Need help re: 'Ring of Winter' and Artus Cimber in Tomb of Annihilation

Klaudius Rex

Explorer
Hello!

I'm not sure how to handle this. In my Tomb of Annihilation game, the players and several factions are looking for an NPC named, Artus Cimber, and more particularly, the 'Ring of Winter', which is a very powerful magic item that I'm sort of afraid to let the players get a hold of and use in game.

The Red Wizards are after him. Xanadala is after him. The Flaming Fist are after him. The Harper's are after him. There's even some frost giants that trekked it from Icewind Dale to the jungles of Chult who are after him. He has become sort of a big part of the game, so dropping this "side quest" is really not an option anymore.

My players are not necessarily so evil that they will attack him outright and kill him, but more than a few of NPCs have hired the players to bounty him and/or get the Ring.

If the players parlay, hopefully it ends well, but he is likey to defend himself in any confrontation with the players that may arise. I don't necessarily worry about players killing him so much as i worry about them getting a hold of the Ring of Winter. To me, it's a super overpowered magic item, that can cast very high level magic spells, and in my opinion, just inappropriate for the party level at this point.

The players just turned level 5, and are heading into Omu where the Tomb is ultimately located.

I can describe the Ring's power in detail later if you like, but suffice to say that i just dont think this sort of item should be given out right now. If the players get the Ring, it will make almost all encounters for the rest of the game way too easy and no longer a fun challenge.

So what should i do? This is a more general question for all overpowered items that come up in pre-written adventure modules as well. How do you handle this? Do you think the players should be able to use the Ring if they got a hold of it? Do you think i should nerf the Ring, and make it less powerful? Or do you think i should do something else.

Also, if your playing ToA, let me know what your group did with Artus Cimber and the Ring. How did it turn out?

Thanks in advance.
 
Last edited:

CapnZapp

Adventurer
I'm sorry for having to ask: you seem aware the ring is too powerful for a level 5 party - yet you encourage the players to acquire it?

The actual adventure does no such thing. The players can meet Artus, but at no point is there anything in it for them to take it. If anything the module is slanted towards the heroes helping Artus to keep the ring away from all those enemies.

I don't know what to say other than "...maybe don't make a thing out of the ring for the players?" Instead of meeting a NPC that hires them to take the ring, maybe they meet a NPC that hires them to safeguard Artus?

My quickest suggestion is to have Artus manage to stay hidden until the heroes have completed the main quest. At level 11 the ring is no longer completely unbalanced, and also, at that level Artus cannot hope to withstand the party (no real need to kill him since he's clearly outmatched).

The suggestion I really want to make is to tie this into the Lost City of Mezro trilogy of adventures - at least if part 3 is any good (it is not released yet). Hint that the ring is tied to Artus fate, and that it is risky to separate the ring from its owner. Then have the heroes help Artus reach the real Mezro and the love of his life, restoring Mezro to Chult in the process. With Ras Nsi dead, the Soulmonger destroyed and Mezro back, the future for Omu and the chultians look bright.
 

Eltab

Villager
Artus has good reasons not to run around proclaiming his presence and position and powers as 'Arctus Cimber, King of Winter'.
Have him treat the Ring like a special Ring of Spell Storing (cold stuff), and maybe give him some personality problems (not as bad as Gollum / Sméagol) to imply that his Ring is bad news for whoever owns it.
Or if the PCs decide that Artus is a Sorcerer of the Cold-Blooded (pardon the pun), you've got it about right.

P.S. Look for the thread "Enhancing Tomb of Annihilation" because the question has also been discussed there.
 

Klaudius Rex

Explorer
I'm sorry for having to ask: you seem aware the ring is too powerful for a level 5 party - yet you encourage the players to acquire it?

The actual adventure does no such thing. The players can meet Artus, but at no point is there anything in it for them to take it. If anything the module is slanted towards the heroes helping Artus to keep the ring away from all those enemies.

I don't know what to say other than "...maybe don't make a thing out of the ring for the players?" Instead of meeting a NPC that hires them to take the ring, maybe they meet a NPC that hires them to safeguard Artus?

My quickest suggestion is to have Artus manage to stay hidden until the heroes have completed the main quest. At level 11 the ring is no longer completely unbalanced, and also, at that level Artus cannot hope to withstand the party (no real need to kill him since he's clearly outmatched).

The suggestion I really want to make is to tie this into the Lost City of Mezro trilogy of adventures - at least if part 3 is any good (it is not released yet). Hint that the ring is tied to Artus fate, and that it is risky to separate the ring from its owner. Then have the heroes help Artus reach the real Mezro and the love of his life, restoring Mezro to Chult in the process. With Ras Nsi dead, the Soulmonger destroyed and Mezro back, the future for Omu and the chultians look bright.
Good point, Cap! You always give much needed insight and constructive critism on these boards!

I think i may have erred in getting the players to work for Artus capture instead of considering aiding and protecting him. Either way, the players may not have necessarily killed him outright, and wanted to hear his side of the story before any battle ensued. i guess that i just felt that Artus would probably just find anyone who approaches him as a threat since so many people are after him, and battle against the players would eventually break out.
 

Klaudius Rex

Explorer
Artus has good reasons not to run around proclaiming his presence and position and powers as 'Arctus Cimber, King of Winter'.
Have him treat the Ring like a special Ring of Spell Storing (cold stuff), and maybe give him some personality problems (not as bad as Gollum / Sméagol) to imply that his Ring is bad news for whoever owns it.
Or if the PCs decide that Artus is a Sorcerer of the Cold-Blooded (pardon the pun), you've got it about right.

P.S. Look for the thread "Enhancing Tomb of Annihilation" because the question has also been discussed there.
thanks. Ill check out that thread.

But just to let you know, Artus isnt running around revealing himself, hes on the down low because so many people are after him...and he's quietly looking for his lost wife...
 

Eltab

Villager
thanks. Ill check out that thread.

But just to let you know, Artus isnt running around revealing himself, hes on the down low because so many people are after him...and he's quietly looking for his lost wife...
You're welcome!

Yah, I know - I've read the adventure but don't own it (Public Library FTW). I really want to break the plot and spend my time filling in that partial map, instead of dealing with a building full of deathtraps.
 

couldbevecna

Villager
I'm sure this is a dead post, but I found this because I am running ToA right now, and others may as well.

The thing is, I don't see lvl 5 PCs being able to wrest the Ring from Artus. If they started to attack him, he could pummel them to within an inch of their lives, and then cast Dimension Door to get away from them. You could have them meet him later, and they would likely think twice about crossing him again, and would be more apt to have him join their party instead.
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
The suggestion I really want to make is to tie this into the Lost City of Mezro trilogy of adventures - at least if part 3 is any good (it is not released yet). Hint that the ring is tied to Artus fate, and that it is risky to separate the ring from its owner. Then have the heroes help Artus reach the real Mezro and the love of his life, restoring Mezro to Chult in the process. With Ras Nsi dead, the Soulmonger destroyed and Mezro back, the future for Omu and the chultians look bright.
That's what I did, I had the players meet Artus and Dragonbait in Mezro, and it tied into the whole subplot there. The Ring IS viciously powerful though, so I had to eventually move Artus from the campaign. I also had several caveats in place though beforehand:

A) The ring is evil and sentient and perverse, which Artus tells them
B) Various factions are after the ring and Artus, which puts the heroes at risk if they are near him.
C) Utilizing the Ring's offensive abilities to cause harm can lead to Artus being possessed - temporarily - by the artifact, so this really scared the players. It could have possibly turned on them and destroyed them.
D) Can the Ring even be removed from his finger? Probably not. Chop it off? Maybe. It's a greater artifact, it can have whatever wonky ability you want to have.

When my Artus Cimber "died" in Wyrmheart Mine to a dragon, the Ring encased his body in a growing block of ice that is slowly filling the lower level of the mineshaft. He is a plot device that can be brought back another time, maybe after Ras Nsi is dead, or the Soulmonger destroyed, or maybe he will just sit there in that block of ice forever. If not for the Ring of Winter though, the fight with that dragon would probably have been a TPK, it was unleashing all the high level cones of cold that turned the tide.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
SPOILERS

Just finished the Mezro storyline (that took the heroes from maybe level 13 to level 17, after having completed Tomb of Annihilation). In actual play Artus was sidelined since this was about the heroes, but still, here's my table of "Conclusion of Fates":

Conclusion: roll 1d8. If Quomec was spared, gain advantage. Otherwise a character can sacrifice him- or herself to gain a reroll. Results are cumulative (where they aren't obviously overwriting lower rolls)
1+ Ubtao's power and his faith in his people restored. Artus loses control over Ring of Winter and Mesika dies.
2+ Honorary Member of the Obanashi. Mesika and Alisanda whole again. Artus loses control over Ring of Winter and Mesika forced to kill him.
3+ Mark of the Feathered Serpent. A shimmering portal floats near the door of the ruined Temple of Ubtao. Mesika promoted to Barae. Artus rejoins Alisanda and plans to take the ring to the court of the Summer Queen on Feywild, where it can be destroyed.
4+ Guardians of Mezro. Each party member is awarded 20,000 sp. Party gains a Helm of Teleportation keyed to real Mezro's College of Wizards.
5+ Artus becomes Chosen of Ubtao. Party gains 40,000 sp and each a choice of ring of regeneration, spellguard shield, tome of understanding or +3 weapon.
6+ Mezro fully restored, completely displacing the ruins currently on Chult.
8 Ubtao appears in his full glory.
(Lord Quomec is the Shavolak of the module. Ubtao's fallen and imprisoned brother.)

The original adventure has the DM keep a tally of specific actions the heroes take or doesn't take. I transformed that into a singular roll after the final fight was won, since I felt the original idea was more of a convention-play thing.

The party rolled a '3' and decided to keep that result.
 
I think i may have erred in getting the players to work for Artus capture instead of considering aiding and protecting him. Either way, the players may not have necessarily killed him outright, and wanted to hear his side of the story before any battle ensued. i guess that i just felt that Artus would probably just find anyone who approaches him as a threat since so many people are after him, and battle against the players would eventually break out.
Might be a good opportunity to subvert expectations. Everyone says Artus is possessed by the Ring, or an unreliable scoundrel, or whatever, and they're paying good money to see him captured. But when they meet Artus, he's a standup guy who is very concerned about the Death Curse and is willing to join them so long as their goals are aligned (his goal is always first and foremost to return to his love Alisanda in the living Mezro).

Another thing that bears pointing out – the Ring of Winter is indeed awesomely powerful. Do bear in mind that it will do virtually nothing against the death traps in the Tomb, that Acererak is resistant to cold damage, and that eventually anyone wielding it with impunity is going to run out of charges in Omu / the Fane / the Tomb. Also, it is quite likely to possess anyone using it regularly (see the DMG on Sentient Item Conflict, p.216).
 

Rabbitbait

Explorer
If I was in your position I would have Artus as having been captured by the yuan-ti. All clues would lead to Omu and Mezro (Mezro being a dead end). The players wouldn't be able to find Artus but would find signs of him having been in Omu (permanently frozen zones). Eventually the players would find themselves at the slave pits (either willingly or not) where Artus is a 9 fingered slave. He is desperate to get the ring back and knows that Ras Nsi has it. Ras Nsi is not wearing the ring as he has recognised it's power and it's ability to possess the wielder, but he is looking at how he can use it's power to facilitate the release of Dendar.

By the time the players get the ring they should realise it is too powerful to use and that opens a new quest of getting rid of it while pursued by multiple factions. If they do choose to use the ring while knowing how powerful it is then they run the risk of a TPK if the wielder gets possessed.
 

Advertisement

Top