**Caution this post contains spoilers for Destruction’s Light!**

When I was a child, I had no one to play Dungeons & Dragons with. Now, I am 45 and play with my own children.

Yes – I built my own players!

Our players: the piplins!

Rime of the Frost Maiden

In Icewind Dale, adventure is a dish best served cold.

Beneath the unyielding night sky, you stand before a towering glacier and recite an ancient rhyme, causing a crack to form in the great wall of ice. Beyond this yawning fissure, the Caves of Hunger await. And past this icy dungeon is a secret so old and terrifying that few dare speak of it. The mad wizards of the Arcane Brotherhood long to possess that which the god of winter’s wrath has so coldly preserved—as do you! What fantastic secrets and treasures are entombed in the sunless heart of the glacier, and what will their discovery mean for the denizens of Icewind Dale? Can you save Ten-Towns from the Frostmaiden’s everlasting night?

Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden is a tale of dark terror that revisits the forlorn, flickering candlelights of civilization known as Ten-Towns and sheds light on the many bone-chilling locations that surround these frontier settlements.


As far as I am concerned, if you are going to include the titular character in your Dungeons & Dragons game, then you must make the occasion particularly epic in size and scope!

Destruction’s Light, as written, is a poor use of an overwise brilliant plot hook. Having the party decide between a fortress they have been questing to find and struggling to get to – or to turn around just as they arrive and chase a dragon right back where they came from? It breaks all the effort. It is a flawed narrative design. What about the fortress being hard to reach? Shouldn’t the journey back be just as hard? Not to mention the Deus-ex Machina of Velynne Harpell just turning up to speed their return by lending them just what they need to catch the dragon. Also, I’m not too fond of the dread aspect of the choice, as there is no right choice. I DM for children, and it is essential to note that while they are used to the clashing violence of combat, they are not used to creeping dread and hard decisions. I don’t want my players bursting into tears with stress!

Changes Summary

I am going to change this encounter in three ways:

  1. The dragon will first attack Bryn Shander while they are still there! The team will be able to put down the duergar uprising by defending the city.
  2. Velynne Harpell will be introduced here and be a part of the defence.
  3. When they finally do make it to Xardarok, then the dragon will be repairing to attack Ten Town again and they are there at the launch to do something about it!

So there follows how I have amended this encounter with my DM notes and the screens from the game.

Quick notes:

  1. This is session 9. The players have faced many druids and are now focussing on the Duergar threat. They recently defeated Xardarok’s son. Through this quest line, they discovered the nature of Chardlyne.
  2. My players have completed Jarl Moot and found the Horn of Blasting. This gives them a big weapon to use if they can get close enough!
  3. My players are all level 5 and IRL, all between 10 and 12 years old. Children will always break scripted on-rail encounters. As a DM you have to roll with this.
  4. For three of my players, this is their 4th campaign. They are incredibly confident in DND mechanics and clever players.
  5. Their classes are Warlock, Wizard, Rouge, Sorcerer, Ranger, and Druid.
  6. I use “Dynamic Dungeons” as my software. This system enables me to produce “theatre of the mind” slides, coupled with battle maps. All animated nicely.
  7. We have a 32-inch screen as our table. This is an old electronic sign repurposed as a table screen.

The official Frostmaiden Dice Set is worth the money

DM’s game flow

  • Welcome back to IWD

I begin by welcoming the team back to the table and any table items. We have just started using cards drawn for Crits and Fumbles. These are well worth the purchase as they are often funny and always awesome!

  • Ice Wind Dale Map.

A reminder of the map and where they are and have been. This is an excellent way to connect sessions and make sure everyone gets the epic quest vibe.

  • Last session.

A quick recounting what we did previously, checking their memories and hopefully handing out an early inspiration coin for some great role playing.

  • Bryn Shander.

The team are currently in this town shopping after their ordeal with Xardarok’s son. They recently managed to break into a bank vault to find piles of treasure, which the speaker is currently letting them pick through.

  • The weather is worse than usual, even for IWD.
  • Sudden noise outside, shouting, crying. The sound of someone arriving in great speed and haste. The team step outside.
  • Fox arrives. Burnt, frightened.

This fox was a patron of the team’s pub in Lonelywood (a present for their completion of the white Moose quest).

  • The fox is very out of breath and frightened. Too frightened to speak. The sheriff – asks the team if anyone can calm it?
    • Roll 20 charisma test.
  • The fox then outlined that something had attacked the town of Lonelywood, and everything was on fire!
  • Sheriff – must speak to wizard Velynne Harpell. Go around the square and find one of her kobold servants.
    • Roll 20 Investigation test.
  • The team spot one entering town hall through the side entrance.
  • The team enter the town hall
  • The speaker introduces Velynne Harpell, who is talking to the speaker.
    • Roll 20 perception test.
  • Suddenly an invisible Duregar hammerer attacks the speaker (with advantage if the test was failed).
    • Roll 20 initiative test.
    • Fight against the Duregar ends with Velynne Harpell using a wand of magic missile.
  • Velynne Harpell offers to help and casts scrying on other towns.
    • Each of the team gets the following vision:
  • The group are shocked at Lonelywood’s destruction.
  • Velynne orders her kobold to ready her sleigh as she has a wand of sending in her hut and she can give warning to the other towns.
  • The sheriff makes the team his deputies.
    • He orders them to go around town and find resources/troops while he gets everyone into basements for safety.
  • The team travel around Bryn Shander, trying to find help with the town’s defence.
    • Roll a D6 roll to determine which group of defenders each gets:
    • Each group of defenders has a skill test to convince/help them.
      • Players can roll or use some specific character detail. One of my players used the fact that they were a spy to call on the Harper scout to help him “choose” which unit he would find.
        • 5 Guards need organising (Charisma).
        • 10 Archers (Scouts) need arrows (Intelligence).
        • 5 Knights need to find their missing friend (Investigation).
        • 5 Wizards (Mages) need convincing that their players are being truthful (Charisma).
        • The catapults need multiple rounds to load.
    • Each player picks where to place resources in the town.
  • The weather is darker and colder than usual. The DM notes how duergar would find moving under this dark cover easier.
  • Cart spotted in the distance.
    • Roll 20 perception test.
    • The cart is full of trader Goblins running from something behind them…
  • Xardorok’s face appears as a projection in the sky!
  • Roll 20 arcana test to recognise the spell.
    • Xardorok gives his big villain speech.

Xardorok Sunblight speech


People of Icewind Dale, hear me and tremble! I am Xardorok Sunblight, the great king of The children of Laduguer, sovereign of the Duergar, master of darkness, ruler of the deep caverns, and commander of the God Auriel in the name of the demigoddess Deep Duerra. 


You have grown fat and lazy while I suffered in exile. But now, the time has come for me to reclaim what is rightfully mine. Do not think that your pitiful defences will hold against my might. The frozen northlands and all that lies within it are mine to command. The rivers, the mountains, and the forests will be crushed beneath the might of my armies, and those who survive will be enslaved and made to serve me, your screams echoing through the halls of my fortress for all eternity.


I shall conquer all of Icewind Dale. Resistance is futile. Kneel before me, and perhaps I will spare your pitiful lives. 


I am Xardorok Sunblight, Icewind Dale is mine!

  • Now the vision fades and the dragon comes!
  • Dragon flies up and over the torn.
    • Everyone has to Dexterity save to avoid the first flame attack.
  • Players roll D20. The top result determines which team goes first
  • First dragon attack.
    • Team members describe how their unit defends and then attacks.

Each team unit uses the group/mob attack rules. This means rolling a lot of dice and a high chance of a crit, which is exciting as they get to draw a card.

    • Dragon counters with breath weapons. The unit has to dodge. If they get hit, then they lose some of their numbers.
    • The dragon uses its charisma fear attack on the NPCs and players.
    • Dragon taunts the players:

Beware, mortals. My wrath is as eternal as the mountains, and my hunger for destruction knows no bounds. Cross me at your peril, for I am a Chardalyn Dragon, and I will reduce your world to ash and rubble.

  • After each dragon attack, use the “Other Things Characters Can Do” table in the book to add another minor encounter.
  • After each player hit, the dragon “loses a scale”, and slowly the scales move around to cover the gaps; this causes the dragon to reduce in size—lots of clanking noises and machine sounds.
  • Repeat the above dragon attack scene; this time, the dragon counters with breath and claws.
  • Next catapult team’s turn.
    • It takes three checks to load the catapult. Have each player act in some way, such as “loading the bolt (strength test)”, winding the rope back” (constitution test), “aiming the crossbow” (dexterity), etc.
    • Dragon is hit and crashes into the city.

My scales are as hard as diamond, and my breath is a searing inferno that will reduce your cities to ash. My claws are sharper than any blade, and my strength is enough to shatter mountains. I am the apex predator of this world, and you are nothing but prey.

  • Repeat the above dragon attack scene; this time, the dragon counters with breath, claws and wings.
  • After the third time, the dragon flies outside the city gates.
  • The players all rush to the walls.
  • This is the moment that the team first uses the Horn of Blasting (if they have it).
    • If the team do not work this out, have the guards suggest it.
  • Dragon takes “massive” damage with parts flying off in all directions.
    • Dragon calls out the team to the showdown.

(laughing) Foolish mortals, you truly think you can defeat me? Your arrogance amuses me. I am a Chardalyn Dragon, a being of immense power and unfathomable strength. Your puny weapons are nothing to me, and your feeble attempts at magic only serve to entertain me. Do you really think you can stand against me? How quaint. Come, then. Let us see how long you last.

  • Now for the final battle
    • Any surviving NPCs can come with team and act on their player’s turn.
    • Roll Initiative.
    • Dragon attacks on 10.
    • The dragon takes a turn in place and then moves to the player who has scored the highest hit.
      • Dragon has several legendary actions to get out of trouble
  • In turn 3, the dragon uses its charisma attack.

You may have wounded me, mortals, but do not think for a moment that you have defeated me. My scales may be cracked, and my wings may be torn, but my power is still absolute. You have awoken the beast within me, and now you shall face the full extent of my wrath. I am a Chardalyn Dragon, and my vengeance shall be swift and merciless.

What happened with my players: The druid, using his magic wings (received for saving Santa Claus in our Christmas adventure), flew up and landed on top of the dragon. He then blew the Horn of Blasting (from the mission Jarlmoot) directly down into the dragon and the ice below. This did 10d6 damage as the dragon was weak to this attack. It also cracked the ice, and the dragon fell in. Cue the team cheering and dancing around the room.

Then the druid rolled a d6 to see if the horn blew up…

It did!

The druid was blasted off and took 10d6 (25 points), the NPCs around the dragon took 10d6 (and died), and the player nearest managed to uncanny dodge.

That was a fun moment!

Samuel finds out that he can roll 10d6 on the dragon.

  • After receiving 140 hp damage, the dragon now attempts to leave and retreat to Xardorok
  • Each player may make an attack as it tries to fly and if all hit the dragon will die.
  • Either way, the dragon drops many Chardalyn items and it is loot time!

That’s it!

The Dragon is defeated, and the players have a journey into the mountains ahead.

At this point, my players are dancing around the dining room to Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird and enjoying their victory!

Thanks for reading!