Drop Zones: Valley of the Crackling Snow (PFRPG)
BY Matt Roth
System: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Appropriate Level: Adjustable for any number of adventurers from 1st to 12th level
Location: The Valley of Crackling Snow is a relatively small location that could easily be inserted into any arctic or subarctic climate that offers enough room for a half-mile valley.
This mundane-looking alpine valley runs a half-mile between a pair of old and abandoned mines, where an oft-frozen creek divides the land. Although the water only flows for a few months out of the year, it and the surrounding snow hold a significant portion of copper run-off from the mine on the east side of the valley. Other than giving the snow a strange, coppery tinge, there doesn't appear to be anything special about this valley... except for the sound. On most nights, the valley simply crackles with electric-sounding noises. On particularly active nights, electricity arcs through the sky like some mockery of northern lights, whining with a high-pitched electrical whir as miniature suns dance among the stars.
This Drop Zone encounter is not designed to be another quest for heroes to embark upon or another series of combats in which to test their mettle but as an opportunity to explore a unique geological phenomenon and its effect on a world of magic and fantasy. Will the party unravel the scientific mystery behind the lights and sounds of the Valley, or will the bizarre, mutated wildlife keep them away? Will they try to tame one of these unique beasts, or will they try to heal the damage electricity has done to the land? While there are plenty of dangers to be found in the Valley of Crackling Snow, hopefully, it provides an interesting side trek to characters that only think they've seen it all!
What is a Drop Zone encounter?
A Drop Zone encounter is not an adventure in the usual sense but is designed as a finite, independent area you can drop into most any campaign world. Each encounter is a geographic area that contains specific components, i.e. structures, events, creatures, items, effects, etc. All components are fully detailed along with several variations.
What a Drop Zone encounter doesn’t have is a specific plotline, an expected outcome. How your PCs react to the components of the encounter or how the components react to the PCs isn’t preordained. You are provided with numerous options and ideas to pick and choose from, all to help you mold this encounter towards your group’s and your campaign’s unique needs.
You can weave each Drop Zone into the storyline of your own homebrew campaign or simply use each as a short diversion between adventures. Either way, Drop Zones are a quick and effortless way to spice up the more unremarkable portions of your campaign world.