In this supplement for the Pathfinder RPG, there is a little village named Fulhurst Moors. Yes, staying true to its name, this village is located in the always creepy, and always very dangerous moors. Moors; you know those British versions of swamps only colder and more dreary. The inhabitants of this almost loathsome village spend most of their time cutting peat from bogs for fuel or for housing materials and tending their rugged and shaggy sheep on the moor. When the sun goes down they hide in their homes or gather inside the Bell and Whistles, the town’s one tavern. While trapped in their nocturnal prisons they exchange tales about the horrible fates that await those people idiotic enough to venture into the moors at night. But these tales are not limited to those that go out at night; there are tales of people who ventured too far away from the village during the day and were caught in storms or fog and never seen again.
Fulhurst Moors is full of people with dark and murky secrets, like the bogs that surround them. You have a priest who is slowly going insane with his inability to tend to his flock. The long time mayor and the constable are stymied by the spate of recent disappearances and the villagers need to drown themselves in the bottle to escape from their fragile existence. All of these fears are founded as there are ancient evils that haunt the misty depths just beyond the village and those evils have struck a bargain with someone inside the village. The threat that once loomed in the dark boundaries just outside of the village has just crossed the line.
Raging Swan Press has made a living of introducing time saving plug and play material to gamers. The Village Backdrops are solid products that with minor tweaking could be great for most RPG systems. The black cover with white writing, might draw tons of people towards the product, but it works and this form is well known to people who use Raging Swan Press products. The layout inside is typical two column that most companies have adopted. This is only a 6-page product; several of the pages lose space with art; some of it is worth the loss of crunch while others are not. The half page lost on page 6 should have been replaced with a regional map rather than the questionable illustration that it contained. The drawing wasn’t bad per-say, but it wasn’t good enough to take up half a page in a 6-page product.
Villages are living places and to try and capture the look and feel of one in such a small product is not easy. This village backdrop did a pretty good job of capturing the feel of Fulhurst Moor, the village and some of the major players inside of it. The village map on page 3 is a simple black and white overhead view of the village; it isn’t just a line and block map it is actually hand drawn and has a very realistic feel to it. I would have enjoyed seeing hand drawn numbers next to the important buildings, rather than the typed ones to maintain that authentic feel, but that is minor. MY review copy was electronic and I would love to have access to a downloadable version of the village map without numbers that I could pass onto my players. It would be easy to include an access code on the product that would allow a player to download things like this. I know that Raging Swan Press is a small company, but that doesn’t mean they need to think like one.
The first few pages of this product are the one-over-the-world of Fulhurst Moors. This section includes Demographics, Notable folk with very basic stats, Notable locations, an overview of the villagers, village lore and Whispers and Rumors. This one –over-the-world is full of good information and was sodden with good ideas for further adventures in Fulhurst. I would have enjoyed seeing a few more rumors, but the KISS method really does help the GM shave off preparation time.
Next comes a very detailed description of the Notable Locations in town including an expanded Stat block for Kelurn Tinddar, the local Wizard. There are only 8 notable locations, but their descriptions are ample enough to feel alive.
The final page of text deals with life in Fulhurst Moors – included on this page is an events chart. I would love for there to be more events, but for the size of the product, 6 wasn’t bad. This is the page that is plagued with a wasted half page; I would have liked to see a slightly expanded map of the surrounding Moors rather than the picture that was chosen to take up this valuable space. As a GM having knowledge just a bit outside of the village would be really helpful.
This short, succinct, well priced product will make a GMs life easier, and with a few simple tweaks it could really get elevated into my personal GM tool box. You can’t please everyone, but Raging Swan Press is doing its best to please as many GMs as they can.