Reign of Winter
The Reign of Winter Adventure Path is on its way,
and unseasonable pockets of winter are appearing
all over Golarion. It’s surely no coincidence that
this is the time when the Queen of Witches, Baba Yaga,
is scheduled to return to the frozen land of Irrisen. Will
the PCs discover the sinister plot behind these winter
pockets and stop them from spreading, or will Golarion
be locked in an eternal ice age?
The options in this guide help tie characters to
the people and lands of the North, and the following
recommendations and campaign traits are customized
for the Reign of Winter Adventure Path. These hints,
suggestions, and character options are designed to help
players create characters perfectly suited to jumping right
into and excelling over the course of this deadly campaign.
In this Adventure Path, the PCs don’t know that they are
about to be thrown into an unnatural winter and whisked
off to explore far-f lung locations. This guide balances
the need to help players with the risk of spoiling the
Adventure Path’s plot twists. Without any hints about
what is to come, there’s a chance that a group could end
up consisting of a desert-running ranger, a sea singer
bard, a dungeon-delving dwarf, and an air elementalist
half ling wizard—none of which have much of a thematic
link to the campaign.
This guide gives provides suggestions and new rules
that can help you create a character for the Reign of
Winter Adventure Path, but ultimately the details of the
campaign are up to your GM. Before getting too far along
in character creation, talk to your GM and ask whether
she recommends any modifications to your character. If
you get the chance, it’s also a good idea to talk with the
other people who will be playing in the campaign and
work together to build a cohesive group.
During this Adventure Path, the PCs will visit a number
of interesting and exotic places, but humans can go
unnoticed in most of these locations. Members of more
unusual races might have a harder time blending in at
first. However, as the PCs progress through the Adventure
Path, they will find themselves farther away from home
and what is considered normal. Because the PCs will all be
foreigners in strange lands, this campaign might be a
good chance for players to try uncommon races.
Character options with winter themes are available to
PCs, and while having protections against cold will be
very helpful, remember that it is likely your character
will be fighting creatures that are acclimated to the cold
and resistant to the cold energy type.
Throughout the course of the adventure, the PCs find
themselves in many likely unfamiliar locations. Because
of this, they will find that their social mores often do not
fit those held by the NPCs they encounter. Being f lexible
and able to adapt (or blend into) different cultures would
be very helpful in this Adventure Path. Characters who are
more interested in being obstinate individuals will likely
have a difficult time in this campaign, however, and could
become a burden for their fellow adventurers.
How should you prepare for the dangers that await you
in the Reign of Winter Adventure Path? Just keep the
following in mind while creating characters.
Frozen Foes: Reign of Winter’s adventures contain a
variety of monsters, many of which are native to icy climes.
You’ll face animals, fey, and humans at lower levels, then
giants and magical beasts. At higher levels, expect evil
outsiders, undead, and possibly even a few dragons.
Ice Magic: Irrisen’s White Witches are masters of
icy magic, but your character may be interested in cold
magic as well. The winter witch archetype in Pathfinder
Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Magic is perfect for a witch
character, as is the winter witch prestige class from
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Paths of Prestige (reprinted in
this guide), while an oracle can choose the winter mystery
presented on page 26 of Pathfinder Player Companion:
People of the North. A druid with the arctic druid archetype
or sorcerer with the boreal bloodline from the Pathfinder
RPG Advanced Player’s Guide would also be a good fit.
Likewise, an inquisitor with the witch hunter archetype
from Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Combat or a magus with the
hexcrafter archetype from Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Magic
would suit many of the campaign’s themes.
Lands of Winter: Winter is a major theme in the
campaign, so you should be prepared to face cold
temperatures and harsh conditions. Survival would be a
very good skill to have, as would Stealth and Use Magic
Device. Characters will also be traveling to new lands
during the campaign, so Diplomacy, Linguistics, and
Knowledge (local) may be useful in dealing with natives
and new surroundings. Being able to survive in cold terrain
is a must, but the adventures will also take characters into
forest, mountain, and urban environments as well.
Languages and Communication
This Adventure Path brings the PCs to a number of
far-f lung places, locations that might very well end up
being extremely foreign to most characters. In order
to get by when it comes to communicating with natives
of these places, it would serve a PC well to invest in the
Linguistics skill. Furthermore, early on in the campaign
the PCs visit the nation of Irrisen, whose residents don’t
generally speak Common, but instead treat the Skald
language as their common tongue. Some Irriseni also
speak Hallit, and Sylvan and even Aklo may be helpful for
communicating with some of the fey natives.
For some characters, language slots are a precious
commodity (especially at the beginning of their careers),
but it would be helpful for a party of adventurers in this
campaign if at least one member of the group selected
Hallit or Skald as one of her starting languages. (You
can also talk to your GM about using a possible house
rule that allows use of the Linguistics skill to get a basic
understanding of unfamiliar spoken languages.) As the
campaign progresses, spellcasters would be wise to select
comprehend languages or tongues as spell selections.
The following campaign traits tie characters to
the Reign of Winter Adventure Path. Although the
campaign will take characters to Irrisen and other
icy, winterbound locales, it begins in the warm lands
of Taldor far to the south. Characters designed for this
campaign should plan to be residents of or new arrivals
in the village of Heldren.
Adaptive Magic: The wonders of magic have always
fascinated you, and you find the urge to tinker and
experiment with magic almost irresistible. You could be
the child of an alchemist, wizard, or witch; a member of
the Pathf inder Society; or maybe someone with a touch
of fey or dragon blood. You may not be trained in magic,
and you’ve had your share of accidental mishaps, but
you possess a natural knack for activating magic items.
You’ve always been intrigued by the cold magic of the
winter witches and ice mages of the North, and would
love to get your hands on some of their magic items.
You gain a +1 trait bonus on Knowledge (arcana) and Use
Magic Device checks, and Use Magic Device is a class
skill for you.
Blood of Giants: You’re a big person, and people have
always said you’ve got some giant blood in you. Even as
a child, you towered over your friends, and as you grew
older, you grew even taller and stronger. Maybe your
hair has a tint of blue as well, or your skin is as pale
as snow. Perhaps someday you’ll get the opportunity
to travel to the North and meet some real giants, and
see whether the rumors about you are true. You gain a
+1 trait bonus on combat maneuver checks to sunder,
and a +1 trait bonus to your CMD against bull rush and
overrun combat maneuvers.
Failed Winter Witch Apprentice: As a child, you
were apprenticed as a winter witch in the frozen land
of Irrisen, but you did not complete your training.
Perhaps you disagreed with the politics of Irrisen’s
White Witches, or you had an altercation with one of your
teachers, or maybe you were just ill-suited to the practice
of witchcraft. Whatever the reason, you left the ranks of
the winter witches and left Irrisen. Whether or not you
have continued your training on your own, you still
retain some small knowledge of witchery and the magic
of the icy north. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Knowledge
(arcana) and Spellcraft checks to identify spells or
magical effects with the cold descriptor, and one of these
skills (your choice) is a class skill for you. In addition,
you gain Hallit or Skald (this does not count toward your
number of languages).
Northern Ancestry: One of your parents came from
the North, and the tales of the frozen lands at the top
of the world that you grew up listening to excited your
imagination. Alternatively, maybe one of your ancestors
passed on the blood of some frost-rimed creature. You
feel most alive during the chill of winter, and as a child,
you spent hours playing in the snow. You rarely feel the
cold, and you’ve always had a restless longing to travel
north. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Fortitude saves, as
well as cold resistance 2; this resistance does not stack
with cold resistance gained from any other source.
Restless Wayfarer: You have long led a nomadic life—
perhaps because your parents were travelers (whether
roaming Varisian caravaneers or traveling merchants
who traded far and wide), you belonged to a nomadic
tribe, or you ran away from home to discover the world
at a young age. Some call it wanderlust, but to you the
thought of new places and experiences is truly what
makes life worth living, and no region catches your
imagination like the windswept wilderness of the
North. You are used to getting along in unfamiliar
lands and interacting with interesting new people. You
gain a +1 trait bonus on Knowledge (geography) and
Knowledge (local) checks, and one of these skills (your
choice) is a class skill for you. You can also speak one
additional language (this does not count toward your
number of languages).
Vigilante Witch Hunter: You don’t trust witches. They
deal with otherworldly beings, consort with beasts, and
brew vile poisons in their cauldrons. As a child, perhaps
you barely escaped some horrid fate at the hands of an
evil witch, or maybe a loved one was stolen from you
by a witch’s charms. Perhaps you wanted to be a witch
yourself, but the local witch refused to take you on as an
apprentice. Whatever the reason, you now hate witches,
and have dedicated your life to ferreting them out and
exposing their wickedness for all to see. You know that
the North is full of winter witches, and should you ever
find yourself there, you’ll relish bringing your justice to
them as well. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Sense Motive
checks, and Sense Motive is a class skill for you. In
addition, you begin the campaign with 1d4 hex nails (see
Warded against Witchery: Sometime in your youth,
you encountered a location, object, or being steeped in
the power of evil witchcraft. Whether you were the victim
of this force, were a conduit for it, or merely witnessed its
effects, the event changed your life. You have tried to put
the strange incident behind you and forget it, but nebulous
premonitions of danger and eerie feelings of deja vu
have dogged your steps ever since. For some inexplicable
reason, you feel drawn to the lands of the North, though
you fear another encounter with the evil witchcraft that
touched you once before. Whether through your purity,
the blessing of goodly spirits, an innate determination,
or an intuitive and inexplicable familiarity with the ways
of black magic, you have acquired a resilience against
the power of the dark arts. You gain a +1 trait bonus on
saving throws against the spells, spell-like abilities, and
supernatural abilities of evil arcane spellcasters, and a +1
trait bonus on Spellcraft checks to identify spells cast by
evil arcane spellcasters.
Where You’re From and Where You’re Going
This Adventure Path doesn’t stay put. The characters
all start out in the same place, but moving forward, the
only thing known is that they will be spending much
of their time in freezing temperatures. Below is a brief
description of where the PCs start and a quick primer on
how wintry weather affects them.
The Reign of Winter Adventure Path assumes that your
character starts in or around the small village of Heldren
in southern Taldor. This area contains populations of
humans, half lings, half-elves, elves, and gnomes. While
half-orcs are rare, they are not unheard of in this region
and they are not treated much differently from those of
other races. Also, as Taldor is a somewhat tolerant country,
it wouldn’t be unheard of to see aasimars, tief lings, or
other strange and almost otherworldly races.
Heldren is located in southern Taldor near the edge
of the Border Wood. Taldor’s capital of Oppara is almost
200 miles northwest of Heldren, and the closest sizable
city is Zimar—Taldor’s third largest city. This fortified
city on the Jalrune River houses a large number of Taldan
troops ready to defend their borders from the Qadirans to
the south. A small town named Demgazi sits on the other
side of the Border Wood from Heldren. More information
about Taldor can be found in Pathfinder Campaign Setting:
The Inner Sea World Guide or in Pathfinder Player Companion:
Taldor, Echoes of Glory.
Heldren is a small village of 171 people, mostly farmers,
herders, and woodcutters. A small armory sits atop a
low hill northwest of the town square, ready to provide
a safe refuge in case the village is attacked. Heldren’s
town hall and its single inn, called the Silver Stoat, are
the two largest buildings in the village, followed by the
sawmill that brings income to the quiet settlement.
Like many small villages, Heldren contains a general
store, a blacksmith, a stable, a butcher shop, a barber, an
apothecary, and a wise woman who sees to the village’s
needs. To provide spiritual guidance to the village, a
small temple stands near the center of town. Though the
place is dedicated to Erastil, its resident cleric tends to the
community regardless of an individual’s particular faith.
The village of Heldren is detailed in Pathfinder #67,
and you can talk to your GM about additional details
regarding the village if your character happens to be from
there. Portions of that article contain spoilers for the
adventure, but your GM might be able to provide you the
information you need without ruining your experience
or showing too much of her hand.
Even though the Adventure Path assumes that the
PCs start in the town of Heldren, the intial adventure
is f lexible enough to start pretty much anywhere in
the Inner Sea region. If your GM intends to begin the
campaign in another town or village, talk to her about
good suggestions for your character background.
This Adventure Path deals with strong winter
themes, and during the course of the campaign,
the PCs encounter a great deal of snow, ice, and
arctic weather. To help ensure your survivability in the
Adventure Path, take heed of some of the dangers this
environment can impose.
Cold: Between 0° and 40° Fahrenheit during the day, 10
to 20 degrees colder at night. Cold and exposure deal
nonlethal damage to their victims. A character cannot
recover from the damage dealt by a cold environment
until she gets out of the cold and warms up again. Once a
character has taken an amount of nonlethal damage equal
to her total hit points, any further damage from a cold
environment is lethal damage.
An unprotected character in cold weather (below 40° F)
must succeed at a Fortitude save each hour (DC 15, +1 per
previous check) or take 1d6 points of nonlethal damage. A
character who has the Survival skill may receive a bonus
on this saving throw and might be able to apply this bonus
to other characters as well (see the skill description).
In conditions of severe cold or exposure (below 0° F), an
unprotected character must attempt a Fortitude save once
every 10 minutes (DC 15, +1 per previous check), taking
1d6 points of nonlethal damage on each failed save. A
character who has the Survival skill may receive a bonus
on this saving throw and might be able to apply this
bonus to other characters as well. Characters wearing a
cold weather outfit only need check once per hour for
cold and exposure damage.
A character who takes any nonlethal damage from cold
or exposure is beset by frostbite or hypothermia (treat
her as fatigued). These penalties end when the character
recovers from the nonlethal damage she took from the
cold and exposure.
Extreme cold (below –20° F) deals 1d6 points of lethal
damage per minute (no save). In addition, a character
must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 15, +1 per previous
check) or take 1d4 points of nonlethal damage.
Cold Snap: Lowers temperature by –10° F.
Ice Effects: Characters walking on ice must spend 2
squares of movement to enter a square covered by ice, and
the DC for Acrobatics checks increases by 5. Characters in
prolonged contact with ice might run the risk of taking
damage from severe cold.
Ice Sheet: The ground is covered with slippery ice. It
costs 2 squares of movement to enter a square covered
by an ice sheet, and the DC of Acrobatics checks there
increases by 5. A successful DC 10 Acrobatics check is
required to run or charge across an ice sheet.
Snow: Falling snow has the same effects on visibility,
ranged weapon attacks, and skill checks as rain (reduces
visibility ranges by half, resulting in a –4 penalty on
Perception checks), and it costs 2 squares of movement to
enter a snow-covered square. A day of snowfall leaves 1d6
inches of snow on the ground.
Heavy Snow: Heavy snow has the same effects as
normal snowfall but also restricts visibility as fog does
(obscures all sight beyond 5 feet, including darkvision;
creatures 5 or more feet away have concealment). A day
of heavy snow leaves 1d4 feet of snow on the ground, and
it costs 4 squares of movement to enter a square covered
with heavy snow. Heavy snow accompanied by strong or
severe winds might result in snowdrifts 1d4 × 5 feet deep,
especially in and around objects big enough to def lect
the wind—a cabin or a large tent, for instance. Heavy
snow has the same effect on f lames as moderate wind.
Sleet: Essentially frozen rain, sleet has the same effect
as rain while falling (except that its chance to extinguish
protected f lames is 75%), and it has the same effect as
snow once on the ground.
Hail: Hail does not reduce visibility, but the sound of
falling hail makes sound-based Perception checks more
difficult (–4 penalty). Sometimes (5% chance) hail can
become large enough to deal 1 point of lethal damage (per
storm) to anything in the open. Once on the ground, hail
has the same effect on movement as snow.