By Thilo Graf
This adventure from Rite Publishing is 40 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 7 pages advertisement, 1 page back cover and 1 page SRD, leaving 28 pages of content for the adventure, so let’s check it out, shall we?
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players might want to skip to the conclusion!
Still here? All righty!
Frozen Wind takes place in Kaidan (though any monastery/Asian-themed setting will do) and offers what I’ve come to love from the series – a brand of Japanese Gothic horror we rarely, if ever, see in RPGs.
The PCs arrive at the monastery when the chill of winter/ice-cold temperatures catch up with them (or due to personal reasons) and are shown their sleeping quarters. The adventure wastes no time, as the PCs are awakened by gaps of the dying – frost-coated monks suddenly convulse as their souls are ripped from their body (which coats them in frost in this particular instance) and the PCs are left in a suddenly very cold monastery – all the fires have gone out. The PCs should probably look for firewood and a way to keep warm while figuring out what exactly has happened.
Essentially, the monastery is a huge trap as the supposedly benign Kami it is devoted to actually turns out to be a Yuki-Onna who made the founder pledge the souls of the monks to her before making him forget this whole deal. Subsequently, her Koori-no-Oni (Ice-Oni) are the first opposition the PCs will have to contend with in an otherwise rather silent monastery – after all, the monks are now all dead. Once they have concluded this first act, the monks rise from the dead as frozen undead and seek to annihilate the PCs, who should at this point not only be fighting against the dread creatures, but also against the growing cold – survival horror at its best. Somewhere in the monastery, the Yki-Onna awaits them for the first showdown and should they defeat her, she tries to escape and seeks to summon a dread ice-kami which (along round 2 against her) makes for the final showdown. The impending summoning of the dread Kami makes for an additional counter that urges the PCs to keep up the pace and not waste any time – if she manages to summon the huge ice-bear, the PCs will have a serious problem on their hands.
The pdf concludes with 3 new monsters (one of which is a template), 6 pregenerated characters (each on his/her own page – ready to just be printed out and handed to your players) and gamemaster aids, to be precise, a temperature tracker and a summoning tracker for the Kami as well as a scoring sheet if you want to run this a convention scenario.
Editing and formatting are ok – while I did notice some glitches and would usually detract half a star/a star, this adventure is free and easily usable as written. Layout adheres to the beautiful 2-column full-colour, bamboo-lined Kaidan-standard and the artworks are mostly thematically-fitting, Japanese stock, but do actually contain some original pieces of gorgeous artwork – not something I would have expected in a free pdf! The pdf is also extensively bookmarked.
Special mention should be given to the presentation of the monastery, as it continues to change during the course of the adventure – thankfully, the beautiful full-colour map helps picturing the monastery. The pre-generated characters all come with special missions they can complete in the monastery and the gamemaster helps mean that you can run this scenario with a minimum of preparation. While this is a convention scenario, it does not feel like one, but rather like a full-blown, regular adventure, that does benefit from using the pregens, but could easily be run in your home-game. Personally, my sadism will make me reanimate all fallen foes after 1d6 rounds, making this adventure even more lethal, but that’s just my preference. What can I say? This adventure surpasses many commercial adventures in quality and atmosphere and is free – essentially a no-brainer, especially at this time of the year. If you’re still looking for a nice adventure for Halloween, dl Frozen Wind- it’s worth the hd-space and if you like what you see there, check out the other Kaidan adventures – they’re awesome as well! Kudos to Jonathan McAnulty, Michael K. Tumey and Steven D. Russell for giving this quality adventure away for free – my final verdict will be 5 stars. (If it weren’t free, it still would be 4 stars, without glitches 4.5 or even 5 depending on the hypothetical price.)
Frozen Wind is available from: