I purchased Retribution looking for a good low-level adventure that could be easily transferred to another campaign setting (in my case a homebrew or possibly Greyhawk). I'd read the very positive reviews and some of the material the author had published online on the Greyhawk setting. I liked the author's writing style, so I had high hopes for Retribution. I was not disappointed.
Overview: Retribution is an adventure for 1st level characters. While designed for the Pathfinder Role Playing system, it's easily converted to any OGL/old school system and wouldn't take much tinkering to modify for Savage Worlds. The adventure has the players visiting a long neglected Priory at the height of winter. The players will be trapped with the few remaining priests as an old evil rises to avenge actions taken decades ago. Cut off by the fierce weather, the players will have to confront the evil and try to save the Priory. The adventure is set is in the publisher's Lonely Coast but is easy to place just about anywhere.
Appearance: 4 ½ out of 5 stars: The book comes with a solid black cover - no exterior art. I wasn't bothered by the lack of cover art, which likely kept down some of the production cost, making the adventure more affordable. The black cover and binding makes the product more distinctive and doesn't detract from the adventure. My preference is for the art budget to be invested in interior art and maps. Interior art was good and evocative with head and shoulder renderings of all the major NPCs. The character art ranges from good to very good. The maps had an old school feel and were clear. The map key was a little different from what I'm used to but was still effective. My only real complaint is that the character/npc art was not collected in one place (repeated on one of the blank pages at the end) for easy copying, so it could be handed to the players. Seeing the art would help the players visualize the NPCs.
Writing Style: 5 of 5 stars: Very clear and evocative writing throughout. The book has an easy and well organized flow which prevented jumping around the book. It has a very good wrap up of the encounters, experience awards, and likely treasure/awards at the end of each section. Stat blocks were complete with tactics provided in the encounter text, not the stat block. There were no typos or omissions that I could see.
The Adventure: 5 of 5 stars: Without giving away spoilers, Retribution provides an excellent first level adventure that carefully treads the line between being too easy or unnecessarily deadly and unforgiving. It's also a good mix of role playing and combat. The party's actions and the relationships they form with the npc's will make a difference later in the adventure. Combats are well spaced to give a careful party time to heal. There's also a chance to gain allies and access to additional healings through quick action and good diplomacy. The adventure location (Priory) is thoroughly described and easy to imagine. Little touches like advice on how to handle characters that stray from the main mission are sprinkled throughout the book. There's also a clear timeline that builds on the suspense and impending doom without being too heavy handed. The adventure could take 2-3 sessions depending on the amount of role playing.
Utility: 5 of 5 stars: While the adventure is clearly placed in the Lonely Coast (free setting download on Raging Swan's site), it could easily be picked up and dropped into any campaign setting. Depending on how the adventure ends, the Priory provides a good base of operations for low level characters on the border of unexplored territory perfect for adventuring. The adventure is easy to run. I read through it in one sitting and felt confident enough to run it with just the one read through. Finally, the publisher offers free pdfs for the purchase of hard copy books. This is not the free pdf of the book you bought; it's free pdfs of your choice from the publisher's catalog up to the cost of the hard copy book. I think this is unique for Raging Swan and helped push me to purchase the adventure. I ended up requesting an additional adventure and the village of Swallowfield (closest village to the adventure) as my free pdfs.
Bottom Line: One of the best entry level adventures I've read in 25+ years. Good mix of role playing and combat that forces the players to think, not just react. Clever and logical use of some classic low level monsters. Strongly recommended.
[5 of 5 Stars!]