Pathfinder Society Playtest Scenario #4: The Frozen Oath PDF

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A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for 10th-level PCs.

The Pathfinder Society has hired several teams of goblins to explore far-flung regions, and the sole survivor of a Frostfur goblin expedition recently returned from the icy Crown of the World with part of a stone tablet, a crude map, and incredible tales. However, the surviving goblin's story and souvenirs point not only to the deeds of legendary Aganhei—the Tien explorer famous for having forged a trail across the arctic from Tian Xia to the Inner Sea region—but also to the mighty frost giant god Thremyr. The PCs are to retrace the goblins' steps and document a strange site that is crucial to understanding the northerly region's history.

Note: This scenario includes no pregenerated characters. It is important to schedule this game with time to create 10th-level characters or create such characters ahead of time as part of the playtest process.

Written by Ron Lundeen.

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Good Use of Setting Lore



The Frozen Oath was the fourth and final Pathfinder Society playtest scenario designed to test how the upcoming second edition would work in an organised play setting. It's designed for Level 10 characters, and since there were no pre-gens of that level (unfortunate, in my view), players would have to take the time to make high-level PCs for this single adventure. My guess is relatively few groups actually played this. Anyway, I adopted it for use in PF1, so this review will focus more on story elements than rules implementation. My overall take is that it's a well-written scenario that makes great use of established setting lore for an underdeveloped area of Golarion, and then adds to it in an interesting way with a solid plot. I also want to call out the excellent artwork--for a free playtest scenario, Paizo didn't skimp on the art budget!

As the playtest period is over, of course, this scenario is now useful primarily for its lore. Gamers interested in the Jade Regent adventure path may find it especially interesting. However, I think it'd be easily adapted to first or second edition and then transformed into a "just for fun" one-shot or integrated into a homebrew campaign.


There's an elaborate backstory for The Frozen Oath, but it's an interesting one that the PCs can at least partially engage with. Three thousand years ago, the legendary explorer Aganhei mapped a route from Tian Xia to the Inner Sea region across the frozen Crown of the World. One of the dangers Aganhei and his companions had to deal with were the violent and territorial frost giants of Urjuk. After a successful but taxing battle, Aganhei's band needed to rest and recuperate, but they knew more frost giants would soon attack. One of Aganhei's retinue, a follower of Desna named Shiansobo, came up with a brash ruse: he persuaded the frost giants that disturbing the sleep of any great victor would bring a terrible curse on those who did the awakening. Shiansobo must have been a high-level bard, because the frost giants bought it. They even built a temple on the site to house the spirit of their slumbering god, and fiction became reality when a real awakening curse settled on the site!

Where the PCs come in, as Venture-Captain Torrsen (one of my favorites!) explain, is that the Pathfinder Society recently sent an experimental team of Frostfur goblins to Urjuk to look around the site, and one of them managed to survive and return with some intriguing artifacts that make the place worth a real investigation. I think we should pause here to ask what in the universe would make anyone think goblins would make for satisfactory archaeologists; and this scenario proves the point, as the goblins apparently broke off chunks of the building with engraved writing to bring back. Anyway, the PCs are tasked with travelling to the site and are outfitted with supplies for a long trip on foot (two weeks there, two weeks back). The group is given a "map" made by the surviving goblin (Ogthup) which is filled with incomprehensible drawings and symbols, and there's a potentially fun scene if the PCs ask the goblin what it all means.

The rigors of travelling hundreds of miles in the north are mostly hand-waved away. During the journey, the PCs will encounter two sites noted on Ogthup's map: a roc's nest and a pit containing an elder air elemental. The latter site contains some valuable stone tiles taken from the temple that will later prove useful for performing a ritual to partially insulate them from the effects of the awakening curse. (I do like the critical fumble results for poor skill checks in the playtest--some of them are really fun and could lead to some interesting player choices!)

The rest of the adventure takes place at Dvalinheim, the ancient temple built by the frost giants. Although the PCs will be expecting it to be guarded by the frost giants (based on Ogthup's recounting of being chased away by them), what they don't know is that a white dragon named Avaxvennar has recently taken up residence in the temple, tricking many of the giants into believing he is an avatar of their god (so that they bring him treasure). It's perhaps a bit cheesy as a plot device, but overall the temple stuff is solid: battles with frost giants, winter wolves, an optional encounter (depending on time) with a stone golem, and then dealing with the dragon itself. There are a couple of occasions when the awakening curse could cause problems for the PCs, but honestly they'd probably be just fine whether or not they have and perform the protective ritual.

There is an irony in the premise of The Frozen Oath: other PFS scenarios have made a real effort to show the Society are serious, sensitive scholars. Here, the Society is slaughtering sapient locals who have resided in a sacred site for three thousand years so they can loot it. It would have been better (and fun!) to play members of the Aspis Consortium since that's the way they would've handled this mission. As an alternative, a better Pathfinder Society mission would have been to establish diplomatic relations with the giants to gain access to the site or sneak in and document it without anyone being the wiser, and then perhaps in the course of that learn about the dragon's deception and decide the moral question about what to do about the moral quandary of interfering with local religious concerns. That's all hindsight, of course, but the writers do need to think more deeply about how the Society is supposed to operate because we get very mixed messages across different scenarios.

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Will be available for purchase approximately Tue, Aug 7, 2018.

but is still listed as unavailable.

When can we get this, or do we have to fulfill some special requirement to get access to this?

When is this coming out? I am scheduled to run it at a con in a few weeks.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

This should release at the same time as the other September organized play scenarios: September 26th. I see the date on the page off and will get that corrected.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

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Maps appearing in Playtest Scenario #4:

  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Basic Terrain Multipack (This uses the grassy Flip-Mat version. It's an open space, so you could as easily use a blank Flip-Mat)
  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Tech Dungeon
  • Custom full-page map
  • Sovereign Court

    Is it today yet?

    Dark Archive

    Making 10th level charactets will take hours!
    Pregens would have been a better idea.

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