I don't remember where they could have found this. Can you provide a reference? Maybe I just forgot about it.
I agree with those who say they want to see more of Irrisen. My party is done with Book 1. I changed the location of Heldren to the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, at the west end of the Grungir forest. I added a lot of fey elements to the story line, the Grungir being a place where the veil between the First World and Golarion is thin.
I like Books 1, 2, and 5 the best. Not thrilled with 3, but I can use a lot from it. Book 4 will be completely re-done. Haven't looked at Book 6 enough to make an opinion.
I'm adding in a lot of First World and fey material, and although I like Iobaria, I'm not going to have the party go to Triaxis. I'll be doing a massive re-write of Book 4 to send the party to the First World with some ties to Irrisen.
I like the idea of Elvanna workign more closely with Rasputin... I think I might try to bring some 20th century Russia into Whitethrone during Book 2. I'm not sure what... I don't know if I want to introduce a lot of guns, but maybe one or two "specialists" with guns and Russian appearance. It kind of sets the stage for Book 5 ahead of time.
The troll, ice dragon, and Radosek definitely sounds like a TPK for the party.
You could do what I did, which was have Hatch the domovai hide in one of the characters packs using his "compression" ability and then pop out and start hurling things at enemies with telekinesis. Not super effective, but it helps.
I'm working on a ridiculous scenario for closing the winter portal that I'll be springing on my players on Wednesday. But it's not a physical puzzle, it's a combination of a battle against an animated object, a hazard, and a sort of skill challenge.
My party decided not to rest and it looks like they're going to make it through, even though I added some foes, but they have some advantages that other parties may not have. There are 7 of them, and they started at 3rd level/1st tier, but gained enough XP for 4th level after defeating everyone on the first floor. I had them gain access to their new abilities and hp, but remain "down" the same amount of hp as before.
If they had decided to rest on the first floor, their idea was to pile up a bunch of crap on the teleporters, hoping that would block people from teleporting down. I'm glad I didn't have to make a decision how to deal with that on the fly. It could either cause the teleporters not to work, cause the items on the teleporters to "switch" places with the people up above, cause the items on the teleporters to get shunted into some never never land, or cause the items to get "pushed" off the teleporter.
As others have mentioned, though, I don't know how the folks on the upper levels would react to the invasion. Radosek knows what's going on because of the mirrors. But does anyone on the second floor or aerie know? Radosek could get them word, but he's theoretically alone. Realistically, if a party were to decide to rest on the first floor, I'd say that Radosek would know, would tell Hestrig to prepare an assault, and then have Hestrig, Mig, Mierul, Janess, and the sprites attack after a couple of hours, coming at the party two at a time through the teleporters. I wouldn't have Radosek come down to try and animate the dragon. The party would likely bar the big main door, so unless you give him a scroll of knock, he wouldn't be able to get through. I'd have him hole up in the Ritual Chamber, hoping Hestrig can deal with it.
Tamago, I'm still working on them. Once I get them worked out and the players play through it (next week), I'll post them in detail.
I'm going to have to play test them, I think. It's inspired by the 4E skill challenge concept, but diverges quite a bit.
My initial concept is that the portal has four elements powering it. The pentagram on the floor, the glowing globe in the air, and the two ends of the portal, one in Irrisen, and one in the Land of the Linnorm Kings (I moved Heldren to the NW end of the Grungir Forest).
First, the party is going to have to do some research to figure out just what the heck is going on. Knowledge (arcana) using the notes and books and scrolls and magical stuffs in the room and in the library to work it out. They will discover that the key to shutting it down is manipulating the arcane energies of the glowing globe, but, that those energies have inertia and will not be easy to disrupt and shut down safely without blowing off the top of the Pale Tower and killing themselves.
Whoever is manipulating the glowing globe will have to be in the pentagram. Someone else will have to damage/injure the pentagram, which will be regenerating. Once the pentagram is injured to a certain level, then the linkage to the two portals will be active. Someone is going to have to attempt to hold back the winter cold and gales of freezing wind from the portals, by pure force of will, while the person manipulating the glowing globe then works on shutting it down.
There will be attack roles and strength checks required by the people attempting to disrupt the pentagram. Will saves and Charisma checks by the people trying to hold back the power of both ends of the portals. And then Knowledge (arcana), spellcraft, and UMD checks by the person manipulating the glowing globe. I'm thinking that the DC of all of these checks will be cumulatively reduced by pieces getting shut down/disabled, and then eventually, they'll be able to shut it all down. The penalty for failing checks will be damage from cold and shards of ice blowing out of the winter portals, confusion, stunning effects, blinding effects, and/or stuff along those lines. I'm still working on all of it. Basically, I'm trying to turn the portal into a "monster" that is defeated through the use of skills instead of just physical attacks. Hopefully I can make it work!
My players began the battle with Radosek last night during our weekly game. They are trying to do the entire tower without rest. They're mythic (one tier from the Black Rider), they're 4th level, and there are 7 of them, so it's going OK, but they're about out of resources.
I ran the courtyard as written. The troll was a bad ass, and nearly took out a couple of players. One of the guards successfully opened one of the doors on the battlements, shouting "To Arms! To Arms!" into the tower, which alerted the rest of the guards. They mobilized, moving to bar the doors. They got one of them barred, but the party barely got, literally, a foot in the door, before they could bar the other one.
This resulted in a battle on the stairs coming down from the door and then in the first floor room. They battled all of the guards plus Yana, who I had beefed up a few levels and given a magic sword.
They teleported up to the second floor, two at a time. I had added five new soldiers; an elite crew consisting of a 3rd level rogue, 2nd level barbarian, 2nd level winter oracle, 2nd level fey blooded sorcerer, and 2nd level fighter. They were dining, being entertained by the sprites. The battle started badly, the party being hamstrung by showing up two at a time. The wizard went first for some foolish reason, and he was color sprayed by the sorcerer right away, getting stunned, but enough other folks were coming through the teleporters that he didn’t get finished. They started slicing and dicing the foes, though, and it was over quick, except for the sorcerer and the two sprites. (At one point, the cleric of Desna was also color sprayed, and a couple of the players saw Hatch, the domovai, peeking out of the cleric’s pack, telling him to “wake up, wake up!”, but that was all they saw of Hatch, until later.)
Then Hestrig came out of the library, growing from medium to large size as she did. The battle with Hestrig was not going well until the party’s druid, who is taking a grappling angle and who had taken on a bear aspect, successfully grappled her. The large sized fighter/sorcerer. I had beefed Hestrig up with a few extra levels, too, and I never thought he’d successfully grapple her, but he did with some great roles. After getting her to the ground (he freaking successfully pinned her, too, because she didn’t break the grapple), it was over for her.
They searched a little, and ran into the mandragora in the Conservatory. The scream from the mandragora got the attention of the spriggan, and it joined in the battle. Two of the party members were nauseated by the mandragora’s scream, and one of them and another were successfully scared by the spriggan, but they defeated both foes.
Then the party continued exploring. They found Mierul’s room, and saw a letter she was writing to Nazhena, which mentioned that she had met a group that claimed to have met the black rider… the party had totally spilled their guts to her when they first met her earlier on the way from the Winter Portal to Heldren. That gave them some pause. Then, they found “Lady Argentea”.
The Lady had them going for a while, but eventually the inquisitor sensed that she was not who she said she was, and it tried to flee after first altering form to appear like the elven ranger/oracle, but the party quickly cut it down.
They then tried to figure out where they could go. They had the keys from Yana and Hestrig, and it took a while, but they finally decided they could try using them. They went to the teleporter in the Mirror Hall at the end of the red carpet, and both of the key holders stood on the teleporter. Which was funny, because they learned that you can only go one at a time when using the teleporters from the first floor to the second. I’m not sure what they thought they were going to do; how they were going to get the key to anyone else to use, but the keys didn’t work, anyway, and the animated ice nymphs (dubbed nym-foes, but my players) attacked. The battle went quickly, and the nymfoes were destroyed.
They then decided to try the other teleporter, the two players once again climbing up on it. Of course, only one of them started getting covered in ice, and, thinking quickly as I repeated a couple of times, “You’re slowly being covered with ice,” he threw the key to another player. That player repeated the process, etc. And they arrived at the aerie. They didn’t end up fighting the sylph; she first tried to parley, and they went along with it, and eventually they got her to tell her how to “get the witch”, and she told them and gave them the key on their word that they would not hurt her or the ravens.
So, back it was to the second floor and the Hall of Mirrors. The party arranged themselves for the one by one teleportation to Nazhena’s lair, expecting Radosek and possibly more. And that’s what they got!
Mierul was there, along with Yurik, a 4th level fighter/bodyguard. Radosek was hidden in the alcove with the cauldron. Yurik attacked, and Mierul cast spells, while Radosek began summoning ice elementals. The party members, as they slowly arrived, were occupied by Yurik and the ice elementals and Radosek cast ice spears and flurry of snowballs and Mierul chord of shards and ear piercing scream. Yurik nearly killed the arctic elf ranger/oracle with a 39 hp critical with his battle axe (power attacking) and did a ton of damage to the ulfen barbarian skald. Both went down, but reinforcements were arriving. Hatch made an appearance, hurling the cauldron into the back of Radosek with telekinesis. The fight was a draw without Hatch, really, but he was the tipping point, and Radosek fled, flying to the teleporter. We had to end the night with Radosek on the teleporter, Mierul and the ice elementals facing down the rest of the party, doomed.
Next week, we’ll finish the book. I have some great ideas for how they’re going to have to work to shut down the Winter Portal. It’s not going to be nearly as easy as in the book. It’s going to be a “battle of skills and wills” as the party pits their minds, bodies, and souls against the arcane inertia of the Winter Portal. I had originally thought they I would wait to advance them to mythic Tier 2 until they defeat the dawn pipers and take control of the Dancing Hut, but closing the winter portal is going to take mythic levels of effort, and I am thinking they will get Tier 2 out of it.
Hatch knows the layout, so you could just place the maps on the table. I'd only go floor by floor, though.
I use the digital copy of the Reign of Winter maps product, click on the "remove DM notes" button, copy the images into photoshop, scale them up so one square is roughly an inch, and then print them off on the printer at work on 11 x 17 pages and then tape the pages together with clear packing tape. It works pretty well, and you get to use the cool artwork in the book.
Great idea! I will be using this.
Assuming the portals are opening all over Golarion, there must be dozens or scores or hundreds. It's implied that Heldren and Waldsby are similar due to being on a ley line. Could assume that the portals are somehow tied to places of power. The problem with this is that Heldren and Waldsby aren't really in the same spot with relation to the portals, as far as I can tell. So, there's a hole in that thought process.
I've been thinking about this, and with all of the fey in Irrisen and to go a different direction than ley lines, which I think are a little cliches and I'm not even sure I've heard of them with regard to Golarion.
So, I'm going to say that there are naturally occurring greater fey circles tied into the First World all over Golarion. They are heavily concentrated in Irrisen, which is why Baja Yaga picked Irrisen in the first place. They are circles of different diameter and power and have natural linkages between them, which are being exploited by the white witches.
So, the two portals are in the center of two linked greater fey circles, and Heldren and Wadlsby are both on the perimeter of the circles. The similarity if the two towns is due these particular towns being influenced by a trio of norns that I'm adding to the story, one of them was slain and the other two captured by Elvanna in a bid to drain their power. The dead one was reborn in the first world, and the party met her outside of Heldren. She has yet to re-appear.
So, there are greater fey circles all over Irrisen. Some are bigger and more powerful and have more links. There are portals opening up all over Irrisen and the world. The most portals are opening in Whitethrone, where the greatest circle is located and through which the white witches draw massive amounts of power from the first world.
When the party passed through the portal, they then came upon a scene of staggering carnage, where a mixed force of humans, wolves, some trolls, and a frost giant had caught up to Dark Midnight - and had learned the hard way that the mortally wounded Black Rider was still more than they could handle.
Crap, great idea. I wish I'd thought of that. The black rider's killer is obviously a huge loose end. Who put the ice spear through him? That person must be somewhere, and must be dead, otherwise if it was one of Elvanna's flunkies, why would Nazhena's people be out looking for him?
I'll be running the Witchwar Legacy at the end of the campaign, so maybe this will be a way to get Kostchtchie's plot involved in the campaign earlier.
For the Shackled Hut, I'm going to have some of Elvanna's Winter Guard be mythic, having killed the Red and White Riders and acquiring their mythic power. They'll be recurring villians hopefully.
I admit, I didn't really use the concealment and visibility penalties from snow for the bulk of the way to the winter portal; it was just too much. Especially, like you say, if the snow was that heavy, it would wipe out any trail. I tried to keep the flavor there, that it was cold and snowing and windy, but just not blizzarding the whole time.
As an aside, almost all of the party ended up starting with some protection from the cold, so that wasn't too much of an issue. Two arctic elves, an ulfen with trait that gives him some cold endurance, a cleric with endure elements, and the players took my hints to get winter weather gear (clothes, furs, and snow shoes) really quickly. So it wasn't really much of an issue except for the gnome (who eventually got an endure elements) and the Ulfen barbarian (who had a high enough fortitude that with the winter weather gear he was OK).
When the party got to the winter portal, though, I did start using the visibility rules. But I took a recommendation from someone else on this forum, describing the snow and wind as gusting in "waves" so that visibility varied during the combat. I rolled a d4 at the beginning of each round to determine 5, 10, 15, or 20 feet of visibility, and within that range there was no concealment, but outside of that range, there was 50% concealment.
This seemed to work really well.
With 7 characters (6 players and a DMPC barbarian/bard) all at 3rd level, I had to jack up the difficulty. I made Teb a mythic troll (from Mythic Adventures). This is pretty extreme, but the party brought tons of fire with them and they beat him, just barely.
Hommelstaub didn't do much and the sprites did even less. I also added a drunk winter-touched leprechaun barbarian 2 that showed up right as the troll was going down; he was too drunk to realize what was going on and so responded to the combat slowly.
All in all, it ended up being a pretty epic battle. Hopefully I can match it with the events at the Pale Tower.
Why have an interior gate if it's not barred? Why have any defenses if they're not going to be used? I guess one could say the door is purely functional, but I'm leaning towards the white witches being in guard and a little paranoid. Radosek knows the black rider was in the area. He knows about the PCs. They spilled their guts about coming through the winter portal (but not about the black rider) to Mierul, and she scurried back to the tower to tell Radosek all about them. (Not that you could have known that.). So Radosek is somewhat on guard. I maybe should have made the bluff check to fool the guards a little harder, but the only character with a beard and able to even slightly imitate Volan has a scrappy bluff check, and the fact that he got a 15 on it was pretty lucky as it was. And the guards rolled a 3 on their sense motive, so I gave it to them.
I guess a wall of ice and a troll are pretty good defenses and the White Witches probably don't have a lot of natural enemies in Irrisen, but I'm going to assume they're paranoid at this time due to the events and that the lower doors are normally closed and barred, and that the upper doors have a simple lock and can be barred by someone behind the door. Whether anyone gets to those doors before the party can get through them is another matter. If the party acts quickly, probably not.
The other interesting thing that happened is that the party tried to talk the villagers of Waldsby to travel to the winter portal and leave Irrisen. They were worried about the town being wiped out after they killed the guardsmen and assaulted the Pale Tower. They were talking to the cleric of Pharasma about it, really trying to sell the idea of going to a place of summer.
I thought, well, some of the townspeople would definitely be for that. Some wouldn't. I thought about a third (the most downtrodden) would jump at the idea, a third wouldn't be interested (the business owners), and a third would be on the fence. They got a group together the next day to go, realizing that it would be a bit of a rush, since they were hoping to close the winter portal at the Pale Tower.
We didn't work out the details of who would go and who wouldn't. Any ideas on this development?
My players invaded the Pale Tower during our game yesterday. They had killed the guards in town and took their gear and pretended to be them. I had the one in Volan's gear do a bluff check, and he got an OK roll, so I had the guards open the gate. But, then they recognized them and sounded the alarm. The troll rolled out of one of the little dog shacks and attacked... The troll was BAD. It nearly took down a couple of the characters (6 PCs, all 3rd level with 1 mythic tier).
The guards are pretty wimpy, even after making them 1st level fighters instead of just warriors. I may have to add a few "elites" like someone else did. I like keeping most of them 1st level, but I think I'll add a unit of 5 or 6 second level NPCs that would be an elite squad.
Question? How is the party supposed to get into the tower proper? I assume the big gate doors are barred from the inside? I didn't see anything in the module about how to break them down, if it's at all possible for a small party. So, are they supposed to get in through the sally doors? I had one of the 3 guards run to one of the doors and open it with a key, trying to get through it and shouting a warning, but he got caught by one of the PCs and killed. The PC closed the door and locked it with the key... Kind of a weird response. I assume the people inside the tower will have the means to open it from the inside. And also to probably bar it.
We ended the night right after the troll and remaining guard were killed. I'll be keeping the party in initiative.
My plan is to figure out (a) who would have heard the guard shouting, (b) how long it will take them to respond with some gearing up and some running to check what's going on, and (c) then deciding what they'd do to bar the doors.
For the weather, I saw someone post an idea of having the snow and winds gust and blow with variable strength, which I think is pretty cool. So, at the top of each round, I rolled 1d4 x 5 as the visibility for that round, to simulate gusts of wind and snow resulting in visibility getting worse then better.
My party had 6 PCs and a DMPC, so, with 7 characters, I decided that Teb should be a Mythic Moss Troll. The fight started with the sprites and Homelstaub, then Teb heard it and showed up. The party still pretty much tore him up. They had heard about the troll from their prisoner, Rokhar, and so came prepared with a bunch of alchemist's fire. It was a good battle, but they dealt with a mythic Teb without losing anyone.
These are awesome. Thanks a lot! I'll be using them for sure!
I've had great luck with taking the pdf maps, importing them into Photoshop, and then scaling them up to 1 square equals 1 inch scale and then printing them on 11 x 17 pages and, where they are too big, taping them together.
Paizo folks, if you're reading this, you should really consider releasing full size pdf's of encounter locations that people can print off for gaming mats. I'm doing it anyway, but it sure seems like a possible money maker. I'd pay extra for them if they were higher resolution, because blowing up the smaller scale maps results in quite a bit of lost resolution, and while they look cool, they could look better.
That was kind of the point of my post above that I didn't want to give out two tiers in Book 1. Just my personal preference. I'm going to probably give out one tier per book. I'll modify stuff as needed to make it feel appropriately mythic when the characters get a tier. If an encounter, as written, doesn't meet a perceived requirement, then I'll add it.
It's just me, but as a DM, I want the mythic power to build more slowly than giving the PCs two tiers during the first adventure. Plus, to me, the mythic rules really are kind of exponential. Going from Tier 1 to Tier 2 is a pretty big jump, and requires even more upgrading of the adventure.
My players just finished the battle at the Winter Portal, met the Black Rider, and gained their first Mythic Tier. They won't be getting the second one for quite a while...
As I slowly plan out this mythic RoW that I'm running, I came upon this thought. If the black rider can bestow his mythic power onto 4 to 6 PCs, allowing them to ascend, he must have quite a bit of it. At least 3 or 4 tiers, I would say.
So, it is logical to assume that whoever killed the other two riders may have gained a fair chunk of mythic power. These could become additional mythic foes for the party, tied to Elvanna.
So, the question is, who killed the other riders and stole their mythic power? (I'm looki g for creative suggestions, I don't have any brilliant ideas right now.)
Tangent and Necrovox, thanks for the great ideas. I also have the same issues with Books 3 and 4, and the comparison to the Doctor and his chicken legged Tardis is hysterical.
My approach is to add two subplots to the campaign. First, I'm adding an overall First World plot wherein some of the Eldest are manipulating the threads of fate, long term, to both create Baba Yaga and then be the tool of her downfall. Second, I'm making Kostchtchie a much larger player in the overall adventure path. If the campaign makes it that far, I'll eventually have the party run through the Witchwar Legacy after the end of the campaign (the plot will have to be revised, but not much). Kostchtchie will be the next villian after Elvanna.
Then, probably something with the winter collectors.
Then, a confrontation with Baba Yaga in the Thrice Tenth Kingdom, pulling many elements from The Sound of a Thousand Screams.
And then, and only then, a confrontation with some of the Eldest.
Since dragonriders just don't interest me personally, I'll be replacing Part 2 of Book 4 with something completely different, and I'll move Part 2 and Part 3 completely into the First World, making the white dragon an ice linnorm.
My group is going to ascend through gaining the mantle of the Black Rider.
I don't want them having 2 tiers after Book 1, so the second Tier will come from defeating the Dawn Pipers and gaining the Hut.
I haven't gone through the rest in detail, so thanks for all of the ideas in this thread!
I'm shooting for them being 4th or 5th Teir by the end, then, if we keep going, running a modified Witchwar Legacy and have them gain additional tiers by shutting down the winter collectors to free Irrisen from the grip of winter. With the finale being a confrontation with Baba Yaga.
The battle at the lodge continued this week...
Last week ended mid-combat, with the two ice skeletons in the Lodge attacking the snow elf ranger and the gnome rogue and the three formerly dead bandits rising as zombies to attack the party members outside. Two of the heroes were planning on entering the back door of the Lodge to aid the snow elf and the gnome rogue.
This week began with the party's foes acting in initiative. The ice skeletons attacked, but did not slay the gnome and snow elf ranger. The icy cold of their claw attacks did not deter the snow elf in the slightest, due to his cold resistance, and the gnome was too quick and nimble for the skeletons to hit.
The zombies outside staggered towards the Varisian cleric of Desna, snow elf void wizard, and Kellid druid, getting in melee range, but too clumsy and slow to get in attacks.
Inside, the Ulfen barbarian and the Ulfen Blackraven inquisitor assisted the gnome and snow elf ranger. The last remaining bandit, besides Rohkar, dropped his weapon and surrendered. The ice skeletons were dispatched, but not before blasting the heroes with the frigid icy cold of their death throes.
Outside, the zombies took down first the snow elf wizard, then the Varisian cleric, and then, later, the snow elf ranger. They began trying to eat them, since other heroes were backing away or inside.
The zombies were strangely resiliant, being augmented by some unknown power. Rohkar. He revealed himself, attacking the inquisitor as he was getting ready to slay the zombie attempting to eat the snow elf wizard. Big mistake. The Ulfen inquisitor and Ulfen barbarian made quick work of him, dropping him to -1 hit point in two blows, despite his temporary hit points from death knell.
The battle was over.
The party questioned the one bandit that surrendered inside. They retrieved the bodies of the two they had hidden behind the outhouse, who were both stable.
The cleric was revived by the druid using a scroll of cure light wounds discovered in Rokhar's chest (added), and he promptly channeled positive energy, his last use, healing everyone of 2 hit points of damage. The snow elf ranger and snow elf wizard were still unconscious.
The party left the cleric to watch over the snow elves, and the rest of them went down into the cellar to free Lady Argentea of Magnimar. They talked to her a little bit.
They were all oblivious to the unintended side effect of the channeling, which was to bring Rohkar up to 1 hit point. He became conscious, but he played dead, and no one noticed. With the rest of the party down in the cellar, he worked himself free of his bonds as the cleric tended to the two snow elves. It took about a minute and a half, but eventually he succeeded, and he rose up to attempt to strangle the cleric with the ropes that had been used to bond him. The cleric struggled, choking, and gasping for help. The cleric pulled a starknife, but fumbled, and the fumble card result was that Rohkar took possession of the starknife!
Things looked grim for the snow elves and the cleric! Rohkar had visions of three new murders dancing through his mind. Revenge! But, alas, when he brought the starknife to bear against the cleric, his unfamiliarity with the weapon resulted in him narrowly missing, and the cleric drew his second starknife, slashing Rohkar, and dropping him once again.
The party chained Rohkar up in the cellar. Tenpenny Tacey came back, asking for shelter, and the party accepted her. They questioned Rohkar, who told them a bit about Izoze and Teb Knotten, but not much. The nihilistic elven ranger pushed for trekking further into the winter, into the Somir Valley, but Lady Argentea demanded to be brought back to Heldren, beginning to worry they were going to abandon her. Eventually, the party agreed to the plan of taking Argentea, Tenpenny, and Rohkar to Heldren and telling the other bandits to stay in the lodge until they are gone, but then they don't want to ever see them again, essentially freeing them.
The snow elf wizard had a showdown with Vrixx, the winter-touched sprite. The sprite color sprayed him, but was in the cage, and couldn't escape, so when the wizard woke up, he color sprayed the sprite right back, and then opened the cage and removed one of its wings. They brought the sprite along with them to Heldren. It tried to be a pest and make noise during the night, but they buried it in a snow drift, and that muffled the sound and shut it up.
The session ended with the party back at Heldren, and now Level 2.
Last night, the party continued their adventures in the Grungir Forest, picking up where they left off after crossing Wishbone Creek.
They headed up the ridge, and successfully snuck up on the bandits on the trail. One almost fled but got caught from behind, he spilled the beans on his buddies.
The party followed the trail to the Lodge...
They spent about and hour of game time planning an assault. The plan. Split up, with 3 of them hiding at the outhouse to attack any of the bandits unlucky enough to need to use it. The other three went to go burn down the stable. They all snuck through the woods to the east and south, inadvertently missing the crossbow trap.
The gnome hid in the outhouse (after first using prestidigitation to make it smell better) behind the door, and 20 minutes later someone showed up. They saw the little gnome footprints in the snow, but stupidly thought, I'll get the little bugger, and slammed the door open, trying to stun the gnome. But, it didn't work, and the gnome jumped up onto the latrine seat and stabbed the guy to death in one shot (he's a rogue, and I ruled he would get a sneak attack under the circumstances).
They kept waiting for another one to come out to see what happened to his buddy. They peed all over the snow to the side of the outhouse, trying to cover up all of the footprints and to make it look like the guy just didn't want to go into the smelly outhouse. They proceeded to murder the second guy as well, dragging him off into the bushes. (OK, well neither of them died, explicitly, but they are unconscious, if stable, and will freeze to death if not healed at some point.)
Meanwhile, the other group was checking out the stables. The ranger and wizard snuck in and the ranger calmed the horses. For some reason, after piling together a bunch of straw, lit it, and then left, leaving the wizard with the horses to try and get them to get out of the stable. The wizard tried to push one out from behind, and got kicked, nearly killing him.
But, the horses and wizard got out, and the stable burned to the ground.
And, well, the guys in the lodge did nothing. Why would they?
Eventually, one of the horses tripped the crossbow trap, getting hit, and making a lot of noise.
So, the snow elf wizard (who is a bit weird and loopy and pretty "fey" acting) and the gnome went out front to act like they were winter fey and the cause of all of the ruckus, asking the bandits to come out to play. Some of the other party members went to keep an eye on the back door.
Three bandits snuck out the back door to go around the north side of the Lodge. Three others opened the front door and windows/shutters. They all fired bows on the fey and other party members who fired back from near the charred remains of the stable.
Tenpenny and two other bandits came out the back door to go after the two party members watching the back door. Tenpenny got skewered by a long spear right at the beginning, and went into defense mode. The inquisitor player sensed her motive, and encouraged her to flee, but she didn't, obviously not wanting to pick sides just yet.
The party had just about decimated all of the bandits when two ice skeletons came downstairs to attack the two party members that had entered the front door of the Lodge. And then Rokhar animated three dead bandits outside.
It was getting late, so we had to stop there. Things looked really good for the party just half a round before, but now things are looking dicey. The party has seven members, but there are two ice skeletons in the Lodge, three zombies outside, and Rokhar is invisible and about ready to start casting nasty spells.
IMHO the "travel" stuff let the players know how much powerful is Baba Yaga AND reworking part 4 to take place in Irrisen will be a really huge effort (you will have to change almost everything) but if you have the time I'm looking forward to see what you will come up with!
Yeah, I realize it would end up being a complete re-write of The Frozen Stars, but there is a ton of material in the Irrisen source book, and I like the idea of political intrigue in Irrisen.
Plus, I hate dragon riders and dragonkin. Just not my thing.
Rasputin Must Die!, though, I can deal with that.
I'm also seriously considering somehow using a lot of material from Sound of a Thousand Screams from the Kingmaker campaign to add some more fey elements.
Thanks, Samas. I may end up doing some serious modifications to the later portions of the adventure path. I may change the setting of Maiden Mother Crone to be in Irrisen rather than Iobaria, and I'm not so sure about The Frozen Stars... I may replace it completely with adventures in Irrisen.
This week, three new characters joined the group:
- A Kellid druid from the Realm of the Mammoth Lords
The three new characters had been individually captured by winter fey and stuffed into a cave near the sprite encounter. The arrival of the rest of the party gave them the chance the needed to test their bonds and escape.
I added two additional sprites, giving each of them a different 1st level spell, replacing color spray on four of them with ice sheet (grease), ice spray (burning hands), sleep, and chill touch. One character fell to color spray, they all made saves against sleep, the ice sheet and ice spray were fun, but didn't do much damage.
Eventually, two of the sprites were killed, and the rest fled, muttering, "We should tell Izoze."
The party decided to camp for the night in the cave. Before evening, they encountered Fawfein and the talking stag. They completely thought the stag was a messenger from Erastil, and only one character rolled high enough to see through Fawfein's bluff, and he decided not to say anything about it. So, they told the stag everything, and then it walked off so that Fawfein could go tell Izoze.
In the morning, the party continued following the trail. After crossing over a ridge, I added the following supplemental encounter:
The trail turns left and crosses over the ridge, leading down into a shallow valley. The trail is somewhat easy here, the snow isn’t as deep, and seems to have blown further down the valley. The wind is harsh, blowing strongly from the right to the left, whipping the snow in front of you. Suddenly, you hear a low buzzing sound, that rapidly increases in pitch and volume, and within the whipping snow, you see a swarm of white, sparrow-sized wasps closing on you.
The wasps fly/get blown into the squares of the party, attacking at the end of their move, the next round, they get blown away, and the party may relax, but the round following, the wasp swarm long steps back upwind, preparing for another fly by attack. The next time if flies by, it blows downwind, then changes shape and flies back to the party, attacking as a giant wasp.
Winter-Touched Fey Wasp Swarm CR 4
A wasp swarm is a flying mass of a thousand of carnivorous wasps. In such large numbers, they become voracious hunters, capable of taking down large creatures with their venom-filled stings. While a wasp swarm is capable of inflicting hundreds of stings, its true danger arises from its insatiable appetite for meat.
Wasp swarms surround and attack any living prey in their paths, and are swift to seek out new prey once their anger is aroused. An enraged wasp swarm often loses track of its hive or the original source of its anger, and presented with a constant series of new targets to swarm and sting, a swarm can continue its rampage nonstop until it is destroyed or dispersed.
The players loved that encounter! They continued down the hill to Wishbone Creek.
The battle at Wishbone Creek with the ice elementals was not changed. After triggering the trap, they threw a grappling hook and rope across the creek into the rocks on the other side. They moved across. After one got across, the ice elementals attacked the second one. The battle was pretty one sided, and the party quickly dispatched the elementals.
I'm still getting a feel for the party. It's a lot of PCs, seven, and I will have to add encounters and beef up encounters to keep it challenging, but I love this adventure. I'll keep posting updates as we continue with the campaign. We're taking this week off, which is a bummer, but will be back at it the week after.
Last night, I just started running a Reign of Winter campaign with the starting point based in the Land of the Linnorm Kings. I placed the town of Heldren in the Northwest edge of the Grungir Forest.
Another goal was to really play up the fey aspects of the adventure path. So, it was pretty cool to find, when reading up on Grungir Forest that the veil between the First World and Golarion is thin in the Grungir. And, after reading through Fey Revisited, I really wanted to use the Norns somehow, and, hey, look, they are most likely to come across in the Grungir. It really seems like a whole lot of themes are coming together, and I was able to use the sample Norn from Fey Revisited to great effect as an extra encounter.
I want to use the mythic rules, and I had already had the idea that getting the black rider’s mantle would be the moment of ascension. I got a bunch of great ideas from the threads on this forum for when mythic trials will occur. (I love the community input, I can already see how hearing of other DM’s experiences with High Sentinal Lodge and the Winter Portal are going to help me run those encounters… immensely) As part of the general “mythic”-ness of the campaign, I want each character to be a paragon of their race, and I’m allowing characters to take an extra racial trait or feat at 1st, 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 20th level. I also developed a home-brewed list of racial traits for “fey-blooded” human and “troll-blooded” human, using a lot of the flavor from the sorcerer fey bloodline and the fey creature template.
This first evening, two of the six players couldn't play, so only four of them were there for the start. Like I said, I’m really pushing for a strong fey character to the adventure path. The players did not disappoint. So far, they include a fey-touched Varisian cleric of Desna (ostensibly searching for the legendary holy site of Desna in the western Grungir Forest), a troll-touched Ulfen Blackraven Witch Warden Inquisitor, a gnome naturalist rogue, and a snowcaster elf two handed weapon ranger with a history of, until recently, being lost in the First World since the time of the first Winter War. Hopefully the other two players can keep up the fey themes.
The battle in Area A with the zombies went well. A zombie got in a slam attack against the cleric and did max damage, staggering him, but the rest of the party made short work of them. The trap at the chest knocked the gnome for a loop, but he had approached the chest alone. The tatzlwyrm nearly took out the cleric, but the snowcaster elf scored a critical hit with his two handed elven curved blade, which should have killed it, but I couldn’t let the thing die on one blow! Heck, it’s a dragon! Albeit a tiny one.
We ended the night just as the winter-touched sprites had finished their surprise round. One hit on the cleric (he seems to be the damage sponge!) and then a natural 1 and then a natural 3. The natural 1 was a fumble, and, drawing a card from the fumble deck, his reaction was to charge into combat, so I ruled that his bow broke in two.
I need to figure out how to get the two other players’ characters into the game, but, all in all, it was a great first session and I’m looking forward to seeing how the campaign goes.
Added Encounter: Shortly after the party passed Area A, I had the party encounter the lone Norn, Yrlda (using Yrldak from Fey Revisited). The theory is that her sisters have somehow fallen pretty to Elvannah and/or Baba Yaga. I may end up reskinning some of the planar travel aspects of the adventure path to keep it on Golarion or in the First World, and the Norns will play a big role:
A quarter mile past the massacre site, the party comes upon a woman butchering an animal. They see her from a long ways off; she is sitting on a log, facing in their direction. The weather is cold, there is a dusting of frost and snow on the ground. Snow falls in the forested hills behind her.
She is dressed in furs, with pale skin and long dark hair. As they approach, still a hundred yards off, she stops her work, places her tools on the ground, and rests her hands on her lap. She sits upright, waiting. As the party approaches, it becomes apparent that the log is much larger than they had originally thought, that she is huge, possibly twice as tall as the tallest member of the party. As they get close, she gestures for them to approach. [I wrote some likely things she would say, without prompting, necessarily. Being without her sisters, she is not all "there" while on Golarion, and is kind of spacey.)
“You are late.” She says, arching an eyebrow. “That should not happen… That you would be late.” She picks up her shears, large, shining shears, and begins cutting the flesh of the giant hare in front of her.
“It is no matter. You are here. Not too late.”
“Time waits for no man. You are needed.”
“For this and that. You are needed. Needed here and there. And elsewhere.”
“I need you. You will find my sisters, and we shall be rejoined. I fear that day. But it must come.”
“Mother needs you.”
“Whose mother, I cannot say. Not ‘will not say’. Cannot say. A mother. Mother Earth? Mother Sky? Mother Wind? Mother Snow? I cannot say.”
“I cannot see. The weave is knotted here. The skein is tangled, and my sisters are lost. Without them, I…” She puts up her hands in resignation.
“They are lost, I dread. I came back, to join them, but they are lost. Find them, and gratitude will be yours.”
She puts her shears down, and takes a bundle out of a pack laying in the snow near her. She unwraps the leather bundle, revealing numerous locks of hair, each lock tied together with a strand of gold. She hands one to each party member, “These charms will serve you well. Say my name, and their magic will aid you, only once, but it will aid you in dancing across the threads of fate.”
“I cannot join you. Your fate is yours to pursue. The fae of this wood are many, though, and they are pained. If fate smiles on you, so may they.”
Fantastic. Escaped prisoners of Rokhar, camping off the side of the trail with a fire to keep warm.
I plan on the lodge being an Ulfen hunting hall, Rokhar having killed the hunters, but with this idea, I'll adjust it so that Rokhar killed most of them, but was holding onto these two for some reason related to their backstory (one will probably be a wizard, so maybe Rokhar was acting like he was keeping him alive to interrogate him, when really he was just trying to come up with a suitably grisly murder.) These two could have escaped a couple days ago while they were unguarded when the raiders were out kidnapping Lady Argentea.
With this route, the two new characters will have an idea of the layout of the lodge, which will give the players the chance to play the raid. With 6 characters and advanced knowledge of the layout, I will have the freedom to really lay into the party with some of the tactics I've seen in this post.
Great ideas. Thanks!
Derek Vande Brake wrote:
I seriously doubt that Seattle uses a definition of summer that lasts all the way to September 21st.
Actually, here in the Pacific Northwest, "summer" (characterized by warm, sunny, dry weather) versus the perpetual rain of winter and spring) usually starts after the summer solstice (typically July 4th) and lasts about up to the autumnul equinox. Fall is short, between mid-September and through October, sometimes reaching into November. Then, the rains come and it's winter again.
The last fighter I played, everyone in the group thought he was overpowered compared to the rest of the party (up through about level 12). He was somewhat min-maxed, but not too bad. Some of the rest of the party was max-minned (did I coin a new term), but not too bad. They included a battle oracle, a rogue, a bard, and a witch.
To me, the major failure of 4E was in the fluff. Both 4E and Pathfinder have major flaws (my opinion) in game play.
Where Paizo and WotC are different are that WotC failed to produce any decent modules or a cool world (or, at least, in the first 2 years, after that I gave up because my gamer friends gave up). In fact, they seemingly intentionally AVOIDED producing cool settings and adventures.
Paizo has an awesome world with tons of amazing adventures.
It shouldn't be a mystery as to why Pathfinder is succeeding and 4E is dying.
Paizo Blog: Paizo Publishing's 10th Anniversary Retrospective—Year 0 (2002)--The Thrill of Starting Something New
I agree. And, I think it's relevant considering that there is a base class (alchemist) that "gets" poison use as a class skill. It really is pretty much worthless at the costs in the book. Magic is far less expensive, making the poison use class ability almost useless.
I think that the whole poison list needs major re-working.
Am I missing something or does this system completely nerf illusions. The 3rd level word Glimmering creates a visual illusion...? That is equivalent to the first level spell minor image. Whoopdidoo. The 3rd level wizard spell Major Image has visual, audible, olfactory, and thermal components. The word of power pretty much sucks.