DMs Guild Review – Encounters in Icewind Dale

Two dozen encounters and over a dozen unique battle maps for Icewind Dale.

A review copy of “Encounters in Icewind Dale” 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: Christian Zeuch,

After reviewing or previewing Encounters in Candlekeep, Encounters in Barovia, and Encounters in Saltmarsh, I’ve become very familiar with Christian Zeuch’s Encounters series. While Encounters in Icewind Dale offers the same high quality production value and 20+ regional encounters, it’s also the weakest of the bunch.

This review contains spoilers for Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden!

Encounters in Icewind Dale was published on the DMs Guild in August 2020, only a few weeks before the 5e campaign book, Rime of the Frostmaiden. While having encounters set in Icewind Dale are obviously relevant to that adventure, don’t expect any references to Auril or the everlasting rime, nor any of the interesting things from that story, like sneaking duergar and humanoid sacrifices.

Instead we’re left with 24 mostly generic encounters for the region, many of which use a new arctic version of a familiar monster, like a Frozenfar Goblin or Elite Arctic Orc.

Encounters are organized by area, such as coastal, mountain, and settlement, with six encounters per area. They’re well-laid out and easy to read, with the level, type, and overview at the beginning, followed by clear sections for Background, The Encounter, Outcomes, and Rewards. Encounter types range from social (help some fishers) to combat (yeti rampages in town) to exploration and puzzles (free a sword from a glowing crystal), resulting in an effective balance between styles.

Unfortunately, many of the encounters are underwhelming and uninspired, from a random man beating a beggar, to a simple crag cat ambush that takes only a few sentences to describe. One particularly forgettable entry involves escorting a group of miners, with the DM simply rolling on a random monster encounter table for battles along the way.

Other encounters are given far more love and attention, like a hostage situation at a goblin camp, or mediating an upcoming conflict between a group of Reghedmen and ogrillon over a couple missing reindeer.

icewind dale settlement encounters

My favorite social encounter involves a fun-looking competition between townsfolk, a contest to see who could last in the frozen water the longest. The competition turns deadly when one of the contestants stays in far longer than he should, prompting the PCs to stop their bets (and maybe their own freezing) to help save him.

The most interesting combat encounter is when the PCs happen upon an orc family in the woods being beset by a small goblin army. The orcs have a home and a child, creating an interesting twist for two normally hostile enemy forces.

For Rime of the Frostmaiden, there’s not a lot of crossover. No mention of Goliaths, ancient Netheril cities, Auril worship, or frost druids. It’s a lot of goblins and orcs, and weirdly, forests, which I thought were pretty rare in the tundra of Icewind Dale.

Like the other Encounters supplements, we’re given over a dozen full color battle maps, included in the pdf as well as a separate zip file. Some maps are linked to specific encounters, like the goblin camp, and a pirate ship, while others are generic (but useful) mountain, road, and frozen river maps. The maps are an excellent addition, but not quite up to the quality of the later Encounters releases, the same of which can be said of the entire product.

Pros:

  • Two dozen encounters for tier 1 and 2, with an even balance of combat, exploration, puzzles, and social role-playing.
  • Over a dozen unique full color grid battle maps, including random encounter maps.
  • Over a dozen arctic variant statblocks.
  • Attractive layout and design.

Cons:

  • Several uninspired encounters are little more than a single random battle or weird event.
  • Doesn’t directly tie into Rime of the Frostmaiden.

The Verdict: The lack of references to Rime of the Frostmaiden coupled with some uninspired encounters makes Encounters in Icewind Dale the weakest of the designers’ otherwise stellar series.

A review copy of “Encounters in Icewind Dale” 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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