Friday, 11 May 2012

Fimbulwinter - Brainstorming

Initial Thoughts

The above map comes from the Monument of the Ancients adventures from Dungeon 170. After the absolute turds someone cranked out as maps for the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide I was rather excited to see a decent map with lots and lots of details to inspire adventures.

Originally I had planned to prepare and run a full 30-level Heroic-Paragon-Epic campaign set in the region of the above map but I am finding more and more that I simply want to run mini-campaigns that fill the Heroic tier and then move on to a new story.

Fimbulwinter will compress various ideas from my other planned campaign arcs such as War in the North (which has its own blog from a couple of years ago) into an arc spanning levels 1 to 10/11.

Frost Giants & Titans in the Heroic Tier

The main BBEG is going to be a frost titan, Lord Kultaakar, served by frost giants. As it stands, 4E frost giants and frost titans are too high in level for a campaign set in the heroic tier but I will make frost giants into level 10 elite monsters (generally brutes) and Lord Kultaakar will be a solo brute of 10th- to 12th-level. (This is actually consistent with the number of hit dice frost giants had in 1E.)

The Warlock-Knights of Vaasa in the Heroic Tier

Competing with the frost giants and Lord Kultaakar for the role of principal protagonists in the campaign will be the Warlock-Knights of Vaasa. Like the frost giants, the Warlock-Knights, as statted in 4E, are Paragon-tier opponents. I plan to use the existing three stat blocks but I will have them range in level from 6th to 8th or 9th or so.

(In reality, the leader of the Warlock-Knights is the BBEG as he is the one manipulating events. However, he will be confronted [and, ideally, defeated] in the penultimate adventure thus leaving the frost titan as the final "boss" monster.)


For this campaign I want to draw on:

Third Edition:
Raiders of Galath's Roost
Sons of Gruumsh
This adventure, or at least its basic idea, is key to the overall campaign. In Sons of Gruumsh, the Zhentarim are attempting to forge an alliance with the orcs of Thar. In this mini-campaign, it will be the Warlock-Knights of Vaasa. I rather like the idea of combining it with Raiders of Galath's Roost.
Mysteries of the Moonsea

Fourth Edition:
Menace of the Icy Spire
Monument of the Ancients
I'm giving serious thought to redesigning this adventure for the Heroic tier.
Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl
I basically want the campaign to conclude in the 4E version of this classic 1E adventure -albeit redesigned for the Heroic tier!
LFR Adventures-
SPEC2-2 P1 Tyranny's Bleak Depths
SPEC2-2 P2 Tyranny's Bitter Frost
SPEC2-2 P3 Tyranny's Perilous Bastion
I like how these LFR adventures involve recovering an ancient artefact of Iyraclea, Chosen of Auril, by the Warlock-Knights of Vaasa and somehow (as I cannot remember the details right now) using that to cement an alliance with the Banites of Mulmaster. In Fimbulwinter, the Warlock-Knights have a similar goal but the artefact they're trying to recover (ring of winter?) is going to be offered to Lord Kultaakar to cement an alliance with him and his frost giants to entice them to join with the Warlock-Knights as they seek to conquer the Moonsea North. The artefact will have the power to create a fimbulwinter (more on that later).
Mixing it All Together

The party begins in Phlan. Why? Largely because there is a decent map of the city.


Tarl Hornsong, an ambitious fellthane (landed Warlock Knight) of Knight Commander rank, is despatched by the Ironfell Council of the Warlock Knights of Vaasa to the Moonsea North with a mission of bringing the orcs of Thar, the barbarians of the Ride and the frost giants of the Titan Peaks under the influence of the Warlock Knights and then to combine those forces into a single army able to overwhelm the Moonsea North.

The Ironfell Council is dominated by a Banite faction who are also seeking to ally themselves with the Banite rulers of Mulmaster. As the faction sees it, conquest of the Moonsea North will be a first step to bringing more of the region under the dominion of the Black Lord.

The orcs of Thar are the simplest target. All Hornsong must do is have his forces find the legendary maul wielded by the last Tharkul: the orcs and ogres of Thar will almost automatically line up to follow its wielder. As such, this task has been delegated to promising subordinates.

Hornsong is personally overseeing the efforts to bring the frost giants of the Titan Peaks into the fold. To do this he needs to unleash an unnatural winter born of the Elemental Chaos. A fimbulwinter, as it is known, would be a sign to the superstitious frost giants - and the mighty frost titan who rules them - that Hornsong has the favour of the primordials of the Elemental Chaos.

The simple fact is that the fimbulwinter actually presents a greater threat to the Moonsea North than war with the Warlock Knights and whatever forces they can gather. Such an outpouring of the destructive forces of the Elemental Chaos could irrevocably change the Moonsea North such that it would no longer be suitable for habitation by normal life. Hornsong is not fully aware of the risks that he is taking and, even if he were, he would proceed anyway as he longs to climb the ranks of the Warlock Knights and one day take his place on the Ironfell Council.


Adventure One: Adventures in Phlan
Levels 1-3

I'm probably going to have to over-prepare this adventure. Essentially I want the PCs to "sandbox" for a while, at least until they reach 3rd-level when the leadership of Phlan hires them to investigate the orc raiders (see Adventure Two: Raiders of Thar).

I need them to get a reputation in Phlan and also to uncover some of their own history. I am thinking of an expedition to the moathouse from T1 Village of Hommlet but making the  moathouse the former base of the Knights of the North. There they can recover tabards and other items. The moathouse could be set in the Twilight Marsh and encounters could include bullywugs, giant frogs, lizardfolk and a black dragon.

Adventure Two: The Hammer of Vorbyx
Levels 3-5

Trade between Phlan and Melvaunt is being disrupted by orc raids but the orcs keep disappearing.

This is a combination of Raiders of Galath's Roost and Sons of Gruumsh. The origin of the orcs (and ogres) is Citadel Ankhalus in Thar.

(Citadel Ankhalus is briefly referred to in 2E's Ruins of Zhentil Keep as the lair of the Masked Wizards of Ankhalus who were defeated by Manshoon at the beginning of the Zhentarim's history. I may or may not use that bit of lore but what I will do is replace Xul-Jarak from Sons of Gruumsh with this name [although Xul-Jarak could even be the name in the Giant language].)

Adventure Three: Monument of the Ancients
Levels 5-7
  • The Warlock-Knights are trying to bring the barbarians of the Ride into the fold.
  • The Warlock-Knights are trying to unleash an unnatural winter from the Elemental Chaos.
Adventure Four: The Palace of the Icy Queen
Levels 7-9

Iyraclea is dead but a simulacrum of her still exists.

A key treasure here will be a flametongue sword that can be used against Lord Kultaakar.

Adventure Five: The Glacial Rift of the Frost Titan Jarl
Levels 9-11

This will basically rip-off 1E's G2 Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl and the 4E update of the same name. I should include some emissaries of the Warlock-Knights for variety and possibly representatives of the fey Prince of Frost.

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