Author’s Note: The updated version of the monster below can now be found at the Free Game Resources page of World Builder Blog. Thank you for all your feedback and please keep it coming!

The South Pole has The Lingering Havoc, but the North Pole holds a terror which strikes from the deep. After all, Canus’ North Pole is merely a surface layer of frozen ocean with dark, cold waters swirling beneath. The Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition Exploration Age monster update continues with new statistics for the icebreaker shark. Gotta love October!

Like this, but bigger and more bones sticking out of its face.

The Frozen Terror

If you missed the first and second posts about icebreaker sharks, here’s their story. Icebreaker sharks are massive fish, a little larger than a great white, which prefer the cold, black ocean beneath the ice of the North Pole. They can sense vibrations in the ice above and stalk prey from below, waiting for them to move into an area where the ice is thin enough to break through. Other times the icebreaker shark prepares a killing ground in an area where prey is known to pass through by thinning the ice. The icebreaker shark has thick bony protrusions on its face and tail, which means it can shatter the dense surface of the North Pole and pull down victims into the freezing ocean, before they even realize they are being consumed.

Since the icebreaker shark can prepare its killing grounds, imagine walking through the arctic, suddenly being in a maze or trapped on a slow shrinking island of ice with a 30-foot hungry shark in the freezing depths below. If that doesn’t scare you, you’re probably someone pretty tough, like Vegas Lancaster.

Icebreaker sharks are often loners, but they have to mate, and gods help the person who walks onto the ice above two icebreakers creating life. Those sharks will have worked up an appetite doing their thing…

Statty Bo Batty

Statistics for the D&D 5e giant shark from the Basic rules.

Statistics for the D&D fifth edition giant shark from the Basic rules.

So we need to come up with some new statistics for the icebreaker shark to make it nice and terrifying. I started with the giant shark statistics in the Monster Manual and Basic D&D DM rules. It’s the baddest shark available, however it is not challenging enough for my needs to just do a reskin. The icebreaker shark is a loner meant for encounters in the harsh terrain of Glacius and the South Pole in Canus, where there are creatures a little tougher than the giant shark. So I’m giving its stats a little boost and increases its hit points and damage output. I think a challenge rating of 8 is a good place for this creature, which puts it on par with the frost giant and tyrannosaurus rex. In fact, let’s take a look at the tyrannosaurus stats.

Tyrannosaurus rex statistics from Basic D&D.

Tyrannosaurus rex statistics from Basic D&D.

Nice! So I have an idea of where hit points and damage should be for an equivalent monster. After essentially smashing the giant shark and tyrannosaurus together, I went back to the old statistics for the original icebreaker shark, and took the Ice Smash and Weaken Ice abilities and slapped those onto my awesome dinosaur shark. I also gave the icebreaker shark a little multiattack action, since its tail is almost as dangerous as its head.

I think the most terrifying thing about the icebreaker shark, or any shark for that matter, is that you fight it on its own terms in the water. Most of us are clumsy, slow, and at a huge disadvantage in the ocean blue. Add freezing temperatures to that and things become dire. So part of the icebreaker shark’s terror is the environment which comes with it.

Icebreaker Shark

Huge beast, unaligned

Armor Class 14 (natural armor)

Hit Points 162 (13d12 + 78)

Speed 0 ft., swim 50 ft.

25 (+7) 12 (+1) 23 (+6) 2 (-4) 10 (+0) 9 (-1)

Skills Perception +3

Damage Resistances cold

Senses blindsight 60 ft., passive Perception 13

Languages –

Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)

Blood Frenzy. The icebreaker shark has advantage on melee attack rolls against any creature that doesn’t have all its hit points.

Water Breathing. The icebreaker shark can only breathe underwater.


Multiattack. The icebreaker shark can make a bite and a tail attack, make a bite attack and use Ice Smash, or make a bite an attack and use Weaken Ice.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5ft., one creature. Hit: 33 (4d12 + 7) piercing damage. If the target is a Medium or smaller creature it is grappled (escaped DC 17). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, and the icebreaker shark cannot bite another target.

Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10ft., one creature. Hit: 25 (4d8 + 7) bludgeoning damage.

Ice Smash. The icebreaker shark can destroy a 15-foot cube of ice within 10 feet, possibly creating a hole through which the shark can attack. Any creatures standing on the affected ice must succeed on a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw or fall through the ice. Any creature who succeeds on the save ends up in an unoccupied space adjacent to the smashed ice.

When the icebreaker shark uses this ability on a cube of ice adjacent to any weakened ice (see below) the weakened ice is also smashed. Any weakened adjacent to the smashed weakened ice is also smashed, and so on for any touching patches of weakened ice.

Weaken Ice. The icebreaker shark can weaken a 15-foot cube of ice within 10 feet. This ice counts as weakened for the purpose of its Ice Smash ability.

So there you have it. Are you terrified of this creature? DMs, would you use it in your game? Players do you want to fight one? Let me know what you think!!!

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  1. joelastowski says:

    The trouble I see with any water critter stats, at this point, is that we do not yet have rules for underwater combat. They’ll probably come in the DMG, which’ll hit favored gaming stores on Black Friday, but until then, the potential challenge rating of a critter like the ice shark goes up immensely, because he can just go back into the black icy waters, unable to be seen or targeted by anyone, until he once again use Ice Smash at his leisure. But if you’re suddenly in the water near the shark (due to being on weakened ice, for instance), what rules govern how you’d even begin to fight it? Older editions had different penalties for different types of weapons (piercing was fine, but other types had penalties. Given that 5E has weapon damage types like that, but has yet to use them in any meaningful way, I’d wager that they might come up in water-fighting rules. What about armor types and swimming checks? We know that some armors give disadvantage to Stealth checks… but nothing has been said yet about how foolish it might be to take a dip while in plate mail (that I’ve seen). And the spells… I still recall the 2nd ed Complete Wizards Handbook (crappy binding and all) with its discussion on how various wizard spells would change underwater (lightning spells, if I remember correctly, became much better). But we don’t have any indication of how that’ll play out yet.

    And yes, I realize that WotC has already given us a number of water critter stats (including a Giant Sea Horse, since we all use those pretty frequently)… but they’ve also got the benefit of knowing what is in the DMG, and knowing what rules they plan to use for water combat. The few critters that can also attack on land (like the Kraken or the giant octopus) are not running away quickly, so they can be responded to by characters on land, using well-defined rules for on-land fighting. I feel like, given the ice shark’s ability to attack on land (presumably with surprise), then disappear into the murky depths immediately, the final challenge rating might need to wait till the DMG comes out.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of this monster, but I feel like the CR may end up being higher, depending on what the final water combat rules end up being.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, of course, things can change in the future, but I’m actually going to challenge you and say we do have rules for underwater combat that people can use right now. I don’t have my PHB on me, but it’s on page 77 of the Player Basic Rules. Sure, we may see a more in-depth module in the DMG, but I would guess a fair amount of people will roll with what’s already out there. Similarly there’s rules for swimming. Right now, it’s unaffected by armor in the default rules. There may be a module DMs can bring into that, but that’s their choice if they want to up the difficulty and complexity of encounter. I need to base challenge rating on the default, which is already out there.

      Also, bear in mind that as a Challenge 8 creature, there’s a lot of spells and items players will have access to that could easily change the tide of battle. Yes, the shark can slink back into its hole, but players can go after it if they want, or the wizard can cast fly and then can simply travel, untracked by the shark to any place they want.

      So I feel ok putting the creature out, since we already have the base rules for swimming and underwater combat and because I’m willing to change as new stuff comes out.


    • qpop says:

      I am actually really hoping that they don’t add anything in for armor to affect swimming, athletics, or movement speed. I like that armor now has a proficiency and a strength requirement and after that you don’t have to worry about it. I feel like they made heavy armor so much more viable now, especially with the way it ignores negative dex mods too, and I would be sad to see that utility weakened. The way they currently do things is very similar to GURPS, where if your strength is high enough it doesn’t matter what you are carrying. If you go over certain thresholds though then you get increasing penalties to defenses, movement, and maybe certain skills (I am no expert). If I’m a Strength 20 godling (let’s not forget how strong that is), why should it matter what kind of armor I have on?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Michael Robbins says:

    I think the creature and the logic behind its stats is good, but never find myself using aquatic monsters with the slightest degree of frequency. I’m not a fan of wild environmental shifts that screw over normal mechanics (but I am a fan of realistic enough physics that I would totally endorse any rules that make it harder to swim with plate mail on because it should be). Actually, one of my favorite ideas I remember reading early on about the 5th Ed universe was that the elemental planes would start with areas closest to the Material Plane that were a slow mix of the two regions. I remember thinking in older editions, “The Elemental Plane of Fire sounds cool, but really, the moment you go there you are floating in an endless sea of fire?”. The new version where the Elemental Plane of Fire starts with crazy hot deserts, volcanoes, giant black basalt fortresses of Azer, etc. That is actually somewhere I could send adventurers to without burning them all to a crisp instantly. I actually broke out the 3.5 books for SandStorm, StormWrack, and Frostburn and saw all their rules for weird magical weather or hazards and thought that the near-elemental planes would be a great spot for them.

    If an aquatic monster is something I can use in a dungeon of half submerged tunnels and creepy things are swimming by the PCs under the dark water, or the Evil Overlord can summon a wave to crash into a port city bringing an army of invading grindylow and sahuagin into the streets for a quick raid before they start to suffer from being out of the water too long, that appeals to me. Something as completely aquatic as a shark, though, is not something that would get a lot of play in a game I run. Fortunately, though, not everyone runs the same as I do, which opens the door to exchange and steal ideas from each other 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed! I love sharks and always manage to work an encounter or two with them into a campaign arc, but for the most part the battles happen on land. Still, I couldn’t help myself I had to create this guy once I thought of it. Part shark and part ankylosaurus? I admit, it’s pretty comic booky, but that’s just my style!


  3. riosps says:

    I like the potential that this monster has. Walking along when suddenly the whole ice field falls away? Priceless. Also, it feels powerful enough to really be a threat as a solo (or duo) threat, especially with, as you said, the environment being a factor. Sure, maybe you do defeat the shark, but now you’ve been in the frigid waters of the North Pole. Not only could you have taken quite a bit of cold damage from your polar-plunge, but you are also screwed thanks to your wet gear, which will freeze solid in the North (disadvantage on survival/constitution checks to resist the cold/exhaustion perhaps).

    Maybe the shark’s Intelligence should be a bit higher (since it is a predator that sets traps), and maybe it should have cold immunity (since it swims in the coldest place in the world), but besides that, I really have no issue with the icebreaker shark. The only thing I’d request is a swallow attack, because a shark this size should be able to swallow medium creatures whole and with impunity 🙂

    Great job again! Love getting stats for all these great creatures we’ve been hearing about!

    Liked by 1 person

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