The Snows of Summer (GM Reference)


Reign of Winter

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Sometimes you need to know when to hold them and know when to fold them. The end of Snows of Summer was on a... not exactly satisfying note for me, but rather than drag things out I just handwaved things away.

The last game ended with the group having tricked Radosek into coming down and then killing him. Sadly, they checked his pulse (note to self: don't list spoilers on the forums until it's far too late for them to do anything about it. I know exactly WHO read the forum (hi Steve) but the die was cast, and after some debate they decided to cut his throat. Nadya did the deed. ;) Something about her daughter.

The group then chose to acquire the key from Jainess... and sadly failed their bluff check. Things got weird then... as the first round sickened the two players (in guard uniforms) that got through only for the one guard they had working with them (Vilhelm, who had been run by one player's 12-year-old son for the two games he'd joined in to play) - and promptly rolled a natural 20 to bluff that these WERE guards. A long and convoluted discussion later which slowly drew additional people into the room... and finally realizing the lies won't go anywhere the group did a sudden attack, killed her in three blows from three separate people, and the ravens dispersed before getting to attack again.

They actually had an innovative way of entering the final room with one key - they lowered the key using rope from the open window to the aerie. And the priest managed to evade the curse trap and recovered all the loot. But then that's where things started to drag. They kept trying to find a way to get all the loot out of the Tower without alerting the guards (Speak With Dead failed to get the passcode needed to use the portal in the bedroom), so finally they chose to kill everyone in the tower... by sending Vilhelm to get a room's guards to come to the second level and then killing them as they appear in the portal one at a time in surprise attacks.

I didn't bother rolling for it. About the only thing I did do an encounter for was the doppelganger (which they initially fell for and then had a "wait a moment..." bit). Oh, and the signet ring? Was used to seal a letter left behind with the author (the priest) claiming to be of the Jadwiga Tashanna and this being war. I'm not sure if it'll be found or not (or in time for the capital at least) but it was an amusing touch.

I am wondering if I should give any XPs for a combat I skipped; it made sense not to slog through that entire fight, and it was an innovative way of overcoming the guards one at a time. (And one character was quite squeamish about what happened - to the point I'm thinking of the cleric edging away from Good and toward Neutral.) But it seems a shame to punish players for being innovative and sneaky.

Addendum note: On the plus side, the players (when they gained their second Mythic Tier for shutting down the Winter Portal) chose not to powergame when getting the bonus to their stats (which I downgraded to +1). For instance, the Ranger put her point in Wisdom instead of Dexterity, while the Priest put his in Charisma instead of Wisdom. It looks like they're going for well-rounded characters instead of overpowered characters, which is always a good thing. :)


Sounds like you have lots of plotlines for the next adventure. I would use the Tashanna plotline if I were you. It can also make things more complicated for the PCs after all! A pity that one of them read the forum.


Since I had six players, I encouraged the players (but did not require them) to each take their Black Rider bonus to a different attribute. They were happy to do it, said it seemed like a cool idea, and negotiated it quite pleasantly with one another.

Shadow Lodge

Jim Kiley wrote:
Since I had six players, I encouraged the players (but did not require them) to each take their Black Rider bonus to a different attribute. They were happy to do it, said it seemed like a cool idea, and negotiated it quite pleasantly with one another.

That's an interesting idea.


I'm a newer GM and I'm running this and I need some advice. My players really want to burn down the lodge with the bandits in it. Now, the issues I'm running in to with this id is a) that sounds like it'll be complicated to track and b) I would say it has a very good chance of killing Lady Argentea. What do I do?


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find the rules for burning down buidings and let them have at it a) the bandits wont wait around to die and so you'll have a large melee in the snow b) lady argentea isnt integral to the plot. Obviously if the are good aligned try to discourage it


Argentea's also in the cellar and would probably survive, though the party doesn't actually know that - and and the party knows they're at the lodge to rescue a noblewoman!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

smoke inhalation would kill her if the collapsing rubble doesnt tho


Yes, the problem is, the party is greatly overestimating how important Argentea is to the bandits, and underestimate how quickly fire spreads. Their goal is to flush the bandits out WITH Argentea, the snatch her in the confusion, but I'm pretty sure the bandits will just bale, it'd take too long to uncover the hatch, get down there, and drag her out. Even if they tried they'd probably be toast before the got out, plus most of them are distracted by the current stable-fire going on ( I think I have some budding arsonists here.


Or Izoze would put the fire out pretty quickly with his breath weapon. Then all hades breaks loose when Rohkar and the raiders and the skeletons come killin'.


You can always have them roll a knowledge check (or an intelligence check) and if they roll something decent, give them some warnings about the fire.


Well, the pyro is new at this, so I gave him fair OOC warning between these two sessions. He's still gun-ho on the idea, so whatever. Forgot about Izoze though, that should be interesting... He'll rally the lazy buggers and get a good search going too. Heh heh heh, try to mess with the DM will you!


I am curious to hear what they finally did, and what the consequences were.

Shadow Lodge

Neil Spicer wrote:
Phillip0614 wrote:
I have a question about the fight with the arctic tatzlwyrm....Under "Tactics" in the tatzlwyrm's stat block, it states that it pounces and rakes before grappling. Pouncing requires charging, which requires at least ten feet of movement. However, this fight takes place in a deep snowdrift, which counts as difficult terrain....Nimble Moves doesn't let the tatzlwyrm ignore more than 5 feet of difficult terrain, though, so what allows it to charge in this situation when normally you can't charge through difficult terrain?

That was an oversight on my part. For some reason, I was imagining Nimble Moves allowed enough movement to charge through difficult terrain. In actuality, it's only the gateway feat to Acrobatic Steps (which would allow that tactic to be carried out). Personally, I think the best way to salvage the integrity of that encounter is to reinterpret the arctic tatzlwyrm as a variant of its kind. My suggestion would be to drop the poison breath attack and give it Acrobatic Steps as a bonus feat with an assumed burrow movement rate in deep snow only. That would give it the ability to pounce from the snow and grab a victim. Then, with opposed combat maneuvers, it could drag someone under the snow via its burrow ability.

My two cents,
--Neil

Having run this encounter with this suggestion, I instead recommend just replacing the climb speed with a burrow speed (in snow only). It doesn't get to pounce, but the party instead gets a perception check when it pokes its head out of the snow as it waits for the party to go into the deep gullies. If they don't notice it, combat isn't started until it actually makes it adjacent to its target anyway.

The reason why I suggest this is that losing the poison gasp means that the tatzlwyrm really has no reason not to include its automatic rake attacks after it successfully maintains its grapple (and since it attacks the least armored character, the rake damage is going to frequently hit, and even more so when the character falls unconscious).

I had to essentially decide that the tatzlwyrm stopped using its rake attacks after its target fell unconscious (and under the snow), because continuing to do so would kill the target without much chance of retaliation from the rest of the party. Even after I decided this, the tatzlwyrm did so much damage that the party had to head back home after this encounter, as they were out of healing resources once they got the sorcerer back to 0 hp, while the wizard was still at -12.

Instead, keeping poison gasp allows the tatzlwyrm to replace its rake attacks with the strength damage fort save. It ends up doing smaller amounts of hp damage, but the strength damage there sticks around. They can continue the adventure (or be forced to wait several days waiting for their ability damage to recover) without risking falling over from a stiff, needle-pointy breeze.


I'm a new GM running ROW for a bunch of experienced players and really happy to have found this. My group stood at the Winter Portal and debated whether to do the Black Rider's bidding, or to go off somewhere warm and find a good god to sort it all out for them. Lazy lot! The section about cold weather rules is really useful - I'll be using that next session.


To paraphrase the old saying: "If Mohammad will not come to the mountain, the mountain will fall on Mohammad."

If they really try to bail on the quest, just have the Winter keep encroaching on them wherever they go. That's what it's going to do, after all.


Well. Finally had a chance to play the session. It went... interestingly. After luring the bandits outside by setting the stable on fire, the rogue snuck in to the great room, shoved all the bedding in the fire to light the place up. At this point the bandits were wandering back inside (no use fighting the fire in the stable at this point) and cried out in panic. Iozoze came in out of sight of the players hiding in the north woods, and put out the fire. The characters heard the noise of the icy breath and noticed the lack of burning down, and Izoze went to have an angry chat with Rorshak. At this point, the rogue snuck in to one of the bedrooms and started a second fire, while several other party members started firing arrows in through the window and then entering the great room (not realizing the rogue had set the second fire). Izoze came out in the commotion after a few bandits were felled, the fire spread quickly (had to make up a mechanic, just said once per round, each tile adjacent to the fire caught fire on a 4,5,or6 since it's all rather flammable). And with the place starting to burn down around them both the party and the bandits fled through different exits.

And then, at this point, I realize that right before the fire the rogue had snuck through the trophy room and aced a 29 perception check and I blanked and completly forgot to mention the trap door >.<. So at this point I feel the need to give them a fair chance at rescuing Lady Argentia but I just don't know what to do. They won't run through the fire I'm sure, so I'm thinking of maybe having a partial roof collapse drop enough snow to extinguish at least that half of the house? Any advice/ideas?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I think that a roof collapse putting out the fire should do nicely. After all, the rogue should have noticed the trap door with that perception check... so why penalize the party?


Tangent101 wrote:
I think that a roof collapse putting out the fire should do nicely. After all, the rogue should have noticed the trap door with that perception check... so why penalize the party?

Yes, this is what I ended up thinking. Still adjusting to the role of GM. I tend to over think things, and then end up missing all the details and the simple solutions.


Finally get to run my friends through this campaign. So far the zombies have downed 2 of 3 players. The Artic Tatzlwyrm killed the Merfolk in 3 rounds, I had to make up some lvl 14 Oracle visiting Heldren to investigate the winter to resurrect the Merfolk (he was seriously in love with his character, be it a racist against legged non-magic folk mermaid).

The 3 fey completely downed a party for 9-10 rounds with color spray and had to force the fey to leave and report to the Izoze. The wizard mentioned killing the stag for food not realizing the Atomie understood Common so the stag and Atomie attacked. The party finally managed to kill something without being downed.

We move on to the Icy Crossing tomorrow where a changeling winter witch PC will be meeting up with the party to make 4. Will be fun!

Silver Crusade

How does the geothermal activity of geysers interact with the winter portal? I imagine that the area around the geysers wouldn't be as cold, but what would the temperature be? I've been trying to use Iceland's Haukadular Valley as a point of reference, only to discover there are three such locations and each one is different. Any help I could get would be greatly appreciated. The area in question in my game would cover 1.1583 square mile.


Deadly secret wrote:

Finally get to run my friends through this campaign. So far the zombies have downed 2 of 3 players. The Artic Tatzlwyrm killed the Merfolk in 3 rounds, I had to make up some lvl 14 Oracle visiting Heldren to investigate the winter to resurrect the Merfolk (he was seriously in love with his character, be it a racist against legged non-magic folk mermaid).

The 3 fey completely downed a party for 9-10 rounds with color spray and had to force the fey to leave and report to the Izoze. The wizard mentioned killing the stag for food not realizing the Atomie understood Common so the stag and Atomie attacked. The party finally managed to kill something without being downed.

We move on to the Icy Crossing tomorrow where a changeling winter witch PC will be meeting up with the party to make 4. Will be fun!

Do you have any plans for the Oracle? Or are your players not the sort to mind / question why a super powerful Oracle is investigating but then leaving them to it?

I would consider making this person recurring in various places, especially those where there are powerful threats around such as whitethrone. Kind of to act as a buffer.

Could also be around to help explain in places where players get stuck.

I only say this because I know my players would wonder why a group of level 1 characters are trying to solve this issue when an Oracle is in the background.

(another example could be to have them reach the portal and be caught by whatever kills the rider and die as well...)


As for the geysers: there is a hot pool in the Pale Tower and it does not affect the ice at all. Probably the magic of the winter portal is much stronger than the geothermal activity.


My group shanghai'd me into running this for them and we started this past Sunday.

Not that I have anything against this AP; I rather like the story and wouldn't mind playing it one day, but I just think it's a little too linear for my group's play style. But who knows, maybe this will be a learning experience.

I've got five players; had stats rolled out instead of going off a point buy and most of the group got some pretty decent arrays.

We've got a bog-standard human paladin of Iomedae, a dwarven cleric of Milani, a CG human warpriest of Groetus who suffers from schizophrenia, a human kensai magus, and an elven spellslinger wizard.

Thus far I've only faced them off against the zombies and the tatzlwyrm. I very nearly killed the warpriest with the zombies and the wizard with the wyrm.

We called it at that point because the group needed to rest and recouperate and because we had gotten a late start anyway so the magus and wizard players could role up their characters.

So far, the roleplaying with the paladin, the wizard, and the cleric has been pretty top notch. I'm especially impressed with the cleric's player as he has a reputation as the goofball of our group.

The warpriest is playing his character rather annoyingly; hasn't really started to bother me yet but I can see that it's going to get old soon. It is bugging the magus, though(their characters are brothers).

We'll see where this goes. I'm hoping I can carry this group(if not these specific players) all the way to the end of the Witch Queen's Revenge and beyond, taking this into mythic to show down against Baba Yaga. Don't know if it'll hold together that long but I'm hopeful.

Shadow Lodge

Do please start a campaign journal.

Silver Crusade

Luna eladrin wrote:
As for the geysers: there is a hot pool in the Pale Tower and it does not affect the ice at all. Probably the magic of the winter portal is much stronger than the geothermal activity.

Thanks... I had forgotten about the hot spring in the Pale Tower. But I had a talk with my wife, who lived in Soda Springs, Idaho with her father about it. In the end, I went with making the area a fumarole (steam vent) field and based it off the geyser found in the Witchwar Legacy (reduced in strength, of course).


Nice. Are you going to use Witchwar Legacy in the campaign? I have vague plans to add it at the end of the campaign, if necessary partly rewritten.

Silver Crusade

I already used it as part of another campaign (Carrion Crown). The group was chasing after Kendra, who had been possessed by the displaced soul of the then umbral lich Adivion Adrissant in the wake of his defeat at Gallowspire. "She" was looking to break the seals that bound Tar Baphon, which had been scattered, and one was in Irrisen (at the location used in Witchwar Legacy). While I could possibly rework things, I probably won't use it. Things may change, though, so I won't rule it out completely, as it could fit in with an aftermath scenario for Reign of Winter.


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My players are interested in solving the Baba Yaga problem. It might be that they will try to attack and kill her, but it might also be that they will try to negotiate with her about another route to immortality without having to kill her daughters (they do not know about killing the daughters yet, but they suspect things and I think I know how my players will react). The Dutch Wikipedia had an item on Baba Yaga where she makes tea from the leaves of blue roses, with which she can prolong her life. My idea was to run a double adventure at the end: first Witchwar legacy, in which they find a reference to blue roses. Then they have to use the hut to return to this world and travel to a monastery in Tibet, the Sera monastery in Lhasa. This will consist of a trek through the Himalaya searching for the monastery, followed by enemy parties (I do not know yet who or what they are, but they will probably have modern weaponry) and fighting yetis and other monsters. They can find the roses in the Sera monastery (the name is derived from se ra, which is Tibetan for wild rose). Or perhaps in the monastery they can find the wisdom to discover the roses. Since the PCs have a lot of very intense personal plotlines running (mostly childhood traumas), these can also be resolved in the monastery (and they can find personal enlightenment here).
This is still all mere conjecture, as we are at the end of The snows of summer at the moment, but I am already brainstorming.


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thats really good Luna, my wife and daughter are more interested in "saving" Baba Yaga as well so i'm including ways of redeeming her at least somewhat both during the campaign and continuing after the campaign, so i'll probably include the tibet monastery bit:)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

To be honest, I think that Baba Yaga doesn't need her daughters' life essence for immortality.

Spoiler:
First of all, she already separated her death from herself so she can't be killed normally. So why then go through all that rigamarole with her daughters?

Add in she is disappointed in her daughters and that few have put up a good fight. Only one daughter was "worthy" in her eyes and isn't among the dead. Yet if she needed her daughters for immortality why would there even be one missing?

Thus my supposition is that Baba Yaga uses her own magic and life essence to create from "whole cloth" a daughter. She doesn't bother with pregnancy or the like - she just "makes" a child. You'll notice there is no hint as a daughter to take Elvanna's place. It's probably Anastasia or one of the PCs who'll fulfill that need - which is odd seeing that it would be 15+ years to give birth and raise a daughter to the point of being "ready" to become queen if she did things biologically.

But if each daughter is a magical being, crafted of magical essence created from Baba Yaga's own life essence... then she would have a "use" for her daughters by draining them of the essence she had poured into them 100 years earlier. And she takes the first generation Jadwiga as well for a little something extra.


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Speculation as to Dear Grandmother:
My understanding is that Baba Yaga is immortal regardless of whether she chows down on a daughter's life essence. She'd already been immortal for centuries before she started that practice.

What chowing down does do for Baba Yaga is make her young again.

Baba Yaga's been repeating the maiden-mother-crone cycle every 100 years. (Other than a gap occurring when Tashanna pleased her enough to be spared.)

Which I would imagine makes tracking her whereabouts across the cosmos much harder. Three-fold aspect will serve in a pinch if she's currently a 25 year old but needs to appear as her "real" self for whatever reason.

As evidenced by Rasputin's existence, she's been taking lovers and having kids while in her re-youth phases. Elvanna, Tashnna, etc. aren't advanced simulacrums; they're really her daughters. Elvanna's blood tie is what makes it possible for Elvanna to begin usurping the Hut in the first place.

Baba Yaga quite possibly has a number of back-up daughters in stasis (or otherwise experiencing time very differently). I suspect each of the back-up daughters has a hand-picked husband and even already has children ready to be appointed to positions.

Now, Baba Yaga might delegate raising each daughter to a simulacrum, because that's a boring and time-consuming task, and Baba Yaga is not a particularly responsible parent.

I haven't gotten to put this out there yet in my game (side effect of when my campaign went on a month long hiatus because my work schedule went crazy) but I was planning on having Yelizveta's familiar (which the party went and raised after killing the Wolf-in-Sheep's-Clothing) mention that Yelizveta's final test before Baba Yaga gave her the crown was agreeing to murder her husband for the sake of greater power.

It's unknown what's become of the daughters who stood up to Baba Yaga and said no.

One thing I did have the familiar pass on to the party, though. Right before her coronation, Yelizveta asked Baba Yaga as to Irrisen's purpose. To her surprise (and possible regret), she got an answer:

"Irrisen is a crucible. And all it has ever produced is slag."


Thanks for your feedback, Tangent101 and Zhangar. And as this is the DM thread, you do not really need to use spoiler buttons here.
It gives me enough ideas to develop this plot line even further. Whether or not for immortality or youth, Baba Yaga needs her daughters for some purpose connected with her own life.
I have been thinking about the origin of the daughters. My ideas thus far are that they are the children of Baba Yaga and Russian tsars (and other, even older rulers), linking her and her family firmly to Russia. And they might indeed be in stasis or in a different timeline before they become the rulers of Irrisen (The idea with the tsars is that the rulers are one with the land, as was often seen in pagan times, such as with king Arthur.)
I am also thinking of linking Russia's health to Baba Yaga's, which gives her an extra reason to rejuvenate. I am linking her to the "mother Russia" idea. This fits nicely with the idea that "Irrisen is a crucible". Irrisen is only there to keep Russia alive.

Shadow Lodge

Has anyone actually had both the guardian doll and Izoze attack in the same night, or have all the PC parties attacked the doll on sight?

Specifically, the AP assumes that the PCs will have to rest for the night just before they get to the portal area, at which point Izoze and Squald ambush them. However, Thora's strategy also states that she lets the PCs pass her hut, only pursuing them after they leave, and preferably attacks them in the night.

Add in the weasel that may have escaped, and the PCs could be in for a rough night!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Izoze was dead at that point. However, the Atomi with the elk had lived, so my ambush was the Atomi, its elk, the air elemental, and the doll. It proved quite nasty.


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my wife and kids attacked the doll as soon as they saw it sitting there, my wife said "no one builds a house in the middle of a forest just to store one doll!" it put up quite the fight tho:)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Oh, my group attacked the doll as well. It escaped.

Then again, my group started RoW at levels 3-5 and I've been upping things as a result. So the doll had levels of Sorcerer and did some nasty tricks before fleeing. And then the second time during the ambush.


Heh. My group lassoed that doll when they saw it.


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Well as soon as they opened the door the alchemist threw a bomb inside, I said "but its just a doll?" he's like "oh, i'm sorry, have you seen any kids running around the woods looking for a lost doll?"


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Door?

I just described it as an open hut with a chair and a doll sitting on it. Once they got close enough, that is. And they got freaked out by the girl-haunt.

Then again, I had a small problem. It's called Skyrim. I was jokingly calling this my Skyrim Campaign (I was calling my Runelords game my Skype game as most of the players were over Skype - all of them are now seeing the one local player dropped out due to time constraints) and the group started treating it like Skyrim. Talking elk? Oh, it must be like that Daedric prince Hircine... he was a nice chap! Let's tell the Elk everything! Oh look, a talking snowman! I'll walk up to it... *boom*

Yeah. If I was a less nice GM, I probably could have killed half of the group. :/

Shadow Lodge

Yeah. It's going to be interesting. My largest issue with my party so far is trying for longevity and avoiding forcing a 15 minute adventuring day, while still having interesting encounters. My party consists of: Sorcerer, Wizard, Melee oracle, Caster Wild-Caller Summoner w/ Quad Eidolon. As such, for the first couple levels they are extremely reliant on daily resources to get through even average CR encounters, especially since their bodies are very fragile, except for the oracle. Examples: their first session had them forced to turn around after the tatzlwyrm encounter, and fighting Rokhar's raiders plus the frost skeletons upstairs completely drained them of their resources after only one previous encounter. They had to run away after finding out Rokhar was raising the corpses downstairs. Luckily, they are now level two after killing Rokhar, so they have a bit more resources.

Here's my current scenario:

My party just finished killing Rokhar (who stupidly sent out his reanimated frost skeletons into the snow where the PCs could range kill them all), while Izoze watched. When they went back to Heldren to return the Argentea, she went and reported back to Teb.

1. The bridge fight is interesting enough that I want Teb to tell her to go back to her watch post and then harass them if they try to cross the bridge. (1 encounter, CR 3, +1 CR for bridge fight -1 CR for fleeing at half health). At the same time, this fight can be insanely dangerous if they're not super careful.

2. Next are the ancient invaders, interesting just because it shows a tiny bit of insight as to what Rokhar was doing and/or provides some misdirection (Rokhar's dead! Why are there still frost skeletons wandering about?!). (CR 2, will definitely use up resources, either spending ranged resources, or healing up once in melee)

3. Frost firs are sort of a throwaway encounter. I would like to keep it because their description in the back sets up a nifty random encounter in book 2 with a larger grove + elder fir + pit traps. Maybe I can move it to after the hut? (CR 3, with a near guaranteed surprise round, this will use up resources)

4. Trap! Hit-or-miss. However, I've already given them the seed with the weasel and the hunter, so this is a relatively interesting side story-line. Maybe I should cut the trap and the weasel entirely, or maybe I should just combine them with the hunter into one encounter (otherwise, Dryden should really be mutilated beyond all recognition with the starving and desperate weasel having either eaten him right then and there, or dragged it back to whatever lair it might have found).

5. Maze, no resources expected to be expended, although I'm tempted to add persistent, just because that's the only way I find haunts to be actual encounters as opposed to just a trap. Since it's just scare being cast, the only issue the party should have is getting everyone through.

6. Guardian Doll. Needs to be here. If provoked, fighting to the death is probably preferable to having her run away and come back later, just to reduce resource consumption.

7. Another Trap! Again, hit or miss, but I don't know if this one adds anything at all.

8. The weasel, as I said above, might be turfed as a combat encounter, and they just find it somewhere as having bled out after escaping the bear traps.

9. Ambush! Some sort of final encounter with Izoze is required, as it will give closure to the oracle (who replaced Yuln as the one who escaped Argentea's caravan and personally saw Izoze turn his captain into an icicle), and some satisfaction for everyone else after the bridge. This is probably fine as that encounter, whenever they sleep for the night.

So, if I keep everything, that's 6 combat encounters, with 3 trap encounters, all with a CR higher than average before they're expected to be able to completely rest, all with a party who needs a minimum of 9 hours straight to get their resources back. Yikes.

I also spent quite a bit of time adding in two custom 'random' encounters that I want to use in some way.

1. A goblin warband of 14 warriors, 1 adept, 1 mounted leader, and 3 goblin dogs have gotten lost in the woods, and are going in circles. They are all suffering from frostbite (all are either fatigued or exhausted) except the adept, who has been casting endure elements on himself. Six warriors and 1 dog have collapsed and most have been left behind (1 or 2 are being taken along as emergency rations). Two of the goblins have been stricken with chillbane shakes. If they spot the PCs they attack immediately to go after potential food, firewood and their warm clothing. Encounter make-up:
3x exhausted goblin warrior 1 (aid the healthier goblins)
2x exhausted & sickened goblin warrior 1 (contagious & aid the healthier goblins)
3x fatigued goblin warrior 1
1x fatigued goblin warrior 2 on goblin dog mount
1x goblin adept 1 with one spell: bless
2x fatigued goblin dog (one mount, one pack animal)
All have taken nonlethal damage (except for the adept), on average by 1/6.
Counting the exhausted & sick goblins as CR 1/8, the fatigued goblins as CR 1/4, the leader and adept as CR 1/3, and the goblin dogs as CR 1/2 gives me an XP of 1220, or a CR 4 encounter. I could also drop 1 dog, 2 fatigued warriors, and 1 sick for a CR 3 encounter.

Probably the most dangerous part of the encounter is if they get the drop on the PCs and open fire with their shortbows from 60ft. Sure, they're firing at serious penalties, but there's still 10 projectiles in the air per turn until the PCs are able to engage them.

Ideally, this encounter would be before they get back to the lodge.

2. An encounter with a bunch of frozen 3 frozen slime molds (1 adult, 2 young). They have gone into "hibernation" under the snow and are only woken when the PCs step on them. Due to being cold, they are staggered, and since they were sleeping, there is no surprise round, and the other two are only woken if they are stepped on.

I think this encounter would be fine once the PCs rest after the ambush (and before the fight with

As both encounters deal with creatures from Taldor unaccustomed to the sudden winter, I would rather they take place on this side of the portal (especially since every single encounter so far has otherwise been against something from Irrisen).

Comments on anything in this post?

Shadow Lodge

There is no trail for my PCs to follow between the lodge and the portal (it's been snowing for a week), and the PCs straight up killed Rokhar, so the only clues they have to where the portal is the map with the X at the portal, and the X's at the possible ambush sites, and Rokhar's apparent plan to back stab the fey (huge stockpile of alchemist's fire, among some other things).

Upon finding Argentea, they brought her back to town, then since they were in town anyway, they went to check out all of the X's that were along the road (potential ambush sites). They didn't find much other than some more trees decorated with ravens, but the process took enough time that they weren't going to reach the lodge until evening, so I decided to through the full goblin band in.

It worked pretty well in the end. The exhausted goblins performed as expected, performing as distractions while the fatigued goblins went to work on the characters who came close. Ended up with two characters diseased (although they don't know it yet), some scary moments with the goblin dogs charging the wizard who killed their master, but they managed to force the goblins into a panicked escape to their freezing deaths after the party killed both their adept and their leader.

Keeping track of so many characters was a good test of Combat Manager.


My players seem to kill everything in sight. They killed Izoze right away (though she managed to severely wound the sorcerer) and they killed the doll after a very difficult and prolonged fight. They then set the hut on fire, to which I ruled that Hommelstaub spotted the smoke and tried to surprise them in the night. He almost succeeded. But this meant that Hommelstaub was already dead when they arrived at the portal. Luckily the troll put up a good fight and the sprites managed to lure 2 people into the pit (such fun!).
At the moment they are in the Pale Tower, where they are either killing people or converting them to 'communism' (thanks to a sorcerer with a very high charisma who is a member of the Heralds of Summer's Return and also wants to collectivize everything in Irrisen; he tried this in vain with the group's treasure).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

At least your party didn't bluff their way into the second floor, take the Captain prisoner, convince her to betray Radosek in exchange for her own life and freedom (and escaping to Taldor before closing the portal), and once killing him, used a turncoat guard to lure all the men below into the teleporters to the 2nd floor to be killed one-by-one as they emerged. I didn't even bother rolling for combat.


They convinced Jairess to help them, and then she told them that Radosek was interested in her. Then the bard seriously considered the plan of dressing up as Jairess in order to 'seduce' Radosek. Since he did not have enough ranks in disguise, the plan was ultimately discarded. Ultimately they managed to defeat Radosek in 3 rounds or so.
They defeated everyone in the tower in one go, without resting, which I think is quite an achievement. Now they still have some loose ends to tie up, such as closing the gate.


Thanks, everyone for all your help and advice. These posts have been very useful.

My PCs bluffed their way past the guards to get in the Pale Tower and allowed the ice troll to eat one of their sled dogs so they could go inside. They've just dealt with all the guards and are planning to head upstairs in the next session. My question is, should I give them the XP for the troll now, even though they are probably going to have to face it later (on the way out)? I know they get xp for bluffing their way past the guards, I'm just not sure what to do with the troll...

Please help! Thanks.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Maybe give them half experience for the troll now (to nudge them along if they're close to leveling up) and then half later if and when they defeat it on their way back down. Alternatively, you could award the full amount for bypassing the troll and simply have her leave once she ascertains that the tower has been overrun by the PCs. Once she knows she slipped up by letting them inside, she'll know her goose is cooked one way or the other once Nazhena returns. Or, even if Radosek manages to defeat the PCs, she knows she'll face his wrath, too. Either way, once she knows she's in big trouble, she just might abandon her post entirely and flee into the wilderness, never to return. That still amounts to "defeating" her.

My two cents,
--Neil


Neil Spicer wrote:

Maybe give them half experience for the troll now (to nudge them along if they're close to leveling up) and then half later if and when they defeat it on their way back down. Alternatively, you could award the full amount for bypassing the troll and simply have her leave once she ascertains that the tower has been overrun by the PCs. Once she knows she slipped up by letting them inside, she'll know her goose is cooked one way or the other once Nazhena returns. Or, even if Radosek manages to defeat the PCs, she knows she'll face his wrath, too. Either way, once she knows she's in big trouble, she just might abandon her post entirely and flee into the wilderness, never to return. That still amounts to "defeating" her.

My two cents,
--Neil

Thanks, Neil! I really appreciate it. Not only are these great suggestions, but your responding so quickly, especially when this AP has been out for a while, is truly wonderful.

Thank you.


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A big thanks to Neil, Jim and everyone else that had a hand in writing this AP, I've thoroughly enjoyed the short time I've GMed this AP (my first, it so happens). Also, a huge thank you to bwatford for his maps, I need to send some money his way, those maps are a godsend.

I'm running a really experienced group of five PFS players through this AP and I've had to ratchet up the difficulty of the encounters to keep it challenging. The group consists of a Half-Orc Paladin of Erastil, an Ulfen Hunter/Witch hybrid (homebrew class, the player is a 4-star GM), a Snow Goblin Falconer (Ranger archetype), a Vanaras Heavens Shaman and a Human (Garundi) Gunslinger. The group had a close call with the hunting lodge (Rohkar resurrected four zombies downstairs before anyone detected his presence), but since then, they've handled the doll and the moss troll fight with no real issues.

So, I decided last night to give them a real challenge. The Hunter/Witch and Ranger had used wild empathy/handle animal to entice two giant arctic weasels to follow them to the portal (I added a weasel for difficulty, but they rolled really well on wild empathy checks, so the weasels followed them for food). Once at the portal, the weasels got curious and were "accidentally" sent through first. To provide a real challenge, I decided to have the group step out the portal on the Irrisen side and see their two weasels being attacked by a pack of wolves.

Well, I overdid it with the wolves. I had the weasels being attacked by 8 (yes, I know, but hey, I thought, they're only medium sized animals...) timber wolves with the boreal template. The weasels were quickly shredded, however, and my small band of 2nd level players faced 7 boreal timber wolves (CR 3, according to the AP booklet). After a truly epic battle (and lots of luck and me allowing players to give other players their "bennie" for the session), the party actually killed all the wolves with no one dying. A couple of guys came damn close, but I was spared the agony of killing someone with clumsy GMing.

So I've learned my lesson. Challenging good parties is good, but I'm definitely going to pay more attention to the CR ratings in the future. At least the party got a ton of XP and a truly cinematic introduction to Irrisen in that debacle....

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