A New Cryshal-Tirith[edit | edit source]
Kessell’s Retreat is the site where Akar Kessell hopes to rebuild his crystal tower, Cryshal-Tirith. Previously, the site was a long-abandoned dwarven stronghold built into the upper cliffs of Kelvin’s Cairn. Now, from this vantage point high above Icewind Dale, the vile wizard gathers the black ice to him, and uses its power to dominate the minds of barbarians and monsters and organize them into his own personal army.
The black ice itself is in fact the ice-fused remains of the previous Cryshal-Tirith, which shattered into shards and dust when Kessell was slain over a century ago by Drizzt Do’Urden. Kessell hopes to use the dwarven tower at the center of the abandoned stronghold as a backbone on which to grow a new Cryshal-Tirith out of the black ice his armies of slaves collect for him.
Akar Kessell[edit | edit source]
In 1351 DR, Akar Kessell was simply an apprentice in the Arcane Brotherhood, possessing little magical skill. Cruel and power-hungry, he was manipulated into murdering his mentor by another wizard of the Brotherhood, who then abandoned him to freeze to death on the ice-covered slopes of the Spine of the World. Kessell was saved when he stumbled upon Crenshinibon, an evil artifact that took advantage of the young mage, granting him incredible power knowing that he would use it for his own selfish glory, upon which Crenshinibon would feed. Wielding this artifact, Kessell threatened to conquer Icewind Dale and beyond before he was slain by Drizzt Do’Urden.
Over a century later, in 1485 DR, a small expedition formed by an apprentice of the reformed Arcane Brotherhood arrived in Icewind Dale to search for Akar Kessell’s corpse. They found Kessell risen from death, changed by his hatred and rage into a wight. Now the vile wizard once again gathers an army, seeking to regain the power that he lost… the power contained within the black ice.
Biggrin's Tomb[edit | edit source]
Frost giants value strength and ferocity above all things and those who excel at both earn the right to be buried within these ancient crypts.
In the history of Icewind Dale, no frost giant was stronger or fiercer than Biggrin. Upon his fall, Biggrin’s body was recovered by his tribe and laid to rest in a place of special honor deep within this tomb.
Caer-Konig[edit | edit source]
Wedged between the towering peak of Kelvin’s Cairn and the frigid waters of Lac Dinneshere is the ramshackle town of Caer-Konig. Its residents are primarily involved in fishing for valuable knucklehead trout. Caer-Konig has a bitter rivalry with the town of Caer-Dineval to the south and conflicts over fishing rights have led to bloody exchanges between the two fishing fleets on more than once occasion.
Caer-Konig has the unfortunate distinction of being the most frequently sacked of the Ten-Towns, thanks to its location at the foot of Icewind Pass, the easiest route for invading armies from the wild Frozenfar. The town suffered so greatly in the war with Akar Kessell that it was turned over the Reghed barbarians as a reward for their help in the Battle of Icewind Dale. Apparently the “civilized” word did not agree with most of the new residents, and it short order they returned to nomadic life on the tundra. Those who remained gradually intermarried with the Ten-Towners, and today the population feels much the same as that found in any other of the Ten-Towns (aside from a tendency for some of the population to grow exceptionally tall and broad).
Crenshinibon, the Crystal Shard[edit | edit source]
Crenshinibon, also called the Crystal Shard, is a vile and immensely powerful artifact that Akar Kessell discovered over a century ago. Before discovering Crenshinibon, Kessell was simply a cruel mage of little skill; it is the Crystal Shard’s power more than his own that allowed Kessell to nearly conquer Icewind Dale. The creation of Cryshal-Tirith and the ability to dominate the minds of lesser creatures are both powers that Kessell only wielded through Crenshinibon.
The Crystal Shard was long thought destroyed, but Kessell’s divinations have uncovered the dark truth: a fragment of Crenshinibon has survived, fused with the body of a dracolich within the Shadowfell. High atop his frozen tower, the vile undead wizard prepares powerful rituals to pull the Shard and dracolich back into this world. Should he succeed, the consequences for Icewind Dale and the lands beyond would be dire.
Frozenfar Expedition[edit | edit source]
Caer-Konig’s Frozenfar Expeditions Is both a supply store and something of a professional organization for adventurers and explorers. Those heading into the wilderness often leave notices outlining their plans, while those who have returned post warnings about threats they have encountered. More pragmatic explorers leave a copy of their will, or last letters to be sent to their next of kin, in the likely event that they do not return from a venture into the wild.
The store’s proprietor, Atenas Swift, led many expeditions into the Frozenfar in his youth, but now that age is beginning to catch up with him, he is content to dispense helpful advice and leave the adventuring to others.
Geography of Icewind Dale[edit | edit source]
Icewind Dale is a habitable (though sometimes just barely so) portion of the arctic Frozenfar located in the extreme northern corner of the Sword Coast. The Dale is surrounded by the harshest of environments: the east lies the immense Reghed Glacier, to the south stand the towering peaks of the Pine of the World Mountains, north and west the land is bordered by the iceberg-clogged Sea of Moving Ice.
In the midst of this hostile environment civilized folk can be found dwelling in ten small towns clustered around three icy lakes, Maer Dualdon, Lac Dinneshere and Redwaters, which lie scattered at the feet of the Dale’s highest point, the peak called Kelvin’s Cairn.
Icewind Dale is named for the ceaseless, bone-chilling winds that blow from the Reghed Glacier even in the height of summer.
Knucklehead Trout[edit | edit source]
The knucklehead trout is a species of bony-headed fish found only in the lakes of Icewind Dale. Aside from being a good food source, the fish possess ivory-like bones which can be carved into objects both decorative and practical. The towns of Icewind Dale were founded solely to exploit this unique resource.
Many of the residents of the Ten-Towns have learned the art of etching and shaping knucklehead bones into objects of great beauty. Known as scrimshanders, these skilled craftsmen are highly respected members of their communities.
The Arcane Brotherhood[edit | edit source]
Sometimes associated with the name of its former headquarters, the Hosttower of the Arcane, the wizards of the Arcane Brotherhood once rule the city of Luskan. Now that Luskan has devolved into chaos, the pirate captains who rule the city no longer answer to the Brotherhood. Yet it is clear that the Arcane Brotherhood still exists elsewhere since their agents can be found throughout the Sword Coast.
The stated goal of the Arcane Brotherhood is to advance the understanding of all things arcane for the benefit of all. While this may be true, it is also apparent that the Brotherhood is not averse to making themselves very, very wealthy in the process. Agents of the brotherhood are involved with mercantile ventures all across the face of Faerûn, particularly those that deal with the trade in magic items and magical substances.
The Black Ice Forge[edit | edit source]
The dwarf craftsman Baerick Hammerstone first discovered the mysterious substance known as black ice. Bringing ta supply of it to his home in Kelvin’s Cairn, he learned the secret of shaping the strong, glass-like material. Starting with simple trinkets and jewelry, he soon discovered that back ice could be forged into weapons and armor of great power.
But many of his fellow dwarves disapproved of this new resource, claiming black ice had undesirable effects on those who were exposed to it. Angered by what he saw as petty jealousy on the part of his kin, Baerick moved his operation to Caer-Konig where the people of the town were only too happy to welcome this lucrative new industry.
Caer-Konig’s black ice fore has attracted many smiths and craftsmen, as well as merchants and traders who pay high prices for goods forged from the wondrous new material. Baerick and his partners have constructed a mighty forge in the center of Caer-Konig where smiths labor night and day to meet the demand for black ice goods.
The Hook, Line, and Sinker[edit | edit source]
The Hook, Line and Sinker Tavern is easily the busiest establishment in Caer-Konig, due in no small part to the free drinks that the owner, Eglendar, provides to every customer who enters.
Eglendar hit on the idea when he realized that he was losing business to the rival Northern Light tavern solely because hundred yards to his establishment at the end of a hard day.
The locals refer to the free drink as ‘the hook’, which usually leads to several more called ‘the line’, while the final drink that puts a patron under the table is known as ‘the sinker’.
The Reghed Tribes[edit | edit source]
The Reghed Tribesmen are primitive, nomadic denizens of Icewind Dale. For uncounted centuries their kind has lived a nomadic life, following migrating herds of reindeer across the tundra. Fierce warriors who revere Tempus, god of battle, the tribesmen have often waged war on one another as well as the people of the Ten-Towns.
Although conflict between town-dwellers and tribesmen is common, there has been cooperation as well. Most of the Reghed tribes joined forces with the Ten-Towns to resist the armies of Akar Kessell in the Battle of Icewind Dale. Afterwards the barbarians were invited to inhabit the towns of Bremen and Caer-Konig, which many did for a time.
The tribesmen who dwelt in Caer-Konig erected a shrine to Tempus which still stands as a reminder of the Reghed’s brief flirtation with a more civilized lifestyle.
The Ten-Towners[edit | edit source]
Only the strong survive for long in Icewind Dale, and the people of the Ten-Towns are as strong as they come. Over the years Ten-Towns has gained a reputation as a place where outcasts and fugitives can go to find tolerance, if not acceptance – as long as they carry their own weight and didn’t make trouble.
The Ten-Towners are fiercely independent and each town is jealous of its rights. Conflicts, rivalries and feuds are common as each settlement competes for meager resources, but time and again, the Ten-Towners have proven they can unite in the face of a common threat.