TSOLENKA PASS EDIT


Tsolenka Pass

u/mjmb88

I am just going outside and may be some time…

Day 1 – Travelling to the Pass

Areas of Tsolenka Pass

Tsolenka Pass Images

T1. Gatehouse Portcullis

T2. Demon Statues

Monster – Vrock

T3. Curtain of Green Flame

T4. Guard Tower, Ground Floor

T5. Guard Tower, Upper Floor

T6. Guard Tower, Roof

T7. Western Arch

T8. Stone Bridge

T9. Eastern Arch

Travelling to the Amber Temple

Day 2 – The Mountain Rises

Night Assault

Monster: Bodak

Day 3 – The Ice Maze

Appendix 1 – Weather Hazard Table

“I am just going outside and may be some time”

Day 1 – Travelling to the Pass

The path to the pass begins off the Svalich woods, shortly before the road splits into the paths to Krezk and the Wizard of Wines. At this point the party are still very much in the Barovian Valley climate; it is cool and overcast and rains intermittently. 

The path to the Tsolenka Pass Bridge takes roughly 10 hours at a normal pace, players travelling at a fast pace have disadvantage on perception (-5 to passive perception). For each hour of travel, roll for a random encounter (use the standard table) and roll for weather hazards (See Appendix 1)

Hours

Weather

Location

1-3

-5

The party travel through the Svalich woods. The sun barely penetrates the canopy which protects the part from the elements – subtract 5 from any weather hazard rolls.

4-7

-2 or -5

The party exit the Svalich woods onto the sparse moorlands that hug the woods. The path keeps close to the treeline and the party have the option of travelling close to the trees or brave the elements.

Parties travelling in the trees are easier to sneak up on – random enemy encounters will have advantage on stealth (if appropriate) to surprise them, but are protected by the tree canopy from the elements. Parties taking the path are harder to sneak up on, but are exposed to the element.

8-10

-1

The party begin to climb the slopes of Mount Ghakis, the sparse moorlands give way to bleak cold rock, with little vegetation and no cover from the elements. The path is narrow and treacherous, as little as 10 feet across. The climb is steep, and even at a normal pace the party must roll a Con save at the end of their journey on reaching the Tsolenka pass bridge. At a fast pace the party must roll a CON save every hour.

Areas of Tsolenka Pass

These structures are made of tightly fitted stone and CANNOT be scaled without the aid of magic or a climber's kit.

Tsolenka Pass Images

The Official Curse of Strahd book has a beautiful top down map of the Tsolenka pass, additionally JamesWebsterRPG has a beautiful still and animated image of the approach here.

T1. Gatehouse Portcullis

When the characters approach from the west, read:

The shelf of rock on which the mountain road clings grows narrow. To your left, the icy cliffs rise sharply toward dark, rolling clouds. To your right, the ground falls away into a sea of fog. Ahead, through the wind and snow, you see a high wall of black stone lined with spikes and topped by statues of demonic vultures with horned heads. Set in the centre of the wall is a closed iron portcullis, behind which burns a curtain of green flame. On the other side of the dark wall, gripping the mountain's edge, is a guard tower of white stone topped by golden statues of mighty warriors.

The gatehouse is 30 feet high. The adjoining walls are 20 feet high and lined with stone spikes. If the characters circumvent the gate by flying or climbing over it, the statues on the gatehouse (area T2) animate and attack.

If the characters approach within 10 feet of the portcullis, it shrieks with the sound of metal on metal as it rises on its own. It stays open for 1 minute, then closes.

T2. Demon Statues

These statues are actually two petrified vrocks. If they are attacked, or if the characters bypass the gatehouse, the vrocks revert to flesh and attack, pursuing prey that flees and fighting until slain. If you plan on running the rahadin encounter then consider leaving them for that.

Monster – Vrock

The Vrocks that stand guard here are deadly demonic warriors, bound by Strahd’s will. They have an impressive fly speed of 60 feet, great physical stats and powerful area attacks. Additionally, remember their advantage on spell saves.

The Vrocks will take flight and attack combatants, aiming for ranged attackers and spellcasters, before flying out of range – willing to take an opportunity attack. If they feel the fight is not going their way, they will attempt to poison characters with their spore attacks, then grapple and lift the characters up into the air, and attempt to drop them over the edge of the bridge. 

Characters dropped in this way can make a Dex saving throw and attempt to cling to the ledge, on a success taking the falling damage (3d6) to the ground, but not falling an additional 30 ft. to a ledge below (6d6). If this happens they must climb back up the cliff, with strength checks at the DM’s discretion.

T3. Curtain of Green Flame

A curtain of green flame fills the eastern archway of the gatehouse. Any creature that enters the curtain for the first time on a turn or starts its turn in the green flame takes 33 (6d10) fire damage. A successful casting of dispel magic (DC 16) suppresses the curtain for 1 minute. The curtain is also suppressed within an antimagic field.

T4. Guard Tower, Ground Floor

The tower door is made of ironbound wood and barred from within. A character can force open the door with a successful DC 22 Strength (Athletics) check.

A cold hearth stands across from the door, the wind howling down its chimney. A stone staircase is on the south wall. Three windows look out over a foggy sea. The stairs climb 20 feet to area T5.

Teleport destination – characters who teleport to this location from area K78 in Castle Ravenloft arrive at the point marked X on the map.

T5. Guard Tower, Upper Floor

The upper level of the tower is an icebox with windows set in almost every wall. A rusted iron ladder bolted to the floor and ceiling leads up to a wooden trapdoor. Mounted above the stone hearth is a dire wolf's head. The wind coming down the chimney howls in its stead. The trapdoor in the ceiling pushes open with a squeal, revealing the rooftop (area T6) and the stormy gray sky.

T6. Guard Tower, Roof

Ten-foot-tall, gold-plated statues stand atop the battlements, facing outward. Each one depicts a female human knight holding a lance. The cold wind stirs the snow, under which you see human skeletons clad in rusty mail. The roof is 40 feet high and 540 feet above the misty valley below. A wooden trapdoor in the floor squeals as it is pulled open, revealing area T5 below.

The skeletons are the remains of four guards who held this post long ago. Characters who search the remains find tattered bits of cloth, broken longbows and arrows, rusted blades in ruined sheaths, and rusty chain mail.

T7. Western Arch

When the characters approach the bridge, read: 

The snowy pass comes to a gorge spanned by a stone bridge. At each end of the bridge is a thirty-foot-tall, thirty-foot-wide stone arch. Atop each one are two statues of armored knights on horseback with lances, charging toward one another. The wind bites and howls like wolves as it passes through the gorge.

The western arch contains empty guard posts, one on each side of the bridge. These 10-foot-wide chambers provide some protection against the howling wind.

T8. Stone Bridge (Version 1)

The low walls that enclose the stone bridge have fallen away in a couple of places, but the bridge appears intact. Five hundred feet below the bridge is the Luna River, barely visible through the fog. 

A black-cloaked rider on a charcoal-colored horse guards the middle of the bridge. The cloaked rider is a manifestation of Strahd von Zarovich-a grim warning to proceed no further. If the characters interact with the manifestation in any way, the rider and horse disperse like ash in the wind. The ashes swirl and coalesce, and rising from them is a huge dragon, made entirely of shadow.

T8 Stone Bridge (Version 2)

The stone bridge makes a perfect climactic place for a Rahadin encounter. As the party near the bridge snow begins to fall, creating a lightly obscured environment, allowing Rahadin to use his mask of the wild feature to hide in plain sight. He waits for the players at the middle of the bridge, head down, holding his scimitar in both hands. He tells the party he can tolerate their violation of his lords hospitality no longer, and will attempt to goad one of the players into single combat. If you have a martial player then try to goad them into accepting a dual. Rahadin uses his superior movement speed to disengage and run out of harms way, using mask of the wild to hide and reappear where he sees fit, he will attempt to shove party members over the edge of the bridge and can use his misty step to target the squishy members of the party. If the party all engage at once he is joined by four vampire spawn who have been under the bridge. 

If he is reduced to 25% of his total hitpoints he will flee, jumping off the bridge onto a waiting beaucephalus. The vampire spawn will fight to the death.

T9. Eastern Arch

One of the statues atop this arch has crumbled, leaving only the hindquarters of the horse intact. The mountain pass continues beyond.

This arch contains 10-foot-square guard posts, one on each side of the bridge: Both rooms are empty. Beyond this arch, Tsolenka Pass hugs the mountainside before branching north and south. The northern branch leads to the Amber Temple. The southern branch continues to wrap around Mount Ghakis until it ends at the deadly fog that surrounds Barovia.

Travelling to the Amber Temple

The path on from the bridge at Tsolenka pass to the Amber Temple takes about two days. The party will have to make camp in the wilderness, even at a fast pace. 

From here the mountain become more desolate, there are less creatures roaming around, and the party are unlikely to encounter the majority of the random encounter table options. Instead consider and environmental hazard (appendix 2), or on rolling 18+ run the Sangzor encounter. If the party slay Sangzor his pelt provides the benefits of cold weather gear, additionally when worn openly the player will be treated with respect by any “berserker” they encounter in Barovia.

Day 2 – The Mountain Rises

The first days travel takes about 10 hours at a normal pace, and will take you on the map to where the path hooks back on itself. If your party are travelling with Kasimir he may suggest this point for camping.

At this point the party is unlikely to encounter any of the human random encounters, thought they may still encounter undead or wolves.

Hours

Weather

Location

1-3

+0

The party leave the bridge and follow the path as it cuts up the mountainside, Luna lake lies to their right, and there is little cover from the elements. The temperature begins to drop precipitously.

4-7

+2

As the party climbs, snow has begun to lie on the ground and gets quickly thicker. The path swings to the west and again meets the border of the Svalich wood. The trees are draped in a canopy of snow.

8-10

+2

As the party continues up the steep western face of mount Ghakis they must decide on where to make camp. When they decide to camp, roll a survival check

  • On a 18+ the party find a very suitable location (eg; a small cave, an abandoned hide – small, weather proof and defensible)

  • On a 15+ the party find a good location (eg; a cliff face that blocks out most of the elements, but not easily defended)

  • On a 10+ they find a non ideal location (eg; a solitary pine tree, offering little protection from the elements, and easily attacked)

  • On a roll of <10 they find no place to camp and must press on for another hour, rolling a DC10 Con save for exhaustion.

Night Assault

Roll for random encounters as you would during the night. If the party has discovered an ideal location to camp in the roll is 18+, otherwise it is 15+. On a roll for random encounter instead you can choose to use this encounter instead;

You hear a vile whispering cut through the silence of the mountain. Unnatural words and fragments of common are interspersed with wracking sobs. Out of the gloom a hunched figure limps towards you, head bowed. As they approach you see another staggering out of the gloom, laughing hysterically before whimpering in pain. As it approaches it raises its hands to the cowl covering its face, pulling it back it reveals a malformed rictus of terror.

The creatures are two mages, driven mad by dark energy from the temple. They have the stat blocks of a Bodak (VGtM p127). They are looking for others to drag to the temple and corrupt.

Monster: Bodak

The Bodak is the undead remains of a worshipper of Orcus, a sentient husk that devours life energy. For the purposes of CoS it is simply a humanoid corrupted by a vestige of the dark temple. They have powerful offensive capabilities and AoE powers, but have relatively low hitpoints.

Once within 30 feet they will use their Death Gaze, forcing the players to fight them at disadvantage whilst shielding their eyes. This should be well telegraphed to the party, but if your players don’t pick up on this being sight based, consider having an ally figure it out for them. 

The Bodaks will engage quickly with their aura of annihilation up, alternating fist attacks and their powerful Withering Gaze attack.


Day 3 – The Ice Maze

If the party have made good progress, they should quickly reach the point where the path hooks round and winds back on itself into a treacherous freezing ravine. The path ends here, at this point on the journey the party are truly in the wilderness of Mount Ghakis. At this point they are extremely unlikely to meet any random encounters other than undead. Instead, you can refer to the hazards in appendix 2.

Hours

Weather

Location

1-3

+2

the party enter an ice filled ravine. Snow melting from above has dripped down into the chasms and frozen solid, rendering every surface in a glass like sheen of ice. The ground is considered difficult terrain, the hours of travel reflect this. If you have a ranger in your group they are able to proceed at a normal pace and you can reduce the amount of time they spend accordingly.

The path splits and rejoins itself dozens of times over forming what seems like a maze. The party must additionally make hourly survival checks to stay on track. If they are with Kasimir they have advantage on the check. A failed check results in an hours lost time, they find themselves back at a familiar location. If the party choose to make a map whilst they traverse the icy ravines then they do not need to make these checks on the return journey.

The effects of any weather are felt more acutely here due to the narrow paths, (+2 to weather rolls). The party should make a DC10 Con save or take a level of exhaustion prior to starting the next phase.

4-6

+5

The party exit the ice filled ravine, opening up to a vast slope on the western side of Mount Ghakis. From here you can see over the entirety of the western side of the valley of Barovia, the Tsolenka pass bridge is visible down the sheer face of the mountain, and in the far distance the creeping Svalich woods. This part of the mountain is extremely exposed, but desolate (+5 to weather hazard rolls). The party should make a DC10 Con save or take a level of exhaustion prior to starting the next phase.

7-10

+2

the temple looms into view, once in sight the cliff face offers some protection from the elements (+2 to weather rolls). The party should make a DC10 Con Save on arrival to the temple, taking a level of exhaustion on a failed save.

Return Journey

The return leg from the Amber Temple is still dangerous, if you want to expedite the journey back to civilizations then consider the following.

  • Travelling downhill works in the parties favour, the 10 hours of travel per day is reduced to six.

  • At the ice ravine if the party have made a map they can traverse it without requiring a check.

  • From the Tsolenka pass the Luna river runs down to Vallaki, if the party is travelling with Kasimir he may know of an elven cache where they can find a raft to whisk them down river.

  • If a member of the party has taken a gift from a vestige at the temple, it may exert its dark influence and suppress violent weather around the mountain briefly to allow it’s champion safe passage.


Appendix 1 – Weather Hazard Table

D20 Roll

Hazard

Weather Condition

Effect

1-14 

Safe

Fair, Overcast, Light wind

No mechanical effect to party

15 

Mild

Light Rain

Lightly Obscured

16 

Mild

Light Fog

Lightly Obscured

17 

Moderate

Strong winds

Ranged attacks at disadvantage

18

Moderate

Heavy Fog / Heavy Rain 

Heavily Obscured, Slow Pace (+1 hour) DC 5 CON save for exhaustion

19

Severe

Freezing fog / Hail / Snow

Heavily Obscured, Slow Pace (+1 hour), DC 8 CON save for exhaustion

20

Severe

Blizzard 

Heavily Obscured, Unable to progress (+2 hours), DC 12 CON save for exhaustion

Appendix 2: Random Encounters

The approach to the Amber Temple is a bleak desolate place, with little to no vegetation or wildlife. It is unlikely that many creatures would be able to survive up here, many of the random encounter table options are no longer sensible. Here are some alternatives to those listed, or substitutions for existing ones. 

Also, you can use the opportunity to offer your party an environmental hazard. Equally you can insert these into the travel at any point, or substitute them for one of the many Con saves. Thematically these are more appropriate for the days of travelling post Tsolenka Pass Bridge.

  • Avalanche

    • Characters with a passive perception of >15 hear the subtle splintering noises slightly before a thunderous crack disrupts the silence of the mountain. From above a sheet of snow has become dislodged  and careers down the path, ripping up trees by their roots and sending rocks hurtling down before it. Players must make a DC15 Dexterity saving throw, taking 4d8 bludgeoning damage on a failed save, half damage on a success. 

    • Characters failing by 5 or more are buried under the snow and cannot breath. A buried character can make a strength saving throw at disadvantage to free themselves from the snow DC14. 

    • Characters who escaped the avalanche can search for their friends with a DC12 Perception check, and pull them out with a successful survival, nature, or strength (athletics) check. Each failed check counts as 30 seconds towards their breath holding.

  • Chasm bridge

    • Your route leads you to a great chasm, a crack in the mountain side, sheer rock falling away 60 feet below. Crossing the chasm is a single, narrow rope bridge, creaking ominously as winds whip around it.

    • The bridge is made of rotting wood and thin frayed rope. It can only support the weight of one character at a time.

    • As the party crosses, roll d20 for each member. Those wearing no armor automatically succeed, light armor <5 the ropes snap, medium armor <10 and heavy armor <15.

    • On a failed roll one of the supporting ropes snaps and the bridge tips over violently. If someone is on the bridge they can roll a dex save DC14 to stop from falling into the ravine.

    • Going round the crevasse adds an hour to the journey.

  • Ice wall

    • Your route is abruptly halted by a cliff face, rising 30 feet above you. The cycle of ice melting and refreezing on the surface has left a foot thick sheen of ice that looks like polished glass. 

    • If the party have a climbers kit (Ezmerelda has one in her wagon) they make ability checks to climb the cliff face with advantage.

    • If the party don’t, consider adding in the following – a survival or perception check DC12 reveals the frozen corpse of a long dead adventurer, clad in rotten leather armor. His neck is snapped horribly, his skull twisted almost 180*. He has on his possession a rudimentary climbing kit.

    • Climbing the cliff face is arduous, the icy surface is difficult terrain, so a player may only ascend 10 feet per turn. Each 10 feet ascended requires a strength (athletics) check (DC10, DC12, DC15). 

    • Once a character is at the top they can lift other party members up with a rope without an ability check.

  • Frozen lake

    • The party come across a long frozen lake, 100 feet across, on inspection the ice looks thick enough to walk on.

    • Characters with no armor can cross safely. Characters wearing light armor fall through the ice on a d20 roll <5. Characters wearing medium armor fall through the ice on a d20 roll <10. Characters wearing heavy armor, or heavy races such as dragonborn fall through the ice on a d20 <14.

    • As they traverse the ice, if the ice breaks the character plunges through the ice. If one character fails the rest auto succeed. They fall into the icy water and are carried underneath the ice. They are now holding their breath, and experiencing the effects of frigid water.

    • The rest of the party now enter a medium skill challenge (DC13) to rescue their friend from underneath the ice. Examples of possible skills that could be utilised;

      • Nature – recognition of the natural flow of water beneath the ice to predict where they are heading

      • Strength – breaking through the ice

      • Survival – finding a weak point in the ice

      • Sleight of hand – fashioning a rope to feed under the ice

    • If the party is with Kasimir he knows a route around, but it will add an hour to the journey.

  • Frigid River (essentially the opposite to the lake)

    • The party comes across a river flowing down the mountain side, only 30 feet across, on inspection it is deep enough to wade through.

    • As the party enter the water they are under the effects of frigid water.

    • As the party reach the centre the current suddenly swiftens.

    • Any Character wearing heavy armor, or a heavy race such as dragonborn auto succeed. Any Character wearing medium armor is pulled away by the current on a d20 <5. Any Character wearing light armor is pulled away on a d20 <10. Any character wearing no armor is pulled away on a d20 <14.

    • If a character is swept away the rest of the party auto succeed.

    • The rest of the party now enter a medium skill challenge to rescue their friend, examples of possible appropriate skills are similar to those above.

    • If the party is with Kasimir he knows a safe spot to cross, but it will add an hour to the journey.

  • Roc Hunting

    • As you scout through the undergrowth something drips onto your shoulder – you reach up and find it’s sticky and warm… blood? Swinging round, weapon drawn your gaze is drawn up to the tree into the canopy. You gasp as you manage to make out the mangled corpse of a fully-grown cow in the trees.

    • Investigation/Medicine DC15 – from the ground you can surmise that the poor animal fell from a great height, giant claw marks, each gash as big as a sword blade, evidence that it was dropped by some gargantuan creature

  • Return of the Roc

    • The path leads the party to a narrow pass that curls round a cliff face, on the western face of the mountain. The clouds forming on the mountain above cascade over the edge and create heavily obscured conditions. The cliff face is exposed, and wind whips around the party, threatening to throw them to the rocks below. 

    • In the cloudfall the party hear the screech, like a saw splitting wood. A dark shadow passes through the cloud and gargantuan talons like swords gouge into the rock sending sparks showering in all directions. The Roc attacks the first two party members with its talons as it flies by, on a hit they must roll a DC16 Dexterity saving throw or lose their footing and fall from the cliff. 

    • On it’s next pass the Roc will target one party member and attack with its talons and attempt to grapple, pinning the player to the cliff face, then attack with its beak.

    • On taking 100 hp of damage the Roc will decide this prey are not worth the hassle and take flight.

  • Ice Maze Mephits

    • As the party negotiate the Ice Maze, they pass through a narrow section, icicles hanging precipitously above them. The Icicles are in fact 3d6 Ice Mephits, using their false appearance. As the party pass below them the icicles fall and shatter on the ground, reforming as a cackling crystalline mephits. They attack at a bottleneck, with the mephits falling in front, behind and in the middle of the party. 

    • As the mephits land they cast fog cloud to create heavily obscured conditions, the mephits closest to the party will use their ice breath, whilst the ones at the rear dart in and try to rake them with their claws. 

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