Road of the Dead 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 considered to be Open Game Content. This is an adventure for 3rd level characters set in Raging Swan’s mini-setting, The Lonely Coast.
This is a fifty-one page bookmarked PDF that is available from RPGNow for the regular price of $6.99 but was purchased at the vastly reduced price of $0.31 as part of a special bundle. The adventure is also available in a revised Collector’s Edition that is available in PDF and print on demand softcover. The PDF of the original version is the one reviewed.
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 a standard Using This Adventure and one page the standard Reading Stat Blocks, which explain how the encounters are laid out, how to identify treasure and how to read trap and stat blocks and one page is the Open Game License and an advert for another product.
The Lonely Coast has a one page overview of the Lonely Coast, along with a map of the region.
One page is taken up by Adventure Background and Adventure Synopsis, which gives an overview of how the adventure location came to be and how it works out – this is a very linear dungeon adventure. There are also sidebars on using the adventure in the GM’s own campaign, and on how it is intended to be an easy and quick adventure to drop in and run.
Road of the Dead, the adventure itself, opens with a full page chapter heading. One page gives a summary of the dungeon’s features and a potential random encounter, followed by a full page map of the Road. The rest of the adventure opens with five hooks for starting the adventure and seven major encounter areas, some of which have multiple encounters within them, over twelve pages.
The Conclusion and Further Adventures take up another page and provide several means of earning more money from the location and three different hooks for expanding the adventure.
The Thing in the Pit is a single page and is an encounter in the dungeon that was given an overview in the previous section.
Hired Thugs is another single page and is an encounter outside the dungeon as others attempt to steal what they have found.
Appendix 1: New Stuff opens with a full page title. There are then two pages describing three new demons and one page describing a new disease, a new weapon and two new magic items.
Appendix 2: Player’s Handouts has a full page title followed by a full page list of the handouts. Seven pages then have seven black and white illustrations of various scenes from the dungeons and six player maps. The final page in this section has details suitable for players on the two new magic items.
Appendix 3: Pre-Gen PCs has a full page title and then six level 3 characters, with portraits, at one per page. The pre-generated characters are the same ones, albeit at a different level, that can be found in Against the Cult of the Bat God and Dark Waters Rising.
Road of the Dead in Review
The PDF is very extensively bookmarked with, by the looks of it, nearly every section indexed. The Contents, whilst not quite as thorough, is also hyperlinked. This all makes this one of the easier supplements to navigate. The text maintains a two column format and no errors were noticed. Apart from some stock illustrations, primarily the PC portraits, there are a fair amount of black and white custom illustrations of the various areas in the dungeon. The illustrations are therefore above standard.
The encounters are well laid out and follow a standard format which is explained at the beginning. Each also has details on how to raise or lower the EL by one as well, making the adventure more flexible without requiring much work from the GM. The encounters are, as is mentioned in the text, a bit more dangerous than would normally be found for 3rd level characters, but this is a linear dungeon with almost nothing in the way of random encounters, so players can easily rest up and heal between them – assuming they take the opportunity to do so, of course.
The adventure itself is quite interesting in concept. Although it is a linear dungeon crawl, and a potentially dangerous one, it does have a reason for existence; it was intended to punish people as part of the builder’s – a warlike people eventually defeated by the goblins of the Tangled Wood – religion by showing them what the path to the abyss was like – in their conception anyway. As such, it was intended to be dangerous, the various areas are separate from each other, and it does have quite a logical reason for its existence, which is something that often isn’t the case.
This adventure may be sited in the Lonely Coast setting, but it can easily be moved to another. It is underground, so all that is really needed is the existence of a suitable, preferably although perhaps not necessarily, forest in nature, and changing any names to fit. Therefore it is fairly setting-neutral. Overall Road of the Dead is a nice, well laid out and presented adventure, and it can be found by clicking here.