Friday Favourite: Adventure Hooks – Campaigns in the Cold

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 29, 2013

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From January 18, 2011, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Adventure Hooks – Campaigns in the Cold.

This summer we ran a series of adventure hooks that featured numerous bizarre and strange happenings that occurred in the Sun & Moon Tavern (part 1part 2). These articles have been incredibly popular and continue to be among our most widely read pages from the past six months. It seems pretty clear to us that our readers want more short, quick adventure hooks.

One of the reasons the Adventure Hooks from the Sun & Moon Tavern were so popular was that they all centered around one common location. It made coming up with the adventure hooks easier for me as the DM, but I think it also made them more appealing for readers.

Before I sat down to brainstorm more adventure hooks I wanted to come up with a theme to tie them all together. The answer was as simple as looking out my front door. I decided to put together adventure hooks that all took place in a snowy environment.

In my experience very few games actually take place in the snow, but I’d like to change that. By offering some creative (and in a few cases just crazy) adventure hooks, perhaps you’ll be inspired to set the next leg of your campaign in a harsh and snow-filled setting.

These adventure hooks can be used in a campaign that takes place in the desolate tundra of the fringed arctic or just outside of a town or village that happens to get a lot of snow during the winter.

Of course, a lot of these can easily be adapted to any environment. So even if your campaign takes place in a more hospitable environment you’re still likely able to pull some inspiration from the adventure hooks below.

  1. The PCs find an adventuring party dead of exposure. A search of their gear reveals that they are all wearing magical armor. The only way to get the armor off of the bodies is to thaw them out. When the bodies begin to thaw they awaken and attack.
    [They were zombies who wandered too far north and then were frozen when winter came.]
  2. During a particularly cold night a lone traveler shows up at the PCs’ camp seeking a warm fire. He is looking for his teenage daughter. She’s been lost for a few days. She’s an experienced Ranger with the skills to survive the cold, so he believes she’s alive and possibly nearby. In the morning he’s gone without a trace. There is no evidence of his coming or going. Days later the PCs find a statue of a father and daughter whom were lost in a terrible storm over a hundred years earlier. The resemblance is uncanny.
  3. The PCs discover a hot spring where a wide variety of creatures relax peacefully despite their normal inclination to kill each other. They explain that the springs are neutral ground and that combat is forbidden. Fighting here means permanent banishment, something none will risk in this cold environment.
    [The spring’s source is a steam mephit that is “on vacation.” He finds the cold relaxing and enjoys eavesdropping on all of the conversations he overhears as people come to bathe in the springs.]
  4. The PCs awaken and find that everything their wearing is devoid of colour. All of their outer wear is white.
    [A primal yet playful spirit stole their colours while they slept. As long as they wear the white clothing and armor the spirit will watch over them. If they change into something else he’ll alert a nearby monster that they ruined his fun and he should attack the mean adventurers.]
  5. The wood that the PCs use for their campfire burns strange colours. There is no harmful effect, but the smoke also exudes these strange colours alerting a nearby tribe of nomads that someone is burning wood from their sacred forest.
  6. The PCs meet an old Dwarven prospector looking for a deposit of rare gems. He had a map but lost it a few days earlier. He knows the cave with the gems is nearby. If the PCs agree to help him find it he’s give them a cut of the riches.
    [In fact he’s been looking for the mine for over 20 years. He lives in a nearby village and comes out every week looking for his mine. He’s more likely to lead the PCs into the cave of a hibernating bear than gems.]
  7. While seeking shelter from the harsh cold the PCs find an intelligent monster that is clearly not suited to the cold climate. It believes that the world is in the midst of an ice age and it’s doing its best to survive.
    [The creature was unintentionally transported from its warmer climate to the far north when a summoning went horribly wrong.]
  8. While traveling across the open tundra or across a lake the PCs hear strange noises. The noises continue for hours but they are unable to pinpoint its origin.
    [This is merely tricks of the wind amplifying and carrying various sounds to the PCs’ ears. There is no threat, but the players don’t know that.]
  9. After consuming fish from the nearby lake, the PCs begin to give off a faint odor. Anyone who ate the fish is unaware that they smell off. The odor will attract some monsters while keeping others at bay.
    [DMs are encouraged to have fun with this, specially if some PCs eat the fish and other do not.]
  10. The PCs learn about a group of renowned hunters that provide the most exquisite meat to a nearby village. The PCs stumble upon the hunters while they are field dressing their latest kill: a Purple Worm (or some other monster that most people would be revolted to learn they’ve been eating). The hunters don’t know what to do but fear that their secret and in turn their livelihood will be exposed.

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1 Joe November 29, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Some potential great add-ins for the chilly adventures in this season’s D&D Encounters in the Icewind Dale. Had some great interactions with my party last week when, after waiting out a many-hour blizzard in a wagon, they came out to find themselves surrounded by 8-ft-high snow everywhere. I love taking any normal environmental annoyance from our world (like the 3 ft snow I sometimes have to shovel here in New England) and pushing it to a magically-powered fantasy-based conclusion.

2 Scrivener of Doom December 6, 2013 at 7:20 am

These are some great ideas for expanding Legacy of the Crystal Shard. I’m also taking a fresh look at R A Salvatore’s 2E adventure The Accursed Tower this weekend to work out how I can tie that into Legacy as well.

I would also like to point people toward where one of the posters, Acrozatarim, has posted his write-ups of three mini-campaigns set in the Icewind Dale:


These are all worth checking out for more ideas for expanding Legacy into a large campaign in the Icewind Dale.

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