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Mythic Eberron by Steve Fidler (@vorpaldicepress), Bryan Holmes (@FallenWyvern), Anne Gregersen (@AnneofManyNames)
WARNING: Body Horror, Gore, Madness, Eyes
Team Mythic are back with another serving of ridiculously epic foes and ludicrously awesome encounters that make being torn apart by zombie dinosaurs or thrown from the highest tower in Sharn in anti-magic concrete shoes by a halfling Wiseguy look like a walk in the park. This is a seriously awesome supplement full of awesome ideas, mechanics, creatures, items and spells to bring the mythic to Eberron and beyond!
The introduction provides everything you need to know about the who, what, why, where and when of mythic traits, actions, encounters and rewards, as well as the how to make your own mythically monstrous moments.
If this is your first experience of mythic creatures, you might be wondering what they are:
“Mythic traits are the fuel that creates a mythic encounter. The mixture is: one part storyline-focused event, one part two-phase battle, and a dash of introducing a whole new way of battling your foe.
When a creature with a mythic trait is reduced to 0 hit points, it is instead reduced to 1 hit point. Then, it typically either regains all its hit points or gains temporary hit points equal to its maximum number of hit points. In some cases, a new goal for the fight appears, such as an exposed heart or other objective that must be cleared before the battle is truly over.
After activating its mythic trait, the creature gains access to mythic actions, and might also gain temporary passive benefits (as listed in its mythic trait). This mythic trait lasts until the creature completes a short or long rest (or is defeated), unless otherwise specified in the mythic trait text.”
Each entry comes with extensive background and lore, personality traits, references for further reading, truly gorgeous artwork from some of the most talented artists working in TTRPGs, let alone the Guild, the encounter as a mythic encounter with description and box text, lair actions and regional effects, statblock and any additional statblocks and maps where appropriate, and suggested rewards.
“The warforged colossi were the ultimate weapon in the Last War. Created by House Cannith artificers, these massive creations were deployed and wreaked unimaginable havoc across Cyre. The destruction of the colossi was only matched—and eventually stopped—by the Day of Mourning”
Arkus, also known as Colossus WX-11, is one of the few of these gargantuan constructs to survive the Day of Mourning and the dismantling following the Treaty of Thronehold. This particular package of pulverising pow was scooped up by everybody’s favourite spiky, homicidal fan of fleshies, the Lord of Blades, from the Glowing Chasm. With the Blady Buddy guiding this most mythic of magical machine mates, they are sure to make friends and incinerate people.
Rather than having a lair in the traditional sense, Arkus IS the lair! Opening invitingly at the original defeat, a whole new battle awaits within colossus, beautifully brought to life by Saga (@pyxistyxGWJ) map of the interior. I Cannot say enough good things about the gorgeousness of the poster and cross-sections style map! It’s truly a thing of beauty! The Creation Forge, which allows them to create warforged titans, within Arkus continues to function for one hour (lifetimes of initiative time) and must be discovered and neutralised from within, all while the wonder warforged manufactures, moves, maintains and mashes its enemies with its bionic babies and does their best to crush, burn and electrify them with lair actions! One of the truly terrifying mythic actions allows Arkus to recompile or recycle their titanic children into a great many swarms of flying drones, which is horrifying prospect for the party who whittle a titan down, only to be faced by a nest of swarms!
The warforged titans and swarm of flying drones statblocks are included, with the former being a huge CR 8 siege vehicle that does smashing smashingly and can be ‘ridden’ by two medium or smaller, while the latter is a flying swarm of drones (it’s in the name) that smush together with other damaged swarms to heal up.
CONTENT WARNING: EYES, Body Horror, Madness
“As one of the six known daelkyr on Eberron, Belashyrra goes by many titles other than its given name. The Lord of Eyes, the All-Seer, and the Glorious Eye are just some of the many monikers granted to this entity’s endless gaze”
I could have gotten lost in the creepy cool write up on this horrocular visionary who resides in the Citadel of Lidless Eyes, “a site that appears to have been molded from molten stone, chitin, and flesh”, which is flesh-crawlingly icky. Their regional effects and lair actions all centre on paranoia, voyeurism and madness with a supplementary Madness of Belashyrra table to the one provided in Rising from the Last
A horror in every sense of the word in their ‘regular’ form Belashyrra, has the inspired and evil ability to both see and use its Eye Rays from any creature within a wide radius, already living up to their place as the beauty in the beholder’s eyedol, but when things get mythic...
“Eyes, thousands of eyes, swirl in a mass of all-seeing horror. The spaces between the floating irises are filled with shadowy claws, reaching for you as the huge swarm of eyes rises before you, a thousand-fold gaze of madness staring you down as the fight begins anew.”
Possibly too much awesome! I need eyescream. Irisk coming across as cornea, but lens be fair, I’m dilated with joy. I’m sorry, it’s just my vitreous humour. OK take me to prism...I don’t regretina-ything!
Belashyrra’s ultimate mythic ability, A Thousand Unspeakable Horrors, is such a traumatic psychic and mental assault that, along with the damage and other effects, unless saved against right away is the victim is rendered permanently blind!
The statblock for a spectator is also included for the unfortunate who fall foul of Bel’s Psyche-Reconstruction Ray.
WARNING: Body Horror, Gore, Madness
“Known as one of the mightiest daelkyr, Dyrrn is credited with warping and shaping many horrific creatures that still threaten the world today. Its typical appearance is that of a masculine humanoid with sharp, handsome features. It often wears an outfit composed of alien materials and strips of shifting leather”
This is the truly disturbing and wrong that I cannot explain but love dearly. This is the Optimay of awful awesome!
Dwelling in their Palace of Sinew in which “engravings appear to breathe, the doors move by thick tendons and muscles, while windows are closed with a thin flap of skin”. Drynn make skin craw, literally and figuratively with tentacles and full on Lovercraftian madness, with their own supplementary madness table and Daelkyr Modifications to show the insidious effects of the daelkyrr on local flora and fauna.
In many ways the Handsome Squidworth Illithid God, Dyrrn displays the apotheosis of brain munch, mind blasting and “regurgitating” their unique Dyrrn’s intellect devourer with variable features chosen or rolled for when spawned.
Becoming the gibbering moutherwhen going mythic:“Dyrrn becomes a large creature made entirely of snapping beaks or jaws and whipping tentacles” with the ability to tentacle slap their enemies into aberrations of their choosing!
The statblock for dyrrn’s new leggy brain bois Is also included.
“The eldest and possibly most powerful necromancer to ever have existed in Eberron, the Queen of the Dead plots from her icy castle in the Lhazaar Principalities. Controlling the Order of the Emerald Claw, it’s clear she’s moving her pawns on the board, playing a game of chess that has unfolded for centuries.”
“From her castle of Ice and Bone, Lady Illmarrow is said to keep an army of undead” and this is backed up by the dead that wander her region and answer the call of her lair actions, which also include countless hidden runes of prepared spells that cover her domain.
Lady Illmarrow is a heckin’ mighty lichy witchy in her rotten dragonborn form, but when things get mythic...
“Like a chick erupting from an egg, a horrific ebony dragon begins tearing through Illmarrow’s body. Claws explode through her hands, bones twist and knit as her body grows, and a long sinuous neck slips upward, a new dragon head staring down with the same twisted look of hatred.”
Gargantuan gruesomely glorious and her new necrotic breath weapon causes wights to rise from the earth!
The zombie and wight statblocks are included.
Prince Jurian ir’Wynarn
“Queen Aurala of Aundair’s second son, Prince Jurian ir’Wynarn lived a life of luxury and prestige. He grew up eating the finest foods and drinking the finest wine… and learned swordplay under the finest tutors. A veritable genius with a rapier, it was rumored that the prince could etch a poem in his opponent’s chest with the tip of his blade during a duel...” Until he was exiled for partaking in the forbiddem honour duels and sent away, floating around as “a spy, a member of the Royal Eyes of Aundair, and his rakish persona is a ruse that allows him access to foreign nobles and influential dragonmarked scions.”
This noble fighter with a charming je ne sais quoi and a certain savoir-faire is a lower level mythic creature coming in at CR 9 (two CR 9 with mythic), which along with his sneaky, dashing presence make him a wonderful quest giver- turned enemy with a stunning double-cross when the party can handle it. In that situation you get both the shock of the betrayal and the insult to injury of the subtlest, but incredibly effective change to mythic that can be the result of disarming as well as reducing HP: “He flips his rapier from his righthand into his left, announcing “Sorry, friends. I never said I was right-handed.” You instantly realize you have made a dire miscalculation.” Bloody briliant!
“Wherever anger and violent impulses fester in the hearts of mortals, it secretly feeds power to Rak Tulkhesh, the Rage of War. As his power and influence swells, Rak Tulkhesh can infiltrate the minds of the violent and in turn drive them to further rage.”
Rage fills the places touch by Rak Tulkhesh. He uses this to his own ends, whipping up conflict and blind hatred that sets his enemies upon one another, regardless of alliance or Comity. This is reflected in the mechanics, as well as his will over the weapons of war themselves, which he can wrest from adventurer’s hands.
The mutable fiendish dragon centaur Horned Prince is no slouch on their own coming in a CR 28 with a multiattack of four with whatever weapons he wishes to conjure and a form just as changeable, but when going mythic you get to remind the player’s that he hasn’t made a single sound in response to pain and seems to be gaining strength from this confrontation itself becoming a terrifying dervish of blades seeming to be able to hit all within his sight at once and blotting out magic in favour of a more raw conflict.
“Rak Tulkhesh has no physical form” but Lluis Abadias giver him body ody ody. Calls into question who wore it better when it comes to blades? Though I don’t think Rak could pull of Lordy B’s sweet armour plating.
“The Queen of Shadows is the literal figment of magic and myth. Her cadre of warlocks and wizards use deadly arcane powers and seek her revelation of dark knowledge not meant for mortals... She can naturally shapeshift into nearly any form, although she is always accompanied by a black smoke, mist, and shadows that seem to surround her unless she wills it to become invisible.”
Sul Khatesh is the antithesis of Rak Tulkhesh, preferring subtly and spell over brute force. One with shadow and spell the realm around her becomes clouded and covered in arcane graffiti, while the dead rise as her shadow demons and she can open portals to bring more of her dark minions to her.
The mythic switch has some beautiful boxtext:
“A moment, a heartbeat, a breath. Without a corpse, it’s difficult to tell if the day has been won. And then it happens: the very fabric of reality shatters, falling like a broken mirror...”
Bringing the fight to a specially prepared warded domain where she can unleash torrents of magical energy and use her insidious tendrils of darkness to steal arcane potential and secrets, leaving her foes vulnerable.
The shadow demon statblock is provided.
The Forest Queen
“The Forest Queen is the personified story of the mysterious primal forest and the power that watches it. She lives within the Endless Weald in Thelanis, tending to the creatures and forests of the weald...”
The layer of Thelanis known as the Endless Weald is the Forest Queen’s wild and verdant lair. Here the flora and fauna obey her whims and repel her enemies, binding or pacifying them with throned vines and choking pollen. Metal is unnatural to this place and carries added weight for the trespass, while the boughs of trees protect their queen with strength to shatter blades.
When becoming mythic:
“... Her form is replaced with an icy statue, as if she’d been frozen in place. A loud crack noise is heard, and shards of ice break from the statue and fall to the ground, clattering like glass...”
The forest queen exchanges her laurel wreath for a tiara of icicles. The ice in her heart spread through her domain and her enemies find themselves impeded by frigid cold. The unlucky become frozen statues of permafrost in the glacial glades for all time.
The Forgotten Prince
“As a fey ruler of Thelanis, the truth of the Forgotten Prince is not well known... a lost boy, forgotten in the shadow of his siblings, determined to gather the unappreciated and punish the undeserving.”
“The Prince calls the Castle of Forgotten Things his home.” His oubliette palace lays on the tip of the tongue as memories and knowledge leech from those who wander his realm, which aids his theft of items and the very life force of his enemies.
When going mythic the Trickster Prince becomes a mischievous shadow able to make casters forget their spells and can shunt his enemies into their own demiplane of their own, where they can still see everything, but cannot touch.
The Lord of Blades
“The Lord of Blades is a powerful warforged who leads his followers from an unknown location within the Mournland. To some, the Lord of Blades is described as a teacher and protector of living constructs, while others see him as a warlord who considers the common races of Eberron weaklings in need of extermination.”
The warforged who really emphasises the war aspect makes their lair in military camps surounded by spikes and metal shards that drag themselves up from the earth, calling swarms of homunculi to harass his foes and bark orders that spur his allies on with zeal.
The Lord of Blades is a marvel of armour, spikes and blades with every aspect of him designed to cut, rend and destroy. Going mythic makes them bigger, scarier, more blades, truly becoming a burning edge of eviceration!
“His shoulders widen, his blades grow longer, and the wings on his back expand to four times their original size. As a mirage-like haze of heat engulfs his body, the Lord of Blades looks at you with eyes that burn like embers. As his reforged armor cools and solidifies, he raises his blades to continue the fight.”
Content Warning: Insects and Worms
“Known as the Crawling Queen and the Keeper of Worms among other titles, Valaara is one of the daelkyr and master of insects. Its form, though decisively alien, is often depicted as a female humanoid with parts of its body appearing more like chitin than flesh. Insects flutter and crawl around on its body, acting both as a wriggling, buzzing type of clothing and as an extension of its insectoid appearance.”
Dwelling in the “Deepest Hive, a demiplane connected to Khyber as her insectoid servants have burrowed tunnels through the fabric of reality”, Valaara uses her “absolute control over worms and insects” to her advantage, summoning swarms and having her writhing army fight for her, even fashioning large monstrosities by fusing fistfuls of worms and bugs together.
When becoming mythic her children cover her fallen form making something new and even more dangerous and creepy:
“Under the weight of its writhing servants, Valaara stands reformed by its army of insects. It reaches out its arms, a brief cry escaping its worm-filled mouth before the sound is drowned out by the buzzing of its insectoid reinforcements.” In this form she can summon whole walls of worms and sending swarms of insects to overwhelm and suffocate her foes.
Valaara also has her own supplementary tables for rolling insects swarms and her unique madness. The carrion crawler stablock is also included.
Eight new level nine mythic spells are included with full table for the classes able to prepare them. These are phenomenally powerful spells reflecting the creatures that cast them, able to do immense amounts of damage, take control of or create powerful beings, create the ultimate berserker, see every angle of a situation, and more. These are seriously exciting and terrifying!
Appendix: Magic Items
A huge treasure trove of more than twenty mythic magic items that can be given as rewards for slaying these indomitable foes, as well as adding to your store of awesome items for your games. These are provided with a full table referencing which creature they relate to.
This is a seriously awesome supplement full of awesome ideas, mechanics, creatures, items and spells to bring the mythic to Eberron and beyond!
Absolutely filled with ridiculously gorgeous artwork from a variety of truly marvellous artists, as well as possibly my favourite piece of cartography of all time! I want a huge wall sized Arkus map!!!
The thought and quality that goes into every aspect of writing from the lore to the mythic transformation, incorporating and expanding on what we know and their realms and lairs. All of this is filtered through to the statblock and mythic mechanics in such brilliant and diligent matter.
All involved have been producing work of a breath-taking quality for a long time now, but this Mythic series, is something else entirely. This is the absolute pinnacle of TTRPG production and quality as far as I’m concerned. If you want the whole package to come together on song to express the epic and literally mythic nature of the subject this is it. This is what can be produced when talented folx come together and each do their thing wonderfully, and the result is grand and joyous!
My Affiliate Link: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/329253/Mythic-Eberron?affiliate_id=1507682
Designers: Steve Fidler (@vorpaldicepress), Bryan Holmes (@FallenWyvern), Anne Gregersen (@AnneofManyNames)
Editor: E. R. F. Jordan Prince Jurian ir'Wynarn
Design: Anthony Turco
Art Direction and Graphic Design: Steve Fidler
Assistant Art Director: Laura Hirsbrunner
Layout: Steve Fidler (based on the InDesign template by Nathanaël Roux) Eberron Lore Consultant: Laura Hirsbrunner
Cover Art: Marcel Budde
Interior Art: Marcel Budde, Lluis Abadias, Steve Fidler, Luca Bancone, Dmitry Dalnev, Dante Ezio Cifaldi, Rick Hershey, Bob Greyvenstein, Adobe Stock (warmtail, Алексей Иванов, svetlanarib79, Roman, Maxim B, liuzishan, okalinichenko, thanawong)
Cartography: Saga Mackenzie
Progenitors logo used by permission of KB Presents Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games
Icewind Dale Tome of Adventures by Christian Eichhorn (@SquirrelGolem)
QUESTS FOR RIME OF THE FROSTMAIDEN AND BEYOND
A collection of adventures that can be played as one shots and sidequests or as an eight-part adventure path, as well as acting as a guidebook for Icewind Dale? You really couldn’t ask for more as an addition to a Rime of the Frost Maiden campaign or any fun in the chilly northern dales.
Opening with a quote from a retired adventurer reminiscing about the “days when everything was new and exciting”, It’s clear Eichorn has a passion for adventures and “the bonds [we] formed lasted for a lifetime; some long, others all too short.” These eight adventures, one for each level for one to eight that could be played a s a campaign or separately, are the kind your characters will remember fondly as they form and/ or cement the bonds with the rest of your party.
“Hereafter, you will find adventures that can fill an evening with laughter or righteous anger. Or, better yet, adventures that inspire you to expand on them to fashion small campaign arcs.”
Each quest comes with a supporting NPC included in the level balancing for groups of five players, though advice is given on balancing for smaller or larger groups, essentially counting a quest as above or below the stated level in relation to the party size the party size. There is “an intentional escalation in scope and exceptionality” to the adventures, so it is recommended running them in the order presented, as an adventure path or as separate quests to augment your games and Rime of the Frost Maiden campaign.
A Quest Overview table handily shows the level order of the adventures for referencing, as the adventures are presented in alphabetical order in the contents.
Each quest is laid out with an easy to follow, prep, reference formula: Background, NPC Sidebar with introduction, statistics reference and amendments, appearance, personality, motivation, mannerism and quote with beautiful Ducere (https://www.deviantart.com/ducere) artwork of the NPC for a number of adventures, Initiation, Rumors, Encounter, and Travel, followed by Features, additional information, including tables, sidebars, statblocks and stylish, old skool maps where appropriate in the body of the area layout text. What that translates to is each adventure is laid out in a manner that makes it easy for the DM, giving them what they need with a helpful uniformity, as well as plethora of ways into the adventures to fit any game and/ or situation.
Content Warning: Suicide-attacking Goblins – Catapult and Worn Explosives
A goblin death cult led by an " awakened otyugh named The Many Tongued God” has taken up residence in the eponymous “ancient bridge fighting a losing battle against time” slaughtered a party of dwarven warriors from Mithril Hall who came to restore it on their way to reclaim Morbar, a lost dwarven hold that lays beyond. The younger brother of the expedition leader, Jainhar Tarsmolger, a cantankerous berserker looking for adventurers to help him have his revenge. The party may come across Jainhar through, rumours, in a tavern or an incredibly sad and well-crafted encounter with the dwarf venting his emotions and drowning his sorrows on the road described beautifully, “Tears stream down Jainhar’s face, which is covered in a thick layer of frozen, salty water.”
Confronting the death cult goblins is an interesting affair with them being armed to the pointy teeth with alchemist’s fire and vests full of alcohol, as well as a catapult to fire said goblins at the adventurers. On top of this the goblins make use of their defensive positions, utilising arrow slits and the like, so the party must breach their bastion to confront “The Many Tongued God, the goblins’ lord and devourer” whose only goal is to “eat the characters, bones and all.” Always classy, the awakened otyugh “taunts the characters using its telepathy” during the fight, as well as some amusing and unpleasant lair actions.
Eichorn notes, “There is no need to succeed on the first try. The characters can return later to give it another try.” This could be with surviving members coming back with more reinforcements or a new party avenging the old one.
A Sidebar provides the history of the Morbar and its sad tale of the once sprawling hold now only a graveyard and somewhere a map would must certainly say – Here Be Monsters!
This unlocks the follow-up quest "Strike the Earth".
A cast of giant crabs came upon the body of an ulitharid, the ultimate and even more terrifying flavour of mind flayer. This singular meal awakened these curious crustaceans and transformed them into a nuisance having “sank boats, abducted fishers, and made a mockery of civilization” like bad folx from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Just in case you’re wondering there is a sentient, but hypothesised not sapient crab, a mutated true crab called The Crab who occasionally hitches a ride on Michelangelo's surfboard. Unlike cowabunga attitude of The Crab, these giant crabs like the evil Shredder attack and are cutting Ten Towns no slack. So far, they have already taken out a party of would-be heroes, which Eichorn describes with glorious relish: “Far from achieving their dreams, the giant crabs cut the adventurers’ limbs from their bodies and slurped their brains.”
“The future is dire, lest we fight and eat to evolve ourselves.”
You can really tell Eichorn was having a lot of fun with this one and it translates into an adventure that will be a lot of fun to run and play. Gather the rumours of brazen brachyura, team up with the sole survivor, "still covered in the guts and blood of her friends who giant crabs ripped apart like leaves”, and take the fight to these bad crab-apples in their lair adorned with frescos of their violence towards humanoids. Also, the crabs have a giant statue of a crab like that evokes the opening of Terminator 2, but with a giant crab crushing human skulls...it’s a crab...and the crabs are essentially a coven and can make the statue attack as a lair action! Oh, and unless all the eggs are destroyed, they will grow up to plot their revenge, which is a wonderful seed to sit on until the players least expect CRABBY VENGEANCE!
Glorious, unadulterated ridiculousness. You love to see it!
Sidebars give a lot more detail on northern crabs and The Three Lakes.
Content Warning: ‘Racial’ Prejudice towards orcs
A village of orcs find themselves set upon by a “mythical beast known as Muugin the Devil Spider”, leaving them no recourse to start raiding caravans for needed supplies. Kork, the son of the chief, is on a mission of damage control, before “self-righteous adventurers seeking to put the settlement to torch without a second thought.” To that end, unfortunately Kork trusts the wrong people and gets quite literally stabbed in the back making for quite the opening encounter.
If the party heed Kork’s words and come to the village’s aid then they must venture into the delightfully inviting, webby caves of Muugin, described as their being a “howling wind [blowing] through the cave” and a wonderful aroma that “smells moldy and of secretions.” Mmm, secretions. On the brightside, there are the grizzly pinatas everyone loves in a table of random cocooned bodies with various accoutrements to rob the corpses of – I was going to say procure, but let’s be honest about grave/ cocoon-robbing. This process might explode in the adventurer’s faces as the hatchery holds thousands of tiny spiders ready to burst out in swarms!
The Devil Spider themself, “Muugin doesn’t bear the nom de guerre Devil Spider for nothing. It is a monstrous type of cambion with the statistics of a phase spider” with a number of adjustments to make it half phase spide—half cambion. Love the use of nom de guerre and this freaky amalgamation whose lair crosses into the ethereal plane, which will attempt the classic villainous, threatening parlay. Most likely the party are going to want to annihilate the atypical arachnid, making a friend for life: “After reforming in the Nine Hells, Muugin returns to ally with a strong enemy of the characters to exact revenge and gorge itself on their meat.”
An interesting sidebar speaks to the diversity of orcs and their attitudes, also on display in the adventure itself, positing the “bad reputation” orcs have stems from fact the only orcs most other humanoids encounter are the raiders and ravagers, while the “peaceful tribes remain where they are, occupied with fighting nature, dragons, and each other.” It’s definitely an improvement on the base Forgotten Realms lore, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to be less problematic.
Last Rest Inn
The last Rest Inn magical establishment that appears for those in need, such as being lost in a storm or taking a tumble into a ravine. In many ways it’s like a solid mirage and a welcome respite from almost certain frozen death on the unforgiving mountains and dales...until it was taken over by new management, an Oni with the wonderful name, Slurper, and his gang of doppelgangers (his doppelgang?). A travelling mage called Traveller wants more than anything to visit the inn and invites the adventurers, which can only be achieved by encountering mortal danger and hoping the inn appears with respite. Mechanically, the Last Rest inn can only be reached with four levels of exhaustion, which makes this adventure particularly great to use with other adventures and encounters if you want to populate the journey or even have this in your back pocket to spring on your players when they hit that dangerous fourth level of exhaustion.
Finding the inn is just the beginning of the adventure as the rightful manager is being held prisoner. Thankfully the inn removes that pesky exhaustion! There’s a table of rooms available, two tables of patrons with their backstory and if they are in the doppelgang or not, and hotel loot. The goblin cook called Cook will try a slip the party a warning in their food, which should begin the investigating and accusations. Not to mention the doppelganger attacks in the nigh – worse room service ever!
Nothing is what it seems and there is some of the most twisted and clever uses of illusion magic and shapechanging, including multiple false managers, the doppelgang, an umberhulk armchair called Burrowking and one of the most ridiculous, awesome and ridiculously awesome use of a mind flayer and polymorph! The proprietor needs saving and you’re their oni hope!
Ends with a fascinating sidebar on extraplanar inns.
Moon Shade Mead
Help an excitable, young halfling win their local Fermentation Festival by helping her acquire fabled magical berries from her grandfather’s recipes explore necromantically tainted caves that were once a pilgrimage sight of Chauntea and aid the ancient caretaker (now just a skull and arms) to vanquish the evil and cleanse the taint. Traverse dank caves, slay a malodorous monster in the form of zombie ogre with some nasty spells up its manky sleeves and get the sweet, sweet berries, a cut of the winnings and a special brew of your own for your troubles.
Good clean fun with seeds for further adventures with the departed druid still not being departed-ed, even after being ground into bonemeal (at their request) and the master on the slain monster being suggested. This adventure also comes with a recipe for creating your own mead!
Strike the Earth
Content Warning: Slavery, Reference to Tongues being Removed
This adventure follows the events of Auril’s Sinew
Dwarves from Mithril Hall recruit the adventurers to establish a beachhead in the port of Morbar, the lost dwarven hold lost to time and a variety of monsters who have moved into the echoing halls. The chilly corridors have been made toasty by the yuan-ti and magma snakes who have made them their home. The yaun-ti have a large group of svirfneblin slaves overseen by duregar and hemmed in by the molten pools of the magma snakes.
Yuan-ti purebloods will attempt to lure the party deeper into their domain posing as Way of the Molten Soul monks in their temple, ambushing them with the other yuan-ti and abomination who wields a nicely flavoured sword. The lies continue as the duregar will also play themselves off as captives to save themselves, and if all else fails they are the only ones capable of getting the magma snakes to close their lethal puddle outside where the deep gnomes are kept.
This adventure sets up the possibility for all manner of adventures restoring and exploring Morbar with any surviving dwarves, possibly serving as a base or at least friendly fire to find between the deep seas of snow and freezing darkness of Icewind Dale.
A sidebar describes magma worms and their journey from the frozen underground of the north to becoming azer mounts on the Elemental Plane of Fire. Tower of Lead
A member of Waterdeep’s Order of Most Prudent and Diligent Archeologists seeks the former home of a Warlock who tried to turn Icewind Dale from the frozen wastes into lush farmland, which does not appear to have been successful. Whether through appointment and interview, with some questions some players may struggle with or rescuing from mutants, Leszira Wyn, needs adventurers to keep them safe while exploring the inexplicable tower whose tip peeks out the top of a glacier.
This is a fascinating with mutated creatures and mythal miasmas, both of which are presented with random tables, including deer that fire eldritch blasts from their mouths and areas causing anything from hallucinations to disease and damages. Exploring the floors turns up all manner of treasures and oddities, all turned to lead from the same magic that effects the rest of the tower, the corpse of the previous owner. A variety of living spells, including one of the dead Warlock’s fingers, now a living finger of death, and the mythal miasmas pose dangers to be overcome before the leaden treasures can be retrieved.
The potential ramifications of this adventure are tremendous, from getting on the bad side of the Order of Most Prudent and Diligent Archeologists, but some serious magic items, albeit currently made of lead, or a humungous pension paid by the same said organisation if the party play ball, all the way to actually being able to finish the ritual the Warlock began, overtime changing Icewind Dale forever! “Ringing in a golden age for the North. However, according to the rule of equivalent exchange, this miracle might spell disaster elsewhere.”
The statblocks for the living spells are included, along with a sidebar on mythal theory.
Well of Spirits
The final adventure of this collection is a doozy! A priest of Auril, the wicked goddess of winter, has collected the malcontents of the Reghed tribes into a new Tribe of the Yeti under the guise of a follower of Temps, the honourable lord of battles. This new tribe’s elite warriors consist of wild berserkers clothed in yeti skins that kill indiscriminately, collecting the souls of the fallen for their leader, which are collected in the Well of Spirits, a profane site at the centre of the clan’s camp. Using the power of the collected souls, the priest would cast a mythal turning all southlanders into ice.
A former member of the tribe who saw through the ruse was cursed to bring pain to those he looked up (dealing cold damage mechanically). Coming upon rumours of wild yetis and/ or a sombre meeting with this outcast, the adventurers are called to rid the north of this blighted falsehood. Taking the fight to the Tribe of the Yeti is no mean feat with them being prepared to defend their homes with an organised counterattack, as well as the priest working their frigid magic to turn innocents into rampaging yetis in a last stand.
What role will the fate of the Tribe of the Yeti and Well of Souls play in further adventures and are there more sites of power such as this among the frozen wastes?
Pages of tables of northern names for many of the core D&D races are also provided.
This is a fantastic collection of adventures that also acts as a whirlwind tour of Icewind Dale with heaps of information on the area, locations and wildlife. These adventures are a lot of fun and cover a great span of subjects and levels, as well as planting numerous seeds for further adventures and containing a recipe for mead. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving!
A collection of adventures that can be played as one shots and sidequests or as an eight-part adventure path, as well as acting as a guidebook for Icewind Dale? You really couldn’t ask for more as an addition to a Rime of the Frost Maiden campaign or any fun in the chilly northern dales.
I must compliment the stylish cover evoking the limited covers of the official WOTC D&D books by Hydro74.
Author, Layout & Cartography: Christian Eichhorn
Editor: John Parker
Character Art: Ducere (https://www.deviantart.com/ducere)
My Affiliate Link: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/328509/Icewind-Dale-Tome-of-Adventures--A-Rime-of-the-Frostmaiden-Supplemen?affiliate_id=1507682
Mined Your Head An Unofficial Prequel Adventure to Rime of the Frost Maiden by Steven Pankotai (@stevenpankotai)
“When miners in Termalaine, one of the towns of Ten-Towns, unknowingly discover a new source of the mysterious and powerful chardalyn, powerful foes from the Underdark take note and begin their own investigation. Strange things begin to happen around Termalaine, and heroes find themselves drawn into a mystery with few obvious answers. Can they discover the truth of the sinister mechanisms at play before Ten-Towns is destroyed—or worse, before the mind flayers learn everything they’re after?”
A brilliant introduction to a number of alien concepts to some players, and just a great adventure with so much scope to play out many ways as the players drive the investigation their way, while the DM has everything they need at their fingertips. This is going to be a lot of fun for everyone and have your players begging you to start a Rime of the Frost Maiden campaign!
Before we go any further, we’ve got to talk about this double entendre of a title! This is a work of art referring to watching your head from those pesky low ceilings in mines…but also the fact mind flayers will straight up mine your head to get to the sweet grey meat inside! Poetry!
This is a mystery horror adventure investigating the strange goings on in a small Icewind Dale town in which eldritch horrors lurk beneath the ice.
“Part mystery and part horror, this adventure tests not only heroes’ blades, but their investigative skills as well.”
While the adventure is primarily character-driven investigation and roleplay, the sections are organized for the DMs reference.
Setup: Information on Termalaine and its people for reference throughout the adventure
Inciting Incident: The beginning of the adventure and early investigation
Rising Action: After heroes have begun investigations, their enemies begin to move against them
Denouement: Now aware of the threat, heroes must move to stop it before it’s too late!
“This adventure is intended to be a challenge for skilled adventurers. Throughout, there are several boxes containing information on scaling encounters to best suit your party.”
Chardalyn, a naturally occurring mineral with the ability to store magic, was recently unknowingly uncovered in the tourmaline mines underneath the town of Termalaine in Ten-Towns (say that fast three times in a row after having your intellect devoured). Unbeknownst to the surface-dwellers, deep below mind flayers, perturbed by the growing strength of the chardalyn-hoarding duregar, have sent an inquisition to learn more of the strange material before moving on the deep dwarves. Now most of the town’s miners have had their brains replaced with intellect devourers and are thralls of the aberrations.
Helpful sidebar on intellect Devourer, those little creepy-cute brain puppers puppetting various members of the town, and the aberrant behaviour.
A lovely map of Termalaine by Saga Mackenzie (@pyxistyxGWJ) is provided, showing all locations in the adventure.
The six named locations are briefly described, as well as ten of the 600 Town population relevant to the story with background and a defining aspect, such as Agnes Croix, a scrimshander, carver of knucklehead trout ivory sculptures, and a devout of Tyr with bonuses to social checks for those with other pious bents, Ailred the Barrel-Chested, burly head guard with an appreciation for other buff folx, and Clyde Bernard (Replaced) one of the few non-miners that has been replaced who keeps up to date with gossip and uses basement is used as a meeting place for the replaced brain squad.
A helpful reminder about skill check difficulties sidebar provides a simple reference tool to keep in mind during the player’s interaction with these NPCs.
The adventure is designed to be picked up any time adventurers find themselves around Ten-Towns. In Icewind Dale. The adventure presumes the characters are in Termalaine, though a sidebar notes any of the introductory hooks can “easily be adjusted to fit in any Ten-Towns location so long as they lead to Termalaine itself.”
The inciting incident for this adventure is the murder of Danerian Croix by his wife, Agnes. The hooks for the adventure revolve around the adventurers coming across or hearing about this tragic event.
To this end several hooks are provided for ways the adventure can be introduced on its own or naturally in conjunction with other adventures and exploration. These include witnessing the murder as Agnes yells, “I know you’re not him!” as she stabs him, with the chance of the perceptive getting a glimpse of shadowy shape flee the body, seeing Agnes being apprehended by town guards yelling, “It’s not my husband! Don’t you see, it’s not him!” and hearing rumours of the murder and subsequent arrest.
The facts surrounding the murder and examination of the body are provided in helpful bullet points, including a hard Medicine to notice “Danerian’s head feels lighter than it should be.” With the glorious addition, “If heroes go so far as to open Danerian’s skull (an act that would be extremely frowned upon in a public place), they will clearly see that he has no brain.” Agnes was roundly witnessed loudly decrying “Danerian was not her husband, but something else”, before she is taken for questioning at the town hall. Agnes will beg the adventurers to investigate her claims, offering “a fortune in scrimshaw if they can help her show the town that what she killed wasn’t her husband.” This information can also find its way to the party through rumours as necessary.
With the hook in place, the players are free to investigate their own way. Rather than having a set order, the adventure provides a number of scenarios the adventurers may come across, gaining enough information to trigger the Rising Action.
Agnes is held at Town Hall as a prisoner under the watch of guard captain, Ailred. This man lacks imagination, seeing the murder as an open-and-shut case, since Agnes was quite literally caught red-handed, despite her protestations. Thankfully, for the party he gained be bribed or convinced, with enough information, to speak to her. Agnes can talk to her husband going missing for a couple of days, acting strange, sneaking around and “not a flicker of the man” in his eyes, but she did get a glimpse of the intellect devourer after the murder. Agnes mentions a couple of the replaced, which the party can follow up on.
There is a very clever aspect to the way rumours are to be implemented, with the community initially being supportive of Agnes, but the intellect devourers start a smear campaign. This can give the party a lead to follow back to the miners.
Doctor Sweet, I Presume
Dr. Eurydon Sweet is preparing Danerian’s body for funeral and burial not seeing the need for an autopsy on account of the obvious knife wound. Being a better man than Ailred, Dr. Sweet needs to be convinced to allow a random party of adventurers to go poking at a corpse in his care. A variety of checks for sneaking in, performing an autopsy and examining the body, which will have characters and players familiar with mind flayers very excited.
The Scene of the Crime
The street where the murder took place is a great place to start an investigation. Access to the scene is dependent on if the guard have cordoned the area off and/ or if they can be persuaded. Tracks of the intellect devourer can be found that ominously change into humanoid footprints a ways down an alley with the difficulty increasing over time as the tracks get “obfuscated by foot traffic”, which is just a delightful phrase.
Speaker Shaelen Masthew is heartbroken at the news, having known both Agnes and Danerian, and can be persuaded to use her authority if the party are working to clear Agnes’ name, as well as officially hiring them to clear out the mine if they can provide evidence of Underdark dangers.
When the time is right the DM unleashes the mind flayers! Actually, when the illithid become aware of the meddling kids they send an intellect devourer assassin to stalk them. If character’s have prior knowledge of mind flayers (which you know players will insist as their knowledge merges seamlessly with that of their character lol) and start chatting about them in public, they are a likely target for the assassin.
A hunter named Videla is the assassin and enforcer for the illithid. If the party are getting too close, she will try to warn them to get the heck out of Dodge...which is unlikely to be very effective. From there she will try to cause panic with a flimsy attempt to frame them for murder to cover her escape or at least make them look bad and make their investigation more difficult, anything to avoid open confrontation if possible. In a last-ditch effort, the leggy brain boi will scarper, leaving Videla’s corpse at the part’s feet in a far better attempt at framing them.
A unique CR 11 Assassin statblock is provided in the text for Videla (replaced) with the advice for including more assassin allies if necessary, for scaling the adventure to higher level or larger parties.
Heroes v. Termalaine
A great sidebar provides advice on handling the challenge of the party having to deal with the ramifications of being framed and the ire of the town, which has all sorts of potential for fun roleplay, with advice on how to get things moving forward with the use of the major NPCs if necessary.
The intellect devourers are using the basement of the inn to meet and exchange information under the guise of organising to unionize the miners...which they kind of are but not in the traditional way. It is likely the party will become suspicious of the comings and goings, as well as the alacrity with which they are targeted if they discuss their plans over an ale among the replaced. Although the players are very unlikely to witness it, I love the inclusion of the information that because of their short-range telepathy they replaceds’ meetings would just be a few of them huddled in a corner silently staring at each other.
The Gem Mine
The party are going to end up investigating the mine sooner or later and it is likely the mind flayers are aware and ready for them.
Aetheline Cherrier, the mine’s overseer has a bad vibe of “wrongness” from the mine and miners but hasn’t actually gone to check it out because of their phobia of going in the mine alone. The do know a big shiny rock (chardalyn) came of the mine recently and hasn’t been seen since. They do have a little nugget they can show the party. Miners (replaced) have been taking explosives and deep-mining equipment to try to obtain more, but nothing has come up and they are concerned the miner are conspiring to rip the mine off. This is somewhat close, but it’s not the mine they want to do the ripping to. They can offer a reward for information and with enough evidence of a threat from below they will seal the mine.
The regular trudging footsteps can easily be followed deep into the mine where an intact fragment of a Netherese city was found along with its chardalyn, which became illithid HQ with troglodyte bouncers. During the day the mine is packed with replaced miners working but keeping an eye out for their mind flayer bosses and will defend the mine if necessary. Although, if asked nicely they might just escort them into their master’s trap. It’s also possible to sneak in at night, possibly with help from Aetheline, when the troglodyte roam the tunnels. The Netheril ruins are a wondrous sight to behold, the more intelligent of the party may realise the Netheril were a magical nation of flying cities and spaceships that crashed thousands of years ago with bits like this buried beneath the ice and rock of Icewind Dale!
Statblocks for the troglodytes, intellect devourers and mind flayers are provided in the body of the text for ease of reference.
An unbelievably gorgeous and colorful map from Saga Mackenzie (@pyxistyxGWJ01) depicts the Netheril ruins in all their glory!
In this place of beauty and wonder of ages long past the mind flayers have set up a little workshop for brain harvesting for making snacks or pets, depending on their mood, which is lovely. A central research station holder their collection of chardalyn. There is come lovely, grim descriptions of the illithid equipment and general décor with it being up to the DM how the expedition to the ruin runs and whether the party can get their mitts on any more of that sweet, sweet, chardalyn, as well as the number of mind flayers poised to nom on their heads.
A handy sidebar contains scaling information for the final encounter from APL 10 all the way to APL 20!
Another handy sidebar explains why the chardalyn is so very sweet – each nugget is worth 5,000 gp and they can essentially be used as spell pokeballs, both of which are pretty damn sweet!
The mind flayers are too far away to be relaying everything to their elder brain, so they will make every effort for at least one illithid to survive and make it home with their research and any lumps of chardalyn and brains it can grab on the way...or actually get the Netheril ruin to briefly fly away! The mind flayers aren’t worried though, "any mind flayer would be elated to feast on the brains of heroes.”
Player Death and Intellect Devourers
A side bar addresses the very real danger of losing their character permanently by having their minds munch and replaced with the leggy brain bois. The deadly nature of this adventure should be made clear to players. “However, it can be fun (and tragic) to allow a newly-replaced hero to actively fight against their former friends.”
Countdown to Disaster
There is a very cool description of the Netherese ruin/ ship powering up for the mind flayers escape with the snarky telepathic parting message, “This is a mercy compared to what is coming.” At this point the heroes have one minute to stop the absconding aberrations with a wide variety of checks and challenges on offer to disable the charging stations, which obviously includes hitting them very hard. Creativity is encouraged and it is likely they will be victorious, but the longer the take to stop it the more damage they take as the ruins crash down to earth with scaling damage relating to the rounds taken to stop take off.
This could genuinely be the best and most dramatic time for a TPK. Now, I want to be clear I am not advocating for a TPK, I’m a kitten of a DM and I don’t think DMs should try to go out of their way to kill players, although some creatures might. What I am saying is that it would be epic for this crashing damage to wipe the party...only for them to wake up in the inn having been rescued by Aetheline who overcame her fears to recuse the heroes!
On the other hand failure is possible and the heroes most likely “die in the cataclysmic aftermath”, after the ruin gets to a 100 feet up out of the mine...crashing down and taking out half of the town with it as it sinks into detritus below. “Heroes may survive this impact if they manage to stay in flight, provide strong magical protection for themselves, or otherwise get a large distance away; if they remain unguarded on the ruins as they fall, they will surely die.”
Agnes can be freed with evidence of the mind flayer conspiracy, so the heroes can get that oh so sweet scrimshaw worth serious skrilla, plus whatever they agreed with the Speaker and/ or Aetheline
The adventure intentionally ends with “more questions than answers” with many seeds and ideas for further adventures, including fining someone smart enough to study the ruins, the possibility of more sleeper agents and intellect devourers still kicking about making things even more tense in the village and Ten-Towns, there being more Netheril sites and mind flayers out there to discover – what are those scamps up to? The Duregar are mentioned in the background of the adventure, but don’t actually make an appearance – what are those other naughty scamps up to...” this plot is featured in the official Dungeons & Dragons adventure Rime of the Frostmaiden!”
This is one of the most brutal Game Over screens I've ever seen:
“If the heroes failed and Termalaine was partially destroyed, the aftermath of this act will scar Ten-Towns for generations. The town will need serious aid to have any chance to recover”. You. Ruined. Everything!
This is a wonderfully open and free-range adventure that centers around the mystery of the mind flayers and their minions. The DM is given all they need to know to run this however they want, but with the scenarios, NPCs and incredibly helpful advice to guide them.
This is a fantastic introduction to Icewind Dale and Netheril ruins, as well as being a great easy way to warm up a party for the Rime of the Frost Maiden campaign. Whether an introduction to the new campaign, a one shot murder mystery or additional frosty fun for your game, this is a well thought out adventure that really gives the players agency to investigate and roleplay as they wish...I mean, unless they get their brain chomped.
This would definitely be my choice as an opener for Rime of the Frost Maiden
Writing & Design by Steven Pankotai @stevenpankotai on Twitter
Editing by Ryan Langr @RealmwarpM on Twitter
Layout by Steven Pankotai based on templates created by Nathanaël Roux of Barkalot Designs
Map by Saga Mackenzie @pyxistyxGWJ on Twitter
Playtested by Jack Calderone, Cameron Turner, Alyssa Masters, Becca Whitney
“This game plays best with Player Primer: Icewind Dale. Learn about the frozen north of the Forgotten Realms and create characters that feel grounded there! Available at the Dungeon Masters Guild.” https://www.dmsguild.com/product/318990/Player-Primer-Icewind-Dale?affiliate_id=1507682
My Affiliate Link: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/323690/Mined-Your-Head-An-Unofficial-Prequel-to-Rime-of-the-Frostmaiden?affiliate_id=1507682
Also available in the Icewind Dale Bundle: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/326995/Icewind-Dale-Ultimate-Pack-BUNDLE?affiliate_id=1507682
Heroes & Villains of the Old World from Ole Arnesen (@OleArnesen) & Nikolas Totief (@4d6_drop_lowest on instagram)
“From the dawn of humanity, every culture has had its own myths and folklore. Starting as oral traditions passed down through centuries, if not millennia, these tales and myths speak to us about these cultures: What traits do its people value? What is taboo? What behaviour do these myths praise and encourage? What does it really mean to be a member of this culture? And why, exactly, should you stay away from that dark forest over there?”
The first thing we have to mention is the unbearably gorgeously beautiful cover art by Eduardo Comettant (https://www.artstation.com/ecomettant) of King Arthur and Morgan Le Fay screaming at each other (or playing a terrifying cannibalistic game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos), while battle of all size and shapes is waged under a storing purple sky! Frankly, it’s one of the most instantly arresting and freaking awesome front covers I’ve ever seen! I’m absolutely blown away!
The ‘...of the Old World’ team are back with a third instalment to the series, Monsters and Artifacts preceding it, and the quality and attention to detail has only improved with each work, and they were phenomenal to begin with. It truly fills me with joy to see these large-scale projects with a whole slew of incredible creators who already have terrific works on DMs Guild, DriveThruRPG and Itch coming together to pool their talents. These are not cooks, though their work makes me salivate, they are dab hands coming together to make dancing lights work. What I’m saying is that this is a bloody brilliant bunch of writers, editors, artists, layout, etc and it’s truly wonderful to see them coming together to produce something of truly top quality that will enhance any game, regardless of theme, because the creativity contained with cannot but enthral and inspire!
This masterwork of epic proportions covers a great breadth of Heroes and Villains of the Old World, history, folklore and myth entwined to create an incredible array of top-quality NPCs from the ‘Old World’ of Arthurian & British, Dutch & German, Greek & Roman, Irish, Italian, Nordic and Slavic stories and histories. It is very important to make it clear that this is far more than a collection of quality NPCs, there is just so much more here! Each NPC comes with a quote from an original source, a lengthy background and biography almost certainly expanding on the information and elements most commonly known including their origin or origins, their personality traits, statblock and statblocks for the creatures closely associated with them, magic items, both familiarly associated with the figure and that reflect and transfer some of their abilities to the wielder (more on that later), and many come with their own Lair Actions and Regional Effects, such as Jenny Green-Teeth's grasping vines and pond water that actively tries to drown creatures, as well as creepy ponds appearing in the area around her lair or trees riddled with arrows, tales of wealth distribution and all manner of merry traps actions that would make an ewok artificer blush for Robin Hood.
From Herne the Hunter, leader of a spectral hunt with warhorse, shadow mastiffs and rattling chain, Jack, the Giant-Killer and eventual Knight of the Round Table with pickaxe of giant killing and Jenny Green-Teeth, the truly terrifying ruler of Pondemonium who will make you deathly afraid of duckweed and puddles, and the roguish Robin Hood, to the too often overlooked, Guinevere, the white fey queen of Camelot and truly the first influencer with a passion for passion, her husband had rather fancy sword bestowed upon him by Nimue, foremost of the Ladies of the Lake with a history and mystique that eclipse that of the storied King. Still, Arthur, his closest friends and enemies with their wondrous and legendary toys are included. The wealth of beautifully written lore, items and characters here alone are worth the cover price and enough populate an Arthurian or Fey campaign!
From Dutch and Germanic legend give us Emmeken, an orphan on the streets raised to be a powerful Warlock by her patron and pater, a pit fiend, who has not forgotten the plight of the needy, a flirty, foxy silver-tongued rebel with a convenient confusing cottage, king and queen paladins with a very different approach to hour and righteousness and wealth of legendary items, and the original name with fifth edition flavour Schneewittchen (Snow White) and the Wicked Queen, animal friendship, glass coffin, magic mirror and all.
Greece and Rome have the nigh-invulnerable Achiles and mighty Ajax who ran the show at Troy for a time, while the man who would be remembered as the greatest champion of all time sat it out for “personal reasons”, also known as pouting over Agamemnon taking one of the women Achiles had enslaved for himself and letting countless of his allies die while he sulked like a petulant child... The Zephyr-fast Atlanta, one with the first and bow, who races and speared each suitor who couldn’t beat in her in a race, which was all of them, and the powerful witch queen with a penchant polymorphing men into pigs, Circe, who might just have the best quote in the book, “Go now, and roll in the mud with the rest of your shipmates”. We also have two of Zeus’ many, many children in the master monster slayers Heracles and Perseus (through a blending of mythology) and their heroic arsenal, including the mirrored shield and Medusa’s head. Also, here can be found the mighty queen of the amazons, Penthesilea, gold-cursed King Midas, the huge, fire-breathing bronze guardian, Talos and the twins shapechangers raised by wolves and founders of Rome, Romolo and Remus, amongst others. I absolutely cannot wait to add these folx to my Theros campaign!
From Ireland, Abhartaigh is a terrifying dwarven vampire, who like Killer Mike and El-P threatens folx to run the jewels or lose their fingers, kept in check by being kept upside down with a rock on him and a tree on top of that, though they are still surprisingly spry and influential on those in the area (which would make for an awesome adventure campaign arc), oh and they were a huge part of Bram Stoker's basis for Dracula. Also included are, Cathbad, the apotheosis of the druid as sage and advisory to the Celtic courts with their knowledge of prognostication, Cú Chullain, the ultimate Irish barbarian badarse with his artifact spear, legendary shield and stylish torc of defence, Finn mac Cumhaill, the “Hibernian Hercules” who gains insights from sucking his thumb because the he accidentally burnt while frying up the Salmon of Knowledge, Queen Méabh, the legendary warrior and ruler who proved herself equal and greater than most all sexes and genders, and The Morrígan, Battle Goddess or Shadow Queen, a tremendously powerful fey shapechanger with mastery over animals and their forms.
Italy gives us Orlando (and France gives us Roland) a powerful and pious paladin prone to bouts of furious jealousy pertaining to the battlefield healer princess, Angelica. Orlando’s tale mentions various allies of his that could inspire your own legendary NPCs and Angelica has a fabulous ring that aids her safety among the fighting.
From the Nordic we have some really interesting deeper cuts than the usual Norse characters with Dovregubben, the wise and magical legendary mountain king of the trolls and figuratively in the very bedrock of Norway with his perpetually-rimed greataxe and truly terrifying new Modify Perception spell, Espen Askeladd, a rags to adventurer to king, people person and owner of an incredible array of magic items including, an animated axe that talks, tells bawdy jokes and stories about tress it chopped down, a walnut of ever flowing water that also converses and is terrified of squirrels, and an animated hoe that digs a mean hole – yes this can hold a conversation too! Who needs sidekicks?! There’s also a full flying ship statblock and gorgeous map, Old-Erik a folklore fiend who might just be the devil himself disguised as an older gentleman on an eternal quest for a legendary hand-mill that con produce anything its wielder desires, and Utgards-Loke, master jotun sorcerer of troll magic, legendary deceiver of Thor ad owner of sweet fort full of loyal frost giant warriors, and an undrainable drinking horn! Lots of great stuff for Storm King’s Thunder, Rime of the Frost Maiden or even Descent into Avernus, as well as your own Norse games.
From the Portuguese we have Brites, “a burly and capable woman who didn’t like taking orders”, a retired adventurer and happy baker...who will kick arse when necessary and Viriato the “shepherd-king”, leader of guerrilla forces facing down the overwhelming numbers of Romans
From the Slavic we get the original hag archetype in Baba Yaga, but presented more sympathetically than we often see, being one with nature, from the orignal folklore being a sage representing “the wisdom of highly respected elders who always had advice for those in need.” She does have fences made of human bones, have the chicken-leg hut we all love that breathes fire from the oven with a beautiful battlemap of the insides, as well as her flying mortar and magic greatclub pestle. Dzevianna is the disputed goddess of the hunt and nature whose prowess and power as presented is undisputed, a Guard Mermaid of Warsaw depicted with coral breastplate and shield and a very cool pearly blade. King Popiel and the Poison Queen a deplorable royal couple with a poison chalice and an aversion to mice, and finally, Master Twardowski, a Warlock who tricked the devil into only being able to take his soul if he stepped on a boat or possibly Rome...so instead he pootles about on a magic rooster depicted sumptuously by Comettant!
There is a treasure trove of Magic Items reflecting both the magical items they are ubiquitous with these historic figures to use in your games, but also items that explain or reflect abilities of these figures, such as Robin Hood’s Bow of Merry-Thieves, which in addition to being a powerful weapons has an ability that can disarm enemies and give the wielder’s allies the ability to catch the disarmed weapon. Items like this both allow for DMs to show that the wielder or Mr Hood himself, is clearly no slouch with a bow and is more about disarming and embarrassing than going right in for the kill, and give players the chance to play out epic moments from the associated media, such as the good, the bad and definitive of Robin Hood films, the Disney one, although the Maid Marian BBC show comes a close second. Getting to be heroes and adventurers and getting to do all this cool stuff is part of what we play for in the first place, and many of the items will definitely scratch that itch, as well as having DMs putting on their Cap of Knowledge.
A pronunciation and translation guide, as well as indexes of the characters by name, CR, origin, and them are provided for to improve referencing and accessibility.
Whether you are running an adventure or campaign in a setting similar or inspired by these areas and legends or not, these characters, their deeds and tales, archetypes, items and awesomeness will add phenomenal amounts of flavour to your game! Just a sprinkle of these could inspire all manner or quests, NPCs, BBEFs (big bad evil folx), but with this toolkit and some mixing and matching you have potentially infinite possibilities for ways to implement them in and create games around these mythic figures. This is a top-quality supplement bound bring wonder and joy, sparking all manner of creative figures endeavours, as well as being a spectacular collection of NPCs and items, worth more than the asking price however you make use of it!
The absolutely fabulous layout by Sven Trucknebrodt (@SvenWrites) is true gorgeousness with the unifying motif that subtly morphs from one group to the next and the liberal, but wonderfully blended artwork, which in itself is a masterclass in historic royalty-free art and some truly marvelous pieces from the artists of the project! This supplement looks fresh, clean and professional. You love to see it!
This book was created by a multi-national team of writers, artists, and editors, originating from nearly a dozen different European countries. With this project, they hope to share a bit of their country’s history, lore, and mythology with you for use in the world’s greatest roleplaying game.
Project Leaders Ole Arnesen, Nikolas Totief
Layout Sven Truckenbrodt
Writers Andrea Maffia, Beatriz T Dias, Catherine Evans, Ciarán O’Halloran, George Komis, Matthew Whitby, Miłosz Gawęcki, Nikolas Totief, Ole Arnesen, Simone Rossi Tisbeni, Steffie de Vaan, Sven Truckenbrodt
Editors Ciarán O’Halloran, ELF Vesala, George Komis, Kai Linder, Nikolas Totief, Ole Arnesen, Sven Truckenbrodt
Cover Art Eduardo Comettant
Interior Illustrations: Original Art Dana Braga, Eduardo Comettant, Giulia Valentini, Lessie Nieves-Paugh, Rosemarie Müller, Saga Mackenzie, Wouter Florusse
Interior Illustrations: Cartography Miłosz Gawęcki, Ole Arnesen
Interior Illustrations: Public Domain Andrea Vaccaro, Andrew Lang, Arthur Rackham, Carl Of f terdinger, Charles Ernest Butler, David Ring, Edmund Blair Leighton, Evelyn De Morgan, George Cruikshank, Heinrich Leutemann, Helen Stratton, Henri Auguste César Serrur, Herbert James Draper, John William Waterhouse, Joseph Christian Leyendecker, Leo von Klenze, Louis Read, Luca Giordano, Morris & Co, Pompeo Batoni, Richard Doyle, Stephen Reid, William Morris
Interior Illustrations: Stock Art Arttower, Bob Greyvenstein, Dean Spencer, Dejan Krivokapic, Fat Goblin Games, pendleburyannette, Rachelmarie, DMs Guild Creator Resources
And When the Dogs Start Barking by Isaac Mandagie (@IsaacMandagie) & Cita A F (dancingberry.carrd.co)
Content Warning: Harm to Animals, Death of Animals, Referenced Suicide, Murder, Gore
A 4-hour Slasher Horror one-shot set in Icewind Dale for 4thlevel characters
“The long and harsh winter of Icewind Dale has severely affected the life of the people in Ten Towns, especially those living in Dougan’s Hole. Being the smallest village in the area, Dougan’s Hole is vulnerable to the bone-chilling dangers of this icy landscape. At the moment, however, weather is the least of their problems. People are starting to become concerned due to recent deaths following the sightings of a dark figure. And when the dogs start barking, that’s when they know it is making its way through the cold streets.”
This is a bone-chilling, spine-tingling murder mystery adventure set in a snowed in Icewind Dale Town perfect to add white out horror to Rime of the Frost Maiden campaigns or any game where cold-blooded killings and fiendish frights fuel fun times!
The backstory to this adventure is a doozy and one of the most original concepts I’ve come across. A lamplighter loses their dog to a blizzard. This sad event is seized upon by a fiend who offered to resurrect the dog, but the demon failed to mention it would be possessing the hound and taking its soul in the bargain. When the now demonic doggo was harassed by some local kids it lashed out, only for the kids and a watchman have the dangerous dog put down. Consumed with grief the lamplighter took their own life, but the demon, a dybbuk, a disembodied fiend, did what it does, bringing the lamplighter back to a sick reflection of life, exacting revenge on those who they felt had wronged them. Now they stalk the streets of Dougan’s Hole with their grizzly lantern fashioned from the dogs’ head...
I already have chills!
The adventure comprises three chapters, altogether taking approximately 4 hours. The first chapter should take an hour, followed by 2 hours for the second chapter, and 1 hour for the third.
•Chapter 1: Red over White.
The adventurers find themselves in Dougan’s Hole, get a glimpse of the lamplighter and start investigating.
•Chapter 2: The Lamplighter’s Fire.
The adventurers have a run in with the undead fiend and discover how dangerous they really are.
•Chapter 3: Under the Skin.
The adventurers follow the trail back to where it all began and face the unholy lamplighter.
A variety of hooks are provided, including being hired to investigate the murders, being related to one of the victims or simply curious passers-by stuck in town due the weather. If there’s nothing better to do in town why not try and solve the murders?
Chapter 1: Red over White.
A broken carriage and blizzard see the adventurers stuck in Dougan’s Hole’s lively tavern, despite or possibly in direct response to the murders and weather. A glimpse of the recently absent lamplighter piques the interest of the head of the watch, Sigi, a beautifully rendered non-binary goliath who brings me no end of joy!
There’s not much time to have a drink as the exceedingly creepy descriptions of the barking and then whimpering of the dogs, which announce another murder. At the crime scene, if not already directly hooked into the story, Sigi can bring them into the investigation and appraisal of the grizzly crime scene with helpfully bullet pointed information and checks, which give DMs a wealth of information to provide players without giving the gruesome game away just yet.
Chapter 2: The Lamplighter’s Fire.
A temporary morgue has been set up at the watch house, which Sigi invites the party to discuss the facts of the case and examine the bodies. With the rest of the watch escorting the Speaker of the village to the next town for their safety, the protection of the town lays solely with Sigi, a single other remaining member of the watch, Sten, and the adventurers. The information and advice given allows for an interesting, if grim, discussion of the facts and examination of the bodies, with time and encouragement for those with the Murdered Relative hook to roleplay a final farewell.
It’s not long before a terrified Milo, the sole surviving member of the kids who harassed and ultimately killed the lamplighter’s dog, bursts in absolutely terrified for their life and begging for protection. The intuitive and persuasive can find out why Milo is so afraid and gain greater insights into the case.
Battening down the hatches and boarding the windows of the watch house to keep Milo safe allows for a moment of surprise and levity when Sten goes missing, only to be found unconscious in the storeroom, awakening with a start after having simply had a tumble. This diffusion of tension last only a moment as the dogs start barking, before the door is broken down, though no-one seems to be there...until the green light caches the characters’ eyes and they turn to see the lamplighter behind them Axe in hand!
Combat breaks out and whether or not the lamplighter manages to take Milo’s head, and even if the adventurers manage to put the killer down, in true slasher fashion, the undead fortitude brings them unexpectedly back to unlife, magically disappearing.
With a moment to breathe and grieve if necessary, the survivors head to the lamplighter home. This means heading into the blizzard outside, which makes things very dangerous with a variety of checks and mechanical difficulties, as well as a random table of environmental hazards the party may encounter, including getting caught in a snow drift, finding themselves on slippery or dangerously thin ice, each with their own associated descriptions and checks. If this was the character’s first instinct, rather than blockading the watch house, the lamplighter can lurch out of the squealing snow to strike.
Chapter 3: Under the Skin
Inside the lamplighter’s abode the adventurers must brave the frigid temperatures and search the detritus for clues. The lamplighter’s home holds many hints, but their diary tells the heart-breaking tale of him discovering a puppy in the woods shortly after his 71st birthday only to lose them to the blizzards, filling in the rest of the grim details leading to him taking his life.
In the basement the grizzly trophies of the victim’s heads, eerie candlelight emanating from inside them, including anyone left at the watch house as a nasty twist and cautionary tale about splitting the party, before the lamplighter appears, terrifyingly bursting out of the shelving for the final encounter. Great advice about having the lamplighter return home and head to the basement while the characters are upstairs is given to ensure noone misses out on the gruesome discoveries down there is provided, which gives them a chance to sneak up on them. Either way when combat begins they place their lamp on the ground and the party see a floating spectral hound’s head begin to bark and howl, which is a freaking epic reveal!
Once the lamplighter has been slain and the undead fortitude failed one of the most awesomely gruesome descriptions I’ve had the pleasure of reading is to be read, as the survivors get to see the dybbuk tear itself from the body, fighting for its cursed life. It is truly amazing to see this horrifying creature really get its moment and spectacular artwork of the creepy jellyfish ghost demon. It will have many more of if the party are slain, but there is always a chance for second run at it with the Speaker hiring more adventurers to free the slaughtered town from the fiend’s tyranny.
The appendix contains a full dramatis personae with background, objective and personality traits for all the NPCs, statblocks for the lamplighter, buddy (the spectral hound) and the dybbuk, and beautifully detailed maps of the lamplighter’s house for both DMs and players.
One of the most original, horrifying and inspired uses of a D&D creature...and dogs head for that matter in a chillingly creepy cool tale of horror in the snow with quality writing and drop dead (and resurrected by a demon) gorgeous artwork. Add some morbid mystery sure to keep players guessing to your Rime of the Frost Maiden, Icewind Dale or any bitter cold game.
The way that tension and terror are handled, particularly in the second chapter, show a true understanding of the horror genre and create seriously awesome scenes bound to cause all manner of panic and nervous laughter at the table. It’s always great to see horror written well with a knowledge that the valve of tension does need to be released, albeit momentarily and often comically, to ultimately aid the effectiveness of scares and spooks.
The art throughout is truly something else with a wonderful style so perfect for this haunting adventure! I have absolutely loved everything I’ve seen of Cita A F’s work and thoroughly look forward to seeing more of it on the Guild and beyond!
This is a bone-chilling, spine-tingling murder mystery adventure set in a snowed in Icewind Dale Town perfect to add white out horror to Rime of the Frost Maiden campaigns or any game where cold-blooded killings and fiendish frights fuel fun times!
After making a big splash with their respective RPG Writer Workshop Adventures Isaac Mandagie (@IsaacMandagie) and Cita A F (dancingberry.carrd.co) are definitely one’s to watch, and I’m excited to see what they do next!
Lead Designer: Isaac Mandagie
Creative Consultant, Editing, Design, Illustration, Cartography: Cita A F
Map Assets: Dungeondraft
Playtesters: Chelsie G. Lin, JeStBag, Juan A. Pangestu, MyrrenTheGreat
Special thanks to our TTRPG and pop culture communities, The Archipelago and Rigor Mortis, for supporting our work.
About the Authors
Isaac Mandagie is an International Relations major who worked as a voice actor, content researcher, and scriptwriter. During his downtime, he becomes a Dungeon Master, a Keeper of Arcane Lore, a Storyteller, and a Master of Ceremony for several tabletop role-playing groups. Other than that, he is an amateur film reviewer who loves to share his thoughts about movies on YouTube and his social media.
You can follow him on Twitter (@IsaacMandagie) and Instagram (isaac.mandagie).
Other titles on dmsguild.com:
“When Madness Calls” (with Cita A F)
Cita A F is a creative at heart who loves to explore multiple fields as a writer, illustrator, and designer. She plays TRPGs for fun and run them for the same reason.
You can find her on dancingberry.carrd.co
Other titles on dmsguild.com:
“I Wanna Go Home” “Wrench’s Useless Magic Items” “Print Your Own Spell Card” (with Andreas Elnatan Christian) “Covers & Papers Packs Bundle”
Other title on drivethrurpg.com:
“The (Un)Life of A Vampire Lady’s Minions”
The Great Trial Frostbite by Christian Zeuch (@czeuch1)
Some events described in this adventure could cause stress to certain readers, or players, these things include: loss of agency, mental manipulation through magic, affected mental health, and references to slavery.
This truly is the ultimate nightmare winter cruise...without a ship or paddle.
A winter wonderland of ice and pain filled with new monsters, challenges and some seriously awesome thrills and spills. Whether you're looking for an awesome one shot, continuing The Great Trial series or augmenting and/ or adding to your Icewind Dale experience with the coming of Rime of the Frost Maide, The Great Trial Frostbite has something for everyone.
Running This Adventure
The history of the previous Grand Trial and Aenor Gleenwith’s creations and machinations are wonderfully described bringing all up to date and setting a chilling and foreboding tone for what lays ahead. With the information provided, given more context in the adventure hooks below, The Great Trial Frostbite can easily be run as part of an ongoing campaign, as a one shot, or as a continuation of The Great Trial.
A trio of hooks are provided. In the first the party met with Frost Giant under the effects of Aenor’s mind magic. The big, forgetful is an unwitting courier for the Wizard and their clearly trapped mind games. Whether the party know it or not they are walking into a trap and are likely to be subdued by the powerful Wizard, only to wake up on his bizarre creation without arms, armour or items. This hook is an augmented version of an encounter from Zeuch’s previous phenomenal release, the jam-packed Encounters In Icewind Dale (https://www.dmsguild.com/product/325154/Encounters-in-Icewind-Dale?affiliate_id=1507682). The second seamlessly connects the third dungeon floor/ demiplane from The Great Trial (https://www.dmsguild.com/product/304957/The-Great-Trial?affiliate_id=1507682), making the two modules play out as if a single long adventure. Finally, the third hook sets this module up as a one shot with Aenor sticking to his usual modus operandi, hiring the adventurers for a bogus quest and capturing them when they least expect it.
Chapter 1 The Frostbite Gauntlet
The Frostbite Gauntlet is a frigid demiplane of Aenor’s creations with cheerfully freezing and inclement weather, travelling and wilderness hazards laid out clearly, along with a truly beautiful hexmap. I mean a seriously gorgeous map of this demiplane with all locations indicated in style. Not content with a snow globe demiplane of freezing torture alone, Aenor’s wicked brilliance and artifice have managed to arcanely rig it so “the plane has multiple one way passages and portals that can take creatures from the Cocytus, Stygia, Feywild and the Plane of Ice into the Gauntlet to act as challenges for the trial-runners.” This truly is the ultimate nightmare winter cruise...without a ship or paddle.
If the weather isn’t bad enough the travel agents are Deathwings Air comprised of “Death, an alias Aenor gave to an undead he created: a skeletal knight who rides Wings, an undead ice wyvern. Together they’re called Death wings. His role in this gauntlet is to harass the participants of the trial from time to time” and stop them reaching the exit to this gelid place, miles above at the summit of The Unreachable. However, if Death can be overcome Wings could be a great means to the top. The pair are tied to seven sources scattered about the demiplane and the wintry wonderlands it borders linked to specific and thematically appropriate abilities relating to each location, which can be discovered with a clever addition (or rather subtraction) to a Perception Check.
All cold and unwelcoming though they all are, there is an exciting variety of locations The Frostbite Gauntlet.
The Tree of Bad Omen is where the characters awake “left only with [their] clothes, forging a cold [they] have never quite felt before” with a creepy tree with a Magic Mouth that cordially welcomes them to the Frostbite Gauntlet.
The Tall Guardian is a huge Skeleton a la Dark Souls whose sole purpose is to attempt to keep the players from their belongings, trapped in large blocks of ice. You know, because if you haven’t work it out yet Aenor isn’t very nice.
The Unending Ice is a lie, but it does go far enough before ending “in pure void” and has “pretty much unbreakable” ice.
The Plane of Ice Portal is a glowing blue hole in an iceberg the size of a mountain just spewing extreme cold and frosty elementals. Here the heroes face the quintessential ice golem, the biggest, baddest ice elemental in the playground to rob Death if icy powers and earn the respect of all the other ice elementals in your year.
The Cave of Stygia is a big ole rocky orifice to Hell’s freezer that holds a big ole crystal of Death’s power and a real chill devil nifty new icy spear, effective tactics, and a whole heap of devils who don’t seem to respect the Queensbury Rules as much as the elementals.
The Shattered Soul is a jolly forest of crystals that put pay to the notion, if at first you don’t succeed in linking your demiplane to the Feywild, just kill an Archfey and use their soul to make a chill-ass crystal forest and give your Death Knight innate spellcasting.
The “Frozen Mountain is around three miles tall and can be seen from anywhere on the island, largely due to The Unreachable atop it, shining its brilliant, blue light across the whole island.”
The Unreachable is 16,000 feet of eponymous ridiculousness with a one-way portal out of this freezer.
The Raging Wind is immense tornado radiating out from a portal to the Elemental Plane of Air that blows around with a fancy emerald magic item in its’ eye. A skill challenge with a variety of options and a pounding for failing and flailing in the mighty air currents is all that stands between the party and a new shiny and cure death of his freezing wind.
The Cocytus Rift is a Pandemonius tear through which demon caper and a through which gargantuan oozy demon came through and made its home on Aenor’s couch in return for helping explode in icy death throes. I’m loving the variety in these challenges and creatures, and I’m having a real tough time trying to decide which I would rather, fight a gargantuan demon blob or have the king boss explode in icy death...
Winter’s Eye is a spiky, frozen crater bored by an ice beholder called “Ithoch” (although it would be more fitting to be called Ithcold) who is actually actively scheming against Aenor and wants out. Their three-tiered home contains an enslaved frost giant, Oklog, and their winter wolf, some treasures and some really interesting sources of roleplay and parlay. It’s possible to remove the source of Death’s power from Ithoch without killing them, making them an ally (at least in the meantime, but they could become a very interesting part of the party), while Oklog can also be persuaded to help against their master, possibly made easier by the reservations their Winter Wolf has about the ice beholder.
This chapter works on rolling for a random encounter per hex traversed, further broken down by type with subsequent tables for devils, demons, ice elementals and other encounters. All save the demons contain a number of the cool new creatures featured in the appendix. This section makes a fantastic reference for adding more interesting encounters and creatures to any icy or Icewind Dale games.
Three special events can play out at any time, including choosing whether or not to help a demon getting ganged up on by a group of demons, a nalfeshnee, called Ba'teth, who can become a little piggy-demon-cherub ally of the party while “waits for a good opportunity to make a meal out of them when they’re at their weakest”, a bored imp who will chat to the party with a healthy mix of lies and truth with a table of examples, before getting bored, and an ill-fated or lucky (depending on your perspective) silver dragonborn sorcerer, Naaxith Valzys, who has been stuck he for a while, which has taken its toll, though they are still handy with a spell and can add some much needed arcane support to parties finding themselves left out in the cold.
Chapter 2 Escaping Icingdeath
Once Deathswings and The Unreachable have been surmounted the party find themselves in a bizarre dungeon designed “to have the party flee from the dungeon while Icingdeath chases the party relentlessly”, which could be taken as a kind gesture of getting them nice and warm after that chilly demiplane, but that really is the only upside of having Ingeloakastimizilian, an ancient undead dragon gnashing at your heels as you Benny Hill through dungeon corridors to the sound of Yakety Sax played on a haunted hurdy-gurdy. Oh, and the Returned dragon has real-time tracking in their lair.
But “Aenor tries to be fair in his challenges. Knowing that the participants will go through this part right after the gauntlet, he didn’t add many traps in this dungeon.” There are some highly amusing invisible ice walls and the classic and, I believe, legally necessary falling stalactites.
“It opens its maw and unleashes a horrifying sound; a roar, halfblended with the sounds of a thousand dying screams”
I. Have. Chills!
The Yakety Sax really isn’t fair as Zeuch has worked hard to keep the chase thrilling and immediate using initiative, but with limited turn time (or the character spends their turn legging it) and some great advice for keeping the group’s discussion in character as the run for their lives and dither over directions. Can we take a moment to imagine and appreciate the sheer terror of a gargantuan undead dragon hounding you down corridors that should be too narrow for it, but nevertheless it is indomitably coming, while you slip and slide, smash through invisible walls and get impaled from above! This is truly one of the most exciting set pieces I've come across.
The narrative examples for describing different situations are fantastic and evocative! I give you, Looking Back:
“You see that huge mass of draconic bones clawing its way through the corridor with surprising great speed, its eyes glowing with a terrible fury.”
Finally, the out of the dungeon, the party are faced with the we’ve come to know and love? Loathe? Have nightmares about what his diary must look like, filled with Halaster/ Acererak slash fic? Well he’s there with his usual platitudes, apologies, Wishes, gold, magic items and whatnot, and the party find themselves in Icewind Dale, possibly feeling a version of when you step out of a steam room in the cold of night, but don’t feel cold, maybe. With a sense of true accomplishment and an 11th level, most definitely.
Don’t worry Aenor is in the appendix if the party feel the need to through down with CR 20 Wizard, after all they have been through...
The Appendix contains 17 creatures, almost entirely new, including the named characters of Aenor, Death, Wings and Icingdeath, as well as a cavalcade of new devils, demons and elementals, all with a wicked icy twist and perfect for any chilly setting or game.
The Appendix also contains the four original magic items from the dungeons, Death’s Scythe, a very rare longsword with life transferring abilities, Spear of Frost, Invigorating Stone (the shiny gem from the big wind), a very rare item that leaves one feeling more rested in the morning, and Wingklace, the legendary undead wyvern remote control.
This proves without doubt that Zeuch is master of creating a unique location and filling it with wonders, horrors and fascinating obstacles to overcome! From the stunningly gorgeous hexmap to the beautiful maps for each location contained within the body of the adventure, as well as the wonderful batch of additional maps for random encounters, which show they have quickly become an Inkarnate savant, to the awesomely intriguing places to visit, creatures to discover and defend against, characters and surprises that makes these far more than a simple dungeon or even a mere spectacular location. And then an inspired handbrake turn into a more traditional dungeon chase with a gargantuan undead dragon with the nous to know that with a few tricks, there’s no more need to overcomplicate it. The Great Trial Frostbite is a wonderful adventure within itself, as well as being a wondrous addition to The Great Trial and Aenor’s legend, which I truly hope to see further instalments of; it is a phenomenal whole, but it is also a spectacular toolkit with the ability to enhance your games for a long time to come. The additional monsters, location, characters and concepts have enough depth to live on to inspire and become included in further adventures. To incorporate both elements and pull it off with aplomb is seriously impressive. I’m so excited to see that they do next!
Zeuch is a true Master of the Dungeon!
And if you’re reading this just to see if this would work with and be an asset to your Rime of the Frost Maiden campaign or any icy, snowy good time, the answer is most assuredly and affirmatively yes! In the ways I described above, as an interlude, worked into the story or simply cannibalised for all its juicy bits. This has quality Icewind Dale potential. It’s literally where the adventure ends!
This truly is the ultimate nightmare winter cruise...without a ship or paddle.
My affiliate link: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/327309/The-Great-Trial-Frostbite?affiliate_id=1507682
Author Christian Zeuch (@czeuch1)
Editor Jack Weighill (@diveaveragejack)
Cover & Credits Illustrator Dean Spencer (@DeanSpencerArt)
Interior Art Art under CC0 license, Wizard of the Cost stock art and some Inkarnate scenes created by Christian Zeuch
Playtesters Diego Bitelo, Edegar Machado, Fabio Forell, Leonardo Dantas, Rômulo Sartori
Special Thanks GMBinder for the amazing layout tool
My affiliate link: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/327309/The-Great-Trial-Frostbite?affiliate_id=1507682
In the spirit of full disclosure, I was given a copy of this adventure for a full and honest review.
The cover illustration by Daniel Matthews (of the @bwbastards) is evocative of old skool D&D and has a simple, intriguing elegance to it. Their stylish art and stock art are used sparingly, but effectively, in keeping with the tone of the adventure.
The supplement opens with a heartfelt forward stating the intentions and effort J Carmichael (@ModifiedRoll) has gone to make this adventure easy to fit into any setting, highlighting the inclusion of some of the main elements of D&D; combat, puzzle solving and roleplay. Carmichael also states that the adventure also works as a one shot on its own, with play tests showing that the whole thing can be played in around four hours, though the knowledge of the players and expansion of the DM can alter this somewhat. With all these elements, this does make this a great adventure for all levels of experience, and could be a good way to introduce new players to the game, though I would not necessarily recommend this for a first time DM. But it does come with a warning regarding the way combat encounters can vary wildly depending on the number of players and party composition, and advice to adjust as you see fit.
The introduction asserts The Dead Wizard's Tower is a Tier One adventure a is designed for a party of 3-6 5th level characters, as well as suggesting that due to its expected 4 hours play time it would work well for conventions.
The adventure background definitely peaked my interest as the concept of a wizards tower filled with all manner of life from around the world and planes, pocket dimensions and experiments in sentience sounds amazing! Throw in the fact the owner is dead and there are a veritable trove of magical goodies and unknown dangers, as well as their frenemy and rival is Avernus bent on getting the dead wizard's spellbook, and we have the potential for some serious fun and dangerous exploration! I instantly was put in mind of the laboratory in the Shinra building in Final Fantasy VII and Newt Scamander's trunk of holding; adventuring through those would be a lot of fun to run and play!
The adventure hooks all centre around heading into the tower to plunder its riches, (something players hardly need a hook to do) or having specific magic items and/ or things relating to your campaign or world, due to the wizard, "Greenstaff", being such an avid collector during his life, and the tower itself being a marvel of magical ingenuity. These is a great suggestions and a wonderful way to ground the tower and adventure in your world/ campaign, as is the advice about placing the tower just off the road between two cities, about as setting neutral as you can get. While there is great advice in the hooks, I do think there could have been a greater variety of hooks, perhaps one of the characters receives a letter which could mention Brann's death and state that they are a relative, heir or Greenstaff could even be a former master/ tutor, so they are invited to the tower for a reading of the will, or even the tower could be bequeathed to them. Any of these could either be true or a ruse concocted by Greenstaff's rival, Rollin Blindlewoll, to his own ends, although this is touched on in Part 1. Just a few additional ideas for more hook flavour.
The adventure summary is informative and covers the important beats and beasties of the adventure.
Part 1 - The Wizard's Tower opens with the party arriving at the tower and meeting Blindlewoll who will make some kind of deal with them to explore the tower (and deal with Greenstaff's defences and menagerie for him). The first section lays out what he knows and what he wants, allowing the DM options for what is offered and discussed upfront, a chance for the party to grill their prospective employer, attempt to understand their motives and wring a whole lot more gold out of them, as well as probably the most important thing - trying to get an idea of what they might face inside...or they could just launch themselves into a almost certainly dangerous wizard's tower they only just heard about and seemingly appeared out of thin air when they got close, before the body's and any attached slippers have had time to cool.
Inside, the party soon discover the tower is smaller on the outside, thanks to the tower actually being succession of pocket dimensions linked together in the form of a tower, rather than a tower in the traditional sense. They are greeted by a projection of the eponymous dead wizard, who seems rather out of sorts, accusative and disparaging. If not before, now is when your adventurers will realise things might not be so easy and challenges lay ahead.
Part 2 - The Lower Levels
The Depository. The first floor contains Greenstaff's collection of ordinary armour weapons, adventuring gear, chests etc. Though this collection is protected by some far from mundane guardians in the form of two animated armours flanking the door to prevent escape, two flying swords mounted on the walls and a rug of smothering in the centre of the room. These spring to life and attack the party if, and very much when they touch any of the chests and gear like Abu in Aladdin. There's a mimic amongst the chests to boot, along with some booty to swag! The encounter comes out as medium for 3 level 5 characters for the animated items, hard including the mimic. I would say, depending on the make up of the party, this is a real doozy of an encounter. One to surely test them and instil a serious paranoia that anything and everything could attack them, which is always a droll state of affairs.
The Library. The second floor is an impressive library with all manner of books and tomes, including a Tome of Elementals with a nice but of flavour text, and the possibility of spellscrolls, watched over by a pair of grotesques. (I'm not quite the pedant I used to be, but it definitely brings me joy and I award bonus points for use of the word grotesque)...despite them turning out to be gargoyles (creature). A nifty time and survival puzzle lays in the centre of the room, in which the party face the stone guardians and must hold their own until the door opens leading up.
Part 3 - The Upper Levels
The Arboretum. This level is a huge forest dedicated to Green staff’s study of botany and flora, with its own ecosystem and magical sunlight. This marvel is highly dangerous as the party get jumped by a serious gang of various blights, which is deadly for 3 level 5th level and a tough medium for 5. This can be an epic and truly disorientating and dangerous encounter, but I would advise considering the state of your party from their previous travails and their general makeup, amending this encounter if necessary, as well as being prepared to edit it on the fly to avoid a TPK. The party also come across some of Greenstaff's equipment and notes. This being left to the DMs discretion allows for them to use this as another way to ground the adventure in your own world/ campaign, though I must say I always enjoy the notes and flavour texts that DMs include and it would have been nice to have some of those here. They could have been used to flesh out the demised mage's personality and work further.
The Gardner on the other hand is a wonderful touch and an unexpected Celestial surprise in a human guise who could provide the party with some probably much needed healing and information if their intentions seem pure enough, alternatively they might well find themselves with another dangerous fight on their hands. With that abilities of the creature, this could be a really interesting and deadly combat. I would advise having a plan for if the party are taken out or for it to leave after giving them the spanking they almost certainly deserved.
The study-come-bedroom seems to be somewhere Greenstaff spent a great deal of his time, with books, instruments and magical elements spread about the room, including the last entry of his diary that adds a nice bit of the flavour it would have been nice to see in the arboretum. This room contains a number of riddles presented in a magical fire pertaining to various items in the room that must be completed to gain access to the wizard's magically concealed sanctum. There are extensive notes and advice for the DM with players who find riddles difficult, which is a nice touch.
The Sanctum contains a heart-breaking marvel of a clay golem given true life through the means of magic; Greenstaff's Magnum Opus, Lutum. The party may have some interesting and upsetting conversation with this being, which could easily become dangerous without tact and space. A unique statblock for Lutum can be found in the appendices. Also, within the sanctum is a spectator with some highly amusing quirks and idiosyncrasies. They were hired by Greenstaff to guard his most prized possessions, but upon hearing of his death they will claim the tower and contents as their own, leading to the inevitable boss battle, following the party of they flee. Once defeated, the party vain access to the wizard's eponymous Greenstaff, a pretty nifty unique very rare magic staff, and find departed wizard's research and spellbook, detailed on the appendices.
The party run into Blindelwoll on their way down and there are a number of ways it could go, with a number of them covered. Benevolence sees the party sparing the sentient golem, Blindelwoll taking charge of raising Lutum and offering the party assistance in the future. Death of an Innocent sees Lutum killed and Blindelwoll varying degrees of angry, depending on how the party tells him of Lutum and their sentience. Last and probably most likely, Finders Keepers sees the party renege on their deal and decide to keep everything, resulting in Blindelwoll swearing revenge on the party. This leaves him as a seed for potential future adventures and/ or complications.
The appendices contain the custom clay golem statblock for Lutum, Greenstaff's extensive spellbook, including the custom spell, Green staff Tower also detailed here, and accessible through the Greenstaff.
This supplement closes with designer notes regarding the tower being enchanted to be found wherever it is needed, making it setting neutral, as well as a heartfelt thanks to the reader and request for feedback. Finally there is a plug for Carmichael's homebrew actual play podcast, Modified Roll (@ModifiedRoll)
Through messaging with the author, I learned that this adventure was originally only meant to be run at the UK Games Expo convention, and they simply didn't have the budget to include maps this time, but they are hoping to put sales from this adventure towards further adventures with more maps and art. I was also informed this was their first "properly done" adventure.
The Dead Wizard's Tower is a fun and interesting adventure through a classic trope with a twist. There are sparks and glimmers of genius, bringing the unexpected and adding some delightful details, but there were some elements of lore a flavour I feel could have been expanded upon, as well as greater explanation and assistance in dealing with a number of potentially deadly encounters rather close to one another. These elements do not detract too much from what is a great romp through some varied and fascinating situations, and are the kind of thing that are easy to miss out in converting an adventure you plan to run yourself at a con into a published adventure, especially if it's your first real foray into adventure writing for publication. It's worth pointing out that this is my personal opinion and preference mainly being a 5e player, and these concerns would mean very little to more old skool roleplayers.
A great romp!
Author: J Carmichael
Editor: Mitchell Hodge
Artist: Daniel Matthews
Thank you Seb! I really appreciate the thorough review and will me taking your critiques on board! Hopefully I will be able implement a few of them in the coming weeks to further improve this adventure!
This is an unbelievably awesome introduction to the Shadowfell, a brilliantly different take on the building block of the Phandelver (Shadow Remix) & a great through line absolutely packed with flavour, elements, locations & notable folx. I'm running it now & having a ball!
A whole campaign starter with seeds, info encounters to see you campaigning in the Realm of Shadows for a ridiculously long time & so much to build on. Starting as a @RPGWriterWrkshp project & growing into something gigantic!
My players are absolutely loving this, & as none of us were that familiar with Shadowfell, outside Ravenloft, it has everything we need to get a foot hold & control the foggy, uncertain vistas, troubling effects & disconcerting denizens!
Truly a bloody marvel!
I'll be posting a full in depth review in the next few weeks.
There isn't a better time than now to pick up this key to the Plane of Shadow, whether you want a brief sojourn in the darkness, start a campaign there or expand Ravenloft & beyond!
Lost in Shadow Interview
Valentine was kind enough to agree to a short interview about Lost in Shadow, which it is my honour and pleasure to share with you.
CoS: First of all, I wanted to say just how clever and brave endeavour, taking something so well known and loved as The Lost Mines of Phandelver and flipping on its head. Where did the inspiration for this idea come from?
CV: I had been reading a lot about the Feywild and Shadowfell and how they overlap areas of the prime material plane. They could have the same things, or altered timelines and be missing things. Or they could have new things altogether. Thinking what that might look like, I took a familiar setting (LMOP) and used those as a base. Some ruins might not be ruins. Some prosperous areas may be blighted. Some things may look exactly the same but be wholly different due to their inhabitants or uses. I took that and ran with it.
CoS: You clearly know your stuff when it comes to the Shadowfell. What is your history with the Plane of Shadows and what made you want to create a starter campaign chucking folx in the dark end?
CV: I am a lover of horror and dark settings. Shows like the Outer Limits and Twilight Zone. Both focused on the “what if” line of thinking. So, I drew from that and asked myself a lot of questions. I also read a lot of 4e and 3.5e material so I could see what had been done and what to draw off of. Gloomwrought had kind of done the same thing to a few places so I could see what one interpretation was like. One big inspiration was Cragmaw Castle, in ruins. What did it look like in its hay day? I was bound to find out.
CoS: There is something truly wonderful about seeing a player’s face light up or the studios confused look as they study the Castle Duskmourne map, suddenly realising they recognise this place! How did you go about using these well-known locations, building the story and placing Easter eggs?
CV: I wanted to add to the LMOP story. We see how that plays out but things are not as simple as we are led to believe. I like to think each plane influences the other. I wanted to see how each location might tie into its counterpart and how those ties manifest on the other side. This is exceptionally prevalent when we got to how the Forge of Spells works and where that magic energy originates. For Easter eggs, not only did I scan the LMOP book but all the hardcovers for a few as well. I wanted everything to fit within the continuity of the Forgotten Realms without any hiccups. A big obstacle was the D&D Essentials kit came out just as I was nearing completion. It added many new locations to the area so I wanted to take them into account too. I was very determined to make the story complimentary to the official releases.
CoS: Speaking of Easter eggs and extra goodies, there is just so much within the campaign starter itself, but so many references and options for further reading and exploration and fun. It really feels like you wanted to give a true taste of the many grim things the Shadowfell has to offer, and many more jumping off points for further adventures (and succeed). What was it like writing in threads to be pulled? Was it hard to resist the temptation to pull them yourself and do you have any plans for further adventures, perhaps exploring the machinations of Shar alluded to in the cellar of Duskmourne Castle?
CV: I DM a lot of adventures for friends and Adventurers League. A consistent bit of information I hear is that other DMs want to be able to build on the branches of the publication. They want to create new branches and bear their own fruit. I was just trying to setup the right trunk for them to manicure in a manner that fits their own garden. I very much plan to keep going with the story. If we’ve seen how the Shadowfell effects the prime material plane, we need to take a look at how the opposite yet equal pull of the Feywild is doing as well. I really like developing the stories so as long as people want to hear where they go or how deep we can reveal, I’ll be trying to comply.
CoS: I understand you are going to be writing adventures in the brighter reflection, the Feywild. How different is it working in this technicolour world after so much darkness, and is there anything you would like to share about this project?
CV: The Shadowfell is the dark reflection, the withered, the lethargic, and the apathetic. The opposite is true in the Feywild, we have an overgrowth of primordial energy and overzealous entities. As much as the Shadowfell let’s things decay, the Feywild over develops them. If we can imagine a realm where too much of a good thing is the norm, and passion is uninhibited even the simplest of things. The story will be focusing on the origins of the interplanar characters in Lost in Shadows, and some of the more important locations in the three planes. At the end we will ask ourselves, why is this location so prevalent in every plane and what does that mean? I’m trying not to give away too much but I will go much deeper with the story and make sure all planes are shown to influence the other. There will be more character interactions, as the Feywild has much livelier citizens. The adventure will be for tier 2 characters so that both supplements can be run back to back.
CoS: The adventure is clearly a labour of love and littered with Easter eggs. Are there any you would particularly like to share, Long with your hopes for what prospective DMs will do with them? Personally, I’m going to be running with Zahir and their Yuan-Ti cult stalking the party after taking their treasure at Watcher by the Water, ultimately culminating in a big snake temple. So thank you ever so much for the inspiration!
CV: So, this was actually my first adventure ever written, even though it was not my first to be released. I had put it on pause for a bit as I got a few smaller ventures under my belt, then I went back to it. In it I try to leave as many hooks for ongoing adventures as possible. This was twofold. One, to give DMs the ability to take their own campaigns anywhere they wished. Two, to give myself hooks to keep writing more material. A an easter egg I’m particularly fond of is all the wine located in the wine cellar. If one pays particular attention to where they all originated, you can see the breadth of the Necromaster’s travels.
Circle of Scavengers by The Underground Oracle (@UOPublishing)
Content Warning: Body Horror, Carrion, the Eating, and flesh sculpting of said carrion (in the subclass) and Excessively and Gratuitously playing with these concepts (in my review)
“From the creatures that have fallen, I shall grow my power. As they replenish the earth, so shall they replenish me.”
Sharvall Cidd, Druid of the Underlands
The moment I saw this I was overwhelmed with intrigue, but then I peeped inside and what I saw was awesome, ridiculous, and ridiculously awesome! This something entirely new and, while not necessarily fresh or savoury in some ways, it is most definitely funky!
Circle of Scavengers introduces some body horror, augmentation/ mutation abilities and waste not want not attitude, that would make David Cronenberg pause and make John Carpenter rolling up stats and composing epic theme music for this nightmare of nature!
“Druids of the Circle of Scavengers bear witness to the cycles of nature and thrive in the areas that most avoid. Using the carcasses and remains of the beasts around them, these druids create scavenger sculpts that they use to clad themselves and transform their bodies, taking power from the energies that these creatures leave behind.” These druids are the rite of roadkill, the cult of the carcass, and rotting body modification missionaries!
Druids can finally edge out Warlocks as by far the most metal class there is!
“Although they may seem like a strange group to those removed from the natural world, druids of the Circle of Scavengers are highly regarded among their earthen peers.” Nature is brutal, nature is metal, and the wildfire punks and swamp scene kids know that game recognises game!
You get to scrounge up, keep hold, gain nourishment and more from carrion! I don’t eat myself, but I wholeheartedly endorse this and if I had the ability I would do so too. I have the cast iron stomach for it from being a student and drunkenly ‘cooking’ so many fry ups late at night in my younger days that were disconcertingly cold and sloppy.
Eating dead possums (I’m so sorry Sarah and Jess) is fun and all, but this is the meat of this subclass.
Scavenger Druids “are able to use the energy of [their] Wild Shape to repurpose the carcasses that animals leave behind to empower [themself].”
So that’s literally augmenting yourself with bits of animals for mutations and effects like a flesh cyborg (fleshborg?). Fleshborg! Petition to rename this Circle of the Fleshborg!
These bonuses come in the form of added armour, terrifying claws, super vision, SPIKY BODY, speedy pack tactics (I finally felt a bit icky about the term “Scavenger’s Tendons” - Tendon is such a visceral word!)
There is also a sidebar discussing how personal the Scavenger Sculpts are to each Scavenger Druid, “reflecting their background and aesthetic as much as any other article of personal wear.” Expanding on this that, while they are all made out of dead beastie bits and bobs, the individual Druid’s steez could be anything from the “avant-garde to the whimsical to the truly bizarre.” I have so many glorious, disgusting, and mind-bending images in my head and want to get this into the hands of as many artists as I can to see what they come up with!
This is the ultimate melee Druid! So, would be really, really, really cool for the Ultimate Melee Druid to get at 6th level? An Extra Attack while Sculpted! Hell-freaking-yeah!
At higher levels there are new Sculpts to obtain, including fleshy flippers for swimming, clippity cloppity hooves for just clattering into enemies full tilt, literally getting a gob that is bigger, scarier more teeth, sinewy pinions to take to the ait in big, meaty flaps of flesh.
Ultimately Scavenger Druids “Master the Cycle” gaining extra activated Sculpts and even getting to change them on the fly, effectively giving them access to a wise super flesh Shield spell, only better and with more veins and sinew!
I’m sure you can tell I love this! This is by far the most original and inspiring thing I’ve seen with regard to player options, let alone subclasses or Druids...ever! I’m speechless and truly wish I could art to save my life. I need so many vastly different of these weird and wonderful druids. A half-hag one who is just a terrifying willowy frame, bird boned and loping like a sloth, but with hug, sagging folds of skin hanging down and dragging behind – truly terrifying and adorable! You can go the other way with this too, and I can’t help but think of the Gods of Chaos from Warhammer and the unique and wonderful creations you could make to the principles of each of the gods, with a Slaaneshi Scavenger, either being to lewd to even consider bringing to the table or, and this could work for a really pious Druid attached to a worshippers of Helm or Ilmater (Ermagherd! Just imagine those fellows!) that are all about physical perfection and their Scavengers (maybe the truth of them – the grizzlier bits - kept secret from the flock), going from meek little folx, but using their abilities to come out the other side looking like WWE Superstars...The Ultimate Warrior, but the tassels are made of real skin!!!
As you can see this has really whipped up my imagination and I’m already thinking of more Sculpts and greater specificity of what parts are harvested from what and how they affect the Sculpts. There is so much awesome here and even more room to play with. I
Just look at the beautifully creepy and alluringly unsettling art by Anderson Maia (https://www.artstation.com/anderson_maia)! Nice Abs, cool skulls, nice outfit...wait, those horns are interesting on what looks like a hu...what are you doing with those terrifying, bloody fingers? T-talons. Why does it smell of offal in here? Are you c-cooking? Oh, you’re having me for dinner? That’s so kind of you. aaaaaaaaaaaAAAARARRHRGRHRGHRh!
Written by Keith Pendley (@UO_Keith) and Jess Pendley (@JessPendley)
Designed by Jess Pendley and Keith Pendley
Art by Anderson Maia (https://www.artstation.com/anderson_maia)
Editing by Jess Pendley
My Affiliate Link:https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/327010/Druid-Circle-Circle-of-Scavengers?affiliate_id=1507682
Another amazingly thorough review! You got exactly what we were trying to convey. We're so happy that you enjoyed this one.
Trinkets and Treasures from Theros by James Dodds (@NoobChat)
“A collection of magic items from Common to Legendary created and suited to the upcoming Theros setting!
Currently numbering 32 unique magic items to amaze and horrify, perfect for any adventure set in Theros or easily adaptable to a more general setting.
Plus, 6 bonus artifacts from Theros's minor Gods, such as Iroas and Kruphix!”
This a seriously impressive treasure trove of magic items for Theros and beyond!
I am always looking for new items, as I am rather liberal with them, and I am especially looking for items befitting my crew of heroes in my Theros game. So, these with their fabulous flavour, on brand theme and witty flavour text! I LOVE it when items have flavour text!!
I will go through and speak to some of the elements that stood out to me the most:
Amulet of The Speaker is a charming little necklace that showed me I was in good hands with this flavour text: “This item can often be found in the pockets of charlatans or philosophers preaching unconventional views” which wraps the mechanics, setting and artwork up in a neat little bow.
Belt of the Travelling Artisan. Now, I am not a big tracker of carrying capacity, but with “3 slots for standard tool kits, and space to add 2 pouches” that help take the weight off for a travelling artisan on the go! My warforged guild artisan artificer, Z4R3N, could really do with this with the wealth of kits they have.
Bow of The Hunt. We’re getting legendary now, which has, among many others, the gloriously on theme abilities any devout of Nylea would kill for: “Return Home”, whisked you back to Setessa and “Spirit of Nylea” actually summons an avatar of the god of the hunt to set upon your foes, as do the other legendary items of their respective god!
Pendant of Reunion. Another lovely addition to the tradition of the compass that guides you home. With this one “created in the groves of Setessa by enchanting a pinecone” a perfect gift for wandering kiddies and a lovely trinket and taste of a hero’s past.
A beautifully depicted, described and sommeliered with tastes and abilities particularly sweet from the Potion of Critical Analysis (which is a brilliant name and concept), through Potions of Portent Dreams of various strengths to a potion to steel the mind of Twin Gods’ warriors minds.
Quill of the Dream Weaver. A common wondrous item, little more than a trinket in most settings. BUT in Theros the ability to “focus and detail [your] dreams from the previous night” opens a whole world of prophecy, omen, and wiggle-room for DMs to have the gods communicate and give glimpses of a quests target or an item of legend. Underworld, these are” often used by the oracles, philosophers, and heroes of Theros to record visions.” That is huge! A valuable item to be found for a hero? Sure. The journal of an oracle to glimpse at? The diary of another hero your god asks you to peek at? SO many possibilities!
There are so many cool things here! Shackles to set up a hero and stuck together by an angry god, Scorpion’s chain for everyone who wants to live out there “GET OVER HERE” fantasies, a whip that becomes a big snake or lots of snakes!
Then there’s artifacts of the minor gods with more to come, 6 of the 15 so far! These are epic item, they are artifacts after all, but this is Theros, who knows when or why a mortal (or demi-god) might get their grubby mitts on them. They follow the Piety and destruction conventions, which sets up all manner of quest ideas on their own. Wield Athreos’ Sticky McBoatstick, Katabasi, blow Xenagos’ flute of truly terrifying dirges, Eudokia, and prove your might with Iroas’ Mycenaean-era thrusting spear of go all night that is in no way trying to compensate for Heliod’s far more storied Panhellenic proboscis.
There is some really lovely commissioned artwork for a good chunk of the items. I would be keen to know who the artists were.
It is always lovely to see a creator actively coming back and adding new items to coincide with milestones and taking an interest in the supplement after release.
This is quite simply a bloody brilliant selection of items covering all rarities and occasion that fit the setting, toeing that line between Grecian myth and beyond!
I have been planning adventures, moments and more in my mind the whole way through reading and writing this review. I simply cannot wait to employ these in my game!
My Affiliate Link: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/319584/Trinkets-and-Treasures-from-Theros?affiliate_id=1507682
James Dodds (@Noobchat)
“A big thank you to the DmsGuild community that contributed feedback, as well as those who may contribute in the future, constructive criticism is allowed!
A big thank you to certain friends that encouraged me to finally finish it!
A big thank you to the continued work and support by the amazing DmsGuild staff!
And the biggest thank you of all to you, yes you, thank you for buying this product!”
Prophecies as Narrative Tools by Martín Davico (@NirDine)
I cannot wait to get the chance to give this the in depth review it deserves, but seriously this is a true delight!
Insightful, incredibly helpful as learning tool and toolkit, as well as having one of the most wonderful writing voices I have had the pleasure to read, while still conveying so much effectively!
Honestly, it is mind blowing, and I was up later than I should be putting into practice for my upcoming Theros game and cannot wait to go over all the things taught here and implement them!
Creator: Martín Davico (@NirDine)
Illustrations by Kyo Smash (inktr.ee/Kyo_Smash)
Table for Two 9 Adventures 1 DM & 1 Player from Megan Irving (@mogibeargames) et al
First, let’s just take a moment to absolutely gush about just how unbelievably gorgeously beautifully splendiferously magnificent the cover by D. W. Dagon (@DW_Dagon)! I’m just staring at it in disbelief. It’s freaking mind-blowing!
Right, duets! There is something wonderful and intimate about the joy of a duet game. I love playing them with my partner, I absolutely love the DMs Guild and Patreon works of D&D Duet/ Grove Guardian Press, Beth (@GroveGuardian) and Jonathan Hall (@DnDDuet), as well as the fabulous everything from solo to group To Hell and Back Again by Kienna Shaw (@KiennaS) and Donathin Frye (@DonathinFrye) and the incredibly focused and fun Blood Hunter by Anthony Joyce (@Thrawn589) and illustrated by Gordon McCaplin (@gmcalpin). I play them in person, over video and more recently a bunch play by post using discord chat with ultimate flexibility. I am a big fan! *(Links to all these mentioned below as recommendations to check out after this awesome anthology whets your appetite!)
This has me ridiculously excited and dangerous levels of Hype!
The introduction discusses the difficulties trying to get the standard four to six players together for standard adventures that are designed with them in mind, as well as supplying advice for those new to the more intimate and manageable format. This advice is divided into Narrative, Combat and Anecdotes from the team, from heartfelt advice from Sam, “Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable! With only one PC on the stage, you can shine a bigger spotlight on their emotional responses...” to David’s fantastic observation regarding the unique opportunity duets provide, “Having only one player gives you the opportunity to leverage their character’s backstory in a much stronger way...” and Megan’s inspired suggestion, “Let the player skip combat altogether. This is a very loose way to play D&D, but I find one on one D&D can feel like more of a shared narrative and less of a war-game...”
Tea for Two by Collette Quach (@ColletteQuach)
“A simple stroll outside turns into a trip into another plane of existence. Stuck in the domain of Euphoria, the adventurer must find a way out of this plane before they lose themselves in the bliss.”
Content Warnings: Mental Illness, Drug Use, Eating Disorders
It’s great to see content warnings being appropriately used, but it’s even more heartening to see this reinforced, along with a brief discussion of the safety tools of “lines and veils” to endeavour to assure everyone feel safe and confident when more heavy and troubling content arises, and heavy topics like those that make up elements of this adventure.
This adventure takes inspiration from Alice in Wonderland with the character falling down a hole into Euphoria and having a Blissful time in this Feywild Domain. Echoing the story there is no combat with the emphasis on exploration and roleplaying, as well as the introduction of unique Bliss mechanic representing the mania-inducing effects of this setting, with the threat of losing their will to get home and succumbing to Euphoria. With roleplaying and improvisation such a key element of Duet, this is such a glorious and rarely seen setting for the adventure and I see much fun and bizarre scenario, especially with all manner of weird and wonderful things being juggled, and the opportunity to try their hand at this daring feat.
Things haven’t even begun to get weird as the six lieges of Euphoria each have a bizarre trial for the hero to overcome relating to their own domains of vice with Bliss being avoided by overcoming the trials more creatively. These range from putting a workaholic to sleep using any or all of the following, “sleeping pills, a bow and arrow, hot chocolate, and a pillow” and baking a blissfully sinful “chocolate blue rose sponge cake with black lily drizzle” (which looks divine and comes with a full recipe!) for the Lady of Consumption, to collecting drugs and avoiding intoxicating pollen for the Lord of Ecstasy and a masked masquerade soiree where a secret assassination target must be located in which loose lips sink ships, lords and ladies for Lord of Secrets.
Finally free to escape home, it’s all a matter of find the correct door home, with the chance of being given a whirlwind tour of another planes, as well as the possibility of coming back with so much Bliss the hero wants to stay...
A many-varied awesome psychedelic ride through a plane rarely seen these days! Great fun and the Lady of Consumption is brought to vivid life, a veritable feast for the eyes!
Hidden Valley by Megan Irving (@mogibeargames)
Treasure, betrayal, dinosaurs, oh my!
Hired by a sketchy seeming Lord, the adventurer heads into a jungle with Lord Trustworthy in the search of treasure, facing all manner of flavourful random jungle encounters. Finally, coming to the eponymous Hidden Valley seemingly guarded by a pair of humanoid quetzalcoatlus statues, which are beautifully illustrated.
The dinosaur-filled valley has all manner of different ways to be traversed with their own challenges, dinosaurs, and goodies to be found, including something important for DMs to remember, actually considering the player/s when placing and awarding magic items. It really sucks finding something useless to your character or party, so when I saw, “Depending on the adventurer’s class, it is either a staff of the adder (DMG), doss lute (DMG), or longsword of warning (DMG)” I knew I was in good hands. That and the many, many various dinosaur attacks!!! My favourite of these coming from the point where the tangents reconnect “Near the very top of the hill, Lord Rolen leaps to the top of a small boulder and proclaims himself King of Dinosaur Valley”, only for the boulder to be attached to an Ankylosaurus who is no quite ready to welcome their new liege.
Finally, the treasure lays beyond a puzzle and a sudden, but inevitable, betrayal! With various ways for things to out, all. Manner of fascinating and inspiring booty, great seeds for further adventures and/ or events. In many ways this is so much more than simple treasure and a little fun adventure, this is a springboard to all sorts of dinosaur and untrustworthy nobles and too much treasure to carry. This really makes the vault and secret dinosaur valley an important point and potentially recurring location in your further adventures – the real treasure was the secret dinosaur Valley6 we discovered along the way!
A seriously fun, action-packed, and fast past frolic with dinosaurs and a noble who can’t be trusted, with so much tangible and inspiring elements for further adventures. A perfect introduction to Duets with so much potential for more fun positively oozing out of it!
Missing in the Underdark by Paul A. Keiter
A richly described caravan protection mission to a svirfneblin village in the Underdark from Neverwinter with a deep gnome ally returning home, designed to act as a foil for the PC with a sensible note from the creator to the DM: “Biknuk’s class should be chosen to compliment the player. Four templates are provided in the Appendix.” These templates are cleric, Fighter, Rogue and Wizard, each with minimal and easy adjustments for the DM to easily apply.
Opening with dreams of dark wings the caravan heads through the foreboding Neverwinter Woods with the pervading unease captured beautifully in a cause and effect table of evocative and tensions building moments that enhance the forest and bring the encounters also provided to greater life. With these simple, but powerful tables the forest can truly be brought to unsettling life and will test the player in a variety of interesting ways. As will the continuingly disconcerting dreams and foreboding glimpses of the forest at night.
True hats off for the chapter title “A Land Down Underdark” and the fantastic random encounter table providing a wonderful variety of subterranean denizens, including the most important of all – a flumph! Plus, it can be convinced to help the caravan! Flumph friend! The rest of this chapter sees several grisly bodies at the checkpoints, leading to an encounter with the very awesome and not used enough (a running theme of this anthology), a sneaky obolex!
An Inheritance of Heads by KC Shi (@kc_shi)
Content Warnings: death, animal abandonment
This is a fascinating and thoughtful adventure that begins with the end of an old Ranger. “Conceptually, this adventure began as a way for a Beastmaster ranger to meet their animal companion and can still be played that way by swapping out the hydra for a different beast. At its heart, though, this module is about caring for an inconvenient creature,” which is a bloody brilliant conceit, and the writing is truly captivating and ensorcelling.
Opening at the funeral of Scaea, an unique opportunity for some emotional and engaging roleplay as “the funeral guests invite the adventurer to talk about how they knew Scaea. So long as the player is comfortable with this level of improvisation and roleplaying.” This presents a singular situation for fleshing out a character and exploring their history in the context of this adventure.
What has been left to the player are the lands to tend...and the animals that come with it. One just happens to be a relatively tame and friendly Hydra that has been raised in captivity due to it’s damaged legs, which necessitate the big beastie needing to be cared for. This is a potentially fraught and rewarding endeavour that comes with its own table of complication scenarios ranging from dealing with the Constitution-shattering unburied leavings or in the immortal words of Jar-Jar Binks, Hydra Poodoo, to ensuring the hydra gets enough exercise and food, as well as helping it prune its old heads.
The final trial comes when a ‘hero’ comes to vanquish the hydra, dragging their adolescent nephew with them. Has the PC built enough rapport with the hydra to soothe it and can they reason with the ridiculous and pompous arse?
There are many ways the adventure could conclude with this being a campaign starter and/ or the beginning of further adventures. With the Greek names and hydra, this would work wonderfully as an introduction to the Theros setting, and I’m already thinking of ways to use this as the inspiration for a side adventure on my upcoming Theros campaign.
This is a seriously awesome and unique adventure with more bite and heart than many and is simply begging to be its own Studio Ghibli/ Disney blockbuster and their answer to How to Train Your Dragon!
The Unmaking by Cat Evans (@perpetualgloom)
Content Warnings: Drug misuse/drink spiking
This adventure starts in media res on the road with advice on how to slot it into your own ongoing adventures or campaign, as they undertake the taking of a sentient magic item to a temple where it can be unmade. Bendith, a sword so powerful it must be destroyed, despite its storied, heroic, and tragic past. Great advice is also included regarding tying the person charging the adventurer with this quest to patrons, allies or known entities within your game.
A Dramatis Personae is provided with a band of delicious and evocatively described miscreants and heroes.
Bendith actually comes as a template for you to be able to create your own blessed/ cursed blade! “Bendith is a template to fit over any existing weapon: it should be something the player character can use. Whatever type of weapon Bendith is, it is always made of white metal, with a spherical blue crystal set into it.” There are innate abilities and those to choose from, as well as a table of alignment for conflict with the PC, as well as traits, quirks, and flaws. Combined, there are so many vastly different and exciting Bendith’s to bring into existence and to possible give your adventurer (and your player) an existential crisis.
Evans provides a wonderful selection of questions to pose your player about their travels and interactions with Bendith to really get the roleplay and improvisation kicked off, as well as impressing the import of Bendith. This is a recurring theme at campfires that act similarly to those in Dark Souls – a chance to save and reflect on the earlier action. I think it’s important to ask questions of your players to expand on their character and help to world-build with you, even more so in Duets, and Evans has a real knack for cutting to the quick and asking important and incisive questions.
The road ahead is filled with dangers, surprises, and demands from Bendith to be wielded - a bait and switch bandit attack with some depressing family dynamics and a cult intent on ambushing the adventurer and taking Bendith by force. On their travels Bendith becomes more talkative, though there are topics they are more guarded about. To that end a table of topics and information are provided, divided into those Bendith is “actively seeking,” “open to discussing” and “unwilling to discuss” to provide a framework and help build on the magic item’s personality and relationship with their wielder.
When offered some ‘easy coin’ from a sketchy-seeming character there are two separate ways the story progresses. This is either acting as a caravan guard and becoming increasingly disconcerted by the company they keep, learning their frosty secrets and possibly their beautifully poetic and sad creed, or they get right to the point and have at it with these cold brigands. Either way there is a chance for a dangerous fight, as well as the opportunity for clemency.
The second reflection and save at the campfire sees Bendith be seen, as they project themselves as a ghost from the magic item again, Evans has insightful advice: “As with Bendith’s personality, design their appearance to appeal to the player: the weapon’s humanoid form should be someone they will see as a comrade, a friend, or even a romantic interest.”
The final chapter contains fundamental choices about what to do with Bendith – to keep this powerful sapient entity, destroy this powerful relic that could bring about devastation in the wrong hands or “subvert expectations entirely because they’re a player character and that’s what they do.” The Endless Winter attempt to claim Bendith and will fight for him, leaving the adventurer with a choice and a DM with all sorts of ideas and inspiration for further adventures.
Whispers of Nightmares by David Markiwsky (@DavidMarkiwsky)
Content Warnings: Colonialism
The hooks for this adventure in Chult see Flaming Fists recruiters frothing at the mouth, extolling the virtues of the mercenary company and the evils of the dreaded yuan-ti, to get the player all excited for some classic D&D colonial murder and possibly genocide...only to have this concept flipped as sympathetic adventurers are approached by yuan-ti pureblood anti-colonist worried for themselves and their people. Ezra hopes the PC will be willing to join their resistance by joining the mercenary company and helping to take their expedition down from the inside – You had me at anti-colonist!
The horror of colonialism and military conflict are brought home the moment the Flaming Fist outpost is reached with the camp in chaos with part of the palisade being blasted before the PC’s arrival. Bodies are stacked on a pyre, which is bleak enough, but this image is made all the more disturbing when it is revealed the pyre and the camp’s cookfires are being fuelled “religious and cultural artifacts from the Yuan-ti.”
In response to the damage to the camp, an attack on the yuan-ti defending themselves from ruins in the jungle is planned, and with it there is the opportunity to sabotage various elements of the Flaming Fists’ arms and armour, which are organised into a helpful table of sabotage actions and their mechanical result. Information on extending this section, including the meeting of an Elven follower of the god of knowledge with a passion for yuan-ti poetry, is included.
Upon the morrow as the battle begins, a nightmare mists ravages yuan-ti and Flaming Fist alike, leaving the PC cut off and facing four encounters. The success or failure of each item determine the final form of the nightmare in the final encounter. These range from trying to convince a Flaming Fist captain to spare an unarmed innocent and to turn away from their battle lust, even as they protect their horrifically wounded recruits, with potential for them to even become an ally, try to convince a righteously furious yuan-ti anathema railing against the destruction of their people and history from wiping out a Flaming Fists battalion, attempting to stop a group of mercenaries smashing up a temple, and try to convince a yuan-ti necromancer you mean no harm to their library, despite the Flaming Fists previous wanton acts of biblioclasm.
Facing the nightmare, itself: “a mass of writhing darkness, dragging a long, serpentine body forward with two massive claws. Dark mist trickles from between its slavering jaws.” This monstrosity is horrifying and all the more scary and hardy for each failed encounter. This is a mighty boss battle, though ultimately it can be overcome in a number of ways, including pacifism. Being only a nightmare conjured from the adventurer's mind, it cannot ultimately kill them, leaving them a bloody mess before dissipating. Defeating it in battle does earn the hero a mighty empowering speech from the nightmare.
Finally, a gruesome scene turns into of dejection and exhaustion. The yuan-ti Nightmare Speaker has seen all possible glimpses of the future that foretell of the Flaming Fists driving them from their homes. This is a depressing, but true to life reflection these bleak situations and results of colonialism and capitalism – because of this aspect, this adventure won’t be for everyone, but truly serves to deliver an important, if heartbreakingly point beautifully. In this moment the adventurer has many options to do various levels of good, not bad, or evil. These various options and their results are described, and it’s up to the adventurer, player and all of us to decide whether we want to try and do whatever good we can in this moment.
A wonderfully woven, powerful and evocative tale. Phenomenal!
Atonement by Samantha Lavender & Miranda Mels
“This is an adventure for a fallen paladin. Not an oathbreaker or a death knight, but a fallible, well-meaning mortal who has stumbled on their sacred path.”
This deliciously different adventure puts the player in control of a Paladin in a bit of a pickle: “Until they have atoned, the paladin cannot expend or regain spell slots—including Divine Smite—and does not benefit from any features granted by their Sacred Oath, including their Channel Divinity.” This is a bold and scary prospect, as well as running the risk of leaving a player feeling useless at such a high level, but the thought and storytelling ensure they remain engaged, as well as making the journey to atonement and the salvation and power they confer feel truly earned.
Wonderful information is provided for roleplaying the surviving acolyte of a great tragedy and the former acolyte-turned-vampire spawn, desperate to become a full vampire, are provided bringing these characters to vivid life (and unlife), as well as providing keen insights on their likely reactions to the Paladin. There is a fascinating dynamic between a fallen Paladin and a vampire spawn who was once an acolyte. This is encouraged trough this sage advice, “each confrontation between Ianthe and the paladin should also be a conversation, a cautious battle of uncertain wills.”
Over the course of the night the Paladin is tested, being celestially weighed and measured by their words and deeds, but not only do failures keep the fallen Paladin from receiving solatium, but they serve to bring the vampire spawn closer to their apotheosis. Mechanically, the vampire spawn gains elements or traits from the vampire statblock correlating to the failed tests, which is a blooming marvellous idea!
Before dawn a final confrontation takes place, which is as much a battle for the souls of the Palladian and former acolyte as it is for their physical forms. There are several ways for this to play with all manner of potential for further adventures and potential for a truly glorious and divine moment!
I love this so much and fervently wish more adventures were written with this kind of unique, thoughtful perspective and macro-focused stories that play out over short, intense periods of time.
The Heist of High Hill by Ally Sulentic (@theuselessbard)
This is a rogue-y or roguelike adventure taking on the big job a master burglar, and possibly the PC’s mentor, auntie or next-door neighbour, was never able to complete. It’s time to get your heist on of a rich lord’s fortified manor on a birthday! Birthday heist! The heist items, targets, father/ daughter conflict, defences, guard captains and accomplices are provided on random tables (with unbelievably pretty art for the items and NPCs sprinkled across the adventure), allowing for much replayability with further adventures and jobs. It is wise for the PC to choose accomplices that will work well with them, which should be easy to choose by their preferred roll and sparkling personalities, especially with their being five distinct roles for the heist. Although, there’s always the option of the padawan really waning to show the master how it’s done, flying solo.
It’s possible for a diligent thief to do the legwork before with a table of suggested actions, checks and information that could be gained, but then it’s happy heistday to you!
Essentially, this is a tool kit for almost unlimited heists as well as the adventure! The scenes, tables and twists truly allow for one awesome adventure and countless more with all manner of twists to make them unique and exciting (even if I very much feel the need for the rival thief, the Silver Jackdaw to be an essential twist for the parent-defying-queer-romance of it all! #BirthdayGalPals). I do love an adventure that keeps on giving and this is definitely what we have here!
It’s all just so good and fun and flavourful and replayable!
Take a Wish Foundation by Leon Barillaro (@barilleon)
First of all, we have a front runner for best adventure title of 2020! I humbly submit my own subtitle: Nothic To See Here.
So, an open house doesn’t sound like the most exciting of things. But wait, what is the house was a Wizard’s tower...acquired and trying to be promptly shifted by the Black Network, after a suspicious death...oh and there’s a Wish anyone ca use upstairs and maybe the truth about what really happened to the previous owner? Now “any ne’er-do-well worth their weight in gold would jump at the opportunity to visit, and subsequently steal from, such a place”, right?
For this heist of another kind there is a fascinating array of possible accomplices, some with rather interesting ties to one another. But it’s not that simple: The player gets to pick to allies, one of which acts as a standard Sidekick under their control, while the other all is controlled by the DM. Oh, and those not picked are still all up in the business, only working for themselves. They all have their own strengths and entry montage moment to really get the heist movie aesthetic going on. There’s even mechanics to allow you to “backstab” your sidekick and go with another one with a roll and roleplay, ending with “The adventurer says, “It’s nothing personal; it’s just business”.”
Did I mention there was a cypress tree treant guardian in the upstairs greenhouse called Sempevirus? If you ask them nicely, they’ll let you harvest some of their proper good wand wood. Of course, there’s an upstairs greenhouse and if you haven't snuck up there yet, what are you doing? Stop eating Zhentarim canapes!
There’s also a cavalcade of chained up creature curiosities and a no non-sense imp ready to unleash them on less polite thieves. This menagerie includes possibly one of my favourite understated lines I’ve ever seen: “An earth elemental named Pierre (he/him, true neutral) also resides here. He seems perturbed by being imprisoned in a cage, as that was not the agreement he and Rozpero had reached.” Pierre will also offer gemstones grown from his body in return for freedom, which is sad, weird and shiny.
The library holds rare, expensive and blasphemous books, as well as a “Suspicious Bookcase” and a fun Magic Mouth puzzle with the lights going out and changing floors – I just can’t not picture the room with the portraits in the queue for the Tower of Terror at Disney. This leads to the dark demiplane of the now nothic Rozpero, who clearly doesn’t know heist etiquette, asking personal questions about everyone’s “strongest desires, their deepest insecurities, and their greatest regrets.” I mean, read the demiplane aberration-man! But it’s the only up...
There is a lotta junk in that trunk, by which I mean attic, maybe? Apex? Turret? At the toppymost bit there are all sorts of wonders to be found, including the Wish scroll! The NPCs have various ideas for the Wish, from altruistic to superficial and ridiculous. It could restore the Wizard and gain his thanks and gifts...but also player with a Wish and access to all the Wizard’s stuff? In the strange case of the pious player a table of various rewards that may come with the various Sidekicks they worked with. Oh...and if the goals of the PC and Sidekick don’t align, they do a betrayal and “the characters present take sides and begin to duke it out”, and duke it out they almost certainly will.
A fantastic, silly and fun adventure to act as a wonderful cap on this flipping awesome anthology! Bonza!
For anthologies I usually give each adventure a good read and then fairly briefly summarise them, before getting into the anthology as a whole, but each one of these are so annoyingly good, different, brilliant, varied and stunning, I had to go over them repeatedly and, in more detail, because I bloody well love each and every one of them!
There are so many absolutely stunning anthologies out there, many of which I have had the honour to review (or own and/ or have on my eternal Spreadsheet of Many to review), but I don’t believe there is such a wildly strange and different selection of adventures taking you to places never seen in such diverse and fascinating tales. This is a tome so ridiculously full of wonder, variety and awesomeness, I don’t know how it’s possible to keep the pdf closed!
With a beautiful Layout and truly varied and sumptuously gorgeous artwork that perfectly reflect the depth, tone and story of each adventure. This is seriously one of the most impressively aesthetic books on DMs Guild, impressively matched by the quality of writing throughout this anthology. Everyone on this project has brough their A-game in every area and it seriously shows. Everyone involved in this project should already be on your radar for awesomeness, but if not, you need to keep an eye on these names and the utter fabulousness they create and produce!
I cannot recommend this more vociferously, whether you play Duets (you should give it a go, and this is a spectacular place to start), enjoy reading phenomenally well-written adventures, simply like ogling splendiferous art and layout (one compliments the other superbly), or as a gosh darn perfect primer on how to tell so many different stories through D&D adventures. I mean it, this could be used as a teaching tool on all these wonderful things, including but certainly not limited to, crafting an adventure to a format – these are finely wrought gems of Duets.
PROJECT LEAD: Megan Irving
COVER ART: D.W. Dagon
WRITERS: Ally Sulentic, Cat Evans, Collette Quach, David Markiwsky, KC Shi, Leon Barillaro, Megan Irving, Miranda Mels, Paul Keiter, Samantha Lavender
EDITORS: Cat Evans, David Markiwsky, Leon Barillaro, Liz Gist, Megan Irving
ARTISTS: Amet, Alison Huang, David Markiwsky, D.W. Dagon, Eric Grimoire, Jennifer Peig, Liz Gist, Luciella Scarlett, Kari Kawachi
LAYOUT: David Markiwsky
My affiliate link: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/324666/Table-For-Two?affiliate_id=1507682
Other Duets Mentioned (All very good things to check out after enjoying this phenomenal anthology)
D&D Duet: Beth and Jonathan Ball
Grove Guardian Press (D&D Duet Patreon)
To Hell and Back Again by Kienna Shaw and Donathin Frye
The Blood Hunter by Anthony Joyce with Design by Gordon McCaplin
Encounters in Icewind Dale by Christian Zeuch (@czeuch1)
Coming off the back of the fantastic and freaking creepy The Isle of Endless Fog, Zeuch (@CZeuch1) is back at it again with another sensational supplement! Zeuch and Realm Warp Media (@RealmWarpM) are most definitely an awesome combination!
This is a seriously impressive array of encounters of all shapes and sizes with all manner of ways to approach them. The encounters are written in such a way that they slot in anywhere and provide multiple possible reactions, outcomes and results, so you can have some idea how the players will react which is incredibly helpful, both in the moment as if you decide to use this to spring random encounters on your players and self, or if you are using the thought and flavour in the behind these encounters to inspire and aid with prep because there are seeds in them there encounters!
There is certainly more than enough meat on these encounter’s bones to make your own adventure and inspire many more! This is an element that raises this encounter supplement above the hordes of its siblings, as the backstory and events truly feel like they are alive and happening anyway, regardless of the players. There’s a life and a vibrancy within these pages, so much potential and different ways for things to play out and random encounters and results within encounters that the amount of use and effect this could have on your game is exponential.
The encounters are collected by geographical area and all include suggested levels, the type of encounter (and there is a much greater variety of encounters than just a list of things to bonk with your sword!), the possible reactions outcomes, along with suggested physical and XP rewards depending on the actions of the party, as well as a few possible pals and additions to the party.
Whether you are determining the fate of a beached whale, assessing how to react to pirates in the vicinity, saving a man from his ego...and huge polar bear bites, protecting mugged miners from the dangers of the Dale (this encounter even comes with its own random encounters filled with many new creatures included om this supplement!), find and fight a flind who’s already had a few fights, an awesome avalanche of epic proportions, everyone loves a fishing mini-game and lots of chance to roleplay, freeze your buns off for a shot at money and fame, help a little lost dire pupper in dire need of some dire love direly, and a shack with multiple optional occupants and encounters, from ice toads protecting their spawn, a lonely hobgoblin in need of some love, or treasures – there are so many things to add to the game with so many options and results, which will add to and fill your game with all sorts of awesomeness!
It’s even lovely to see the maniacal Aenor Gleenwith, the powerful elf wizard featured in The Great Trial (another tremendous Zeuch adventure), who is back with his tricks and a particularly amusing letter puzzle brought by a friendly wandering Frost Giant.
The maps are gorgeous and Zeuch clearly knows what he is doing and has a passion for aesthetic and playable maps, as well as adding their own great creatures and chilly variants to bring new life to the cold north.
My Affiliate Link:
Author Christian Zeuch (@czeuch1)
Editor Ryan Langr (@RealmwarpM) https://ttlevelup.com
Cover Illustrator Piaxabay under CC0 License
Interior Art Art under CC0 license, Wizard of the Cost stock art and some Inkarnate scenes created by Christian Zeuch Arctic Elite Orc Art Art under CC BY 3.0 license, modified to suit this product. Author: Lucas Salcedo (Source). Title: World of Warcraft Orc grunt by Lucas Salcedo.
Playtesters Bruno Alves Lima, Laércio Hernane Amorim Gonçalves, Marcos Sillas, Vitor Mühlstedt Lopes Special Thanks GMBinder for the amazing layout tool Rodrigo Kuerten (@R_Kuerten) for his ideas and inspiration on this product
Previous Zeuch adventures I’ve reviewed:
Cities of Myth: The Isle of Endless Fog
The Grand Trial
Double the awesome for a ridiculously low price!
Come to the fanciest or most hellish birthday party of these unbelievably awesome supplements and have all the pubs to suit all your needs and so much more!