This adventure is inspired by the myths of Finland, in style if not in actual content, and has the appropriate epic feel about it. Designed for a single character - a sorcerer of 10-12th level is suggested, and one is provided - brief notes are provided should you prefer to use it in a regular multi-player game, when characters of about 6th-level would be appropriate.
Firstly, the GM is given the full background story upon which the myth is based. It's not very clear how to get your character or characters involved, though, as all they are recommended to be told is a rather opaque (but pleasant) song sung by a local bard, unless you go with the route of them having prior knowledge that has brought them to the area in the first place. It's all set in a snowy northern wilderness, so there does need to be some reason to be there in the first place... even if you come up with something completely irrelevant that puts the character in the right place for you to start the adventure!
However you've got the character there, the adventure proper begins with a trek through the snow (complete with a few well-constructed random encounters you can use) to reach an inn. Here they'll discover that the area is claimed by a bunch of sentient bears and travellers need to either request permission from them to proceed (or evade them in their travels). There's a local bard who can provide some useful background to the myth once the character's attention has been attracted, provided she asks!
As the adventure unfolds, there are opportunities to exercise both the sword-arm and tongue, with combat and diplomacy both required to achieve success. If the character does manage to impress those sentient bears, they'll take her where she needs to go, else the correct location will have to be discovered. Once there, of course, it's not plain sailing - indeed, actually finding what the character is after involves rather too much random chance for my taste... and as finding the item in question is the start rather than the culmination of the adventure, I'd be inclined to make it a bit easier. The rest is complex enough and requires thought, interaction and skill (combat and otherwise) to reach a successful conclusion.
While interesting and challenging, the final part of the adventure is a bit linear with a distinct possibility of the character being left floundering if they don't discern the correct actions to take. It will need careful GMing to ensure that the character has a fighting chance of success without her feeling that she is being led by the nose!
Overall, it's an unusual and intriguing adventure - born in a song, it may well lead to some more as the character's exploits will if successful, be worthy of a ballad or two.
Return to The Pearls of Pohjola page.
Reviewed: 3 April 2010