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Previously on Rime of the Frostmaiden

Valravn, level 3 Eladrin Bard of Eloquence
Fray, level 3 Halfling Barbarian of the Beast
Celeste, level 3 Half-orc Sun Soul Monk
Edmond, Level 3 Human Alchemist Artificer
Thimbleweed, level 3 Gnome Swarmkeeper Ranger

Arriving at Kelvin’s Cairn, the party investigates the base camp and ascends the mountain, which turns into a linear dungeon crawl of enemies and hazards. And talking goats.

I ran Kelvin’s Cairn mostly by the book, but modified and enhanced each individual scripted event that occurs as the party makes their way up the mountain.

The first task was finding the base camp. Thimbleweed failed the DC 15 Survival check, forcing a CON save for the entire party as they searched the snowy base, and leaving Valravn with a level of exhaustion.

The base camp had been smashed and trampled by a snowy owlbear searching for food. The only other occupant was a sled dog, tangled up in the reigns of the sled and unable to escape.

The Marshals rushed to its aid with a surprise round, tearing into the bear with arrows and axes, and Valravn’s Dissonant Whispers sending the bear crashing into more tents. It roared back and charged at Edmond, who had brazenly approached to fling his Magic Stones, downing him with a brutal one-two claw and bite combo.

The rest of the party didn’t blink, however, sending it fleeing away from the mountain in the next round. They revived Edmond with a potion (our MVPC potions would come in handy this session), freed the dog with a successful Animal Handling check by Fray, Short Rested, and searched the campsite for anything useful.

Rime of the frostmaiden session 7 snowy owlbear

Thimbleweed (temporarily played by Chris until Reese arrived) cast Speak with Animals on the dog. The dog’s knowledge was limited, but did confirm that a pack of people, including his master, went up the mountain over a day ago, while the bear wandered in more recently. The other dogs put up a fight but ultimately escaped as the bear chased, but it had returned. They decided to take the dog to try and find its master and the rest of the previous adventure party.

The campsite yielded a journal entry from Perilou Fishfinger, one of the members of that party. The journal chronicled their stay in Icewind Dale during the few weeks they were here, including getting a quest from a wizard named Dzaan to escort him up the mountain. They had traveled up the east side of Ten Towns towards Caer-Konig, hired a guide, and made it to the mountain.

The Marshals also found a map with a trail marked by the guide, which I used as an excuse to show the Kelvin’s Cairn map to the players. All of the locations remained hidden on the GM layer until they reached them, however.

Kelvin’s Cairn is a series of unfortunate events as the party makes their way up, beginning with some fairly innocuous goats. Thimbleweed (now controlled by Reese) cast Speak with Animals again to try and learn more information.

I had a lot of fun role-playing the goats, giving mostly one word answers and remaining playfully vague about the dangers ahead. Thimbleweed role-played really well and offered them food, so I rewarded the party with forewarned knowledge of danger ahead, granting them advantage on the first in a series of checks for the upcoming avalanche.

The avalanche rules in the book are dumb. It involves rolling initiative, and the avalanche moving hundreds of feet twice around, which doesn’t give a PC any time to actually do anything. I adopted the avalanche rules from the Complete DM’s Bundle from Eventyr Games, which included a mini-skill challenge with varying degrees of failure and scaling penalties.

First everyone rolls a Perception check (DC 10), followed by an Acrobatics check (DC 13) and finally an Athletics check (DC 15) as the avalanche comes crashing down. If a 20+ was rolled, the PC would have advantage on the following check. Accruing any failures would result in damage and possibly ending up buried in the snow. See Frostside Chat (below) for a full breakdown!

The Marshals did really well, with only two players failing one of the three skill checks, resulting in a meager 1d10 bludgeoning damage for Edmond and Valravn, the least athletic party members. I ruled the dog had made it to safety — certainly not about to destroy a dog in an avalanche!

The journey up and around the mountain continued. Reaching the halfway point, about 400-500 feet up, the party spotted a humanoid facedown in the snow. They began approaching, and the dog ran forward to the body, whining worriedly.

At the same time, a trio of Crag Cats surprised the party, pouncing on Edmond, Thimbleweed and Fray. All three attacks connected, but the three victims succeeded on their STR saves to avoid being knocked down (and getting a subsequent bite attack). Roll for initiative!

While Fray raged and swung her axe, Valravn got off another Dissonant Whispers, comboing with Unsettling Words to reduce their saving throw. He was surprised to see the cats had advantage on the single-target spell save, but I rolled terribly, and it failed, sending the cat careening towards the cliff. The attacks of opportunity from both Fray and Valravn killed it before it could escape.

Edmond successfully bathed the remaining two in Faerie Fire, leading to Celeste and Thimbleweed getting critical hits thanks to the advantage. Celeste (played by Heather) would also activate her Mind Tickle ability, stunning one cat after it leapt on Valravn and downed him in a quick burst, similar to the owlbear and Edmond.

The cats could do serious damage, but so could the Marshals, and they soon emerged victorious — mostly by leaving Valravn rolling Death Saves while they took down the last Crag Cat. Edmond had made his Lingering Injury save, but Valravn was saddled with a concussion (Disadvantage on INT checks/saves). The injuries are starting to pile up!

Next time – who is the downed figure, and how much mountain is left to endure?

MVPC – Valravn

Post-session live discussion:

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