The Snows of Summer (GM Reference)

Reign of Winter

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As a brief aside, I'm curious as to whether Paizo has considered a couple of things: first, granting large- and huge-sized (and bigger) creatures a 10-foot-step instead of a five-foot step, seeing they ARE so much bigger than normal... it seems odd that a dragon can only move five feet to keep all its attacks, for instance. And second, having any creature that lives predominantly in a cold environment ignore difficult terrain caused by snow - it seems odd that Winter Wolves would not be able to charge a foe that is in heavy or even moderate snow (and thus I handwaved that they ignore snow terrain modifiers).

I didn't find anything in the book that talks about how to save/release Thora's soul from the doll's gem. I know the gem can be used to make a new doll, but that's about it. The PCs kept the gem after figuring out it had Thora's soul, and took it to the Pale Tower in hopes of freeing her. Is it detailed in the next book, did I miss something, or is it just assumed to not be possible?

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

you gotta smash it don't you?

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Correct. Destroy the gem. Free the soul. The description for the soulbound doll explains it can only be reused if it remains "intact"...and there's a hardness, hit points, and break DC assigned to it. Thus, by implication, destroying the gem eliminates its use as a soul focus, thereby freeing the soul.


Well, soulbound doll also provides "Stripping a soul fragment from the dead does not prevent the rest of the soul from continuing on to the afterlife, nor does it prevent the body from later being resurrected or raised from the dead."

So you don't have to break the gem to bring the little girl back, but breaking the gem DOES prevent that fragment from being used to make a new doll.

(My party's oracle resurrected Thora after she got access to the spell.)

My group kept the gem. The funny thing is? Nadya is now being run as a PC... and yet in-game has not been told about the fragment of her daughter's soul kept in a gem. Then again, I think the group probably thinks her entire soul is in there.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

We have kids at the table so Nadya's kid was imprisoned in the tower, the Doll was just a creepy Doll that would not die:)

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Same here Captain.

running this tonight-
Does it snow the entire time they cross into the "snow line"? in Taldor? Or just now and then?

Sloanzilla wrote:

running this tonight-

Does it snow the entire time they cross into the "snow line"? in Taldor? Or just now and then?

Winter is pouring out through the portal to convert an expanding area but it is not a continuous snowstorm everywhere.

The party is supposed to be able to follow some snow tracks at points for plot purposes and the full environmental storm rules are annoying if applied all the time and in every combat.

Consider the winter coming out of the fey portal as inconsistent on snow making a beautiful chaotic pattern of storming and snow that comes and goes as the temperature drops all over.

so roll a D6 then? lol thanks

Good module, btw, I've modified less than I've ever modified (toned down the weather just a tad, basically)

When did you guys let people buy more expensive items (plate armor, etc.) in the first two modules? Both towns have a 500 gp limit. I was thinking about Lady Argentina sending a runner to at least let them order some masterwork plate, etc., before they go through the portal. Or is the low shop availability part of the game's theme?

Whitethrone in module 2. Done right it has opportunities for buying and crafting there despite the martial law. The party will have downtime, and possibly access to a renegade spy and smuggling network so black market access to the goods of a major capital city with a higher than average population of casters who export magic items.

I believe there is a suit of splint mail for sale in one of the first towns and there is not so heavy armor to loot from NPC soldiers.

It is thematically a lot of wilderness and small towns for the first two modules, so taking advantage of the big city downtime market while there is a good idea.

My group was fortunate that their rogue took Black Market Connections. With that Rogue Talent, it turned the hamlet where Nadya dropped off her kids into a large enough community to sell off a big chunk of their loot. (And yes, the rogue made her Diplomacy roll to increase the effective size of the community.)

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Firstly, I´d like to say that I love this AP. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it start to finish and it is full of excellent well thought out ideas.

I´m a new GM (but old player) and have started running it with a group of four who are all new PC´S. I based all their characters on Game of Thrones character to give them a basis for role-play. They have just finished Part 2 of book 1 and we are having a great time.

So, I have been reading these boards and borrowing ideas and expanding on them for my game. I´m going for a very dark fairy-tale them and I just thought I should share the changes I made to both stats and plot, since they have all gone down really well:

(1) I had the snow be intermittent so as not to completely spaff archers and rogue perception checks.

(2) Stat wise I removed poison breath from the Tazylworm and instead give it a burrow speed (as suggested on this site). With the cold sprites I replaced Color Spray with Freezing Hands 1/day cast at level 3, so 3d4 cold damage, reflex half. This was nasty but can at least be resisted and healed, and is unlikely to cause the entire party wipe of Colour Spray. Rohkar I made a level 2 cleric and level 1 fighter to tone down his channel ability. But conversely I had him dual wielding a long sword and short sword (both poisoned) and clad in Scale Mail. I also gave him a potion of invisibility so he could still slip downstairs and raise some zombies.

(3) I had a side quest in town involving Mother Theodora sending the players out to retrieve some herbs from the forest to the north where they encounter some snow goblins who came through the portal (idea off this website). With the herbs she makes a potion which she asks the players to give to Argus Goldtooth. The next day him and Tessarea Willwobark (the alchemist) announce their engagement to the village and set the wedding for just two days away. The potion was of course a love potion that Argus put in Tessarea´s morning tea he always brings for her.

The marriage happens midday of the next day and PC´s are given a chance to intercept if they are spoilsports. The love potion wore off after a few hours but it was enough of a push to make Tessarea realize her hidden feelings for the dwarf barber. Basically I made Mother Theodora an interfering old busy body in Heldren. If they bring her the herbs she gives them some of the gold that Argus gives her for the potion, and if they let ´true love take its course´ (ie don´t interfere with the wedding) then she gives them the scroll she has (I made it summon monster 2). I also switched the wand of magic weapon in the church for a slightly depleted wand of cure light wounds to purchase (they bloody needed it).

(4) I removed Dryden Kepp from the plot and instead had Mother Theodora´s granddaughter, who everyone calls ´Red´ due to her cloak (little red riding hood). She is a ruthless hunter in the region and recently has become obsessed with hunting down the giant weasel she spotted in the woods. Mother Theodora is concerned for her granddaughter who disappeared in the woods with her wolf companion a few days ago. Red is actually a Chaotic Neutral level 3 hunter with a wolf companion (I really wanted to test pilot that class).

Instead of finding Kepp´s body they find a bloodied deer corpse in a clearing that Red is using as bait. There are four bear traps surrounding the corpse. If they trigger them then Red and her wolf companion come out of the woods and she berates them for ruining her trap. She is already unfriendly but if made friendly she will join them (at least as far as finding the weasel) or they may end up fighting her of course. I made her super kick ass with a repeating crossbow. She has survived in the snow this long by casting Endure Elements on herself, and has wasted a sprite or two already.

(5) In town, one of the possible rumors says Owl Lake is haunted. A strange owl watches them from atop the statue in town, which flies off if harassed. In the lodge one of the sick bandits was blind and blathering on about a beautiful woman he saw by the lake. On the map on Rohkar´s wall Owl Lake was marked as Dangerous Fey (not winter!). When they cross over the bridge from the lodge I had another path leading down the ravine towards the lake. Suddenly a tulip sprouts up down this path, and then another further down, and then another flower further down etc etc. Basically at the lake is a powerful Nymph who is also a level 10 water oracle manipulating the environment to bring the PC´s to her.

She is the statue in Heldren and has been scrying on them through her owl. She was cursed by Baba Yaga to never be able to leave her lake and her sister nymph (the statue in Waldor) was taken by Baba Yaga and is now the evil nymph from book 3. The Lady of Owl Lake is trying to lure the players to her with the tulips and her owl. Should they ignore this because they don´t trust it (my PC´s didn´t) then she sends a Sending to the most likely PC to react, inviting them to Owl Lake so she can help them.

If they go to the lake they discover it is untouched by the winter around it and is in fact abundant with life. Some nixies attempt to persuade the PC´S in sylvan to enter the water, using charm person if necessary. If they do then the nixies cast Water Breathing and take the PC´s to the lady of the lake at the center. She tells them her story about the curse and what she knows about the winter fey who are invading from Irrisen, although she thinks Baba Yaga is behind it all. Her magic is holding the winter at bay from her lake and Heldren, but it is fading (also a good IC reason for the snow being intermittent). She tells them Heldren is connected to Irrisen by a ley line and that her sister lived in a lake on the other side until Baba Yaga ´took her away and filled her heart with darkness´. I roleplayed her like a cross between Kate Bush and the Lady of the Lake from the most recent Merlin mini-series (with a necklace of fish swimming around her neck).

Should they treat her well she crowns them warriors of summer and gives them an item each. I gave my PC´s a flaming sword, ring of a thousand colors (gives interesting options for assaulting the cold tower later), her boon which is a sea shell (+4 to will saves) and a her wand. Her wand has the power to hold back bad weather 3/day (in other words reduce weather by one category, so a snowstorm would become just snow) in a 100ft radius for a duration of concentration + 1 rd. This can be used at the winter portal to reduce the effects to just normal snow at the cost of one player concentrating (of course all the fey will target that PC once they clock what is happening.). And is also useful throughout the campaign. I also gave it a 1/day ability to shoot out a ray of fey magic which is like a random rod of wonder style transformation ability triggered by saying the lady of the lake´s true name.

The Lady asks one other favor of the PC´s that in their quest against Baba Yaga if they should encounter her sister, then they should convince her to willingly take her boon and then the darkness in her heart will be healed (this will happen in book 3 and if they succeed then the evil nymph will become good and help them – at the cost of losing the boon of course).

The Lady can also raise dead or heal if there are any early deaths. Once this encounter is finished she expels them from the lake crying out ´Begone, they come!´. Landing on the bank I had Ioze and some cold fey (or whoever is left) attack and the lake freeze over during the fight, and trapping the Lady below it forever (at least till the PC´s shut the portal). The wand´s ability makes the portal fight awesome with the PC´s having to protect the wand wielder from Tebb and the remaining fey or suffer from the 5ft visibility issue.

(6) To really up the creep factor and in a nod to the Blair Witch, I had Thora cast Charm Person and make those it works on stand in the corner of her hut facing the wall whilst she butches their companions with her little knife.

Those are really nice ideas. I especially like the lady of the lake and Red.
I made Dryden Kepp the stepfather of two of the characters, so I made that storyline personal.
I introduced a version of Little Red Riding Hood in the second book, by inserting the adventure Challenge of the fang (from Tales of the old Margreve from Open Design/Kobold Press), which basically has the PCs in the role of the hunter.

Shadow Lodge

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After 8 sessions, my party of full casters have finally stepped through the winter portal! Here are the modifications I made for Part 2:

The weasel and Izoze at the Hut
The previous session had them resting at the Watchful Hut after needing to rest and recuperate their resources (starting from Izoze at the bridge through the soulbound guardian). Since they were completely drained, I decided not to ambush them with Izoze and Squald. Instead, I had the desperate weasel try and steal their donkey while they slept inside the hut.

party details:
Luckily for them, they had placed the bear traps they found earlier on the approach, and the weasel got caught again. He spent the rest of the encounter trying to get out of the trap while they shot it up with cantrips and ranged weapons. Once it was finally free, it was low enough health that it ran away, finally dying to some parting shots.
I figured it was a good way to scare them during the night without actually risking a TPK, although I definitely wasn't expecting it to spend the entire combat stuck in the bear trap.

Izoze and Squald showed up in the morning, with Squald being his standard annoying self targetting the arcane casters with flyby attack, and Izoze lining up her breath weapon at opportune times. The pair caused the party to use up quite a few more resources than I expected, so I was expecting them to take a day off for R&R.

At the beginning of this session, they decided to press on instead (hurray!).

Somir Valley
Because I used up the standard two encounters presented for Somir Valley, and I knew the encounter at the portal would be brutal (they'd already had a CR+2 encounter today, and the portal encounter is effectively CR+4), I didn't add any more, and instead decided that they'd left the blizzard grow enough that the entire valley was in a white-out.

Effectively this meant that they were travelling the last leg in visibility conditions ranging from 0ft-20ft. Previously, the party avoided getting lost by sending the wizard's familiar above the tree line to get a lay-of-the-land (Because let's face it, in a winter environment with precipitation for more than a week, there's no trail to follow. The only clue they have to go on is Rokhar's map), but with severely hampered visibility, they were back to making (penalized) survival checks.

party details:
Needless to say, they got lost fairly easily (luckily they tied themselves together with rope so they wouldn't lose each other!). Their best bet was that they eventually ran into the southern cliff, and correctly chose the correct direction to go, which they used to get to the lake, then up to the northern cliff face, then over towards where they figured the source was.

The White-out
I had a different solution for the white-out instead of strictly limiting visibility to 5 feet:
I widened the white-out area to cover the entire valley, so the PCs spend at least an hour in it. They know that their visibility varies between 0ft to 20ft at any given time.
Once combat begins, a d4 is rolled to set the visibility at 5',10',15', or 20'.
At the beginning of every following round, a d2 is rolled and the visibility is increased or decreased by 5' accordingly.
If visibility is at 0ft or 20ft, then there's a 25% chance it will stay the same, and a 75% chance that it will change towards the other extreme.
The furthest 5' (10' if visibility is at 20') is obscured and gives 20% miss-chance. If visibility is at 0', then everyone except Hommelstaub is blind.

I feel that this adds a bunch more dynamism to the encounters, than a strict 5' view distance would, as it allows reach to come into play at times (but with miss-chance), and sprite actions that keep them at a moderate distance from the party (as opposed to in the squares of party members who are trying to blast them with close-range fire spells and alchemist fire), but not so far away that they can snipe with impunity.

Battle at the Camp Site
I decided that the sprites in their igloo were lazy and thought Hommelstaub was annoying, so they would ignore him while he shouted the alarm, and then bicker with him while he tried to hold off the PCs. Only once Teb entered the fight and berate them, would they join in. This allows the PCs a few more rounds to set up, and also lets them get further into the camp in their search for Hommelstaub.

party details:
Upon approaching the camp clearing, they found some odd snowy hemispheres just on the edge of their vision, and they closed into a huddle to discuss what to do. This was perfect for Hommelstaub, who threw the thunderstone at the armored oracle, and managed to deafen 3 of the 4 casters (queue everyone saying "mawp")! Following several rounds of ropes being cut, eagle fights, magic stone tossing, and slow movement towards the centre of camp, one of the PCs found the outline of Teb, and seeing the panic on their faces was wonderful. It was even better when Teb cajoled the sprites out of their hut while everyone was in color spray formation. Luckily they all have good will saves, and only the summoner got knocked unconscious (incidentally winking out her eidolon).

Eventually, a crit brought Teb down, and he was successfully IDed as a troll, so they spent quite a bit of time keeping him on fire while they dealt with the sprites and a panicking Hommelstaub. As party members fell one by one, the summoner was finally able to come-to and finish off Hommelstaub and end combat.

Ten-Penny Tacey returns!
My party enjoyed Ten-Penny, and wanted to see more of her. Unfortunately, I made the decision to have her slink away once the battle joined at the Lodge, as I was leery of letting a level 3 rogue contribute to wrecking the encounter.

In hind site, I should have probably let her join in on beating up her 'compatriots' only to have her book it when the real encounter began, since my full caster party almost all of their resources getting through the ice elementals + bandit scouts + lodge bandits, with nothing left for Rokhar himself, leading to a rather anti-climactic follow-up of jumping out the window and booking it. It didn't help that when they came back the next day, I unwisely sent out all of the skeletons into the snow to attack the party instead of waiting for them to go inside, leaving Rokhar all on his own.

Anyway, I decided that after she slunk away, she ran into Fawfein and his stag, who knocked her off the cliff. Fawfein then decides that it would be funny if Teb ate her, so he cast reduce person on her, then lifted her onto his stag (wow, at STR 6, atomies are strong for their size!) and brought her back to camp. When the PCs reach the camp, she is in the pit trap as cold food storage minus an arm that Teb ate while forcing her to watch.

In her current state, she's not going to be useful in combat for a very long while, so I don't need to worry about adding another combat NPC (when they'll be getting one in the form of Nadya very soon). In a couple of days, she'll catch the chillbane fever that one of my PCs has to make sure she stays a burden to the PCs until The Shackled Hut.

Adding a container (containing diminutive arrows or other useless things) on the opposite wall of the sprite igloo, as well as describing the shelves and recesses in the ceiling should be enough to lead the PCs into the pit trap, even if they're all deaf and can't hear her calling for help after the battle goes quiet!

I suggest adding a visible container, as I described the room poorly enough that the party didn't do much more than glance inside before rummaging through the other igloos (that did include chests). The PC who could hear failed her Perception roll terribly (DC 8 = 2 (20ft down) + 5 (through the trap door) + 1 (10 ft minimum outside to a potential listener), with a -4 penalty to the listener because of the snow, effective DC 12). I ended up letting the summoner's eidolon pick up her scent in the room, and let it go from there.

The Winter Portal and the Black Rider
I changed the encounter with the Black Rider moderately. I kept him on the Irrisen-side of the portal, leaving the PCs to find the portal and figure out what it did, giving them hints about how the vortex itself was giving off strong conjuration and transmutation auras (if they were able to hit the nearly impossible DCs, they would've identified it as a combination of teleportation circle and control weather), but the snow itself wasn't magical. After they spent a couple minutes mulling it over, I had a panicked sprite fly through the portal screaming "Teb, he's here! He's here!", before getting skewered by a black, smoking spear that came through the portal behind her. The spear then disappeared (I figure that the Riders can summon their weapons if ever set down).

Once the PCs do make it through the portal, they see another ring of icicle spears, this time facing inwards (because of the air pressure moving towards the portal instead; incidentally, it also acts as a good defensive perimeter for an army who breaches the defense on the other side). The ring of stalagmite monoliths are on the outside. Anyone passing through the portal needed to make a DC 15 Fort save or take 1d6 nonlethal and be fatigued (This was added in order to knock out Ten-penny and give an easy reason why she doesn't get caught up in taking on the Mantle of the Black Rider).

The Black Knight is currently engaged with a Winter Guard hunting party who finally caught up to him. He still has the ice spike in his chest that Elvanna shot at him, and it's slowly killing him. He planned on jumping through the portal for same the reasons stated in book, but this hunting party who caught up to him needs to die so that they can't give away his position to their superiors. By the time the PCs enter the battlezone, he has killed 3 winter wolves, 4 winter-touched sprites/atomies, and 8 rangers (who are low level, but were carrying tanglefoot bags and nets to bring him down so the wolves can kill him). Remaining are a winter wolf who is keeping him occupied, two wounded rangers taking pot-shots at him from behind the cover of the monoliths, and a sprite who is cowering next to one of the rangers, having seen all the others who have left cover get speared out of the air (as the Black Rider knows that their the only ones who can outrun him and report back). The presence of the live sprite helps to solidify that the humans attacking the Rider are the enemy.

The PCs need only engage the two rangers (who each still have a tanglefoot bag and their net) and sprite (whose movement options are extremely limited), if they want to help him. They get a surprise round as the rangers are focused on the battle ahead of them. The Black Rider finishes off the last winter wolf in the same round or round after they beat the group.

I made the double mistake of reducing all the PC opponents' hit points into single hit territory, and having the Black Rider fight three winter wolves. This meant that the Black Rider needed to kill one wolf a round to keep up with the PCs' kill speed, which ended up marginalizing the PCs' contributions. I think reducing the live wolf count to 1 is enough to keep him busy while the PCs finish off the weaker contingent.

He then turns his attention on the PCs, who then need to make DC 17 Will saves every 18 seconds as he forces detect thoughts on all of them (followed shortly by zone of truth), while he informs them of his predicament. As I said in another thread, I didn't want to have as large an info-dump, so the only information they were able to get out of him before they died was:
-he is a minion of Baba Yaga who is currently missing.
-Elvanna has overstepped her bounds by trying to bring a new ice age to the world
-if they want to prevent their home from being the first area that withers and dies from the cold, they can close this portal
-he only knows that the ritual used to maintain the portal must be in line of sight of it (the tall storm pillar reaches up into the sky, and the best vantage point would be somewhere with high elevation)
-closing this portal will only delay the inevitable. If they want to stop the entire world from being stuck in eternal winter, they must find Baba Yaga.
-if they agree to help him, then he will grant them what is left of his strength.

That's it. The PCs will find out all of the other information later on. I like this, because, while the PCs know their immediate and overall goals, they still need to figure out how to achieve them on their own.

When the PCs accept, he falls on his knees, and his disguise self illusion fades into smoke, revealing the massive amount of battle-damage that had previously been hidden (including the spike in his chest), and the fact that he is a very old man. Two items fall at his feet, and smoke exits his mouth, nose and eyes to coalesce above him before splitting into six streams, one for each PC and item).

The Mantle
I like the idea brought up previously about each PC needing to choose a different ability score (the two scores that are left are used to power the keys). I also restricted them from choosing their highest ability score, in order to round them out a little (I have 3 charisma casters, and one bought 20 CHA on 15 pt buy :P; figured it would be better to have them spread out a bit).

In addition, the keys are empowered with a remnant of the Black Rider's power. If a PC has one of the keys in his possession for 24 hours, then he gains one of (depending on the key):
-3/day (Su) Woe (a target within 30ft takes -2 on d20 rolls for 5 rds; Will save DC 10 + 1/2 character level + CON)
-3/day (Su) Icy Touch (a target within 15ft becomes staggered for 1d4 rds; Fort save DC 10 + 1/2 character level + CON)
The idea here is that the PCs gain some longevity that remains relevant for as long as they have the items, although the powers disappear after being used for their primary purpose. Scaling with constitution instead of charisma means that the DC can't get abusivley high (especially in a mostly charisma caster party!), while still being a score that no one dumps. The DC is mediocre, but should be enough that PCs should be encouraged to use them on lower CR encounters instead of their personal resources.

What I am currently unsure of is the strength and duration of each power. Is a single target staggered useful? Should it be a burst with 10ft radius? What about Woe?

Given that you often have snow which acts as difficult terrain, Stagger is extremely effective. It forces a foe to only move or attack... and not gain full attacks.

Woe seems good enough as-is.

You might consider more powerful versions of this when the party has the second set of keys; or other abilities for that matter.

Shadow Lodge

The main reason that my PCs are gaining these abilities is to keep the keys in the back of their minds. The way I structured the conversation with the Black Rider, they don't have any idea at the moment what these items do (and there's a good chance they won't find out until Zorka tells them how the hut teleports); all they know is that the Rider's essence entered into them. These magic items aren't the standard; they aren't giving passive bonuses, or allowing a spell to be cast X/day at a set DC. These keys are granting them scaling abilities, and the items themselves are slotless, even though standard magic items that might look similar would likely take up the head slot.

Once the keys are used, there's I was figuring they'd just lose the power when they used the keys, full stop. The Black Rider's power disperses into the hut, or some such. At that point of the story, I think it would be more interesting having the PCs come into their own, rather than still rely on the Rider's help. With that in mind, I plan on them only having the power till the end of book 2. At that point, their power as casters should give them enough longevity to go at it on their own.

On the other hand, they are essentially utilizing the previous Rider's mantle until they free Baba Yaga and possibly ask for their very own, so maybe the mantle itself could power up over the course of the campaign.

Looking back at how the DC scales, I'm a little edgy. According to the bestiary, scaling with CON (at what is generally +2 for my PCs) is looking at ~50% success rate when targeting CR+0 poor saves. Is that enough to encourage PCs to use it on these encounters over their own resources? I guess I'll need to look through the rest of book 1 and book 2 to see how far they deviate from the average.

The changes you made, really give the campaign a storytelling flow. I am jealous of your ideas :-)

My group finally caught Teb Knotten in the bear trap (long story).

Richard Pitt wrote:
(5) In town, one of the possible rumors says Owl Lake is haunted. A strange owl watches them from atop the statue in town, which flies off if harassed. In the lodge one of the sick bandits was blind and blathering on about a beautiful woman he saw by the lake. On the map on Rohkar´s wall Owl Lake was marked as Dangerous Fey (not winter!). When they cross over the bridge from the lodge I had another path leading down the ravine towards the lake. Suddenly a tulip sprouts up down this path, and then another further down, and then another flower further down etc etc. Basically at the lake is a powerful Nymph who is also a level 10 water oracle manipulating the environment to bring the PC´s to her.

I did the same thing! I didn't connect her to the later nymph, but the Lady of Owls had a team of nereids that charmed a few of the PCs into the water. They were able to convince the Lady that they were seeking to end the unnatural winter, and so she gave them a few small magic items and sent some of her owls to help scout for them (which didn't turn out well for one of the owls [warning: language]).

It was part of my attempt to allow the PCs more options. The first module felt pretty railroady to them, so I fleshed out several different ways they could approach Teb's camp. Naturally, they opted for the haunted fairy lake and completely missed Thora (although they came back for her after clearing out the Pale Tower).

Shadow Lodge

So, Nadya is a trader. What can she get a hold of that the Kellids actually want?

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Ok I´m up to the Pale Tower and just thought I´d share my changes to part 3 and 4. Again some ideas I swipped off here and expanded on, and a few I just made up myself:

Parts 3 and 4 (Snows of Summer)

(1) Technically part 2, but I handled the passing of the mantle a little differently. Firstly the keys were a wooden spider and a large werewolf fang (I plan on replacing almost all of book 3 by making the hut take them to The Old Margreve rather than Iobia). After the PCs agree to take the mantle and the rider slits his throat, I had a surge of energy knock all the players unconscious. Then I individually had them have a vision of meeting an old lady, who is an aspect of Baba Yaga, in a wooden shack.

She asked them all a series of questions in with three possible answers, none truly good. Depending on how they answer the questions depends on what rider mantle they get red, black or white and corresponding powers that grow every level. Questions like: A baroness is cheating her queen of taxes how do you punish her, a) Lock her in her own dungeons to starve b) Execute her publicly or c) Arrange an accident for her and cover it up. The most aggressive responses correspond with red rider, the sneakier ones black and the more diplomatic (yet still bad) white. The purpose of this is to give the PCs some say in what powers they get but also to stress how over their head they might be here. I actually have four players and so the fourth had a different vision in which she met Ragathiel, who after a short philosophy debate, granted her some powers to aid her quest for vengeance.

(2) I had a slaughter site waiting for them at the bottom of the hill through the portal in Irrisen where the black rider had slain a raiding party. This including the corpses of seven guards with masterwork cold iron longswords, three dead ice trolls and a mirror man body (to foreshadow this monster to them).

(3) I made a number of additions to Waldsby. Firstly the shop did not have snow shoes and the only one able to make them: the gnome carpenter, Arbagazor Frimbocket, was suffering from the bleaching and was vastly unhelpful. I stressed how much he looked like a sullen Tenezegil Frimbocket from Heldren, and allowed a perception check to realize that he might be related rather than just eerily similar like some of the other town´s inhabitants.

If they said nothing he would make them shoes anyway at double their price. But if they tell him about his brother being alive and the portal to reach Heldren he becomes much more animated and begins to gain some colour. He succumbed to the bleaching because he believed his brother was dead in a snow storm and thus didn´t see the point in continuing. As a reward he makes them snow shoes for free and, with a successful diplomacy check, gives them his darkwood composite longbow he has (I replaced the quarterstaff with this as it is on my ranger´s wish list and I like to reward good roleplaying). Once he finished the shoes he leaves town and shuts shop to find his brother.

(4) Secondly I had a side quest. The ruins of the old town elder´s house had a haunt which triggered if anyone went exploring there, I had the oracle hear whispers as she passed it in the town square. The haunt was a lady holding a baby who exploded in flames (doing 4d6 fire damage, reflex half) and then the party oracle had a vision of a man running and hiding a box under the tree in the graveyard, before being dragged by guards and then hung up to die of exposure at the clock tower and finally his wife and child being burnt in the ruins. Digging under the tree in the graveyard turns up a locked wooden box containing a bag full of 6 hex nails and a special attentive mirror.

This mirror when opened sends an alarm to a Yelizaveta Jadwiga in Whitethrone who works with the Heralds of Summers Return in the hopes of bringing down the Elvanna Jadwiga. The town elder was one of her ´little birds´ spying for her until he was discovered and executed, luckily he managed to hide this mirror and his collection of illegal hex nails. This Yelizaveta Jadwiga is surprised to hear from him, knowing full well he was killed, and so she contacts the mirror in ten minutes to speak with the PCs.

She uses a stolen Cold Sister´s shawl hiding her face, and concealing her voice, and uses the code name ´Snow White´ with all her spies. Her mirror is especially warded to not allow others to cast Mirror Sight through it. She is a fountain of information should the PCs gain her trust and will work with them later in Whitethrone. For now she can tell them that Nazhena, who she deeply despises, is not in her tower and has just arrived in Whitethrone to meet with the queen.

(5) I removed the withcrow because my players were all excited about the Pale Tower and I didn´t think it really added anything but a little distraction.

(6) In the tower I changed very little (it is a great dungeon) but I did use the Superstitious Mercenary build for the elite guards with the general inside to make it more of a challenge, I replaced some of their equipment with masterwork cold iron longswords though. I also added a trap on the ground floor. When the PCs pass between the two statues in the water elemental room a pressure pad triggers the statue´s weapons to slash down and do damage, because I have a rogue in my party who loves to feel useful. If they triggered this trap it would also alert the water elemental to attack. I also had the ice crystal teleporters only have enough space for one person at a time so that they have to arrive one at a time to the other floors. The keys can be passed to another in the few seconds before the ice completely incases the user.

(7) Finally I made the portal closure nicely epic. First they need to find the incantation in the room´s books. Then it must be read and every round a DC 15 spellcraft check made to maintain it by one PC. When this is read the globe of the world (which I had floating 20ft up in the air) floats down into the ritual circle where a PC must wait to touch the globe. They must then make a DC 15 UMD check and this projects his/her consciousness into the globe where it is like their mind is floating above all the world, and they can see little blue lines stretching across it (the ley lines). A DC 10 geography check is needed to locate the Taldor/Irrisen line, trying to close the others results in failure. Once the correct leyline is located it takes another DC15 UMD check to move their consciousness to the line and another one to snip the leyline and end the ritual, each check takes a turn and failure results in being delayed at that point. If the globe user fails a check then they can try again each round, however they are taking 1d6 cold damage every round at this point for touching the globe and should the spellcraft check fail then the orb floats up and they have to start the checks all over again.

Worse still attached to the ritual is a Waterfiend who appears between the fiend statues when the incantation starts and attacks everyone in the room, so the other players have to hold it at bay. Should the incantation stop, due to failing the spellcraft check or that person being knocked out, then the fiend vanishes, but reappears when the incantation starts again.

Ryschwith: Did you post your idea on these boards originally? If so then I saw it and that's where I got the idea. If it was you thank you. My players loved it. I like the sharing of ideas f on these boards and it has really got my creative juices flowing.

The main change I made to the plot of this book was to change Nadya's relationship with the children. I know my players like developing relationshops (with and without a capital 'R') and didn't think that a recently bereaved mother would leave her children to help them. So I made Nadya the children's aunt and guardian - her brother and sister-in-law having died at Nazhena's hands. She was then put in a position of being able to follow the players as far as they wanted her to (it looks like she's going to join them in the hut), but also able to go back to the children.

It has made a really big difference, especially as it made it easier for the PCs to tell her about Thora.

I like your changes, Richard Pitt. I have kept a lot of the first book as written, except I made some of the PCs related to Dryden Kepp in Heldren, and another PC already a member of the heralds.
I am using some Margreve stuff in the second book (Challenge of the fang, which I used for the rimepelt and went very well) and perhaps in the third (Grandmother's fire), but I have not decided this yet.
Since one of the PCs is a herald and has high charisma, too, Waldsby has sort of been changed into a herald stronghold (with Emil Goltiaeva as leader - very long story).

Amazing. How did that happen. Mine slaughtered Emil and locked his wife in the tavern after their 'invite'. She joined the guards when they arrived and it waa a bloodbath and this did little to enamor the other villagers to them.

I checked out Margreve after your suggestion and was extremely impressed. How did you put The Trial into the plot? I intend to have the hut go to The Margreve in part 3 and use a version of Gall of the Spider Queen and a sandboxed mix of The Honey Queen, Grandmother's Fire and The Lustful Dragon. I'm going to keep the Maiden, Mother, Crone hut setup though and only change the clues on the amulets and ravens.

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I used Challenge of the fang for gaining the rimepelt. I made Czerwonya one of the children from Waldsby and then had the village threatened by wolves led by a winter wolf. Then Kashka (if I have the name right; it is Nadya's neighbour who takes care of the children) remembered an old prophecy about the prey, the predator and the hunter and told the group that the black rider sometimes was the hunter. I added some symbolism about the maiden (Czerwonya), the mother (her mother, who asked the group to go search her daughter) and the crone (grandma), so this is a nice link to the next adventure. So when Czerwonya disappeared in the forest, the group tracked her and found the gateway to the Margreve (as in the adventure; I made it an enclosed part of the first world, not Irrisen). There I ran all the tests as written, and when they returned, they could track Czerwonya to the tree house, where they could save her and grandma from the wolf (for which I used a winter wolf of course). My players immensely enjoyed the adventure.

As for Emil: my group intimidated him during their first visit to the inn. They were in an intimidating mood, since they had just quarreled with Birgit Holorova. Then Katrina tried to soothe the matter by offering them tea, and tried to poison Vladimir the sorcerer (who acted as the group's leader at the moment). This failed spectacularly. Vladimir of course got very angry, which made the situation even worse, but instead of attacking, he berated Katrina for her behavior and the bard Aleksej talked to Emil in the kitchen and sympathized with his plight and told him his friends were only pretending (or some such story; it has been quite a while ago). He also showed interest in his crossbow and praised his shooting. So basically they were driving a wedge between Emil and Katrina.
Much later they were asking for volunteers for attacking the pale tower, and Emil (and a few others) volunteered. During the raid on the pale tower (which sort of went like a commando action) Emil had a lot of lucky dice rolls and the PCs were very impressed with his shooting and kept complimenting him. Also Vladimir managed to use diplomacy to convince some of the guards to leave the pale tower and join their cause (which Vladimir, who is a member of the Heralds, is calling 'the revolution'). Emil got more and more inspired, and they ended up with a group of guards, Emil, and a group of villagers all wanting to introduce the revolution to Waldsby.
When they successfully completed Challenge of the fang I ruled that Waldsby according to the ancient pact was now under the protection of the winter wolves, and that Baba Yaga would honor that pact (Elvanna would not, of course). So they left the village defended by winter wolves and ex pale tower soldiers. Emil volunteered as leader, together with Birgit Holorova and the owner of the saw mill (I forgot his name). The PCs organized an election and of course supported Emil, and he won. Katrina was not pleased of course, but then a female PC (Anastacia) began to flirt with Emil, so that Katrina would get al jealous and protective and suddenly started supporting Emil again.
This made Waldsby a really fun part of the campaign, which the players enjoyed very much, and had the added advantage of breaking the linearity of the campaign a bit, since the players really had the feeling they could take their fate in their own hands.

That is truely amazing. I may well steal your idea and use Challenge of the Fang to get the rimebelt too, ifu don't mind.

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Here is how I plan to have the rider mantles progress from level 3 to level 10, for those who might want to do something similar. They are based heavily on what Irrisen land of Eternal Winter said the riders could do. The auras can be done once a day but only at specific times: black from dusk till dawn, white from dawn till noon and red from noon until dusk.

I haven´t thought beyond level 10 yet but they will get more spell like abilities, summon mount, woe or blessing, and something to do with their weapon when I do.

3 – DR 2/Cold Iron, Chill touch 3/day, Icy Aura 1/day (only from dusk till dawn, 10ft misty aura rounds per level, fatigued all in it and 1 round afterwards, DC 18 fortitude)
4 – Darkness 2/day, Darkvision/Low light vision
5 – DR 5/Cold Iron, Improved Icy Aura (Slow, rounds per level), Cold Resistance 5
6 – Deep Slumber 1/day
7 – Telepathy (30ft), become fey
8 – Moonstruck 1/day, SR 8 + lvl
9 - Improved Icy Aura (fatigued even if saved)
10 – DR 10/Cold Iron, immune poison,Cone of cold 1/day, Cold Resistance 10

3 – DR 2/Cold Iron, Scorching Ray 2/day, Bright blast (only between noon and sunset, 1d6 fire damage per level Dazzle 1rd, 20ft radius, DC 18 réflex half)
4 – Zone of truth 2/day, Darkvision/Low light vision
5 – DR 5/Cold Iron, Improved Bright blast (dazzle 1d4 rounds), Cold Resistance 5
6 – Flaming arrows 1/day
7 – Telepathy (30ft), become fey
8 – Fire shield 1/day, SR 8 + lvl
9 – Improved Bright blast (Daze 1rd, dazzle 1d4)
10 – DR 10/Cold Iron, immune poison, Blood Boil 1/day, Cold Resistance 10

3 – DR 2/Cold Iron, charm person 3/day, Blinding light (only between dusk and noon, Daze 1rd, Dazzle 1d4 rds, 20 foot radius, DC 18 fortitude)
4 – Detect thoughts 2/day, Darkvision/Low light vision
5 – DR 5/Cold Iron, Improved Blinding light (Daze 1d4 rounds, dazzle 1d4 if save), Cold Resistance 5
6 – Lightning Bolt 1/day
7 – Telepathy (30ft), become fey
8 – Charm monster 1/day, SR 8 + lvl
9 – Improved blinding light (Blinds permanently, daze 1 rd if save)
10 – DR 10/Cold Iron, immune poison, Lightning arc 1/day, Cold Resistance 10

3 – DR 2/Evil, Cure Light Wounds 3/day, Grows wings Fly (30ft, poor)
4 – Aid 2/day, Darkvision/Low light vision
5 – DR 5/Evil, Fly (60ft, average)
6 – Dispel Magic 1/day,
7 – True speak, become angelic outsider
8 – Holy smite 1/day, SR 8 + lvl
9 – Fly (100ft, good)
10 – DR 10/Evil, immune petrification, Reistance 10 lightning, fire, cold, Dispel Evil 1/day

Richard Pitt wrote:
That is truely amazing. I may well steal your idea and use Challenge of the Fang to get the rimebelt too, ifu don't mind.

Please feel free to do so. It fits so well into the campaign it would be a shame not to use it.

In Challenge of the fang the PCs receive a firebird feather. This is not the same feather as the key to Baba Yaga's hut.
I am going to use the feather for them to summon a firebird when they are in Maiden, Mother, Crone. I am going to use part of the story of the Firebird Suite (the ballet by Stravinski) in the third book. The firebird will lead them to a magical egg, which they can destroy in order to ban Kostchtchie from Iobaria for 100 years.
I am going to add a side adventure with a dungeon in which they can locate the egg. This dungeon will be linked to a background story of one of the PCs and involves the wendigo.

Richard Pitt wrote:
Ryschwith: Did you post your idea on these boards originally? If so then I saw it and that's where I got the idea. If it was you thank you. My players loved it. I like the sharing of ideas f on these boards and it has really got my creative juices flowing.

Apparently I did, but I know that only because I went and looked. Glad it went over well. :) And yeah, I've definitely poached a few great ideas from the boards here as well. Keep 'em coming, folks, because I've got four more books to get them through... ;)

This is why I keep coming to these forums. And yes, I will keep posting my ideas.

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Adapting 12-68 Part One: An Early Frost for 6 PCs (15 pt buy), and thinking of the following updates to make sure they face sufficient challenges to be level 2 after facing down Rohkar and his minions at the lodge, and would like some advice from others on making this a fair go for them:

  • Area A2 - 3 zombies instead of 2 = 600 XP
  • Area B - Spiked log trap is the same = 600 XP
  • Area C - Advanced template on the arctic Tatzylwyrm plus Max HP should = 900 XP (approx)
  • Area D - 4 Sprites instead of 3, all at Max HP = 900 XP (approx)
  • Area E - Advanced Fawfein and Advanced "talking" stag = 1200 XP
  • Area F1 - Same Trap = 800 XP
  • Area F2 - Medium Ice Elementals (instead of Small) = 1600 XP
  • Area G - Advanced template on the bandits = 600 XP
  • Area H1 - Crossbow Trap is the same = 400 XP
  • Area H8 - Ten-Penny Tacey is the same = 600 XP
  • Area H13 - Advanced template on Bandits, increasing the number from 5 to 6 = 1200 XP (this also makes up for some earlier shortfalls, I think)
  • Area H14 - Increase number of sick bandits from 4 to 6 - 600 XP
  • Area H15 - Give Rohkar another level of cleric, and increase the number of frost skeletons from 2 to 3 - 1400 XP
  • Area H17 - Rescue Lady Argentea - 900 XP
  • Any thoughts? I left Izoze off the list, since it appears most have been having that encounter after the lodge, either immediately or later yet. The total XP from all these encounters is 12,300 XP, or 2,050 XP per PC, but I'm wondering if y'all have thoughts on balance. Thanks!

    Don't give Rohkar another level of Cleric. Give him a level of Rogue. It makes far more sense for his background. In addition, unless you have the group at level 2 when they reach the Lodge, consider dropping him to a level 2 cleric and add yet another level of Rogue instead.

    Be wary of adapting too much. I played this adventure with 5 characters, and ran it more or less as written, and it was difficult enough. Especially Rohkar and the bandits are a tough encounter.
    If you have very tactically minded players, you can improved the difficulty level.

    Thanks - they are a divine-heavy party, so avoiding damage / healing up shouldn't be a huge issue, but good call re: Rohkar.

    Grand Lodge

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    Just wanted to say thanks to every one that has contributed to this thread. I am DM'ing my first Reign of Winter session tonight (also my first AP) and you've given me many ideas and much insight!

    Wish me luck!

    How did it go Dhrakken? It's a very fun AP to run - stick with it to the end if you can!

    Grand Lodge

    It went very well I think, the group got to the bridge just before the lodge and encountered Izoze but she flew away; they couldn't really hurt her much anyway with her DR 5/magic. She will be fun to bring back later, probably with Teb.

    They are a pretty powerful group and there are 6 of them so I had to beef up the encounters by maxing HP and increasing numbers where it made sense.

    Character creation method was 4d6 drop lowest and the group consists of a bloodrager, warpriest, arcanist, divine hunter, swashbuckler and a cleric.

    The warpriest with 20 hp at level 1 was taken down to -9 by the Tatzylwyrm; that was good fun and the cleric fell through the ice.

    Really looking forward to the lodge, I added a couple bandits and frost skeletons and may beef up Rohkar. Alas, the next session won't be until Sept 22nd.

    One thing to note, I used combat manager ( to make my life easier as I haven't GM'd very much and OMG, what an awesome tool! Combat flow was amazing! Everyone should check it out!

    Grand Lodge

    Another thing that I have added, in order to help balance out the over-powered party, is add the snow sight ability to all the winter-touched sprites, atomies, ice mephits and Teb (like Hommelstaub). This means they don't take any penalties to perception or ranged attacks. It just seemed silly to have creatures that have lived their entire lives in the snow and not have developed some sort of inherent ability to overcome it....

    Starting Reign of Winter this month, I am really looking forward to it. Thanks to all who contributed to this thread, I feel very well prepared for it.

    Variations I'm planning on using, all from this thread:

    • Variable visibility: I made a chart for none, light, and heavy snowfall to add a random element to the visibility.
    • Gave the Tatzylwyrm a Burrow speed.
    • Made Rokhar Cleric 2/Rogue 1 with a potion of invisibility.
    • Will make environmental cold rolls less frequent, more for flavor, to give a sense of time passing as they traverse the woods.
    • Will make a Wand of Cure Light Wounds available in Heldren, perhaps swapping for the Wand of Magic Weapon.

    Party is short-handed. Three 25-point buy characters run by veteran players. It will be up to them to recruit NPCs as the story unfolds. Should be interesting.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

    May I also suggest altering how snowshoes work? Even wearing them combats will be heavily skewed against anything that can't move through snow, still no 5' steps, and the math is really fiddly, "reduce the penalty for walking through heavy snow by 50%".

    I just run them as allowing "normal" movement in snow, by with speed reduced by 5', regardless of "normal" rate.

    Grand Lodge

    Darrell Impey UK wrote:

    May I also suggest altering how snowshoes work? Even wearing them combats will be heavily skewed against anything that can't move through snow, still no 5' steps, and the math is really fiddly, "reduce the penalty for walking through heavy snow by 50%".

    I just run them as allowing "normal" movement in snow, by with speed reduced by 5', regardless of "normal" rate.

    I like this idea, my guys don't have snowshoes yet and I was worried on how to handle them. I know they'll be buying them for sure once they hit Walsby.

    Do you still rule no 5' step? I think I will, especially if they back up.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

    From memory I dropped it, otherwise spell casters would be needing to cast pretty much everything on the defensive. Just remember that what applies to PCs applies to NPCs too.

    It depends on your players.

    If you have experienced players who tend to coast through adventures because they are able to min/max things and know the rules inside and out... keep all of the environmental rules. This is Pathfinder: Hard Mode.

    I will admit that as my players aren't experienced, the first thing I suggested to the cleric when I put in Mythic was "take Mythic Spells, and Mythic Endure Elements." That did away with the problem. Mostly.

    Rob H.

    Grand Lodge

    Tangent101 wrote:

    It depends on your players.

    If you have experienced players who tend to coast through adventures because they are able to min/max things and know the rules inside and out... keep all of the environmental rules. This is Pathfinder: Hard Mode.

    I will admit that as my players aren't experienced, the first thing I suggested to the cleric when I put in Mythic was "take Mythic Spells, and Mythic Endure Elements." That did away with the problem. Mostly.

    Rob H.

    Hmm, I was thinking of adding Mythic to my campaign but I don't really like the idea of Mythic Endure Elements!

    Grand Lodge

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    Session two happened last night and my six player, level 1 party finished the lodge.

    Getting into the lodge, I had them face 7 bandits (some outside and some inside but all during the same combat) and then 3 frost skeletons in the loft and then when they came down to the main room, they were met with 3 zombies and 2 more frost skeletons and Rohkar.

    I maxed the HP on all monsters and the party, while it took a while (8 rounds), survived with 1 player unconscious for most of the fight. Also, Rohkar channeled twice and had all the buffs in place per the book, greenoil, magic weapon, death knell. Another round however and it would have been a TPK.

    This really illustrates the power difference between a 6 player and 4 player party and how much scaling you need to do to keep it challenging.

    I took Ten-Penny out as it was too awkward to fit her in, I will use her later, or convert her to a Ranger that will help them find the portal.

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