This pdf is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword,1 page SRD, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?
Kicking off with a short introduction and a village statblock, Denton’s End is not your average village – situated around a burial mound, an adventurer’s passed down knowledge has created a peculiar tradition – once a month, in a celebration, the dead are returned to skeletal semi-life by a ritual in which the villagers, day of the dead-style. Indeed, the deceased have a very strong influence on the local customs, with “speak with the dead” being a major part of life and cremation and the exclusion from the town’s folkloristic rituals being one of the severest punishments. It should come as no surprise then, that the village’s leadership falls to an oracle of life (provided with full stats) and that the events featured as part of the pdf feature overzealous paladins, a confrontation with the non-hostile skeletons wandering town in the festivals and unfinished business.
Further options for adventuring are also there in the form of the disappeared former oracle/town’s leader and the rumours of him having turned into a ghoul as well as through the power-struggle before the aforementioned oracle and a less than savoury witch, tolerated only for her herbal concoctions. Furthermore, players may purchase two types of new low-level charms to help protect themselves from the undead – should the undead turn upon the settlers or should less than savoury restless dead infiltrate the town. Of course, rumours, a neat b/w-map and village statblocks are included in the deal as well.
Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect – I noticed a discrepancy in one of the town’s NPC-alignments – the oracle’s apprentice is listed once as NE and as once as NG. From the text, I figure that the latter is correct, though I’m of course not sure. Apart from that one, though, the pdf is up to RSP’S excellent standard. Layout adheres to RSP’s crisp, concise and easy to read standard and the pdf is fully bookmarked and comes in two versions, one optimized for priters and one optimized for screen-use. If you’re like me and absolutely need maps sans keys to hand out to your players, then you should definitely go RSP’s homepage – you can get the free web-enhancement that provides just that for free.
Denton’s End has potential galore with its cool folkloristic traditions and the potential for conflict between the zealous and the moderate, between advocates of what could turn out to be dangerous traditions and the good they can do, between a spiritual centre and those forced to live on the edge of society. Potential-wise, there is much for DMs to craft adventures from and the charms and locales described are neat and should be interesting indeed. However, there is also a minor problem I only mention due to the stellar quality of Apia, the last Village Backdrop: The economy of the small village seems to be largely unimpeded by the customs, when it would be so cool to e.g. have a deceased blacksmith coach his descendants or expand upon the town’s export of elaborate coffins. While not a crucial flaw, it detracts slightly from the village’s appeal. Now, if you’re interested how I’ll use this one: I’ll have it be a colony of Hollowfaust, city of necromancers, who have started a cultural offensive to polish up their image. (And yes, Hollowfaust exists in all of my campaign worlds…) Oh, I forgot the rating. Well, I enjoyed Denton’s End and it features a neat map, but personally, I felt the last two towns of the line felt slightly more unique and thus, I’ll settle for a final verdict of a still very respectable 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform – for the low asking price, you definitely won’t regret getting this one!
Village Backdrop: Denton’s End is available from:
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