Pathfinder Adventure Path #70: The Frozen Stars (Reign of Winter 4 of 6) (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Chapter 4: "The Frozen Stars"
by Matthew Goodall
Continuing their search for Baba Yaga, the heroes take the Dancing Hut to the planet of Triaxus, the seventh world in Golarion’s solar system, now in the midst of its decades-long winter. On the hunt for more clues as to the whereabouts of Baba Yaga, the heroes soon find themselves embroiled in a conflict between the alien dragonriders of the Skyfire Mandate and the barbarian armies of a white dragon warlord looking to conquer the lands of humanoids. Will the PCs ally with one of the warring factions to get the information they need, or will their quest come to an end on a distant, alien world?
This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path continues the Reign of Winter Adventure Path and includes:
“The Frozen Stars,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 10th-level characters, by Matt Goodall.
A special double-sized gazetteer of Triaxus, a strange planet of dragon-riding warriors and seasons that last for generations, by James L. Sutter.
A look across the Bone Bridge and into the terrifying secret of Irrisen’s magical dolls, by Kevin Andrew Murphy.
Four exciting new monsters, by Adam Daigle, Amanda Hamon, and James L. Sutter.
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.
Asides the obvious excitement about the adventuring location and all the awesome encounters it enables, the adventure is built really well.
After a forgettable crawl through another version of the Hut, the PCs emerge into a world not their own, a fact that becomes quickly apparent as they encounter aliens riding on the backs of weird, semi humanoid drakes. The adventure quickly ramps up by throwing the PC into the midst of a deciding battle between two warring factions.
Many people liked the battle because the PCs can theoratically choose which side to join, but honestly it seems like much more planning went into designing a fun encounter for PCs who side with the good guys, as the bad guys encounters are rather lame. I would have actually like to see the page count dedicated to something else.
However, I did LOVE the fight and consider it to be the best implementation of placing mid level PCs in a mass combat situation - the battle rages in the background as the PCs round around solving the most serious threats. They get to have a significant impact and feel like they are a part of something bigger, without using mass scale combat rules or anything. I would REALLY like to see more scenarios like this in the future.
The second half of the adventure is a nice little travel section followed by a more than decent crawl with many dragons in it, in a fortress hidden within an iceberg.
All in all a great, unique adventure, that would have stood out in any other AP, but kinda gets overshadowed by part #5 of this one. Still worthy of great praise.
Frozen Stars was just the fix I needed after the disappointing 3rd chapter of Reign of Winter. The PCs are zapped (sort of) to a world filled to the brim with dragons and their like, and the dragons, as usual, don’t play nice.
While the premise of the adventure is a simple "go find these two items", the execution of it is awesome. And it’s awesomenes stems mainly (but not only) due to the fact that this is the most open of Reign of Winter adventures so far: this is the environment, here are your objectives, go!
The party can go about completing their objective in any way they see fit and is in their style: good guys, bad guys, sneaky guys, betraying guys, dastardly bastards guys… the options are there, and the adventure gives the GM the tools on how to handle any of these situation. At no point in this adventure is anything assumed as to the actions the PCs might take, and the adventure can run its course not matter what the end result of the PCs actions is. The party might leave Traixus behind in a far better situation than when they came, they might leave it behind with the “bad guys” having a one-up on the good guys, or something in between.
The first (although you may run it second if it so fits your group) adventure is to help defend/attack/sneak into a fort under siege. Some very good possible role-playing situations there, and very cool combat encounters as the PCs run around the battlefield scoring (hopefully) victories for their team, or trying to avoid being captured cause they snuck in.
Next part of the adventure is sort of a dungeon crawl, but one that feels alive and has some interesting NPCs to interact with. It’s not overly long (which is good in my book), has good encounters, and excellent NPCs.
The gazetteer very nicely expands and enriches the area the adventure takes place in and the planet of Triaxus in general. And the monsters are very cool and appropriate (and got me itching to try them on my party).
The Frozen Stars is an excellent product. As one of the middle adventures of the adventure path, it has the difficult task of keeping the overall story-building moving along without losing the PCs’ interest, a task it succeeds in with a compelling adventure in its own right. Indeed, with a bit of work, gamemasters could use this adventure as a stand-alone. All they need is a means to get the PCs to Triaxus and a reason for them to acquire a pair of objects (the two-headed eagle and bearskin, or whatever GMs decide to replace them with). While Reign of Winter as a whole took a small dip in Maiden, Mother, Crone, it has risen back up and I eagerly look forward to reading the next instalment.
This book is basically two smaller adventures back-to-back. That's true of quite a few AP volumes, but is really obvious here. That doesn't bother me, but I could see it bugging some people.
One adventure is fairly straight-forward... kill the big bad, take his stuff. There are a lot of nice touches here. The whole thing is well-designed enough to keep things fresh on it's own.
The other adventure is a gem: a keep under siege that you can defend, help invade, or sneak in without helping either side. The module does a good job outlining the various paths and their consequences.
Tying the two adventures together, you have Triaxus and the information about this strange world. It's really cool and, in my opinion, worth the price of admission by itself.
Short version: It's definitely a worthy part of the Reign of Winter, but might also be worth picking up if you're a Distant Worlds fan who wants information about Triaxus.