Running Dragons of Icespire Peak for a beginning group

Given the copious time off my kids have from school, I'm thinking of (finally) giving them a taste of D&D. It has been awhile since I've DMed, and while I have the Essentials Kit, I haven't done more than browse through it. I have a few questions - feel free to respond to any, all or none of them:

1. First off, is Dragons of Icespire Peak a good choice? I could also go with Lost Mine of Phandelver or something else, but I'm personally more interested in running Icespire, so unless there's a good reason to run something else, or not run it, that's what I'll do. Any good reasons to choose otherwise?

2. My girls are 11 and 14, and we'll also be playing with my girlfriend (who is much older, lol). The 14-year old has some learning challenges, including with math, so I'm thinking of ways to simplify for her - but not too much. They've also never played an RPG, so I'm thinking of veering more towards the railroady, at least to start. Any recommendations on accomodations or alterations for a young/inexperienced group?

3. After laying out classes and races, it seems their choices are Paladin, Wizard, and Rogue. Is that a good spread for Icespire Peak? Should I add in an NPC? If so, what class?

4. How much prep should I do before starting? As I said, I'm an experienced DM but a bit rusty. Is skimming the adventure enough or should I read it cover to cover? In other words, are there any complexities or subtleties that require a complete reading?

5. Any other thoughts or recommendations?

Thanks!
 

DragonBelow

Explorer
1) This boxed is a great adventure for beginner players. I have been running this for 6 months, intermingled with Lost Mines of Phandelver, because it occurs in the same region. The PCs have made it to 7th level, and there are still things they have punted on, but I also have customized it a lot by adding Neverwinter into the mix. They got the hang of pretty quick though, it's an awesome group.

2) Dragons of Icespire Peak is great because they will be presented with 3 choices of quests, which is enough to provide the sandbox illusion, after the first 3 quests, more quests will show up, and they will discover things they can investigate on their own initiative through adventuring. No need to railroad.

3) It is, another good thing about this adventure is that it has a sidekick mechanic for NPC, super simple for the DM to keep track of. You might want to add a divine spellcaster from the choices provided in the adventure, it includes sidekick cards you hand to the players. The adventure is balanced for solo or typical parties sizes, 3 is a small party imho.

4) You should read the introduction, the sidekick rules, and the first 3 1st level quests.

5) Go for it, it's going to be awesome!
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
1. I would give Phandelver an A grade and Icespire Peak a C+, maybe. Icespire is clearly inferior, but new players might not notice the difference.

2. The appeal of D&D is being able to do whatever you want. I wouldn't railroad new players. But I might start the game with the party standing in front of the notice board, just so they won't feel completely lost.

3. The Essentials Kit has Sidekick rules, if I remember correctly. I would add 1 or 2 Sidekicks, to bring the party up to 4 or 5 characters. I believe there are even some premade Sidekick cards in the Essentials Kit with a portrait of the character and some Bonds/Ideals/Flaws. You might let the players decide which NPC Sidekick(s) they want to recruit.

4. Icespire is pretty easy to prep, especially if you've already run Phandelver, because you already know the town and its surroundings. It's just a collection of short side-quests, and the players don't get all of them up-front. You can just read the side-quests that are available to begin with and ignore the rest of the book. This is quite different from Phandelver. When I ran Phandelver, I felt like I had to read the whole book before I ran it, because there were a lot of little mysteries that I wanted answers to (What happened to Gundren? Who's the Black Spider? etc.). You don't need to do that with Icespire Peak, because there's no mystery and no over-arching story. Like I said, it's just a collection of (mostly unrelated) side-quests.

5. Just the usual DMing stuff. Aim to create a fun and memorable experience. Let your players run wild. They will probably remember (and enjoy) the dumb crap they do more than anything you come up with as a DM.
 

Ath-kethin

Adventurer
Funny. I was communicating with a young lady on Twitter who just picked up the Essentials Kit and whose father was going to run the game for her. She said her father hadn't really played since 1e. It would be a funky coincidence if you were that father.

Anyway,

1. Dragons of Icespire Peak is fine. lost Mine has way more guidance for new DMs in it, but it also has some really tough encounters - especially for groups who like to just rush in and stab things Icespire Peak is a good adventure and you'll be fine.

2. 5e is light on math, especially compared to pre-WotC versions of the game. And any adventure can be a railroad if you DM it that way.

3. Unlike earlier editions, there's no bad mix for a party in 5e. Almost everything is designed so that multiple approaches can overcome obstacles, so you don't need to worry about missing a certain skill or ability on the party.

4. Skimming though should be fine, especially if that's how you're used to DMing.

5. Relax. 5e is easy to run and you have a good adventure.

Have fun!
 

Ath-kethin

Adventurer
Thanks so far - quick replies!

@Ath-kethin , are you twittering with my daughter?! Grrrr...jk. That wasn't me - and I have DMed 5E, just not in four+ years.
For a minute I though I might have been, but rereading the tweet, the person I was talking to seemed to indicate she drove to the store by herself, and your girls both seem a bit young for that.

And she also said her dad hasn't run a game since 1e, so it sounds like a crazy coincidence, and two different dads who get to run Icespire Peak for their daughters this week!
 
For a minute I though I might have been, but rereading the tweet, the person I was talking to seemed to indicate she drove to the store by herself, and your girls both seem a bit young for that.

And she also said her dad hasn't run a game since 1e, so it sounds like a crazy coincidence, and two different dads who get to run Icespire Peak for their daughters this week!
Haha, 'tis the times, I guess. And I hope neither of my daughters are driving to the store! My car is stick, so I'm guessing not...
 

Ath-kethin

Adventurer
Haha, 'tis the times, I guess. And I hope neither of my daughters are driving to the store! My car is stick, so I'm guessing not...
. . . which implies that your 14 and 11 year olds would be just fine driving if you had an automatic?

Well, I spent a few years living in a rural area where such things weren't uncommon, so I suppose good on them of that's the case. Me, I didn't even really start learning to drive til I was 19, so I have nowhere to talk.

I CAN drive a stick though, so there's that anyway.
 

THEMNGMNT

Explorer
Presently I'm running Dragon of Icespire Peak for a group of five D&D noobs. I would recommend it. What I like is the relative simplicity: the players get a quest card, decide which quest they want to take on, and then complete it in 1 or 2 sessions. The quests are all linked by the overarching threat of the dragon. It's just enough connective tissue without tipping into complicated plotting.

Of course, I've heavily modified it to create a complicated, linked plot. But that's me. Point is, the adventure is simple, but you can make it more complex if that suits your style.

Finally, because there are multiple quests to choose from, the adventure presents itself as non-linear, and player choices seem to matter. One of the defining characteristics of D&D is freedom of choice and I think it's really important to give new players meaningful choices.

From a DM perspective, you only need to read the adventures one at a time, and that's easy because each adventure is only 1 or 2 pages long. So it's light on prep.

You should feel free to remove adventures if they're not to your taste or add other adventures (such as Lost Mine of Phandelver). The quest structure makes it easy to add or subtract elements as desired.

I've said it before: I think Essentials Kit is a great product and doesn't get sufficient love from the community.
 
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I've said it before: I think Essentials Kit is a great product and doesn't get sufficient love from the community.
I agree, but that's understandable considering that "the community" is comprised of serious and diehard players for whom the product is relatively superfluous.
 
Given the copious time off my kids have from school, I'm thinking of (finally) giving them a taste of D&D. It has been awhile since I've DMed, and while I have the Essentials Kit, I haven't done more than browse through it. I have a few questions - feel free to respond to any, all or none of them:

1. First off, is Dragons of Icespire Peak a good choice? I could also go with Lost Mine of Phandelver or something else, but I'm personally more interested in running Icespire, so unless there's a good reason to run something else, or not run it, that's what I'll do. Any good reasons to choose otherwise?

2. My girls are 11 and 14, and we'll also be playing with my girlfriend (who is much older, lol). The 14-year old has some learning challenges, including with math, so I'm thinking of ways to simplify for her - but not too much. They've also never played an RPG, so I'm thinking of veering more towards the railroady, at least to start. Any recommendations on accomodations or alterations for a young/inexperienced group?

3. After laying out classes and races, it seems their choices are Paladin, Wizard, and Rogue. Is that a good spread for Icespire Peak? Should I add in an NPC? If so, what class?

4. How much prep should I do before starting? As I said, I'm an experienced DM but a bit rusty. Is skimming the adventure enough or should I read it cover to cover? In other words, are there any complexities or subtleties that require a complete reading?

5. Any other thoughts or recommendations?

Thanks!
Hey man, long time no talk! Glad to hear that you're making the best of the coming quarantine with your girls. Wishing you all safety and good gaming.

1. My friend J. ran us through a one-shot with Dragons of Icespire Peak. Seems like a good intro.

2. I'm a fan of using simplified character sheets for kids. This one might work for anyone challenged by maths, since it includes common calculations right there on the sheet: David Bowlin's sheet (pay what you want, DMs Guild).

3. Should be fine with paladin, wizard, and rogue. Just give them a few extra healing potions.

4. Based on the dragon showing up on a random encounter roll, and conversations with J. about the manticore being deadly to low-level PCs, I think those are encounters to think about in advance how you want to handle/adapt.

5. I didn't know this, but there are sequel adventures (I believe free with a code found in the boxed set) to Dragon of Icespire Peak:
 

Nebulous

Hero
1. I would give Phandelver an A grade and Icespire Peak a C+, maybe. Icespire is clearly inferior, but new players might not notice the difference.
I have to agree here. My advice is to also pick up Lost Mine as your core adventure, then use the Essentials setting to flesh out extra encounters. Lost Mine is a modern classic, and has entertained countless people since 2014 and is still popular.
 
Hey man, long time no talk! Glad to hear that you're making the best of the coming quarantine with your girls. Wishing you all safety and good gaming.

1. My friend J. ran us through a one-shot with Dragons of Icespire Peak. Seems like a good intro.

2. I'm a fan of using simplified character sheets for kids. This one might work for anyone challenged by maths, since it includes common calculations right there on the sheet: David Bowlin's sheet (pay what you want, DMs Guild).

3. Should be fine with paladin, wizard, and rogue. Just give them a few extra healing potions.

4. Based on the dragon showing up on a random encounter roll, and conversations with J. about the manticore being deadly to low-level PCs, I think those are encounters to think about in advance how you want to handle/adapt.

5. I didn't know this, but there are sequel adventures (I believe free with a code found in the boxed set) to Dragon of Icespire Peak:
Thanks, buddy. Yeah, we should get coffee sometime. When this settles down, of course ;-).

Good stuff - that character sheet might do the trick.
 

Nebulous

Hero
Presently I'm running Dragon of Icespire Peak for a group of five D&D noobs. I would recommend it. What I like is the relative simplicity: the players get a quest card, decide which quest they want to take on, and then complete it in 1 or 2 sessions. The quests are all linked by the overarching threat of the dragon. It's just enough connective tissue without tipping into complicated plotting.

Of course, I've heavily modified it to create a complicated, linked plot. But that's me. Point is, the adventure is simple, but you can make it more complex if that suits your style.
That right there I think is the main issue I have with Icespire. It's functional on its own and can be fun, but as far as an integrated story, that requires a DM with experience to do. New DMs won't really know how to do that, whereas I feel Lost Mine of Phandelver introduces just the right amount of interconnected side quests and NPCs to teach a new DM/Player the basics. Actually, I think integrating the two of them together into a 1st-8th level campaign is probably a fantastic idea.
 
I really like Dragons of Icespire Peak. Phandelver is probably better at walking new players and DMs through the game, but I like the sandbox of Icespire Peak more.

The class spread is pretty solid - the dungeon with all the dwarven ghouls might be tougher if the paladin doesn't have Turn the Unholy yet.

I'd recommend reading the adventure cover to cover, then skimming as needed later. There are some parts and pieces that connect up that would be good to have an understanding of, such as encounters and the overall ecology.
 

Nebulous

Hero
I really like Dragons of Icespire Peak. Phandelver is probably better at walking new players and DMs through the game, but I like the sandbox of Icespire Peak more.

The class spread is pretty solid - the dungeon with all the dwarven ghouls might be tougher if the paladin doesn't have Turn the Unholy yet.

I'd recommend reading the adventure cover to cover, then skimming as needed later. There are some parts and pieces that connect up that would be good to have an understanding of, such as encounters and the overall ecology.
Yes, the lighthouse and several scenarios in the forest are interconnected. There might be more, I'm not sure.
 

Weiley31

Adventurer
I would say for the sidekick rules, use the UA Sidekick rules instead. They seem better and actually have a full leveling path if you follow up on thru the sequel adventures.
 

aco175

Adventurer
I would focus on making some of the NPCs in town feel more alive for the players to become attached to. The Essentials box does not have enough on the town like in LMoP, so if you have both you should use that one for town descriptions.

If you wanted to include a 4th PC/NPC I would go with a cleric tied to one of the quests. You can use him as a guide or glue hinter for the new players to use as a crutch to get their gaming legs so to speak. A cleric is handy to stay in the back and just cast, allowing the players to take the front, or if only the paladin is up front, the cleric can take some of the heat from him.
 

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