The Ten-Towns of Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden provide rich plot, roleplaying, and excellent modular encounters for your 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons game. These early adventures setup the core tension of the adventure, and provide some of the most obvious ways to allow heroes make an impact on the region. What follows here are a few updates, changes, or additions to Ten-Towns to spice up your sessions in different ways. The factions section below provide a bit more political context to the adventure, the Sacrifices to Auril section provides a bit more background and context for the dangers faced and how each town is adapting, the Winter Survival Gear and Travel section enhance the survival mechanics in the setting. Like any remix, this is just a skew toward a specific style of running the game, use what you find useful and ignore the rest. Many of these core components setup remixes for individual encounters I will post over time.
Access to Icewind Dale
Travel in and out of the region is all but blocked. The mountain passes are buried in heavy snow and carry the ever present danger of avalanche from two years of snowfall, The passages through the underdark are controlled by the Duergar, who have the upper hand in their war with Mithral Hall. Sea ice has continued to build up, making passage by ship a very dangerous affair. The only regular means of travel in and out of the region since the start of Auril’s Reign of Terror, has been the monthly trek of The Bright Moon Caravan helping people flee the region and bringing in much needed supplies.
As mentioned much of this information establishes a baseline for other elements of the remix I will be posting, so I am providing this summary here for a central reference.
The Bright Moon Caravan
Lead by dwarves of Clan Battlehammer, the Bright Moon Caravan is the main supply line for Ten-Towns. Just before the full moon each month, traders and travelers gather in the square of Bryn Shander to join the caravan. Trained Bulettes are used to plow through the mountain pass along Ten-Trail toward the town of HundleStone where southern traders gather every month. The caravan is a vital supply line, allowing the Ten-Towns to hang on. It serves as an excellent way for player characters to enter the region in the early game, and one of the few ways for the unfortunate to leave.
The Chardalyn Syndicate
The Chardalyn Syndicate is a lose confederation of affluent people and business owners in Ten-Towns. They began coordinating before Auril’s reign of terror, with the goal of taking over the Council of Speakers. Their goals vary by member, but largely involve control of commerce within the Ten-Towns to control trade of the unique resources found in the region. Since the long winter has fallen, members have become more militant and actively seek to undermine and control the council, either because they feel they can make the “hard decisions” needed to survive or because they see an opportunity to prosper from the chaos. Members use various means to undermine the local speaker and gain public support for efforts in their town. The most effective means of late has been smuggling additional supplies to the townspeople through a secret alliance with the Duragar, while helping their allies attack the Bright Moon Caravan to ensure they are the only reliable suppliers.
Members have taken to wearing a small broach of Chardalyn crystal shaped into a rose, frequently send messages back and forth in code, and meet only rarely.
Intrigue & Survival: The Duergar Alliance
Seizing on the opportunity to make the townsfolks more dependent on them and to undermine the authority of The Speakers Council, The Chardalyn Syndicate has formed an alliance with Xardorok Sunblight of the Duergar. From their point of view, they can use Xardorok to bring in supplies and he will become a reliable market for Chardalyn crystals once they fully control the region. Though this alliance they secretly smuggle in supplies each month and make a show of distributing them in the town when they arrive, few have asked questions of how they get these supplies. At the same time, they provide information to the Duergar who have begun ambushing the Bright Moon Caravan in hopes of shutting down that supply line and further strengthening their position. In this remix, I’ll provide some scenarios related to unravelling this alliance.
Each member of the Chardalyn Syndicate operates a small cadre of lackys, enforcers, spies, and servants in their respective towns. They frequently send messages back and forth in code but meet only rarely. Naerth is the primary leader, and in the strongest position being the only member to win their way into The Speakers Counsel.
- Naerth Maxidanarr (Targos) – (See RotF Targos) Only member to be on The Speakers Council. Leader of Syndicate.
- Tomi Delbore (Termalaine) – (new NPC, 42 year old female NE Human Veteran) Head of the local town guard, she barely lost to the current speaker in a bitterly contested election recently. She blatantly withholds support for the speaker and makes great pains to let everyone know that whatever she does do for the town is at her discretion.
- Arnold Bietz (Bryn Shander) – (new NPC, 57 yr old male LE Half-Elf Noble) A crafty businessman and owner of Bietz Salvage, a franchise with outposts in several towns. He is the wealthiest member of the Syndicate and has the most connections to merchant houses along the Sword Coast.
- Jetta Keenseeker (Easthaven) – (new NPC, 78 yr old female NE Dwarf Noble) Recently Murdered by Dzaan (see Public Execution section in Easthaven) after an attempt to have her guides abandon Dzaan in the wilderness to die in hopes of recovering their magic items. Jetta operated the largest fishing team on the lake as well as the Easthaven Ferry. She also operated the regions smugglers guild, and is the primary point of coordination in bringing in supplies from the Duergar. With her death her organization is in a power struggle between lieutenants.
The Duergar’s plans to undermine the region continue on much as in the module. The added dimension is their alliance with The Chardalyn Syndicate, which Xardorok sees as a valuable way to get information about the towns, access to Chardalyn, and a means for his agents to better operate. From his point of view, once he has helped the short-sighted members of The Chardalyn Syndicate disrupt the Ten-Towns, he only need withdraw his support and isolate them to do what he pleases with them. While he is building up his forces, he is happy to allow just enough supplies through the underdark passages he controls to give the people a false hope. Elements of the Duergar faction are spread across Icewind Dale secretly searching for Chardalyn crystals to supply Xardorok’s war machine.
Getting Around Ten Towns
Given travel times, even short distances could take days of travel, and modifying the travel times provideds a bit more consistency and a progression of options the party can use to establish goals. These changes here are slightly different than the ones presented on The Alexandrian website, but I wanted to link their article as it’s of tremendous use. Of note, this remix establishes Axe Beaks as effective winter mounts in addition to their utility as pack animals.
The travel rates below are new base travel rates, not difficult terrain, which seems to be a point of confusion in the game. The first day after a blizzard, after an avalanche, traveling over ice, and other conditions may still cause difficult terrain. It is not clear from the write-up if Dogsleds have their rest period included in the base travel time, this remix assumes it does not and rest is a resource to manage by players for their dogsled team.
If the party travels across overland terrain in Icewind Dale for more than four hours in a day, they must succeed on a DC 10 group Constitution (Survival) check or suffer a level of exhaustion. They must repeat this check every four hours of travel.
Base Travel Rates (Per Hour)
|Method of Travel||Road||Overland||Mountain|
|Dogsled *||2 miles||1 mile||1/2 mile|
|Axe Beak||1 mile||1 mile||1/2 mile|
|On foot, with snowshoes||1 mile||1/2 mile||1/4 mile|
|On foot, without snowshoes||1 mile||1/4 mile||1/8 mile|
Winter Survival Gear
In this remix Winter Survival Gear provides advantage on any checks or saves related to cold weather conditions. Being wet negates the benefit of this equipment, as well as imparts any other effects.
Sacrifices to Auril
Shortly after Auril’s Reign of Terror began, a ferocious blizzard would descend on the Ten-Towns every new moon. The storm would bury the settlements under massive snowfalls, damage buildings, and people would lose their life during the ordeal. Ultimately these storms began to create temporary Heart of Winter Magical Regions in and around the towns, causing a great panic among the citizens. With the help of shamen from the Reghed Nomads and spirit talkers from the towns, The Speakers Counsel began the sacrifices to appease Auril and prevent the vicious storms. The sacrifices began 7 months prior to the campaign and so far the sacrifices have proved successful in preventing the storms, but as time wears on tension grows that a town will fail to meet its obligation and the storms will return.
Humanoid Sacrifices are conducted different in each town as follows:
- Bryn Shander: Each month, a person has stepped forward to volunteer as sacrifice, usually from the elderly or the sick. To honor those that sacrifice, the town cares the trunk of a tall tree with icons from the volunteers life, topping each log with a carved bust of the person. These are mounted in the town square, at the base of each a growing set of small offerings accumulate. Sacrifices are sent without weapon, adequate clothing, or supplies out onto the tundra.
- Easthaven: Each month the town sacrifices a criminal. This has led the town to take a strict and proactive approach to law enforcement. Sacrifices are drown in the nearby lake through a hole in the ice.
- Targos: The town is the only one to conduct a lottery, which it touts as “fair and impartial to all citizens”. It is known to be rife with corruption. Each citizen is required to enter up to 4 lots depending on their age, with younger citizens entering less and minors exempt. Citizens are allowed to pay a tax to remove lots from the lottery, and there are rumors that some very affluent members of the town are able to buy their way out entirely. Sacrifices are shot with arrows near the entrance to the frozen port.