This is a massive adventure which should allow successful first-level characters to make their mark... or find an early and chilly grave! The default setting is The Lonely Coast, a sparsely-populated frontier region just crying out for adventurers to explore it, which is available for free from Raging Swan Press, but it could just as easily be put in a suitable remote corner of your own campaign world.
To start off there's the customary masterclass in the anatomy of an encounter - if this is your first Raging Swan adventure, make sure to read it - followed by a brief introduction, complete with map, to the Lonely Coast. This introductory section also contains the background to the adventure, a synopsis of what ought to happen and notes on religion, for religious belief and betrayal lie at the very heart of this adventure. Two new faiths are presented here, but it is relatively trivial to substitute similar ones from your campaign or to just claim them as local to this particular area. Of particular note is how one cult, the Unalterable Way, takes the nice, fluffy, warm lawful good worship of Darlen and turns it into something grim and strict.
The adventure itself follows, falling into three sections. The first part, Sanctuary, involves actually getting to the Priory of Cymer, where the rest of the action is centred. It's no easy task as the weather has turned bad and is getting worse. Usefully, there are notes on how to deal with those parties who decide that the prudent thing is not to continue with the journey: the objective is to end with them trapped in the Priory as storms rage outside!
Once there, part two of the adventure is one of increasing isolation and fear as a dreadful plot is revealed, and part three leads the characters on a challenging delve deep below the Priory to put a stop to it. Throughout, detailed encounters replete with those little features that make the whole thing come alive are presented, complete with all the rules information you need to run them and plenty of hints and tips - everything from role-playing suggestions to troubleshooting unexpected party responses. Parts one and two of the adventure present mainly physical challenges, whilst part three is one of investigation, interaction and role-play. Thus there is plenty of opportunity for everyone to shine, whatever their preferences and talents.
The whole thing hangs together beautifully, a compelling dark tale to play out against rising winds and gusting snow. It's atmospheric with a real sense of danger, yet should the party prove successful they can bask in a real glow of satisfaction at having removed some evil from the world. You don't often get that at first level!
Return to Retribution Collector's Edition page.
Reviewed: 8 April 2016