Content of the article: "Neverwinter Valley Mega Campaign(Lost Mines+Dragons of Icespire+Rise of Tiamat)"
Hello all, I’ve been wanting to post a guide for some time, however there are so many great guides out there, and I wanted to contribute something unique. Drawing inspiration from Bob World Builder’s Youtube channel, I decided to run Lost Mines of Phandelver (LMoP) and Dragons of Icespire peak (DoIP) together for two of my ongoing campaigns. I have taken it one step further and combined the three follow up adventures of DoIP with Rise of Tiamat to create one mega campaign setting in the Sword Coast designed to take characters from levels 1-15. (I guess a disclaimer is that my group is just wrapping the LMoP arc so much of this has not actually been played.) All of these modules share common elements, and with some small adjustments, can be combined into a single continuous campaign. The guide will be broken into several parts as follows: (1)Issues with each of the modules and what is gained by combining them, (2) How to combine the modules’ narratives and pace leveling, and (3) Changes to locations and NPCs.
Issues with the Modules and Why to Combine
Each of the modules I have included I think are quite good as is, but there are a few complaints with each I will detail.
- Lost Mines of Phandelver
- My biggest issue with LMoP is that not one of my player’s gives a flying fuck about Gundren or his secret. All three times I’ve run Goblin Arrows my player’s finished the delivery, shrugged their shoulders, and explored the town. Only two groups even went into Klarg’s cave, and one of them only because I had Sildar escape to reveal it’s location. Unless one of the PC’s has a strong connection to him, Gundren is just an anonymous quest giver, and you can’t reveal his connection to the lost mine otherwise it ruins the discovery later on. Combining the modules avoids this by allowing the redbrand threat to grow and impact the players should it be ignored.
- This brings me to my second, but related issue, which is the railroading. The major content of the first several sessions is supposed to be Klarg’s cave and the redbrand hideout. However, what are you supposed to do if the player’s aren’t interested in these quest hooks? Klarg’s cave is easy to miss as we’ve already seen, and if your group avoids needless conflict they have no reason to go after the redbrands. Either you can use up the few side quests included in the module early on for an exp grab, write your own quests, or railroad them into doing the story as written. By slowly ramping up the redbrand threat to the party, you give them strong motivation to seek out the source of the threat.
- Dragons of Icespire Peak
- My complaint with this module is almost exactly the opposite. This module is far too wide with few threads to tie everything together. If you have PC’s with strong backgrounds and motivations, you can work around this, but it requires a significant amount of writing on the part of the DM to tie the quests together. As written the module feels like a collection of side quests until the party is leveled enough to go slay Cryovein. By combining it with the other modules you gain the strong narrative elements of Lost Mines, and Rise of Tiamat helps explain why there are so many damn cults and dragons running around causing chaos.
- DoIP Follow Ups (Storm Lord’s Wrath, Sleeping Dragon’s Wake, and Divine Contention)
- My complaint with these modules are a lack of motivation on both the behalf of the PCs and the villains. Why do the PCs care about this run down town that seems like a shittier version of phandalin? They are level 7-13 at this point, shouldn’t they have bigger concerns? Why do the villains care about it? And why are these two cults fighting each other? Is it a massive “my dad could beat up your dad fight” on a divine level? Part of me feels like I have to be missing something, but in combining these modules I poured over the quest descriptions and can find no such motivations. Adding Rise of Tiamat helps provide motivations for the cults to act in the ways that they do. It also provides players a chance to get involved in a potentially cataclysmic event which is more appropriate considering they are starting to get abilities such as plane shift.
- Rise of Tiamat
- My first complaint with Rise of Tiamat isn’t actually with the module itself, but rather it’s precursor, Horde of the Dragon Queen. I have not played it myself, but I’ve heard from many to simply give it a pass. However, without Horde of Dragon Queen, you lack the content for the early levels. You could simply run Rise of Tiamat as a stand alone, or as we will see, run the combo of LMoP and DoIP.
- My second complaint with Rise of Tiamat is a lack of content for the supposed levels. Don’t get me wrong, Rise of Tiamat has a lot of information, but as written you will need to give out levels like candy for your party to hit level 15. The other modules help to fill that content out.
Linking the Modules Narrative
Now with my gripes out of the way, let’s take a look at how to combine these modules together, and in doing so resolve the above problems.Any modified quests I refer to, as well as other recommended changes can be found in the next section.
Even though I knocked it initially, I actually like to begin with the Goblin Arrows adventure hook. Despite it not connecting the player’s to Gundren, it does connect the player’s to Phandalin, and each other. They are co-workers heading to a common place with a common goal. It is a simple job that any character could feasibly take up, and it is much better than the stereotypical tavern start. I don’t push Klarg’s cave on the players however. If they explore it great, they can get to level 2 that way. If they continue into the town however, direct them towards the quest board, which will contain the starting quests for DoIP. This provides the players an alternative pathway to reaching level 2. Regardless of whether they explore Klarg’s cave, when they reach level 2 and next return to town, trigger the rebrand encounter from LMoP. Let the encounter end however is natural. If they continue on to the hideout of their own volition, then you can keep them right on the LMoP track as written (Redbrand Hideout to Cragmaw Castle to Wave Echo Cave). However there is a chance that during each step along the way, they will fall off the track..
If they fall off the LMoP track that is perfectly fine, continue giving them quests from the DoIP quest board following its leveling guide until the party is level three, almost four. The LMoP plot is not inactive however. At the black spider’s behest, in an attempt to drive off Gundren’s former employees, she has her dopplegangers kill and impersonate Harbin. When they are almost level four, the next time the players return to phandalin, they see what appears to be a shakedown at barthen’s provisions. Two rebrands stand outside, while three inside break things and shout, demanding the money they are owed. The redbrands are, in fact, enacting a new tax under the direction of “townmaster Harbin”. If the party intervenes, “Harbin” makes an appearance to scold them for undermining his authority. He informs the party that he has hired the redbrands as supplemental protection against the dragon and that they are to be respected henceforth. This is very unlike Harbin, and is the party’s first clue that something is not right. I like to have one “Harbin” hangout in the town hall following the incident, and the other remain in the house with the real Harbin’s corpse. If the players visit both locations in succession, let them get the sense that something is amiss.. If they are clueless to Harbin’s replacement as my group was, then go ahead and give them the Dragon Barrow quest directly from Harbin.
This quest, if played with some adjustments, is a deadly encounter for your level three party. Only creative and cautious players will be able to survive. This is because “Harbin” is sending the group their death, or so he thinks. If the party survives the Dragon Barrow encounter, when they return to town, the player with the highest passive perception notices “Harbin” is clearly surprised to still see them alive. This is likely to cause the final confrontation with “Harbin” and by proxy the redbrands. If the party doesn’t cause a ruckus “Harbin” offers them the Axeholm quest next, but also plans to send Glasstaff + 6 redbrands as a hit squad when the party nears town the next time from traveling. Once the party either confronts “Harbin” or deals with the Glasstaff hit squad, provide them with the means of learning about the black spider targeting them and the location of cragmaw castle. In my game the hitsquad came, they captured a redbrand, learned about the letters back in the hideout, got the letters, learned about cragmaw castle from the bugbears, and then went to confront “Harbin”. If you go this route I suggest emptying the hideout of enemies, saving the bugbears, and having just a few remaining rebrands in town. The majority of redbrands went with the hitsquad, and another encounter with a large number of them would be tedious at this point. As would combat with a single doppelganger and a few redbrands. I recommend hand waving this fight and just letting the players describe how they stop the fleeing doppelganger. There are many ways for players get this information however. Provide it in whatever way is most natural to how the characters have played (For example if they caught a doppelganger instead, they might not need the letters or glasstaff.) Once they have this information, they should have enough motivation to seek out the rest of the LMoP story path. Let them finish Wave Echo Cave and reach level 6. Then begin playing up the conflict between the two dragons.
Draw the players to the final two locations: Thundertree and Icespire Peak. Let these locations play out as written with one exception. The cultists in Thundertree are from the same cult that is trying to raise tiamat. In Rise of Tiamat the chromatic dragons are allies of the cult, and this is a nice bit of foreshadowing for the party. If the party kills or interrogates the cult, let them found out they were sent by their leader Severin to make allies with this chromatic dragon. They don’t know much else about sverin’s plot however. Once the party reaches level 7 upon killing Cryovein, they will return to a large celebration in Phandalin, and there will be no further quests offered from the town. Instead the next day the group receives a message for an audience with the Lord of Neverwinter who wishes to speak with them concerning their recent acts of valor and beseech their aid concerning another town, Leilon.
The party’s travel is peaceful, especially with the dragon’s departure, but when they arrive in Leilon trigger the Normal day in Leilon quest, reward them with the map normally found during Foul Weather at the Wayside. From here they can either continue investigating Leilon, or return to the Lord of Neverwinter. If they continue investigating, send them on the Aid from Phandalin quest for the eyepiece to reveal the Thunder Cliffs. If they go back to the Lord of Neverwinter, have him inform them of the First Council of Waterdeep, and if the players mention the maps offer to have a wizard study them while they complete a council quest. During the first council the party receives two quests, the Ice Sea and Varren Quests from Rise of Tiamat. Upon the completion of these, have the players receive summons for a Second Council of Waterdeep, and be attacked by the cult for the first time. From the second council the players are encouraged to continue exploring Leilon, and to seek out the metallic dragons. Offer them the Death-Knight, Leilon point, and modified Metallic Dragon quests. After they complete two, add Iniarv’s Tower and modified Claug’s Lair. When they complete two more of the remaining quests, they should be level 11 and be ready for the Leilon Siege quest. After the siege, let the party resolve the final quests with each of the cult, however note the changed motivations of each of the cult in light of the events in Rise of Tiamat. If the party is able to negotiate for their aid or cease fire, then let them. Diplomacy can be equally as rewarding as combat. At this point the party receives the third cult attack, summons for the third council, and three more quests. These are Nerovain, Thay, and Xanathal’s Tower. These will take your party to level 15 at which point they are ready for the final quest in the rise of tiamat. Below is a sample quest path through the modules by level.
Level 1: Goblin Arrows Ambush, Umbrage Hill
Level 2: Redbrand Encounter, Dwarven Excavation including Random Encounter with Cryovein
Level 3: Clarg’s Cave, Shrines of Savras, Barthen’s Shakedown, Half of Dragon Barrow
Level 4: Other Half of Dragon Barrow, Mountain Toe Goldmine, Glasstaff hit squad
Level 5: Cragmaw Castle, Wave echo Cave, Axeholm
Level 6: Thunder Tree, Icespire Peak
Level 7: Normal Day in Leilon, Aid from Phanadlin, Thundercliffs
Level 8: First Council, Ice Sea, Varren
Level 9: First Cult Attack, Second Council, Deathknight, Bronze Shrine
Level 10: Iniarv’s Tower, Claug’s Lair
Level 11: Leilon Besieged (second cult attack)
Level 12: Storm Lord’s, Mausoleum
Level 13: Third Cult Attack, Third Council, Nerovain
Level 14: Thay, Xanathal’s Tower
Level 15: Fourth Council, Fourth Cult Attack, Rise of Tiamat
Modifications to Locations and NPCs
- Uluran Mortus and his cult were former members of Severin’s cult. They split off when Severin began talking about raising Tiamat and they wanted to remain true to the old ways. They are attempting to summon a dracolich to combat Tiamat.
- Fheralai and his followers have had their territory and holy sites encroached on by both Venomfang and Uluran. They are feuding with Uluran and attempting to batter Leilon into submission.
- Consequently these cults and their leaders can be dealt with diplomatically if parties appeal to their interests. For example, if the party makes a deal with Uluran to get his ship back, perhaps he will lend them his dracolich’s support in a coming battle.
- The way that parties deal with these cults will have a significant impact on future quests.
- The Dragon Barrow Quest follows Bob World Builder’s and Sly Flourish’s modifications, and becomes massively important with all of the dragons being brought together.
Dragon Barrow (Credit to Bob World Builder and Sly Flourish)
- The stone spine on the hill is bone instead of stone
- The sword is in the head room and the skeletal rider is in the tail room.
- All the wisps attack at any trap trigger, including the crumbling tunnel.
- When the sword is pulled, use Sly Flourish’s undead dragon encounter, let the dragonslayer sword deal the extra damage to it.
Wave Echo Cave
- Since the players are going in a level higher, the difficulty of the cave should be increased accordingly.
- Replace ghouls in area 9 with shadows
- Replace the spectator in area 15 with a zombie beholder.
- Replace The Black Spider with a drow priestess of Lolth and remove two giant spiders
- Move the ghouls from area 6 to area 8, and reduce them to zero hit points. These will serve as corpses that the Maurezhi that now inhabits area 8 can raise if engaged in combat.
- Venomfang is being courted by Severin’s cult during the Thundertree quest. The members of the cult present don’t know why their leader wants an alliance with venomfang, only that they have been instructed to broker it at any cost.
- Use the results of the player’s interactions with Venomfang, the cult, and Reidoth to determine the outcome you think best fits. For example, if the party helps the cult, maybe Venomfang makes an appearance later on.
Metallic Dragons/Bronze Shrine
- For this campaign I have combined the metallic dragons from Tiamat with the Bronze Shrine quest from Sleeping Dragon’s Wake. In this version use the metallic dragons as written, however, if the players win their support. Offer them the vision from the Bronze Shrine quest as an additional boon, but alter the vision to be more relevant to the overall events of the restructured campaign
- Since the Bronze Shrine quest has been mostly done away with, I recommend having the demon from the bronze shrine here with Claug. Uluran has employed his nightly attacks here and sent this demon to drive Claug mad, and it’s working.
- Since the final quest involves Tiamat and not Ebondeath, feel free to allow players to save Claug, particularly if they have sided with Fheralai. Alternatively, if the players have sided with Uluran, allow them to play a hand in the raising of Ebondeath.
Fheralai Final Confrontation and Uluran Final Confrontation
- These quests will potentially differ greatly from what is written in Divine Contention.
- If your party is hostile to both cults in Leilon, then you can run them as written.
- If your party is hostile to one of the cults in Leilon then you can have players defend the friendly cult from an attack from the hostile cult and then launch their own counterattack. You could use the friendly cults final map for the defensive encounter and then run the counterattack on the hostile cults final map.
- If your party has/is brokering peace, then let them. Finding a solution to appease both cults, the council, and the party’s own moral compass will be incredibly difficult. Likely it would be the result of doing multiple favors for each cult over the course of the campaign without doing much to anger them. Perhaps the players negotiated the safe return of the dread-naught for Uluran and a land grant for Fheralai. If this is the case pick a satisfying outcome for the events based on the parties problem solving.
As I mentioned above, I haven’t played through the entirety of this campaign, and undoubtedly I will make further changes to quests to better fit the overall story. This guide is meant to be an initial framework which I’m hoping to revise with both my player’s and the community's feedback. If you have any ideas for additional changes or adjustments I would love to read them, and post an updated guide in the future.
- Halfway through Lost Mine of Phandelver. How do I combine it with Dragon of Icespire Peak
- I’m using Dragon of Icespire Peak as a segue between Lost Mine of Phandelver and Rise of Tiamat, neee some help planning and foreshadowing it
- I’m using Dragon of Icespire Peak as a segue between Lost Mine of Phandelver and Rise of Tiamat, please help me plan and foreshadow it
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