5e: Expanding Icewind Dale, Part I – Frozen Sick

Last weekend I started running Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden for my family. Naturally a bunch of prep work was involved before the campaign started, and I want to share a part of that with you today. I realised there’s a lot of additional material in the Dungeons & Dragons product line that you can fold into Icewind Dale to expand the campaign. Expanding Icewind Dale is a two-part series that highlights some of that content along with my thoughts about how best to adapt it. 

This post is aimed at Dungeon Masters looking to add extra material to their Icewind Dale campaign. if you’re a player, stream viewer, or podcast listener, you’ll find potential spoilers ahead. 

The scope of this article is limited to previously published adventures and campaigns by Wizards of the Coast, but you definitely aren’t limited to only official products when expanding your version of Icewind Dale.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that there’s a lot of compatible content on DMsGuild already that’s well worth taking a look at. There’s probably a bunch of wintry adventures and supplements on  DriveThruRPG as well! Third party creators who’re reading this, feel free to leave a comment on this post to advertise your compatible content. 

Part 1 of Expanding Icewind Dale focuses on Frozen Sick. This adventure is from the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, but was made available for free on dndbeyond and roll20 (in the latter case including all the tokens, maps etc. fully integrated into the virtual tabletop). As such, it can be integrated into your campaign without the need to buy anything. Although it can slot into Icewind Dale surprisingly well, it takes more effort to adapt. This post therefore includes my outline for an alternative version of the adventure.

Part 2 will cover Dragon of Icespire Peak (from the Essentials Kit), The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl (from Tales from the Yawning Portal), and Berg of the Frost Giants (from Storm King’s Thunder).

Image copyright Wizards of the Coast
(Image copyright Wizards of the Coast)

Frozen Sick

You might be wondering how an adventure set in Matthew Mercer’s campaign world Exandria could fit into a Forgotten Realms campaign like Icewind Dale. In fact, Frozen Sick fits in with the themes and events of Rime of the Frostmaiden like a hand to a glove… provided we amputate its frostbitten fingers down to the knuckle.
You see, Frozen Sick is set in a similar wintry region, and it concerns a magical sickness spread after the discovery of a laboratory that fell from an ancient, flying city named Aeor. Sound familiar? It ought to: Ythryn can easily replace Aeor in this narrative. 
Adapting the adventure does take some work though. I recommend skipping most of the adventure as written, since it’s designed to take characters from level 1 to 3. We already have plenty of options in Rime of the Frostmaiden to level the party, so the adaptation of Frozen Sick should amount to a side quest at most. Cutting some of the content also means less conversion, since we don’t have to find as many substitutes. 
My version of the adventure follows. It  introduces the party to victims of a magical disease called frigid woe, then gets the player characters quickly to Salsvault where they’ll find the cure. It’s suitable for a level 2 or level 3 party of adventurers.

Adventure Background

  • A pair of dwarven explorers recently auctioned off two mysterious blue vials at the Town Hall in Easthaven.
  • A half-elf merchant named Lera Farran bought the vials. She kept them at her home, planning to identify and sell them at a later date. 
  • Believing the vials to have come from the lost Netherese enclave he sought, the wizard Dzaan hired a thief to steal them (before he was caught and executed, obviously!)
  • The thief, a halfling named Tinson Ladlelick, was caught in the act after breaking into the Farran home. He escaped but without his prize: worse, one of the vials broke in the chaos. It infected him as well as Lera, and her family.
  • The dwarven explorers returned to the ruin where they found the vials. They have since found an additional sample, but accidentally broke it and became sick themselves.

Adventure Hooks

The player characters can be pulled into this adventure in one or both of the following ways:
Rumours. The Farran family have had their mysterious sickness for nearly a month. No herbalist or priest has had any luck identifying the illness or curing them. Their condition is grist for the rumour mill, and there is even talk that the Farrans have come under a curse. The player characters may hear this rumour around Easthaven, or even elsewhere in Ten-Towns. 
The Frozen Thief. Tinson also contracted the sickness, but has been laying low for fear of being caught. He suspects he would become the next sacrifice to Auril as punishment for the attempted theft. However, he eventually becomes so ill he leaves his hideyhole, desperate for help. The PCs encounter the halfling stumbling down an otherwise quiet street in Easthaven. He trips and falls, his hood dislodging as he does to reveal a face covered in prominent, ghastly blue veins. Tinson is in the final stage of frigid woe, and ice is already beginning to encase him. He manages to get out only a few words through chattering before he is completely frozen within ice: “H-h-h-h-help….c-c-c-curse…. t-t-the…. F-farrans!”
When the characters ask around, they quickly learn who the Farrans are and where to find their house. 

Act 1: The Farran House

The door is answered by Ted Tunn, a human commoner who does odd jobs for the Farrans. He has answered the door on behalf of his wife Rae, who is employed as the maid and is presently nursing the Farrans. Ted’s mother-in-law Gertie White is the Farran family’s cook, and is busy in the kitchen. The entire family have rallied round to care for their employers in their time of need. 
Immediately sizing the characters up as adventurers, Ted is quick to try and enlist their aid in dealing with the mystery sickness. He invites them in and leaves them briefly alone. He and Rae appear again shortly thereafter, supporting a half-orc woman who is showing late stage symptoms of frigid woe. Brunhilde Farran is Lera Farran’s spouse. She has resisted the sickness slightly better than her wife and their adopted tiefling daughter, Lucy, and is the only one in even a remotely fit state to receive a visitor.
Brunhilde offers 700 gold pieces to the party if they can find a cure for the sickness, and is prepared to pay 200 in advance (she is desperate, so the amount is negotiable). If pressed even slightly, she will also offer a gold necklace inlaid with tourmalines worth a further 300 gp. 


  • Brunhilde can explain about the theft  since she was with Lera when they surprised Tinson in the act. She also knows that her wife acquired the vials from an auction at the Town Hall. Ted Tunn has already made inquiries there and learned that the sellers were a pair of dwarves named Orvo Mustave and Urgon Wenth. Unfortunately the dwarves don’t live locally – they’re treasure hunters that explore Icewind Dale for ruins to salvage. They come to Easthaven from time to time to auction off their treasures.
  • After leaving the Farran household the following can be learned either by talking to officials at the town hall’s administrative office (T2 on the campaign’s map of this location) or by asking around town and eventually finding some associates of the dwarves at the Wet Trout tavern:
    • Last time they were in town, Orvo and Urgon were excited about a new find out on the edge of the Sea of Moving Ice, somewhere North of Lonelywood. They set back out after staying a week in Easthaven, taking a dog-sled that was so overladen with supplies the dwarves are unlikely to return any time soon. 

Treating the Farrans

Player characters may seek to help the Farrans directly. While the party has no means to cure the frigid woe, they might make Wisdom (Medicine) attempts or try casting spells. At your discretion these can offer some relief and delay the fatal consequences of the sickness for up to an additional seven days.

Act 2: Finding Orvo

On The Trail

The dwarven explorers went via Lonelywood, and the party can pick up their trail there by talking to town speaker Nimsy Huddle. The dwarves stayed in her attic on the way through town. She doesn’t know much about why the pair were headed North. Nimsy does know they’ve come and gone that way once already before their recent stay. She also overheard them talking about somewhere they called the Hook.
From Lonelywood it’s relatively easy to find the sled tracks left by the dwarves. Since people seldom leave Lonelywood to the North, the signs of their passage are still very clear.  No check is required.
If the party bypass Lonelywood they can make a DC 15 Wisdom (Survival) check to find the trail of the dwarves. On a failed check they do eventually find sled tracks, but lose 1d3 + 1 days to the search, during which time they should have at least one wilderness encounter.


The player characters finally find the camp of the dwarves on the inside curve of a crescent-like spit of land jutting out into the Sea of Moving Ice. A single dwarf sits by a crackling fire. Even through his thick furs, it’s obvious he is shivering violently. Nearby lies a second dwarf entombed in ice. 
The shivering dwarf is Orvo. He and Urgon were exposed to frigid woe approximately 2 weeks ago after they found a third vial and accidentally broke it while exploring Salsvault. The extreme cold has allowed the sickness to progress more rapidly, and Urgon succumbed to it just a day ago. Orvo himself shows late stage symptoms. 
You’ll need to refer to “Orvo’s Story” in the section entitled “Syrinla”. Ignore all geographic points of reference in Orvo’s Story, as well as references to Aeor and the Buyer. The following changes should also be made to the information Orvo can provide:
  • Salsvault is a Netherese ruin partially submerged in water.
  • The ruin can be found at the tip of the Hook, not far from Orvo’s camp.
  • Salvault appears to have been a Netherese lab.
  • Orvo and Urgon auctioned off the treasures they previously collected in Easthaven.  

Image copyright Wizards of the Coast
(Image copyright Wizards of the Coast)

Act 3: Salvault

Salsvault is near Orvo’s camp, so you can skip the section entitled “Into the Wilds” and jump straight to “Approaching Salsvault”. 
Run the dungeon as is, though any mention of Aeor should be considered a reference to the Netherese city of Ythryn instead. 


Returning with a Cure

If Orvo is cured, he is still weak. He returns with the player characters if they allow him to do so.
As long as the party return to Easthaven within fourteen days, none of the Farrans have died. Otherwise, both Lera and Lucy have passed away before the cure can reach them. If the player characters made efforts to treat the Farrans before leaving, you can give them an additional week’s grace period. 


In addition to the promised payment, the party can gain another benefit if they were kind to Brunhilde and didn’t take advantage of her, and provided Lera and Lucy survive. 
In her gratitude, Lera asks the party to come to her whenever they need to conduct business in Easthaven. She can provide many mundane items from her own stock or else broker deals on their behalf. Provided the party goes through Lera for their purchases in Easthaven, they buy all items at a 15% discount. This is reduced to 5% after the chardalyn dragon attacks (see below). 

Dragon Scourge!

The Farran and Tunn families are among the survivors of the chardalyn dragon’s attack on Easthaven in Chapter 4, but their home and store are destroyed. Lera regretfully can only offer a 5% discount while rebuilding her business, and it takes her longer to source less common items. The Farrans are respected in the community, and while Lera prefers to focus on rebuilding her business Brunhilde could be a candidate to replace Speaker Waylen.  

Bonus Content: Croaker Cave

While not used in the adventure outline above, Croaker Cave would fit right in during Chapter 2 as an additional place of interest your players might choose to visit. I’d personally put the cave on the Northern edge of Maer Dualdon. You can simply remove the three bandits from this dungeon, or perhaps replace them with thematic monsters of equivalent CR. To use the cave at a later level, consider making it the lair of a slaad (type depending on party level). This slaad is able to taken on a humanoid form, and has taken to attacking and infecting people in Ten-Towns. It might even be the cause of a player character’s secret…

Part 2: Of Dragons and Giants