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Reviews - Caverns of the Snow Witch
 
by Matthew Pook


Snow Witch coverCaverns of the Snow Witch
Published by Myriador Ltd.
Written by Jamie Wallis
Illustrated by Janine Johnston
40-page, saddlestitched book
$15.95

Caverns of the Snow Witch is the second d20 system adaptation of a Fighting Fantasy Solo Adventure Book. The original was written by Ian Livingstone and published nearly twenty years ago, but has now been reworked by Jamie Wallis (no relation to, or not to be confused with James Wallis, founder of Hogshead Publishing Mark I) and published by Myriador Ltd. Now a multi-player dungeon and wilderness adventure for four D&D characters of roughly 8th level, it is set on the world of Titan, as was the first adaptation of the original Fighting Fantasy book, Warlock of Firetop Mountain. Both solo books were reprinted in late 2002, along with several other titles, but the d20 adaptations were launched somewhat quietly at Gen Con UK this last Easter.

Into the Cold
The forty-page adventure opens with the characters escorting a merchant caravan to a trade outpost in the Icefinger Mountains. Upon discovering the outpost wiped out by a giant beast, their employer, Big Jim, asks them to track the creature down and end its menace. This leads them up the mountains and toward a darker threat -- the evil Snow Witch who plans to plunge the world into a permanent ice age and make it her domain. Unfortunately the characters will not be able to escape the Caverns of the Snow Witch without her bestowing one last decidedly malevolent gift upon the players: an Ancient Death spell. In order to rid themselves of this, the players must forget about any reward for killing the creature for Big Jim, and head several days south in search of a healer who possesses the cure.

Caverns of the Snow Witch comes almost ready to play off the shelf. The adventure is laid out in a linear fashion and the four characters provided have a guide to combat, their skills, abilities and feats listed on the back of their sheets. Those familiar with Myriador's adaptation of Warlock of Firetop Mountain will be familiar with the four adventurers, as they are updated and upgraded versions of the characters found there. The DM will still need to give the adventure a good read through though, as at times it is a little complex.

Another carry-over from Warlock of Firetop Mountain is the implementation under the d20 System of a new attribute taken from the Fighting Fantasy series: Luck. This is treated as any other attribute in Dungeons & Dragons and rolled up during character generation or purchased through the standard point buy method (the latter requiring thirty points rather than the standard twenty-five, due to the extra attribute). The attribute itself works both as a standard attribute, and as a source of points to draw luck attempts from, which calls for an attribute check against a Difficulty Class of 10. A successful check can give bonuses that can be applied to saving throws, skills, attack rolls, increasing or decreasing damage, turning or repulsing the undead or just a plain Luck roll. Each luck attempt made, successful or not, decreases a character's Luck attribute by a single point, but points can be restored through story awards given by the DM. This can act as another method of rewarding the players besides treasure and experience should the DM so desire.

The book itself is reasonably laid out, but not without the odd typographical error. The decent artwork includes depictions of the new monsters in Caverns of the Snow Witch, including the Banshee, the Bird Men, Flesh Grubs and the Hill Troll. A number of new magical items, as well as details of the Snow Witch's Ancient Death spell, are also described. Further, the publisher's website provides downloads of dungeon floor plans, character sheets, and tokens for both the characters and the monsters, which can enhance the play experience.

Conclusions
Where Warlock of Firetop Mountain suffered somewhat from being too linear -- turn this way and you die, turn the other and you live -- Caverns of the Snow Witch does not suffer that problem to the same extent. Nor are the encounters or monsters so randomly selected as they were in Warlock, which is in part due to the source material, of course. Instead, Caverns involves a dungeon, a wilderness trek, and more interaction with the various NPCs, all of which is reflected well in the d20 adaptation. This, in fact, is a job well done, and it will be interesting to see further adaptations of Fighting Fantasy Solo Adventure Books for this reason.

 
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