The Pendrake Encounters: Dead of Winter

Khadorans are proud of their winter. Some go so far as to claim the Khadoran winter is its greatest military asset and a friend to the Khadoran people. From personal experience, I think it is a cruel bastard, almost as cruel as the things that dwell within it…

—Professor Viktor Pendrake, Department of Extraordinary Zoology, Corvis University

Renowned expert in all matters of unusual beasts, there are few individuals who have seen as much of Immoren as Professor Viktor Pendrake—the High Chancellor of Corvis University’s Department of Extraordinary Zoology—and fewer still who survived the experience and chronicled the tale. His foundational work, the Monsternomicon, gives a detailed account of the many unusual encounters he has faced in his journeys across the Iron Kingdoms and beyond. To get the most out of these encounters, you will need a copy of Iron Kingdoms: Requiem and the Monsternomicon.


A great and terrible winter argus has prowled the frozen lands of Khador’s Feodoska volozk for years, preying upon Kossite hunters who venture too deeply into the western Scarsfell Forest. This two-headed beast was once the prime hunter of a full pack of her kind, but harsh winters and scarce prey led to the deaths of all the other argus she once ran with.

The argus was forced to range far from her traditional hunting grounds, moving south to the banks of the Helvongen River, where isolated Kossite villages provided an ample larder for her. The scent of her kills eventually drew the attention of a large pack of local wolves that began to trail in her wake, feasting on the frozen and half-devoured kills she left behind. While not a true pack, these wolves are seldom far from their enormous surrogate matriarch.

Now the argus has caught the scent of fresh prey moving through the frozen lands. She is ready to get her fill by hunting a group of unwitting adventurers.

The Journey, Not the Destination

The emphasis of this encounter is a harrowing journey through the wilderness during a freezing storm while a pack of vicious animals stalks the characters. Where they are traveling, and their specific reason for doing so, is secondary to the perils of the travel itself.

The encounter as written requires three days of travel from the time the characters encounter the NPCs on the road to arrival at their destination or a trip of about 72 miles at a normal travel pace. You can extend the journey and pad out the encounter with extra challenges along the way and chance encounters with other NPCs and monsters. The Arctic and Forest tables in Appendix 2 of the Monsternomicon will provide you with guidance on appropriate creatures to threaten the characters with during their travels.

The Pack

The primary antagonist of this encounter is a back of Scarsfell wolves led by an elder winter argus.

If you’re running the encounter for a group of 3rd level PCs, there are seven wolves in the pack: six Scarsfell wolves and a single alpha male. You can reduce the number of wolves for weaker groups or replace the Scarsfell wolves with the stats for standard wolves.

The Storm

In addition to the danger of the pack, the characters will need to contend with a vicious winter storm. If they take care to rest, build warming fires, and wear protective clothing like furs, the winter storm will be miserable but not deadly. If, however, the characters fail to take such precautions, they must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw for each 4 hours of travel or gain a level of exhaustion (or 2 checks per day by default).

A character who gains levels of exhaustion might need to travel in the covered wagon or otherwise be carried by a strong ally. A character who spends at least 1 hour by a campfire or who is warmed through other means removes 1 level of exhaustion. Creatures that are accustomed to cold weather or those with resistance or immunity to cold damage are immune to these effects.

The storm fluctuates each day. At the start of the day, roll on the Storm Condition table to determine what effects the storm has for that day of the journey.

Storm Condition




The storm does not fluctuate this day. Use the same storm condition as the previous day.


The storm abates. The DC of saving throws to avoid exhaustion decreases to DC 8.


The storm intensifies. The DC of saving throws to avoid exhaustion increases to DC 12.


Driving winds stir up sheets of blinding snow. The region is lightly obscured.


A deep chill descends. Saving throws to avoid exhaustion are made every 2 hours of travel. A creature that fails a saving throw to avoid exhaustion also takes 5 (2d4) cold damage.


Blowing winds create deep drifts of snow. The terrain becomes difficult terrain, halving the travel pace.


The storm creates whiteout conditions. Creatures farther than 20 feet away are heavily obscured. A creature that fails a saving throw to avoid exhaustion also takes 5 (2d4) cold damage.


Encounter Start

There are numerous ways to get the characters involved in this encounter. Suggested options include:

  • Out and About. Any time the adventuring company is traveling through the wilderness in winter, they might stumble into the pack’s hunting grounds. This can be used in any part of the Iron Kingdoms, not just northern Khador—winter argus can range far and wide, especially in the colder months. If you use this encounter outside of Khador, feel free to tweak the names and backgrounds of the NPCs to suit your needs.
  • The Great Escape. The characters are breaking out of one of Khador’s infamous khardstadts, brutal prisons where prisoners are forced into hard labor. On their flight from agents of the Section Seven Prisons’ Office, they find themselves being hunted by a different kind of predator.
  • Special Delivery. The characters are tasked with delivering a missive to Dragovich Hall, the hold of Great Prince Forovi Descra. The journey takes them through the western Scarsfell Forest, where the pack is looking for a fresh meal.

The encounter begins with the characters on the road to their destination. Read or paraphrase the following:

The world around you glistens under a fresh blanket of snow. Heavy flakes fall on the road, and the skies overhead threaten even worse storms ahead. Unless you want to get caught out in the open when the promised blizzard comes, you must make haste to your destination.

The adventure assumes the characters are already on their way to their destination, such as Dragovich Hall. If you’re using the encounter to bring together a fresh group of characters, this is a good time for the players to introduce their characters.

Area Information

The western Scarsfell is a harsh but beautiful expanse of evergreens growing out of arctic bogs and frozen hills.

Terrain. The earthen roads and trails cutting through the forest are mostly cleared of snow, but it builds up in large drifts at the edge of the tree line and within the forest. Sporadically, boughs weighed down with snowfall drop their payloads onto the ground.

Lighting. In the winter months, there are only four short hours of daylight. Dim light pierces through the clouds and trees to reach the ground below.

Day One: Wagon Trouble

As the characters journey through the forest, they encounter a stranded group of Kossites on the road early on their first day. Read or paraphrase the following:

On the road ahead, a small group of Kossites stands near an oversized wagon run off the road. The wagon is buried in a large snowdrift. One of the group moves into the road and waves at you for attention, calling out, “Hoi, friends! We seem to have found ourselves in a spot of trouble. Any chance you can lend us aid?”

The speaker is Urik (see “The Travelers”). He and the others had made camp for the evening when their horses broke into a panic, pulling the wagon off the road in the process. The wagon’s tongue is snapped completely off.

Urik implores the characters to provide assistance. Use the following to guide the conversation.

  • The horses went wild when they heard some howling in the trees. They pulled the wagon off the road and broke their harnesses, galloping off into the woods.
  • Unless the wagon is repaired and the horses recovered, the travelers will be stuck here in the forest.
  • Urik has taken a 25 gp toll from each of his five travelers, which he is willing to split evenly with the characters in return for their aid.

The Wagon

The wagon is large and covered with a canvas canopy. Six Medium creatures can comfortably rest inside the wagon among the various personal effects and trade goods it carries. Combined, the wagon contains 20 gp worth of trade goods, mostly flour, salt, dried meat, and furs weighing 100 lbs.

Repairing the Wagon

To repair the damage to the wagon, a character must spend at least 1 hour working on the wagon and make a DC 10 Intelligence check using woodcarver’s tools to cut down timber and replace the broken wagon tongue. Of course, unless the characters have their own horses, a steamjack, or enough brute strength to pull the 300+ pounds of wagon and supplies, they will need to recover the horses (see “Tracking the Horses”).

Of course, if the characters lack the means to repair the wagon, they can always try to convince the travelers to go on foot. Doing so requires a character to make a DC 14 Charisma (Persuasion) check. A character proficient in Survival can emphasize the oncoming blizzard to gain advantage on the check.

The Travelers

The group consists of the following NPCs. Use the stats for commoners unless otherwise stated in the NPC’s description.

Aksana, Gorki & Chemno (AHK-sana, GOR-key, KEM-no)

This trio of Kossites are cousins who are reporting to the nearest major city for mandatory military service. The youngest, Gorki, is fifteen years old while Aksana has just had her seventeenth birthday.

What They Want. To rise in the ranks of the military and earn glory for Khador—hopefully more glory than either of their cousins.

Quirk. The three cousins are quick to challenge each other. Without provocation, they try to gather the most firewood for the evening, stay the longest on watch, or drink more liquor than the others.

Katia Ivanovna (EE-van-OV-nuh)

Katia is a single mother who wishes to travel to a new town in search of work so she can provide for her children. She is small and quiet but possesses an incredible inner strength.

What She Wants. To make a new life in a larger city and eventually bring her children to live with her.

Praise the Lawgiver. Katia is a devout Menite who often hums hymns to herself to calm her nerves.

Luka Krasnovich (KRAZ-no-vitch)

Luka is a Kossite fur trapper (scout) from the village of Zmeya. He is perceptive and a man of little words.

What He Wants. To earn enough with his furs to return to Zmeya and ask the woodcutter Ludlova to marry him.

Hunt for the Great White Wolf. Luka believes—perhaps mistakenly—he’s seen a great white warpwolf in the western Scarsfell Forest. He wants to claim its pelt as an offering for the great prince.

Urik (OO-Rick)

Urik is a waggoneer out of Zmeya whom the others hired to guide them out of the forest. He is a large man who is quick to let others do his work for him and even quicker to take credit for when things go the right way.

What He Wants. Urik wants to get to the nearest village or city to fill his belly with warm food and cold uiske.

Not as He Seems. Urik tries to present himself as wise in the ways of travel and the wilderness, but in truth he inherited the wagon from his dead brother’s estate. Prior to his life as a waggoneer, Urik made a living washing dishes at a small roadside tavern. He tries to get others to do his work for him because he has no clue on how to even begin.

The Travelers in Combat

Other than Luka, none of the travelers have much experience in a fight—though Urik and the three cousins might claim otherwise. When it comes to combat, Luka tries to help as much as he can while the others try to stay hidden and out of danger.

Should one of the characters drop during a fight, one of the bolder NPCs (in essence, not Urik) might come to their assistance, pulling them clear of danger and attempting to stabilize the character.

Tracking the horses

If the characters agree to go after the missing horses, Urik points them in the direction the animals fled. Luka offers to assist in recovering the animals.

The tracks are in fresh snow and are not too difficult to follow. A successful DC 10 group Wisdom (Survival) check allows the characters to easily follow the tracks. If the group fails the check, they can still follow the animals’ flight but lose the way several times, and it takes them much longer to find the panicked horses. In the following encounter, one of the horses is incapacitated and will die unless stabilized.

They Eat Horses, Don’t They?

When the characters finally locate the horses, they are surrounded in a 40-foot diameter clearing in the forest by a group of hungry Scarsfell wolves.

Wolves. There are three wolves that have circled the perimeter of the clearing. The wolves’ attention is on the potential meal in front of them, but the group attacks the characters as soon as they notice them.

Terrain. There are several feet of fresh snow covering the clearing. The area is difficult terrain.

Aftermath. Once the characters defeat the wolves, they can return any surviving horses to the wagon.

Day Two: Out Cold

As the group travels on the second day, they make a grisly discovery among the trees on the side of the road. Read or paraphrase the following:

As the road meanders through the forest, a grisly scene comes into view. In a small roadside encampment, three corpses covered in ice stand like statues. They are frozen in postures of surprise, arms thrown in front of their faces.

Bodies. The bodies are a trio of Kossite hunters dressed in cold weather gear including fur caps and coats. One of the corpses has a musket, and the other two carry short bows.  

Anyone who is proficient in Survival or who succeeds on a DC 12 Wisdom (Survival) or Intelligence (Nature) check knows the following:

  • Certain creatures like winter trolls, some breeds of argus, and frost drakes have the ability to freeze prey with the power of their breath.
  • Tracks near the bodies are similar to those of common wolves.
  • There are recent bite marks in the flesh of the frozen corpses.

Camp. There are three small tents surrounding a still-smoking campfire. Each of the tents contains a fur-lined bed, a small lantern, and a day’s worth of dried rations. The campfire is banked and still smoldering. Adding fuel to it allows the fire to spring to life with little effort. An iron pot over the fire contains a frozen stew that can be thawed and eaten.

Pack Attack

A portion of the pack was feeding on the frozen corpses but moved into the forest when they heard the group approaching. The wolves stay back, following the characters at a distance of at least 120 feet. The wolves wait for the group to stop for a short or long rest before springing into action.


There are four wolves stalking the characters. Prior to attacking, the wolves keep their distance and follow stealthily. A creature with a passive Wisdom (Perception) of 14 or higher catches glimpses of the wolves through the trees, but the dense forest and heavy snowfall still obscures them and makes it difficult to determine the nature of the creatures or their number.


A character who has previously noticed the wolves or has a passive Wisdom (Perception) score of 14 or higher notices the wolves before they attack. Other characters start the encounter surprised when the pack launches its attack shortly after the group stops for a rest.

The wolves target anyone, character or NPC, and work together to bring down a single target. The wolves fight until over half their number is killed, at which point the survivors break and flee into the forest.

Day Three: Pack to Square One

On the third and final day of their journey, the group encounters one final obstacle in their way. Read or paraphrase the following:

In the center of the road, blocking the way ahead, a bristling white-furred beast with two heads snarls at you. Slinking by its side is another of the local wolves, a large male with raised hackles. Frigid mist cascades from both of the white beast’s heads, turning to slick ice on the ground.

Both heads howl in unison, and the creature bounds at you.

The winter argus and the Scarsfell wolf alpha come rushing into combat.


The winter argus and alpha start 90 feet from the characters in the road. The pair are motivated by hunger, not malice, but the winter argus will go into a frenzy if injured and fight until it is destroyed.

The creatures focus on the nearest target, be it a character, horse, or NPC. A character can draw the attention of one of the animals with a successful DC 12 Charisma (Intimidation) check, which causes the target animal to focus its attention on that character on its next turn.

If the winter argus is defeated, the alpha wolf flees from combat.


If the characters successfully defeat the winter argus, the way is clear to their destination. Upon their arrival, Urik makes good on his promised payment, and any surviving travelers offer half of the trade goods in their possession as a way of thanks.

Depending on the outcome, the characters might be offered future work protecting Urik’s wagon as he travels across the Khadoran wilderness. The man has designs on building a larger caravaneer’s guild and suggests that the characters might be a perfect fit for its security.

Scarsfell Wolf

Medium beast, unaligned

Armor Class 13 (natural armor)

Hit Points 32 (5d8 + 10)

Speed 40 ft.


17 (+3) 15 (+2) 15 (+2) 3 (−4) 12 (+1) 7 (−2)

Skills Perception +3, Stealth +4

Senses passive Perception 13


Challenge 1 (200 XP)

Keen Hearing and Smell. The wolf has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.

Pack Tactics. The wolf has advantage on an attack roll against a creature if at least one of the wolf’s allies is within 5 feet of the creature and the ally isn’t incapacitated.

Snow Camouflage. The wolf has advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks made to hide in snowy terrain.


Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d6 + 3) piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 13 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.


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