Dragon of Icespire Peak is the introductory adventure for the 5th Edition Starter Set, designed for PC levels 1 – 6. It is a complete sandbox adventure, and does not have a ridgid narrative structure. The basic story is that your heroes are adventurers for hire, travelling the countryside, completing various missions. This leads to your players leveling up and gaining items that will allow them to challenge a viscious White Dragon, that has been terrorizing the land.
In a sandbox adventure, the player choose which direction they want to go. Often this is done by placing a map in front of the players with several points of interest, and maybe a few scant rumors to guide the way. In Icespire Peak, this is accomplished via a village message board that list the various missions available to the players. This method also keeps the players from getting in over their head, new messages are added only after the party reaches the level requirement to open them.
This adventure is also perfect for a Western Marches campaign. Most campaigns revolve around the same band of heroes, week after week. And thus the same players, need to show up, week after week. But in a Western Marches campaign, the players can change from week to week, whoever shows up to play, plays. So far in our campaign, we have had a different roster of players for every session. There are two key elements to make this style of play work:
- Each session needs to be a self-contained episode, essentially a one-shot dungeon. In Icespire Peak, each mission is playable in about 2 – 3 hours.
- The campaign needs to be based out of a central hub, for all the players to meet and journey out from. In my campaign, following the events of The Lost Mine of Phandelver, the town of Phandalin created an Adventurers Guild in the abandoned home of the deceased Woodcutter. (I’ve marked it on my DM Map.)
Speaking of The Lost Mine of Phandelver, The Dragon of Icespire Peak is a perfect companion for that adventure. By adding the message board and the rampaging dragon to the Lost Mine storyline, you can create an absolutely epic campaign that should take players up to 8th level and beyond. In the maps section, I included an area map that despicts all of the locations found in both adventures.
As always, before any campaign, I gave my players a brief summary of adventuring and combat basics – Rules FOUR PAGE. I also give my players a Setting Overview which informs them of the common knowledge that a person in the realms would know, such as money, religion, and the calendar. This particular Overview is set to the Forgotten Realms year 1492DR, the official yaer of 5th edition D&D. My campaign begins just as the season turns to Winter, but you can choose any time of year for your campaign so I left the starting date blank. FAERUN 1492
I also give them a List of all the basic equipment commonly available for purchase within the world. Sometimes it is fun to role play the shopping spree, but usually it is just easier and more efficient for them to look it up on their own and tell me what they bought. Obviously, prices can be adjusted, based upon the quality of the available shop. Equipment List
Dungeon Master Resources
One of the things that I always liked about the Old School adventure modules is that they usually included a Monster Stat Sheet that listed, on one page, all of the monsters and NPCs (and their major statistics) that you could meet during the adventure. This kept you from having to flip through the entire module, or worse a separate Monster Manual, just to find some vital information needed in the middle of combat. To that end, I’ve compiled all the monsters from Icespire Peak here. Monster Stats Icespire
Most of the entries should be self-evident, but a few might need explainantion. TYPE also includes it’s size, in this case M for Medium. AC is Armor Class. hp is hit points and is always in Bold. Hit is its Attack bonus and is also always in Bold; if there is a second number, it is for a secondary attack, usually a range weapon. PP is Passive Perception. ATT 1 & ATT 2 list its various attack forms (in italics) and damage dealt. SPECIAL ATTACK would include any extra abilities, such as innate charm, paralysis, breath weapons, etc.. Under IMMUNITY/OTHER, “I” stands for Immunity, “R” is Resistance, and “V” would be Vulnerability. Next comes the Ability Score modifiers, Strenght, Dexterity, etc.. Below that, I’ve listed any Skill or Saving Throw modifiers. Under Language/Vision, I’ll also list any unusual Movement Rates. Finally, in HD/XP, the number in paraenthesis is its Challenge Rating.
I hope this comes in handy. And, if you prefer to create your own versions of this Stat Sheet, I’ve included a blank one here. NPC Stat Sheet
I also find it useful to have a Master Encounter List of all the keyed encounter areas of the adventure. This helps me keep track of every room at a glance; including Monsters, Traps, Treasure and Experience Points that can be found or earned in each room. Icespire Peak is a little different in that it uses the optional milestone rule for earning experience points. I have included the XP value per encounter for completeness. And due to the sandbox nature of the adventure, the number of monsters encountered varies based upon the number of players and their level. This also affects the XP column of the list. If there is a XP value followed by a Bold X, then multiply the value by the number of monsters encountered. And as always, a value in italics and parentheses is optional experience that can be earned by defeating traps or completing quests. Here is my copy. Encounter List Icespire
If you prefer to create your own list, I’ve included a blank one here. Encounter List Blank
In addition, I greatly expanded the village of Phandalin and created a complete roster for every resident in town. In the roster, names in italics are female, the symbol “(c)” indicates a child, and the symbol “(s)” is a senion citizen. A townsfolk with a number after his/her name, indicated a level adventurer, so “(F4)” would be a 4th level fighter. “C” is a cleric, and “R” is a ranger. Also, any name in bold indicates a citizen capable of fighting should you desire to have another invasion, as I did in The Lost Mine of Phandelver – Session 9. Obviously, feel free to add, change, or ignore any details that don’t fit your campaign. Phandalin Village Roster
There are a number of excellent additional resources available online. Here are a few that I use all the time.
Roll 20 D&D 5th Edition Compendeum – Roll 20 is one of the best virtual tabletop systems and they have compiled a complete listing of every rule, monster, spell, and more that is D&D. The link offers virtual books for sale, but the entire database is fully searchable and completely free. Just use the Search Bar to type in whatever you need to find and get the full description and statistics of that item. This resource is invaluable.
Forgotten Realms Wiki – Every article of fact, trivia, and lore relating to the Forgotten Realms (where Icespire Peak is set) can be found here. This is a tremendous source for inspiration to add favor and spice up your campaign. Perfect for researching the people, places, and events of the world’s greatest fantasy setting. I use this all the time.
Kobold Fight Club – Wandering Monsters are a staple of D&D. Nothing keeps players on their toes better than some random thing jumping out from the shadows. But the tables provided in most modules are pretty boring. Kobold Fight Club uses math, algorithms, and magic(?) to create memorable and unique random encounters for any level. Yip, yip!
This is a complete overview of our experience playing this adventure. There are three sections:
The Campaign Diaries – Where we tell the tale of the Menagerie, a merry band of side show freaks, recently escaped from the Sea Maiden’s Faire, a travelling gypsy circus.
The Maps – All the maps that I used to run Dragon of Icespire Peak, including several custom maps. The Player Maps have all hidden locations, traps, and secret areas removed. They are also great for a virtual tabletop.
The Handouts & Extras – All the handouts and accessories I used to run this campaign. I usually print the handouts using a variety of construction and specialty papers cut to fit my printer. They can be printed as is or used as a starting point for your own creative spin.
If there is anything else that you think I should have here to help you run your own campaign, please leave a comment.
Session 1 – Having just escaped the circus, our merry zoo hides out in a gnoll seiged inn, and then almost eaten by the dragon.
Session 2 – The Menagerie is joined by a mysterious stranger at the bar, and she/he nearly derails the adventure. And Orcs attack!
Session 3 – The Menagerie hunts for a deadly “shifter” in a gnome cave, but really all they care about are mushrooms and barrels of wine.
Session 4 – The Menagerie is nearly wiped out during a walk in the woods & ends with an epic aerial battle with a Manticore and Dragon.
Session 5 – The Menagerie find a lighthouse, and deal with banshees, the world’s ugliest harpy, and their own destructive tendencies.
The Handouts & Extras
This is still a work in progress. As we continue through the adventure, I will add more material as it is created. Stay tuned.
And if you like these Resources pages, then check out the ones I’ve created for the other campaigns I’m running at the D&D Campaign Resources Page.
As always, it’s better to show than tell, and Game On!