Content of the article: "I highly recommend starting Rime of the Frostmaiden with a session of “Do Not Let Us die in the Dark Night of This Cold Winter”"
For brevity, I'm going to shorten the system to "Do Not Let Us Die".
Rime of the Frostmaiden has a pretty bland intro and forces you or your characters to come up with a compelling reason to start in or travel to Icewind Dale. Sure, there are character secrets, but nothing really compelling that brings your group together or gives you a reason for traveling and trying to bring an end to the Frostmaiden's curse.
Instead, you should consider running Do Not Let Us Die as part of a prologue to the adventure! It's an incredbly lean system that you can use to simulate the efforts of your players trying to stave of starvation and frost death in a remote, isolated village over a period of weeks or months. Every turn one of your players can dictate their foraging goal- fuel, food or medicine- and try to allot as much of it as possible to the settlers in hopes that they don't perish by the next turn. However, death is an inevitability and they will constantly have to make decisions on who will get to live or what sacrifices they are willing to make to ensure that everyone has a second chance. In the end, my group ended with only 13 of an original 25 villagers alive…
The way I ran it was so:
- A game takes 10 + players-at-the-table/2 turns. Each turn should last a month to reflect the hopelessness of an unending winter.
- I started the game with the first winter before the Frostmaiden starts spreading her curse, letting the players and villagers believe that the season is behaving as normal only for it to prolong into next spring, summer and autumn.
- After roughly six months I started picking events where the villagers demanded to pay a tribute to the Frostmaiden. In my case it was a human sacrifice, but warmth or food like the book describes is just fine too.
- The adventure ends after 12 month with no proper resolution, but as the village eldest I implored the players to try and reach ten towns with the last scraps of food and fuel they have left and to bring an end to this madness. They will want to get sled dogs for supplies and take the remaining villagers away and into the ten towns.
- As a reward, I gave the players a deed to the town should they rescue it.
- It's also important to use the time between turns to mention the flights of the Frostmaiden, the biting blizzards, the fading fauna and flora, the disappearance of the Reghed Nomads, and so on to ingrain the setting and the adventure in the players' minds.
Afterwards I let my players choose whether to continue as one such villagers that was sent away or to create a new character to happen upon them during the first session. In my own session three of five players decided to keep playing the bedraggled and starving survivors and the other two will have perished during the journey. It's pretty fun, I can highly recommend it!
- How to convince a deeply vengeful creature to remove a curse?
- I’m ending my time as DM because my group refuses to communicate and I need some advice and a place to vent.
- Nuclear Winter needs balancing changes and bug fixes!
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