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

They are broad on purpose, in part, because they do not assume to know a DM's table or the players sitting at it. I have never really seen an instance where it couldn't be run as is with no editing.
The issue arises in that many DMs want to edit. They want to make it theirs. Hence, the broad-brush strokes.
This. WotC deliberately try to avoid telling the players how to use the material provided, because different tables will want to do different things with it. It doesn't tell players "why are we here?" and "what are we trying to achieve?" because that is up to them.
 

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BenTheFerg

Explorer
This. WotC deliberately try to avoid telling the players how to use the material provided, because different tables will want to do different things with it. It doesn't tell players "why are we here?" and "what are we trying to achieve?" because that is up to them.
This maybe a factor.

However,
1. the failures in the internal logic of their campaigns (which Justin Alexander ruthlessly points out) plus
2. the lack of guidance on how to approach the sandbox / styles of approach for it &
3. Assumption in Rime that pcs will want to team up with the Arcane Brotherhood & a necromancer at that is... staggeringly poor.

Reminds me to an extent of Carrion Crown. In book 4 (I think), it is assumed by the author that a party of undead killers will help the vampires kill a creature who is killing them! The PCs wipe out the vamps, end of Bk4! Why do rpg campaign authors assume a certain action by pcs? Always a disastrous idea!
 

This maybe a factor.

However,
1. the failures in the internal logic of their campaigns (which Justin Alexander ruthlessly points out) plus
The logic is for the players (which includes the DM to find). Any why would a god be logical, or even comprehensible, to a human?
2. the lack of guidance on how to approach the sandbox / styles of approach for it &
D&D has never told players "how to play". That is why it has such a wide range of players.
3. Assumption in Rime that pcs will want to team up with the Arcane Brotherhood & a necromancer at that is... staggeringly poor.
You are making generalised assumptions about player moral codes. My players didn't have any problems with necromancy. But if they do, there is no requirement for them to team with the necromancer. Adventures provide stuff that might happen, not stuff that must happen.
 
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Retreater

Legend
I think that DMs have different expectations of what they want in an adventure. Should an adventure be a tight, coherent story? Should an adventure be a collection of sites with encounters?
Coming into Rime of the Frost Maiden, I didn't know that I should expect the latter. And by trying to follow the book as closely as possible, it just doesn't work. I realized late that I needed to augment the adventure locations with a plausible story and give the characters motivations. Rime didn't provide that sufficiently for my group.
The actual problems I had with it were things that I could've fixed easily - and hopefully this thread is shining light on those issues (the illogical weather, the disconnect with the sunken city, the anti-climax). If I were going to run it a second time, I'd know what to do better.
But the problem is that most DMs don't run an adventure a second time. It's just a lost opportunity. The only thing that can be gained from it is to share our experiences with other DMs so they don't make the same mistakes, which is the main reason I've been doing these Adventure Post-Mortems.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
The logic is for the players (which includes the DM to find). Any why would a god be logical, or even comprehensible, to a human?

Note that it said campaignS, not campaign. The Alexandrian has serious criticism of a number of WotC adventure, that go far beyond "the gods must be crazy". There are deep structural problems in these scenarios, and he's good at explaining what's wrong. God didn't write these campaigns, humans did, and some of them didn't do a very good job.

And he's not just a complainer - he fixes them.

Adventures provide stuff that might happen, not stuff that must happen.

Re that necromancer: Have you read this adventure? Because I agree 100% with you that adventures should be flexible. Buuuuut... is this campaign is, in this regard? I'm just operating from memory, I will have to check again later, but if memory serves... that flexibility, for that plot point, isn't really there (unless you change it). (I will check later and will apologize if I'm wrong about this detail)

And yes, we can, and SHOULD, change published adventures so they work for us. That is always the case. But the things to fix should not be WotC's sloppy scenario building. It should be things like "this adventure is in the FR, but I want it in my own world", or "one of my player has a serious phobia about drowning, so I'm going to remove this rickety bridge over river scene", or "orcs again? I'm changing this encounter". etc etc.
 

Note that it said campaignS, not campaign. The Alexandrian has serious criticism of a number of WotC adventure, that go far beyond "the gods must be crazy". There are deep structural problems in these scenarios, and he's good at explaining what's wrong. God didn't write these campaigns, humans did, and some of them didn't do a very good job.
The Alexandrian's entire philosophy is wrong. He is looking at the campaign books as if they are novels, not source material for a game. It's not up to the author to provide meaning, it's up to the players to find it.
And he's not just a complainer - he fixes them.



Re that necromancer: Have you read this adventure?
Yes, many times, since I have run it, and you can't run a campaign properly if you have not read it thoroughly several times.
Because I agree 100% with you that adventures should be flexible. Buuuuut... is this campaign is, in this regard? I'm just operating from memory, I will have to check again later, but if memory serves... that flexibility, for that plot point, isn't really there (unless you change it). (I will check later and will apologize if I'm wrong about this detail)
Yes, it perfectly flexible. If your psychotic players go "arg, a necromancer, kill it on sight!" there plenty of clues scattered about that could cause them to seek out Ythyn anyway, either to find a tool to dispel Auril's winter or in search of powah for themselves. Or they could just not go there at all. It's not a novel, it doesn't have a beginning, middle and end, leading towards an inevitable showdown with evil. Ythyrn is the last chapter because it's the highest level content, not because it is the location of some inevitable climactic battle.
 

BenTheFerg

Explorer
Note that it said campaignS, not campaign. The Alexandrian has serious criticism of a number of WotC adventure, that go far beyond "the gods must be crazy". There are deep structural problems in these scenarios, and he's good at explaining what's wrong. God didn't write these campaigns, humans did, and some of them didn't do a very good job.

And he's not just a complainer - he fixes them.



Re that necromancer: Have you read this adventure? Because I agree 100% with you that adventures should be flexible. Buuuuut... is this campaign is, in this regard? I'm just operating from memory, I will have to check again later, but if memory serves... that flexibility, for that plot point, isn't really there (unless you change it). (I will check later and will apologize if I'm wrong about this detail)

And yes, we can, and SHOULD, change published adventures so they work for us. That is always the case. But the things to fix should not be WotC's sloppy scenario building. It should be things like "this adventure is in the FR, but I want it in my own world", or "one of my player has a serious phobia about drowning, so I'm going to remove this rickety bridge over river scene", or "orcs again? I'm changing this encounter". etc etc.
Thanks Ancalagon

Exactly what I was saying.

Have read Balders Gate: Descent into Avernus; Waterdeep: Dragon Heist & Read & run Curse of Strahd & Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden. And have always waited for Justin Alexander to fix all the problems/ point out things needing fixing. Some I had already spotted, others not. Some solutions I came to myself, others have been more troublesome!

RotFM is full of problems. As said, fortunately the community have collectively solved them. But as agreed this should not have to happen. Yes, the gaming community should be offering extra bits/ filling out, side quests etc to build/ enhance the experience. But not fix inherent flaws.

Curse of Strahd worked fine, I just needed help fleshing it out/ getting a structure/ path through the material since no substantial guidance was offered in the book. Which is always a shame!

I don't think the other guy has read anything by Justin A. His 3 clue rule, etc! As if JA wanted players to reenact a novel 🤣

I still haven't worked out the last chapter in Ythryn. Need to do more research since the players have one more session in the Caves of Hunger. How to make it make sense..... oh well! Thanks for chipping in. 👍🏼
 

BenTheFerg

Explorer
The logic is for the players (which includes the DM to find). Any why would a god be logical, or even comprehensible, to a human?

D&D has never told players "how to play". That is why it has such a wide range of players.

You are making generalised assumptions about player moral codes. My players didn't have any problems with necromancy. But if they do, there is no requirement for them to team with the necromancer. Adventures provide stuff that might happen, not stuff that must happen.
Listen Paul

you clearly are happy with how WotC write their material.

Many of us though are not. We are giving a shared narrative/ point of view about these issues.

IF WotC were to
1) give guidance in their campaigns as to how to run their adventure sandbox style
2) to get rid of internal/ logical inconsistencies (which JA has pointed out in his blog - as well as how to fix them)
3) stop assuming player actions for the continuation of a campaign
4) make sure that the total of a campaign is greater than the sum of its parts
would you complain /stop buying their books?

Personally, if they improved on these things, I would be more likely to buy and then also use their material.

Justin Alexander's fix of Baldurs Gate: DiA and of W: DH are both massive - bigger than the original adventures - as in over 400 pages!! EG: Dragon Heist - the Remix; Descent into Avernus - Remix. They are great - but this should not need to be done. Great that he has - for free too - since he enables us gamers who want internal consistency in our games (since players will spot the lack of logic/ errors and raise questions)

You stated "You are making generalised assumptions about player moral codes"
Did you read what I wrote? This is exactly the OPPOSITE of what I said.
I am not advocating how to tell people to play their game. But take the issue of RotFM - the campaign assumes players will travel with Avarice, the Arcane Brotherhood necromancer - the writers in effect TELL the pcs this will happen but
1) it should never assume this
2) it offers no advice as to how the pcs will find Ythryn otherwise. Not one piece of solid advice - and ideally it should offer many possible routes forward. At points like this, I like JA's '3 clue rule'.
You somehow invert my criticism and claim I am supporting such ridiculous advice of players having no agency! And giving advice does not mean you/ other GMs have to follow it either. BUT for me, as a busy GM, clearly of low ability, I need such advice. You clearly are fine as you are.

Yes - by reading the book, a diligent GM will spot these problems and work on solutions - but with an expensive, professional campaign, all I am asking - and many others - is that WotC a) cut out the errors b) sandbox their games properly and do not assume player decisions/ actions/ outcomes - and instead offer alternative suggestions as to the way forward depending on different player decisions/ outcomes at the table.

Another point - I have to firmly disagree with you about Justin Alexander.
You stated: "The Alexandrian's entire philosophy is wrong. He is looking at the campaign books as if they are novels, not source material for a game. It's not up to the author to provide meaning, it's up to the players to find it."
Have you actually READ anything he has written? :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
1) he does NOT want games to resemble replaying a novel (like some games could be accused of) - far from it.
2) he DOES want the material in a campaign to be like source material, eg NPCs with motives, kewl locations, a living breathing environment in which things happen whether or not PCs do anything.
3) if you follow his blog, you will find that he offers advice on maintaining the tension between
A. narrative highs and lows, developing creative / dramatic tension &
B. sandboxing adventures, to give players options and agency - to avoid a railroad.
'Pure' sandboxes - in his - and my - opinion - can fall flat in terms of creating dramatic tension. Whilst some gamers like this approach - and I suspect this is where your sensibilities lie - from my experience, and the people I interact with, folks like at least some dramatic tension.....
One way in which JA encourages sandboxing is via the '3 clue rule' - as mentioned earlier - to give players multiple ways through a story (and offering them abilities to change the 'story' since JA is against fixed narratives - as he writes in 'Don't Prep Plots'.
4) Many of us gamers like there to be a story/ narrative 'out there' since too often we are tired and need a story to latch onto. Thus, not all players want to have a pure sandbox, as you seem to be advocating, since they lack the energy to create their own meanings/ narrative, and sometimes, without a clear story, it can be tiring / confusing to decide what to do/ what your motivation is as a player. Obviously this is not an issue for you though.

Honestly!

Anyway - I better get back to my work!!
 
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BenTheFerg

Explorer
Then don't buy it. Problem solved.

Then buy the stuff Justin Alexander writes instead since you think he is so brilliant.
Sigh.

You don't get what constructive criticism means it seems!

1. Folks who play D&D want WotC campaigns to be exemplary examples of the game.
2. And there are lots of great things about their campaigns. Great stories, art, lots of fantastic material. High production values. Lots of high quality art. That's why I/ others buy them.
3. But there are lots of problems with their material which they could avoid if they employed a better story editor. This is what many folks have been talking about!!!!

I do support JA on Patreon. And buy other help on the DMs Guild site eg from Eventyr Games.

& Paul - please don't tell me what to do/ think, thanks.
 

Sigh.

You don't get what constructive criticism means it seems!
I understand what constructive criticism is. Complaining that something doesn't do something it was never designed to do isn't constructive.

"I put my dishes in the washing machine and they all came out smashed!"
1. Folks who play D&D want WotC campaigns to be exemplary examples of the game.
No. That's what YOU want. It's not what "folks" want, because you don't get to speak for everyone.
2. And there are lots of great things about their campaigns. Great stories, art, lots of fantastic material. High production values. Lots of high quality art. That's why I/ others buy them.
Pretty pictures and justified type?! That doesn't seem like a good reason, and I have lots of stuff that is not produced by WotC that manages to have high production values.
3. But there are lots of problems with their material which they could avoid if they employed a better story editor. This is what many folks have been talking about!!!!
You have problems. They are subjective problems, not objective problems. You can say "I have a problem with this", you do not get to say "everyone has a problem with this", because you are not everyone.
I do support JA on Patreon. And buy other help on the DMs Guild site eg from Eventyr Games.

& Paul - please don't tell me what to do/ think, thanks.
I will stop telling you what to think when you stop confusing what you want with what "folks" want.
 

But take the issue of RotFM - the campaign assumes players will travel with Avarice, the Arcane Brotherhood necromancer - the writers in effect TELL the pcs this will happen but
1) it should never assume this
2) it offers no advice as to how the pcs will find Ythryn otherwise. Not one piece of solid advice - and ideally it should offer many possible routes forward. At points like this, I like JA's '3 clue rule'.
1) I assume you are confusing Vellynne Harpell with Avarice, who is the Evoker. Did you actually read the adventure?

2) There are clues in the Black Cabin, Lost Spire of Netheril, and Grimskalle that can lead to Ythyn with no input from Harpell. Chris Perkins does not underline his clues and write "this is a clue" in big read letters. He assumes DMs will read the text properly and are not idiots. Maybe a rash assumption! Or they can get the same info from any of the other AB wizards: Avarice, Dzaan's clone, or Nass Lantomir's ghost.
 

BenTheFerg

Explorer
1) I assume you are confusing Vellynne Harpell with Avarice, who is the Evoker. Did you actually read the adventure?

2) There are clues in the Black Cabin, Lost Spire of Netheril, and Grimskalle that can lead to Ythyn with no input from Harpell. Chris Perkins does not underline his clues and write "this is a clue" in big read letters. He assumes DMs will read the text properly and are not idiots. Maybe a rash assumption! Or they can get the same info from any of the other AB wizards: Avarice, Dzaan's clone, or Nass Lantomir's ghost.
1) I assume you are confusing Vellynne Harpell with Avarice, who is the Evoker. Did you actually read the adventure?

2) There are clues in the Black Cabin, Lost Spire of Netheril, and Grimskalle that can lead to Ythyn with no input from Harpell. Chris Perkins does not underline his clues and write "this is a clue" in big read letters. He assumes DMs will read the text properly and are not idiots. Maybe a rash assumption! Or they can get the same info from any of the other AB wizards: Avarice, Dzaan's clone, or Nass Lantomir's ghost.
You sadly are an incredibly rude man! OK- I am working from memory but so what? You know who I mean.
And you think GMs want the campaigns they buy from WotC to be shite? 🤣
And no one ever said they aren't good other 5e companies! For the love of God!
What is the point?! 🤦🏻‍♂️
 


BenTheFerg

Explorer
Personal comments are not allowed in these forums, or I could say plenty about you.

No, but I don't think they want to be treated like idiots or have player agency removed for the sake of plot either.
No one, no one has said anything about removing player agency or treating people like idiots. These are your words, which is why I despair at your ridiculous comments!

All folks were doing - me & others here on this thread & elsewhere- were commenting on the problems with RotFM- and it spilled over into a general critique of WotC campaigns.

Please stop having a go at me for having an opinion you don't like & moreover erroneously putting words in my mouth/ erroneously summarising the works of others like JA.

Just ignore me & I will ignore your existence too. Thanks
 


I like the adventure, but it clearly requires DMs to fix stuff. Some of this stuff is the kind of thing DM's always have to adapt to their groups and campaigns, but some of it is clearly the product of multiple freelance writers/designers and not enough time for a lead developer to pull it all together into a coherent whole.

I like what I got for my money, but it shouldn't be an insult to anyone to wish the product had received stronger development. Having been there myself, I'll bet no one wishes this more than the lead developer.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Then don't buy it. Problem solved.
I haven't been part of this thread, I don't have a dog in this race. I don't read the Alexandrian to care about it. But your response just seems quite dismissive. As if any problem is only in the heads of those complaining, so the only resolution is for them not to buy it.

Yes, DMs should read through and adjust published campaigns to fit their players, their table, and their DMing style.

No, that is not an excuse for putting out sloppy work. An easy example is missing maps - that not a customization, that's something definitively missing. I hope you can see that there can be legitimate things that should be different in some published adventures.

There are a lot of community fixes to all of the published adventures. Not every fix out there is a real problem, or even if it is that that particular fix is an improvement. I am saying that the quality of published adventures varies, and that small to large improvements that cut across multiple tables - like supplying maps - can be found.
 

Swedish Chef

Explorer
Our group recently completed Baldur's Gate. I ran it. I'm an experienced DM. And I was happy to make use of Justin's suggestions for certain sections of the adventure. Why? I'm older now. I don't have time to read and re-read a module several times in order to run it. If I'm paying for a module, I want it to provide a coherent story and consistent information. Justin provided simply clarity for me when I needed it.

We've completed BG:DiA and moved onto RotFM. One of the players is running this one. He is an experienced player but not very experienced as a DM. We've already tripped over the inconsistencies inherent in the opening of the module, namely how has anyone survived in the Ten Towns after 2 solid years of snow? There are simply not enough high level clerics to be continuously casting Create Food and Water for everyone to survive. The local wildlife would have been hunted to extinction within the first 12 months, or starved to death on their own due to lack of supporting vegetation. The entire food chain would have collapsed - no insects to pollinate plants or feed small predators. No plants to feed the herbivores that feed the larger predators.

Another inconsistency - why is no one outside of the Ten Towns area doing anything about this? Trade to a large section of the Icewind Dales suddenly ceases and no one can get in or out of the area due to snow covered passes? What about the UnderDark? If everyone can evacuate, Auril's plan falls apart entirely. Yet, apparently no one has any means of even just simply communicating to the Sword Coast that they are in trouble.

The premise behind the module is a good one. Take the isolation from John Carpenter's "The Thing". Sprinkle in a bit of "Escape from New York". Flavor with the dread of "Alien". Shake and bake and present. Unfortunately, the ingredients didn't mix properly and the final product is more of a dog's breakfast than a gourmet brunch. I did forward the DM a link to JA's write up to the module, but even then we've had to stop a couple of times and just say "Okay, we know it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but instead of getting bogged down in these issues, let's just simply move on and try to have fun with it".
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I understand what constructive criticism is. Complaining that something doesn't do something it was never designed to do isn't constructive.

"I put my dishes in the washing machine and they all came out smashed!"
Hmm, they were specifically calling out how that Justin guy was fixing them, so this sounds like hyperbole.

No. That's what YOU want. It's not what "folks" want, because you don't get to speak for everyone.
Actually, I think it's a fairly easy bet that when people buy a campaign from the people who publish the game, they want to buy an exemplary product. This sounds like you can't actually refute their point so instead you're attacking their ability to speak for "folks". If you want to claim that most people wish to spend money to buy a flawed product, I think the burden of proof is on you.
 

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