When I read the first couple of adventures of the Curse of the Golden Spear adventure trilogy set in Kaidan from Jonathan McAnulty and Rite Publishing, I was blown away. I remember the first time I saw the Oriental Adventures book for AD&D in 1985 and was fascinated by the world of Kara-Tur. And last year learning about the island kingdom of Kaidan, I had flashbacks to that world. (I still have the third adventure in the Golden Spear series – The Dark Path – to review and am looking forward to seeing how the trilogy concludes!)
Now Frozen Wind expands on the world of Kaidan by using an unexpected blizzard to drive a group of 5th level PFRPG PCs into the Miyamakoori Monastery near the summit of a mountain. Unfortunately, a demon and her entourage has come to settle an old score between the abbot and herself. Guess who gets caught in the middle? The adventure uses a classic three-act setup to build tension, from discovering the bodies of their new friends and finding ice demons on the premises, to fighting the bodies of their fallen friends raised as ice zombies, and then fighting the “big bad” of the story – Rimiko, an ice demon.
Though the monastery map could be used as a traditional dungeon, McAnulty has decided to go a slightly different way. As certain trigger events occur, transitions will happen from one act to the next to keep things moving. Since the temperature is dropping rapidly after the fires go out and the killing begins, this is a great way to maintain the tension and remind the players that their characters are slowly freezing to death and need to get a move on. The colder it gets, the harder it is to keep moving. Fail a Fortitude check (Survival skill helps!) and your character takes 1d6 nonlethal cold damage. But if you collapse due to nonlethal damage, you’ll become a Popsicle. I recommend killing all the foes and restarting the fires!
The adventure includes three new monsters: a Koori no Oni which is an Ice Oni (giant); the Mukurokoori, or Frozen Corpses; and the big baddie herself – Rimiko, the Yuki-Onna (Snow Woman). The first two aren’t particularly bright, but the yuki-onna could be particularly nasty to defeat. Also included are eight pre-generated characters with Kaidanese options. Each is equipped with spells, items, and possessions and has a special objective to achieve: a sorcerer, two rangers (yojimbos), fighter, a paladin (yamabushi), a rogue, a monk/wizard, and a fighter/rogue. Plus you get a couple of GM aids – a temperature chart for tracking what happens as the fires go out and the temperature drops, and a score sheet for figuring out which PC did the best when it’s all said and done.
Since this is a one-shot, the idea of “scoring the adventure” was new to me but makes a lot of sense, especially if the adventure is run at a convention. Having titles like “Zombie Killer” (the character who kills the most mukurokoori), “Die-Hard” (the character who takes the most damage without dying), and “The Critical” (the character who achieved the most critical hits during the game) would be fun as a way to wrap up things when the adventure was completed. I’m not sure I’d want to create this “game in a game” scenario frequently if I was running a campaign, but I’m sure it has its place in the occasional one-off adventure here or there.
The cover, interior art, and maps from artists Michael K. Tumey and Mark Hyzer all look gorgeous and stylized, but not so stylized that they’re unusable – beautiful and functional. The picture of the Koori no Oni was particularly disturbing and not something you’d want to run into in a dark alley. But the image of the Yuki-Onna and the cover really evoke a feel for the eerie cold and fierce storm the PCs find themselves faced with.
Once again Jonathan McAnulty and Rite Publishing have produced a fun adventure with some nice twists and turns. And it’s free! So if you’re looking for a way to kill a session, I definitely recommend you pick up Frozen Wind from RPGNow!
- Frozen Wind from G*M*S Magazine (gmsmagazine.com)
- Way of the Yakuza from G*M*S Magazine (gmsmagazine.com)
- Pathways #11 from G*M*S Magazine (gmsmagazine.com)
- Adventure Review: The Breaking of Forstor Nagar by Ben McFarland from Rite Publishing (gameknightreviews.com)