The dreaded Snow Witch of Allansia plans to dominate the world! Deep within the Crystal Caves of the Icefinger Mountains, the dreaded Snow Witch is plotting to bring on a new ice age. A brave trapper dies in your arms and lays the burden of his mission on your shoulders.
Caverns of the Snow Witch is a title which drip-feeds its story to you, bit by bit you progress through a series of tangents and varying environments which we’ll cover all in good time. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start at the beginning. Our employer is Big Jim Sun and his travelling caravan of traders is who we’re being paid good money to protect as it travels across a wintery northern Allansia. During a trip to the base of the Icefinger Mountains, Big Jims base camp is attacked by an unknown creature which leaves no survivors and some enormous footprints. After pushing him for a fee of 50 gold, Big Jim sends us out for vengeance on whatever abomination was responsible for these events. Now, 50gp doesn’t sound like a lot of money to me, but maybe Big Jims trading isn’t going too well this winter.
Having talked out a plan of action the things footprints had, much like its victims blood, now been covered in falling snow and so all I could do was head in the general direction towards the mountains which the beast had taken. Knee-deep snow was the first thing to hinder my progress, the second was a large crevasse. Spanning the crevasse however was a large ice bridge which I decided to risk crossing. I’d had some luck in rolling out my stats (10/24/12) and so the Luck test to cross the bridge was a formality as I scooted safely across to the other side. The weather seemed to be getting worse as the wind picked up, blasting snow into my face, but soon the howling wind was replaced by something with considerably more bite; the howl of wolves! That ham-fisted segue brings us to the first encounter of the book, a couple of snow wolves, both with a Skill of 7 and both getting taken down without landing a blow on me.
A steepening climb and swirling snow hinted at the start of a blizzard and encouraged me dig into the snow with my sword, creating a make-shift igloo whilst the bad weather passed. It seemed to do the trick too as I got through it unscathed, although I was forced into eating two of my provisions to sustain myself through the storm. Emerging from my icy hollow, I was somewhat annoyed to see an overhanging rock face with a small hut perched on the top. Could arguably have done with seeing that before I became temporarily subterranean, but then that’s just how Livingstone gets his kicks I guess. Investigating further, the hut seemed to belong to a trapper due to the numerous furs hanging around the walls and ceiling, it also seemed that the trapper had not long been here due to still warm embers in the fireplace. I first helped myself to some stew, restoring 3 Stamina points I hadn’t yet lost and then spied some weapons poking out from under the bed. A warhammer and a spear? Don’t mind if I do…
Ploughing on, the climb into thinner air cost me 1 Stamina point, but it was soon apparent that this was the least of my worries as I had stumbled across not only the trapper, but what must have been the awful creature I was hunting, a giant Yeti! The trapper had clearly gone after a pelt a little too big as the Yeti cut him down with his claws. It’s at this point I should probably bring your attention to the illustration…
Now I like the illustrations in this book, there’s some great looking work going on i here, but that Yeti looks ridiculous! His eyes are full of sorrow and fear, I don’t feel terror, I want to give the poor Furby-like thing a hug. It’s like he wanted to play with the trapper and accidentally eviscerated him, throwing his hands up in shocked apology; like Edward Scissorhands, he can’t help but get it wrong. Anyway, my way to make him feel better was to sling a spear at him, I was on the promise of 50gp after all. Thudding into its chest, the spear seemed to enrage the beast, but hopefully it had weakened it too, although at 10/9, it still managed to give me a few cuts and bruises before it died. To my surprise, the trapper was still alive and in his last breaths he laid down some expository dialogue about what would become the second stage of our adventure, the Crystal Caves. He had been searching for these caves for years, cut out of a glacier by the minions of the Snow Witch they represented her base of operations as she sought to use her dark powers to bring an ice age across the whole world so that she could rule over all. The legends of treasure frozen inside the caves was the allure for the trapper and quite by accident he had seen one of the Snow Witches minions entering the caves through a secret passage that appeared to be a solid ice wall. This entrance had been marked by the trapper with a hanging pelt. Before he could tell me more, the trapper faded and passed. And so, instead of returning to Big Jim, we’re now off to save the world!
Stormy conditions had passed and I set off looking for the entrance to the caverns under clear blue skies, taking a quick Luck test to avoid an avalanche I soon stumbled across the hanging fur the trapper had described which marked the illusory wall. Closing my eyes and walking into the icy wall, I passed straight through and was in! Before me was a long passage cut into the ice which ended in a T-junction. My map tells me I took the left turn. Following the passage around a corner to the right I almost walked straight into a mountain elf, his head covered almost entirely in a hooded robe. Trying not to get rumbled from the off I made up some story about wanting to join the Snow Witches forces, only to be told I was an idiot as nobody would follow her by choice, the elf indicating a collar he was wearing which forced him to do her bidding. At this point I came clean, much to his delight, he gave me his robe as a disguise and told me to take the right turn ahead.
Following his advice I took the right hand turn and shortly after, I could see a small passage to the left which appeared to lead into a kitchen, staffed by the unlikely combination of a gnome and a neanderthal.
I entered the kitchen and was promptly told to get out by the gnome as dinner wouldn’t be ready for two hours yet. He tried to appease me with some stale cake. This would not do. Drawing my sword to attack, the gnome ordered his partner to attack, but not even the carving knife and stool he chose to arm himself with couldn’t prevent his death and I cut him down quickly leaving the gnome running off screaming for help. A quick searching through the kitchen provided a few interesting items though, prising open a cupboard revealed what must have been the gnomes personal possessions; a flute, a runed stick, a rose and a book. Blowing on the flute managed to create a tune without having to finger a note, a magic flute then I should suppose; I chucked it in my bag along with the indecipherable runed stick. Taking a smell of the rose returned 3 Stamina, but knowing that usually these situations usually have one bad choice, I elected to leave the book alone. A bit of fingers-stuck-in-pages action revealed this was a good choice as the book was actually a trap which shot out a poisoned needle, taking 4 Stamina to those who tried it.
It didn’t seem anyone was coming to help the gnome though, so I was able to move on without any issues. That was until I arrived at the enormous ice demon effigy being worshiped by hoards of the Snow Witches minions. Yes, that might cause a problem.
Good job that mountain elf gave up his robe, eh? We’ll see how that works out in Part Two…