Content of the article: "Icewind Dale DM Guide Series! Termalaine: A Beautiful Mine"
This post is based on this video if you prefer to watch/listen 🙂
Termalaine is regarded as the most picturesque town in Icewind Dale. Spreading from the lakeshore of Maer Dualdon, bordered by a forest of tall pines, and home to miners who harvest gemstones from a nearby cavern complex, Termalaine has a little bit of everything! It’s considered very friendly and comfortable with decent services, and it has a relatively high population for Ten Towns. The town speaker is a lawful good half orc named Oarus Masthew who narrowly won the last election. As the adopted son of the previous speaker who still lives in Termalaine, Oarus has made some political enemies in town, namely he lacks support from the town militia, but more on that later. The town crest shows a fish swallowing a pink tourmaline gem to symbolize the fishing and mining trades, and the people of Termalaine sacrifice warmth to Auril– lighting no fires on the new moon.
Travel & Arrival
Characters can reach Termalaine on a 2 hour walk from Lonelywood to the north or 4 hours from Targos to the south, just managing the trip in the four total hours of twilight in Icewind Dale. When your party arrives in Termalaine, you can read its short introductory paragraphs to “refresh the characters’ memory” and give your players a feel for the town. But even with its beauty and relatively high population, the streets of Termalaine (like any of the Ten Towns) should be nearly deserted at all times. During the 4-hour day, folks are hunting or logging in the forest, preparing meals or stoking fires at home, and fishing on the Dualdon probably beyond the 300 ft visibility in this dim arctic region. Everyone stays out of the cold when possible, and with the miners currently out of work, they may be holed up at Termalaine’s Blue Clam Tavern, debating Speaker Masthew’s approach toward resolving the gem mine’s latest issue, kobolds.
Tavern Quest Hook
The Blue Clam dockside tavern is where workers finish their days, warming their feet on bench seats near long hearths while they fill their bellies with spiced chowder beneath scrimshaw carvings of wizards, homunculi, tigers, and smiling djinn. Vernon Braig, the half-orc owner and chef, has friends in Lonelywood, and probably knows most of the townsfolk here. Though it’s up to you whether Vernon sides with the grumbling miners and militia members, with Speaker Masthew out of half-orc posterity, or plays peacemaker to avoid any brawls in his tavern. I recommend the latter, because the quest states Speaker Masthew is actually at the Blue Clam when the characters come to town! So have your party walk in on a tense debate between Masthew with a few supporters, and several griping militia members who are written to have refused to deal with the kobold problem “for what amounts to political reasons.” Perhaps they claim Oarus won the speaker election out of nepotism through his adopted mother, or they disagree about the town sacrifices to Auril. The point is that these militia members are merely being influenced by the Speaker of Targos who wants to replace Masthew with one of their own officers. So YOUR party gets to quell this debate by stepping in to solve the mine problem, but they’ll probably make some enemies in Targos by doing so.
Inn Campaign Connections
Speaking of enemies, the Eastside Inn has a dark story worth sharing with your party. The establishment is actually a series of houses connected by underground tunnels, but the real interesting part is the innkeeper’s creepy song. Marta, described as a willowy teenager, explains the tale about a mysterious woman in a fur-lined red cloak who stopped here on her way to Lonelywood fifty years ago. She paid Marta’s grandparents with a ring, then was attacked by an “evil wind” before escaping. I’m not aware of other connections within the campaign, so this woman was probably a criminal fleeing to Lonelywood (or just someone who angered a powerful person) and was being pursued by an invisible stalker. But I would change the story to be more like this: Two years ago, a mysterious woman stopped here on her way to Lonelywood, going to visit her sister. She paid Marta’s father with the ring, who started to feel ill by the time the woman left. The woman was Ravisin, the now evil frost druid in the forest outside of Lonelywood, awakening mischievous beasts and protecting her now dead sister’s remains. Ravisin was traveling north after her sister to commit herself to Auril, and the ring is cursed, fueled by her devotion to the Frostmaiden, but if the party defeats Ravisin, Marta’s father will be cured and the ring becomes a ring of warmth as it’s written to be.
Now the Termalaine mine is 30 minutes outside of town with a crude sign reading “Kobolds only!” in charcoal. However, the elaborate calligraphy is your party’s first clue that these Kobolds are more than meets the eye. To keep your party on edge and create a cramped atmosphere, I described the mine’s dark tunnels as only about 5’ tall instead of 7’ with the lower levels having shorter ceilings.
- You could also include more signs of struggle in area 1: instead of racks holding all the tools, they could be strewn on the floor from the miners who fled in fear! And maybe just let your party follow the kobold and giant rat tracks from area 1 without issue.
- Area 2 contains a nice table that will likely result in your characters finding nothing of value after mining for hours, but I like it, and much like this entire location, it could easily be used in other D&D adventures.
- Your party should hear the rushing river in area 3 the entire time they’re in the mine but you should make sure its dangerous speed is obvious, because characters who are swept away by the river will fall thousands of feet into the Underdark and die. And I would only keep the giant rats here if you want your party or a solo player to get in some easy combat.
- Area 4 contains some nice loot, and 5 has some kobolds cartoonishly sawing away at the underside of the wood plank walkway. As written, no one can hear their sawing over the waterfall, but I had the blind fighter in my party roll a DC 15 perception check to pinpoint the source of that strange vibration in the planks.
- The bucket lift between areas 6 and 7 is a perfect way to naturally split the party because it can only hold one medium creature at a time, making this a great spot for the grell from area 8 or the kobolds from area 9 come upon a lone player character! Better yet, once the whole party is down, I recommend having some kobolds approach aggressively, then see the grell behind your PCs, and run away in fear before the characters notice what’s coming! The idea being to establish a common goal between the kobolds and the party to get rid of the grell!
Janth/Trex, the grell, and your next quest!
Only by communicating with the kobolds, will your party have a chance to meet the most interesting character in Termalaine, Trex, or as he now calls himself, Janth. Janth was actually a human sage cataloguing flora of Icewind Dale when he and his guide were killed by a yeti two years ago (or maybe by one of Ravisin’s beasts if you really want to tie this all together). Janth’s soul is linked to the satchel now carried by Trex, and his goal is to possess someone more capable of taking up the satchel to continue his life’s work– apparently even Speaker Oarus Masthew, so roleplay with Trex can be funny or creepy, because he’s lying about his true identity and motivations. And you can help your party empathize with Speaker Masthew by having the kobolds refuse to fight the grell, though I definitely recommend building a party of at least four between PCs and kobolds, though my three PCs killed it quite easily with the dice in their favor. Now they’re on their way to Lonelywood, hoping to find a home there for the kobolds. But your characters could just as easily head right to the illithid ship that crashed in the mountains far south of Termalaine from the Id Ascendant quest in chapter 2, because the mysterious skull and psi crystal from area 12 of the mine allows a character attuned to the crystal to track the ship's distress signal, but to keep my low-level party in the towns a bit longer, I simply described the signal as the thudding of a dull headache for now. Then maybe have that town crier boy with the cool name try to join your brave heroes or just excitedly tell them another town rumor to seed your next quest! And whether or not Speaker Masthew is possessed, the political squabble here in Termalaine should eventually escalate to a military coup and takeover by the folks in Targos who are now wary of your party!
Thanks for reading! One-page pdfs of these guides are available on Patreon one week after each video is published. Check out the last guide with multiple stat-block forms for Sephek Kaltro the Cold-Hearted Killer, and keep building 😀
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