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

Village Backdrop: Refuge by Greg Marks is a role playing game supplement published by Raging Swan Press for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. It is therefore covered by the Open Game License and some of the content is considered to be Open Game Content as a result. Refuge is a tiny volcanic atoll that is home to pirates.

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 supplements that is included in the compilation GM’s Miscellany: Village Backdrops II. The supplement comes in two version, one of which is optimised for print and high end devices and the other for screen and mobile devices.

Village Backdrop: RefugeTwo pages are Raging Swan’s standard plain front and rear covers and there is a third similar page, one page is the Contents and Stat Blocks by CR and one page is the Open Game License.

Refuge At a Glance is the standard two page overview of the location. There are some brief details on the island, its demographics, marketplace, lore, notable NPCs and locations and a d6 table of whispers & rumours, some true, some false, together with a map of the island.

Notable Locations is another two pages and covers the eight locations from the previous section in more detail. As well as the usual things that might be expected – docks, warehouses, tavern/brothel etc – on an island, there are other locations such as lava tubes, the Maze – various prizes that float but are no longer seaworthy which have been fastened together for living space – and the Cutlass, the powerful pirate ship and former warship belonging to the Buccaneer King who rules the island.

Finally, Life in Refuge is a single page and gives the usual trade & industry (piracy), law & order (not a whole lot) and a d6 table of random events. There is also a stat block for a wereshark who is preying on the islanders.

Village Backdrop: Refuge in Review

The PDF is well bookmarked with major and minor sections covered; the only thing missing is the single stat block. The Contents only covers the major sections but is also hyperlinked. Navigation is as a result above average.

The text maintains a two column format and a couple of minor errors were noted. The sole illustration is a labelled black and white map of the settlement.

There are various tensions on the island. One of the other captains is seriously displeased with the rule of the Buccaneer King and is attempting to get enough votes to unseat him at the next election. The King himself is paranoid and not really a good leader and at some point will probably start killing potential opponents. Another pirate ship is not even following the rules of the island. A group of merchantmen called the Consortium are tired of losing ships to pirates and are getting closer to finding the island – its location is a secret – and actually have a spy there already. Finally, there is a wereshark and her allies preying on the inhabitants. There are a whole bunch of adventure hooks as a result.

There are plenty of places where such an island could be used. Paizo‘s Skull & Shackles Adventure Path and Frog God GamesRazor Coast Campaign and Hex Crawl Chronicles 5 – The Pirate Coast are all Pathfinder locations where such could be dropped in.

Village Backdrop: Refuge is a great pirate island that should be easy to drop into any appropriate campaign and can be found by clicking here.


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