This resource is about traveling to a faraway location in the frozen wastes of the north. It depicts the process for traveling through the rough climate, dealing with the indigenous tribe that lives there, random encounters for the area, and reaching the entrance of a lost dungeon/temple. It is all about the journey and gaining entrance to the forgotten underground location.
The savage tundra in the north is an inhospitable place for plants and fauna. And yet, even in the harshest climates, life finds a foothold. It manages to survive and even thrive despite the unending onslaught of the cold, the wind, and the scarceness of resources.
The northern territories are home to several forms of life but the only human group that lives there by choice are the members of the Blue Heart tribe. They are indigenous to the area and their lives and bodies have adapted to the inclement weather. They cover their bodies with the furs of large mammals and light their fires with whale oil, which is a scarce but valuable resource. Their homes are half-spheres of ice (igloos) and snow buried in the arctic wastes. Strangely enough, it is warm inside their ice homes. When they start a fire inside, it is warm enough to even take off all furs and hats.
The north is home to many secrets; important places and objects lost to time and the cold. The frozen world of the north hides many ruins, temples, and forgotten civilizations under the ice and snow. The potential riches from dungeon hunting and grave-robbing in the north are vast but it is not a popular place for the likes of adventurers and mercenaries. Few people are equipped, physically and mentally, to endure the merciless nature of the frozen wastes. Members of the Blue Tribe are constant witnesses of people daring the north with an attitude of foolish bravado. They often ignore well-meant advice. These poor souls have made a tomb of the north.
Journey in the Cold
Traversing the tundra requires certain equipment. Would-be travelers need several objects if they expect to survive the harsh conditions in the north. It is advised that they bring the following:
- Special clothing to withstand the cold.
- Travel rations that can be eaten frozen.
- A way to start a fire.
- Thick sturdy tents to withstand the wind.
It is also recommended to bring a guide who is familiar with the region and survival measures in the tundra. Travelers cannot bring horses to the far north; they freeze and die under these extreme conditions.
A well-equipped group of adventurers can travel 12 miles in a single day under normal weather conditions. They can move half as much after it snows or during a storm. During a storm, traveling or failing to find a secure shelter may subject the traveling party to the effects of extreme cold weather (DM’s discretion).
The adventurers’ destination is as far as it is fun to travel for the players. The DM should not drag the experience longer than needed. It is recommended to make the trip at least 50 miles long, which means 5 days under clear weather conditions. The trip may last longer depending on the weather (see below). The adventuring party is likely to come across interesting sights as part of their travel random encounters. After a few of those, it is not a problem to cut to the chase and let the adventuring party reach their destination.
Encounters in the Wild North
The weather in the tundra changes fast and it is hard to predict. Even the members of the Blue Heart tribe have trouble anticipating the will of the land. Roll a 1d6 on the following table to determine the weather at the beginning of each day.
|Sunny tundra weather.
|It snows all day. It is enough to hinder traveling and reducing speed.
|Snowstorm! Travelers should find a secure shelter underground or risk the effects of extreme cold weather.
To find a proper shelter during a storm, a character must make a successful DC 17 Wisdom (Survival) check. On a pass, they find an empty igloo, a cave, a hole on the ground, or another similar location to hide. On a fail, no such secure location is found and the party must brave the storm inside a tent.
Roll a 1d20 on the following table each day of travel, except during storms. Each of the encounters may occur only once. If you reroll an encounter for the second time during the journey, pick the next higher result. Some of these options may be elaborated further by the DM into small quests or even combat encounters if the PCs are interested.
|Random Tundra Encounters
|A half-buried igloo. Three people inside got trapped during and storm and froze to death. They have three days worth of rations and 25 gp.
|A tracks-trail. A successful DC 14 Wisdom (Survival) check reveals that a pack of snow deer fled from a large pawed creature.
|A crack on the ice floor reveals a crevasse with an entrance on the stone floor below. What could be hidden in that cave? Treasure or danger? It is useful as a shelter.
|Near the coast, a colony of territorial penguins cares for a large nest with a single over-sized golden egg. There are 6d6 penguins and they all attack at once.
|A man in plate armor is half-buried in the snow. He froze to death years ago. The armor is in good condition but the body must be broken up to release it.
|A group of three Blue Heart tribesmen hunters. They carry the carcass of a snow deer back to their thorp. They may offer help if needed.
|A Blue Heart tribe hamlet in a snowy hill. The tribesmen welcome the travelers and are eager to trade. The chieftain offers a ceremonial lance (30 gp) in exchange for spices and/or perfumes.
|Deer tracks weave strange patterns in the snow. Geometrical shapes of unknown meaning. A successful DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana) check reveals if is a glyph for a scrying spell.
|A frozen field of ice statues of soldiers. They appear to run from an invisible threat. Their faces of panic and fear are an unsettling sight.
|A dog sled jutting out from the snow. There are no tracks of any kind in the area or a way to determine how it got here. A frozen sheet of paper in a small compartment in the sled says in elvish: “I did all I could…”
|2d6 ice mephits defend an ice bridge through a crevasse. There appears to be no other way to pass. They demand 10% of valuables that the traveling party possesses.
|Crossing the wastes, the travelers hear a cry from an injured animal coming from a large crevasse in the ice. If they go down, there is a long-frozen crimson patch that leads farther into the maze-like twists and turns of the ice caves. No animal, injured or otherwise, can be found. It is useful as a shelter.
|Two Blue Heart teens seek shelter and are desperate for someone to help them flee into the south and avoid their rival families searching for them.
|A gnome surrounded by an invulnerable magic globe barrier. 1d6+1 polar bears surround him, eager for a quick meal. He squeaks for help as he is thrown about the inside.
|An entire sailing ship lodged into ice, many miles from the sea. Unfortunately, it has been sacked already. There is nothing of value but it is an incredible sight. It is useful as a shelter.
|Boiling water emerges from a rock formation and produces clouds of steam. The hot springs brim with long-haired peaceful monkeys that spend hours on the hot water.
|1d6 deer at a distance (doe and fawns, 50% chance includes big stag)
|2d4 Blue Heart bandits. Hostile if they outnumber the party.
|A pack of 3d4 snow wolves attacks.
|A curious white arctic fox follows the party, it approaches with a successful DC 14 Wisdom (Animal Handling) check.
Terrain. The area around the entrance features 10-15 inches of fresh snow and counts as difficult terrain. The stone flooring around the entrance shows marks of erosion and damage but it is still serviceable.
Light. During the day, sunlight is reflected in the snow and may partially blind creatures without eyegear protection.
The Eye Effigy. A gargantuan eye effigy is carved on the cliff wall. It depicts a single eye with a slit pupil and many decorations and runes. The eye’s pupil produces an aura of warmth that keeps the entrance of the dungeon out of the snow’s reach.
Wardens of Frost
A sliver faction of the Blue Heart tribe lives close to the dungeon’s entrance. They have never delved inside but their witch leaders claim that the eye-entrance is sacred ground that belongs to them, as wardens of the north. The party’s trek through the tundra has not gone unnoticed by the tribe. The current witch leader has dispatched a group of select warriors to deter the adventurers from entering their sacred place.
Haruk (veteran) and five of his strongest allies (guards) have established a temporary camp right on the entrance and will defend the ruin with their lives. Two trained wargs come with them too.
The adventurers can defeat the Blue Heart tribesmen to gain access to the ruin but doing so earns them the hate of the Blue Heart tribe after the news of the attack spread. On the other hand, they may ask Haruk to speak with the witch leader. Perhaps there is a way to come to an understanding.