Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden Review (no spoilers)

The book finally dropped and I’ve managed to get my grubby little hands on a copy of it. This is the first campaign book I’ve actually been looking forward to since 3rd edition. I’d chalk that up to my first experience with Dungeons and Dragons being with the original novel, The Crystal Shard.

So here we are again 30 years later back in Icewind Dale and the Ten Towns. Things have changed so much since Drizzt Do’Urden was prowling around Kelvin’s Cairn and since the Battlehammer clan laid claim to the mines beneath.

The Ten Towns are the same, but the people are different. So is the weather. Icewind Dale was always cold and snowy, but the sun has not risen in months and blizzards are more common than ever. This lends to the atmosphere being one of loneliness and isolation. A perfect setting for mysteries to solve and difficulty surviving in the elements.

So the book itself is laid out as a very sand-box freeform style of game. It is up to the DM how they want to run things. If they want to railroad the players into certain quests and locales they can, or they have the option to just let the players roam and see where things lead. Many quests have multiple methods of coming across them, thus avoiding choke points that could cause the campaign to stall out. 

They also separate it out into different tiers of quests, which is good since running into a higher tier quest at a low level could quickly end the campaign. As a DM you can’t ever fully control what your players do, but you can limit the information so that they are not led into catastrophe at first level.

Basically it’s a 3 tier system. Starting quests, which don’t have a whole ton of resonance with the main storyline, second tier quests, which are when the players first start exploring out away from Ten Towns, and then the major story quests. 

The starting quests are generally quick quests that are moderately easy to complete, so long as the players are careful. They don’t really involve the major storylines much, but they do set the players into a better position to succeed later on, depending on how well they manage it.

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The second tier quests will lead the players deep into the Dale. Many of these have implications moving forward and absolutely can help determine if the players will make it or break it.

Lastly are the major storyline quests. Each one of these are of great importance and will determine the fate of the players, Icewind Dale, and possibly the entire realms if they are not careful.

The book also includes over 30 new monsters and NPC’s, some of which I have never seen before. Every single one is well crafted and falls beautifully into the lands that are Icewind Dale. New types of barbarians to battle, crafty kobolds, and even a new type of gnoll to feast upon.

There are also tons of charts to help with the elements of survival and the random encounters the players will come across. To run the campaign will require some pre-set up, but once the work is done the campaign should run smoothly and enjoyably. 

DM’s should have a good time with this one, and a hearty “best of luck” to the players adventuring into the Dale. Keep your fires going, your winter gear in one piece, and remember to always stay dry. Your life will depend on it.

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