DMs Guild Review – Ythryn Expanded Towers of Magic

Series of eight supplements that expand and enhance each arcane tower in Chapter 7 of Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden.

This review has been sponsored by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Daniel Kahn

WARNING: Massive spoilers for Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden!

There’s a lot I love about Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden. I chose it as our next live streamed campaign, after all (coming in April). Yet it’s also an adventure that needs a lot of work, and one of those areas is in the final chapter, Doom of Ythryn.

The Ythryn Expanded Towers of Magic Bundle effectively fixes all eight arcane towers that parties will need to visit, expanding, replacing, and enhancing each tower to create far more memorable locations.

As part of this review, I re-read the final chapter of Rime of the Frostmaiden. While I initially compared it to Omu from Tomb of Annihilation in its theme and narrative structure – the players must seek out shrines/towers in order to unlock the final area – the arcane towers in Ythryn aren’t nearly as interesting or dynamic as the Omu shrines.

Many of the towers amount to little more than walking in, seeing a thing, getting the part of the Arcane Octad line, and moving on. None have maps. Many almost feel like an afterthought, without only the Tower of Divination, with its eye-plucking orb, and Evocation’s thawing Gelatinous Cubes offering somewhat memorable encounters.

The bar is admittedly low, yet these expanded towers go above and beyond in improving Ythryn. Each expanded tower is sold separately as its own seven or eight page supplement, or you can purchase all eight together in the Towers of Magic Bundle, which I whole-heartedly recommend.

The new Tower of Divination is a great example of expanding content already found in the campaign book, by combining the tower with the existing observatory, including the High Diviner transformed into a non-hostile Green Slaad.

Instead of an orb the players can ask questions of (and lose an eye in the process), it’s the telescope that sucks out eyes, while granting superior sight of Ythryn as they help the Slaad search the city for her spellbook.

Before they can reach her, they’ll visit the lower level planetarium, featuring what I can only presume is an accurate representation of Toril’s star system. Each of the planets and moons confer a spell when touched, and when staring at the stars above, the PC will receive a premonition of a large-scale attack of Nothics crashing into the building, giving them seconds to prepare.

PCs are encouraged to grab the various buffs (or in the case of the sun, a delayed fireball!) as they fend off the Nothics, including new CR 5 and 7 Nothic variants. It’s a fun encounter that plays around with the theme of Divination via the premonition.

dms guild

The Tower of Evocation is now a Chain Lighting practice room for the head Evoker, the reigning champion of the Netheril game, drawing from the stadium that’s already in the book.

The malfunctioning lighting rod of the practice room shocks PCs while they cross the thawing, sticky ground (with cheering illusory audience). If they won the Chain Lighting game in the stadium and acquired the trophy, they can bypass a fight with the two Living Bigby’s Hands who guard the display case – but they’ll still need to battle the eight Ochre Jellies who are fully thawed when they return – and splitting due to the electrified rod!

Other solid improvements include new puzzles in the Conjuration and Transmutation rooms, and a fun stage play in the Tower of Illusion that borrows what should have been the theater’s main draw as a skill challenge with players acting out a goofy play to appease an illusory audience.

I was completely blown away by the Tower of Necromancy, which is nothing more than destroyed rubble in the book, leaving the designer to literally build it from the ground up. The tower is now a gory laboratory where the High Necromancer has perfected the ritual of transferring brains into jars, which the players find later in Ythryn. When the city fell, he transferred his soul into a nearby emerald via Soul Jar, leaving his assistant Lawrynce to carry on his work in the lab.

dms guildLawrynce is a hilarious NPC, an overly friendly and lonely brain in a jar who uses crawling claws as hands and draws faces on his jar to convey facial expressions. The party has the option of helping him transfer a captured Nothic’s brain into a jar. Who wouldn’t want to help Lawrynce?

In the next room, the party discovers that the High Necromancer is still alive via a last-minute soul jar spell, and attempts to posses the PCs. If successful, the PC is now possessed by an ancient Netherese wizard (including an impressive player handout).

Cadavix is a fascinatingly tragic character who had a secret romance with the High Enchanter. All he wants is to see her again, dragging the players’ body along if necessary. When they get to the Tower of Enchantment, they’ll discover her preserved body (thanks to Cadavix’s magic crown) has been the plaything of an Oblex, who has been devouring her memories over centuries.

Building this intricate backstory and meaningful connection between wizards is a spectacular way to bring the ancient city to life. It allows the PCs to care about these people and exploring each tower outside of simply collecting the lines to the Octad.

Each supplement also includes a helpful Troubleshooting section, with tips and suggestions on how to adjust certain scenes, encounters, and puzzles to aid the players, as well as preparing for any wild solutions or ideas the PCs may have. For example, if a player surprises everyone by volunteering themselves for Lawrynce’s brain transfer, they could be given a mechanical body and transformed into a Warforged. If the party has access to high level spells, like Greater Restoration and Modify Memory, they could heal the High Enchanter, preventing the Necromancer’s tragic suicide, and possibly gaining the wizard lovers as potential allies.

As each tower can be purchased separately, I ranked all eight from my most to least favorite. Note that even the weakest towers, like Abjuration and Transmutation, are still far more interesting and involved than anything in the original campaign book, and I would recommend the full discounted bundle.

Tower supplement ranking:

  1. Necromancy
  2. Divination
  3. Enchantment
  4. Evocation
  5. Illusion
  6. Conjuration
  7. Abjuration
  8. Transmutation

Ythryn Expanded Towers of Magic is easily one of the most impressive products I’ve reviewed this year. It happens to come at the perfect time for me personally as I’m in the midst of preparing for our Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden campaign, and hadn’t yet considered how I would fix the grossly underdeveloped towers of the final chapter. With these supplements, I won’t have to.

Pros:

  • Each expanded tower can be purchased separately, or as part of a discounted bundle.
  • Troubleshooting includes helpful notes and tips for adjusting different scenes, puzzles, and combat encounters.
  • Tower of Necromancy stands out as an incredible avenue for role-playing opportunities.
  • All relevant statblocks included, including new Nothic variants.
  • Full color, detailed player maps and handouts for each tower.

Cons:

  • None!

The Verdict: Ythryn Expanded Towers of Magic expertly Fixes, expands, and enhances a criticially underdeveloped area of the campaign book, making this a must-have supplement bundle for Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden.

This review has been sponsored by the publisher Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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