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by Mike on 11 October 2021
This is one of a series of articles covering the Wizards of the Coast hardcover D&D adventure Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden. The other articles include:
You can also watch my YouTube playlist of Frostmaiden Lazy DM Prep videos.
Chapter 2 takes the characters out of Ten Towns (finally) and into the larger frozen north of Icewind Dale. The chapter includes roughly thirteen locations the characters might visit for one reason or another as they get involved in the larger plots of the game.
It's important to note that the characters may get involved in these locations while also getting involved in chapters 3, 4, and 5.
Chapter 2 acts as a toolbox of locations instead of a clear thread of the the story. This open-ended structure is both a blessing and a curse.
The locations in chapter 2 largely require that you thread in your own quests and adventures to take the characters from place to place. It's unlikely the characters visit every one of these locations. Instead, just as you best do for chapter 1, choose the locations you like the best and tie them to the larger quests in the campaign.
The quests for chapter 2, as written in the book, do little more than tell the characters about a location. In many cases, given the dangers found at those locations, the characters are better off ignoring them.
Instead, you'll need to wire together your own network of hooks, quests, and goals that take the characters to the locations you want them to visit and tie in with the three main arcs of the remainder of the book: Ythrin, Auril, and Sunblight.
When we're networking together these locations, we can focus on the things the characters need to get to and through the three main arcs and locations of the campaign. I'm going to call these keys. Here are three keys:
The locations of each of these three places become the keys the characters need to head towards that arc. Each of them may require multiple steps before the characters learn of the location or have what they need to get there. Here are three potential threads:
Goal. Stop the energy source feeding the Endless Night.
This offers multiple paths the characters can take to get to Ythrin itself depending on whether they go to the Black Cabin or Jarlmoot. The characters can learn of the Caves of Hunger from the gnolls at the Cackling Chasm, a location they might visit by way of the Id Ascendant (more on this below).
Goal. Stop the destruction caused by Xardorok Sunblight's weapon.
This quest line crosses chapter 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the book. The characters learn of the threat in chapter 1, learn the location of Sunblight Fortress in chapter 2, enter the fortress in chapter 3, and stop the dragon in chapter 4.
In my own cut of this adventure, Xardorok launches the weapon just before the character face Xardorok in Sunblight Fortress itself rather than the minute they show up there. I'll talk about this in a future article.
Goal. Travel to Grimskalle and acquire the Codicil of the White to end the spell causing the Endless Night. Note, in my telling of the adventure this is only one of two things required to end the night, the other being the need to seal off the source of the spell's power in Ythrin. This builds a stronger hook to delve into Ythrin and either can be done before the other.
This straight forward quest line primarily focuses on learning things but with a location arc between the Dark Duchess and Angajuk's Bell. How the characters learn of these locations could come from a few different sources including frost giants near Jarlmoot, Vaelish Gant at Revel's End, or other places.
We can tie together other locations if we desire as well, particularly locations tied to the characters' backgrounds. If any characters have a tie to mind flayers, it works really well to bring them to the Id Ascendant. We might include a quest where the newer-born illithids of the Id Ascendant, not nearly as mean as normal mind flayers, ask the characters to recover the Heart of the Id Ascendant, an illithid artifact stolen by nearby gnolls at the Cackling Chasm. The characters travel to the Chasm, kill the gnolls, and recover the item which lets the gnome mind flayers repair the Ascendant and travel off into the astral sea away from their elder brain masters.
We can further tie the gnolls of the Cackling Chasm to the gnoll vampire, Tekeli-li. In my telling of the adventure, Tekeli-li was outcast from the gnolls of the Cackling Chasm as a runt and, starving, managed to find strange caves leading into the Reghed Glacier. There he found a black pool leaking from some twisted monstrosity. Starving, he drank it and turned into a vampire. Now he hunts his own kind as well as anything else, starving the gnolls of the Cackling Chasm for his own revenge. The gnolls know of Tekeli-li and the Caves of Hunger and can pass this information to the characters in different ways.
Other locations like the Reghed Tribe Camp, Skytower Shelter, Revel's End, and Wyrmdoom Crag may come up if the characters are tied to them directly.
The characters may learn about the Lost Spire from Dzaan's journals at Easthaven and their trek through the Spire may tell them of Ythrin, the source of its power, and its location buried deep under the Reghed Glacier.
As it stands, chapter 2 is a toolbox to build custom campaign arcs based on your characters, the locations you want to reveal, and the larger story of the game. Like chapter 1, chapter 2 takes work up front to build these threads. That's unfortunate; I would like better support in a $50 hardcover adventure; but with that work in place, we can take what we receive in Frostmaiden and turn it into an adventure customized for the game we want for ourselves and our players.
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