DMs Guild Review – Legends of Frozenfar: An Icewind Dale Player’s Companion

13 new subclasses and a new runic invocation system linked to Icewind Dale.

A review copy of “Legends of Frozenfar: An Icewind Dale Player’s Companion” was provided 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: Taron PoundsBenjamin HuffmanRoss LeiserAJ Pickett

With our own Rime of the Frostmaiden campaign firing up this week, I’m very interested in any content geared toward Icewind Dale. With its focus on Giant runes and an entire magic system of Runic Invocations, Legends of Frozenfar: An Icewind Dale Player’s Companion may be more suited to Storm King’s Thunder than Rime of the Frostmaiden, however.

The 70-page player supplement is gorgeously laid out, with full page artwork and thematic imagery for each new subclass. The supplement primarily adds 13 new subclasses (one per class) as well as the Verbeeg as a player race, and two chapters dedicated to the new Runic Invocation system used by three of the subclasses.

The subclasses are not my favorite mix, even if most of them nail the wintery theming. I’ll give a thumbs up to the Cold Blooded Sorcerer, Aspect of Winter Wizard, Oath of Sacrifice Paladin, and Path of the Thunderbeast Barbarian for providing fun abilities and features. The Thunderbeast is a powerful mount for the barbarian (building on the new Ranger companion rules), the Sacrifice Paladin focuses heavily on Lay on Hands, and the cold never bothered the Cold Blooded Sorcerer, who can enjoy making little animated snow people.

On the other end, the Bard College of Hospitality can summon a tavern, which functions almost exactly like Leomund’s Tiny Hut. The Trailblazer Ranger gets a supportive Guiding Mark for allies (useful, but not terribly exciting), and the Travel Domain Cleric gets all the boring, crappy abilities from the OG Ranger. Yay?

Three of the subclasses, Artificer, Druid, and Fighter, use the exact same Rune system presented in chapters three and four. I believe this supplement was designed before Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything introduced the Rune Knight Fighter subclass. These subclasses work similarly with choosing runes as you level up, but the rune system in Legends of Frozenfar is far more complicated.

After your runes are chosen, they must be inscribed on an object. Certain runes can only be inscribed on certain objects, like a cup, a pair of boots, or a weapon. Then you must awaken the rune, which can only be done in certain orders depending on the rune, as most runes have awakening prerequisites.

runic invocations

The Blod rune, for example, can only be awakened after the Liv rune and one other rune have been awakened. Subclasses are limited to how many runes that can awaken at one time, so this is effectively level-gating the runes. It would have been far simpler to do what every other level-gated ability does, and just make it a stated level requirement, like level 9.

Awakening runes causes an ongoing effect that’s a hell of a lot more complicated than the simple skill advantages from the Rune Knight. Gain a new AC depending on other awakened runes, turn water into hit die regenerations, or gain a bonus when using the Help action.

Those are just the awaken effects – you can then also invoke each rune as an action or bonus action for another effect, once per long rest. Mentally command ammunition, take half the damage directed at another creature, gain a roar attack dealing thunder damage, and teleport to other awakened runes, just to name a few. It’s way too much for any subclass, especially on top of classes that can already cast spells and do other stuff, like the Druid and Artificer. 

With 10 pages devoted to runes and over 20 runes to choose from, this should have been an entirely new class, with its own subclasses. And I still would’ve preferred more streamlined runes and rules as with the Rune Knight. Runes and giants don’t really play a part in Rime of the Frostmaiden, but they could be a fun idea for DMs running Storm King’s Thunder.

Chapter five includes items and gear appropriate to the Icewind Dale region, including weight and gold cost. Not something I’m interested in, but useful for those running a more realistic or gritty campaign. What impressed me most is six pages and dozens of herbs, berries, trees, and plants, including random tables by biome. A neat feature for any player character interested in identifying and foraging plants.

The appendices include information that’s not terribly helpful if you already own the Dungeon Master’s Guide and Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden. Much of the information in the Gazetter is drawn directly from the Ten Towns chapter of Rime. The only exception may be the Barbarians of the North section, which dives deeper into the Reghed and Uthgardt tribes.

I’m eager to devour Icewind Dale content, but Legends of Frozenfar comes up short. The subclasses are mostly fine, but the rune system is a bit too much, and there’s not enough here that I find useful for running my campaign of Rime of the Frostmaiden.

Pros:

  • 13 new subclasses (1 per class, replacing monk with pugilist) thematically linked to Icewind Dale.
  • Dozens of regional herbs and plants to identify and forage.
  • Lovely layout and full-page artwork.

Cons:

  • Three subclasses use the exact same rune system introduced later in the supplement.
  • Runic Invocations are too complex for a subclass feature.

The Verdict: The new Runic subclasses and features of Legends of Frozenfar fit Storm King’s Thunder better than Rime of The Frostmaiden, though many subclasses are a fun reflection of the frozen north.

A review copy of “Legends of Frozenfar: An Icewind Dale Player’s Companion” was provided 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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