There are many ways to start a campaign in Dungeons & Dragons. You can try a short Candlekeep Mysteries adventure or maybe jump straight into the terrifying realms of dread. But a great way to start your next adventure is to try out a starter kit. The Essentials Kit is precisely that. It contains the adventure module: Dragon Of Icespire Peak and is designed so that new DMs and players can familiarize themselves with this fantastic pastime.
It can be a bit daunting for a new DM to take on their very first campaign. Although the Essentials Kit provides a lot of content, it can feel a bit empty in terms of story. Here are plenty of tips to improve Dragon Of Icespire Peak and make it an epic campaign your party will remember forever.
8 Make sure the dragon spawns throughout the adventure
Having an immemorial main villain in your adventure is something a DM should never do. It can be easy to completely forget about the dragon until the party feels ready to face it in its lair. Cryovain, the White Dragon, can be quite an intimidating and scary encounter, especially at first. Spawn the dragon nearby when the party travels. This will keep the threat of the dragon in their minds.
You can also make sure Cryovian attacks Phandalin. The town could be in chaos by the time the group returns from their last quest. The group will need to rescue as many of the townspeople as possible and decide on a safer place for everyone to stay until the dragon threat is finally dealt with. This encounter will be intense for a low level but very memorable party.
7 Prepared Neverwinter
While there isn’t much information available in the Essentials Kit on Neverwinter, its visibility on the map makes it extremely likely that your players will want to visit for supplies. Get ready for a session in Neverwinter and make it more exciting than a shopping spree.
Maybe the party will come across a shop full of weird puzzles to solve before they can buy anything, or they’ll meet an NPC who will help them in their quest. The town will be a clear contrast to the smaller locations in the rest of the adventure. Preparing for Neverwinter will help your players feel more immersed in the world.
6 Combine adventure with Phandelver Lost Mine
The Phandelver Lost Mine is considered a great way for newcomers to get into D&D. It has a clearer storyline than Dragon Of Icespire Peak, with players attempting to find the mysterious Wave Echo cave. Both campaigns take place in the same area, with Phandalin as the central hub, making it easy to integrate them simultaneously.
The combination of the two sets will make the city even more lively. They will have to decide which quests are more important to focus on and face the consequences of their decisions. Since both campaigns focus on the same level range, you’ll know your players will be capable of handling anything that comes their way.
5 Give orcs better motivations beyond evil
There are many orcs in this adventure. They took control of many important places in Neverwinter Woods after being forced to evacuate Icespire Hold. They don’t seem to have much motivation other than to cause chaos. The Anchorites of Talos are an exciting faction, but they also want to destroy. With so many orcs, half-orcs, and ogres around, you should give them more to intrigue your players.
There could be rival factions within the orcs, each with their own leader. Some orcs might be willing to work with the group to take over Icespire Hold. Others might resent the Harbin city master. Giving Orcs more motivation and clear goals will allow for fun social gatherings. The group could manipulate orc factions into fighting or even coming together. Making orcs more than just generic fodder to fight will give more options on how your party can take on the adventure.
4 Make the final battle more fearsome
Icespire Peak, Cryovain’s lair, is the final location of the campaign. Unfortunately, it’s a bit empty apart from a few strigas, bandits and the dragon. This can make the climax of your adventure a bit disappointing if you run it the way it is. There are many ways to make it more exciting. Perhaps the Orcs are attacking the fortress simultaneously to reclaim their home. It may be a race against the bandits to navigate the fortress. You could fill the place with traps, puzzles, and loot.
You may also want to make Cryovain a threat. There are many ways to make combat more exciting for your players, which is very important when it comes to the endgame of the entire campaign. You could give followers to the kobold dragon. They might have Legendary Actions or Hideout Actions that the party will need to fight. Cryovain is also just a young white dragon. If the group defeats him too quickly, maybe his mother comes as an even more dangerous threat!
3 Join Bonus Adventures Earlier
After defeating Cryovain and saving the city, the adventure doesn’t need to stop. There are three additional adventures related to Dragon Of Icespire Peak. You can access it on D&D Beyond, a useful online tool for DMs. These adventures will take your players to level 12 and are worth playing as your party takes on cults and other dangerous threats.
It’s good to seed hints of these bonus adventures earlier in your campaign so they don’t feel like they popped out of nowhere. For example, maybe the people of Phandalin will mention how the city of Leilon was overrun with monsters. You could have players encounter one of the main antagonists from the other adventures early on before they fully realize who they are. Maybe they even help the party out of an awkward situation into a memorable reunion.
2 The Sidekicks could become a rival party
The Essentials Kit introduced a new mechanic to D&D in the form of Sidekicks. These NPCs are useful when playing with a small group or a single player. They have a group of sample sidekicks to choose from, such as Ruby Hammerwhacker the Shield Dwarf and Inverna Nightbreeze, a Moon Elf Warrior. But, if you already have a full party of players, you can still use these exciting characters.
They could form a rival party trying to win all the glory before your players. This would add more conflict to the campaign, even though it is a friendly rivalry between the two sides. They might be able to participate in quests that don’t interest the group. They could also be a source of information if your players are having trouble gathering clues for a quest.
1 Add your own spin to the adventure
The Essentials kit is more like a sandbox than a standard adventure. Most of his quests are more like one-off adventures. It is intentionally vague in some areas, with the idea that you will fill in the gaps with your ideas. It can be daunting at first, but adding your unique twists and ideas to the adventure will make it feel unique and exciting for your players. This will help fill in the gaps between Dragon Of Icespire Peak’s disjointed quest lines.
Creating a rich world is key to keeping your players engaged and invested in the adventure. You can find ways to incorporate their stories into the main quests. You can add additional locations and quests for the party to explore. You can even throw away almost everything in the book and make it all your own. No matter how much or little you add, it will enhance the story and make you want to play.
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