Review: Wizards of the Coast – Icewind Dale (Dungeons & Dragons)

Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
Icewind Dale is an epic fantasy campaign for Dungeons & Dragons, written by Christopher Perkins with Stacey Allan, Bill Benham, H.H.Carlan, Celeste Conowitch, Dan Dillon, Will Doyle, Mikayla Ebel, Anne Gregersen, Chad Quandt, Morrigan Robbins, and Ashley Warren and published by Wizards of the Coast.
By Dave Pierson

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The Homebrew DM’s Perception

Disclaimer: The windswept tundra of Icewind Dale if the true test of one’s mettle. Here, it’s survival of the fittest! Don’t’ be fooled by the reindeer with glow-in-the-dark antlers and the tasty knucklehead trout (including the friendlier, more northerly Canucklehead variety). Icewind Dale is the frostbitten end of the world. You can’t spell dice without ice, my friend, and the Frostmaiden is not some demon prince, vampire, lich, beholder crime lord, or archdevil. She’s’ a god – and a cold-hearted one at that.

Wizards of the Coast, Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden, 2020

For some, it was J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings; while for others it was the creative team of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman and their Dragonlance world. Whether it was Gandalf the Grey or Tanis Half-elven, most D&D players have a narrative series that really drew them in as players, casting an imaginative lens on who they wanted their own PC to emulate. Although I read Lord of the Rings many times and absorbed as much Dragonlance as one could, the series that captured my attention the most was R.A. Salvatore’s companions of the hall: King Bruenor Battlehammer, Drizzt Do’Urden and his companion Guenhwyvar, Catti-brie, Wulfgar, and Regis. I am not sure why this series was the one for me, but I cannot forget the harshness of the winters Salvatore crafted with his words and the sheer will to survive by the inhabitants of the Dale. So, when I found out we were returning to the Far Northwest of Faerûn with a new adventure, my interest was peaked.

So what do we get with Rime of the Frostmaiden? Much like Descent into Avernus, we get a full campaign from level 1 to approximately 12, taking our heroes across the frigid north. In addition to a full campaign, we also get some new trinkets and creatures specific to the cold north, a few new magic items and spells and some character secrets that we can use to give to our players. These optional secrets are designed to help create mistrust among party members which, given that the campaign is also designed to have a bit of horror elements to it, can help you achieve that goal.

It’s hard to dive into the campaign without providing spoilers, but I will note that the way the book is split into chapters, each with it’s own target level, gives us homebrew DMs a nice starting point to target content for our own settings. Although it truly is a self-contained campaign, each chapter has a good start and ending point that you could base your own adventures off for your homebrew settings. And as I noted above, there are aspects of horror spread throughout and as the DM you get to choose how or if you want to pursue and provide these to your players. Not every group is looking or wanting horror, and the setting does not force you.

If you are running your own winter setting or if you find your players heading in that direction, there are some interesting NPCs and creatures you can easily adapt into your own setting. The concept behind the BBEG (Big Bad Evil Guy) is not a new concept, but I have not seen it in awhile and bringing it back in this type of setting leads to some remarkably interesting lair actions. In addition, new winter setting specific creatures to fill out the lands help create quick challenges for your players. Who wouldn’t want to face a Crag Cat, Snowy Owlbear, or a Yeti?

The new magic items are okay, specific to the setting in my opinion, but easily adaptable. However, there are 2 books presented that can help unlock 3 new spells for any wizards in your group. Frost Fingers are a toned-down version of Cone of Cold, but Blade of Disaster seems to grab a little more attention. 9th Level Conjuration, Blade of Disaster creates a blade shaped planar rift, about 3 feet long, that allows you to make 2 melee attacks within 5 ft of the blade. It is a concentration spell that allows for a critical hit on 18 or higher. Now the spell notes that a critical hit does an extra 8d12 force damage, for a total of 12d12; tripling the crit damage dice instead of the normal doubling.

Overall, there are some good items/lore here that we can pull into our own settings. However, much like Descent into Avernus, we need to find our heroes headed into the direction of a winter setting or planning a full campaign set there given the nature of the material. Either way, your players can be in for an adventure.

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