A Review of the Role Playing Game Supplement Village Backdrop: Hjalward

Village Backdrop: Hjalward by Robert Brookes is a role playing game supplement published by Raging Swan Press for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. As such, it is covered by the Open Game License with some parts being considered Open Game Content as a result.

This is a ten page bookmarked PDF which is available from RPGNow at the regular price of $2.45 but was purchased at the greatly reduced price of $0.11 as part of a special bundle. This is also one of the villages included in the compilation supplement GM’s Miscellany: Village Backdrops II. The PDF comes in two versions, one optimised for screen and high end devices and the other for print.

Village Backdrop: HjalwardTwo pages are the publisher’s standard plain front and rear covers, there is another, similar, page, one page is the front matter, Contents and Stat Blocks by CR and one page is the Open Game License.

Hjalward At a Glance is two pages and gives an overview of the village and its history, its demographics, marketplace, notable NPCs and locations, lore and whispers & rumours together with a map of the settlement. Hjalward is a village based around a silver mine but one which is also built around the remains of an enormous wall – the Hjalward – built by a frost giant empire. The central part of the village is the remains of a huge, 500′ high tower that was part of that fortification. This section can be found in the free supplement GM’s Monthly Miscellany: July 2014.

Notable Locations covers the nine primary locations from the previous section in more detail and is another two pages long. There is a sidebar on the frost giant empire, the mountain range and the range’s highest peak.

The final page, Life in Hjalward, has details on trade & industry, law & order and a d6 table of random events. There is also a sidebar for an NPC and another one giving some details on another mountain and the closest human settlement that nestles below it, Wolfsbane Hollow (an extract from this town can be found in GM’s Monthly Miscellany: May 2015).

Village Backdrop: Hjalward in Review

The PDF is well bookmarked with everything but the sidebars linked. The Contents is not as thorough, only covering the main sections, but is also hyperlinked. Navigation is as a result above average.

The supplement maintains a two column format and no errors were noticed. The sole illustration is the black and white map of the village.

The village could be used as a simple stop on the road but there are more interesting things than that. The frost giant empire, which has some details of both it and both the local geography add more than a few points of interest and adventure hooks. This may make the village less easy to drop into another setting, but there really shouldn’t be that much problem; the wall could simply be something unknown. There are also a few potential interesting interactions in the village; the mayor is a former member of the Thieves’ Guild and some travellers (think Rom gypsies) who have settled in the area are sometimes a point of conflict.

Village Backdrop: Hjalward is an interesting village to add to a campaign and it can be found by clicking here.


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