D&D 5E Rime of the Frostmaiden Post-Mortem (Spoilers)

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
The terrible thing about it is that Auril is not coercing anybody - not according to the adventure that I can find anyway. It's not said that her agents (or she herself) is requesting it. It's just happening, apparently for no reason. It isn't proven to be effective. It's completely random. It is even rumored to be rigged.
This is an evil institution.
Well, there's no explicit quid pro quo. But if you're suffering a disaster of titanic proportions being visited on you by a mean goddess in a bad mood, are you not going to at least try to propitiate her?
 

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Retreater

Legend
Well, there's no explicit quid pro quo. But if you're suffering a disaster of titanic proportions being visited on you by a mean goddess in a bad mood, are you not going to at least try to propitiate her?
Well, okay. Yeah, you'd do something. But when the module writers jump to that something being ritualistic murder and human sacrifice, that's quite a leap.
Several of the towns are offering food or fuel. I think that is enough to convey the desperation and hopelessness of the situation rather than killing people at random. Especially when the adventure doesn't give you any more details about why, how, who, etc., is behind the sacrifices.
It's a very instant red herring - the party is going to be suspicious (to say the least) of any town that is killing its citizens - especially when other towns are not going to such extremes.
"I guess they just like killing the people in Village Y, even though the people in Village X are getting by with burning firewood."
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Well, okay. Yeah, you'd do something. But when the module writers jump to that something being ritualistic murder and human sacrifice, that's quite a leap.
Several of the towns are offering food or fuel. I think that is enough to convey the desperation and hopelessness of the situation rather than killing people at random. Especially when the adventure doesn't give you any more details about why, how, who, etc., is behind the sacrifices.
It's a very instant red herring - the party is going to be suspicious (to say the least) of any town that is killing its citizens - especially when other towns are not going to such extremes.
"I guess they just like killing the people in Village Y, even though the people in Village X are getting by with burning firewood."
Just like killing people or are bearing a disproportionately heavy burden of appeasing the goddess because they are better equipped to do so?
 

I mean, is it illogical to find random human sacrifice an abhorrent idea that should be stopped by heroic characters?
We're talking ritualistic murder.
How in the world is this acceptable among the posters on here?
I find the death penalty abhorrent. But that doesn't mean I'm going to invade Texas in order to stop it.
 

Retreater

Legend
We're clearly at an impasse in this thread. I think that the human sacrifice element is an evil action on the part of the towns, a red herring to the real issue, and poorly developed by the module writers. Some others in this thread, this doesn't bother them at all.
I don't want to keep beating this dead horse. For my part, I'm ready to move on to the myriad other discussions about this adventure, and how it is the worse 5e campaign I've run in the past year.
 

Retreater

Legend
I find the death penalty abhorrent. But that doesn't mean I'm going to invade Texas in order to stop it.
If you were a heroic adventurer, and they were pulling names out of hats to determine who to kill, people were trying to flee for their lives, there were hints of corruption about the process, and you had access to fireball, ... maybe you'd be tempted?
 

If you were a heroic adventurer, and they were pulling names out of hats to determine who to kill, people were trying to flee for their lives, there were hints of corruption about the process, and you had access to fireball, ... maybe you'd be tempted?
The conquistadores thought they where heroic adventures when they were abhorred by the Aztec's human sacrifices. So they killed all the Aztecs.

I don't think that was a victory for the good guys.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
If you were a heroic adventurer, and they were pulling names out of hats to determine who to kill, people were trying to flee for their lives, there were hints of corruption about the process, and you had access to fireball, ... maybe you'd be tempted?
So, if you were Galen in Dragonslayer, you'd kill the town leadership instead of the dragon? That's heroic...
 

Retreater

Legend
So, if you were Galen in Dragonslayer, you'd kill the town leadership instead of the dragon? That's heroic...
Haven't seen it, so I can't comment directly.

The conquistadores thought they where heroic adventures when they were abhorred by the Aztec's human sacrifices. So they killed all the Aztecs.

I don't think that was a victory for the good guys.
I think it's okay to be horrified by the actions of both sides in that case.
 

Irlo

Hero
"I guess they just like killing the people in Village Y, even though the people in Village X are getting by with burning firewood."

A few last comments in summary, and then I’ll let it go.

1) Yes, agreed, the adventure could use a human sacrifice sidebar.

2) You seem to be resistant to the themes of the adventure, at least in the way you envision the NPC motivations. No one should be as lackadaisical and uncaring as you suggest.

3) Watch one of those old Twilight Zone episodes where the reasonable, friendly neighbors get into fights about bomb shelter access during false alarm nuclear strike warnings. Desperate people do unreasonable things.

After this conversation, I’m almost tempted to run the adventure, but then I remember everything about it that I didn’t like. And my players would hate the parts that I do like.
 

edosan

Explorer
Interesting, for me I've found it varies a ton. There are adventures I've totally happily run "out of the book" (albeit no WotC ones!), and there are adventures I've had to read, make notes on, re-plan, re-read, make further notes, add and alter sections, and so on to the point where I could easily have written an adventure the same size in a fraction of the time.

So what adventures did you find easy to run as-is? I'm needing something else and it sounds like RotFM isn't for me...
 

pukunui

Legend
So what adventures did you find easy to run as-is? I'm needing something else and it sounds like RotFM isn't for me...
Of the 5e adventures, I found Lost Mine of Phandelver to be the easiest to run with minimal prep.

Storm King's Thunder and Tomb of Annihilation are also fairly easy to run without much prep. Maybe also Curse of Strahd.

If you don't mind old school, kick in the door, kill all the monsters and take their stuff adventures, I'd recommend Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage. Unlike just about every other 5e adventure, it literally has no plot / story. It's just a series of dungeons waiting to be explored. I'm currently running it for one of my groups, and they are finding it to be a breath of fresh air, as they really don't need to remember much from one session to the next. There are a number of quests for them to complete but no ongoing story as such. I've been doing the bare minimum of prep required and the players are having a blast creating their own story as they go.
 

Retreater

Legend
So what adventures did you find easy to run as-is? I'm needing something else and it sounds like RotFM isn't for me...
Here's my list of the official adventures I've run, ordered by how much I had to adjust them to work for my groups and style (ranked from less adjustment to most).
1. Lost Mines of Phandelver (didn't have to change much at all in this one)
2. Hoard of the Dragon Queen (my first 5e adventure; I didn't know to change it; complete railroad; would run it differently if again)
3. Tales of the Yawning Portal (I picked and chose what I want to run from this one. Didn't have to change a lot from the adventures I ran. I cut out a couple encounters - mostly puzzles - just because I couldn't wrap my mind around the solutions.)
4. Curse of Strahd (added a bit of extra content in keeping with the original 2nd edition campaign setting, but otherwise, as-is)
5. Tomb of Annihilation (required dropping a lot of clues of where to go that weren't in the adventure, and had to eventually montage through the hexcrawl because we'd never finish the thing)
6. Princes of the Apocalypse (worked basically fine as-is; I ran it more episodic than the adventure was written)
7. Waterdeep Dragon Heist (not a statement of quality; it more or less works as written - I just don't care for it; I added a few scenes and expanded the city of Waterdeep to its 2nd edition level of detail)
8. Out of the Abyss (mostly worked, but really re-worked the NPCs at the beginning and had to try to force the party to stick with it after the midpoint where they can leave the adventure)
9. Dungeon of the Mad Mage (really just presents a skeleton of an adventure; mostly a big empty dungeon. I "walled off" so many boring passages and rooms just to allow the group to find something fun. Otherwise there were entire sessions of empty rooms and corridors.)
10. Rime of the Frost Maiden (directed the group every step of the way; completely revised the point of the wilderness dungeons to link up to Auril's plan; ended the campaign after the showdown with Auril)
11. Storm King's Thunder (after the weak beginning, the party didn't take the bait of the adventure - which honestly didn't make much sense to me anyway. Completely re-wrote the plot, encounters, and dungeon. Got to the point that I even re-wrote the rules to 5e to try to make it exciting and fun.)
 

Cruentus

Adventurer
I don't think Storm King's Thunder is a good recommendation. It suffers from the same issues as Rime and Hoard, and most of WOTCs 5e adventure paths. There are either things unexplained, dead ends for no reason, random wandering around the whole western part of the realms for no real reason, plot holes, and wasted time on basically useless side quests, etc. Having played in it (where the GM used bits of it to fit the narrative, and scrapped 80% of it, it worked, or he made it work), after reading it to try to run, nah. Too much work to have it be coherent.

Unfortunately, I find a lot of adventures to be the same way, from 1e all the way to 5e. They're overall useful for elements to draw from to build your own story or adventure path, or linked adventures, but its pretty much on you to either provide the glue to hold it together, particularly if you allow your players the freedom to decide what they're going to do, rather than nudge them along the "path". As soon as my parties start any adventure, they immediately ask a question, or decide on a course of action that is not covered by the adventure, or is a "false" rumor or a throw away line in a discussion with an NPC. But THEY want to follow that piece, or they want go west, rather than east.
 

pukunui

Legend
I don't think Storm King's Thunder is a good recommendation. It suffers from the same issues as Rime and Hoard, and most of WOTCs 5e adventure paths. There are either things unexplained, dead ends for no reason, random wandering around the whole western part of the realms for no real reason, plot holes, and wasted time on basically useless side quests, etc. Having played in it (where the GM used bits of it to fit the narrative, and scrapped 80% of it, it worked, or he made it work), after reading it to try to run, nah. Too much work to have it be coherent.
I managed to make it work just fine with minimal effort on my part. That being said, I did have players who enjoy a Skyrim-style open world, so they didn't mind the "aimless wandering" in the middle part (which really wasn't aimless at all, given that they were going on specific quests from the book the entire time). I also did not use the Great Upheaval starting adventure. I can see how that adventure would give players certain expectations that then aren't met during the bulk of SKT.

I set up my campaign so the PCs were agents of the Lords' Alliance. They got sent on a number of smaller quests around the Sword Coast until they were high enough level to be sent to Goldenfields to investigate their fellow agent's reports about giant activity. From there, they went on the various NPC-granted requests that took them around the North. I dropped in encounters with giants going about their tasks and drip-fed rumors and bits of foreshadowing as they went. When I felt they were ready to proceed with the main plot, I had their Alliance handler back in Waterdeep contact them and tell them to rendezvous with Harshnag outside Longsaddle.

The one thing I did change in SKT was to make it so Harshnag directed the PCs to collect the various giant relics first as tribute for the oracle. That way they'd only have to visit the Eye of the All-Father once. I had the dragon cultist airship show up while they were claiming their first relic.

The open-endedness of SKT ultimately worked in my favor - when the PCs got teleported out of Maelstrom to the wrong location, we ended up inserting a number of side treks involving them hunting down one of the other scepters that can be used to control the Wyrmskull Throne so they could free Serissa without having to hunt down Iymrith first. I ended up putting a scepter in the lair of the Xanathar and used that section of Dragon Heist for their attempt to sneak in and steal it.

It went very well. My players had a blast, and as a result, SKT is one of my favorite adventures ever.
 

We're clearly at an impasse in this thread. I think that the human sacrifice element is an evil action on the part of the towns, a red herring to the real issue, and poorly developed by the module writers. Some others in this thread, this doesn't bother them at all.
I don't want to keep beating this dead horse. For my part, I'm ready to move on to the myriad other discussions about this adventure, and how it is the worse 5e campaign I've run in the past year.
Could the impasse be through the mores of setting?

I am just asking. It seems like one group envisions the setting as modern-day moral, and the other as antiquated or mythologically beholden?
 

The terrible thing about it is that Auril is not coercing anybody - not according to the adventure that I can find anyway. It's not said that her agents (or she herself) is requesting it. It's just happening, apparently for no reason. It isn't proven to be effective. It's completely random. It is even rumored to be rigged.
This is an evil institution.
In the Forgotten Realms, the idea that someone could not know, or be confused about, what the gods demand makes no sense. If someone has doubts they could walk up to one of Auril's druids and ask them, and they have a direct line.
 

We're clearly at an impasse in this thread. I think that the human sacrifice element is an evil action on the part of the towns, a red herring to the real issue, and poorly developed by the module writers. Some others in this thread, this doesn't bother them at all.
I don't want to keep beating this dead horse. For my part, I'm ready to move on to the myriad other discussions about this adventure, and how it is the worse 5e campaign I've run in the past year.
There might be a case for putting a trigger warning on "contains references to human sacrifice".

But then Rime was marketed as horror, so I don't see why the inclusion of horrific things should come as a surprise.

The judicial burning of a convicted criminal is a much more painful, cruel and horrific death than that faced by Auril's sacrifices in any case. And that's illustrated.
 


Azuresun

Adventurer
One thing that would have made the sacrifice aspect work a lot better would have been if.....well, ANY of the quests other than a single starting one was related to them. And even that one isn't directly related to investigating the sacrifices, it's to do with a guy killing those who cheat their ways out of them. None of the quests involve....say, a beloved NPC being chosen as sacrifice, a PC's name coming up in the lottery, a family pleading for the PC's to save their beloved mother from death, a big revelation that Auril is turning the sacrifices into undead minions, a rebellion of townsfolk against this practice, a town suffering retribution for refusing to offer sacrifice, the one speaker who's a Zhentarim agent encouraging other towns to do this so that their citizens come to hate their leaders and he can swoop in as the saviour.

You'd logically expect something in the storyline to be related to this. The story just assumes the PC's will not only be okay with them but also utterly incurious.
 
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