I'm planning to run the Dragon of Icespire Peak adventure. The title says outright that there is a dragon of Icespire Peak, a lot of the plot is due to monsters moving around in response to the dragon, and that makes sense as a motivation for the adventurers to be in this village. But I didn't see anything that says whether or not the adventurers know there is a dragon or know approximately where the dragon's lair is. Do PCs know there is a dragon near their village, or know that the dragon is associated with Icespire Peak?

In town, the PCs might randomly hear this rumor:

Some folk claim to have seen a dragon flying through the high clouds. At that distance, it's hard to gauge the creature's size, but some say it's as big as an elephant and has gleaming white scales.

That makes it sound like the dragon is not universal knowledge, and that it might be new information to the PCs.

After the players have completed approximately four quests, they'll see another quest that starts with this text:

The dragon that besets us is not the first to threaten this region.

That implies that the dragon is well known to the public by that point in the campaign, although it is not guaranteed that the players have heard about the dragon by then.

And regarding the dragon's location,

The dragon's lair is near but not on Icespire Peak on the map. There are a couple ways that it can be revealed by divine intervention, or it can be found by searching. There isn't any time when the players are prompted to search, and even if they were, I don't see any reason they would guess to look near Icespire Peak except by knowing the title of the adventure.


2 Answers 2


No, they don't need to know ...

I am not 100% certain that I fully understand the motivation of your question but since I just finished DM'ing that adventure for a group of D&D rookies a few months ago, I can tell you about my work and experience.

First, there's no need for the characters to know anything about a dragon. In fact, I didn't even tell my players anything about the title of the adventure. Partially, to prevent any metagaming, but also to build up real tension (see last section below about my greater plan).

At the beginning, all rumors might be just flavor for the (Dungeons & DRAGONs) story. But, it's also possible to (random) encounter the dragon on the first day (of course, that would be a 'You see a dragon swooping down in the distance'-encounter, only). And since even the youngling dragon is far too strong for the character group at level 1, it still might go as 'flavor' only. My group was especially 'unlucky'; they didn't actually see the dragon until they were at level 4, I think, when it tried to hunt the ox the group has borrowed (and it was an awesome experience for both players and characters as well).

The story slowly (!) builds up more evidence that a dragon is really causing trouble in that area and is causing the orcs (and others) to move into new locations. It's not important in the complete first half (or even 3/4?) of the adventure for the characters to know that there's a dragon involved in the story or even the center of the story.

The start: My character group was hired as (cheap) guards to protect a carriage to Phandalin, because it was told that in the past few weeks several merchants and travelers were ambushed by orcs (or kobolds?) in that area. There was no need to talk about any dragon.

You wrote:

The dragon that besets us is not the first to threaten this region.

That implies that the dragon is well known to the public by that point in the campaign, although it is not guaranteed that the players have heard about the dragon by then.

I do not agree to your interpretation, or rather: I adapted my interpretation to my greater storyline (see below; I decided to let dragons to be very rare at that time): That cited rumor is just from an old person, obviously trying to make himself important, (perhaps a dwarf, because of the age) that knows about that old dragon story. I still kept my players in the dark about the dragon: dragons are fabulous creatures from the past. Sure, they existed once, and maybe they are still somewhere, but not here at the Sword Coast: Most ordinary humans haven't seen one in their lifetime.

The last dragon in that area is just history - I don't remember if that was written somewhere, but I told my players that the last dragon that lived in that area was seen last several decades, maybe well over a century ago. That's the reason no one around knows anything specific about that old dragon or its lair. The sighting of a (new) dragon is somewhat fascinating - and frightening, of course.

The new dragon uses a different lair anyway than the old one; an old fortress, and even extended knowledge about the ruin's location is almost lost in the past. The exact position is not needed for the DM to know. I just told my player about their travel into the mountain region (after they learned about the fortress existence) and began to use a map again only, when the characters reached the spires (I assumed that there would be many, only the highest one is called Icespire Peak) and spotted the old fortress.

I hope this outline helps you. One last advice: Although this adventure is an introductory one for beginners it can quite easily drag on for a while, and even be stretched into a small campaign. But if you plan to do so; think about the next adventure or campaign. As I said, I planned for the Dragon Queen campaign, so I have used a lot of information from that campaign already in order to allow a very smooth transition. But in the end, I decided differently because of the way the story of the group was developing and what they were looking for. Instead, I extended the campaign by the 'Beyond the Dragon of Icespire Peak'-adventures, and that fits perfectly. Tiamat just has to wait :-)

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ "the last dragon was seen hundreds of years ago" means there will be a dragon in this campaign even more than "yeah dragons are everywhere". \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Apr 8 at 16:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Great detailed answer based on experience! It sounds like a fun game. Can I ask how the players knew to look in that mountain range? I don't remember anything in the book giving clues about that except under extraordinary circumstances. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jetpack
    Commented Apr 11 at 0:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jetpack: As noted in section Icespire Hold, there's a paragraph Finding Icespire Hold: "(...) Characters might learn of it after experiencing a vision as the Shrine of Savras (...)" and some more hints. I had given my players several clues about that mountain region (distributed over several gaming sessions), but at those times without connection to a dragon. For example, some of the orcs were driven out from their home to the butterskull ranch (-> location overview). When defeated by the characters, they were interrogated and admitted to have been pushed out of their home. \$\endgroup\$
    – Flynxer
    Commented Apr 11 at 6:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jetpack: I added enough clues over time so that when they got the last piece of the puzzle (so to say), it made click in their minds and they put it all together and knew where to look for the dragon. \$\endgroup\$
    – Flynxer
    Commented Apr 11 at 6:38

Something I didn't see when I posted the question is that the dragon is mentioned in the text of all three of the initial quests:

They need to be warned that a white dragon has moved into the area.

They might have something with which to defeat the dragon.

With dragon sightings becoming common, it's not safe for her to be alone.

So if you play as written, the players know there is a dragon as soon as they see the job board, which should be right away.

I don't know how they'd know where to look for the dragon, however.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I played the mayor of Phandalin as someone who is really afraid of dragons - like some people are afraid of spiders, even if they didn't actually see them. All the people in Phandalin knew of that anxiety and could tell the characters that the mayor is always blaming shadows ... err ... dragons for any mishaps. -- So yes, there were dragons mentioned, but I successfully made the players (!) believe, that those are just a story (maybe for later). \$\endgroup\$
    – Flynxer
    Commented Apr 11 at 6:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Regarding the whereabouts and finding of the dragon, see my comments to your initial question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Flynxer
    Commented Apr 11 at 6:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .