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Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-19: Shades of Ice—Part III: Keep of the Huscarl King (PFRPG) PDF

**½( )( ) (based on 16 ratings)

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for 1st to 5th level characters (Tiers: 1-2 and 4-5).

Information in the Shadow Lodge headquarters in Whitethrone leads you into the Realm of the Mammoth Lords in search of an abandoned tower of a lost Ulfen king. The powerful weapon rumored to be there could be disastrous if it falls into the hands of those who plot the Pathfinder Society’s destruction; who will find it first?

Keep of the Huscarl King is part three of the three-part Shades of Ice campaign arc. It follows Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-15: Shades of Ice—Part I: Written in Blood and Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-17: Shades of Ice—Part II: Exiles of Winter. All three scenarios are intended to be played in order.

Written by Jesse Benner.

This scenario is designed for play in Pathfinder Society Organized Play, but can easily be adapted for use with any world. This scenario is compliant with the Open Game License (OGL) and is suitable for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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PZOPSS0219E


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Product Reviews (16)
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Average product rating:

**½( )( ) (based on 16 ratings)

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Played it twice! GMing it next!

***( )( )

This review has tons of spoilers. Watch out!

I had the weird opportunity of being able to play this twice, and mostly not even remembering the first play-through. So I have two different impressions of the module, and both are terrible.

My first play through happened maybe 3 years ago. The trilogy was my very first experience with Pathfinder, at KublaCon. In the first module of the trilogy, I had my brand new level 1 bard, and I was playing with level 3 & 4 characters, and they wanted to "play up." I had no idea what that meant at the time, but they assured me that they would keep me alive.

In the very first round of the very first combat of my very first game, I died. Even worse, the players blamed me. They said I didn't know how to build a good character, and therefore it was my fault. I really wanted to quit. I left, didn't stay for the rest of that game.

However, I had signed up for the entire trilogy and was stuck at the hotel, so I played part 2 with a new character. I lived. So, I got to part 3, this module. I remember nothing about the module, except the end.

Spoiler:
At the end, we fight a girl with a flaming sword. I charged in with my "barbarian who was built well and should live." The girl got a swing at me, got a critical hit, and killed me instantly. I remember thinking that the amount of damage she output was brutally unbalanced for a module of our level. I couldn't believe anyone was intended to survive it. I was scheduled to play more days at KublaCon that year, but I left early. That was too much of "not fun."

A year after that, I found a local group doing PFS and began playing regularly. And a year after that, I had a chance to use my GM star to replay a module. All I remembered about the Huscarl King was that I died, and I intended for that to NOT happen again.

This time, what a difference.

Spoiler:
The end fight was mostly trivial. I don't really even remember it. But I remember something else. I remember being actively upset with the GM, the module, the module author -- anyone who was involved with that ambush in the gulch. When the GM laid down a map of the "ice alley" and said we were going through it, I said no. I said, "That's a kill box, and enemies will rain arrows down on us, and we will be helpless to stop them. I am not taking my military guru into an obvious ambush."

The GM said that there was no way around it. We could travel for weeks and we would never find another way to get to our location, he said. (It turns out, that is a total lie, and the module has text right in it for people who go around.) OK, so I said that "I refuse to be on the ground, then. I have ice picks and a climber's kit, and I intend to 'walk the wall' all the way to our location." The GM insisted that was also impossible -- the ice was shattering and falling apart any time I tried to climb; the only way forward was on foot.

At that point, I said out loud, "This feels really bad. This feels railroaded. I don't like this." The other players chimed in, goading me to get on with things. So, I did. "Fine, I'm on foot, heading into a certain ambush, like an idiot." And of course, there was an ambush, although it wasn't arrows, it was cattle or bison or something. And then the most spectacular thing happened: everyone climbed the ice wall to escape! Everyone but me, that is. Everyone but the guy with the climber's kit, the guy who had just tried to climb the wall previously but was told IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE. They all look at me like, "Get up on the wall!" but I'm refusing. I tell them this makes absolutely no sense. I tell them that my character just tried that and it was impossible, so his choice would be to stand his ground and die honorably. They tell me to just get up on the wall. I draw my axe and begin swinging against the onslaught of the stampede. Everyone shouts that I will die, that the module has a clear way to escape the danger. I reply, "I'd rather lose the character than have him live by doing this bizarre, broken, railroaded nonsense."

Next month, I'm slated to run this trilogy. I have for the first time begun to read it. And it's disappointing to see that some of the railroaded garbage actually IS in the module. However, much of it is not. A lot of the problems with this module appear to come from swingy fights and GMs who don't read. So I have hope that the module CAN be a good game. I intend for that to happen.


Fun story, bad design

***( )( )

The Good:
Gives a well fleshed-out glimpse into the Realm of the Mammoth Lords. The roleplay towards the end that can actually get you tangible aid was cool; it's not something you see in many scenarioes.

The Bad:
The story just railroads you from one combat to the next. To add insult to injury the combats are far too easy even for a party of 5. The environmental hazards are also pointless because the scenario just gives you what you need to not care about it.


excessively mediocre

**( )( )( )

Zzzzzzzzz ...


Survival and Roleplay Hidden as Combat...

****( )

Having read the other reviews to this module, it seems like the scenario was meant to be a combat scenario, but was not. This scenario seemed more based on survival and role play than anything else.

The group I ran were focused more on the role play aspects and survival than the fighting.

While the end fight was completely disappointing, the group enjoyed the sharing of their "Tale" far more than most things they have done, and were riveted by the kellids tale in return. After the scenario "ended" they role play the induction ceremony and had a blast. This was a very memorable scenario for them. I think the success of this module would depend on GM preparation and participation.


Suffers by comparison to 1 and 2

***( )( )

Much as I can believe what people say about this having been produced at short notice and so on, I think people are being a bit harsh on the module.

It suffers by comparison to Shades of Ice 1 & 2 (which are really strong scenarios) and, perhaps understandably, people expected a knockout in part 3, possibly featuring a relative of the final battle from part two.

That having been said, it actually stands up pretty well on its own. Not great, but solid; the final encounter is potentially a lot of fun - one good hit from the particular weapon the BBEG has suddenly makes the PCs a lot more wary of closing in. The 'trap' is pretty original and the big RP piece is a lot of fun. The combats along the way are pretty straightforward and are going to be dealt with easily enough in most cases, but that's no bad thing as it does give time for the RP.

I ran this mod, directly after Shades of Ice 1 and 2, at CrispyCon for a group of 1st and 2nd level characters, one of whom hadn't played PFS before.


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