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D&D 5E A brief rant about Rime of the Frost Maiden, farming, logistics, and ecology

I think part of it is people have a real problem understanding just how long you could survive on starvation level food levels. So long as you have water and heat, you could survive years on starvation food levels. Your farm animals are all dead, so, they got eaten. Pests and pets are now gone. The people are down to boiling boot leather for calories.

Survive doesn't mean in comfort.

I think it is fair to counter that though with a bit from the OP. He mentioned that the text says "the taverns are abuzz" which immediately raises some red flags if everyone is at the "boil boots for calories" stages of starvation. Especially in a place where that means guaranteeing frostbitten feet.

The story would be far darker if we were dealing with that level of starvation, and it seems the tone does not match with that idea.
 

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FitzTheRuke

Legend
Again, they probably want to leave it up to the individual tables as to just how dark we want to make our games. Some wouldn't mind a truly horrific game while others really want a pretty lighthearted affair (even in a nominally-themed horror game).
 

Hussar

Legend
I think it is fair to counter that though with a bit from the OP. He mentioned that the text says "the taverns are abuzz" which immediately raises some red flags if everyone is at the "boil boots for calories" stages of starvation. Especially in a place where that means guaranteeing frostbitten feet.

The story would be far darker if we were dealing with that level of starvation, and it seems the tone does not match with that idea.
Fair enough. Living that far north, stores could be more extensive, thus, the towns aren't quite at the end of the rope, just a few months away from it. Again, as I said, you can go a long time without full calories per day. It might be better to compare the ten towns to drought/famine stricken areas, rather than the year without summer.
 

cbwjm

Hero
I have tied some pcs to Ten-Towns. Some people have paid 5GP for rumors. I give them the rumors on slips of paper. Those rumors also go on to the Facebook write up, and the big map. Currently my messenger feed is dinging at me. They are plotting on taking over the gem mine. Current plan is to murder the mine owner. Use the kobolds as slaves. Feed them using the cauldron of plenty. Some players do want to pay the kobolds some money. I have two counters to this but some of my players read this forum.
I read 5G and thought for a split second that people in Ten-Towns were blaming the weather on the new 5G network...
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
I think part of it is people have a real problem understanding just how long you could survive on starvation level food levels. So long as you have water and heat, you could survive years on starvation food levels. Your farm animals are all dead, so, they got eaten. Pests and pets are now gone. The people are down to boiling boot leather for calories.

Survive doesn't mean in comfort.

That's not the situation that's described in this book. Life is way too normal.
 

p_johnston

Explorer
You have some good questions there but do you honestly think the DM or players isn’t capable of answering them...

... Why now (Stores have run out)

... why not 2 more years (...Stores have definitely run out?

... Why don’t people leave (When people have always lived here and leaving involves heading out to unknown monstrous lands surrounded by blizzards and no food? would you take your kids into that? Or bunker down and hope for the best?)

... How did PCs get there (Sounds like a classic question for the PCs not the DM)

... Why turn to sacrifice ( ... No... Really... Stores have run out)

... Why have we not fixed the problem before (Escalation or the fact that the PC was alone. Again it sounds like a question for the PC not the DM)

... Why doesn’t Drizzt help? (It’s a big world and Drizzt travels)

... Why is Auril acting now and why in IWD (Why did Lolth orchestrate the Silence? Why did Bane steal the tablets of date? Why did shar create the shadow weave? To build personal power and further set goals. She wants to freeze life in ice - harder to do where there is no life. She also has followers in the area. Create an icy stronghold.)

Those are some of the easiest questions I’ve seen to answer on this thread. Much easier than asking why the ave temp is -45 degrees C.
The problem isn't that the questions don't have answers that i can make up as a GM. The problem is none of the answers are present in the book.

To clarify i don't think most of those need answers either. My point is that a central question that most reasonable people will ask does not have any answer in the book. It isn't even acknowledge as something someone might ask which means that that aspect of the story failed.
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
The problem isn't that the questions don't have answers that i can make up as a GM. The problem is none of the answers are present in the book.

To clarify i don't think most of those need answers either. My point is that a central question that most reasonable people will ask does not have any answer in the book. It isn't even acknowledge as something someone might ask which means that that aspect of the story failed.
Do you not think this question and similar about how the PCs get there will depend heavily on the PCs. There is a whole section on backgrounds and secrets to get PCs involved.

Do you really think the story has failed?
 

pukunui

Legend
That's not the situation that's described in this book. Life is way too normal.
I think that’s because they want it to double as an Icewind Dale campaign setting as well as an adventure, so they’ve written locations to be as generic as possible so people can use them in their own adventures with minimal effort if they want to.

It tracks with previous 5e adventures. They’re all meant to be pretty cut and paste.
 
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p_johnston

Explorer
Do you not think this question and similar about how the PCs get there will depend heavily on the PCs. There is a whole section on backgrounds and secrets to get PCs involved.

Do you really think the story has failed?
In regards to the pc secrets and backgrounds? Not really. I actually really liked the secrets for the most part.

My point on that particular question is that its one more way that the "two years of winter" makes the story make a little less sense, but not so much that it breaks the story in that case.

My point was that when something major doesn't make sense (how are the fish/yeti/trees/anything alive?) It makes people more likely to question other minor details (wait if its been two years why hasn't me/drizzt/mordenkainen done anything?)
 

I'm not sure I entirely get The Sword's point. But I think there is a salient point in there.

The question of the two year winter is something I see as very similiar to questions about the PCs, how they got to Icewind Dale and why. In fact, on an earlier point I made, I pointed to the fact that different solutions to the two year winter problem could play differently depending on the group and the characters, by focusing on different tones and themes to connect to those characters.

And, according to him, there is an entire section on the backgrounds and the secrets to get them involved in the story. There was a bit of effort to make sure that tie-in was solidly built.

So, since I see them as very similiar needs within the story (it is in some respects "why are we here" and "why does it matter" which are two major points in storytelling) then I think it is fairly clear why I see this as a lack. Again, the story doesn't fail without making up for this lack. Not having answers to these sorts of questions is very common in fantasy.

But generally, when these sorts of things come up in novels or movies, the expected answer is "you are thinking too much about this, just focus on enjoying the story the author is telling". The problem with this as a DnD experience is that we are the authors, even as players. And this sense that we are incorrectly "thinking too deeply" about the setting, the goals, the motivations, and the consequences of the world... is a little jarring for me. We should encourage deeper thought, I would expect, not treat this the same way we treat more passive media.
 


Remathilis

Legend
I think that’s because they want it to double as an Icewind Dale campaign setting as well as an adventure, so they’ve written locations to be as generic as possible so people can use them in their own adventures with minimal effort if they want to.

It tracks with previous 5e adventures. They’re all meant to be pretty cut and paste.
This is the right answer. The adventure is trying to fill two different objectives at the same time: it wants to explain a region as normally as possible AND to have the region be in the grips of a supernatural catastrophe to suit the horror elements. Which is why the towns feel simultaneously normal (buzz in the tavern) and on the verge of collapse (human sacrifice). It's what creates the whiplash of "why now?" even if it otherwise makes sense (and the jury is out on that.)

It almost asks you to pick one: the longer winter would push society to the edge of collapse and heighten the desperation, while the shorter extension of winter allows society to have carried on mostly as normal, with the winter acting as a coming threat. What people are saying doesn't work is that much normality at the point collapse should have happened.
 
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robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
But generally, when these sorts of things come up in novels or movies, the expected answer is "you are thinking too much about this, just focus on enjoying the story the author is telling". The problem with this as a DnD experience is that we are the authors, even as players. And this sense that we are incorrectly "thinking too deeply" about the setting, the goals, the motivations, and the consequences of the world... is a little jarring for me. We should encourage deeper thought, I would expect, not treat this the same way we treat more passive media.
This!
 




robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
This is the right answer. The adventure is trying to fill two different objectives at the same time: it wants to explain a region as normally as possible AND to have the region be in the grips of a supernatural catastrophe to suit the horror elements. Which is why the towns feel simultaneously normal (buzz in the tavern) and on the verge of collapse (human sacrifice). It's what creates the whiplash of "why now?" even if it otherwise makes sense (and the jury is out on that.)
This is where I think WotC is missing an opportunity. Instead of mashing up the big plot with the gazetteer they should be thinking of the adventure in two parts (similar to what they did with SKT, but not as poorly executed).

IMHO, the book should be broken into two parts - Icewind Dale and Rime of the Frostmaiden.

Part 1: Icewind Dale - Levels 1-5. Normal world. Here the PCs get immersed in the setting - they meet the locals, have light adventures, resolve personal quests. (Not some fast paced adventure to get them to level 5 - but allow them to settle into the setting, make personal acquaintances, that can be threatened/killed off later...). Make it very much driven by what the PCs are interested in pursuing.

Part 2: Rime of the Frostmaiden. Levels 6 - 15 (or whatever). Adventure world. Here the DM narrates the how the world has changed winter has blighted the land and the PCs (along with the rest of population) have been struggling to survive and desperation has set in. Cue adventure hooks to get the main quest rolling.

I think WotC is doing themselves (and us as DMs) a disservice by trying to go big from the get-go with these adventures. By splitting it in two they give us the option to either revel in the setting (from levels 1-5 and get the use of the gazetteer) and then move onto the main adventure, or air drop our PCs in at the start of the main adventure.
 



I live in Northern Ontario and we get -40 weather for stretches in the winter and a steady -20 to -30 Celsius(-4 to-22F) all winter... The people I play with actually know what it feels like to be out when it's that cold. We also know that -20 Celsius can be deadly cold if you're not prepared or out for too long.

I roll my eyes when I watch Game of Thrones and people are running around in the cold without mitts or hats for extended periods. "how does he not get frost bite on his ears?"
"How does one even hold a sword with bare hands, much less fight with one?"

So, some of these comments and suggested changes are valuable for me if/when I run this module. There's no way my players could 'suspend disbelief' if I told them it was a -50 blizzard, please make a dc 10 con check every hour. (This is probably an exaggeration since I haven't read the adventure, but you know what I mean.)
 

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