Dungeons & Dragons Online

Mountain of Frozen Fangs


MOUNTAIN OF FROZEN FANGS

Far to the North, at the edge of the Sea of Broken Glass, the forgotten island of Balarak waits. Rumors have reached the ears of the mainland. The island is said to be frozen most of the year. It is said to be dangerous. It is said that somewhere in the frozen peaks that cover Balarak lies a great treasure. Little more is known… But how much more does an Adventurer need?

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Synopsis

Our story takes the players off to a remote island looking for forgotten treasure. Treasure that happens to be collected in the lair of a Dragon. Although they likely don't know that up front. In order to find this lair, they must cross a dangerous sea, navigate a dark forest, and climb to the peaks of rugged mountains. But what waits for them at the end isn’t quite what they’re expecting!

  • Target Party and Level: 4 level 4 players
  • Expected Playtime: 4+ Hours
  • Tone: Exploration and Treasure Hunt

What Are "Quick Shots"

Quick Shots are Adventures designed to be played at varying lengths and levels of engagement. Many things like Locations and Encounters are only conceptualized and were made to happen where best fits your take, not ours. Think of this as an outline of ideas, not a step by step guide. We've given you the meat and the bones, you just need to garnish and present! Also, if you’ve never played an AOG adventure, I thought it wise to give you some notes on how I write them. Cuz I do some stuff non traditional like. Those notes are at the end.


SETUP INFORMATION

THE ISLAND Balarak, or Pointed Teeth, as the locals call it, is a good sized island covered by steep mountains and thick pine forests teeming with life, much of it large and some of it quite dangerous. It is far to the north, almost arctic, and spends much of the year snow covered. The terrain is rocky and uneven, with massive fir trees breaking through the soil wherever they can find purchase. The sea surrounding it is choked with rocky shoals, often ice covered, and littered with the remains of broken ships whose captains steered too close to the island. The waters themselves are treacherous, bitterly cold, with strong undertows, and like the mainland it has its fair share of hungry creatures.

There are no “civilized” settlements on the island, but it is home to various tribal and nomadic cultures, none of which are overly large. Most notable among them are the Aarakocra, Kobolds, Firbolgs, and Goblinoids. The Aarakocra are divided into two factions, Snow Owl of the mountains and Rough Legged Hawks in the forests, while they are not actively at war with one another they do not get along. The Kobolds are scattered about the island forming too many small tribes to count. The Deep Root Firbolg clan wanders the island gathering from nature what they need. While the Goblin clans infest the rocky foothills often raiding the other clans. The island is easily large enough for the groups to stay out of one another’s way, but just like cultures everywhere… no matter how much space is given, or how great the resources available, cultures find ways into conflict.


Hooks

  • The Ol’ Treasure Map trope would work really well here. Rumors and local legends fit nicely as well.
  • Being hired as protection for an archeologist or anthropologist would be a great hook.
  • There is also just the tried and true shipwreck event. Something out of their control and now they have to survive.

Important NPCs

  • Aarakocra Druid Hunts by Moonlight, a cold and unwavering voice for her people. She is looking to use others to accomplish her goal to establish the Drudic presence of her people.
  • Kobold Chieftain Kholmok, a brave and noble kobold… just kidding he’s nutty as a cashew farm. He does however manage to lead the most revered tribe on the island.
  • Ice Troll Cold Troll, Cold Troll is very smart as far as trolls go. He also has no interest in honoring any deals he makes. He will happily use the players then turn on them.

Opening Cut Scene

"Jaws snapped shut sending both feathers and blood spattering into the cold night air. The Aarokocra swirled around the white scaled terror that had descended upon them. It was pointless. A dozen already lay dead, frozen solid, likely entombed for all eternity as trophies of this day. The day that the Snow Owlkin were driven from their home. The day Frostmaw stole their mountain."

ACT 01: Flossing the Teeth

Upon arriving at Balarak the players will need to travel through the violent sea riddled with rocks to the shore of the islands. Sailing through the rocks (Or similar ideas) should involve a Skill Challenge of some sort. Failure to pass the challenge should destroy any craft they are using and put them into the freezing water. Being in the water is not good, not good at all, so I suggest Con Saves against exhaustion. This would also be a good place for a Sea Encounter.

ACT 02: Through the Trees

Once they land the party will have to begin exploring. Depending on how you hooked them, they may be headed straight for the mountains, maybe even the exact peaks they’re looking for. Either way, they are headed into the forest. The Trees are on average 5’ in diameter. The forest is very dark dure to the size and thickness of the trees so there is little undergrowth, but due to the rocky and craggy nature of the island there should be a significant amount of difficult terrain. This could be overcome by a ranger or other such skilled player. The Forest is home to the majority of the island’s wildlife and that fact should be reflected in potential encounters.

ACT 03: Scale the Spires

As they work their way through the woods they will eventually have to deal with the mountains. These steep spine-like mountains rise abruptly out of the rocky foothills surrounding them. It is not uncommon to find large cliffs stacked upon each other as they just up toward the sky. One can find switchbacks, passes, and paths through the crags and canyons, but travel here is very difficult and should be reflected in skill checks and even skill challenges. They are also riddled with small caves and hollow splits in the rock. Aside from typical random encounters and events, I recommend using some bad weather and maybe even an avalanche as the players make their way upward.

ACT 04: The Crag and Cavern

Ideally have them reach this crag at night. It is near the top of the mountain and the cavern entrance is at the far end of it. Once they are near-ish the entrance the Snow Owl Aarakocra will aggressively confront them, but they will not outright attack them. They will make claim to the mountain as their sacred lands and demand the players leave the area. They players may be able to push the Aarakocra to allow them passage into the Mountain “IF” they agree to eliminate the Kobolds Living there.

ACT 05: Frostmaw’s Rest

This ice coated Obsidian Cavern is divided into three areas. The Kobold Warrens, in the lower tunnels, The Ice Troll Lair in the upper cavern, and Frostmaw’s Rest where the Aarakocra’s Druidic Ring stands. The ground should be a little slippery but not very. The air is frigid and thin. Con Saves against exhaustion may be in order. It is basically one long tunnel that winds its way upward, at some points climbing up actual ice cliffs. The idea here is to put them in partnership and/or conflict with one or more of the groups. How they connect or meet with them is up to you.

The Whitescale Kobolds

The Whitescales have lived here for a long time. Since before Frostmaw was slain. Their strange little history can be seen scrawled into the ice, often glazed over and then repeated with variations. Basic story is they came here to serve Frostmaw. She died and they don’t know, because they mostly refuse to go to the top of the mountain. Once a month they send “tribute” beyond the barricade into the upper tunnel and those that go there are never seen again. The Troll takes them, but the Kobolds think they are sacrificed to Frostmaw, which they believe is a great honor. They keep a few “domesticated” wolves as hunting mounts. Of late they have been harassed by the Aarakocra who have staked a claim in Frostmaw’s Lair. They are desperate to rid the mountain of them but do not dare climb up to remove them. They are confused as to why Frostmaw allows the birdfolk to stay and fear they have fallen out of favor.

The Ice Troll

There is an Ice Troll here living the good life. It is quite smart as far as Trolls go, and very clever, but still a Troll. It feeds off the Kobolds that come into its area. It keeps its treasures in a branching cave nearby, that it can easily access with it’s “Meld into Ice” power. It is also crafty enough to keep a “fake” treasure area for intruders to stumble across. He has become increasingly nervous about the Aarakocra in the area. It may be reasoned with, but is very self interested. It may promise to reward the players if they kill the Aarakocra, but is likely to turn on them immediately after a conflict. Particularly if the players were hurt badly during any battles.

The Drudic Ring

This open sky chamber was long ago taken by Frostmaw from the Aarakocra Druids living nearby. She killed the Druids and chased the rest of the Aarakocra away. Nearly a Century later she was slain by adventurers who came here to explore the island. Her treasures were mostly taken by the few survivors of that encounter. Within the past months Snow Owl Aarakocra have returned and have taken up residence here. There is a powerful Druid among them who is interested in restoring the area to her people. But they have yet to deal with the Troll, or the Kobolds, as they have a deep fear of caverns. For now they are content to pick off the Whitescales a few at a time and leave the Troll in peace. If the players attempt to loot Frostmaw’s lair without their permission the Aarakocra will demand they leave. If they persist, the Aarakocra will attack.

CLOSING

Eventually they will find out the Dragon is long dead, some of the groups may even tell them that ahead of time, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t treasure or rewards to be had. It is important to reward them adequately since we pulled a little switcheroo on them. The factions will try to bribe them with promises of wealth or the lure of items. Each Faction should have a fairly unique reward for siding with them.

There may also be a follow up reward depending on the hook you used to get them here. On top of that, finding the remains of a dragon is somewhat a reward in and of itself. But if they’re looking a little sullen at being empty handed here are a couple of follow up ideas to chew on.

If your players are disappointed with not fighting the dragon… no one is stopping you from having one or more of Frostmaw’s children arrive while the players are pulling her fangs from her skull. How awkward…

Or perhaps it becomes obvious to them where the treasure went. Maybe one of the other factions on the island has it. That may be something really interesting to chase down.

Or maybe after helping their chosen side with their problem here, that group asks them to help with another issue. They could offer more leads as to the whereabouts of the treasure.

Where this goes is really up to you and you know your players best.

THANKS FOR PLAYING

I do want to take one last moment to sincerely thank you for playing an AOG Adventure. It means a lot to me as a creator. If you enjoyed it please leave me some comments on wherever you found this adventure. You can support more content like this by subscribing to our Patreon AMPLUS ORDO GAMES or joining the DISCORD

What is The AOG?

It started 40ish years ago. I still remember the day my cousin brought out this thin blue book with a white sketched dragon on its cover and a pile of strange dice. He told eight year old me that we were going to play a game where I could be anything I wanted (as long as it was an elf, dwarf, human, or halfling). I immediately developed that love of bringing people along on journey after journey, and through all the moments and four decades of playing, the trip has never lost its wonder.

Now, I think we are best described as a network of Table Top Role Playing Gamers (Mostly D&D). I had been sharing my work online for some time but decided in April 2021 to open a Patreon and Discord. Honestly, I knew I was behind the Patreon Train, but it made sense as a platform. I’m not interested in money, but I am interested in sharing with and helping others in the hobby. So I run the site 100% free of any paywaylls. More like a Digital Magazine than a Patreon.

Almost a year in and we’ve grown quite a bit. We host One Shots through the Discord. I do a lot of requests for our supporters and some commission work. I coach many of our subscribers regularly on DMing and fantasy cartography. My son helps write our “Year One” series which are adventures designed for entry level DMs and players, and we use our content to run an after school Jr High Group. We even support a podcast my other son and I lend our voices to. It has been a busy year.

If any of that interests you come find us!

PATREON Amplus Ordo Games

DISCORD Join the Network

PLAYING AN A.O.G. ADVENTURE

If you’ve never played an AOG adventure, I thought it wise to give you some notes on how I write them. Cuz I do some stuff non traditional like. I’ll put those notes down in the Appendicies.

Homebrewed World

First off, almost all my adventures are set in my Homebrew World of Taalist, particularly the Continent of Krenshad. Which the majority of has a very Gothic Art and Renaissance Period cultural feel to it. With some Greek and Middle Eastern Cultre from various time periods thrown in there for flavor. That said… Almost all of my Adventures can be easily ported into your location of choice. If you would like to play in Taalist my Campaign Guide (All 150+ Pages of it) can be accessed on our Discord.

The Lay Out

I divide my adventures into “Acts”. An Act doesn’t necessarily reflect an amount of time, but more of an important series of events or locations. Some Acts may take 5 minutes, some 5 hours. Why? I dunno, ask the players who over complicate simple matters and simplify the overly complex.

Skill Check DCs

I don’t spend a lot of time defining DCs as I play with a bit wider scale of success and failures. What does that mean? So for reference the DC scale in 5E looks like this…. Very Easy DC5, Easy DC10, Medium DC 15, Hard DC 20, Very Hard DC 25, Nearly Impossible DC 30. When I list a DC I will tell you it is Hard. But Hard for one party may be easy for another so I leave the actual number value up to you. I also play with a “Success but with Consequences” mentality so if they get close they still accomplish their goal but there is a “but” to that success. An Example? Hard Stealth DC is 20, they roll an 18, I tell them “You sneak past the guard you see but the guard you didn’t see heard something and is headed your way.” I think it adds more to the story that way.

Search Checks

I often reference Search Checks. What is a Search Check? When the players want to “search” something or for something I let them use either Investigation or Perception. I know that isn’t RAW but it just makes things so much easier. I got real tired of explaining to players who have been playing with me for years the difference between the two… just let them look for stuff!

Opening Cutscene

I like to start my games with an Opening Cutscene which is read before anything else happens. These are usually really vague bits of information that give a glimpse into something that will maybe happen later, happened before the adventure, or is story adjacent to it. I have found these to be great tools to set the mood and create a little mystery.

Setting, Background Info, and Hooks

These portions can be used as you see fit. Each one is a little different, so it is hard for me to say how best to use them. Some will play better if you can get them into the hands of the players before the game. Others may have better influence when read just after the Cutscene. Some are really only relevant to moments in the story. But as in all things you do what is best for your game! That is always the way to go.

Skill Challenges

I use the idea of Skill Challenges a lot. What is that? It is an event in the game that isn’t quite an encounter and it isn’t a simple skill check. It is a problem they solve with their whole skill set. Typically they must get three successes before three failures in order to succeed in a skill check. The thing about a Skill challenge is they’re are vague on purpose to allow players to be creative in solving a problem. An example may help here.

  • DM says “Your Boat is taking on water. What would you like to do?”
  • Player 1 responds with “I use my carpentry tools to fix the hole” and they make a Tool Check. But they roll a 2 so they fail. Too much water.
  • Player 2 says “ wants to row harder with the crew to get us toward shore faster” They make an Athletics Check and roll an 18. So that is a success.
  • Player 3 “I use Destroy Water to get water out” OK, well it only destroys 10 gallons so it isn’t super helpful, but the momentary reprieve allows a little drywork to happen and allow player 1 to reroll.

Stuff like this

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