By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Headless Hydra Games is 28 pages long , 1 page front cover, 1/2 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 5 pages for campaign notes and 1 blank page, leaving 20.5 pages of content for the little village, so let’s check it out.
My point of reference for this review will be Raging Swan Press’s excellent “Swallowfeld”-supplement.
Moon’s Folly is the name of a small timber-driven rural village not far from Mor Aldenn, Headless Hydra’s default mini-setting that is unique is some peculiar ways, namely that lycanthropes can suppress their violent urges in the vicinity of the central henge-like temple of the local minor goddess the town was build around. Another idea that sets Moon’s Folly apart from other villages is that there is a significant fey population coexisting with the 2 lumber-magnates and their efforts, resulting in a rather idyllic setting that seems rather bland at first sight, but I’ll get back to that in the spoiler-section.
The town is presented with a timeline, a beautiful map of the town as well as the surrounding area and features some nice b/w-artworks for some characters, 4 of which come with their own stat-blocks. I especially liked that there are witches and one oracle in this product. APG-love is always nice. The town also comes with a nice town-stat-block.
After a summary of notable locations, we get some stat-blocks of significant NPCs, but unfortunately, not as many as I would have liked have been fully stated.
On the rules-site, we get a side-box for lycanthropic PCs, which, due to the small amount of space reserved, amounts to ECL+1, which I didn’t like – PFRPG did well to get rid of ECL+races in favor of racial classes. One of the 4 new campaign traits also refers to lycanthropes, rendering it not too useful for people like me, but oh well. We also get 5 new feats, mostly dealing with lycanthropy and fey ancestry. While none of the feats felt overpowered, I didn’t consider any of them to be brilliant. Nice to have and potentially useful, but not entirely awesome mechanics-wise. The 4 new alchemical items (like a cold iron whetstone that ignores a part of the damage reduction for creatures susceptible to cold iron) are a completely different thing, though: I love them! There are also some random encounters for the wilds, short rumors and we get a new fey, the stiltskin (like in Rumpelstiltzchen) that actually gets fey done right. I love the critter. 5 adventure-seeds are also given and this is where the spoilers start. So again: Potential players, please skip to the conclusion!
All right! Thought the town is too idyllic? Turns out it isn’t! The two feuding lumber consortiums are actually working hand in hand. The local bard is happily plagiarizing and the reason for a love tryst between species is actually magic – on one side. The other person actually knows about the magic, but loves the enchanted person. The dryad-leaders of the local fey actually weep at the cutting down of trees and plot the downfall of the community via coercion of their fellow fey and up until now only a druid suspects the truth. What about the lame lycanthropy-suppressing moon goddess? It’s actually an archon’s spirit bound and imprisoned at the area and the local ghost is the only being who knows about the religion being a lie. Enough potential for conflict yet? Even better, all plots are somewhat easy to connect/are already connected, thus more or less delivering a complex adventure almost set out for you.
Editing is good, I didn’t notice any errors. Layout adheres to the two-column standard and is beautiful, as I’ve come to expect from Headless Hydra Games. Formatting is also top-notch and while I didn’t care for one of the B/w-artworks, I liked most of them and enjoyed the beautiful map. However, the pdf is quite large: 35 megabyte is quite a lot and I don’t get why there are no bookmarks to navigate the file. How does it hold up to e.g. Swallowfeld? Well, Swallowfeld featured more stats for just about any significant NPC and the NPCs are more detailed and get their own pictures. The bunch in Raging Swan’s file also get mannerisms, distinguishing features etc. However, Swallowfeld is a rather traditional, down-to-earth village, while Moon’s Folly is defined by both fey and lycanthropes. The latter being one of my points of criticism: There are no stats for the militia or the sheriff, the latter being a pity due to being a lycanthrope and thus a nice example on how the new rules work. With regards to the adventure seeds, I guess it depends on what you’re looking for: Swallowfeld has more individual seeds and is a bit grittier and low-magic, while Moon’s Folly’s seeds can easily be combined into one complex adventure. Which is also a kind of problem I have with this file: While I love the new alchemical items, I didn’t particularly care for the other new rules, the timeline etc. and as a whole, the pdf didn’t really feel like a sourcebook, but rather like a sandbox-adventure. This may be due to the fact that there are not enough stat-blocks or that e.g. the lycanthropy-rules are rudimentary at best.
However: The plots and seeds afoot in Moon’s Folly absolutely rock and the conjoined adventure you can spin from the yarn provided herein is cool, complex and intelligent. Moon’s Folly turns out to be exceedingly hard to rate for me: While there definitely are some significant shortcomings when seen as a village-sourcebook, especially when directly compared to Swallowfeld, it makes for a compelling adventure. Which quite frankly I would have in retrospective hoped for this to be: Were it an adventure without the relatively boring parts and more solid rules-information for the NPCs instead of traits, feats, etc., this might have become a full 5 stars as the plots afoot are quite cool. However, when looked at as a source-book, Moon’s Folly falls somewhat short and needs too much work on behalf of the GM (stating lycanthropes, even low-level ones, SUCKS. Hard.) to be considered truly excellent. When directly compared to Swallowfeld (which now in addition to all the web-enhancements also comes with a iPad/e-reader-friendly version), Moon’s Folly falls short, albeit by not much
If you’re into this file due to the crunch, you might consider this book a 2.5 – 3 stars. If, however, you’re looking for a complex set of hooks you as a DM can weave together against a deceptively tranquil background, Moon’s Folly definitely delivers and should be considered a straight 4 stars. For me personally, I’ll settle for the latter as I went into this for the background and some ideas and will ignore the feats/traits etc..
Tribes Anthology I is available from: