Village Backdrop: Needlebriar

Needlebriar lies in a remote corner of a large duchy. Years ago, war devastated the small halfling community, leading the villagers to commit heinous acts of cannibalism and murder to survive. The violence awoke an ancient spirit who granted the desperate halflings the power to hunt those who dared to harm them. Generations have passed and the halflings continue to hunt the nearby lands, transforming into beasts to sate their hunger. Dancing around raging bonfires, they hold bloody feasts, devouring their captive victims, in worship of the fell spirit of the land, becoming more like wild animals every day as they slink further into depravity. Many of the halfling have the tell-tale shake of cannibalism about them and shuffle about the village in heavy leather cloaks. Meanwhile, the rest of the duchy becomes more and more suspicious.

By Maciej Zagorski

Notable Locations

Most of Needlebriar comprises peasant homes. A few locations, however, are of interest to adventurers:

  1. Prickly Pixie: Kaleb Greenbottle runs Needlebriar’s one inn and tavern. The quaint faux inviting attire masks its sinister nature. Many a visitor has been poisoned and captured here only to end up in a halfling stew pot. Tunnels beneath the inn connect to Needlebriar Wares and Needlebriar Jail, allowing the halflings to move prisoners in secret.
  2. Needlebriar Wares: This general store carries common items, farming and fishing equipment, as well as some adventuring gear, but not armour or weapons. The owner and operator is Etune Goodbarrel, a mean, violent halfling woman. Underneath the store is a storehouse with weapons and disguises used in the halflings’ raids. Tunnels connect to the Prickly Pixie and jail.
  3. Needlebriar Jail: This mostly empty jail serves as a front. The real jail is below where prisoners are kept before they are sacrificed and eaten. Needlebriar’s leader, Rillka Thorngaggle, spends most of her time here.
  4. Needlebriar Island: The island rests in a small lake at the village’s heart. Surrounded by thorny hedgerows stands a decrepit stone statue. The statue serves as a prison for the ancient animal spirit Hunger Devours Moon. The spirit can warp a few worshippers into animals if it’s appeased with blood. Fosco Mooncaller, serves as the spirit’s emissary.
  5. Maara’s Apothecary: Needlebriar’s renowned apothecary sits at the edge of the village. Maara Thornhill, an expert herbalist but impatient wizard, runs the place. She keeps out of Rillka’s and the village’s machinations, instead focusing on how to bind Hunger Devours Moon for her own ends.
  6. Bone Pit: Whatever the halflings cannot eat of their victims, and the pigs do not want, gets buried in this field. Usually, a few halflings are posted here to keep an eye out. Strange sights and sounds occur in the Bone Pit regularly and occasionally some foul creature emerges from the pit to terrorize the surrounding countryside.
  7. Mayoral Residence: Needlebriar’s puppet mayor, Boram Thornnuggle, operates from this modest home. He acts as the face of Needlebriar, ensuring outsiders do not get too suspicious of what occurs in the village. Boram knows his survival depends on doing his job well. If he does not, he will be Rillka’s main course for dinner.

Praise for Village Backdrop: Needlebriar

“Yes, you can use this as a backdrop, but it is strong enough to work as an adventure on its own as well. While the leitmotif is not necessarily new, the prose elevates it in its evocative execution; the added convenience and focus on usefulness at the table further add to the value of this pdf. Needlebriar is a phenomenal supplement, even in the context of the Village Backdrop-series and the insane quality-level the series has established.”

–Endzeitgeist (five stars + seal of approval)


So few pages but with so much content and potential. Typical for a Raging Swan product…”

–Antony M (5 stars)


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