Road of the Dead—Collector's Edition (PFRPG)

5.00/5 (based on 3 ratings)
Road of the Dead—Collector's Edition (PFRPG)

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A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game adventure for four 3rd-level PCs by Creighton Broadhurst

This expanded, reorganised edition of Road of the Dead features a better layout to enhance your gaming experience

Centuries ago, the Tuath were a mighty folk who strove against the goblins of the Tangled Wood for dominion over that ancient place. Defeated by treachery and their feral, warlike enemies the Tuath’s civilisation was thrown down. Their settlements were sacked, their places of strength broken open and their holy places despoiled; the few survivors melted away into the trackless gloom of the deep forest leaving behind nothing but remnants of their once-great culture. The Road of the Dead, a ceremonial pathway representing a soul’s journey to the underworld, is one such fragment that yet lingers in the Tangled Wood awaiting the brave or the foolhardy. A cunningly designed death-trap, it hides the forgotten treasures and legends of a fallen people.

For a free sample edition comprising the first 11 pages of the adventure head over to ragingswan.com/rotdce

This product is a Dual Format PDF. The downloadable ZIP file contains two versions, one optimised for printing and use on a normal computer and one optimised for use on a mobile device such as an iPad.

Praise for the Original Road of the Dead

“It is a well-devised and beautifully-presented dungeon crawl, with a coherent underlying rationale and plenty of exploration and combat to challenge the most determined adventurers. Moreover, it is not - as so many such adventures are - very linear, the characters have quite a lot of freedom in where they go and what they do whilst exploring the depths. There's an excellent atmosphere of treading ancient halls that have not been disturbed for countless generations... and even some follow-up activities if desired.”
—Megan Robertson (five stars)

“Superb layout and support transforms a basic genre scenario into a strong and easy to use adventure. Raging Swan has done excellent work with Road of the Dead.”
—Sean Holland (five stars)

"If you’re busy and in need of a good module to pick up and play, be sure to pick Road of the Dead up – the artwork as well as the DM-friendliness is worth your money.”
—Endzeitgeist (4.5 stars)

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Average product rating:

5.00/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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An RPG Resource Review

5/5

The original Road of the Dead was an impressive adventure, both in content and in presentation, so it's hard to see how it can be improved upon...

The adventure is located in Raging Swan's Lonely Coast campaign setting but, as it deals with remnants of a far-distant past just about everybody has forgotten about, it can be placed in a suitable location in your own campaign world with minimal effort. Before getting into the adventure, however, there is a very clear explanation of how encounters are set out showing you exactly where to find each item of information you might need whilst running it. A lot of people lay encounters out clearly, but actually explaining your methods in advance is a nice touch. Traps and monster stat blocks are similarly laid out in detail, and this is followed by an overview of the Lonely Coast, to enable you to establish the adventure's location easily, complete with a good map.

Next comes an Adventure Background and an Adventure Synopsis. The Background gives all the detail you need about the situation, and the Synopsis walks you through the intended sequence of events. There's a note about the best way to relocate the adventure if you don't want to use the Lonely Coast, and then more detail of the complex whose exploration forms the actual adventure, complete with a beautifully-detailed map that has a 'hand-drawn' feel. Several ideas are provided for why the characters come across this adventure, including blind chance (after all, it's over ten centuries old and most folks don't even know it's there!) as well as reasons for why they might be in the area about other concerns. Neat.

The adventure proper then begins, with everything you need to run the characters through finding the entrance... complete with pictures to show your players as well as detailed plans of each location. This is well-resourced indeed! Everything is very clear and detailed, you will not need to spend time rummaging through other books to find additional information.

The adventure itself is deliberately challenging for the intended Level 3 characters, partly because they have ample time to rest, regain spells, etc., as they explore and partly because, well, it's intended to be a dangerous place anyway. But the rewards are pretty good, especially for those who like - or know where they can sell - ancient artefacts and knowledge.

It is a well-devised and beautifully-presented dungeon crawl, with a coherent underlying rationale and plenty of exploration and combat to challenge the most determined adventurers. Moreover, it is not - as so many such adventures are - very linear, the characters have quite a lot of freedom in where they go and what they do whilst exploring the depths. There's an excellent atmosphere of treading ancient halls that have not been disturbed for countless generations... and even some follow-up activities if desired.

Some six pregenerated characters are provided, each with loads of detail, complete equipment, etc., not just some stats, should you wish to dive straight in to the adeventure; and there is a goodly amount of background material about the Lonely Coast setting so that you may place this adventure there even if you are not already familiar with it. All this makes it easy if you are looking for a one-off stand-alone adventure rather than one to slot in to an existing campaign.

It's a fun delve with a coherence often lacking in your average dungeon-crawl. Things, creatures, are where they are for a reason, not just because there was an empty patch on the map. That's the sort of thing that I like, a place to explore that actually works within the context of the shared alternate reality of the game.


A road to adventure, and dread.

5/5

For full disclosure, I have received a free review copy of this adventure.

I must say that I continue to be quite impressed with the adventure offerings from Raging Swan. I have yet to see one that fails to inspire me for my current game, and they seem to be a natural fit with my current group and setting in a way that is almost spooky, or perhaps expertly crafted to fit the game aesthetic. The writing is especially on point, as every word seems fine tuned to relate the nature of the dungeon and its denizens.

Immediately I am stricken by the varied options given for bringing your players to the site, as though predicting the fickle nature of a group asking "why are we coming here again?". The options are all very well thought out, and are likely to fit any group.

The adventure itself is an interesting trek into an old abandoned holy site, filled with strange and unknowable secrets of ancient origin. Though there isn't much definitive history that fills the complex for exploration, the point of it is not to present the archives of the civilization, but rather to present a mysterious ruins of a long gone culture. I imagine that this serves to give a tease for a more nuanced (and personalized) delve into deeper tunnels, something for which I am grateful.

Included maps go far towards preparing you for the encounters, which are thankfully short, clustered, and well spaced. I favor relatively short dungeons as they are modular towards the needs of a campaign. As I have not (yet) decided to run a mega-dungeon, this fits into my story perfectly, and will be the fodder for many a session. Sadly, I have not run it yet, but I am eager to report the results as soon as I do.

The dungeon itself does an immensely good job of setting a tone of dread, having traps that do nothing more than scare the players (complete with evocative wording to reach player and character alike), and really exhibits the nature of the dungeon as that of a creepy analogy to travel into the afterlife.

The encounters, though untested by my group, seem very well done, and make excellent use of new monsters that attest to the nature of the Lonely Coast and its history. Though I will not use them as written for that reason, I will modify them to my own setting and use similar techniques to speak to a different history. I was thoroughly pleased by the monsters being used in this way, and look forward to doing so myself.

All in all, this adventure has me excited to run it. Good show.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This module clocks in at 45pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page ToC/CR-lists, 1 page advice on reading statblocks and 1 page advice on running the module for novice DMs, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 36 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, before I dive in - we get 6 pre-gens to run the module, a short primer-style appendix of the general area of the lonely coast including travelling distances/speed and 3 new monsters +2 magic items, the latter of which both get their own artworks. That's the supplemental stuff. It should be noted that the original "Road of the Dead" may have had more pages, but not more content - the collector's edition simply properly collates the information of the module and thus makes it more printer-friendly.

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

All right, still here? Great! What is this module about? Well, one upon a time, a strange people lived in the forests and vales of the Lost Coast. These people had their own, distinct culture and now, the PCs, via one hook or another, stumble across a complex of said folk. Now the culture is the interesting thing here, for the dungeon mirrors essentially a take on the "Road to the Underworld" that dead souls must take upon death as you probably know from Mayan/Aztec mythology. That is, unlike most mythologies, the souls of the vanquished still are in jeopardy after death - failure on the road means an end to the soul - truly final annihilation. The iconic dungeon herein mirrors the procession of such a conception of the afterlife in the very dungeon - resting, to this date, as one of the finest example of unobtrusive, indirect story-telling I've seen in a dungeon:

From pools of "blood", crimson mists, roads of wails -the complex offers smart, intelligent hazards and obstacles, a barrow-labyrinth with undead that also includes RSP's trademark dressing tables of unique sounds and things that happen, spell fragment-hazards, a divination pool - there are plenty of unique and challenging threats and hazards here - including a now added possibility for more socially-inclined characters to shine that was absent from the original. Now I can't emphasize enough how concise and organic this module feels - the dungeon, in the very act of the PCs making their way through, tells a captivating story by simply existing: Each encounter, adversary and trap has the distinct feeling of being lovingly hand-crafted - from sharpened stalactites to flame-gouts spurting demon maws and unique outsiders and one of the most iconic final rooms in any PFRPG-module - not one component of this adventure feels like filler or anything other than downright awesome.

Add to that the further adventuring options that have direct consequences depending on how the PCs manage their discovery to acting as +1 optional boss battles to challenge the truly capable or lucky groups out there and we have a significantly improved version of a module that already was very good...

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, as almost always in RSP's offerings, is flawless. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out. The pdf comes with excessive bookmarks. It should be noted that the pdf features improved artworks for many a piece and also features one version for screen-use and one for print-use.

Creighton Broadhurst's "Road of the Dead" was a very good module back in the day, but it had minor weaknesses. The Collector's Edition has purged them all and made what shone before a dazzlingly glorious beast. The complex and its story, the adversaries, the hazards - this module is one of the finest examples of indirect storytelling I've seen in ages and imho surpasses in the thoroughly awesome concept of the dungeon and the implementation of its features in the narrative almost every example I can think of. This place makes sense in all the right ways; It's exciting and challenging, but not too hard. It can be enhanced via the bonus/follow-up encounters to be hard, if a DM chooses so. It provides a fascinating glimpse at a unique culture and one I'd hope we'd explore more in the future. The Collector's Edition is a significant improvement in all regards and my dead tree copy, including spine etc., lives up to all the standards as well, adding superb production values to stellar content. Even if you have the original Road of the Dead, the print version is definitely worth its low price and if you don't have the original module, then this should be considered a must-buy anyways. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval...and since "Road of the Dead" has not featured in any of my best-of lists...this one does and is a candidate for my top ten of 2014.

Endzeitgeist out.


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Reviewed first on Endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek, GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Awesome, awesome, awesome!

Thanks so much for this review, End. I'm absolutely delighted with your review and I'm glad I fixed all the niggles from the first version.

I'm off for a beer!


Cheers from Germany, Creighton! I'll drink one to your writing prowess!

Sovereign Court

Reviewed. Hopefully, I can add an addendum after I've run it. OBS and Amazon reviews coming soon.

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Lorathorn wrote:
Reviewed. Hopefully, I can add an addendum after I've run it. OBS and Amazon reviews coming soon.

Thanks very much for the kind words Lorathorn. I hope your players enjoy the delve!

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