A Review of the Role Playing Game Supplement Village Backdrop: Star Run Falls

Village Backdrop: Star Run Falls by John Bennett is a role playing game supplement published by Raging Swan Press. The village is intended for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is therefore covered by the Open Game License with some content being considered Open Game Content as a result. Star Run Falls is an elven village that has recently acquired a number of human refugees.

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

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

Star Run Falls At a Glance is the customary two page overview of the village, which can also be found in the free supplement GM’s Monthly Miscellany: September 2014. This begins with a description of the forest village, which is noted for the titular waterfall and a small wizard’s academy. Humans started sheltering in the village after their homes were overrun by goblins and hobgoblins. Also in this section are the demographics (mostly elves), notable NPCs and locations, marketplace, lore and a d6 table of whispers & rumours, some true and some false, as well as a map of the settlement.

Notable Locations is another two pages and provides more details on the nine important locations from the previous section, which includes a pixie grotto behind the waterfall. Sidebars give a new magic item (although how to manufacture it isn’t given) and stats on a typical elven villager and a notable NPC.

The final page, Life in Star Run Falls, gives the village’s trade & industry and law & order as well as a d6 table of random events. There is another sidebar providing stats for another notable NPC in this section.

Village Backdrop: Star Run Falls in Review

The PDF is well bookmarked with all the major and minor sections linked, although the sidebars are missing. The Contents is less thorough but is also hyperlinked. Navigation is therefore above average.

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

The village provides a number of sources of tension and adventure hooks. First, there is the tension between the elven inhabitants and the recent human arrivals. The humans are finding the elves political process to be unbelievably slow, a result of the elves’ longer lives, and neither side is completely sure of the other. The elves do not mind helping, but having refugees stay is a bit uncomfortable for them.

Next there is an elven princess on the run from a bad marriage with her disguised guardian, and another exiled elven noble who might recognise her. The local wizard academy is run by a elven twins who, after a magical accident, occupy the same body, but at different times of the day. Given that the twins are male and female, and the body changes, this is interesting and a bit unusual.

Finally, there is the threat of the goblins and hobgoblins, plus bugbears, and their leader, a mysterious entity known as – the Crimson Shadow King. Pretentious title alert! Nothing is given regarding this entity beyond some mythology surrounding crickets (and is the title/entity based on the Crimson King from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series?). Perhaps more should have been done to elaborate on this being, and perhaps a less pretentious title should have been given. Without more information, it sounds like the sort of jumped up title created by a nonentity with pretensions of grandeur.

Ignoring the, perhaps a bit silly, Crimson Shadow King, the village has plenty of other interesting hooks to use. Village Backdrop: Star Run Falls is a decent sylvan village which can be found by clicking here.


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