DMs Guild Review – Icewind Dale Expanded

Over a dozen encounters and events for Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden.

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

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

Designed by: Azzael UlbrinterChristian ZeuchKathleen Harrington

Last year I was disappointed that Encounters in Icewind Dale didn’t include any specific tie-ins or content for Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden.

My squeaky wheel has received its grease with Icewind Dale Expanded, an encounter book that features over a dozen encounters specifically designed to work around, and improve, the plot, NPCs, and locations of Rime of the Frostmaiden.

The designers correctly identify Rime of the Frostmaiden‘s shortcomings, such as the lack of horror theme (despite being advertised as such), and the badly designed opening quests. Aside from providing more content, the aim of this book is to is to patch these weaknesses.

Not all of the encounters are overly clever or interesting, but for the most part they effectively tie into the story and the themes of the campaign in satisfying ways.

The encounters are divided into three chapters, with seven low-level encounters for part one (Ten Towns), six tier one to tier two encounters for part two (Icewind Dale), and two encounters for the final chapter much later in the game (Ythryn).

The format and layout is instantly recognizable if you’ve been using Christian Zeuch’s Encounters book series (and you should!). Each entry includes its ideal level range, encounter type, location, and brief overview right at the beginning, while the end features multiple possible outcomes and any relevant rewards. It’s an excellent format for encounters that take only take up a page or two.

My favorite encounters feature neat little situations that cleverly introduce or entwine existing content from Rime of the Frostmaiden. “Apprentice Necromancer” offers a much better introduction for Vellyne, a critically important NPC, as she hires the PCs to track down a thief who stole her Animate Dead spell.

“Headless Hero” and “Snake Schemes” both expand on the Zhentarim of Targos, and Speaker Maxildanarr’s desire to overthrow the Speaker of Termalaine, while also mixing in politics, racial animosity, and vengeance.

“Frozen Heart” is a fantastic introduction to the human sacrifices in some of the towns, as the players meet a young boy whose father was recently selected as a sacrifice. They’ll have to rush out into the cold to track him down, finding either a corpse, or a man surrounded by crag cats.

“Wrath of the Giant” doesn’t have any specific ties, but does offer a better version of the random Frost Giant encounter in the book, as the party comes across a polar bear with armor.

Later its Frost Giant owner comes looking for the troublesome bear, ready to punish it for running away during a fight, creating a moral dilemma and most likely a big fight for the PCs. Heck, I may even slide this one into my own Icewind Dale campaign!

icewind dale orcs kobolds

There are a few duds, unfortunately. “Helping the Herbalist” doesn’t make the Chwinga encounter any more interesting. “Rebranding Town” is an inappropriate opportunity to invest in real estate, with zero actual conflict or drama at stake, and “Wild Whale” is a seemingly random flying awakened whale that would work better as part of a larger quest chain.

Lots of attention is given to the first two chapters of the book, which makes sense given their open world structure. But it’s disappointing that only two of the 15 encounters take place in other chapters, and neither are among the best.

As a mostly straight-forward temple raid in the tundra, “Divine Affairs” could’ve easily been placed in Chapter Two but for its slightly more difficult combat encounter.  “Weave Monsters” is a neat idea that gives the PCs Pokémon like battle-pets (and possible enemies), but doesn’t really have anything specific to do with Ythryn.

Nearly all of these encounters are accompanied by full color grid battle maps. Zeuch is one of my favorite map designers, and the map quantity and quality are always a big pull for running these encounters.

Despite not loving every single encounter, there’s more than enough excellent content to help expand your Rime of the Frostmaiden campaign.

Pros:

  • Over a dozen encounters, with a variety of type, location, and level range.
  • Excellent tie-ins, references, and callbacks to events, factions, and NPCs to help expand Rime of the Frostmaiden.
  • Professional layout and design.
  • Full color battle maps for nearly every encounter.

Cons:

  • Only one encounter takes place outside of the first two chapters of Rime of the Frostmaiden.
  • A few uninteresting or overly simplistic encounters.

The Verdict: With mostly well-designed quests, proper horror themes, and satisfying references, Icewind Dale Expanded is almost a must-have expansion for Rime of the Frostmaiden.

This review has been sponsored by the publisher Find more 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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