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Dungeons & Dragons: Caverns of the Snow Witch

Caverns of the Snow Witch

The second in the Fighting Fantasy as D20 scenario series, Caverns of the Snow Witch brings another feast of deadly dungeon-crawling, with the addition of a wilderness search and some very bad weather to contend with as well as the usual host of unfriendly monsters.

Aimed at 8th-level characters (of which 4 are provided should you wish to leap straight in), the adventure begins when the next trading post on a caravan's route is found devastated by an unknown monster's attack. The characters are asked to deal with the problem, and follow the tracks up into a nearby icy peak. The weather's bad, blizzards of snow, and they have to contend with the effects of exposure and avalanches as well as various hostile creatures who resent anyone daring to climb their mountain! Along the way, they find the hut of a trapper, who's left a convenient note about the Snow Witch and her devilish plot to bring an ice age upon the world...

The adventure rather relies on the characters reading (and believing) the note, because by the time they catch up with the trapper he's been sent to the Hereafter by the very same monster they've been sent to deal with. Some people, particularly given the bad weather, might decide that once they've slain the monster it's time to go home.

Those who press onwards will find a maze of cold and deadly caverns full of traps and hostile servitors of the Snow Witch herself. She has means of ensuring their obedience - a Collar of Obedience that is but one of an intriguing series of well-developed new magical items that are there for the finding - and the characters had best be wary not to be thus snared themselves. Eventually, if they follow through what is a fairly linear dungeon, they'll find the Snow Witch herself and be able to kill her off (or will they?). Withhold your disbelief, in faithful rendition of the original Fighting Fantasy book the cavern and its inhabitants apparently exist only to kill wandering adventurers, you cannot imagine anyone just living there... even if there is a cook busy making a reasonably tasty stew for dinner!

All right, like all the best villains, even once the Snow Witch is dead, the characters are not home free. Her spirit's still around and if they escape that, then (apart from the caverns falling apart around their ears) there's a note with an ancient death curse spell pinned on the door they leave by! The second part of the adventure involves finding the only healer in the neighbourhood who knows how to lift the curse... and that, too, is fraught with danger.

Presentation-wise, this is very similar to the first book (The Warlock of Firetop Mountain) with black and white maps provided, and colour ones (still in a propriatory format) available for download, along with copies of the pre-generated characters and some pictures to wave at the players. The rules for the 'Luck' attribute are repeated too... and for this adventure, a bit of luck could come in useful. There are several instances of 'fail a single roll and you're dead, sorry mate' which can be particularly galling (especially if you are using a genuine 8th-level character rather than a pregenerated one).

There isn't much background to enable you to use this in a campaign, but it is just down the road from Firetop Mountain so if you have The Warlock of Firetop Mountain scenario you can use the details therein. It doesn't matter much, as the action is self-contained in the first part and the new territory covered in the wilderness section is detailed within the adventure text.

There are occasional spelling and grammar mistakes (the difference between "its" and "it's" is unappreciated and I was reaching for my teacher's red pen!) and the first few encounters have somehow lost their map key numbers, but it's fairly easy to figure out what is where. A good proof-read ought to have caught these.

Minor quibbles aside, another good dungeon bash with plenty to keep the characters on their toes. Not a dull moment, but plenty of deadly ones!

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