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

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I had a similar reaction when reading the intro....not sure what I'll do about it yet. Also, the dwarves should be quite established by this timeline, and be able to interact with the towns and give them food, but they apparently just ignore their plight?
 

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Yes. It's not that I have a problem with "winters that last for YEARS!" as part of a setting.

But if that very extreme scenario is going to be a part of the setting, it's going to have a massive impact on the world.

You can't portray a setting is more or less "generic Medievaland" and then throw in a huge twist like "winter for years" without addressing this major factor. I don't expect a PhD level treatise on farming and economics, but some level of effort needs to be taken to provide a rationale for how civilization keeps going.
To be fair, Europe suffered such a thing right before the French Revolution, and at other times before and since, and the ecology didn’t collapse, even way up north.

Maybe not quite as extreme as the temperatures described in Rime, but the basic idea is what matters, not the specific details.

A winter that doesn’t end, lasting all the way into the next winter, isn’t necessarily an apocalypse. Especially in a world that has magical ecology that is even more adapted to the cold than real world creatures can be.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I had a similar reaction when reading the intro....not sure what I'll do about it yet. Also, the dwarves should be quite established by this timeline, and be able to interact with the towns and give them food, but they apparently just ignore their plight?
Well, it’s 5e Dwarfs. Have you read Mordenkainen? Dwarves are evil now, and the world just pretends they’re good.
 

So yeah, its lazy worldbuilding when a creator says "Here's a really cool idea. Now lets ignore all of the obvious ramifications of that idea and pretend everything else stays exactly the same."
It is a module....you the DM build the world, the module is a set of IKEA Blueprints that serves as the inspiration.

Yes, IKEA Blueprints. 🤦

In a Gygax module you would probably get a random chart to roll percentile dice to determine the weather outcomes. Some results would be way too harsh, one result would be way too generous.

This ad hoc table from the module, invariably would conflict with a table that Gary already had in the 1e DMG, but you know...Gary just wrote the books...he didn't use the books.

Build the world you want.
 

Wasteland Knight

Adventurer
To be fair, Europe suffered such a thing right before the French Revolution, and at other times before and since, and the ecology didn’t collapse, even way up north.

Maybe not quite as extreme as the temperatures described in Rime, but the basic idea is what matters, not the specific details.

A winter that doesn’t end, lasting all the way into the next winter, isn’t necessarily an apocalypse. Especially in a world that has magical ecology that is even more adapted to the cold than real world creatures can be.
Europe has never experienced anything remotely similar to what is described in Rime of the Frostmaiden or alluded to in Game of Thrones. Never. We aren't talking about short summer/long harsh winter.

I think maybe the

no, it’s just different priorities from what you prefer. Nothing to do with quality.

I am personally glad that they don’t worry about stuff like this.

I see it's only page 2 and you're already backpedaling from your earlier "who cares" statement.
 

Wasteland Knight

Adventurer
It is a module....you the DM build the world, the module is a set of IKEA Blueprints that serves as the inspiration.

Yes, IKEA Blueprints. 🤦

In a Gygax module you would probably get a random chart to roll percentile dice to determine the weather outcomes. Some results would be way too harsh, one result would be way too generous.

This ad hoc table from the module, invariably would conflict with a table that Gary already had in the 1e DMG, but you know...Gary just wrote the books...he didn't use the books.

Build the world you want.

If designers want me to pay out some $$$ for their efforts, they should put in a little work. WOTC ain't giving it away for free.
 


Zaukrie

New Publisher
If this was "normal" winter, I'd agree it doesn't matter. But this is ridiculously cold and dark winter......I suppose we could come up with flora that grows in the cold.....hmmm.....
 

If designers want me to pay out some $$$ for their efforts, they should put in a little work. WOTC ain't giving it away for free.
Have you read Rime? It is easily, the BEST Official 5e module to date.

I enjoyed reading it. Other WotC modules I can not finish reading, due to disliking it so much.

Adjust the setting thermostat to whatever setting you want and get down to play.
Most Hotel rooms are set to too cold of a temperature, you adjust it.....or you can never leave your home.

Should we assume you don't get out much? 🧞‍♂️
 

Mallus

Hero
I guess I prefer a modicum of common sense in my settings, but clearly I'm not the target audience.
It's good common sense not to treat fantasy like it's moderately-hard eco sci-fi.

That said, great topic! I'm going to go the opposite route, though. Instead of making the Ten Towns more realistic, I'll leave the implausible elements as is, and simply create fantastical explanations for them.

For example: mead. "Why the mead's made from under-honey, which of course comes from cave bees that pollinate fungi common in the upper regions of the Underdark. Well, 'pollinate' is a bit of a misnomer, because the stuff's spores, not pollen. Also, it sheds ultraviolet radiation. But mead's mead, even when it's mildly hallucinogenic and possible tainted with evil. Not to worry, we have a priest bless each new cask, just to be on the safe side...".
 
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Mistwell

Legend
Just a preface to the following essay/screed/rant: I really like the adventure and I'm planning on running it and looking forward to a good time! But there is this one glaring thing...

Something that annoys me about the adventure is how blase people are about the situation. "Just another gruesome day in Icewind Dale" says the opening "read this to the players". No it's not! "The tavern is abuzz with talk of"... How can the taverns be abuzz? And how can it be on any topic other than "How are we going to survive the next week". The rest of the adventure reads like this is just a normal, if severe, winter, rather than the apocalypse ( and it IS the apocalypse, albeit a very local one). The locals seem to have an attitude of "Oho! Cold enough for you? Ah you weak southerner". But buddy, you're not surviving this either. I can see how the villages with pop of 100-200 might survive by hunting or ice fishing, but even then: After a year of winter, there should be no more fish: Not because the humans have eaten them all, but because the fish themselves have no food. Hunting and ice fishing is how they weather a normal winter.
It's the opening village in Moana.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
This tendency to exaggerate is hardly unique to this adventure. How many times have we had continuous, virtually unchanging, regime for 10,000 years? Do any fantasy maps have enough farmland? Not to mention the 10 monsters that immediately attack every mile or so outside the walls of any village.

Either adjust it to realistic values - last summer almost all the crops failed because it was so dim and dreary which is something that has happened - or ignore it.
 


Icewind Dale, AFAIK, was detailed by Salvator for his first book. The description of them shrugging off a rough winter is about accurate, as they're a tough and stubborn breed. The pass out of Icewind Dale is only accessible a few months out of the year, so long winters are very, very common. Depending on the timeline of the PCs arrival, this makes total sense. If the party arrives in what should be mid-summer, however, then you're correct that the ultra-long winter would be part of events discussed (the winter itself probably already ran its discussion long ago).

As for the ecology and economy, it's not really any different than ANY other wilderness settlements in RPGs. Civilized regions easily have enough farms to feed large cities, but as you pointed out, even a small town requires more food sources than are available. A village might have enough farming surrounding it, but that's as large as you could get.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Have you read Rime? It is easily, the BEST Official 5e module to date.

High praise (or moderate praise, depending on your evaluation of other 5e modules I guess). I haven’t read it cause I’m busy with Waterdeep and I don’t want to spoil myself if another friend and mine wants to run it, but I’ll definitely check it out after Waterdeep.
 

MarkB

Legend
For example: mead. "Why the mead's made from under-honey, which of course comes from cave bees that pollinate fungi common in the upper regions of the Underdark. Well, 'pollinate' is a bit of a misnomer, because the stuff's spores, not pollen. Also, it sheds ultraviolet radiation. But mead's mead, even when it's mildly hallucinogenic and possible tainted with evil. Not to worry, we have a priest bless each new cask, just to be on the safe side...".
Ooh, I like that. Now I'm imagining colonies of Myconid spore servant bees, creating hives full of honey that's delicious and nutritious, and only has a small chance of causing you to re-animate as a spore servant after you die.
 

pukunui

Legend
I won't get to run this adventure for some time (not even halfway through one campaign and only recently started another). That said, I too find the timeline implausible (and told WotC as much in my playtest feedback).

I know the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide isn't that popular, but it's one of my favorite 5e books, and it provides a handy summary of the events of the Second Sundering (the event that took the Realms from 4e to 5e). The book includes this relatively minor detail that I nevertheless have incorporated into every FR game I've run:
Throughout much of Faerûn, the winter of 1487 and 1488 lasted longer than any on record. The solstices and equinoxes had somehow drifted. Later seasons followed suit, with each starting and ending later than expected.

Rime is meant to take place in 1489 DR or later. I think, by then, people would have gotten a little more used to the delayed seasons.

So my plan is to start the adventure on what used to be midsummer. There was no spring, but people weren't too bothered by this because of the way things have been over the past few years: "Spring hasn't sprung yet, but no matter. It was late last year, and the year before that."

However, by midsummer, there's still been no sign of the sun, food is starting to running out and people are getting desperate. The Sundering and the Era of Upheaval are meant to have ended by now, so something is definitely not right. It's not just that summer is delayed ... it doesn't seem to be coming at all!

Furthermore, the Spy secret mentions the Harper spy, Beldora, who poses as a homeless woman on the streets of Bryn Shander. She is given more detail in Storm King's Thunder, as she is one of the playable NPCs for the Bryn Shander opening segment. In SKT, she possesses a sending stone that she uses to keep in touch with a fellow Harper based in Hundelstone, at the south end of the pass into Icewind Dale. Although Rime theoretically takes place before SKT, I'd say it would make sense that Beldora would nevertheless have brought the sending stone with her when she first went to Icewind Dale. That would mean there's at least one person in Icewind Dale who would know that summer has arrived elsewhere (and who could pass on the message to the rest of the world that things aren't right in the dale). But she wouldn't necessarily want to blow her cover by revealing that she knows this to just anyone. She'd look for allies who could spread the news for her.


As an aside, I also intend to just have cold resistance / cold weather gear grant advantage on saves. I did that when I ran Legacy of the Crystal Shard, and I did the reverse in the jungles of Chult with my TOA campaign. (I sure would not want to wear a suit of boiled leather in the jungle any more than I'd want to wear a suit of full plate.)
 
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Mirtek

Adventurer
At least in GoT the human civilisation did not evolve in such conditions. They evolved on the eastern continents and then slowly expaned in waves over the westeros, which back then was connected by land. It was after one particular nasty wave of human immigrants that the magical beings inhabiting the lands first broke them appart with a mighty magic and made them different continets to at lest stop more humans from just wandering over.

Doesn't explain the plant- and wild-life though, that should also be much different
 

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