Many thanks to Wizards of the Coast for providing us with a copy of this book in exchange for our fair and honest review.
As we get ready for another wave of heat here in sunny San Diego, I couldn’t help but find more relief than usual in escaping to a far-off D&D landscape – this time to the biting cold realm of Icewind Dale in Wizards of the Coast’s latest adventure sourcebook, Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden.
Rime of the Frostmaiden provides a sweeping narrative for players that guides them from fledgling adventurers (level 1) to battle-hardened vets (level 11), with three major arcs driving the story: a corrupt duergar king forging a dragon, a magical city entombed in ice, and a quest to remove the curse that plagues Icewind Dale.
What struck me right away about Rime of the Frostmaiden is that there is particular care put into the progression of the story. While Descent into Avernus had a similar level range, this ice-bound adventure strikes me as even more accessible and exciting for players both new and old.
As the story begins, players are assigned to begin in one of the “Ten-towns” (you can decide this randomly or pick one to start things off from), and the early chapters of the adventure detail completing various errands for these towns in exchange for reward and reputation. From searching for a supply of missing iron ingots to cracking the case on a handful of petty thefts and beyond, the challenge of traveling between the Ten-Towns and the tasks that await you there is certainly substantive enough to introduce newcomers to the game, without being too overwhelming.
After some time completing these errands, the group begins to explore the outer edges of Ten-Towns and push out into the fringes of Icewind Dale. With abandoned cabins, frozen shipwrecks and other exciting locales to explore, this second leg of the journey has just the right blend of freedom and structure.
I won’t go through the whole adventure here, but will emphasize again that it features some fantastic balance between providing rails when needed and opening the world up for proper exploration and lore-sharing.
Outside of the adventure itself, Rime of the Frostmaiden features a fairly large bestiary of nearly 80 creatures, including the multiple forms of Auril, the Frostmaiden, a stat block for a forged Chardolyn Dragon, and a selection of other harrowing creatures, including a sledgehammer-wielding construct with a huge fanged mouth on its stomach.
While Rime of the Frostmaiden goes heavy on the bestiary, the closing appendices featuring magic items and spells is quite thin in comparison…which is too bad. Despite the slim pickings, one spell in particular stands out: Blade of Disaster.
This 9th level powerhouse is sure to cause a ruckus somewhere out there in the D&D world – summoning a blade comprised of a planar rift about 3 feet long, and hitting for 4d12 twice per turn. Oh, and it crits on an 18 or higher to deal…checks notes…12d12 damage instead.
Yeah. Thing’s nasty. Oh and one of the monsters is a living version of this spell so if you really want to put the fear of the Gods into your players, that could be a fun encounter!
Overall, Rime of the Frostmaiden is another fantastic entry for the 5e library, and perhaps an even more accessible narrative than Descent into Avernus or Tyranny of Dragons. With some great story beats and a great balance to bring in new players, I would definitely recommend it for any aspiring DM hoping to hook friends or family into the world of D&D.
Interested in picking up this book for yourself? You can find it on Amazon:
If you’re feeling lucky, don’t forget we also have a giveaway going on right now for a copy of Rime of the Frostmaiden, ending on Saturday night!