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by Mike on 1 February 2022
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.
In these final two chapters of Rime of the Frostmaiden our heroes move from the frozen island of Solstice and the characters' battle with the duergar in defense of Ten Towns to the frozen and ancient Caves of Hunger and the lost Netherese city of Ythryn.
Most of chapter 6, the Caves of Hunger, can be run as-is with little changes. It's a fun dungeon crawl with interesting locations and entertaining discoveries as the vampire gnoll Tekeli-li hunts the characters.
As written, Tekeli-li isn't a full vampire. Most importantly he's missing legendary resistances and legendary actions. At this point in the campaign, a character with a lucky banish or polymorph spell can turn this fun villain into a small turtle or banish him from the world itself, only returning to six readied actions likely to take him out immediately on his return.
Consider replacing Tekeli-li's stat block with that of a normal vampire and make these modifications:
You can also flavor Tekeli-li's legendary movement, describing him bursting into a swarm of stirges or a bloody-mawed hyena when he races around the battlefield.
A powerful vampire version of Tekeli-li turns him into a villain the characters are sure to remember.
You may choose to run Ythryn as is. Many DMs did so and enjoyed the results. If you want to change some things up, you might turn the clues in Ythryn into a three-of-five keys quest. Here's how:
A shell of protection wards off anyone from entering the central spire of Ythryn. Only three of the keys once held by the nine Netherese archmages of Ythryn let one pass into the central spire. The characters can explore the ruins of Ythryn seeking out these lost keys — each of them a magic item of considerable power. Once they have three, they can enter the central spire. You can move these keys around Ythryn and leave clues to lead the characters to interesting sites in the lost city.
For some added fun, you can have Averice, the wizard of the Arcane Brotherhood, and her hirelings seek out keys as well. Now it's a race for three of the keys or maybe one group tries to ambush the other once the former acquired three keys of their own. These hirelings can be tied to the former exploits or backgrounds of the characters. Maybe they're assassins sent to finish off one of the characters for a former grudge. Maybe they're cultists of the Black Sword. Choose Averice's hirelings based on the previous events of the campaign.
If you want to throw Auril into the mix, Averice could be physically possessed by Auril and once she's defeated, the three forms of Auril manifest one right after the other. This builds a huge four-stage battle sure to challenge the mightiest heroes. Feel free to turn the dials on Auril to make her the significant challenge she should be.
This gives you a lot of freedom and flexibility to offer interesting options and decisions for the characters instead of the scavenger hunt for weird passwords left all over Ythryn.
What rests within or below the spire is left to you. Tie it to a main driver for the campaign. For me, that was the cracked sarcophagus of Thruun, an elder evil trapped by the elves more than two thousand years ago used as a tremendous source of power for the Netherese before Ythryn fell to the earth. Guarded by the lich, Father Llymic, who summoned all sorts of horrors from Thruun's home world, the characters faced a mighty final battle indeed.
Use the events having taken place in your own campaign to build a final battle in or below the spire of Ythryn. Once this battle ends, only then can the characters complete the ritual to end Auril's endless night and restore the sun to Icewind Dale.
As written, the mythallar held within the central spire might transport the characters back over 2,000 years ago to a time when Icewind Dale was temprate. This is an awesome ending but it's best if it's voluntary. Offer this time traveling choice to the players instead of forcing the issue. This way they can integrate it into their one year later montage.
One good way to do this is to have the mythallar open up a portal the characters can clearly see travels back 2,000 years. Do the characters step through it or not? That's up to them!
Don't take away the characters' agency at the last minute. Give them control over their own endings.
Reinforce the return of the sun once the characters complete their journey. They step out over a frozen land and see a sun in the sky once again.
Thus ends our adventures in the Rime of the Frostmaiden!
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