Pathfinder Adventure Path #67: The Snows of Summer (Reign of Winter 1 of 6) (PFRPG)

3.70/5 (based on 19 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #67: The Snows of Summer (Reign of Winter 1 of 6) (PFRPG)
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Chapter 1: "The Snows of Summer"
by Neil Spicer

The Reign of Winter Adventure Path begins with an exciting new adventure from RPG Superstar winner Neil Spicer! Every 100 years, the Witch Queen Baba Yaga returns to the nation of Irrisen to place a new daughter on the throne, but this time, something has gone wrong. Far to the south, winter cloaks the forest near the village of Heldren with summer snows. The heroes venture into the wood and discover a magical portal to the frozen land of Irrisen, whose supernatural winter will soon engulf all of Golarion unless they can discover the fate of the otherworldly witch Baba Yaga—a quest that will take them through snowbound Irrisen to even stranger lands beyond.

“The Snows of Summer” is a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game adventure for 1st-level characters. This volume kicks off the new Reign of Winter Adventure Path, and includes a gazetteer of the villages of Heldren and Waldsby, details on the cultural and magical legacies of Irrisen, and several new monsters in the Pathfinder Bestiary. Author Kevin Andrew Murphy launches a new Pathfinder Journal novella in this exciting volume of the Pathfinder Adventure Path!

    This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path launches the Reign of Winter Adventure Path and includes:
  • “The Snows of Summer,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 1st-level characters, by Neil Spicer.
  • A gazetteer of two villages—one in Taldor and the other in wintry Irrisen—to help flesh out the characters’ environs, by Rob McCreary.
  • A look into Irrisen’s legacies and mysteries GMs can use for this campaign, written and compiled by Rob McCreary.
  • An alchemist’s journey to Irrisen’s capital of Whitethrone in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Kevin Andrew Murphy.
  • Four new monsters, by Neil Spicer and James Wilber.

ISBN–13: 978-1-60125-492-4

The Snows of Summer is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. The rules for running this Adventure Path and Chronicle sheet are available as a free download (639 KB zip/PDF).

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

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Average product rating:

3.70/5 (based on 19 ratings)

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Terrible premise

1/5

I’m a player that bailed on a game 80% of the way through this.

This book has a premise of having the players save the world when Golarion is full of very high level NPCs that any sane party would pass that torch to. This adventure path requires (among lots of other retcon surgery) that it not be set in setting like Golarion.

This book was a succession of “Why am I even here?!?” questions. Leave this one on the shelf unless you have lots of time for major plot rewriting.


Not standing up to the test of time.

2/5

I am a big fan of Paizo APs (I have played/GM'd 7 including this one) and this has been my least favourite.

Book 1 is just one long rail road with little motivation apart from "the world is in danger" for a basic party. The plot hook just isn't developed enough for myself.

There are too many encounters that are unnecessary (out of the first 13 encounters, 11 are combat based. One of these is 1 encounter that combines 3).

The GM was advised in the book to put us under a compulsion spell to make sure we stayed on the path the adventure wanted us on. I do not think this is good AP planning to encourage good roleplay.

I do love Paizo APs but this one just doesnt stand up to some more recent APs whose quality are outstanding.


3/5

Player review.

An interesting start to a campaign. Lots of role play and some interesting encounters to keep the combat types happy. I have two grumbles though. One is that the encounters seem arbitrary, just set to sow off the events taking place. I'd have much preferred to just get on with the story than keep having to have unnecessary encounters when GM description will do. Secondly, like most AP's, there just isn't the opportunity to sell stuff and buy equipment. After several AP's this just gets old.


A heavy-handed introduction to a most promising campaign

3/5

I just finished taking a group of 4 PCs through the module. While we had a lot of fun, I still had some gripes with a few things.

The trek through the Border Wood is a string of seemingly disconnected encounters. Yes, I get that most of them are there to illustrate the transformation of the woods but it felt like a theme park ride from one "Here is a strange monster, kill it!" to the next.

I definitely recommend to significantly condense this part down to the major encounters.

I also did not like the way the Black Rider just forces the PCs to take up his mantle. Sure, good-aligned characters might have some issues with trying to help a supposedly evil witch, but this solution seems too imposing.

Lastly, as written, the book fails to adequately introduce its final villain. The entire time the PCs think they are going to face a certain character but then end up fighting their out-of-office replacement who has not even come up in any way in the adventure. There is a line late in the book about how he scries on the party and how that should introduce him to the players but I don't really see how that would work.

But it is absolutely not all bad.

Plot-wise, this is the most epic exposition to an Adventure Path I have run so far. The PCs are sent off by the herald of an almost divine being to find out what happened to his mistress when they have just barely hit 2nd level!

Also, Neil Spicer added some really nice touches to the encounters. Even the ice elementals have first names! Everything has a reason and a motivation for being where it is, they are just not very likely for the PCs to find out about, so in the end it just seems random to them (see above).

I also liked the general atmosphere: The sense of dark fairy-tale and haunted forest comes across very well, right down to the wintery village oppressed by an evil overlord (or overlady, as it were).

All in all, I rate this 3 stars because the plot and atmosphere are nice, but the trek through the forest was just too much of a drag to rate this any higher in my opinion.

However, if you are willing to invest some time as a GM, I am sure you can easily add at 1 star.

All the ingredients for a great adventure are there, you just need to throw them into a cauldron, stir, and cackle.


Such a great beginning...

5/5

GMed this over Play-by-Post.

This book has everything you want from the beginning of an AP. It really sets things up perfectly for the next lot of books, and really gets the characters invested in the plot. Rather than start out 'cold' (tee hee) in Irrisen, it lets them warm up (or cool down gradually) in the south before making a gradual and natural transition to wintery elements and wintery creatures, building nicely on what the players know and have experienced in an easy-to-approach fashion.

The plot itself is incredibly engaging and gives a beautiful glimpse into just how epic the adventure path at large will eventually be. It does all this without seeming unreasonably out of place for low-level character either. Truly great work, and all of my players are now chomping at the bit for the second instalment. So rewarding to see as a GM.

This is (so far) proving to be easily the best AP out there.

Oh, and if you're GMing this, do yourself a favor and pick up the Campaign Setting Irrisen: Land of Eternal Winter. It gives you a lot more insight into the Jadwiga and Irrisen in general and you'll find your players thanking you for all the extra accents and details you'll be able to sprinkle in to your campaign.


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Contributor

We've played two sessions so far. Neil, the other players in my group have grown to loathe you. Some of the early encounters border on the deadly and cruel. Many claims of shenanigans have been dropped and plenty a fist shaken with screams of 'Spicer!' Such is their woe that there are talks of creating a "We hate Neil Spicer" sign and taking it to Paizocon. However, they also admit that they love every moment of it. We don't hate you, but man are you mean. We like tough challenges and you have pushed the hardest so far. Great job!

We hate (love) Neil!

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Just tell them, if it were easy, they wouldn't be adequately prepared for the cruelty of the White Witches when they finally encounter one. If they think I'm mean, wait'll they get a load of Nazhena and Elvanna. ;-)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Neil Spicer wrote:
If they think I'm mean, wait'll they get a load of Nazhena and Elvanna. ;-)

Indeed.

From the reactions I'm reading, I think people are going to enjoy Part II quite a bit.

Sigh.. back to work...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yay! I finally got my copy in the mail today!

I plan to run the AP for my group at the FLGS, as soon as we have finished "The Twice-Damned Prince".

Then my players can confirm that I'm really the kindly, soft-hearted Neil S, at least in comparison with the other one ;)


Neil, this module has motivated my players to hit Nazhena, Elvanna and Whiterun like a sentient tsunami!

This is the adventure series of my dreams!

Sovereign Court

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens Subscriber

Can I confirm that the events of 'The Bonedust Dolls' occur after those of 'The Secret of the Rose and Glove' and 'The Perfumer's Apprentice'; but occur before the events of 'Thieves Vinegar' please?

So chronological ordering of the stories is as follows:

The Secret of the Rose and Glove · The Perfumer's Apprentice · The Bonedust Dolls · Thieves Vinegar

Thanks

J

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

That's more of a Kevin Andrew Murphy and James Sutter question, I believe.

Contributor

Fleanetha wrote:

Can I confirm that the events of 'The Bonedust Dolls' occur after those of 'The Secret of the Rose and Glove' and 'The Perfumer's Apprentice'; but occur before the events of 'Thieves Vinegar' please?

So chronological ordering of the stories is as follows:

The Secret of the Rose and Glove · The Perfumer's Apprentice · The Bonedust Dolls · Thieves Vinegar

Thanks

J

The order of the Norret Gantier adventures is as follows:

The Secret of the Rose and Glove · The Perfumer's Apprentice · Thieves Vinegar· The Bonedust Dolls

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Congrats to Neil on another 5 Star Review!

Thanks for kickin' us off to a great start Captain!

Sovereign Court

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens Subscriber

Many thanks for the response Kevin Andrew Murphy. The chronological order is now up on the PathfinderWiki.

Fantastic to see the ascent to a Pathfinder's Journal for the Gantier brothers, but I'd like to add my vote to the many already cast that this pair warrant a full Pathfinder Tales novel of their own.

Until then, I am very much looking forward to the next instalment.

Thanks

J


The maps in the AP include the grid when extracted from the main PDF. For VTT this makes the maps more difficult to use than previous APs. If the grid could be on a different layer in the main PDF that would be great!

(The interactive map is not ideal for VTT use, as the maps have to be extracted manually through screen shots).

Liberty's Edge

Just finished the reading the adventure. I really love the4 pacing of it. I find it flows really well. I thinking I might run this in a few months when my group get's back to Pathfinder.

Contributor

We did it! We beat it. Arggggh!!! (Thanks, Neil)

We have three players and had a great time with the final area. I had a blast with my winter witch, especially in the final battle.

Spoiler:

I managed to disable the bad guy spellcaster with a thunderstone and a tanglefoot bag. I was completely out of spells, so it was up to my wits and whatever was in my backpack to help. So fun!

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Great to hear, Donato. Never underestimate the value of low-cost alchemical items. :-)


Neil Spicer wrote:
Great to hear, Donato. Never underestimate the value of low-cost alchemical items. :-)

Or well-placed low level spells.


Who worked on the Frost Fir?

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Cheapy wrote:
Who worked on the Frost Fir?

::raises hand::


Awesome. The ecology, habitat & society, and description werevery well done, and they've been a great help in learning how to do them right.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Cool. I proposed them as an idea for a new monster and Daigle was kind enough to let me run with it. Their inspiration stems from the many encounters I had with pine sap as a child. :)

I also did the witchcrow, something I cooked up to help explain why so many people in Irrisen hate crows, but love ravens.


...and that's the other monster I've been using for inspiration. So, well done all around.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Thanks. It's good to know if I ever ditch this adventure-writing gig, I can always fall back on monster design. :)


Only thing is that the Frost Fir is only CR1, much too low for such a treant-like creature...

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Sincubus wrote:
Only thing is that the Frost Fir is only CR1, much too low for such a treant-like creature...

Considering we wanted to use the frost fir in a 1st level adventure...and there aren't enough low-CR plant creatures available in the various bestiaries which fit a winter theme, I thought it was a good thing to establish them as a CR 1 monster. They're also based on the concept of something about the size of a Virginia pine tree...which aren't nearly as big or menacing as a 32-foot-tall treant. So, despite the reference to them not getting along all that well with treants, I wouldn't really think of them as a true, treant-like creature. They're a bit lower on the ecological scale than some folks might be thinking.


Is there a reason groves of them number no more than 12?

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

I think I took my lead from the treant in that regard. Their groves are no more than 2-7. For frost firs, I thought I'd up that a bit, but not go crazy with it. The frost firs are a bit more temperamental, so splitting off and starting new groves may be more fully woven into their society as a result.

Dark Archive

Running "Snows of Summer" for my group for two sessions so far.
The players are really experienced yet they decided to approach this adventure from a optimizing/trolling point of view, making in my opinion a disfuctional group (two weapon warrior, musket master and vanilla rogue).
After the first session our Gunslinger almost had a nervous breakdown shooting everything in sight while in the forest (courtesy of an Elk, several pixies and a Snowman), our rogue became almost suicidal (as a character) due to his inability to perform properly as a scout/trapfinder, muttering "I hate snow and Christmas..." and the Fighter performed more or less as a meatshield for white sewing needles (almost died twice).
Luckily for them I had a couple more players join in for the second session (a Cleric and a Conjurer) increasing the survivability of the group tremendously and allowing the group to successfuly face the first mini-boss.

So far the group feels considerably trolled out (especially the gunslinger) from the encounters, yet I enjoyed every moment of it.
It might need a bit softing regarding the DC's for perception checks and traps.
A word of notice to whomever wishes to run this, have at least one of your players to roll a skill monkey.


I need some advice. I am in the first modual, yes Neil... your book, my PCs have made it through the portal. They met up with the trade caravan of sleds, and started towards the village. In an attempt to not bring additional trouble to an NPC who had already (yes they figured it out) lost her daughter, they let the evil bard go on her way. They also got spotted by the swarm of crows. The uptake to all of this is the tower knew exactly who to send out troops to look for and my PCs are blind for a few days while they recover. The modual has info for the PCs to get, and encounters to have in town, but by the only one who isn't blind at the moment has the Charisma and charm of a dead poinsettia in February.
As near as I can tell, they are going to need at least some of this info and interaction to draw them to the right decisions. I need to get this back on track without using too much handwavium, or leading the PCs around with a nose ring. I want to keep it fun for them, but I don't want to take away their triumph over the odds. Any suggestions, and I don't ask this lightly because 2 of my players read these forums, and I am committing GM seppuku just acknowledging that I do not have this well in hand.


Two things. In the first part, are the Snow changes to DCs (Perception) included in the numbers quoted in the book?

It says the module is for 4 PCs. Can I run 5 with no changes?...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Titeman wrote:

Two things. In the first part, are the Snow changes to DCs (Perception) included in the numbers quoted in the book?

It says the module is for 4 PCs. Can I run 5 with no changes?...

I'm not sure which specific DC's you're referring to, but I do not think the snow penalty would be worked in (unless specifically stated).

A 5th character should have very little impact on the AP.
I'm running the adventure for 6. It can pretty much be run as is, but add a few lower level monsters (ex zombies, bandits) and perhaps increase the hp on the bigbads on the fly. You may also wish to increase the chance of wandering monsters.
These suggestions are partly to continue challenging the party, but more importantly to try to keep them to the suggested experience level.
Another thing I have done in this regard is to increase the xp for many of the outdoor fights (generally by raising the CR by 1), due to the extreme environmental disadvantage the low-level PC's are facing.


Are the maps in the PDF layered for VTT?

Digital Products Assistant

Removed a post. This might be better posted as general product feedback, or in our Customer Service forum, rather than in a specific product thread.


Having fun with this, but some parts not thoroughly thought out and others too difficult (difficult terrain=no charge and no pounce, right?, having two creatures radiating elemental damage in your bedroom might sound like your average Saturday night dorm party, but...). Watch the under stated CRs as has been previously mentioned, make a few changes, get your players leveled up to 2 earlier on with maybe a little bit more elemental protection or perhaps some warm cave here and there and off you go! What is it with first level modules where all these good ideas turn into death traps? Yawn. Defeats the purpose and kills the mood, making more work for the DM to try to ramp things up again and bring back the vibe or go though these with a fine toothed comb. EDITING!

Paizo Employee Customer Service Manager

2 people marked this as a favorite.

While straightening out another order, two additional copies were found. Not sure how long they will last. Good luck!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Well then...I'm glad I still have one on my shelf. :)

President, SmiteWorks

This is now available on Fantasy Grounds as well. If you already have the PDF, sync your account first to get it for only $7.

Reign of Winter AP 1 on Fantasy Grounds

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