Pathfinder Adventure Path #50: Night of Frozen Shadows (Jade Regent 2 of 6) (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Ninja versus Vikings!
Chapter 2: "Night of Frozen Shadows"
by Greg A. Vaughan
A faceless menace stalks the viking empire. For decades a sinister band of assassins has watched and waited, hiding among the rugged people of Kalsgard, capital of the fierce Lands of the Linnorm Kings. In all this time their mysterious prey has lain hidden away, but no longer. With their quarry revealed, death stalks the streets of a city of hardy warriors and viking raiders. Having traveled from distant lands to this notorious city, the heroes prepare to take their first steps on an expedition into some of the world’s most ferocious wilderness. Yet nothing is ever easy in dangerous Kalsgard, and soon they find themselves targeted by mysterious assassins. Can the heroes defend themselves and their friends from the blades of supernatural killers? Or will they meet their ends amid the ice and snow?
This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path includes:
“Night of Frozen Shadows,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 4th-level characters, by Greg A. Vaughan.
A trek through the crowded and deadly streets of Kalsgard, frigid capital of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, by Matthew Goodall.
Insights into the ways and worship of the goddess Shelyn, deity of beauty, love, and music, by Sean K Reynolds.
Murder and mystery in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Dave Gross.
Four new monsters, by Jesse Benner and Sean K Reynolds.
Each monthly full-color softcover Pathfinder Adventure Path volume contains an in-depth adventure scenario, stats for several new monsters, and support articles meant to give Game Masters additional material to expand their campaign. Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes use the Open Game License and work with both the Pathfinder RPG and the world’s oldest fantasy RPG.
I recently managed to finish this module, GMing it for my regular tabletop group. I dont have a lot to say about it but I will briefly go over a few particular features I enjoyed and a few I didnt.
First thing: The Land of the Linnorm Kings is awesome! I myself added a few things to further build on the the setting but I do feel the module should have focused a little more on the culture. I would have liked to see a few side quests or something that featured the Jarls and their people, Witches and all that sort of thing.
Second thing: when my players finished the mod they were level 6 when the expectation is level 7. Im not sure if i missed something that should have given them a bunch of xp or if they didnt do something, such as building up npc relationship scores to get more xp or something but Im a little concerned that they may fall behind in level and that might lead to the encounters being too hard for them. Im gonna have to add a few extra sources of xp. I suspect that i may have missed some xp reward or other since most of the time these rewards are in small text. I would like to see a table of some sort with all the xp rewards from quests recorded on it or some way of highlighting the text. Kingmaker AP uses large note type pics to draw attention and clearly labels the rewards in them, which was a good idea.
Third thing: The caravan thing is kinda lost again. I went out of my way to play up the journey and highlight its importance. I added character based encounters, modeled off of backgrounds, to make the journey more interesting and personal for my players. I think without that extra effort on my part the caravan experience would have come off feeling like a bunch of random encounters and that's it.
Fourth and final thing. I promise: Again the npcs got downplayed. I think most pcs don't really want npcs along stealing their thunder but my pcs also made a fine point to me. The Frozen Ninja are after them but mostly they want Ameiko dead, so why would the pcs risk her? Most of the time my pcs had Ameiko disguised and in hiding, they assigned the other npcs to protect her and went out by themselves only taking Spivey or Helgarvil with them at most. This is a bit frustrating since the npcs, especially Ameiko, seem very important and especially since if things progress the way the mod assumes they will I would have to find some way to screw with that plan.
In conclusion this a good mod that suffers from a few assumptions made on the part of the writer that seem a bit unrealistic. (Such as that the players are gonna sit around and let the events of the Notoriety chart build up. I think that might be where my group lost a bunch of xp) but the Land of the Linnorm is very much worth it as are the Ninjas. I loved Kimandatsu even tho she is very, very powerful for her CR.
P.S: One of the problems im beginning to notice is that sometimes my players level without getting a chance to give gifts to the npcs and otherwise build up their relationship ratings with the npcs. Like most players I know they dont wanna sit around waiting for stuff to happen, they wanna be out there pushing the story forward. Which tends to result in them missing the opportunity to increase those relationship ratings as they quickly whip through several levels in quick succession. Im thinking about removing the rule that you can only do one relationship test each level to balance out this problem.
Overall, a good adventure and introduces the oni as a real threat. A good mix of Rp, investigation and hack n slash.
The investigation can get murky to the players and even with some massaging not all the links will be clear. Feel this adventure could have benefited from revisions and a better focus (i.e. this is the adventure where you smash a thieves guild). A very memorable final fight ends the adventure on a high point.
Overall, I thought this was an ok adventure to run with my group, but it fell a little short in comparison to the previous adventure. I thought that there were too many instances where the party was outnumbered, but no where near outmatched. Now, it could simply be my inexperience as a GM, but I thought there could have been a lot more to this adventure aside from throwing waves of level 2 NPCs at my PCs.
Overall, I felt like there was something else that could have been done with this adventure, but wasn't. Not that this wasn't a bad adventure, I just feel like it's lacking something.
First, I liked the first module in this series (that one would be 4-5 stars). There were a few encounters in the swamp that I skipped, because I didn't see their relevance to the story, but otherwise the adventure was good. The opposition in Brinewall Castle was disorganized and so it made sense how they responded in a disorganized fashion.
In Night of the Frozen Shadow, the opposition is supposed to be highly organized and highly motivated to kill the player's characters, yet they don't act that way. Logically they should marshal all their forces and wipe out the player characters. The module doesn't give a reason why they mostly sit back and let the player's characters whittle them down bit by bit, while otherwise ignoring them. Granted, I am not looking for a one sided slaughter of the PCs, but there is no reason given for why the opposition acts the way they do.
The investigation portion is linear. My group seriously goofed up one thing, so there were no clues on how they should proceed as there were no alternative leads for them to pursue.
I have found this volume of the AP to be frustrating to run as a GM who likes the opposition to behave according to their abilities and motivations.