Reading over my travelogue deep diving the Paraelemental Plane of Ice AKA Frostfell, I began to see pieces that would make a great campaign. There are so many juicy tidbits to be gobbled up by an attentive DM and it makes a great backdrop for storytelling.
But, as with many elemental planes, it seems a bit dangerous for low level parties. So, it would make sense to start the adventure no lower than 5th but preferably 10th+. Now, you could obviously run the lower levels on the prime material leading up to the Plane of Ice. They could be gathering information and items necessary for the trip.
Clothing to protect from the extreme cold, a ring (or rings) of warmth and spells to aid survival are optimum. It might help to have a Druid or a Ranger in the party to help guide them. One player should AT LEAST have a high survival check.
Artwork by Wayne Reynolds
The Plane of Ice would be in line to the extreme elements of play in the Icewind Dale adventure with checks against the extreme cold, dangers of loosing your way and natural challenges like avalanches and blizzards. Travel may be slow and laborious at times. And, if you scale the icy peaks of the mountains there, you will need climbing gear and skill.
Now, this could all be part of the preparation (lower levels) of the adventure. Magic to warm you, gear to protect you along with developing skills that could save your party’s lives are paramount. A good bit of gold could also be your prep as one of the first destinations should be one of the few cities of refuge from the cold in this plane. For here is found markets for all the things you will need, but it may come at a higher price.
From ICEWIND DALE to FROSTFELL (Spoilers abound)
My campaign pitch harkens back to our group’s campaign in the Rime of the Frostmaiden adventure in Faerun’s Icewind Dale. The adventure book lays a nice foundation for you to use it for the whole story or pick bits and pieces as you see fit. Now, due to life and scheduling, our adventure ended upon the expulsion of Auril, the queen of winter’s wrath, from the Prime Material. But this juncture of the story is a perfect jumping off point for an adventure farther into the cold and, thus, the Plane of Ice.
Let me expand.
Your party (or what’s left of it) stand victorious in the former Frost Giant fortress of Grimskalle just before the castle begins to collapse around them. They should have acquired the McGuffin, The Codicil of White, which, not only contains spells and rituals dear to Auril, but also contains the ‘poem’, the Rime of the Frostmaiden, that allows them access through the ice of the glacier and a path to the ancient buried city of Ythryn.
If Vellynne Harpell is still among them, make sure she copies down the Rime (which a wizard in her position would) or, if she’s dead at this point, press the appropriate PC to do it. Why, you ask? Well, this Campaign Pitch begins with the theft of the Codicil of White, of course!
Now, you can handle this a myriad of ways:
- Use the rest of the adventure to continue the story, finish the plunder of the Nethril buried city and jump from there to Frostfell
- Use this juncture as a jumping on point. The party that stopped Auril are NPCs and the organization (The Zhentarim, The Harpers, The Arcane Brotherhood, another?) that is overseeing the cleanup brings your squad in to go after the Codicil.
- Your party that just completed fighting Auril waylays entering the ancient city and a task force from (fill in your organization here) is sent instead. This way you can keep that part of the adventure for later.
However you decide to proceed, your target is the planar theft of the Codicil, finding out who is responsible and what they want with it.
THE CODICIL OF WHITE
First of all, the Codicil of White is a tome dedicated to the worship and power of Auril, the Frostmaiden. It spent a great deal of time in the hands of her faithful aiding in the spread of the fear and reverence of her. It spent a brief time in the hands of nonbelievers where we get what description we have of the book.
It has been postulated that the Codicil was written by clerics of Auril as a primer on her worship, and on the uses of the cold in which the Frostmaiden revels– Pages from the Mages (Page 31)
The first page bears the black diamond with Auril’s signature snowflake (her holy symbol) etched upon it; marking it her holy book. The meat of the text lays out rites and rituals in the worship of the Winter Witch. One of the rituals lays out, in detail, the summoning of a Ice Para-Elemental. The text also includes the spells chill touch, shatter, gust of wind, wall of ice and a new one, Frost Fingers (an icy burning hands).
All that and the Rime could be the end of it, however, for the purposes of the adventure, you, as DM, can add whatever caveat you see fit. Why do I say this? It’s because of our reason for this quest.
Artwork by Wayne Reynolds
THE THIEF OF FROSTFELL
Either during the ongoing adventure or in a pre-adventure lore, the Codicil of White has been stolen. The thief seemed human. The only other piece of information the DM has to give is that the Codicil has been taken to the Plane of Ice.
From there the DM can weave the tale a myriad of different ways. My suggestion is that Cryonax, the Bleak Monarch, has found need of it. You may be wondering the connection between Auril and the evil archmental of Ice besides, well, Ice. They actually share a dream. In fact, if they could find enough trust to work together, the multiverse would be in danger.
That goal? Turn everything into ice and cold. Cryonax has plotted long and hard to overthrow the four major elemental archmentals and turn their domains into outer Frostfell. Maniacal? Yes. Delusional? Absolutely! But, given the right tools, even the impossible can may be achieved.
This brings us back to WHY the Codicil of White?
Above all things, the Codicil is a holy tome that comes from devotion to the Auril. Her goals are clear in her invasion of Icewind Dale and her attempt to turn Faerun, if not all of Toril, into a winter nightmare. This would, no doubt, get Cryonax’ attention. Her small bit of success would embolden the archmental to continue his research into the matter. And, I believe, as an added part of the Codicil, clues to how she did what she did could be found there.
It is stated in the lore that Cryonax has abducted genasi wizards and priests from all over the multiverse to study how to aptly use the cold in his war, not only with the archmentals, but the great white wyrm, Albrathanilar, there in Frostfell. This would be just one more research piece, especially, if the DM adds the ability to discern the magic behind the ‘unending winter’ from the text of the Codicil itself; Dissecting the text like a coded tome in order to take what Auril did and possibly amplify it.
Artwork by Wayne Reynolds
ARRIVING IN THE PLANE OF ICE
The best landing in the Plane of Ice is the floating city of Tiera Minuute. It is independent of Cryonax and most of the surface of Frostfell. It is a junction between this plane and, not only Faerun, but many points of the multiverse. From here you could, not only, travel from Icewind Dale, but connect to other Planar destinations also.
Tiera Minuute is also a market place where you can everything you need to survive on the actual plane. This includes a guide, if necessary. That way, if your party doesn’t have a great Survival check, you can hire someone to keep them all on track. But here, your party can get anything they need to travel the ice and snow below; warm gear, climbing gear, even magic. And some magic here is unique to the plane. Things such as magic words actually frozen and sold like scrolls and potions.
Artwork by Wayne Reynolds
There is no real limits to what you can bring to the story. As mentioned in the travelogue, you can storm the Chiseled Estate (Cryonax’ castle), petition the enigmatic Immoths, hunt frost salamanders with Azers, pick up a genie Qorrashi as a patron or find and free the mind-altering Sleepers deep under the ice. Each of those can be a part of the journey to retrieve the Codicil and stop Cryonax from expanding his kingdom.
Other things we may expand on that can be brought into your campaign:
- Thanatos, the belly of death, Orcus and the Last Word deep in his cold domain.
- The Abyssal layer, Soulfreeze, and its former elemental prince turned demon, Aseroth, the Winter Warlock.
- The Iron Wastes and Kostchtchie, Demon Lord of Wrath and Cold.
- Mephistopheles, ruler of Cania, eighth layer of the nine hells and his experiments on arcane magic and the nature of the planes themselves.
- Levistus, ruler of Stygia, another layer of the nine hells who Cryonax has already been attempting to release from his icy prison for reasons unknown.
Are we missing anything? I’m sure there are plenty more tidbits we can pick up from other frozen planes to either aid or stop Cryonax in his frozen tracks. We value your comments. Let us hear from you!