Thursday, January 9, 2020

Winter's Daughter Play Report and Review

"Delve into the fairy-haunted forest of Dolmenwood"
"The tomb of an ancient hero, lost in the tangled depths of the woods. A ring of standing stones, guarded by the sinister Drune cult. A fairy princess who watches with ageless patience from beyond the veil of the mortal. A forgotten treasure that holds the key to her heart."
"A romantic fairytale dungeon adventure for characters of 1st to 3rd level"

Spoilers, of course.

A few weeks back my group played the Winter's Daughter adventure module by Gavin Norman. It's the best thing I've played in awhile for that dark fairy forest vibe. The back story is evocative (and nicely broken into bite sized chunks that I was able to toss out as characters were introducing themselves), the dungeon is a simple tomb but contains a story that reveals itself. 

 However, the first encounter has nothing to do with the story and was almost my favorite part. I don't want to spoil it but the heroes are presented with a scenario that seems genre typical at first glance, but turns out to be anything but. My players were non-plussed and I felt like it was a brilliant introduction to the Drune and the forest setting at large. The first session ended with the heroes drifting like snowflakes out of a hole in the sky...

In the second session, the heroes found themselves in a frozen world, at the edge of a frozen lake, surrounded by dense forest, staring at a white marble tower in the middle of the lake.  At the front door were the doormen, a goblin on the shoulders of a hungry troll.  The goblin Griddlegrim said that they were not on the guest list but that they could join the party if they ate a magic mushroom.  The heroes obliged and were variously affected by the stuff: shrunk to 6 inches, purple skin, etc.

Image result for winter tower fairy fantasy
In the tower they met the Winter Princess waiting for her groom to arrive.  They made deal with her, returned to the tomb, and figured out safe passage into the the crypt.  Thus, the ancient lovers were reunited and the heroes emerged victorious, laden with fairy jewels.  A good time was had by all.

A highly recommend the module.  It is high on investigation, idiosyncratic detail and mystery, low on hack and slash (though there was a brutal battle on the lake with the troll, ending only when the troll fell through the ice).   This makes for an engaging adventure and also one that plays a bit more quickly.  With only a handful of actual fights, the action moves faster.  This could easily be a 6 hr one-shot (we did it in two 3ish hour sessions).  

A final note on the layout: Very easy to use at the table.  Info is in bullet points.  Descriptive words for each location at the top.  Bullet points for NPC/monster "reactions" (sometimes "Wants" or "Knows") make it very easy for the DM to give the roleplay a sense of direction.  I want all modules to be like this, which is why I've been running Hole in the Oak!  


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