Three: Thin Ice
By Stephen Schubert
Giant Ransom is a short adventure for four 11th-level characters.
There are opportunities for diplomacy, stealth, and combat, based on the
choices the PCs make, so any mix of classes is appropriate. The adventure
can be set in any campaign world, in a frontier region near glacier-covered
In the first episode,
the PCs were employed by Duke Ambrinigan
to exchange a ransom of 10,000 gp in gems for a golden lion that was
taken by frost giants in a recent raid. While waiting for the giants
to arrive at the designated meeting place, the PCs watched as the white
dragon Whildenstrank attacked the giants and then flew off with the
statue. Charged with returning the golden lion statue at all costs,
the PCs dealt with the remaining frost giants
and then headed west, toward the lair of the dragon in the midst
of the nearby glacier.
Along the way, they
encountered Velg the Dragon Tamer, another frost giant who was also
on the trail of the dragon. Velg may or may not be with the party now.
The PCs are now
traveling across the flat icy surface of the glacier, and may have just
noticed something burrowing under the ice, heading straight toward them.
Atop the Glacier
The eastern edge
of the glacier is mostly flat ice, with the occasional crevasse or sinkhole.
Travel is relatively safe, and the surface is perhaps 4 inches of heavy
snow or slush, soft enough that feet sink in an inch or two, but not
so wet that water puddles in footprints. The flats of the glacier eventually
give way to the "ice canyons", a maze of ice walls and pillars.
The white dragon Whildenstrank makes his home in a spire of volcanic
rock that juts out above the glacier like a black fang in the middle
of the icy expanse.
The PCs have not
been unnoticed as they cross the snowy landscape. A pair of bulettes
has adapted to living under the glacier, and they have noticed the presumably
armor-clad meals marching above. Not bulettes of the sort to allow a
meal to walk by, they burrow up to the PCs and attack.
hp 90, 100; see Monster
Manual page 28
Walking on Thin
Ice (EL 8)
Once the bulettes
are defeated, the PCs will discover another danger: the tunneling of
the bulettes has weakened the ice beneath their feet, and it is about
to give way! Read or paraphrase the following text:
You sigh with
relief as the last of the landsharks slumps motionless to the ice.
Before you can begin your next thought, however, the ice beneath
your feet shifts, nearly throwing you to the ground. You see cracks
and crevices begin to appear on the surface of the ice, and the
small rifts begin to spread, becoming larger, as if the glacier
were opening a gaping maw to swallow you up!
The PCs have very
little time before the ice gives way. Have each PC roll for initiative,
and begin a round. At initiative 10, the ice gives way. Any PC still
within 30 feet of the bulettes will fall into the sinkhole with the
ice. A PC that falls into the sinkhole must make a Reflex saving throw
(DC 15). Success means the PC has managed to stay atop the ice as she
falls, failure indicates that the PC will be buried.
Treat this situation
as a cave-in (see Dungeon Masters Guide page 114). A PC that succeeded
his first saving throw will need to make another Reflex save (DC 15),
or sustain 3d6 points of damage and become pinned in the ice. Any PC
that failed his first saving throw will be buried, and will take 8d6
points of damage, or half that if another Reflex saving throw (DC 15)
is successful, and is pinned beneath the ice.
take 1d6 points of subdual damage per minute while pinned. Buried characters
are under 1d6 feet of ice, and digging them out will require moving
500 pounds per foot of depth, or about one minute per foot of depth
for the average PC working alone. Velg, with his 29 Strength, can dig
down about 14 feet in one minute, if he is there. See the Dungeon Masters
Guide, page 114, for rules on cave-ins and digging. Characters who are
not buried, but still pinned, can free themselves with a Strength check
(DC 25), or can break free in one minute with some assistance.
The Ice Canyons
After the characters
dig themselves out of the sinkhole, they should continue west, toward
the dragon's den. The relatively smooth surface of the glacier slowly
gives way to a network of interweaving Ice Canyons. The walls of the
canyons rise nearly one hundred feet above the canyon floors, which
vary from twenty to thirty feet wide.
The canyon floors
are covered with a layer of ice dust, and there are some tracks in the
snow. A Wilderness Lore check (DC 18) by a PC with the Track feat will
reveal a set of large wolf-tracks leading into the canyon maze. The
tracks are from the winter wolves that act as spies for the dragon Whildenstrank.
The PCs could even try to follow the tracks through the twisting paths
to the dragon's lair.
The PCs should reach
the Ice Canyons near dusk, and may wish to rest. Throughout the night,
they hear the whistling of the wind through the twisting ravines, and
very faintly they might hear what sounds like the howling of wolves,
or the sound of the frost giant horns carrying on the wind.
The next day, or
when the PCs head into the twisting canyon maze, they hear a high-pitched
screeching echoing off the canyon walls, followed by a raspy roar. The
sounds of combat resonate in the narrow fissures for a few seconds,
another roar is heard, followed by a noise not unlike thousands of icicles
shattering on the ground. The sound seems to be coming from just around
the next bend...
About the Author
is a freelance writer who spends too much of his time at his day job.
When not working or writing, Stephen runs two D&D campaigns,
and plays in a few others. He dedicates this, his first published adventure,
to his wife, whose paladin will always remember "242 points of
to the D&D
main news page for more articles and news about the new D&D
or check out the D&D
for a lively discussion of all aspects of the D&D game.