RPG Reviews – Frostlands of Fenrilik (Scarred Lands)

Far from the continent of Ghelspad, at the Roof of the World, lies the icy continent of Fenrilik. Highly isolated due to the difficulty involved in reaching it, it is a cold land of harsh climate and hidden dangers.

I grew up in a notoriously cold country. Winter was unpleasant and dark, but the snow provided an ever-changing landscape that would cushion the falls of my friends and I when our make-believe personas were injured by orcs and dragons while playing outside. Holiday breaks from school were an excuse to sit inside and play D&D, usually accompanied by one or two new products due to Christmas. As a result I quite enjoy cold-climate game settings and Fenrilik instantly appeals. For D&D and Scarred Lands Community Content creators and consumers, Fenrilik will be part of Onyx Path’s Slarecian Vault, ready to be developed and expanded on by gamers like YOU.

Fenrilik is a cold and harsh climate and I appreciate the included rules for generating winter and summer weather and environmental hazards like fissures and geothermal vents. They’ll help with description and provide further obstacles for PCs to overcome – just dealing with a flash flood or avalanche will be harrowing. In fact a stated design goal is that PCs should be surviving threats more than “conquering” them, which is a nice change of pace.

While most peoples can be found in Fenrilik, having migrated from Ghelspad or beyond either during or after the Divine War, the locals are primarily human or half-human, who arrived centuries or millenia ago. They organize themselves into tribes who practice a form of ancestor worship, as well as the worship of the Ushada, titan-like beings who are invoked to avoid trouble, more than to grant blessings.

There is only one city, Kovokimru. It started as a trading post, then grew to become the home of numerous tribes and is constructed for the most part, from the iceworks of the Eschek (winter gnomes). A number of notable NPCs are presented who come from a diverse variety of backgrounds and key locations are briefly covered. Newcomers may find that their coin doesn’t carry the same value as elsewhere on Scarn, as most goods are valued at trade worth, which brings a new inter-character element to play. Some focused detail is given to local inns and taverns and holidays and festivals – all useful elements, especially for a Community Content program, as they’ll provide further collective setting elements for individual authors to draw on. A few story hooks are provided that focus on the city, ranging from investigations to hack and slash adventures to endeavors requiring great diplomacy. Though Kovokimru is the only proper “city”, other towns and villages receive a skeleton overview and can be expanded upon at your own table.

If you want to get out of the city and gallivant around the frozen lands of Fenrilik, the Tobor Gorge is an excellent location for adventuring. Mechanics-wise you get specific rules involving descending (or ascending) the gorge, which could be used elsewhere in Fenrilik too. The gorge provides access to a number of caverns, making it a perfect dungeon entrance. When combined with Kovokimru, you now have a home base and adventuring location that organically presents a classic D&D adventure type.

There are a number of new character options available to players. These include the Eschek, “winter gnomes” made entirely of ice who are renowned crafters, capable of working ice into furniture and tools; the Krampek, satyr-like tunnel dwellers well-suited to their underground life; and the recent Taslenh, who only appeared within the last century and are humanoids who appear sculpted entirely from ice, and are born when an ooze known as an “ice warden” imprints on a humanoid. If you ever wanted to play a character who has the Dual Nature of Ooze and Humanoid, you’ve got a great option here!

For Class options there’s the Bardic College of Hope, that heals and removes negative conditions; the Monk Tradition of the Way of the Winter Soul, which uses temperature control to buff the Monk’s combat abilities and defenses; the Ranger “Ice Walker”, who becomes optimized to cold weather life and combat over time, gaining a variety of buffs and utility powers (like ice-crafting); and the Sorcerous Origin “Ushada Marked”, who gain their powers from the primal spirits of the region and function primarily as defensive and utility-type powers like darksight and removal of the echo from one’s voice, or applying disadvantage on ranged attacks against the Sorcerer. Of the 9 new spells my favorite is probably “Empathy of the Faceless One”. Named after the Titan Golthain the Faceless, who was deeply entwined with all life around him, it is a divination spell available to Druids and Bards that causes its targets to receive the same damage they deal. Very flavorful and fun!

DMs get 12 new monsters to throw at the PCs and 5 variations on already existing ones. Among the new ones I like the Skerrai: scorpionfolk who are a great body-horror themed threat existing deep beneath the surface of the earth, and the Ice Wardens – flowing oozes of water that imprint on a creature to take its appearance (albeit one carved from ice). The Taslenh PC race are those imprints that break away from the Warden and exist independently.

Frostlands of Fenrilik closes with “Into the Gorge”, a 4-part introductory adventure for 4-6 1st level characters. Making use of the previously mentioned Tobor Gorge, it is primarily an exploration adventure with a couple of good combat encounters. It gives plenty of opportunities to exhibit the dangerous environment of Fenrilik and make use of Skill Checks to avoid danger. It’s dungeon-crawl-esque, but reaches far beyond the kick-down-door style of play. Considering the characters are intended to start at 1st level (and end at 3rd), smart playing will be necessary to survive. It showcases a number of the new creatures that live in Fenrilik and further adventure is hinted at in 4 plot hooks.

Frostlands of Fenrilik succeeds as a supplement on two fronts. It’s a good survey of a frozen setting that presents just enough material for a variety of traditional D&D adventures, working especially well for beginner characters (and players, since the setting information is really easy to digest). It gives a home location, areas to explore, threats to combat, and opportunities for diplomacy and roleplay-focused scenarios. It also succeeds as a Community Content primer. Its overview gives enough common ground for writers to have the opportunity to maintain consistency with each other and enough setting content to develop in a variety of ways through supplements and adventures.

Take a frostbitten first to the Frostlands of Fenrilik in PDF or Print-On-Demand at DriveThruRPG (Affiliate Link)!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s