EZG reviews Cold Mountain
This plug-in adventure for the Kingmaker-AP is 47 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page back cover and no SRD, leaving us with 44 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?
After an extensive background, we kick off with advice on how to best use this – as a contrast to hexploration, filling in some of the blank hexes at the southern area of the PC’s domain. Here, in the middle of the wilderness, the barbaric people Ughar dwell and worship the fey as deities. When an envoy of the superstitious people shows up at the PC’s door, their advisors may scoff, but the PCs would be wise not to ignore him…
From here on out, the SPOILERS reign in this adventure-review, so potential players should jump to the conclusion right now.
All right, still here? Very well! The Ughar dread the goddess of a mountain, one Istria, is angry with them and they are just about to start a lottery for the sacrifice of one of their own when they contact the outsiders to perhaps help and stop the killings of the enraged “goddess”. Following the trail of the call of help, PCs need to brave the deadly random encounters in the wild before reaching the gloriously-mapped Ansit Fjord and traverse it without falling to the voonith and a local owlbear, traversing the seriously cold, rugged terrain further on towards their destination. Snow storms, moss troll and bloody victims do not bode well for the things to come, though it should be noticed that we also get a fully grid-studded map of the aforementioned encounter before the PCs reach the isolated and now cursed hamlet of Gloym – which again comes fully mapped.
Arriving at the village, the PCs are not welcome, though – the isolationalist population is angry at the elder that contacted them and in order to gain their trust, PCs will first have to consume the so-called ice peppers – preferably so without embarrassing themselves overtly. After that, they are off to the sarcred, dolmen-surrounded lake, lavishly mapped and illustrated gorgeously, it makes for an interesting finale – for not only is reaching the lake none too simple, they also have to face the vulture-sized, aggressive ravens and deal with a weird waterfall haunt that points towards the true culprit of the recent issues:
When a woman called Priya lost her family to the cruel fates, in despair she turned against her fey goddess and perished – her anguish returning her as a spirit that has since possessed one of the minions of her erstwhile fey “goddess”, forcing the nixie to commit acts of vengeance and perpetuate her suffering. The climax at the Falls of Istria will thus not only be terrain-wise, but also strategy-wise interesting, offering a variety of ways to deal with the threat -diplomacy, magic, brute force – all possible.
After that, the PCs will need to ascend the sacred mountain and petition with the goddess – while the result may see aforementioned tragic spirit laid to rest, that is by far not the end – the curse unleashed lingers and the goddesses spriggan-companions will surely not try to help the PCs.
Hunting down a deadly beast via an extended hunting-session/clever traps then sees the PCs retrun victorious – but only if they have managed to glean the beast’s weaknesses. Worse, it had infected some villagers with wendigo fever and the accursed sickness has already started its rampage – whether by acting swift and decisively or by killing those that are destined to succumb to it in self-defense, a bitter-sweet taste remains.
And on the way home, there’s yet one more battle to contend with – the spriggans want to slay the meddling outsiders that spoiled their fun… one final, deadly battle thus ends the module.
The module also comes with stats for the new type of fey the goddess represents as well as a nixie-variant, the lesser wendigo template and player-friendly versions of all 4 glorious maps.
Editing and formatting are top-notch; i didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a portrait-standard with 3-columns (personally, I prefer 2-columns, but oh well) that surprisingly remains easy to read. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and hyperlinked with the good, useful type of bookmarks. The artworks and maps are gorgeous – especially the former, and rank well among the most beautiful you can find in any publication.
Evoking a culture somewhat inspired by Native American tradition, this pdf offers a detailed, evocative glimpse at a cool culture and belief-system as well as serving to foreshadow some developments throughout the AP. From great combats to nice skill-based challenges and fights that reward not slaying everything that shows up on the pointy side of your PC’s swords, this plug-in might not steal the show of legendary modules – but it doesn’t need to – its focus lies on natural beauty, harsh environments and the tragedies that are part of the circle of life. A glorious addition to any Kingmaker-campaign, easily inserted into Adventureaweek.com’s Vikmordere-context or with minor reskinning working just as well in a Northlands context, this module is a true winner not only for its intended AP and well worth 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval.