Wayfarer's Icewind Dale - Rime of the Frostmaiden DnD Campaign log (SPOILERS)

Several GWJers have bravely consented to allow me to run them through the new Rime of the Frostmaiden campaign. This thread will serve as a record of these poor souls attempt to survive the frozen north.

If you are ever planning on running Rime yourself, please turn away! Massive spoilers lie ahead!

I REPEAT......HUGE SPOILERS IN THIS THREAD FOR RIME OF THE FROST MAIDEN....If you are going to DM this and want some ideas or are never planning on running it as a player then please join us for our weekly updates! OTHERWISE TURN AWAY!! ;-)

May Auril have mercy on their souls....

Oooh, I'm going to have to DM this for my group once we're done with Storm King's Thunder!

I'm assuming you're running this online? What software are you using? I've spent a lot of time learning and DMing in Fantasy Grounds since COVID.

Session 0 -

Icewind Dale has become trapped in a perpetual winter. Ferocious blizzards make the mountain pass through the Spine of the World exceedingly treacherous, and this land has not felt the warmth of the sun in over two years. In fact, the sun no longer appears above the mountains, not even in what should be the height of summer. In this frozen tundra, darkness and bitter cold reign as king and queen. Most dale residents blame Auril the Frostmaiden, the god of winter’s wrath. The shimmering aurora that weaves across the sky each night is said to be her doing—a potent spell that keeps the sun at bay.

Dalefolk live in a scattering of settlements known as Ten-Towns. The drop-off in caravans coming from the south and travel between settlements in this never-ending winter has left everyone feeling isolated. Although each town has resolved to appease the Frostmaiden with sacrifices of one kind or another, no respite from winter’s fury seems forthcoming. For adventurers such as yourselves, Ten-Towns is a place to test one’s mettle and, in the spirit of heroes who have come before, leave one’s mark on this frigid, blighted land.

The party arrives in Targos, each seeking working or connections in one way or another. They are all directed to seek out Hlin Trollbane, a retired shield dwarf bounty hunter at the Three Flags Sailing inn.

Three Flags Sailing is run by a gray haired widow named Ethen Yarbroul, affectionately know throughout Targos as "Ma". She fusses over the fisherfolk of the town like they were her own kids.

The first to arrive are a tall muscular Half-orc named Vath, along with a small and wiry young woman named Zinnia. Both have grown up in Ten-Towns, Vath working as a guard and Zinnia working with the whalers at the Sea of Moving Ice.

Next in is Iados, an odd half elf. Subtle shifts under his skin disturb nearby onlookers, and he has a strange habit of staring blankly into the distance.

Following is Nilanar, a very strange looking human woman, with the palest of faces and hair. She tends to make odd sounds at the weirdest of times.

Lastly, two forms appear at the door, one very tall but skinny Goliath and a stout dwarf with garb not normally seen in Ten-Towns. The Goliath, a local scout know as "Boom Boom" carries a staff that almost seems to be a living sapling, with green leaves sprouting from the top. It almost shifts in his hands. The dwarf, known as Thuran, claims to be a person of letters and history, in the area for reasons he has yet to disclose.

All are directed to Hlin Trollbane in the back, who offers the party a bounty of her own. Someone has been murdering people in towns that offer a monthly human sacrifice to Auril, the goddess of winter whose spell is perpetuating the endless Rime in the region. After each full moon a victim has been found with a dagger of ice in their heart. The victims had seemed suspiciously unconcerned about the lotteries which selected the human sacrifices. Hlin could not say who was responsible, but one of the few remaining trade caravans, Torg's, had been in each town during the time of the murders.

Hlin offers the party 100 gold to "deal with" the murderer without involving the local authorities, as the Speakers Council of Ten-Towns seemed unconcerned with pursuing the matter. The party agrees to her terms and she informs them that according to their normal schedule, Torg's traders should be heading to Bremen, nearby to the north east soon.

mrwynd wrote:

Oooh, I'm going to have to DM this for my group once we're done with Storm King's Thunder!

I'm assuming you're running this online? What software are you using? I've spent a lot of time learning and DMing in Fantasy Grounds since COVID.

Foundry, and hosting it myself. Really enjoying it after converting over from Roll20. I can do all kinds of cool things!

Man, I love Icewind Dale. I wish I had the time to commit to something like this. Have fun!

Session 1 - A Journey to Bremen

Our fortune and justice seeking group was given some advice by Hiln Trollbane. Go to Triglio's in Targo's as your gear doesn't look particularly suited to traipsing around Ten-Towns for an extended period of time!

Taking this advice they went and met the proprietor of Triglio's General store, a former fisherman named Jestin Hunrae who years before had mangled his hand when a boat collided with his fishing vessel. He showed the party a number of items that would make life on the frozen tundra quite a bit more "survivable", beyond just the cold weather gear they owned. Whale blubber inserts, and fur lining was added to a lot of their gear. Zinnia, having helped supply him in her previous job of whale harvester, was able to finagle a little discount for the group on the whale blubber inserts.

Satisfied that their gear was in much better shape (and their coin purses much depleted) the party set out on the snowed out road to Bremen. However as they were passing back by the Three Flags Sailing on their way out of town, a slender half-elf woman rushed out and ran up to them. She had been told by Hlin that the party was heading out to Bremen and asked if they could assist in her research.

She is studying elemental creatures of nature called "Chwinga's". They seem to have the ability to somewhat control the environment around them, and she is hopeful that maybe this ability could be put to use in easing the suffering Ten-Towns is going through with the climate of the Endless Rime.

Thuran, being a dwarf with scholarly training agreed to assist and she gave him a hooded lantern that she said would glow green on the outskirts of a town that had Chwinga's within it. She also promised a reward of 25 gp if the party returned with information about the creatures.

With that, the group set out into the cold wastes between towns. A heavy snow was falling, but Boom Boom leading the way with his new snow goggles on, was able to guide the group unerringly on the path. At one point they did hear the sounds of some strange creatures howling in the hills around them, but soldiered on.

That is until they hit a bend in the road and out of the underbrush a pack of starving wolves sprang for the attack! The brave adventurers fought the good fight, although Nilanar, proving to be a capable sorcerer, did not prove to be a capable chew toy for a wolf, and fell unconscious. The party was quick to save her however and finished off the beasts.

Not wanting anything to go to waste, Thuran with Boom Boom's aid worked to skin the beasts and salvage as much meat and furs as possible.

As the approached Bremen, Thuran took out the lantern of seeking, however no green light appeared. Evidently the Chwinga's were not in Bremen.

Finally arriving at Bremen, cold and tired, the party walked by what appeared to be the town hall, where an elderly dwarf with no shirt on wandered up to them. "DUGAL MY OLD FRIEND" the dwarf cried out to Thuran, who looked extremely puzzled. This went on for a bit before a flustered young man came chasing after the dwarf..."Speaker we must get you back inside...these are strangers" and led the confused dwarf away. The dwarf called out one last time as he was led inside...."DUGAL! LETS HAVE A BEER AT THE EVEN KEEL!" and vanished inside. The party looked at each other puzzled and moved on.

Finding themselves at the doorstep of the town inn called The Buried Treasures, the group met Cora Mulphoon, the extremely friendly inn-keep. Rooms were arranged for (which the exhausted Nilanar was grateful for, having been worn out by being knocked unconscious), and the wiley Zinnia bartered some of their wolf meat in payment for several days stay. They were told that Torg's actually had not yet arrived, but were due in any day now.

Having a keen eye for how people feel, Boom Boom was able to discern a deep sorrow in Cora, and after a bit of conversation drew out of her that her son, Huarwar, light of her life, was gone. Having gone missing during a search party to find the daft old speaker Shalescar (who they learned was the dwarf they met coming in) Huarwar was later found, clutching an odd piece of black ice. After this his personality became more distant and more mean, and he would not be parted from the black ice.

Then one evening two tieflings showed up, wearing similar shards of ice, but ornamented as necklaces. She could only remember the name of the female Tiefling, "Fel Suparra" and told the party how they had told Huarwar he had a grand purpose and should return with them take a place in their castle. She only knows of two castles in the area, Caer Koenig and Caer Dinneval, both on the north-east side of Lac Dinneshere. She tells Boom Boom that she would do anything to have her dear son back.

Finally getting Cora settled, she tells the party to take care as Bremens night of sacrifice, a sacrifice of warmth, was coming up the next night. She also tells of some shell shocked fishermen who had been in earlier telling crazy tales of some problem they had on the lake that day, and that they could be found at the Even Keel tavern.

With night growing cold, the party decided to get a quick night-cap at the Even Keel and see what these fishermen had to say. Moving in to the Five Tavern center, they found the run-down Even Keel and sure enough 3 shocked looking fishermen.

"It was horrific; a creature not of this age, a creature that belonged to a more savage time."

"Its neck must have been twelve feet long! Fins the size of oars and a tail as thick as a log!"

"It took a bite right out of Bill—just lifted its head from the water and ripped out a chunk. I only hope his final moments—he fell into the Maer—were numb from the cold."

"The beast capsized Rogera's vessel as if it were little more than a child's toy. I saw her sink below the surface, surprise glittering in her eyes… Then it darted in from below and she was gone. Just like that."

Returning to the Buried Treasures, the party enjoys a nicely prepared wolf-steak meal, a warm hearth, and cozy beds. Relaying the story they heard from the fishermen, Cora indicates that they might get more information from the dockmaster in the morning, and reiterates that she thinks Torgs caravan (who the party believes may be where the murderer works) should be coming to town in the next day or so.

To be continued.....

Party is now level 2

Session 2 - The Lake Monster of Maer Dualdon

The next morning the party wrestles with next steps. Cora explains that the primary food source to the towns around Maer Dualdon (the lake which Bremen is next to), the Knucklehead Trout, has been getting more and more scarce. Fishing boats and fishermen return with less and less catch, or sometimes simply go missing.

Vath, appears reluctant to go out to investigate, but the rest of the party agree to head down to the docks and see what they can find out.

Arriving at the frozen over docks, they find a grumpy dwarf named Grynsk Berylbore who immediately begins berating the group. Apparently, quite hung-over, Grynsk has mistaken the party for a group of fishermen that were supposed to be working for him. He yells as the group to get to work, and states the rate of 5cp per trout is still in effect.

The party notices some damage to one of the two rowboats Grinsk stands between. Iados, inspecting closer, sees what appears to be a half-moon cut taken out of the gunwale. Some of the damage appears exceeding clean as if done with a very sharp instrument. When asked about this damage, Grinsk says it is due to running into ice floes out on the lake obviously, and to stop asking stupid questions and get to work!

At this time the party hears steps running up to them on the dock and another bundled up figure appears and immediately begins fussing at Grinsk.

“You have no honor, Berylbore!” the newcomer yells, pulling down a woolen muffler to reveal a pale, half-elven face. “You’re sending these innocent people to their deaths. And for what, a few fish?”

“Pay no mind to this rambling fool!” says Grynsk.

“Did you tell them about the monster?” retorts the half-elf.

Grynsk curses at the half-elf in dwarvish (as Thuran can understand), and stomps away out of earshot, but not out of eyeshot. The half-elf sheepishly approaches the party and introduces themselves as Tali. A researcher studying the local animal life in Icewind Dale. They simply couldnt watch another crew fall victim to what is described as "some kind of lake monster". Tali had been studying the impact of the changing climate on the wildlife and had heard of many fishing crews, being attacked by some sort of creature. However with fishermen being fishermen, the descriptions of the creature varied wildly and Tali is looking for help in getting more accurate data.

After an internal discussion, where Vath once again states "I'm not getting on a damn boat!", the party manages to convince the stout half-orc that it really was worth investigating, especially with Bremen beginning to essentially starve to death with the lack of a steady food source. Vath finally lights up his last cigar and begins puffing furiously.

Iados agrees to take some notes for Tali, and they hand over a notebook for him to use. The party then splits up into the two rowboats, borrowing some of Grinsk's fishing tackle in case they are able to land any trout during their investigation.

Once out on the water Thuran attempts to guide the lead boat with the other following but they do find some challenges maneuvering around the large ice floes dotting the lake, occasionally grinding one boat or the other against the large floating hazards. Some of the group try their hand at fishing unfortunately with little luck.

They get about an hour and a half out into the lake, and Boom Boom, summons a fey Owl to scout around as he continues to row. Between his owl and some keen observers on the foggy, dim lake, the party sees an ominous ripple in the water moving straight at the boat with Boom Boom, Zinnia and Iados. The large ripple gets closer and closer, zeroing right in, and with a large eruption of water......a large knucklehead trout jumps over the boat, slapping Boom Boom directly in the mouth with its tail. Zinnia however, quite used to being on the water reacts with blinding quickness and snatches the fish out of mid-air, slamming it down to the bottom of the rowboat with vicious efficiency.

Beginning to chuckle at how jumpy they were, the party suddenly sees a massive eruption of water in front of the boats and a roar as a large serpent-like head on an extremely long neck appears! A set of large flippers splashes water on the boats and their occupants as the group looks on in shock.

IMAGE(https://media.dndbeyond.com/compendium-images/idrotf/7Av7Gi2DxDtdzZPt/01-006.monster.png)

The creatures eyes track back and forth between the boats and the group, almost immediately moves into action. Being barely within range of the front of the rowboats, only a few of our party can get close enough to attack with melee weapons. Nilanar opens up with a spell to make the creature more vulnerable to her spells, while Zinnia, at home on the water, leaps up to the forward gunwale, spinning around it while lashing out with her dagger at its neck, scoring some heavy hits. Boom Boom, not sure what to do in the middle of a lake on a rowboat, naturally turns into a brown bear, fortunately not capsizing the occupants of his boat.

The creature, hurt by the party's onslaught submerges, and all is quiet for the moment. Thuran begins ties a rope with a grappling hook on one end to his boat, in hopes of snagging the beast. The grappling hook swings at his side at the ready.

Suddenly a crunch sounds under Thuran, Vath and Nilanar's boat as it lurches, being struck from beneath. Nilanar is able to keep her feet, while Vath is thrown to the bottom of the rowboat. Thuran unfortunately, caught by surprise is thrown overboard, still clutching his rope (thankfully tied to the boat) into the freezing waters of Maer Dualdon. With that the creature re-emerges. The party, many having held attacks waiting for it to appear, unleash a volley at the beast, and a final eldritch blast from Iados, brings it down. As it dies its eyes seem to lock onto Iados for a moment, and the party clearly hears in common...."why...you...hurt....me...." and then the creature's neck collapses and its body, for the moment, floats at the surface.

Thinking quickly, Zinnia directs Thuran where to set his rope and grappling hook around the beast so that they could try to drag it back to Bremen. Lashing one boat to the other to add their strength together, the party is able to form a crude but effective towing system to the large carcass of the beast. They also do their best to help Thuran try to dry out a bit from his freezing bath.

Finally reaching shore after 3 hours of rowing, the tired group looks up to see Grinsk Berylbore waiting for them at the edge of the ice near the docks. Seeing damage to his rowboats from the ice floes he begins yelling at the group for "gross incompetence" until he finally notices the shape in the water behind the last boat, at which he immediately stops talking, and stands eyes bulging, jaw dropped.

Tali rushes down from the edge of town, as the party quickly haul the carcass of the beast up onto the ice in one deft move. Zinnia tosses her trout at Grinsk's feet and says "now how much is this worth" to which he mumbles "5cp per trout" in obvious shock.

Tali, overjoyed at being able to study the body of this creature up close asks to perform an dissection in a nearby abandoned barn, before the creature itself is used to help feed the town. Tali also gives Iados, who had written down some notes during the trip, a scroll of animal friendship, and all the money they had, 15gp, which Iados distributes to the party. As more and more townsfolk, seeing the commotion at the docks, make their way there, a crowd forms around the group (all keeping a safe distance from the unmoving but still imposing body of the creature). Thuran speaks up and gives a quick speech about how the town fishing fleet is now safe from what was causing the problems, and a small cheer goes up from the crowd.

Grinsk spying some of the fishermen the party had overheard the night before at the Even Keel, yells at them to get back to work and they immediately make haste to start fishing again.

Cora, also in the crowd comes up to thank the group and mentions that the caravan they had been waiting for, Torgs, had actually arrived while they were gone and were setup near the edge of town. She also reminds them that Bremen's night of sacrifice of warmth to Auril was that night.

Conferring among themselves the party hatches a plan. Hlin had given them enough information to know that the killer they were seeking was part of Torg's caravan, however they didnt know who it was. They did know that the person was attacking folks who flaunted the sacrifices to Auril, having killed 3 people who had apparently possibly cheated the lottery to see who would be sacrificed in Targos, Easthaven, and Bryn Shander. Hoping they could entice the killer out, they went by Torg's caravan where the leader, Torrga, a female dwarf was busy yelling at her porters and guards to unload and setup shop.

The party talking among themselves loudly, they spoke of how they didnt care about this sacrifice of warmth, and were going to go build a merry bonfire outside of town tonight, especially as some of their group were still suffering from a cold dunk in Maer Dualdon. With their story out there, they moved safely out of town, as Vath, Zinnia and Boom Boom being locals knew that the townsfolk would likely go nuts on them if they tried to light a fire in town during the sacrifice of warmth.

Setting up watches for the night, Vath and Zinnia confer about their different experiences with the Reghed tribes, nomads that wandered the icy tundra following the reindeer herds. Each apparently has a history with different tribes. Their watch concluded, Iados takes a turn, keeping sharp eyes out. Finally Boom Boom takes a turn, and eagle-eyed, catches a small fall of snow from a tree, evidently disturbed by someone at the edge of their firelight. He sees two ice-blue eyes before the figure, noticing it has been seen vanishes from sight.

To be continued....

Session 3 - Torg's Caravan

Boom Boom see's the blue eyes seemingly vanish from his view. Scrambling he wakes some of the group. Vath takes off running to the area where Boom Boom saw the form appear. A quick investigation ensues and they find footprints approaching the tree that was disturbed. The footprints seem to take one step to the north and then completely vanish. Backtracking the footprints, again, they seem to appear out of nowhere.

Vath runs northward scanning the surroundings, but after a full minute of running, sees nothing and returns to the group. The party, deciding there was nothing they could do at that moment, finished up their rest.

The next day the party returns to town to the site where Torg's caravan, run by a female dwarf, Torrga Icevein, had setup. A number of porters were setting up outdoor stands for a variety of essentials such as dried foods, furs, and other essential materials for the Dalefolk. There was already a good number of Bremen villagers browsing what wares Torgs had available.

Our party begins scanning the members of Torgs caravan. They find two guards among Torrga's crew, one Sephek Kaltro, a pleasant if somewhat off-putting man with piercing blue eyes. Sephek seems enamored of Auril, praising the Ice Maiden. They also find Taran Garhall, another guard who also unfortunately has blue eyes. Taran doesnt seem to care much for anyone, calling the Dalefolk soft and only good for the silver they pay. Sephek and Taran do not seem to get along much, as Torrga has to step in to cool rising tempers.

Boom Boom decides to try and speak with the sled dogs, to find out more info about the caravan. The dogs seem to be well cared for, and generally content with their lot.

While stealthily investigating some of the caravan sleds, the party finds the tied up corpse of a half elf who Vath recognizes as one Gwynder Tet. Usually found drinking in Easthaven and always swearing that he knew Good Mead's most secret brewing ingredients. Vath attempted to shake information out of one of the poor porters, who really didnt have much useful information to give them, and ended up only shaking out a little pee from the man.

They also checked in with Tali to see how the dissection of the lake monster was going, but Tali relayed there was still much work to do. They did confirm however that an examination of the stomach contents did reveals.....parts....of some Dalefolk.

Back at Torg's caravan Thuran looks to speak with Torrga, inquiring about the caravans recent history. There are attempts made at persuasion and spying, but all of these seem to come to no avail. They did learn that Sephek likes to hunt on his own at times. All of the members of Torg's are known to hit the bars hard after a long days work.

Finally, looking to follow the members of Torg's at the end of the day, Torrga, now somewhat taken with Thuran, invites him for a drink at the Even Keel. Once she had a few drinks in her, Thuran asked the question, what if someone roughed up one of her guards, to which she replied that they were family, and gods help anyone who messed with family...

Session 4 - The Cold-Hearted Killer

The party minus Thuran who had walked ahead with Torrga finishes up their interrogation of a now pee-drenched porter and begins moving back into town. The Bremen townsfolk who had been shopping at Torg's caravan begin moving back to their homes as the stands are taken down for the night. The party notes that there seems to be an air of almost festiveness around the town compared to the last night they were in town during the evening.

Following the guards from Torg's to the Five Taverns center, the group observes Sephek heading into one of the seediest taverns, Rivers Mouth, a true dark hole-in-the-wall compared to what they had seen of the Even Keel. Taran heads into the Even Keel. The party decides to divide up to track both of them, with Boom Boom and Nilanar heading to the Even Keel, and Vath, Zinnia and Iados heading to the River's Mouth.

At the Even Keel, Boom Boom and Nilanar spot Thuran and an evidently off-put Torrga at the bar, with the porter they had threatened whispering into her ear. She quietly passes the man her own drink and waves him over to the fireplace to warm himself. Boom Boom and Nilanar move to question her about the dead body discovered in one of the sleds, at which Torrga tells them was a valid bounty down south, and to kindly f#$% off. Also, to leave her people the hell alone. Using their keen insight, the group decides she seems to be telling the truth and backs off to a table in the corner.
They are surprised when a barmaid, brings them all a round of drinks, and a plate of pan-seared trout. "On the house for you folk who have done so much for this town! Food is coming in off the lake again!". As they enjoy the offered drink and food a semi-circle of somewhat awestruck townsfolk gathers around them, trying and failing to hide grateful stares. After enjoying their food and drink, the trio decide they should go check in on the rest of the group at River's Mouth.

At the River's Mouth, quite a different scene is unfolding. The troll-faced barkeep barks at Iados, Vath and Zinnia, "Order something or get the hell out!". They three order a round of drinks and spot Sephek sitting by himself at a dark corner of this already dark bar. No lights are lit near him, and he appears to be sipping at a drink and nibbling at a bit of food.
Iados decides he will take the lead and try to ingratiate himself with Sephek. He plops himself down at the table. Sephek seems completely unperturbed by this and continues to sip and nibble, seeming to relish every taste. Iados tries to steer the conversation around Auril, whom Sephek seems to hold in extremely high regard. He does tell Iados, "These fool townsfolk offer sacrifices to Auril, as is proper, but what they dont realize is she...just....doesnt.....care! They all have deserved what they got, none may cheat the Frost-maiden of her due."
After a bit of conversation, Iados tries to convince Sephek that he wants to sacrifice the others who didnt participate in the sacrifice of warmth the previous night, however Sephek does not appear at all convinced of Iados' sincerity. Sensing he has failed to talk his way into this man's secrets, Iados falls back to the rest of the group in another corner of the River's Mouth, and are soon joined by Thuran, Boom Boom and Nilanar. The group decides that this must be the man who has been committing the murders. He was there for all the murders, clearly had motive, and noone else in Torg's caravan really did. They know that Torrga will not be happy with them just assaulting Sephek in front of witnesses, and so decide to lay a trap for the man.

They wait outside of the tavern, River's Mouth being on the very edge of the Five Tavern center, certainly aided them in this. Sephek seemed to take his sweet time, for it was well into the evening when he finally emerges, heading towards the lake. The party springs into action, and Zinnia attempts to sneak up on Sephek, but accidentally bumps a wall and snow falls down on her alerting Sephek, who just smirks at her over his shoulder and continues on. Vath charges out of hiding and straight up tackles Sephek, knocking him to the ground. Sephek however is lightning fast and hops back up and begins running for the lake. Iados, pretends to be stumbling back towards the inn drunk, while moving to intercept Sephek, and Thuran wisely spots exactly where the man is running to...."Towards the docks!" Thuran yells to the group and the party engages in a fight.

Sephek manages to run out onto the lake ice and then turns to the party in hot pursuit and yells out "This land is doomed! For too long has its people failed to honor the Frostmaiden. Now is the hour of justice!" and summons a sword of pure ice to his hand. As the party launches into battle, Vath charges full speed at Sephek, only to realize at the last moment as he approaches the man that the ice cracking he is hearing is coming directly below his feet, as the ice he stands on breaks and he is plunged into the freezing lake. Spells crackly, weapons are weilded, Boom Boom transforms mid fight into a terrifying Ice Spider, spitting webbing at Sephek's feet. A bedraggled Vath hauls himself out of the lake. Nilanar unleashes a large blast of holy magic, and Zinnia, tired of hearing how awesome Auril is, slams a dagger up through Sepheks jaw into his brain, bringing down the man. As he falls, the ice sword drops from his hand and he slumps over sideways into the open water that Vath had exposed. Boom Boom's webbing holds his shoes and pants in place, but the limp body seems to shrivel and then vanish into the freezing dark waters of Maer Dualdon.

The cold-hearted killer of Ten Towns had been slain.

Session 5 - A Fight on Thin Ice

The party returns from their fight with Sephek on the edge of the frozen lake Maer Dualdon, and heads back to the Buried Treasures tavern. Cora the inn keep, greets them with food (more trout) and a warm fire in the hearth as the group settles in for the evening.

Before heading off to bed, Vath pulls out a well worn book called "All Giants Great and Small" and calls Boom Boom over. He is looking for help in learning the giant language. It seems he has been studying this book for a while and has learned a great deal, but has some gaps in his knowledge. Boom Boom is happy to read a few chapters with him, pointing out some mispronunciations Vath had and explaining some words he didnt quite understand.

Iados calls the group together to decide on next steps, and it is generally accepted that returning to Targos for their reward from Hlin Trollbane would be a good next step. The party retires for the evening, stashing Sephek's ice sword in a snow drift outside.

The next day dawns and the party begins to prepare to leave town. Thuran questions Cora about Speaker Shalescar's mental condition. "Was he always this bad? Has anyone tried to help him?"
She let's Thuran know that this was something that had been getting worse over the course of many years. Even Mishann, a cleric of Lathander who ran the temple in Bryn Shander had tried to aid the aging speaker a few times, without much result. "I think it's just old age creeping in on the poor man" Cora says, shaking her head sadly.

With that, our group grabs Sephek's ice sword from hiding and heads back to Bremen with Boom Boom leading the way, and Vath and Thuran aiding him. The party is able to make an easy go of it this time as the weather has improved, and in a few short hours, they find themselves back in Targos, heading to the Three Flags Sailing inn, where they are welcomed in by the always cheery figure of Ma. They spot Hlin Trollbane in her usual spot near the back talking with a few figures, who she waves away as she notices the party's entrance.

Vath tosses Sephek's Ice sword onto the table in front of Hlin and says "it's done". Hlin's eyes go wide as she gestures to them to sit. "Who was the culprit?" she asks of the group and is told Sephek Kaltro was who they had determined had been the murderer. At this she smiles wide, nodding slowly. "I thought as much, he was my prime suspect, but I didnt want to influence your investigation. I am very pleased that you confirmed what I had long suspected and arrived at that decision independently. Job very well done and contract closed." With that she reaches into her cloak and deposits a bag of promised coin in front of the group, who divide it up amongst themselves.

The party asks her about possible other jobs she might have, and she tells them, while she doesn't have any work at the moment, Bryn Shander, the largest of the Ten Towns, would be a good place to check in. "Go to Northlook Tavern" she tells them, "lots of work for those with the skills you have demonstrated here to be found around there." Thuran also asks about who is in charge of Targos and is told it is a human named Naerth Maxildanarr. Hlin tells him that Naerth has been speaker for several years and seems to have his fingers in everything in Ten Towns. He stays at the Luskan Arms in Targos.

With that the party heads out of the tavern, as Vath wants to find smithing tools to purchase. As they step out into the street, the party notices a large dog running down the street, barking at people left and right, seeming to try to get their attention. It finally runs up to the group as they exit the Three Flags Sailing, barking up a storm. Boom Boom decides a conversation would be a good idea and quickly casts Speak with Animals and gently steps forward to the barking dog. The frantic barks suddenly become words in his mind.
"Buddy missing! Best friend not come back! Help! Help!"
Boom Boom converses with the dog and seems to get the gist that this was the leader of a sled team, whose master had gone missing. The other members of the "pack" were still lashed to the sled, but this one had managed to break free. He also gathers that this dogs "buddy" had his own friend in town, and Boom Boom asks the dog to take them there. The group runs after the excited animal who leads them to an area of town with fairly well-built but dense homes right on top of each other.

The dog runs up to one door, whines and scratches at the door. Vath tries to open the door, but it is locked. Zinnia, drops back to see if any guards are watching while Vath, clearly seeing the obvious next step as kicking down the door, proceeds to kick open the door with one decisive blow. Zinnia fortunately does not see anyone resembling a guard nearby.

The dog runs into the home and up a staircase barking frantically. Boom Boom chases him inside and up the stairs as he hears a startled shout from above, and halfway up the stairs sees a handsome man in his 30s appear, clearly shocked to see a large goliath running up his staircase.
"Who are you?? How did Boy get back here without Garret??"
A quick conversation and introduction ensues, and the party, with Boom Boom translating for "Boy" the dog are able to piece together what has happened. The man in front of them, Keegan, is married to a guide, Garret, and Boy is the lead dog for Garret's sled team. Garret had been hired several days before by a group of adventurers to lead them up to Kelvin's Cairn, a solitary mountain north of the Dwarven Valley. Keegan did not know the details of what the group was after, just that Garret had told him it was a well paid job.

"My husband is an excellent outdoorsman. I am sure he must still be alive, but for Boy to run all the way home seeking help is not a good sign. Please, i cannot offer much, but if you help me find my Garret I will hire two sled teams to get you to Kelvin's Cairn as soon as possible."

He offers some of his scrimshaw art as a reward, and says he is friends with the proprietor of the Luskan Arms in Targos and can get them free room and board. The party considers this and decides to help the poor man. He tells them the two ways they could go would be either directly towards Kelvin's Cair, through the dwarven valley (directly across the tundra), or they could follow the roads around to the northern-most town, Caer Konig, where Garret was to have stopped to stock up his expedition before going on to the mountain.

The group decides the direct route would be best, and Garret begins making frantic preparations. While this is happening, Vath goes out to purchase the smithing tools he was after, costing him most of the gold he had earned, and Thuran decides to go to the Luskan Arms to see if Naerth Maxildanarr might be around. He meets someone tending to the front desk at the Inn, a well dressed well spoken man as this seems to be a nicer establishment. However he is told that Naerth is out travelling currently to Bryn Shander, and isnt expected back for a few days. Thuran leaves his name and a message stating he wishes to talk with the speaker.

With that done the party sets out across the tundra on well stocked sleds and two eager teams of dogs. Boy, not to be left behind seems to insist on leading one of the sleds himself, seemingly eager to find his friend Garret.

The party is hit by a blizzard a few hours into their trip, but with Boom Boom leading the way, seem to get through the storm with little delay. An hour or two after the storm clears however, the party notices a strange pulsing purple light over the next hill. Cautiously they stop the sleds, and Boom Boom summons a snow owl to scout ahead.

What he sees is carnage. Bloody dead bodies spread across the snow with hyena's seemingly gorging themselves on the kill. At the middle of this is a single dog-like creature, seeming to chant as a swarm of flies and purple light swirl around him.

IMAGE(https://i.pinimg.com/originals/84/22/33/842233d56958d539fa416ab56e3c399f.jpg)

Relaying this to the group, they all decide to charge in and a fight ensues. Quickly focusing all of their deadly abilities on the large Gnoll in the middle of the swarm, the party is able to bring down the beast, and the swarm of flies and purple light winks out of existence. All of the hyenas immediately stop their unnatural gorging (even for Hyena's they were way too single minded) and all attack the party.
Working together, the group was able to take down all the creatures one by one, until only our party remained standing. Breathing heavily, they take in the gruesome sight around them of the dead bodies of a human warrior, an elf archer, a dwarf priest and a half-orc wizard. Zinnia checks the human but finds he does not match the description they were given of Garret, who was described as a bearded middle aged man.

To be continued.......
Party is now level 3

I like this version of D&D. I just have to read and I gain levels ;P

I wonder if that would work with classics like War and Peace, A Tale of Two Cities or the Canterbury Tales?
I may even be able to finish Lord of the Rings...

Session 6 - A Mountain Climb

After the encounter with the Hyena's and Gnoll, the party searches the bodies of the slain adventurers and finds a few items of note, including a spellbook and an ivory mask on the priest. They quickly gather the fallen into a pile and Iados creates a bonfire to try to give them a respectful passing into the next life. Thuran says a few brief words of comfort and the group continues their journey to Kelvin's Cairn.

They finally reach the opening of the Dwarven valley. The party takes note of what look like dwarven footprints leading to a number of tunnel entrances dotting the walls of the cliffs on either side, but see no signs of the Shield Dwarves they had been told lived in this area.

Making better time, the party travels the length of the Dwarven valley, and as the dim daylight of Icewind Dale wanes, they finally spot Kelvin's Cairn. With daylight gone, the party worries about whether they can find the base-camp that Garret supposedly always setup before an ascent. However the dog "Boy" proved invaluable once again and leads the group directly to the abandoned camp. Once there the party finds an overturned sled with 5 very cold and miserable dogs still tied to their harnesses. One crate of food nearby is broken and empty and evidently kept the dogs alive.

After a short debate, the party decides to make camp here and after a discussion between Boom Boom and Boy, decide to free the dogs, who immediately take off towards Caer Koenig, the closest town where they knew Garret and party had stopped to provision themselves. At the end of a successful long rest, Vath pulls out a different book, large with ancient giant script printed on it. He carefully inscribes 2 runes on his axe and armor, and satisfied with the work, prepares for the day.

The party begins the ascent of Kelvin's Cairn, and as a safety measure, ties themselves together with 2 lengths of rope. Boy helps guide them, which is good as regular snows have wiped out any traces of footprints from the lost expedition. As they get to an evidently clear portion of the mountain, the group hears an ominous crack and then a low rumble that grows in power....a wall of white appears to be rushing towards them from above...AVALANCHE!! The party scrambles to run.

IMAGE(https://funkydesk.files.wordpress.com/2021/01/avalanche.jpg)

Boom Boom turns into a Dire Wolf and dashes ahead. Zinnia, light on her feet is also able to quickly dash away. The party as it begins to scramble spots a boulder that might offer cover to one person, and Thuran (with his stubby legs) opts to hide behind it. The rest of the party are able to run out of the way of the moving tide of white before it covers Thuran's position.

Once things settle down, Vath rushes out to the area he thought Thuran had been in, and begins frantically digging as quickly as he can, and almost immediately finds the top of the boulder that he believes Thuran had hid behind. Boom Boom in Dire Doggy form assists in digging out the chilled dwarf, and in short order he is recovered from the snowy embrace of the mountain.

Continuing on, the party moves forward, and soon Boy, barking joyously, leaps ahead. They find a very cold, very injured Garret, who Boy is covering with doggie kisses. Garret informs the party that the expedition had been set upon by Yeti's, and he had distracted them while the party ran away further up the mountain. However, they had hurt him fairly badly during his escape, until they finally gave up the chase. The party helps stabilize the hurt man, and just at that time, two giant crag cats leap from the shadows surprising our heroes.

A quick but vicious fight ensues, with Boom Boom in Dire Wolf form and Vath tanking the large beasts. The runic inscriptions on Vath's weapon and armor light up as he binds one cat with chains of fire, and redirects a deadly strike from the other cat onto the one he was fighting. Nilanar finishes the fight, calling down necrotic energy onto the last cat with an earth shaking "boop".

Providing a bit of healing to Garret, he begs the party to help save the group he was guiding up the mountain. He promises half of his fee to the party (basically all of his profits) if they will aid him in finding his lost charges. He tells them they were :

Mokingo, a male goliath warrior that was determined to find the mythical Oyaminartok to test his mettle against her

Perilou Fishfinger, a female lightfoot halfling, Mokingo's stalwart companion

Astrix, a female tiefling who mumbled and swore a lot

Garret tells the party that this group had confided in him that they were sent to Kelvin's Cairn by some red wizard, to search for what they called "secrets".

The party agrees to help, and prepare to continue up the mountain.

To be continued....

Session 7 - Frozen Blue Boots
(abbreviated recount)

The party continued their climb and discover a cave entrance. Winding their way in and avoiding a treacherous looking ice bridge they find the remains of the goliath, and several heads in rough hewn alcoves carved into the cave wall. They continue on and round a bend and come face to face with a Yeti tyke batting a crying halfling around the room.....with momma Yeti looking on proudly. Seeing the party, momma roars in anger with the tyke seeking shelter on her back. Our party gets aggressive and moves to attack. Momma defends her tyke and suddenly from the cave entrance poppa Yeti appears and begins mauling the squishy Iados that was hanging back.

A fight ensues with the very durable Yeti momma, but suddenly, her eyes go white and Nilanar summoning two glowing balls of radiant energy in each hand fires at both momma and poppa yeti. The strike against the momma seems to be overpowered, and turns her.....and her Yeti tyke clinging to her back to ash. The other strikes true to poppa who goes even more crazed. The party is able to save Iados from a worse fate than being knocked unconscious fortunately.

The halfling grateful for her life being saved, says that the goliath was ripped to shreds, but she thought the remaining tiefling had headed further up the slope of the mountains when the Yeti all attacked. The party investigates, but only find her frozen body, glumly staring at the frozen headless body of an unknown dwarf in blue boots close to the top of Kelvin's Cairn. Clearly she had nowhere else to run and had given up.

Gathering everyone together, our group heads back down the mountain, with daylight beginning to wane. They make it down safely and decide to head to the closest town, where Garret had geared up for the ascent, Caer Konig.

As the party makes their way through the deepening twilight between Kelvin's Cairn and Caer Konig, they enter a forested area and are jumped by two seemingly crazed barbarians screaming deliriously, and waving weapons that seem to be made out of some kind of blackened ice. The party acts quickly and manages to down the crazed foes, and some seem to recognize traces of the Reghed tribes on them. Although their attitudes were far from what some knew to be normal behavior.