The Return of the Dark Brotherhood (RoTDB) focuses on the aftermath of the regular dark brotherhood quest-line. You are summoned by the council formed by speakers hailing from different provinces of Tamriel to rebuild the broken guild back to its former glory.
I personally found this mod much more engaging than A Brotherhood Renewed in terms how the story-line and quests progressed. Especially with how the speakers are questioning whether you are worthy of your position as Listener. Seeing a familiar face again and race against time to stop the traitor (yeah, there’s another traitor in the midst) from destroying what the brotherhood completely from within. Do note that the two mods are focusing on different aspects of the Brotherhood. A Brotherhood Renewed focuses on reclaiming the lost sanctuaries which is mentioned by one of the various loading screens. This mod is focusing on rebuilding the glory of the guild, as well proving you have rightfully earned your title.
Hving 17 quests in total, ROTDB is going to occupy you for at least a few hours. The contracts were a lot of fun to complete, each quest had its challenges. The fact they brought back the lighthouse keeper, whom if you did the brotherhood quests that you intimidate him to get access to the lighthouse basement. I particularly enjoyed the archery, slavery and the second whodunit contracts.
The only thing I did not understand/agree with is that the traitor is a worshiper of Dibella. The traitor says he was sent by Dibella to destroy the Dark Brotherhood. While the traitor does give a rather reasonable explanation about why he was sent by Dibella and how her gifts would aid him. I just think that Stendarr would been a better fit considering he is the god of justice, and would be more likely to send one of his worshipers or agents to destroy the Dark Brotherhood. Since Dibella is the goddess of love and possibly a patron goddess of the arts. I could be wrong though because I am not familiar with the lore surrounding the Nine Divines.
*end of spoilers*
Other than that, the mod was excellent and expanding on brotherhood story-line. Such as there are branches of the guild in all parts of Tamriel (although the Morrowind branch will be competing with the Morag Tong). I do like how the traitor manages to convince the others to question your worthiness of being the Listener, obviously with the exception of Arquen. Although I did notice that everyone minus one person addresses you as Listener which I found odd. I figured that since you are going through all these tests to prove your worth, they should had addressed you differently with exception for Arquen and your old friend.
I was little upset a couple of times when I saw the npc I have a contract to kill, wearing awesome armor that I really want but I can’t loot it off their corpses. I really wanted that armor that the archery champion was wearing. However, I did enjoy the final reward that you get which was the armor created by Sithis, especially since you have the option to choose between light and heavy version (only once though). It was the picture of pure evil with enchantments that benefit someone who is in the business of contract killing. Especially if you happen to be the Listener of the Dark Brotherhood. The fact that the armor had a requirement before you can wear it, was a fantastic touch and does provide you a way to eliminate the “purity” in your heart so you can properly wield the armor. Shame you could not put the armor back on the armor stand. It would been nice to have a weapon to go along with the armor, perhaps a scythe because I was extremely envious of the glass scythe that one npc had. I was so close to kill the npc just so I could nab the scythe for myself, but it would have broken the quest-line.
I am impressed that they gave Arquen a bit of a more important role to the quests. Although she does not provide much assistance till the end of the mod, it does give her a significant role. It is a nice change from Arquen just playing the role of the quest giver or information provider, since she does prove her worth as the Listener’s assistant or right hand in a sense.
I normally don’t have followers since I find them more of a hassle, but the follower you can get in this mod is essential so he cannot die. He also does boast high health and magic reserves. You are also able to trade equipment with him and give him orders which is a bonus. All the other npcs proved to be quite an experience to talk to since they all have their own personality and stories. Some will even provide you useful advice on your current contracts, which is reminiscent of the default brotherhood quest-line where you could ask your original family members on their opinion of your current contracts.
Definitely check this mod out and give it a go. However, it does require Shivering Isles, Knights Of The Nine and Vile Lair expansions for it to run properly. It doesn’t necessarily need to be enabled in the data files/mod manager, as I don’t have the Vile Lair plug-in enabled on my mod manager. Obviously, I am going to point out that it will conflict other Brotherhood mods such as A Brotherhood Renewed and The Brotherhood Chronicles.