It’s time for the FINAL Deconstructing Dungeons article! I can’t believe it’s already come to an end! What on earth am I going to write about on Mondays now?! Anyway, this week I’m taking a look at Winter Yonderland. For those that don’t know, Deconstructing Dungeons is an article series in which I take a look back at my published works and review them. I give a detailed, spoilerific synopsis of the plot, give some details about the resources I used to help me go from idea to adventure, and then summarise what I did well and where I messed up. I also give away a free copies of the adventure and my Adventure Compendiums each week (details at the end of the post).
Winter Yonderland is a Tier 2 adventure that should take one or two sessions, depending on whether you choose to use the random encounter section in the middle. I published Winter Yonderland on December 13th 2016. I like writing holiday themed adventures, and they always seem to sell pretty well so why not? Winter Yonderland is currently a silver best seller and has two 5 star review and one rating!
The adventure takes place inside a magical snow globe. The hook is that the characters have angered a powerful mage who, as punishment, has trapped the characters inside the globe. They are doomed to remain in the frosty ball until they can slay the most powerful monster that lives within it, an abominable yeti! Thankfully, the characters have a little help in finding this creature, as a recently killing points in its direction. Two nights ago, some children were stolen away during festive celebrations during the night, and the tracks of the beasts remain imprinting into the snow near the gory scene. If the characters can track down the culprit they will be rewarded and freed from their imprisonment.
The first part of the adventure is set in the village of Snoëlbowg. Characters have the opportunity to speak to the major NPCs, including the parents of the missing child, the owners of a tavern, and a few others that are tangentially linked to the disappearance of the children. Although it’s mentioned in the intro that the mayoress of the town is willing to pay the characters to help out, I failed to reinforce this in the main body of the adventure with a roleplaying scene. This is something I’ll update when it comes to redoing the adventure. When the characters have gathered all the information they can in town, they are forced to track the beast’s footprints, which head out int the unforgiving Frosted Vale.
The Frosted Vale is kitted out with some encounters to help give the place a sense of lethality. These encounters include a run in with a mammoth herd of the edge of a frozen precipice, and an ambush by a remorhaz from beneath the snow. Each of the encounters has some additional information about how you can make them more difficult for your characters if, for whatever reason, they are rinsing the encounters without difficulty. When I come to revisit this adventure, I think I’ll include some more encounters, possibly kitting it out with a full d100 table of them, some of which will give characters more insight into the mage that trapped them, or their possible salvation.
After the characters travel through the Frosted Vale, they manage to track the beast to an ice cave, occupied by yetis and other tundra denizens. The lair is a simple one in terms of mapping and could probably by updated a little to make for more dynamic combat. Great things to throw into winter locations are thin sheets of ice above frigid water, loose snow that could cave in at any moment, and ice tunnels which channel freezing gales at high speed into chambers, knocking weaker characters off their feet.
During the final combat with yetis, the characters might feel outmatched by their foes. Thankfully, a frost giant who has been hunting them also appears with a small pack of winter wolves to tackle the beasts. My hope here is not to upstage the characters, but rather to encourage a little confusion in the combat as the characters try to distinguish friend from foe. If everything pans out, the characters have a chance to roleplay with the frost giant, and discover that their increased presence in the Frosted Vale is causing this unusual pack behaviour in the yetis. They might also have to make a choice about what to do to the frost giant. Let her live and risk her telling her friends about the ripe raiding grounds of Snoëlbowg, or let her go and hope she takes their side and stops pressing into the Vale.
Characters also discover a scarf which belonged to the missing child, proving his grizzly fate. With this token the characters can return to town, give closure to the NPCs, and receive their reward. The next morning they awake in their usual plane of existence, freed from the mage’s snow globe.
As usual, I used homebrewery for the layout of this adventure, and drew the maps myself with a little editing in photoshop. The map of the village was done using inkarnate. The artwork is a mixture of wikicommons art, DMsGuild creator resources and art purchased from artists through DeviantArt. The cover is by Caterina Kalymniou.
What I did well: I think the best part of this adventure is the hook! Waking up in a snow globe is cool. I think that when I go back to redo this adventure I’ll make a bigger thing of this. A random encounter where the characters come up against the glass of the globe could be great fun, and maybe an earthquake proceeded by a snowstorm would be pretty funny too.
What I did poorly: There’s not much too this adventure, and I could have done a little more to develop the plot. When I go back I’ll definitely try to expand the random encounter table, and maybe have a few more things going on in town that the characters have to fix before they can escape the globe. Some kind of snowman cult might be fun…
GIVEAWAY! If you like the post on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll be entered into a giveaway to win one of five copies of Winter Yonderland. If you retweet or share the post, you could be in with a chance of winning a copy of Adventure Compendium Vol I, which contains Winter Yonderland as well as a handful of other JVC Parry adventures! Good luck!
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