Pathfinder Adventure Path #67: The Snows of Summer (Reign of Winter 1 of 6) (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Chapter 1: "The Snows of Summer"
by Neil Spicer
The Reign of Winter Adventure Path begins with an exciting new adventure from RPG Superstar winner Neil Spicer! Every 100 years, the Witch Queen Baba Yaga returns to the nation of Irrisen to place a new daughter on the throne, but this time, something has gone wrong. Far to the south, winter cloaks the forest near the village of Heldren with summer snows. The heroes venture into the wood and discover a magical portal to the frozen land of Irrisen, whose supernatural winter will soon engulf all of Golarion unless they can discover the fate of the otherworldly witch Baba Yaga—a quest that will take them through snowbound Irrisen to even stranger lands beyond.
“The Snows of Summer” is a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game adventure for 1st-level characters. This volume kicks off the new Reign of Winter Adventure Path, and includes a gazetteer of the villages of Heldren and Waldsby, details on the cultural and magical legacies of Irrisen, and several new monsters in the Pathfinder Bestiary. Author Kevin Andrew Murphy launches a new Pathfinder Journal novella in this exciting volume of the Pathfinder Adventure Path!
This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path launches the Reign of Winter Adventure Path and includes:
“The Snows of Summer,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 1st-level characters, by Neil Spicer.
A gazetteer of two villages—one in Taldor and the other in wintry Irrisen—to help flesh out the characters’ environs, by Rob McCreary.
A look into Irrisen’s legacies and mysteries GMs can use for this campaign, written and compiled by Rob McCreary.
An alchemist’s journey to Irrisen’s capital of Whitethrone in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Kevin Andrew Murphy.
Four new monsters, by Neil Spicer and James Wilber.
The Good: -Strong female NPC lead that doesn't strike me as arm candy for your fighter.
-Feels like a Russian Dark Fairytale which is a good vibe.
-Nifty new animal companion option, fun battles.
-Strong story sets the tone, love the ice sculpture bit.
The Bad: -Might be a little too similar beginning to a certain iconic fantasy that has a Lion Jesus allegory.
The Ugly: -You're off to rescue the less bad guy.
Overall: Mostly nitpicks but overall I like the story, I like the challe4nge to PCs going from a relatively comfortable land to a harsh winter environment.
"The Snows of Summer" is a really nice adventure. On the pro-side, it has a pretty nice "frosty" feeling and sets the tone for the adventure part. It also delivers a strong hook for future installments that is even able to keep a group of evil PCs together. Most encounters are fun to play.
I was a bit disappointed with...
...the linear design. The adventure railroads the PCs from encounter to encounter - not much room to develop individual plans (except for the two dungeons perhaps).
...the difficulty: Especially if the characters are able to provide a reliable source of fire-damage, the adventure turns into a cake-walk. On top of that, the adventure offers a huge lot of treasure, which is a bit too much for my taste.
Overall, it still provides about fifteen hours of entertaining, if a bit bland, fantasy-action.
The opening adventure of Reign of Winter, The Snows of Summer by Neil Spicer is fairly tame compared to what is to come. Indeed, it’s kind of a run-of-the-mill adventure in many ways, one that starts with only a touch of the unusual, much like many adventures will start. But it gradually reveals more and more snippets of information to the PCs, slowly making them realize that what starts as a rescue mission is really much, much more. Overall, The Snows of Summer is a very good adventure—not the greatest ever, but one that should sufficiently whet the PCs’ appetites for what is to come and make them eager to save the world.
This adventure is excellent. Well designed encounters, good thematic style and really an all around cool (pun intended) experience. I'm sure any group could have great fun with this.
My only issue with the adventure is that it fails to fill it's part as the first installment of an AP. Sure, it sets the tone of the "winter" theme quite nicely, but fails on many other fronts. Here are some examples:
1) plot hook - the plot hook that should get the AP started, the one that should send the PCs to explore the forest where the first part of the adventure takes place, is VERY thing. I mean it's nothing more than, "someone you [the PC's] never heard about before is in trouble, and there's money in going out to help her, so...". In comparison to previous APs, this just really isn't all that impressive. The first moments of the game should involve players, but it with something like an immediate action scene or by being about something the PCs personaly care about. This is a weak opening to the campaign.
2) first encounter - unlike in previous APs, when the first encounter was a great chance for the party to start learning to work togather, and was almost always some kind of cool little, action packed fight, here the first fight is... a couple of zombies shuffling in a locked caraven. Yep. That's the first time players in your campaign will be rolling initiative, to fight a 100% random, filler combat. There are so many fun, innovative encounters in the adventure that I wander how such a blend one gets the spotlight of being the first.
3) Boss fights - I am sad to see that this adventure uses the faulty mechanism of solo boss fights. I guess some people like it but as far as I'm concerned this is bad design. Bosses should be encounters with a group of mooks, or in an environment they can interact with to generate an advantage and disable the PCs, whereas in this adventure they kind of just wait for the PCs in 10x10 rooms, alone. Kind of disappointing.
Again, let me stress that this adventure is EXCELLENT as just a fun Pathfinder game. As a first adventure in a campaign it fails to deliver in multiple fronts.