e.g. the Viennese used to in real life) the summer’s stifling heat. Coated with mother-of-pearl and lavishly-painted, Gull’s Roost was doomed – it lured less than desirable entities, and a fort was erected to combat pirates and worse – but the reputation of the place as “unsafe” had been established – and thus, this place became the home of the workers that once toiled to create this gorgeous locale. One look at the b/w-artwork depicting it, next to cliffs, with a waterfall, a bay…it looks like a place I’d love to live.
Today, the quiet failure of this gem is reflected in the demeanor of the local populace, and, as always for the series, we do get notes on local lore that PCs may unearth, as well as rumors – 4 this time around. The system neutral iteration has no marketplace-section per se, but does list a few properly codified magic items by place where you can purchase them. Speaking of marketplace: One of the 10 sample keyed locations (all with a brief read-aloud line) is actually a marketplace that comes with a small generator to determine which place is open. And while we’re on the subject of consumables, there are notes on items for sale by location as well. Kudos!
The pdf also sports 4 sample NPCs, depicted in the by now classic Raging Swan Press-style, i.e. focusing on distinguishing mannerisms and personality; the stats are not included, but race, alignment and class, if applicable, are noted. In 5e, we have the proper defaulting to standard NPC-statblocks where applicable. One of the best things about this place, though, beyond the well-wrought dressing/event table (20 entries, just fyi), would be that the overall leitmotif on the village-scale is extended on the personal level: You see, a couple of adventurers did settle here, and when the lady died and the kids left, the old adventurers started making a living doll facsimile of his lady…and it was not to remain the only one. These individuals have the surname “Doll” in local parlance, and from horror to questions of transhumanism, there are a lot of exciting themes this angle adds to the settlement.
However, more than all of that, expressionless visage and inflectionless voice, contrasted with warm-hearted behavior, the fact that the dolls are NOT evil…that’s what makes this stand out. The reason for their existence is profound sadness; but they, in a way, are an inverse of the town – which is gleaming and beautiful, but ultimately hollowed out; on the other hand, the dolls, while ostensibly hollow, are not – and all those contrasts are subsumed under a theme of genuinely touching melancholy.
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.
Jacob W. Michaels has written one of the best, most unique villages in the entire series here. The subtle melancholia as a leitmotif, contrasted with the idyll; the multi-faceted implementation of leitmotifs and their mirroring – they perfectly combine into a supplement greater than the sum of its parts. This is a grand little masterpiece, in that it has plenty of adventuring potential without throwing obvious threat xyz at the PCs…and because it manages to hit the subtle notes in between so well. I adore this place, and it resonated with me in a truly remarkable manner. The system-neutral iteration manages to retain the atmosphere of the other versions pitch-perfectly. 5 stars + seal of approval, and this is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2019.
You can get this inspired village here on OBS!
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