Retribution by Creighton Broadhurst 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 and some of it is therefore considered to be Open Game Content. This is an adventure for 1st level characters set at the Priory of Cymer in The Lonely Coast mini-setting.
This is a 71 page PDF that is available from RPGNow at a regular price of $7.99 but which was purchased at the reduced price of $0.36 as part of a special bundle. The supplement is also available in a Collector’s Edition, which is also available as a print on demand softcover as well as a PDF and in print from sites such as Amazon. The original version is the one reviewed, and it comes in two formats, one optimised for print and the other for screen.
Two pages are Raging Swan’s standard plain front and rear covers, one page is blank, three pages are the front matter and Contents, one page is the Glossary, Open Game License and About the Designer and one page is an advert for other products. The supplement comes is two formats, one optimised for print and the other for screen.
Introduction and Adventure Background take up one page, with a sidebar on including it in a GM’s own setting. This provides the background to the events of the adventure and some details on the priory.
Adventure Synopsis and Running Retribution gives an overview of the events of the adventure – it follows a timeline – and explains how the adventure is laid out. A sidebar is provided on the primary antagonist, who is not actually evil at the very beginning.
The Lonely Coast provides a single page background and map of the campaign setting.
Part 1: Sanctuary opens with a full page title and then has a full page introduction, with knowledge of the priory, adventure hooks and a table of travel times from the nearest settlement, Swallowfeld. There are two encounters in the winter storm on the way to the priory, one with half-goblins (which are covered in Appendix 3 but more details on them are available in the supplement Half-Goblins of the Tangled Wood) and one with wolves. The section concludes with the players arriving safely at the priory.
Part 2: Signs opens with another full page title. This section has a strong focus on role playing top begin with as there are various signs about the upcoming attack and what the players can learn from conversing with the various NPCs. This runs for several days, concluding with the actual attack on the monastery and the fate of the various inhabitants, which can be affected by the players’ actions.
Part 3: Darkness has another full page title and covers the players going into the caves below the priory in pursuit of the kidnapped curate and the leader of the attackers. Some areas are described in different ways, depending on whether or not the players killed their inhabitants during the attack on the priory. It concludes with the final confrontation of the adventure, and what might happen in both victory and defeat – and different levels of victory.
Appendix 1: Cymer has a full page title and details the Priory itself, with a map and what can be found at the various locations.
Appendix 2: The Folk of Cymer has another full page title and details of the six non-player characters resident, at one to a page, followed by a standard page, Reading Stat Blocks, which explains how the stat blocks are laid out. Each NPCs description has their background, mannerisms, potential hooks for the players and their stats.
Appendix 3: New Rule Items has an overview of the new race, half-goblin, a new magic item, the two deities involved in the adventure and on the extremist sect that the curate formerly belonged to.
Retribution in Review
The PDF is very well bookmarked, with major and minor sections linked, and the Contents, which would appear to be just as thorough, is also hyperlinked. Navigation is therefore above average. The text maintains a two column format and no errors were noticed, and there are a number of black and white illustrations. Some of these, such as the NPC portraits, are clearly stock, whilst others would appear to be custom.
Getting the players to the priory and keeping them there lacks a bit of flexibility, as this is highly dependent on a dangerous (although it is stated that it not be fatal, which greatly decreases the danger if the players are going to travel in it anyway) winter storm driving them to seek shelter at the priory, rather than return to the nearby village of Swallowfeld, and keep them trapped there until the adventure is over (and, possibly, beyond, if the caves below the priory are expanded). Other weather conditions are suggested, but none are as likely to trap people as a blizzard. This does decrease the flexibility of the adventure; although it could be sited outside the Lonely Coast, it needs to be in a similar climate, and it also really needs to be at a particular time of year.
The adventure has a definite timeline to it, both in the lead up to the attack and after it. The latter is time sensitive rather than time related; depending on how quick and skilled the players are, they may be able to save everyone in the priory. Alternatively, they may completely fail. It also has a combination of role playing and action, and some notes on how to minimise or replace the role playing for groups that do not enjoy such. Each section has an opening bit on how to run it as well as a reward summary listing what experience and treasure the players gain from the different parts. The various encounter areas also have details on what the area itself is like, including levels of illumination. The supplement is as a result well detailed and flexible, allowing a GameMaster to run it how they like it.
Retribution is a good, and potentially dangerous, starter adventure, with different levels of success and, despite the bit of railroading into getting the players to the priory, better than most, and it can be found by clicking here.