Forgotten Sepulchre of the Father
This adventure clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, ¾ of a blank page, leaving us with 12 1/4 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This module taps into the Duchy of Ashlar/Gloamhold region of Raging Swan Press’ supplements, with the ruined village of Greystone serving as a backdrop; it should be noted that you do not need said village backdrop to run the module; the village’s lore, whispers and rumors, as well as a map, are provided, though the elaborations of the notable places are not included. (So if you want your party to linger here, I’d still suggest getting the Village Backdrop-installment.)
The module is a straightforward tomb-exploration for 1st-level characters and comes with 2 different adventure hooks as well as information for parties that do their legwork up front (as they should). The module, structurally, is intended as a trial/teaching adventure, and this is reflected in the structure – we have a pretty linear complex. The module comes with 6 general pieces of dressing, and 6 things to find when the party looks around; for the GM’s convenience, we get a one-page summary of monsters by CR and by location. This section includes a primarily cosmetic template for deformed creatures list that might be familiar to some fans of Raging Swan Press, and the section also provides stats for all creatures included herein – including a rather potent trap which can be bypassed with a specific phrase that makes sense in-game: Nice. The statblocks tend to gravitate to a more complex bent, with templates applies – a good thing, imho.
The respective areas include readaloud text. The page containing the map of the tomb (no player-friendly, unlabeled version included) also provides the information regarding lighting, etc., and e.g. the inscriptions for a given sarcophagus. Nice and handy. Convenient. This also extends to the respective rooms, which sport bolded headers for things that can be interacted with, as well as e.g. bullet-pointed contents for shelves
To get that out of the way from the get-go: The rules language in this version is significantly more precise than in the 5e-version. The module was obviously written for PFRPG.
Okay, this is as far as I can go without diving into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.
Okay, only GMs around? Great! So, the module begins with back-breaking labor, as the party needs to clear the entry to the complex in some serious work. This may just be a note, but it establishes a gritty tone from the get-go, one supplemented when deformed cultists (who actually get their own templated statblock in PFRPG) attack. The reason for the party to be here actually matters, mind you: While the church is abandoned and ruined, it’s still a crypt the party is entering: Retrieving relics and bones of those interred from obscurity may be noble; desecration, on the other hand, may well result in the dead rising.
The simple dungeon is per se pretty high in interactivity, and has one nice thing going for it: You see, aforementioned new creature is a tomb guardian construct – and it’s a rather tough (if somewhat boring – it can only attack, no unique abilities) statue. That being said, clever parties can display a holy symbol of the deity to which the sepulcher is sanctified, saying a prayer, etc. can prevent combat here. Indeed, the most interesting aspect of this dungeon is that it can be solved with only minimal combat (an advanced fast zombie, a ghast, and, optionally, 4 skeletons).
Now, if you’ve read my review of the 5e-version, you’ll remember how I was harping on that glyph of warding; this version explains how that blunder came to be: The trap statblock in the back CLEARLY states both trigger and that it’s on the door, as well as a way to bypass it sans rolling the dice – in a way that makes sense within the world. Which is great! The door is still not on the map, though, so not sure where exactly to place it. Since we’re talking AoE-effect, that matters. It’s still somewhat of a “gotcha/cross-invisible-line-take-damage”-moment, but to a SIGNIFICANTLY lesser degree.
I did enjoy that the module did provide notes on how much a skeleton weighs. (As the party will likely be carrying quite a few of these home…)
Editing and formatting are very good in this version. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf comes with some nice b/w-artworks, though fans of Raging Swan Press will be familiar with them. The module comes with two awesome b/w-maps, but alas, no player-friendly versions are included in the files. The adventure comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and in two versions – one for screen-use and one intended to be printed out. Nice!
I really wish I liked Creighton Broadhurst’s training adventure more than I do. That being said, the PFRPG module shows how a few small things can make a huge difference: From the custom stats to the precise verbiage to the more precise trap (which is also fairer re power-level), the PFRPG version is by far superior to the 5e-iteration.
I’m a fan of well-executed starting adventures that teach the basics of tomb exploration, and this one has a focus on being able to bypass many challenges and components without resorting to violence, which is a GREAT design-paradigm I very much adore. Problem-solution writ large = win, as far as I’m concerned.
I still maintain that Raging Swan Press’ Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs is more versatile and interesting; and Retribution still remains one of the best campaign starter adventures I know…and in contrast with these two (admittedly longer) adventures, this one feels less impressive. That being said, I can see myself running the PFRPG-version as a brief sidetrek. I enjoy the focus on player-skill and problem-solving enough. While it doesn’t exactly stand out in a significant manner, it most definitely is solid starter adventure; considering the fair price point, I’ll round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars. (I’d still recommend getting Creighton’s Retribution instead, though – worth every cent!)
You can get this mini-module here on OBS!
You can get Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs here on OBS!
You can get the phenomenal Retribution here on OBS! (Seriously, belongs into the library of any PFRPG GM!)
You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!
If you enjoyed this review, please consider leaving a tip via paypal, or joining my patreon here. Thank you.