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Razorbreath Chasm


Round 4 - Top 8: Create Golarion location with map

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 aka The Leaping Gnome

Razorbreath Chasm
==========
Situated along the northern border separating the Realm of the Mammoth Lords and Irrisen, Razorbreath Chasm is a natural fissure carved into the glacial wall that connects the Crown of the World with the southern lands. In ages past, the Mammoth Lords forced megafauna into the box canyon, where they could kill the isolated beasts. When Baba Yaga established Irrisen and its frozen borders were drawn, the White Witches of the North drove a defiant Kellid tribe into Razorbreath Chasm. Even as they were pushed into the chasm, they knew their fates were sealed; they were doomed to die like the beasts that they had hunted for generations. Though the tribe fought with the ferocity of a cornered animal, they could do little to resist the White Witches and their minions. Indulging in their cruelty, the Daughters of Baba Yaga imprisoned the proud Kellid chieftain within a frozen cavern behind a transparent sheet of ice. The elder helplessly looked on as the White Witches of the North slaughtered every adult member of the tribe, then rounded up the children and abducted them to parts unknown. The spirits of this now-forgotten tribe remain trapped within the ice, awaiting a champion to avenge their deaths.

During the day, Razorbreath Chasm appears similar to many large fissures along the Winterwall Glacier. It has the same tall, jagged walls of ice, sheds the same blue-green light, and is close enough to Irrisen to be caught in a perpetual winter. The remains of numerous creatures litter the chasm floor, picked clean by scavengers (a DC 15 Heal check reveals that some of these remains are humanoid). As one ventures deeper into the fissure, bones cover the ground, causing footsteps to crunch from more than just snow. Creatures periodically inhabit offshoots of the chasm, but rarely stay for more than a few weeks. Polar bears, winter wolves, the occasional remorhaz, and more nefarious creatures are said to have been seen in the chasm.

At night, Razorbreath Chasm becomes aggressively inhospitable. A howling wind tears through the fissure, dropping the temperature below -20° F, kicking up snow, obscuring vision, and hampering hearing (snow, severe wind, and extreme cold, Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook 438-439 & 442). The towering, slick walls of the crevasse seem to close in over those foolish enough to trespass (40 ft. high, DC 25 Climb check to scale). Explorers and travelers who have been to the fissure at night have reported hearing voices in the wind and seeing shadowy figures within the ice by the light of their lanterns. Furthermore, rumors persist of long-dead mammoth bones that rise to assault those who linger past dark.

Hoarfrost Throat-Tearer has stalked the PCs for several days and deemed them worthy prey. In order to lure them to his hunting grounds, he captured the daughter of a wealthy Tian merchant traveling north to Icestair and taken her to Razorbreath Chasm. The party encounters the distraught merchant, Leng, immediately after his daughter, Shen, was taken, and he promises the party a reward and his eternal gratitude if they rescue his daughter from the Shapeshifting Huntsman, emphasizing the need to act swiftly. Hoarfrost prepared the chasm in advance, hoping to take advantage of its natural features. The PCs arrive at nightfall but do not have time to rest if they wish to save Shen before she dies of exposure or worse, requiring them to enter the dark, howling fissure without delay. When they first enter the chasm they can hear her screams of pain and terror echoing from the gloom, but the chasm distorts the voice and makes it difficult to follow. A trail of freshly frozen blood leads towards the back of the chasm.

Feed them to the Wolves (CR 8 or 11)
==========
Snowdrift has collected against the jagged ice walls of this passage. Ice, snow, and bones are scattered about the floor. At the point where two side passages converge, a massive, fleshless ribcage juts from the snow. A young, pale-skinned woman lies on the blood-soaked snow, a large iron spike driven through her leg pinning her to the ground. A constant flurry of wind and snow makes it impossible to see further into the dark side passages.

Hoarfrost has chosen this location as his killing grounds and prepared it as such. Bear traps are hidden in the snow around the maiden (DC 15 Perception check to notice, one for Tier 7-8 or four for Tier 10-11) and a set of handholds have been carved out of the ledge along the western passage (DC 15 Perception check to spot, DC 10 Climb check to scale).

Creatures: Hoarfrost's worgs are hidden under the snow (granting a +2 on their Stealth checks until they take an action) in both side passages and impatiently wait for his signal to attack. Hoarfrost is perched on the ledge, also taking care to remain concealed, and has casts feather step and longstrider. When he notices the PCs approaching, he casts magic fang on his natural attacks.

The Shapeshifting Huntsman waits until one of his bear traps captures an enemy before signaling his worgs to attack, activating shifter's blessing, and letting arrows fly from his longbow, targeting spellcasters and favored enemies. If his traps or worgs are spotted, Hoarfrost orders the attack early. After an enemy falls (either from being tripped or dropped unconscious) Hoarfrost’s bloodlust gets the better of him and he joins the fray. Hoarfrost drinks his potion of enlarge person, leaps off the ledge (DC 15 Acrobatics check to negate falling damage), and takes a moment to activate his hunter’s bond before flying into a rage and wading into melee.

If reduced to less than 15 hit points or if his worg allies are defeated, Hoarfrost attempts to flee, making use of the mobility granted by his feather step and longstrider spells.

Tier 7-8 (CR 8):

Hoarfrost CR 7
XP 3,200
hp 78 (RPG Superstar 2011, round 3)

Worg (2) CR 2
XP 600 each
hp 26 each (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 280)

Bear Trap CR 1
XP 400 (APG 186)

Tier 10-11 (CR 11):

Hoarfrost CR 7
XP 3,200
hp 78 (RPG Superstar 2011, round 3)

Rage Worg (4) CR 4
XP 1,200 each
hp 67 each (NPC Guide 39)

Winter Wolf (2) CR 5
XP 1,600 each
hp 57 each (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 280)

Bear Trap (4) CR 1
XP 400 each (AGP 186)

Development:
After Hoarfrost is defeated and Shen is rescued, the howling winds suddenly die down. The chasm begins to rumble and a sheet of ice falls from the eastern wall and shatters, revealing a small cavern at area A7. An elderly man dressed in furs sits cross-legged in the center of this cavern, eyes closed and countenance troubled. He died ages ago from exposure, his body still preserved by the cold. The walls of the cave are covered with carvings that depict a bloody battle between men mounted on wooly mammoths and pale women commanding monstrous forces. The carvings tell the story of the massacre of the forgotten Kellid tribe.

When a PC enters the cave, a ghostly voice begins speaking in Hallit. “You have proven yourselves champions, having demonstrated your bravery, skill, and honor. Long have the spirits of my tribe been trapped within this ice, restlessly awaiting ones such as yourselves. By defeating that honorless dog and selflessly rescuing that helpless woman, we are convinced that you have the might and spirit to carry out our vengeance. We beseech you, slay the White Witches who slaughtered our tribe and stole our children, so that we may finally move on to our final hunting grounds.”

If none of the PCs speak Hallit, Shen will translate the message.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2014

The image Trevor provided was 9.92 x 15.03 inches at 72 dpi.

Cartographer

Good reference, pretty standard at first glance. The inclusion of the legend is always great.

The only thing I would be more specific about is that the little skulls=bones, are a bit hard to see but that is really not a big deal.

Otherwise great work, no real concerns here. The map would be fairly easy to complete in a short amount of time.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Welcome to the Top 8, Trevor! This is the round where you really get to stretch and show off the talents a designer needs to create an actual adventure. As such, I'm going to do my best to assess it in that light. As always, I have this tendency to give a lot of feedback. And, I want to make sure you understand that anything I point out here or raise in the form of constructive criticism is done in the spirit of wanting to help you improve. But I'm also going to balance that by praising you where you really shine so I can hopefully highlight that for the voters and they can recognize your strengths. To keep this post to manageable levels, I've spoilered the rest of my comments, below...

Spoiler:

First up, I want to give you some props on really making a splash this year. I was a huge fan of your design for the bag of holes. I thought it was innovative and flavorful and flat-out fun. Then, you gave us the one of the stronger archetype ideas with the impaler...and, after sorting through some of the stat-block confusion, a pretty well exectued villain with the sane derro Ankradula. The bottom line for me is that you're bringing good ideas with some serious creativity and it's taken you really far. And, although I've picked a few nits here or there with your designs, your body of work has been really impressive as a whole. So, going into this round I have high expectations of what you'll do and I'm interested in seeing how you meet them with the ever-tightening competition from your fellow contestants. For this round's feedback, I'm going to breakdown my commentary according to the key elements of the assignment, including: your descriptive text, your location choice and villain pairing, your map, and the creativity of your encounter.

The Descriptive Text:
With your initial description, you paint a picture of a massive chasm reaching up to the Crown of the World from the borders of Irrisen and the Realm of the Mammoth Lords. In addition, you give us a pretty anguished backstory of the horrors the witches of Irrisen visited upon an ancient Kellid tribe. The campaign setting for Golarion indicates Irrisen and the Mammoth Lords have settled into a quiet peace, with most of their fury spent on the Land of the Linnorm Kings instead. So, in some ways, I kind of wish Razorbreath Chasm was on the other side of Irrisen and their shared border with the Ulfen warriors rather than the Kellids. And yet, on the other hand, I kind of like that you're giving us something new in the history of Irrisen by tapping the other side of that nation and its border with the Mammoth Lords. So, either way is fine. But, I think with the popularity of the recent Pathfinder Tales novel Winter Witch and the release of the high-level Pathfinder module The Witchwar Legacy, you might have been better served to capitalize on that by using the Linnorm Kings instead.

Moving on, I also notice you're using a fair amount of passive voice in your writing here. And, as a potential professional freelancer, you need to start moving past that. For instance, phrases like "...When Baba Yaga established Irrisen and its frozen borders were drawn, the White Witches of the North drove a defiant Kellid tribe into Razorbreath Chasm. Even as they were pushed into the chasm, they knew their fates were sealed; they were doomed to die like the beasts that they had hunted for generations..." is relying too much on passive voice than active voice. It creeps into your write-up in a few other places, too, but just look for forms of the verb "to be" like "is"..."are"..."was"..."were"..."will be"..."has been"...etc. and try to eliminate them by rephrasing what you're trying to convey. In time, your writing will become much stronger for it.

The Location:
I like the idea of what's essentially a box canyon that Kellid Mammoth Lords once used to hunt animals for food being turned into a killing ground by your villain. However, I didn't care as much for the background involving the Kellid chieftain encased in the ice by the witches of Irrisen and the spirits of the slain Kellids. That felt very "tacked on" as more of a jumping off point to take the PCs into an actual adventure than serving up Hoarfrost as the end-game villain of this adventure in which his encounter would be imagined to appear. If the spirits in the ice or the frozen chieftain somehow contributed to the encounter in Razorbreath Chasm, I would have liked it more.

I'm also left wondering as to the significance of the name "Razorbreath Chasm" as whether that relates to an ancient white dragon...or just the howling winds that tear through the fissure at night...or is it a name the Kellids assigned it? I would have liked to see some explanation for the name, just for added description and flavor. I do like the explanation of the location's features in terms of temperature, terrain, etc...as well as the rumors of shadows in the ice and animated mammoth bones. I would have liked to see you do more with that, though, in the actual encounter itself to make the location and its history feature a bit more in what's happening now.

The Map:
The map is really large. More than any of the others, this one clocked in at a pretty large print-size. I believe Ross was able to trim it back a bit, but you're pushing the edges of the 8.5" x 11" full-page map in how your scan came out. Maybe that's a result of the scanner's dpi? I don't know. Regardless, not a big knock or anything. Just be aware of that as you go forward and work on map designs in the future. Make sure they fit the size of a half-page or full-page map...or whatever size requirements a publisher may set for you.

That said, I like the depiction of the chasm. The bones crunching underfoot, the pinned maiden, and worgs hidden in the snow all make for a great ambush-setting scene. The elevated plateau overlooking the maiden is another cool tactical terrain choice. And I'm glad to see it getting used. You've labeled everything very clearly. And I like the hints you've given toward some other elements in the chasm like the polar bear cave, mammoth bones, etc. Very nicely done. I actually would have liked to see you do more here. And, given that you had over 200 words to spare, I think you could have dropped in another cave...maybe one hidden behind the frozen chieftain that the Kellids had planned on using as a retreat or shelter from the witches' attack. Having Hoarfrost discover that place and use it as another part of his tactics (i.e., as his own retreat/lair) might have made this come off even stronger for me.

The Encounter:
This is a quintessential ambush in the snow. You've given Hoarfrost some menacing, intelligent allies with the worgs. And I LOVE that you've hidden them in the snowbanks. I like that the bear traps have a chance to come into play. And Hoarfrost's elevation on the plateau should buy him some time to weaken the PCs from range while they're engaged with the worgs. Then, he can legitimately rage as a result of the loss of the worgs and his own eagerness to get up close and personal. The attack plays out fine and could be an interesting, memorable encounter.

The part I didn't care about nearly as much is the setup for how the PCs arrive in Razorbreath Chasm. You did a great job of honoring and adhering to Scott's backstory and tactics for the shapeshifting hunter...i.e., he abducts people in order to draw out heroes so he can test himself by hunting more worthy prey. And the introduction of a merchant from Tian Xia (whom I wish you'd named something other than Leng, because my mind immediately went to Denizens of Leng) and his abducted daughter felt like it was lacking in motivation. If you'd spent just a few more words intimating that the daughter of this merchant was already important to the PCs for some reason...or that she or Hoarfrost possessed something the PCs need...or basically any other reason than, "Hey this guy abducted my daughter and I'll pay you handsomely if you'll go and save her"...I would have bought into this scenario much more strongly. So, my advice for you here is to look for stronger hooks to get the PCs (and the players) to invest in what's going on. And make sure you weave that into your writing and encounter setup.

I bring this up, because I felt kind of the same way with the Development at the end of your encounter. Having the spirits of the slain Kellids and their frozen chieftain proclaim the PCs "worthy" and request they go after the witches who slew their tribe and stole their children comes off a bit forced as well. Unless the PCs are the extremely noble, do-gooder type, you'll have a harder time getting them to invest in the next phase of the adventure. So, if you make it past this round and into the Top 4, I'd suggest that you really work on your adventure hooks and how you get the PCs engaged in what's transpiring. You want them to act. But you don't want them to act just because people keep asking them to do things on their behalf in exchange for a reward. Tap some of that awesome creativity you have and come up with some really compelling stuff.

Overall Assessment:
You did some good work here. The map and the ambush encounter are solid. The hooks and encounter setup didn't grab me quite as strongly. And, I would have liked to see as much time spent on featuring Hoarfrost as you spent on the backstory involving the Kellids and the White Witches. Things to highlight Hoarfrost's villainy would have heightened things more I think...maybe by doing something more with the bear traps and the plight of the maiden. Basically, a good hunter could ensure each of the PCs gets occupied with something so he can take them out one at a time. Maybe something where they struggle to save the maiden from certain death (a funeral pyre, maybe?)...while another PC gets trapped by the iron jaws of a bear trap while trying to reach her...and then another is surrounded by the pack of worgs...and Hoarfrost is free to hammer at away someone else. Splitting up the party's attention in this manner, would play more into his hands and give the encounter a greater sense of urgency and importance from the standpoint of the PCs accomplishing something truly heroic. Unfortunately, this one just didn't quite have as much "oomph" as I wanted to see.

So, given all that, I DO NOT recommend this encounter for advancing to the next round. There's no denying you've got some strong ideas and creativity, though. So maybe the voters will push you through in the interests of seeing what you'll do with an adventure proposal. I wish you all the best.

Cartographer

This map is pretty basic, though it could depend on what execution the artist would like to go for. I would personally have some fun with this map and render it in a 3/4 isometric view, allowing me to paint in the frozen chieftain in the ice, which is awesome, and make it really feel like a claustrophobic ravine. As is, its well labelled and is simple enough to be used by the players with little confusion.

Contributor

I'm looking at this from a developer's perspective.

LOCATION
I like the mix of the Irrisen witches, the lingering tribal spirits, and the pervasive cold.

You should always do an internet search on proper names. In this case, you would have seen that while "Leng" is certainly a Chinese name, it's also the name of a place in Lovecraft's writings. Lovecraft's Leng is also a cold place, so perhaps you were trying to make a link there, but it's likely to get people thinking about the word in other aspects (such as, "is Leng actually a Denizen of Leng, and therefore he's secretly the bad guy in this part of the adventure?").

ENCOUNTER
I think this is a good mix of ambush, traps, and ranged attacks. Hoarfrost has some good tactics, though I feel he would be more effective at a higher elevation so PCs have a harder time reaching him (and if there's snow in the chasm, that can help break his fall when he decides to jump down).

I think it's interesting that your Development section is actually a plot hook to later adventures.

MAP
The map is simple, but effective. If the cartographer wanted to enhance it by making a 3/4 perspective or something like that, I'd be all for it.

Paizo Employee Developer

Congrats on making it into the top 8, Trevor! At this point, I'm judging all the submissions from the viewpoint of the person who will be assigning and developing Pathfinder Society Scenarios to the three runners-up in the next round. Thus my recommendations are based almost entirely on how well I feel you'd do—based on this submission—writing an adventure as a reward for reaching the next round.

Looking first at your map, it's fairly straightforward, and you've done a good job showing where everything is. I was initially really excited to see how you'd use the polar bear cave and the mammoth skeleton, but was disappointed to see that these named locations aren't used. In this case, they should either be given even brief mention in the location writeup or be removed from the map.

I like the backstory you've got for the location itself, with the Kellid tribesmen being herded and slaughtered in their own killing grounds. I'm less keen on the plot hook to get the PCs involved. First, I'm not really sure how Hoarfrost fits into the location as a whole. Is this his base? Is it just coincidence that he lures the PCs here? What if they don't take the bait? As it stands, there doesn't seem to be any reason for the PCs to be here except to follow the rails, but I'd much prefer if there were something in the villain's past stalking of them that led them here instead of a Macguffin given by a random NPC (whose name probably should have been checked against canon, as well, since Leng is a demiplane that plays prominently in a number of other sources).

Looking at the encounter itself, it blends different elements together well, including melee, ranged, environmental (sort of), and traps. I think the low-tier is fine, but the high tier starts to throw in quite a few combatants. When your villain ends up being 4 CR lower than the average PC, he stops being a big challenge, no matter how many minions or traps he has around him. One benefit you would have in an actual adventure would be to increase Hoarfrost's stats in the higher tier, thus precluding the addition of so many additional elements, but even without doing that, I feel like the higher tier could have been handled more elegantly in this case.

Now, moving on to the conclusion. You lost me. This encounter now seems like a random thing thrown in to get the PCs hooked into a larger plot. Was Hoarfrost really that big of a villain? What does he even have to do with the Winter Witches? Giving this big exposition dump here seems forced, and not so much fun for the PCs, who fight the battle and then just suddenly discover this ghost (is he a ghost?) and get a new mission. Seems a little anticlimactic to me.

All in all, I think you've got a real spark, Trevor, but I wasn't incredibly inspired by this piece. I don't think it would require tons of time to fix broken elements in development, but I do think it would take a fair amount of work to make it interesting. Fixing small mechanical elements is always easier than fixing larger story problems. That said, I DO NOT RECOMMEND this location for advancement. Best of luck in the vote, Trevor.

CEO, Goblinworks

Recommended for Advancement

I like the fact that you used the backstory of the villain as designed. This is a suitably dangerous place for adventurers to go into and Hoarfrost has done a lot to tip the balance in his favor.

You mention that he's been stalking the party. It might be interesting to remind the GM that if the party has a standard series of actions they tend to take when combat is imminent that Hoarfrost probably knows all about it.

I think you really need to emphasize the environmental hazards here (you did a lot of descriptive work which was good and you referenced the exact things the GM should be aware of, which is GREAT). I'd almost like to have seen some effect like a periodic force of wind that could knock players over, or the sound reaching such intensity that sound-based effects failed, etc.

I think you did a good job of creating an encounter area that ruthless GMs can use to effectively challenge min-maxed parties (although I fear Hoarfrost will never live through this encounter against any halfway capable party; this is his grave and he's bitten off more than he can chew - he's in a glacial rift with no back exit...)

Let me summarize why I recommend this for advancement:

It reads to me very much like a scripted theme park experience from an MMO. Some might recoil in horror at that but I say "when your enemy figures out something that works you should pay attention". People have shown that they like knowing clearly what the process is for resolving a challenge and they also like the idea that the world reacts to their actions.

You've basically created a mini quest-chain here. You get the quest to rescue the girl; she must be tracked, mountains must be climbed, preparations for a rescue must be made. That gives the Thinkers something to work on. Then you have the interesting combat encounter, which gives the Power Gamers a lot to chew on. Finally you surprise and reward the players with an "unlock" that gives them a potential future objective - stuff that the Storytellers will love. You also leave open potential future quests from the girls' father.

Because I think this kind of play pattern will resonate with a lot of people likely to play Pathfinder, I want to reward you for exploring it.


I like the background story of the chasm. I think you did a great job with your descriptions.

I didn't see an explanation of where the name Razorbreath Chasm came from. I like the name. It makes me think of razorbacks, so I thought there would be something about boars (not a big deal). After reading the entry I guess it's from the utterly cold winds that slice through the canyon (which is cool).

Does the villian plan to escape by just running away? It seems like he would need an escape exit planned better than that.

I like the scenario except for the ending. I don't get the connection to the PC's defeating this villian and at the same time freeing the body of the chieftan.

I would like to have seen something stating what happens when the PCs get close to the polar bear's cave or the mammoth bones.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor , Dedicated Voter 2013

The best part of this counter, at least for me, is the woman pinned to the ice. Damsel in distress gets overused, but Hoarfrost's playing with the tropes, manipulating heroes into his ambush because he *knows* they have to play that game. It's nice that it's not the tired old "if you don't submit, she dies!" card yet again.

I'm really troubled by the use of Kellid spirits frozen in the ice. This may be playing to a theme, but as far as I'm concerned, I've got that adventure already in Witchwar Legacy, just with a different group of humans. I think your entry was stronger without that detail, since it really isn't too key to the encounter.

Overall, I like your setting more than most of the others I've read this round, it's a very good fit for the villain.


OK, OK, with all these Hoarfrost entries I finally went back and reread the villain writeup. I now understand why everyone was having him kidnap people to lure the adventurers in. However, I think this is the only entry that actually pulls it off in that he studies those he has lured in first, to make sure they are worthy.

OK, now on to the encounter. In one of the other submissions, ice was also used as a part of the encounter. I think you combine the other idea of the ice being a hazard (slipping, falling through, etc) with this and you have a good setting. You also use the ice well in your own right, with the snowbank hiding places, the death by exposure, and the girl pinned to the ice.

I might be voting for this, but I think I'm running out of votes. Best of luck.

Taldor RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka primemover003

Trevor thanks for picking Hoarfrost! I have thoroughly enjoyed your entries in every round so far and you're definitely one of my favorites.

So here we have the vicious Huntsman and his Rage Worgs in another canyon/ravine/chasm ambush. As noted in Red Snow Ravine The box canyon is something of a deathtrap for almost any villain. With no way of flying Hoarfrost doesn't have many options of escaping Tier 10-11 foes, even with his advantage in difficult terrain. I think if you had shot for Tier 5-6 and 8-9 you would have had a better time in actual play running this.

How I'd run it:
  • CR 8: Hoarfrost, 2 worgs, and a goblin Adept 3 (Doomsayer GMG)
  • CR 11: Hoarfrost, 6 rage worgs, and 2 goblin Adept 7's (Shaman GMG) with Ice Mephit familiars.
It gives Hoarfrost some more magical support in both tiers and some flying harriers/scouts in the higher tier.

--Vrock the Vote

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

This is the 3rd entry i've read using Hoarfrost, and the 3rd one that i think totally dropped the ball. Maybe i just didn't understand the villain as originally presented, but i seriously doubt that an experianced adventurer hunter would box himself into this kind of deathtrap without an escape route or any way to neutralize his opponents abilities.

Hell, give the worgs the half-fiend template (wings and sla's) or something.

sorry, but i can't vote for this.
good luck.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Pro: The chasm makes a very creepy killing ground for Hoarfrost. And the location allows Hoarfrost to make good use of his tactics.

Cons: The map first seemed a bit underwhelming, but as for it's use in hunting I actually think it might be too complex ~ too many paths for megafauna to bolt to, which would require the hunters to be in a great deal of danger, or lose a great deal of energy to build temporary shunts.

What I am missing: I think that inhospitable conditions is the hazard called for but, given the history of the chasm, I was looking for a haunt. The PCs actions could quiet the haunt long enough to get the next goal in the adventure. The chasm is missing the echoing horror of the slaughter. It's something that would have resounded in the memories of my players and it's just not there.

Sorry, it is missing that grab that makes me want to vote.

I wrote this right after I read your entry. However, when I looked over my notes, I realized I had one vote left ~ came down to you and another entry. The coolness of the backstory beat that entries mechanics for me. You got my vote.

Sczarni

Though Razorbreath Chasm feels more Hoarfrost than Red Snow Ravine, I think I have to agree that he's really not using the sort of big-game hunter tactics that I really wanted to see from him. The bear-trap thing showing up in two entries is particularly annoying, since it's the only real 'hunter' vibe we're being given here. Yes, they were listed in his equipment, but it seems that he'd be smart enough to use the location to his benefit, especially considering the possible hazards you called out but did not use.

I'd say this is the best entry of Hoarfrost as originally intended, but not as satisfying as such a visceral villain could have been

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 aka The Leaping Gnome

Thank you everyone for your comments and, hopefully, your votes. I'd be happy to answer any and all questions after voting is finished.

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Russ Taylor wrote:

The best part of this counter, at least for me, is the woman pinned to the ice. Damsel in distress gets overused, but Hoarfrost's playing with the tropes, manipulating heroes into his ambush because he *knows* they have to play that game. It's nice that it's not the tired old "if you don't submit, she dies!" card yet again.

...spoiler omitted...

Overall, I like your setting more than most of the others I've read this round, it's a very good fit for the villain.

I'd fix that for you, but I can't.

But someone should put that part inside a spoiler tag.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka JoelF847

Trevor, of the three Hoarfrost entries, I think yours captures the villain the best, and overall does some nice things. I think it was smart to have the location be a favored ambush site (rather than his home), and you showed his cruelty and brutality by having him pin the kidnapped girl into the ice with an iron spike (ouch!)

It would have been good to have had a few sentences on the other locations in the chasm, to more fully flesh out the whole location, rather than just the overview and the encounter room. Speaking of which, the encounter name should have matched the name on the map, so either change the encounter to be Killing Ground, or the map to show A4 as Feed Them to the Wolves. As for the map itself, good job overall, pretty clean and clear, and good use of color to set the tone with the icy blue. The features shown though are all too light to easily read. A darker color for the bones would have helped a lot. For that matter, who cares that they're on the map if they're just for decoration. Do they make those squares difficult terrain?

Also, as others have said, the mis-match of CRs to tier levels is a problem, but I understand the limits of not changing the level/CR of the main villain, and how tough that made it to select stuff that worked in both tiers and still focused on the villian. Lower tiers would probably have helped.

Other things I particularly liked were the rules references to the weather effects, a description that included senses other than vision, and I liked the development that turned into a hook for the next adventure. As for the name of the chasm, I didn't have any problems with that - I thought it was pretty clear that Razorbreath referred to the blasing snow and winds coming through the chasm, which fits the name well. It would have been wasted word count to explicitly call that out - sometimes place names are just descriptive without having a big story behind the name.

Overall, I like what you did here, but while you did a good job with the villain, and make a memorable encounter, I would have really liked something to take it to the next level (not every encounter needs to be like this, but for R4, I wanted to see an example of what you could do that would be awesome, not just that you could build a good encounter.) That being said, I think you have shown in the past you can bring the awesome, and you executed this round well, just a bit safe, so I think I'll be giving you my vote.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Demiurge 1138

Well, I like it better than the Red Snow Ravine. I think your descriptive chops are pretty good; I definitely got a feeling for the hostile terrain. Hoarfrost is well used, with better tactics than in Red Snow, but he's still backed into a corner here. That's bad, especially for a wily hunter. Better that he sneak around the PCs and come up from behind them, so he can flee if things go south. I think the damsel in distress is actually well-used, but I can't help but feel that you'd rather be writing about the plight of the Kellids. Spend more time with your actual villain and I'd feel better about this entry.

I'm going to give this one a tentative nod at this point. It's good, but it's not great. But it is good.

Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

This is my 2nd favorite entry for this round.

You managed something that many of your competitors could not, use a villain as intended in his entry and make him somewhat challenging.

The setting is nice if a bit overused but your writing is evocative and lets it come to life just fine.

However I would have liked if you had done a bit more with the chasm encounter-wise and a bit less fluff wise.

Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A thought that came to me while going through the submissions again. I find it a bit sad that in many ways all 3 Hoarfrost encounters are quite similar. I mean sure, the villain description sets the base for his pack of rage worgs - but somehow I keep thinking that this limits the potential for the encounters here. I would've liked to see a bit more colors and flourishes overall.

Consider: if this villain were used for a story arc; would you want to throw essentially the same enemies at the PCs again and again?


I almost felt like I could give you my vote this round, but then I realized that I was basing that on minor things I COULD have added to this encounter, but that were nowhere suggested, while I found other encounters whose implementation perhaps wasn`t ideal, but at least they already contained the nuggets of aspects which could really make the encounter superstar-quality. Sorry I couldn`t give you my vote.

Criticism to spice it up: I think you should have leveraged the high wind speeds as a hazard against anybody flying, which is quite do-able at this Tier, and could quickly bypass your ground-based melee threats and directly engage the Villain in melee range. Have a `breathing in and out` mechanic shifting flyers` location in and out...

I think you could also have brought in more magical re-enforcements in some manner (able to Command Dead? Witch seems appropriate), given the Villain`s ultimate `patrons`, esp. at higher tiers. I could see him triggering Icicyles to fall on certain areas... possibly separating the party at a bend (and he has a 2nd exit / secret passageway looping back to the entrace). The Stealth bonus for hidden Worgs/Wolves could really have been at least +4... Most PCs max Perception IMHO.

And personally, I would have it revealed that the Tian merchant KNEW about the ambush but was Geased (by a Witch ally?), thusly misleading the PCs to expect the chasm to only be a passage-way to another locale, shifting the focus from a known locating with helpless daughter screaming, to one with surprise in play / the helpless daughter is discovered last-minute as an impediment to certain tactics, e.g. Fireball... This is as much for flavor and RPing after the Villain is defeated and the Geas is over, but it brings in interesting dynamics, say if the PCs succeed to discern the Geas, Sense Motive would still reveal that the aspect of the daughter being held captive/bait IS true, so they would still likely go along with the trap, just slightly more paranoid.

Taldor RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka primemover003

LoreKeeper wrote:

A thought that came to me while going through the submissions again. I find it a bit sad that in many ways all 3 Hoarfrost encounters are quite similar. I mean sure, the villain description sets the base for his pack of rage worgs - but somehow I keep thinking that this limits the potential for the encounters here. I would've liked to see a bit more colors and flourishes overall.

Consider: if this villain were used for a story arc; would you want to throw essentially the same enemies at the PCs again and again?

Actually thinking about the irony of the situation the PCs could track the damsel in distress back here only to find that Hoarfrost's Worgs had chased a herd of megafauna into the canyon as in days of yore. So combine high winds, a stampede of dire yaks (or Storval Aurochs, j/k), and then Hoarfrost and his Worgs... that's a dynamic encounter waiting to happen!

To up the magic support in lower tiers I suggested goblin Doomsayers or Shamans from the GMG, or an allied Jadwiga (witch) for higher tiers.

--Vrockslide


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Has some good things going for it - it's weird that three different people all put this guy in at way too high APLs for what he's suitable for.

I like the backstory a lot, the "scripted cutscene" nonsense a lot less so. In fact the last paragraph comes close to spoiling it for me, though otherwise this seems the most solid of the "three Hoarfrosts."

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Boxhead

Does the villain match the location/encounter/minions

Hoarfrost Throat-Tearer in a chasm in Irrisen? Ok, cool. Worgs and winter wolves? They work, but I suspect they may be cliché. Though to be fair, I've done these in alphabetical order, so yours is the third entry to do this.

Is the location cool?

It's a frozen chasm in the frozen north. I like the cold, howling wind and blowing snow, but the location itself isn't mind-blowing.

Is the encounter fun/interesting?

It's an ambush when the PCs try to be heroic and rescue the maiden, that's cool. There's a few CR 1 bear tarps, ok. Then we fight! Not terribly impressed. At least the blowing wind and snow should have some impact, but they aren't really mentioned in the tactics or hazards section. In fact, Hoarfrost uses his bow. In severe wind. Or the PCs come during the day and have a straight-up no-frills fight. bleh

Anything else?

The map is really good. The bones are cool, but more of it could come into play. It's just not quite interesting enough to grab me. Sorry, but I likely won't vote for this.


To me this idea is playing out backwards. It feels like the party has hunted Hoarfrost to this dead-end place and he is making his final stand, not that he has hunted them and led them into this trap. I would think instead of being in the chasm, he would leave the girl staked out to lure the PCs in while he and his minions are somewhere on the outside waiting to trap the PCs in the chasm. This puts the PCs into the "final Stand" position, fighting for their lives with the menace who has stalked them across the land. Couple this with a mix of traps and hit and run ambushes while en route and this could make for an interesting encounter. As it is, it has the makings, just in the wrong order.


Trevor Merback wrote:

Razorbreath Chasm

==========
Situated along the northern border separating the Realm of the Mammoth Lords and Irrisen, Razorbreath Chasm is a natural fissure carved into the glacial wall that connects the Crown of the World with the southern lands. In ages past, the Mammoth Lords forced megafauna into the box canyon, where they could kill the isolated beasts. When Baba Yaga established Irrisen and its frozen borders were drawn, the White Witches of the North drove a defiant Kellid tribe into Razorbreath Chasm. Even as they were pushed into the chasm, they knew their fates were sealed; they were doomed to die like the beasts that they had hunted for generations. Though the tribe fought with the ferocity of a cornered animal, they could do little to resist the White Witches and their minions. Indulging in their cruelty, the Daughters of Baba Yaga imprisoned the proud Kellid chieftain within a frozen cavern behind a transparent sheet of ice. The elder helplessly looked on as the White Witches of the North slaughtered every adult member of the tribe, then rounded up the children and abducted them to parts unknown. The spirits of this now-forgotten tribe remain trapped within the ice, awaiting a champion to avenge their deaths.

During the day, Razorbreath Chasm appears similar to many large fissures along the Winterwall Glacier. It has the same tall, jagged walls of ice, sheds the same blue-green light, and is close enough to Irrisen to be caught in a perpetual winter. The remains of numerous creatures litter the chasm floor, picked clean by scavengers (a DC 15 Heal check reveals that some of these remains are humanoid). As one ventures deeper into the fissure, bones cover the ground, causing footsteps to crunch from more than just snow. Creatures periodically inhabit offshoots of the chasm, but rarely stay for more than a few weeks. Polar bears, winter wolves, the occasional remorhaz, and more nefarious creatures are said to have been seen in the chasm.

At night, Razorbreath Chasm becomes aggressively inhospitable. A howling wind tears through the fissure, dropping the temperature below -20° F, kicking up snow, obscuring vision, and hampering hearing (snow, severe wind, and extreme cold, Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook 438-439 & 442). The towering, slick walls of the crevasse seem to close in over those foolish enough to trespass (40 ft. high, DC 25 Climb check to scale). Explorers and travelers who have been to the fissure at night have reported hearing voices in the wind and seeing shadowy figures within the ice by the light of their lanterns. Furthermore, rumors persist of long-dead mammoth bones that rise to assault those who linger past dark.

Hoarfrost Throat-Tearer has stalked the PCs for several days and deemed them worthy prey. In order to lure them to his hunting grounds, he captured the daughter of a wealthy Tian merchant traveling north to Icestair and taken her to Razorbreath Chasm. The party encounters the distraught merchant, Leng, immediately after his daughter, Shen, was taken, and he promises the party a reward and his eternal gratitude if they rescue his daughter from the Shapeshifting Huntsman, emphasizing the need to act swiftly. Hoarfrost prepared the chasm in advance, hoping to take advantage of its natural features. The PCs arrive at nightfall but do not have time to rest if they wish to save Shen before she dies of exposure or worse, requiring them to enter the dark, howling fissure without delay. When they first enter the chasm they can hear her screams of pain and terror echoing from the gloom, but the chasm distorts the voice and makes it difficult to follow. A trail of freshly frozen blood leads towards the back of the chasm...

Disclaimer:

In case you’ve only just woken up to the contest or otherwise (somehow) missed these Round-by-Round reviews before, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a (very advanced) CE aligned succubus:
Spoiler:
Fairness means Prizes For All Succubi, balance is the process of fine-tuning your harp of the Abyss so that the acoustic resonances are particularly obnoxious to any clerics of Asmodeus who happen to be captive audiences in the vicinity, and logic is a bit like cornflour paste – cast-iron hard work when anyone else touches it, but conveniently gooey and runny to a succubus’ subtle touch. Oh: And Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (still) firmly maintains that it’s a succubus’ privilege to change her mind with neither any warning nor any obligation to bother to explain herself…
;)

How convenient does the estate/property seem to be for the regular delivery of groceries?
That depends on travelling time to Icestair. Given the trade that goes through that town, it's very convenient if within an hour or so travelling distance over land with a cart. Otherwise, forget it. The odds of regular delivery of groceries are going to be non-existent. Dinosaurs, mammoths, and the primitive tribes of the steppes don't deal in that sort of goods.

What preparations should a succubus planning to make a social call consider?
Unless a succubus is interested in talking with the spirits of crazy dead people, there's not much to see/talk to here. The Hoarfrost of this presentation only heads out this way when he wants to hunt down and kill someone, at which time he's probably not too receptive to friendly (or at least sociable) callers.

Assuming a succubus comes into possession of the estate or property in question, how much landscaping/redecoration work needs to be done?
It's a crack in a massive sheet of ice, and a haunted one at that. I'm in two minds whether it's the ice or the ghosts that need to go more urgently, but they're both going to have to go in the end... And at that point a succubus will be left with a large, muddy, rocky expanse of land which was recently squashed flat under a lot of ice with the problem that the ice still to the north will be back down in the next few years unless it's constantly melted and kept at bay.
And these are considerations which need to be dealt with before a succubus even starts doing anything interesting with the real-estate just cleared.
If a succubus is an ice-sorceress or druid of some sort with a penchant for chatterbox undead - interested in maintaining the area as it is - there might be some point to moving in (and redecoration work may well be relatively minor) but otherwise trying to do anything with the site over the course of the next few hundred years (whilst it becomes apparent if the ice is naturally advancing or melting back) is going to be highly expensive and involve a great deal of bother.

Other comments?
According to this round’s presentations, apparently there are at least two – perhaps three – different half-orcs by the name of Hoarfrost Throat-Tearer active in or around Irrisen. This one seems to operate in the area to the east of Irrisen, picking on travellers heading to or from Icestair. That's relatively sensible for a half-orc driven by bloodthirst, or at least in terms of the fact that he's not picking on the Irriseni witches, the Shoanti, or Ulfen berserkers, which the Hoarfrost who featured in the entry of the previous Round might well have been doing. It doesn't particularly incline me to give him a different GB supersuccubus rating though from that which I awarded the Hoarfrost of the previous round.
Oh, and any merchant called 'Leng' deserves to have his daughter kidnapped. Leng is a planar realm (although admittedly not a very pleasant one) which you can visit with a bit of effort (although getting out once there may prove tricky) and infamous for (amongst other things) its traders. For any remotely learned planar sage, meeting a merchant called 'Leng' is as bad as bumping into a revolutionary called 'Galt' or a bandit called 'River Kingdoms'. Possibly much worse in fact, given some of the unpleasant experiences that one can have in the territories of Leng with its traders...

Property Value:
Negligible value unless you happen to be a succubus who really likes ice and undead.

Further Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (still with half an eye on Lord Orcus) would (again) like to clarify that mortal voters should probably rely on more than just her own (impeccable) assessments in making up their minds on how to vote. Thank You.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Steven T. Helt

My planned enconter for this round included a clear sheet of ice, but the challenge behind it wasn't a troubleseom reminder of how the hazard was formed, and it certainly would have had to be altered at CR 10 or 13.

But there';s jsut something mysterious and esciting about a bad guy encased in ice, isn't there?

Hoarfrost has picked a great location for cornering and killing his prey. I felt colder when reading this entry, so it's more evocative that then other Hoarfrost encounter. I think it's intersting that Hoarfrost lent himself to iconic imagery like blood in the snow and victims trapped in ice. Those sorts of tropey images never die when done well..they stick in your mind.

As for the actual submission - why so short? You could provide more enviromental hazards, include a haunt (opaque 'ghosts' of mammoths being hunted by Kellid parties (with worgs) that, while not dangerous, obscure the actual bad guys and make it hard to tell apparition from real foe.

I either need some retraining, or there's something about calulating ELs that has changed in Pathfinder and I havent found. It seems like 3-4 of the entries have monsters that are lighter than the expressed encounters, or that won't last long even if caluculated correctly. In this case, we are spreading out CR1 traps away from the significant areas of combat. If the traps had much chance of hampering the party, I think it'd be neat that Hoarfrost has plans to slow up escaping characters. But I still think the EL calculates at one less. Maybe I'm just meaner to my PCs or miserly with esperience.

In terms of drama, writing and completeness, though, I think the last two entries I read are the best two. I think you have my vote.


Do like
* This is an evocative setting in the crevasse of a glacier. It is very appropriate for the villain you chose.

* I loved the background story of the crevasse, the inclusion of the megafauna skeletons, why they are present. All of this really adds to the feel of icy terror filling this place.

* The villain uses traps and his minions to capture his foes in an brutally elegant fashion.

* The map is fairly clear, though I had a hard time seeing the symbols for the skeletons. I am supposing here that the professional cartographers could go to town on an artsy look of the giant skeletons. When I picture that in my mind, the map takes on a whole other quality.

Do not like
* There is a poor link to the PCs in the backstory that really is not needed. The villain could simply be hunting for ANY adventurer who took up the call to rescue the merchant's daughter. This is easily removed though and does not detract from the remainder of the encounter.

* The villain's tactics as written don't really allow for him to have a backup plan in case his plans go awry. I would definately give him an escape route if the players get the drop on him or spot is traps and slaughter his wolves too quickly.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Standback

Trevor,

You've done some really great work so far; congrats! Here are my comments on your encounter entry, written before I've read anybody else's thoughts on it...

  • Yay! This is very much on the lines of the encounter I'd expect from Hoarfrost. He lures the PCs to dangerous terrain, and lays in wait with an ambush. That's exciting. I like.
  • Nonetheless, I am ever-so-slightly concerned that from the PCs point of view, Hoarfrost comes off as a very generic bad guy. He kidnaps a maiden, they chase, they fight, finis. I feel like more could have been done to make the PCs feel hunted, and to give Hoarfrost some quality time for exposition and/or gloating.
  • I liked the worgs under the snow. The tactics makes sense.
  • I think your presentation is excellent - full of atmosphere and excitement. I particularly appreciated your paragraph on what's going on right now - that's great to launch us right into the middle of things, and make the scene come alive.
  • Really didn't like the final Development. You set it up in the intro, but it's both very cliche ("You are glorious heros! Here, for you, is a noble quest!") and comes completely out of the blue (it's not really related to any of the events the PCs have experienced up until now). Maybe other bits of the Location would make this work, but as it is, it just feels tacked on.

All in all, I think this is a worthy entry, with a lot to enjoy. I hope we'll be seeing you in round 5...

Lots of luck! :)

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Neil Spicer wrote:
I like the idea of what's essentially a box canyon that Kellid Mammoth Lords once used to hunt animals for food being turned into a killing ground by your villain. However, I didn't care as much for the background involving the Kellid chieftain encased in the ice by the witches of Irrisen and the spirits of the slain Kellids. That felt very "tacked on" as more of a jumping off point to take the PCs into an actual adventure than serving up Hoarfrost as the end-game villain of this adventure in which his encounter would be imagined to appear. If the spirits in the ice or the frozen chieftain somehow contributed to the encounter in Razorbreath Chasm, I would have liked it more.

It sounds like you are bringing in expectations that were not actually part of the contest. The rules don't actually say that the encounter must be the climax of an adventure, or the climax of anything for that matter.

In my opinion, thrilling 'hook' encounters and lead-ins are much harder to come up with than thrilling climaxes, and I admire what Trevor has done here.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Anyway... the background writing really grabbed me. I love it, it's a great fit for the region and for the villain in question. Before I even got to the encounter I found myself sort of assuming Trevor had nailed it again and starting to celebrate early (because I've really liked his previous work).

The encounter itself... well, it isn't bad, but it's a pretty bog-standard ambush. It's such an obvious ambush that PCs will be on edge, and that's good, but with such a dramatic setup the ambush may almost come across as anticlimactic. Just an orc and some wolves jumping out of the snow. This thread makes me realize how easily it could have been better; having Hoarfrost chase them in and corner them (ideally driving in some fauna to stampede them: THAT'S cool!) would have been awesome. As it stands, though, I think it's still a good encounter, but it's not blowing me away.

A lot of people are wondering why he didn't use wind or other environmental hazards as part of the encounter. In fact, he does ("snow, severe wind, and extreme cold, Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook 438-439 & 442"). But Eric Hindley has a good point in that he doesn't take full advantage of them; in particular, that he's using a bow in severe winds. This might be worth it, with the snow slowing ground movement and the wind messing with (some) flyers, but at the very least the -4 to ranged attacks should have been noted. As is it looks like an oversight.

I do think it's silly to complain that all the Hoarfrost entries use bear traps and worgs. Those elements are part of the villain and it's only an unfortunate coincidence that we saw them reused. There ARE ways to use other minions and hazards, and had any of the contestants known that "beartraps and worgs" was already taken that's what I would expect, but none of them knew.

I really dig the kellid ghosts and the implied kick-off for a whole new adventure, but the actual speech made me groan a bit. Too stiff, too cliche. (Speaking of cliches, seeing "M - Maiden" as a static map object made me laugh. No hate here though; I assume there's at least a little bit of self-awareness there).

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Anyway... the background writing really grabbed me. I love it, it's a great fit for the region and for the villain in question. Before I even got to the encounter I found myself sort of assuming Trevor had nailed it again and starting to celebrate early (because I've really liked his previous work).

The encounter itself... well, it isn't bad, but it's a pretty bog-standard ambush. It's such an obvious ambush that PCs will be on edge, and that's good, but with such a dramatic setup the actual attack may come across as anticlimactic. Just an orc and some wolves jumping out of the snow. This thread makes me realize how easily it could have been better; having Hoarfrost chase them in and corner them (ideally driving in some fauna to stampede them: THAT'S cool!) would have been awesome. As it stands, though, I think it's still a good encounter, but it's not blowing me away.

A lot of people are wondering why he didn't use wind or other environmental hazards as part of the encounter. In fact, he does ("snow, severe wind, and extreme cold, Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook 438-439 & 442"). But Eric Hindley has a good point in that the encounter doesn't seem built around them; in particular, that Hoarfrost is using a bow in severe winds. This might be worth it, with the snow slowing ground movement and the wind messing with flyers, but at the very least the -4 to ranged attacks should have been noted. As is it looks like an oversight.

I do think it's silly to complain that all the Hoarfrost entries use bear traps and worgs. Those elements are part of the villain and it's only an unfortunate coincidence that we saw them reused. There ARE ways to use other minions and hazards, and had any of the contestants known that "beartraps and worgs" was already taken that's what I would expect, but none of them knew.

I really dig the kellid ghosts and the implied kick-off for a whole new adventure, but the actual speech made me groan a bit. Too stiff, too cliche. (Speaking of cliches, seeing "M - Maiden" as a static map object made me laugh. Not to complain, as I assume there's at least a little bit of self-awareness there. I just think it's funny).

Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Hi Trevor, I liked the irony of large-fauna drives coming back to haunt the tribe. It did not come back into the setting at all (undead tribefolk perhaps...) but since the encounter had to be from a R3 villain, I can see why it was dropped. Like your development and unused locations, it leads to a larger picture which is a good choice for showing off design skills. I felt the hooks and set up were a little too rr (why do PCs show up at when they do?
This assumes party actions which my players tend to always circumvent... What if the whole party is made up of monks or heavy armored haflings? Still I liked the location, and the use of the terrain in the villain's tactics. Nice job.


Pros:

1) I liked the imagery.

2) I liked the history of the Chasm.

3) Like the Red Snow Ravine submission, this encounter takes place in a dead-end valley. However, unlike that submission, this is NOT Hoarfrost's home, and you at least considered both the reason the battle takes place here (the chasm's history), and an exit strategy for him.

Cons:

1) The wind dying and ice sheet falling seemed too much of a coincidence that it happens just after the battle. You probably intended it to be a sign of the spirits becoming active, but if they had the ability to manipulate the environment, why not do it sooner than now?

2) Whether you agree with the design idea or not, (unfortunately) all undead (including spirits and unintelligent undead) in Pathfinder are evil. Its an issue that's been beat to death (pun intended) on the forums, and commented on by several Paizo staff. So an undead spirit of a former chieftain isn't likely to be looking for honorable people to get his revenge/justice, he's going to be looking for powerful people. Hoarfrost, a hunter of adventurers, should fit that description, and have attracted the chieftain's notice long ago.

I'm on the fence, but I think I may vote for this. Partly because of how much I liked the tactics of your villian last round.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Jason Rice wrote:


2) Whether you agree with the design idea or not, (unfortunately) all undead (including spirits and unintelligent undead) in Pathfinder are evil.

Sooo...

Spoiler:
the ghost-grandma from the harrow deck in Curse of the Crimson Throne is evil?

Are you sure that ALL souls or spectral remains on the prime material have to actually be undead? What if they're incorporeal outsiders? What if it isn't even treated as a creature? Maybe I'm missing something, but he never gave any game stats at all to this guy, so I think it's jumping to conclusions to assume it even has game stats (much less that those stats must describe it as undead).

Taldor RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka primemover003

Jason Rice wrote:
2) Whether you agree with the design idea or not, (unfortunately) all undead (including spirits and unintelligent undead) in Pathfinder are evil. Its an issue that's been beat to death (pun intended) on the forums, and commented on by several Paizo staff. So an undead spirit of a former chieftain isn't likely to be looking for honorable people to get his revenge/justice, he's going to be looking for powerful people. Hoarfrost, a hunter of adventurers, should fit that description, and have attracted the chieftain's notice long ago.

Sorry Jason this isn't quite as true as you think. Ghosts do not have to be evil, though the majority are CE.

PRD wrote:
When a soul is not allowed to rest due to some great injustice, either real or perceived, it sometimes comes back as a ghost. Such beings are in eternal anguish, lacking in substance and unable to set things right. Although ghosts can be any alignment, the majority cling to the living world out of a powerful sense of rage and hatred, and as a result are chaotic evil—even the ghost of a good or lawful creature can become hateful and cruel in its afterlife.

--Vrocky Horror

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Huh. I actually hadn't noticed that change myself; thanks for posting!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013

Hoarfrost certainly seems popular this round.

Your background for the location is nice, and I really like the history involving the massacre of a tribe at the hands of the white witches. Unfortunately, your background seems to be the only thing here that really pops.

I've gotta level with you, I find your map to be a little uninspired. Perhaps this is a reflection of an uninteresting location, a featureless icy chasm is difficult to make into an interesting map. I also find that your details are hard to see (though this may be an issue I have with computer screens).

I feel like there were some disconnects between what seemed like good ideas for the encounter and what the PCs would actually do to avoid them. Endure elements a pretty standard low level spell for a group adventuring in the frozen parts of the world, so the exposure threat never really comes into play. You've got high wind and low visibility, and you have your big bad initiating combat at range? Seriously? You've set your scene in a super arctic setting, but are really only making use of one of the natural threats that occurs here; bad weather. Where's the avalanche? Where are the glacial chasms for the PCs to fall into and get wedged in the bottom? Where's the Yeti? There's a lot of missed opportunities here, and not enough other cool to make up for it.

I also feel like the bit with the tribal spirits is a bit trite, and also a huge burden to lay on the PCs. "Dear group of 10th level adventurers, please wipe out a super powerful government ruled by otherworldly spellcasters of epic might. Sincerely, some ghost who you didn't know was here."


I think Jason Rice may have been confusing the Alignment of Undead THEMSELVES with the act of CREATING Undead, which I believe is considered an explicitly ´evil´ act due to it´s abuse of souls, etc. Besides good undead created thru evil creature´s actions, you can also have circumstantial undead creation without a caster or whatever.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 aka The Leaping Gnome

I originally had a second set of handholds carved out of the ice over the ledge that led up to the top of the canyon. Hoarfrost was going to climb to the top and harass the PCs from the rim, but I decided that if the party were moving with any amount of speed he couldn't get into position fast enough for the final encounter. I considered having him cause an avalanche at the mouth of the chasm but that would have been it's own encounter altogether. As for escape, Haorfrost stands a better chance taking double moves with his 50 ft. movement (40 ft. +10 ft. from longstrider) and using feather step than climbing 40 ft. of ice and letting the PCs take pot shots at him.

I agree that Hoarfrost isn't very challenging in the higher tier but that was going to be the case no matter what. Sure I could have thrown in some casters but that doesn't sound very much like Hoarfrost to me and while it might make the encounter more difficult, it wouldn't make Hoarfrost any tougher. If I could have, I would have giving him some more levels but I wanted to stay true to the assignment and use Hoarfrost as presented.

I think that attacking at range is still a viable tactic for Hoarfrost even with the -4 from the wind. He targets mages, who are generally lightly armored, and humans, who he gets a +4 against (canceling out the penalty).

Leng was a misstep on my part, I didn't realize it would raise so many eyebrows. I just wanted something that sounded appropriate.

I disagree that this should have been anywhere near the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, the box canyon fits right in with the Mammoth Lords and I think that it isn't unreasonable that at some point during their 1,400 years ruling Irrisen the White Witches felt the need to deal with an unruly tribe along their Eastern border.

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Jason Rice wrote:
Whether you agree with the design idea or not, (unfortunately) all undead (including spirits and unintelligent undead) in Pathfinder are evil. Its an issue that's been beat to death (pun intended) on the forums, and commented on by several Paizo staff. So an undead spirit of a former chieftain isn't likely to be looking for honorable people to get his revenge/justice, he's going to be looking for powerful people.

Note that what answer you get depends on who you ask. For example, the Bestiary (see this post) or ...

(this contains the name of the module)

module name:
The Godsmouth Heresy

(this contains the detail)

details:
In the final encounters, the PCs discover that the Neutral Evil alchemist Svilennius has created a Neutral-aligned magus zombie named Esme.

So, despite what any Paizo staff have said on the boards, their published material (both in general and in specifics) allows non-Evil undead besides ghosts.


Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupsersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a CE aligned (very advanced) succubus. She's right out of sympathies at present, and in any case ginormous siege towers tend to leave rather unpleasant wheel marks on the lawn which it takes ages for the grass to grow back in (even Abyssal snoozlegrass, which is really saying something). (Please see the thread of someone who went out in Round 2 or 3 if you don't get the siege tower comment.)
Plus please take as read all the usual disclaimer stuff about gossiping salaciously over a cup of tea and plate of yummy buttered crumpets away from the boards and generally other Chaotic and Evil stuff, kept (barely) in check for now because of Good Manners.

Dear Mr. Leaping Gnome,
Well, you made it to the top 8, but then in best gnomish fashion the wheels didn't so much fall off as go flying all over the place amidst a spectacular explosion. Or something. ;)
I'm a little bemused that you looked for a location to associate with a Hoarfrost. From the gnome who presented the bag of holes and Ankradula the Sane (from my viewpoint as a member of the aristocracy of then Abyss, the less said about the devil-worshiping round 2 entry the better) this location matched to this version of that villain looks a little prosaic. Was your scribe, Mr. Merbeck, hard-pressed for time and unable to catalogue a more exotic location? Or do you have a hithertofore undisclosed fondness for the lands along the edge of the Crown of the World, and this seemed to play to those personal preferences? I'm mildly curious as to any explanations which you'd like to proffer on these counts...
Anyway, what's done is gone, and except for finding a convenient Asmodean cleric to take it out on there's not much more practical which can be done now in the context, except to enjoy the rest of the show from a situation perhaps slightly freer of stress. Maybe now that Paizo have seen what you can do we'll see more of you in one manner or another in the future.
Hoping that you have found these posts occasionally Helpful.

Yours,

Ask A RPGSupersuccubus.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 aka The Leaping Gnome

Ask A RPGSupersuccubus wrote:

Dear Mr. Leaping Gnome,

Well, you made it to the top 8, but then in best gnomish fashion the wheels didn't so much fall off as go flying all over the place amidst a spectacular explosion. Or something. ;)
I'm a little bemused that you looked for a location to associate with a Hoarfrost. From the gnome who presented the bag of holes and Ankradula the Sane (from my viewpoint as a member of the aristocracy of then Abyss, the less said about the devil-worshiping round 2 entry the better) this location matched to this version of that villain looks a little prosaic. Was your scribe, Mr. Merbeck, hard-pressed for time and unable to catalogue a more exotic location? Or do you have a hithertofore undisclosed fondness for the lands along the edge of the Crown of the World, and this seemed to play to those personal preferences? I'm mildly curious as to any explanations which you'd like to proffer on these counts...
Anyway, what's done is gone, and except for finding a convenient Asmodean cleric to take it out on there's not much more practical which can be done now in the context, except to enjoy the rest of the show from a situation perhaps slightly freer of stress. Maybe now that Paizo have seen what you can do we'll see more of you in one manner or another in the future.
Hoping that you have found these posts occasionally Helpful.

Dear Miss A. A. RPGSupersuccubus,

I tried and I tried to tell Mr. Throat-Tearer that there were much more hospitable locales to the south but he wouldn't hear of it. He has a peculiar love of the northern lands for some reason that escapes me.

I must admit I was a bit flustered when I was told that I could not help dear Ankradula (poor thing, she really does need a friend), but I bid her adieu and offered my services to a number of other ladies and gentlemen. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them were already neck deep in their own plots and schemes (or else outright catatonic) and uninterested in my showing them some lovely locations that could be of some use to them. Mr. Throat-Tearer was the only one I managed to convince to leave his normal hunting grounds and see what I had to offer.

I hate to speak ill of a former client, but Mr. Throat-Tearer was not a very engaging travel companion and his worgs were outright rude. He spent the majority of the trip in what I can only describe as malevolent silence and when he did speak it was only to say how something reminded him of a hunt he once had or trophy he was proud of.

But I digress.

Mr. Throat-Tearer refused to look anywhere south of Irrisen, save for a cave in Belkzen where he could stay when he visited his grandmother (I may have misheard him however, he has a rather strong accent). To my frustration he was only interested in natural locations that offered a leg up when hunting, although I begged him to at least look at some of the abandoned fortresses I had found. When I told him about the chasm, particularly its tragic history, his red eyes lit up and he had me skip the next few stops of our journey. For some reason he loved the gods-forsaken place (please forgive the expression, I nearly lost my nose to frostbite and am still a bit bitter about the experience). I showed him around a bit during the day, he had a look himself at night, and I could see the cogs turning in his head; this was the place for him. So the next day we departed but soon became caught in a snowstorm that lasted 3 days. When it subsided, I found myself alone and decided that I had had enough of all the snow. I made a short stop in Icestair to conclude this assignment and inquire about my client. Last I heard, Mr. Throat-Tearer has settled into a ravine at the base of the Kodar Mountains or been hired on as groundskeeper at some Irrisen castle. It seems that Mr. Throat-Tearer has decided that he does not require my services after all. I suppose I should have anticipated this, the Shapeshifter Huntsman isn't exactly known for his loyalty, but I cannot help being an optimist.

I am quite finished with all of this cold however, and ready to move on to more temperate climes. Perhaps I will stop by the Worldwound and bring you a bottle of wine I picked up in Chillblight. They say it's laced with the souls of children and aged in barrel made from the bones of dead gods, but I'm no connoisseur of wine.

Sincerely,
The Leaping Gnome

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