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Dropping Below Zero: A Chilling Adventure on the Road to Icewind Dale
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Dropping Below Zero: A Chilling Adventure on the Road to Icewind Dale


Warm up to the Icewind Dale with this chilling introductory adventure, an prequel starting point for Level 1 characters before they begin the challenging encounters of the new campaign!

Accompanying a caravan through a wintery mountain pass, either on the way into the Icewind Dale or while traveling between towns, local heroes find that their travel is severely impeded by a gathering snowstorm. Hope of making it to the next waypoint is lost, but a small copse of fir might provide some shelter if they can keep the carts – and themselves – from sliding into the frozen river, first.

With exhaustion becoming a real danger and the snowstorm strengthening to a full blizzard, the adventurers find themselves stranded. And as dusk begins to fall upon them, so does a sense of dread. Despite the dangers, one by one the caravan crew inexplicably start losing all sense of fear, even the instinct of self-preservation.

The situation only grows more chilling. As night sets in and watches are posted, caravan members begin to go missing, leaving only the occasional frozen appendage behind to mark their passing. With warmth and resources waning, can these local heroes locate the real threat and protect both themselves, and the caravan, long enough to make it through the night?

Contents. "Dropping Below Zero" is a 3 - 4 hour D&D adventure for APL 1 - 6 suitable for any wintery adventure, and ideal for situating at any point within Chapters 1 or 2 of the Icewind Dale campaign. The contents include a full-color PDF of the adventure for screen readers and tablets, a printer-friendly PDF, three novel monster stat blocks, 3 fleshed-out NPCs, and a set of four high-definition custom maps. The PDFs contain keyed maps for the DM and an acompanying zip file contains eight seperate HD JPG files for the players and/or VTT use (two each for each map, a VTT-optimized copy and a more thematically gloomy option).

Usability. This adventure might serve as a prequel or introductory session to the Icewind Dale campaign setting, offering players a chance to test out characters and get a feel for the anticipated tone of the upcoming hardcover. That said, the adventure is applicable to any scenario in which the heroes are traveling through a wintery terrain and includes specific scaling recommendations. To drop the adventure into an ongoing campaign, any opportunity for winter travel suffices: Perhaps the PCs choose to accompany a caravan as hired muscle to make a few coins between towns? Did they get caught in the same snowstorm, only to join forces with the caravan as they all try to make headway against the wind and sleet? Or perhaps their story begins here, with a kismet meeting on the road, their storylines converging when they step up to protect their fellow travelers? 

Difficulty. The adventure, as written, works well as an introductory session for an average party level (APL) 1 – i.e., a party of 3 – 5 PCs, all or mostly level 1 characters. The module is designed to evoke horror and dread using difficult encounters, but suggested modifications are provided in the footnotes, where appropriate, for how combat encounters may be scaled. The module includes specific scaling recommendations for larger parties or those with an APL up to 6. A party with an APL above 6 may not be substantively challenged without some additional creativity on the part of the Dungeon Master (DM). 

Content Warning. This adventure is intended to evoke a sense of isolation, horror, and building dread amidst a frozen, austere landscape. Can the local heroes find hope, in themselves and each other, to push through the oppressive and unknown threats of this long, bleak night?

Updated (8/15/2020):
  • Revised organization and layout, particularly with respect to consolidating sensory descriptions under each map for what the PCs might encounter at each keyed location. Additional cross-reference links have also been added to help the DM navigate between appropriate sections when running the module from a tablet or computer. Thanks for flagging this in your 5-star review, Asa!
  • Modified suggested tactics and actions for the animal companion with prompted optional mechanics, to be used at the DM's discretion, to ensure the creature doesn’t hamstring lower APL parties or those with less experienced players. Thanks again, Asa, for this feedback.
  • Two new maps are also now included:
    • One of the Riverbend, which leaves one section of trail empty in case the DM would like to use a movable cart image on a VTT;
    • One of the Campsite, as viewed before tents are set up and camp is made, to allow for a more natural narrative development and exploration around the area before settling in for the night and establishing watch.
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September 22nd, 2020
Ran this adventure last weekend after I had taken a year or so off from being a DM. I ran it with a small group (3 players) one who had never played D&D and two of my regular players. We had a blast. Lots of different aspects of an adventure in [...]
August 14th, 2020
This was a great lead-in adventure and a lot of fun to play. I ran this solo (I was DM and the PCs). The adventure has a nice balance between social interaction, skill challenges and combat. The NPCs featured are nicely fleshed out, and the horror aspe [...]
August 9th, 2020
This adventure is great for a fresh low level group being introduced to each other and the dangers of arctic enviroments. The author gives plenty of material to lean into some of the horror aspects that are rumored to fit the theme of the upcoming Ice [...]
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File Last Updated:
August 16, 2020
This title was added to our catalog on July 26, 2020.