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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Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

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3.70/5 (based on 19 ratings)

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5/5

I've posted a review on RPGGeek.com.

You can find it here.


Great adventure, but could use a better hook

4/5

Read my full review on my blog.

The opening adventure of Reign of Winter, The Snows of Summer by Neil Spicer is fairly tame compared to what is to come. Indeed, it’s kind of a run-of-the-mill adventure in many ways, one that starts with only a touch of the unusual, much like many adventures will start. But it gradually reveals more and more snippets of information to the PCs, slowly making them realize that what starts as a rescue mission is really much, much more. Overall, The Snows of Summer is a very good adventure—not the greatest ever, but one that should sufficiently whet the PCs’ appetites for what is to come and make them eager to save the world.


Excellent, but not a very good FIRST adventure

4/5

This adventure is excellent. Well designed encounters, good thematic style and really an all around cool (pun intended) experience. I'm sure any group could have great fun with this.

My only issue with the adventure is that it fails to fill it's part as the first installment of an AP. Sure, it sets the tone of the "winter" theme quite nicely, but fails on many other fronts. Here are some examples:

1) plot hook - the plot hook that should get the AP started, the one that should send the PCs to explore the forest where the first part of the adventure takes place, is VERY thing. I mean it's nothing more than, "someone you [the PC's] never heard about before is in trouble, and there's money in going out to help her, so...". In comparison to previous APs, this just really isn't all that impressive. The first moments of the game should involve players, but it with something like an immediate action scene or by being about something the PCs personaly care about. This is a weak opening to the campaign.

2) first encounter - unlike in previous APs, when the first encounter was a great chance for the party to start learning to work togather, and was almost always some kind of cool little, action packed fight, here the first fight is... a couple of zombies shuffling in a locked caraven. Yep. That's the first time players in your campaign will be rolling initiative, to fight a 100% random, filler combat. There are so many fun, innovative encounters in the adventure that I wander how such a blend one gets the spotlight of being the first.

3) Boss fights - I am sad to see that this adventure uses the faulty mechanism of solo boss fights. I guess some people like it but as far as I'm concerned this is bad design. Bosses should be encounters with a group of mooks, or in an environment they can interact with to generate an advantage and disable the PCs, whereas in this adventure they kind of just wait for the PCs in 10x10 rooms, alone. Kind of disappointing.

Again, let me stress that this adventure is EXCELLENT as just a fun Pathfinder game. As a first adventure in a campaign it fails to deliver in multiple fronts.


Kill Zem, Kill Zem All

5/5

Gentlecritters,

Unlike the FAR better known Endzeitgeist who primarly reviews 3pp stuff, my collection centers more on what wierdness catches my interests.

As such Reign of Winter's first chapter latched on like a bloodthirsty paragon weasel on a one-critter blood drive. Guess what, my DMPC is the targeted critter and oh boy is his sorry rear end in for a WORLD of pain.

The usual blatherings about page counts, talking about the fiction stuff, blah de blah de blah ... meh, who cares.

What I really care about is two-fold

  • does the Chapter's adventure have the potential to make an itenerant old coot care about saving the sorry NPCs from horrible fates that he is possibly able to thwart - aka "can a long term player of the game since 1982 get hooked" on the adventure/module in question; and
  • (b) is there some really cool 'mess my old coot up' stuff in the adventure/module?

The answer is a resounding YES. When I'm seriously considering an AP or module to run as a GM I do a "dry run" with a fairly tough gestalt solo character to get a feel for how the AP will run. Over time this gestalt DMPC (such as it is) is refined based on (a) what is thematically appropriate to the AP based on the players' guide; and (b) what doesn't bork over the gestalt. Short version, I used a 13/13/15/16/13/13 human gestalt Fighter (viking)/Alchemist (crypt breaker grenadier) to "solo test" the first chapter of Reign of Winter.

This has been, in one form or another, an ongoing process for most of the AP Chapters since Rise of the Runelords more than 10 years ago (excepting Skull-n-Shackles). This is the FIRST EVER CHAPTER where the test guy was almost killed in the first part of the first chapter. AWESOME!!

This Chapter will test your characters' mettle right out of the gate. To quote/paraphrase HackMaster: "This adventure is not for the wuss of heart." The artwork fits the AP oh so sweet, the baddies are viciously nasty and there's plenty of wiggle room for the over-head-count GMs to toss in a plethora of level-appropriate baddies without skipping a beat.

Neil Spicer delivers an absolutely OUTSTANDING first chapter, one that doesn't involve the cliches of so many previous AP first chapters. If you as a player examine the previous AP first chapters to garner a clue as to what to expect in this chapter ... your character will probably die, horribly, crying for his mommy. And then you can try again with a better PC for this campaign. >:)

There is a lot of basis to ad-lib roleplaying expansions in the base writing without giving away anything of the metaplot. And when things get nasty, they don't play around. Fitting for a "winter" themed campaign.

If the rest of Reign of Winter sticks to the pacing I picked up from the "vibe" of this the first chapter of Reign of Winter, expect a roller coaster ride with barely enough time to gather your breath and pick up 'off the shelf' stuff for those players obsessed with custom items before you go up the next hill and down the next slope into a brutal blizzard of carnage, foolishness, mayhem and violence!

If you are a GM looking for a low level AP chapter to thoroughly challenge your players - in combination with the free PLAYER'S GUIDE - or you're a player that believes that you're all that, a bag of chips and a "dice lord" to boot, this first chapter of an AP will 'bring it'.

The Snows of Summer gets three - yes, THREE - knives up. All clean, gleaming and glistening with oil of magic evisceration. Enjoy!


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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

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

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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