A Review of the Role Playing Game Supplement Village Backdrop: Hard Bay

Village Backdrop: Hard Bay by Greg Marks is a role playing game supplement published by Raging Swan Press. The supplement is written for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is covered by the Open Game License, with some of it being considered Open Game Content. The village has been retroactively located in the Duchy of Ashlar in the Gloamhold campaign setting, although it was published well before the first Gloamhold supplement. Hard Bay is a coastal village that was originally founded by pirates who were later forced out and the governance handed over to three noble families.

Village Backdrop: Hard BayThis is a thirteen page bookmarked PDF which is available from RPGNow at the regular price of $2.45 but which was purchased as part of a special bundle at the substantially reduced price of $0.11. Hard Bay is also one of the villages included in the compilation supplement GM’s Miscellany: Village Backdrops. Two pages are Raging Swan’s standard, plain, front and rear covers, one page is an advert for the adventure The Sunken Pyramid, three pages are the front matter, Contents, listing of stat blocks by CR and Foreword, one page is a standard, Reading Stat Blocks page which explains how they are handled and one page is an ad for other products and the Open Game License.

Hard Bay At a Glance is two pages long and gives an overview of the village, starting with a brief history. Its demographics, notable NPCs and locations, marketplace, village lore and villagers are then listed, together with a map of the settlement.

Notable Locations is another two pages and this covers in more details the ten locations from the notable locations list in the previous section, together with a d6 table of whispers & rumours.

Life in Hard Bay is the final page and has brief notes on trade & industry, law & order and a d4 table of events. There are also sidebars on Tainted One, a new acquired template for humanoid creatures and a new monster, the Yaknath, which in this case is associated with the template.

Village Backdrop: Hard Bay in Review

The PDF is extensively bookmarked with everything except the sidebars bookmarked. The, brief, Contents, is also hyperlinked. Navigation is therefore above average, especially for a short supplement. The text maintains a two column format and quite a few errors were noticed. These were not so much spelling mistakes as grammatical ones, such as singulars used instead of plurals. Apart from the village map, there is a single piece of stock art in the Foreword.

There are some potential adventure hooks in the supplement; the original pirates would like to take back control, albeit more surreptitiously this time, a local dwarf who isn’t prey to the evil that permeates the town is willing to give characters advice but the main hook is that of the Cult of the Deep, which the three noble families running the town are members of, two of them completely, one of them less so.

In the Foreword, the editor notes that there’s more than a hint of Lovecraft in the town, and it’s certainly well more than a hint. The villager rulers are associated with the Yaknath, a giant sized fish-man race, and their Cult of the Deep deals with them As a result, some of the villagers have become “Tainted Ones” by association and such commonly have large lips and eyes. There is more than a hint of Lovecraft; frankly, Hard Bay seems like a village designed after the Lovecraftian town of Innsmouth from Shadows Over Innsmouth, where townsfolk associated with fish-men and became tainted as a result, bearing the “Innsmouth Look” of large eyes and lips. This, more than anything, make the village seem rather less original than it could be. Still, the supplement is decently written and it could without too much difficulty be dropped into a campaign, as shown by how it was dropped into the Gloamhold setting.

The textual errors and lack of originality do mark down the supplement a bit, but Village Backdrop: Hard Bay is still worth getting and it can be found by clicking here.

 

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