Yo yo it’s your boy JP back with another Deconstructing Dungeons! This week we’re taking a look at The Frosted Prince, my Christmas 2017 adventure published on December 11th that year. Each year I try to release a winter adventure, just as I do with Halloween. These things always sell pretty well in their first month for the obvious reasons, and then again around winter the next year. As you might imagine it’s only a copper best seller, but does have two ratings and reviews putting it at 5 stars! The Frosted Prince is a 6-10 hour adventure for Tier 3 characters! I recall that writing this was a bit of a love letter to the Forgotten Realms, as it contains a fair bit of lore about the Shadowdale region, and builds on old adventure modules in the area.
For those that don’t know, Deconstructing Dungeons is an article series where I look at my published adventures, give you a brief synopsis of them and then talk about what went well and what went poorly during the process of publication. I’m hoping it will help out new writers who are looking to publish on DMsGuild and give me an excuse to talk about my work. Remember that I give away 5 copies of the adventure each week, and one copy of the compendium it can be found in!
The Frosted Prince can approached through a number of plot hooks that all focus around the town of Shadowdale in the Forgotten Realms. The first is an open call from Lady Sulwood for adventurers to help deal with some cultists of Bane, known as Banites. The second is that nobleman Darvin Maneson believes he is the last in the line of the famous heo Mane from Shadowdale. If it can be proved he stands to inherit a sizeable parcel of land. Both of these hooks land the characters firmly into Shadowdale, where the first portion of the adventure takes place.
Characters have the chance to explore Shadowdale, visiting famous locations such as the Old Skull Inn, the Twisted Tower of Ashaba and Mother Tara’s Festhall. Throughout these locations they meet with the important NPCs of the adventure, and can gather information about the Banites, their Zhentarim allies and Mane. Without revealing too much, the characters might uncover who in town is working for who, some dark secrets about the history of the drow in Shadowdale, and the strange meteorological phenomena that is plaguing the town thanks to the nearby Castle Krag.
Once the characters have had a chance to explore the town, there are several encounters that can take place. Each of these encounters furthers the narrative of one of the subplots occurring within Shadowdale; the strange weather near Castle Krag, the Cultists of Bane attacking trade caravans, or the connection between the drow and Zhentarim in Shadowdale. All of these events and factions are knitted together and all of them eventually lead to Castle Krag, although some have a little more going on in town first.
In the second part of the adventure we take a closer look at Castle Krag, and the goings in the ruins. We get a dramatis personae of the six major NPCs in the dungeon along with a full three-layer map of the entire place, each room detailed and linked throughout. The maps are based on the original maps of Castle Krag from old editions, but have evolved from that time in their own way specific to this adventure, specifically the dungeons beneath have expanded, and been turned into a lair for a white dragon named Ghaulinthara the Winterwyrm.
While characters are exploring the ruins they have the opportunity to discover more about the different factions involved, and help connect the finale through the information recovered in town and the initial plot hooks. Depending on their actions in town, different factions might come and go through the dungeon, or they might have the advantage of preparation.
The crux of the adventure is that the Banite cultists have taken up host in Castle Krag. They are being supported by Zhentarim agents working in Shadowdale and their drow associates. This allegiance has allowed both factions to prosper under the new lord of Castle Krag; Ghaulinthara the Winterwyrm. The white dragon has become an avatar of Bane, and commands the Banites, hoping that she can be freed from her icy prison beneath the castle. Meanwhilte, the Banites are attempting to resurrect their old leader, Dark Doom Malathon, whilst keeping the drow agents happy with their progress. Down in Ghaulinthara’s lair, the magically frozen corpse of Mane awaits for brave adventurers to come and rescue his legacy.
The layout of the adventure was done in homebrewery. The cover is a piece of stock art by Dean Spencer, as is a lot of the interior art. Maps are hand drawn by myself and neatened up in photoshop. Overall I think this is one of my best homebrewery layouts. Although I’m transitioning to InDesign, I think this one looks very professional and won’t need much work when I come to making it Print on Demand.
What I did well: I think I did a great job here of setting and adventure in a region of the Forgotten Realms that hasn’t yet seen much love this edition. I did a lot of research into the area and the NPCs that lived there, all the way back to AD&D, so that I could make the adventure feel grounded in the Realms. I also think the layout and art consistency in this piece is better than many of my previous adventures.
What I did poorly: This adventure is rather on the longer side, and involves several different, interlinked factions as well as around a dozen important NPCs. I could have done a better job of introducing these earlier on in a reference list and maybe even designing a flow chart to help DMs predict what they are likely to need to prepare. This is something I can address when it goes PoD. I’ll also make sure that I get some custom artwork to really elevate the adventure production. I think the biggest takeaway of this particular product is that you need to make things clear for DMs. I did a good job of showing the information in the appropriate places, and condensing it to make it easy to understand, but there’s no one place you can go to get a decent summary of the adventure. Even writing it up in this article would make it too long!
GIVEAWAY! If you like the post on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll be entered into a giveaway to win one of five copies of The Frosted Prince. If you retweet or share the post, you could be in with a chance of winning a copy of Adventure Compendium Vol II, which contains The Frosted Prince as well as a handful of other JVC Parry adventures! Good luck!