Campaign session notes for playing Icewide Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden, with two major changes: The setting has been moved to Blackmoor in the World of Greyhawk (Oerth), and the players starts with 8th-level characters.
A group of prisoners with partial memory loss awaken in White Plume Mountain, apparently tasked with serving the dungeon’s ruler. Instead, they seek their escape, rescuing other prisoners along the way and recovering three legendary weapons – the greatsword Blackrazor, the trident Wave and the warhammer Whelm.
* Ehrendil Stone the half-elemental/half-elf druid
* Norah Brithel the dwarven alchemist/artificer
* Rose Flickflower the halfling paladin
* Sariel Galanodel the elven wizard
TO THE CITY OF GREYHAWK
After teleporting back to the City of Greyhawk and enjoying themselves during the Festival of Brewfest, the group are “awarded” an invitation to an open bar tab at The Nymph and Satyr tavern in the upscale Garden Quarter. Once there, the group sees two out-of-place patrons…
* Stelfast Holren, a centaur with primal magical powers, and his young ward, Maura
…almost get kidnapped by Slave Lord emissaries, some of whom are slain in a backroom barfight as Rose, Norah, Ehrendil and Sariel get revenge for past crimes. Afterward the party is invited upstairs to a private audience and meet the cabal which arranged their gathering, a group of Greyhawk’s most elite citizens…
* Nerof Gasgal – Lord Mayor of the City of Greyhawk
* Org Nenshen – Guildmaster of Thieves, charming crimelord
* Kieren Jalucian – Guildmaster of Wizards, University of Magical Arts dean
* Ravel Dasinder – Patriarch of Rao, the god of peace, reason, serenity
* Mordenkainen – a famous archmage and international powerbroker
* Jallarzi Sallavarian – a wealthy archmage, friendly rival to Mordenkainen
* …and a few other of the city’s oligarchs
During the meeting, several devils burst in and attack Stel and Maura (which they say happens a lot), but the fiends are quickly dispatched by the powerful spellcasters present.
Lord Gasgal wants the soul-eating Blackrazor out of his city ASAP, while others find it and the party useful for another purpose: Find out what’s going on in the far northern Archbarony of Blackmoor and what happens to the magic-users sent there weeks ago in an initial mission of discovery. Jalucian and Sallavarian become the group’s patrons (along with Nenshen to Rose and Dasinder to Stel).
Guide To Party Travel
1. Illithid Nautiloid crash site, meeting of guides
2. Earthquake, Elven Tomb
3. Settlement of Glendour
4. Black Cabin of Macreadus
5. Duergar Hill Outpost
OFF TO BLACKMOOR
The group teleportation to Blackmoor goes horribly wrong – first putting everyone on the Astral Plane, then on the floor of an ocean, and finally in the middle of an arctic nowhere next to a crashed Nautiloid spelljamming ship (alien spacecraft) built and used by weird gnome-illithid hybrids. The party makes quick work of the creatures, though one escapes via a plane shift spell.
The group is quickly found by a team of wilderness guides, all saying they were hired to escort the party from this location thanks to the head elder at Broomsage Abbey. Oddly, the contract was set up two weeks previously when the party had not even agreed or planned for the trip yet.
The party is offered multiple possible destinations – west to Dantredun, north to Dearthkettle Keep, south to Ramshorn Castle or west to Glendour – and the group elects to head west amid a supernatural blizzard.
THE UNCOVERED ELVEN TOMB
Along the way, the party is caught in an earthquake that reveals an old elven tomb surrounded by life-size statues of elf soldiers. There an awakened noble elf mummy named Sahnar helps the party defeat a mixed pack of hostile awakened animals and their master, a frost druid driven mad by whatever the Frostmaiden has done to Blackmoor’s nature spirits. The party also activates some sort of magic viewing mirror showing green rolling hills and summer days in the lowlands of Blackmoor, a scene into which Sahnar steps and disappears.
ARRIVAL IN GLENDOUR
Continuing onward, the party’s dogsleds roll into the settlement of Glendour where dozens of outlying buildings show stone foundations, arches and chimneys, but all wooden walls, doors, support beams and roofing tiles have been stripped off. A few buildings appear to have burned down and there are no signs of occupation.
A stone-carved sign at the edge of town reads: “BY ORDER OF ARCHDUKE BESTMO… THEFT OF FOOD, THEFT OF FUEL, REFUSAL TO SACRIFICE, CANNIBALISM SHALL BE PUNISHABLE BY DEATH.”
Further into the settlement are found surviving residents staying closer together, occupying buildings a few blocks’ radius around a town square. The party rides past The Chastity Inn for Men and The Virtue Inn for Women to instead check in at The Wicked Wonders Inn, a place featuring a huge bubbling hot tub right there in the lobby. The place is raucous as bards play bawdy music, gamblers try their luck and patrons of all kinds get drunk – all while seemingly being watched by a painted portrait of the infamous Lich of Glendour that hangs in memoriam above the biggest fireplace.
RECAP FROM FEB. 10, 2021
* Party caroused at the Wicked Wonders Inn, did some profitable gambling, met some NPCs, slept through the night in one luxury suite.
* In the morning, barkeep Bartaban served a crude breakfast of fish, porridge, eggs.
* Rose joined a backroom seance led by Rinaldo the halfling, asked questions from the spirit of The White Lady (some sort of chilly ghost). Rose learned the Frostmaiden’s true name was “Auril” and she lairs in The Frost Palace about 40 miles to the north of Glendour.
* The rest of the party met Copper the gnome, who got into talking robotic schematics with Norah, also complained about wasting weeks trying to help a woman named Macreadus (Mah-cree-ah-dus) solve “the endless winter problem” while working at her cabin in the eastern hills.
* After the seance, everyone witnessed the fatal poisoning of a candlemaker in the bar and caught a 3-inch duergar trying to escape across the floor. (Poison turns out to be preserved venom from some underdark monstrosity.) Later interrogation of the psionic gray dwarf in the morning sun revealed he’s Durth Sunblight, who spilled all he knows under fear of Blackrazor:
1.) Durth and his three companions – Klaska, Ossyl and Zublorr – were the duergar briefly spotted in the dungeon under White Plume Mountain. (This was shortly after befriending the bugbear guard.) It’s revealed for a while the duergar used the legend of Keraptis to lure adventurers to W.P.M. to be captured and enslaved. (Weeks ago Norah had found papers in the dungeon and got them translated for this info.)
2.) Durth is the son of Xardorok Sunblight, a major durgear clan leader whose is conspiring with devils to wipe out the surface dwellers of Blackmoor and establish the first gray dwarf kingdom above ground. Durth briefly mentioned the Sunblights rose in status after the fall of duergar House Grausamkeit in the underdark of their native homeworld, Toril (planet of the Forgotten Realms), following “those surface adventurers and that misadventure with the planar children.”
3.) The gray dwarves are not responsible for the endless winter of the Frostmaiden, but the crisis has greatly helped move ahead with their scheme.
4.) Durth’s brother Nildar is in charge of some sort of duergar outpost in the hills east of Glendour, and a major duergar citadel under father Xardorok’s rule lies just beyond the borders of the archbarony.
5.) Xardorok’s fortress has a forge powered by the still-beating heart of a red dragon. In this forge, Xardorok is crafting a dragon made of chardalyn, the strange black metal alloy that includes minerals literally from Hell (aka Baator, home of devils). Scraps of this metal have been found in the wilds of Blackmoor, but the gnome Copper warned although it was “a superior conductor of eldritch energies,” long term exposure to it tended to drive mortals insane.
6.) Xardorok plans to use the chardalyn dragon to lay waste to Blackmoor. The monstrous construction is close to begin finished.
* Rose was hailed a hero by the locals for using the Rod of Resurrection to save the poisoned candlemaker.
* The group ends the session debating what to do with Durth Sunblight as a prisoner, while the candlemaker and his wife went back home – unaware the murderous Klaska, Ossyl and Zublorr hide in their basement…
RECAP FROM FEB. 17, 2021
* Sariel followed up rumors about a spellcaster staying at the Wicked Wonders Inn and met Dzaan, a wizard she briefly saw at the College of Wizardry in Greyhawk. He claims to also be investigating strangeness in Blackmoor.
* Durth Sunblight was left in the custody of Sir Taric, an undead death knight who serves as a local constable in Glendour.
* The party went to the candlemaker’s house, got him and his wife out, found the three duergar in the basement and defeated them. Rose fed one of the duergar to Blackrazor, much to Maura’s discontent. A small cache of art objects stolen by the duergar from around town was found in the basement. Afterwards in the street, about a dozen locals badgered Rose (using the alias Willow) to help bring their dead loved ones back to life, and the art objects were handed over to those in the crowd.
* Back at the Wicked Wonders Inn, the party found Dzaan arrested and under “trial” there in the bar, accused of murdering Glendour residents, using necromancy to turn their corpses into undead, theft of holy relics from local temples “and other profane acts” – charges to which Dzaan calmly confessed. Geand Cul Meare introduces himself as the High Bard of Lore and master of the Rhymer’s Asylum, and essentially the leader of the Glendour settlement. Asking the party what judgment they would pass on someone so evil, the party suggested “putting him to good use for the community,” so Geand Cul Meare has Dzaan burned at the stake in the town square so everyone may come to warm themselves by the bonfire.
* While preparing to go look for the duergar outpost and Macreadus’ cabin in the hills just east of Glendour, the party is stopped in the street by the robot WITNESS L74 and harshly questioned (via an intercom in the robot’s head) by a woman calling herself Vyllax 818, who says she serves both Archduke Bestmo and the Order of the Black Swords. Her muffled voice sounded stern and officious, cutting off without answering many questions put back to her but vaguely offering support against the Frostmaiden and the Egg of Coot.
* Rose and Maura have an ethical debate about the Frostmaiden, killing vs. just stopping her without killing.
* After a half day’s journey with “No Maps” Mocior and Bentlee Saybn as guides, the party’s dogsleds follow Copper’s map and to the cabin, found in an extremely dilapidated state and built halfway over the edge of a steep 120-foot cliff.
The cabin’s inner rooms appear charred and covered in frost as snow drifts down from holes in the roof. In an old workshop, tinkers’ tools are found to move on their own, spelling out “HELP ME” and other words across a table. Outside, a woman’s corpse is found halfway down the cliff, a fatal wound in her chest suggesting something exploded outward from inside her body. A duplicate of the woman found inside the cabin compels Rose to help decipher a strange magical device (two large metal hoops, one inside the other, connected to a lump of pitch-black stone). Though this woman never speaks, her intentions seem to be automatically known to Rose, who picks up the object and is subjected to a massive blast of radiant energy from the device (90 points of damage).
The silent woman disappears, and a search of the cabin uncovers fragments of blueprints and notes suggesting Macreadus was crafting the device — the “Summer Star” — to control the weather, but it is either unfinished or broken. Norah tucked the arcane device away in her Bag of Holding. Also found were a “dead” clay homunculus, an angry “goodbye” note signed by Copper, a fantasy creature’s travel guide to some city called “Chicago,” and a fair amount of hidden treasure in coins and gems.
* The party’s spellcasters go around the cabin and use the Mending cantrip to secure it better against the weather. Everyone goes inside to spend the night in a long rest.
RECAP FROM WEDNESDAY, FEB. 24, 2021
Prior to calling it a night at the black cabin, several magic-using party members swept the rooms with castings of Faerie Fire to expose any invisible creatures, and lo and behold Stel found a green slaad – an extraplanar creature native to Limbo – lurking in a fireplace. A rousing combat ensured, tumbling down walls, taking to the roof and ending with the creature’s body of chaos-made-flesh spawning random objects as it weakened. In its death cry, Stel transforming for a minute into a gargantuan-sized centaur – destroying most of cabin in the process. All that remained of the creature were a tiny gear made of platinum (Norah took) and two small bat-shaped pieces of primal rock (Ehrendil took).
Having gathered various found blueprints, Norah and Maura examined the “Summer Star” object, recognizing it will need to have a third ring of carbon steel added to its design to work safely.
Continuing on a half-day trek up further into the hills to the duergar outpost, the party became target practice for four duergar shooting venom-dipped crossbow bolts from the supposed safety of their stone bunker overlooking the ravine approach to the main gate. Norah enchanted the glowing words “WELCOME HOME DURTH SUNBLIGHT” on the side of the bunker while Ehrendil opened a door into the bunker just before transforming into his polar bear form. Rose deftly ran over the bear’s back and drew Blackrazor to dispatch one of the duergar guards – devouring his soul in the process.
The remaining three guards immediately surrendered, and one of them began cooperating with all kinds of news: Lord Xardorok’s other surviving son, Nildar, was in charge of this outpost to watch over the Glendour and Blackmoor Castle settlements. A teleportation portal somewhere in this underground outpost connects to the duergar’s main citadel, a place called The Clockwork Fortress where the chardalyn dragon is just a day away from being deployed against the unsuspecting settlements of Blackmoor.
As the party interrogated the captured dwarves, another duergar gripped with magical terror came out of the bunker’s underground tunnel and was grabbed by Norah. “The portal didn’t work right,” he exclaims… “It’s here now! IT’S LOOSE!”
FYI ON EXPERIENCE: The characters can level up to 9th level when the party achieved any one of the following milestones:
* Xardorok Sunblight is captured or killed.
* The chardalyn dragon is destroyed.
* The Frostmaiden is slain or banished.
RECAP FOR WEDNESDAY, MARCH 3, 2021
The group snuck into the outpost structure, clearly something of human architecture – not dwarven. The terrified duergar prisoner was allowed to flee, while the Brojk the white haired agreed to help under threat of harm from Rose and Blackrazor.
Passing through a messy and abandoned armory and overlook hall, the group pressed ahead with Norah transformed to resemble duergar leader Durth Sunblight and ordering guard Urthhild to help lead the way. In the fortress main entry hall, the group found three prisoner cages – one containing four faerie creatures, one with two normal-looking goats and one with a frost giant druid. A terrified duergar ran off from behind the cages and (along with Brojk) fled the scene.
Spotting a petrified duergar down a corridor, the group prepared for a fight against a gorgon or medusa while they released the prisoners. One of the fey, a redcap, immediately attacked Norah-disguised-as-a-duergar, but the others led by a fey calling himself “Lord Dreamwell” joined the giant in looking for a way out.
And then the beholder came into view and began its eye ray attacks – charming both Urthhild and Norah and just missing Sariel with a disintegration ray and a death ray.
Noticing odd holes dug into the floor of the far end of the hall, the group quickly descended one with a ladder as Ehrendil stone shaped the top opening closed. (Stel the centaur did poorly navigating the ladder, crushing Norah as he fell to the bottom.)
Once in the level below, the group discovered two rooms with strange machines build from advanced technology, and in one a coffin-like box held another faerie prisoner. Before they could free her, the machine turned on, grew quite loud and a flash of light turned the fey creature into nothing but dust and fragile dragonfly wings. In the adjoining room was found a glowing crystal, very similar to the longer crystals recovered from storage aboard the mind flayer ship 5 days earlier.
Norah found and pocketed a piece of parchment with odd diagrams on it and a familiar symbol: The signature mark of the ancient mage Keraptis. Using comprehend languages, Ehrendil translated much of the alien writing found on the machines: “expression status from 1% to 100% complete,” one half of the level called the “Soul Husk Extration Pod” room, the other the “Mana Containment Unit” room – all the work of something called “Aztechnology” – a source of evil from the homeworld of Ehrendil’s mother. Their logo:
The group had a bit of discussion about what to do next, with Norah salvaging some parts, Ehrendil extracting blocks of lead from a wall, and Stel and Maura trying to break some of the machines. Ultimately the group chose to do a long rest in these rooms, relatively safe and hidden from the beholder floating about the outpost’s halls above…