DMs Guild Review – Crimson Snow

Discover the horrors lurking in an isolated camp in this one-shot for levels 10-13.

A review copy of “Crimson Snow” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using my affiliate links and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Jonny Cordova

Isolated snowy areas and horror go together like vampires and freshly-washed necks. Crimson Snow blends several reliable horror tropes into the beginnings of an interesting story, though the inevitably bloody final act comes way too quickly.

The mini-adventure is designed for levels 10-13. It’s exciting to review a Tier 3 one-shot, but the entire thing is barely 10 pages long. Lack of content and a sprint towards the big climax are its biggest problems.

The party arrives at an outpost in the snowy tundra. A group of scouts had been sent to investigate a crashed meteor and set up an encampment.

Soon after, a group of opportunistic vampires strode in and claimed the outpost as fertile feeding grounds. They feed on the poor scouts every night, then charm them into forgetting about it, leaving the scouts sickly and afraid.

At some point one of the vampires stumbled upon the meteor, and has been growing mad from nightmarish visions.

Vampires + Lovecraftian horror? Heck yes! After tracking wolf attacks to the outpost, the party meets with the vampire matriarch Elris. The three vampires, plus the escaped scout, Zara, are all given detailed notes and traits in the Dramatis Personae.

I wish we spent more time with this vampire family, including the nearly feral young sire Mordred whom Elris fiercely protects. But she points the party to the nearby tunnels to investigate the meteor. There’s no mention on what happens if the party suspects foul play and tries to attack them before the final act.

The second chapter is crushingly disappointing. I expected a full dungeon crawl in the creepy ice caves that hold the otherworldly meteor. Instead, the entire dungeon is reduced to a skill challenge.

It happens to be a well-designed skill challenge, throwing penalties at the PCs with extra encounters and hazards for every failure. But it doesn’t compare to what should have been a meatier, exploration-driven dungeon crawl. And, of course, there’s no map for it.

crimson snow fight

The meteor at the end doesn’t amount to much. Everyone must succeed on a DC 20 WIS saving throw or suffer a nightmare of a premonition.

By scoring high enough on the skill challenge the party can locate Zara, the only survivor of the outpost who’s not sick from being constantly fed upon by the vamps. She can reveal the truth about Elris and the others, though it doesn’t really matter. Once the party returns to the outpost, night has fallen, and the vampires are in full-on attack mode.

Instead of a chance to play up the horror of the situation, and maybe confront the vampires, we roll right into the climactic final battle with the CR 15 vampire, two CR 5 vampire spawns, and a CR 3 werewolf.

Normally that’s a pretty solid battle. But remember these are Tier 3 PCs, and they’ve barely broken a sweat so far.

Things get a bit more interesting when one of the vampires transforms into a Star Spawn Larva Mage — a CR 16 aberration with its own legendary actions. I definitely approve of the mid-combat secondary boss fight. But it leaves the whole evil meteor thing woefully underdeveloped.

There are some interesting ideas in play, but each chapter could benefit from more content, more atmospheric horror, and better pacing.

Pros:

  • Detailed Dramatis Personae for our primary NPCs.
  • Climactic final battle features werewolves, vampires, and eldritch aliens!

Cons:

  • Dungeon crawl is reduced to a skill challenge.
  • Speeds through the story way too fast, and wraps up too neatly.

The Verdict: Crimson Snow begins as an intriguing isolated horror story, but ultimately fails to expand beyond a big monster brawl.

A review copy of “Crimson Snow” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using my affiliate links and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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