Posts Tagged ‘ice’

UPDATE: The statistics for these catastrophic dragons have been moved, but fear not! You can now grab them in a totally awesome Pay What You Want PDF on the DMs Guild.

On Tuesday, I gave you all a glimpse at my first attempt at creating one of fifth edition D&D versions of the fourth edition catastrophic dragons. If you want to go back and checkout that post you can read all about the blizzard dragon. I’m welcoming any and all feedback before I add these baddies to the Free Game Resources section of this site, so if you’re interested, please go check it out and let me know what you think!

A Quick Recap

Now some of you may have missed fourth edition, catastrophic dragons, and/or the post before this. If you’re wondering what they are and what my vision is for them, I’ve pulled an excerpt from Tuesday’s post below. If you’re already caught up, feel free to skip to the next section of this post.

Catastrophic dragons were once chromatic dragons who desired more than a hoard and a lair. For while others stole and hid from the humanoids over whom they claimed superiority, these dragons knew that all other life in the multiverse should be bowing to their will. Power is a far greater reward than any material possession and as the smartest and strongest in the land, dragons deserved to be in charge. Any thought other than this was impractical and stupid.

These dragons tried to convince their brethren to leave their caves and make the humanoids submit to their will. The other chromatic dragons did not like this sudden interest in the affairs of lesser beings and so with greater numbers they did come together. They banished their radical kin to the elemental planes. For hundreds of years these rebellious chromatic dragons were locked in seas of fire, ice, wind, and stone. Those who did not die were shaped by elemental forces and remade into catastrophic dragons.

Each trapped catastrophic dragon has its imprisonment tied to the soul of a chromatic dragon on the material plane. If one of these gatekeeper chromatic dragon should die before it can pass the responsibility onto another, the catastrophic dragon can leave the plane of its imprisonment and wreak havoc on the world.

Catastrophic dragons once wanted to dominate all life in the multiverse. After years of suffering the harsh terrain of the elemental planes, their minds are warped and they desire only to kill all those inferior to them, especially chromatic dragons whom they hate above all others.Their memories are long and catastrophic dragons do not forget their betrayal at the hands of their kin. If they escape their bonds, they may keep a hoard, but usually only for the purpose of attracting other dragons and killing them.

Earthquake Dragons

Mighty earthquake dragons appear to be hewn from great craggy mountains. Their skin looks like tightly packed boulders and their muscle is stone, with piercing, bright eyes which promise hate and death. Those who dare to get close enough to an earthquake dragon can see its entire being quivering with rage and elemental energy.

Blunt and Brawn. Short on patience for even their own kin earthquake dragons are always one wrong look or comment away from a murderous outburst. They have no time for lies or manipulation. Those who are in the dragon’s way will be destroyed. The dragons rely on fear of their power to get the job done when they do work with minions, which is not often. Any who work with earthquake dragons know eventually their rage and hatred for all non-elemental life wins out. Partnerships with these beasts are short-lived and end in murder.

Everything Must Die. It is said that earthquake dragons carry such rage in their hearts and they barely care for their own lives. Even in battle their attitude is grim, and they fight to the bitter end, destroying all that they can with their very last breaths. The anger they feel is compounded with the pain at being stuck in the Elemental Plane of Earth, constantly crushed and claustrophobic. Once free, most can only think about how they must inflict the same crushing anguish upon all living things.

An Earthquake Dragon’s Lair

Earthquake dragons make their lairs underground in mazes of tight, twisting tunnels in which they can trap intruders with a well-placed collapse. Amidst these tunnels are usually huge caverns where a dragon and its elemental minions might confront threats head on. Earthquake dragons tend to leave their kills wherever they happen to fall, letting them serve as warnings and signs of the dragon’s might to any who dare enter.

The entrance of an earthquake dragon’s lair is usually deep within a canyon or fissure filled with all manner of elemental guardians. The entrance of the lair is often blocked by a collapse which the earthquake dragon can easily clear, but serves as a more difficult obstacle for smaller creatures. Sometimes earthquake dragons will block several tunnels, most of which are decoys meant to throw off any would-be heroes. These decoy tunnels end in dead ends.

Earthquake dragons lack finesse and prefer to face any threat directly, using all their brawn. They normally face threats in large rooms with plenty of loose rock structures they can topple over to hinder foes. Earthquake dragons rarely form an escape plan. Their rage forces them to fight until the bitter end.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

UPDATE: The statistics for these catastrophic dragons have been moved, but fear not! You can now grab them in a totally awesome Pay What You Want PDF on the DMs Guild.

I loved a lot of things in fourth edition Dungeons and Dragons. The balance, the monster stat blocks, the warlord class, the shardmind race, and more. While that edition has been panned for many worthy and unworthy reasons, it created some of my favorite beasties ever – the catastrophic dragons.

It’s no surprise we didn’t see the blizzard, earthquake, and volcanic dragons in the fifth edition Monster Manual. The book already has over thirty pages of draconic goodness between the chromatic and metallic dragons. Still, you know what the great thing about TRPGs is? We can, nay, we are encouraged to create things on our own for our games. Well I thought I’d share my version of the catastrophic dragons with you over the next week or so for feedback and use in your own game. Once I’m happy with it and after reading your feedback, I’ll put these bad mamma jammas on the Free Game Resources section of this site!

But First, a Shoutout!

I probably wouldn’t be writing this post if it weren’t for this month’s RPG Blog Carnival theme of races, chosen by John Four over at Roleplaying Tips. Now I know by races John means PC races, but I’m going to write about a few new races of dragons! I want to use these baddies in my Exploration Age campaign, so here I’ve given them a story that should work in most game worlds in case you want to use them in yours too.

Crafting the Story

When you look at the catastrophic dragons description in the Monster Manual 3 for fourth edition, you learn these beasts are tied to primordials and the Dawn War. Essentially once Io died, some chromatic dragons were all like, “Tiamat’s my jam!” and the metallics were all righteous and like, “Bahamut’s the shiz, brah.” Some dragons, though, were like, “Both ya’ll cray. Those gods are selfish and weak.” These dragons went to the side of the primordials, seeking protection from the chromatic and metallic dragons who were all, “Say what? Now you gots to die for talking smack about our gods.” The primordials hid away these naysayer dragons in the furthest reaches of the Elemental Chaos, where they were reforged in elemental forces and became the catastrophic dragons. They hate pretty much everything that isn’t an elemental and want to watch the world be torn apart by these forces.

It’s a good story, but not all campaign settings fit that mold so I want something that can work a little more generally. This includes the world of Exploration Age, which has no Dawn War in its history. My idea for a story is below, which borrows from the original tale above.

It was around this time monsters got really great in fourth edition.

The History of Catastrophic Dragons

Catastrophic dragons were once chromatic dragons who desired more than a hoard and a lair. For while others stole and hid from the humanoids over whom they claimed superiority, these dragons knew that all other life in the multiverse should be bowing to their will. Power is a far greater reward than any material possession and as the smartest and strongest in the land, dragons deserved to be in charge. Any thought other than this was impractical and stupid.

These dragons tried to convince their brethren to leave their caves and make the humanoids submit to their will. The other chromatic dragons did not like this sudden interest in the affairs of lesser beings and so with greater numbers they did come together. They banished their radical kin to the elemental planes. For hundreds of years these rebellious chromatic dragons were locked in seas of fire, ice, wind, and stone. Those who did not die were shaped by elemental forces and remade into catastrophic dragons.

Each trapped catastrophic dragon has its imprisonment tied to the soul of a chromatic dragon on the material plane. If one of these gatekeeper chromatic dragon should die before it can pass the responsibility onto another, the catastrophic dragon can leave the plane of its imprisonment and wreak havoc on the world.

Behavior of Catastrophic Dragons

Catastrophic dragons once wanted to dominate all life in the multiverse. After years of suffering the harsh terrain of the elemental planes, their minds are warped and they desire only to kill all those inferior to them, especially chromatic dragons whom they hate above all others.Their memories are long and catastrophic dragons do not forget their betrayal at the hands of their kin. If they escape their bonds they may keep a hoard, but usually only for the purpose of attracting other dragons and killing them.

Blizzard Dragons

Blizzard dragons appear almost wraith-like. These creatures have thin hides of ice-covered snow which crackles and mists with elemental energy. Their eyes glow white and their frozen bones are visible through the tightly packed snow around their joints.

Cold and storm follow a blizzard dragon wherever it goes. As one approaches the weather turns bitter and windy as snow heralds the blizzard dragon’s arrival.

Planners and Schemers. Blizzard dragons are the most level-headed of the rage-filled catastrophic dragons. This is not to say they are without anger, but they are more likely to work with other elemental creatures and formulate a plan before battle, rather than simply relying on their might to kill everything in sight.

Friend of the Undead. Blizzard dragons have been known to work alongside undead. They recognize in undead the same hatred for life and the desire to destroy and use that to mutual benefit for as long as a partnership will allow.

A Blizzard Dragon’s Lair

Where other dragons carve lairs out of the earth, blizzard dragons often build theirs out of ice and packed snow, creating elaborate, twisting mazes with slick floors and walls. From the outside this mass of tunnels looks almost like an enormous forgotten ball of clear yarn.

These passages are riddled with holes, so the sleet can still pelt the dragon’s enemies as they move through its home. The wind can carry the scent of intruders to the dragon deep within. The tunnels often take sudden turns or dips, creating slick, icy slides which take the dragon’s enemy into some perilous trap.

Legendary blizzard dragons often build their personal chambers with deep pits and ice spiked floors into which they move their enemies using their Catastrophic Aura. Blizzard dragons are crafty. As their aura grows they might cling to the walls or ceiling to use it to its fullest effect. They always have a secret escape tunnel in case events go awry, hidden by a thin sheet of ice and snow.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

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.


STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
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.

Actions

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!!!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

You ever look at the North Pole and ask yourself, “Why in the Hell would Santa want to live there?” The answer is simple – his operation is so confidential he went to the one place no one could find him. Even if you know exactly where his operation is, good luck braving the elements to get there. I feel bad for the person who has to deliver all those letters to him. Seriously, a man with the power to see us at all times of the day should have an email address.

Exploration Age has blank spots on the map beyond The Damned Lands and Verda. The harsh environments of Glacius and the North and South Poles of Canus have kept even the toughest explorers at bay.

Glacius

Map of Glacius

Map of Glacius

Just North of Findalay lies a continent about the size of Parian covered in snow and ice. Glacius is one-third frozen ocean, one-third snow-covered plains, and one-third mysterious ice-covered mountain range with the occasional volcano and aberrant ruin thrown-in.

The snow plains of Glacius are a near constant blizzard, but thanks to the Society of Seekers and The Explorers’ Guild most of the area has been mapped. For those with the stomach for it, the snow plains offer some of the most spectacular sights in all of Canus. Rare beasts, a strange aberrant ruin full of mysterious labs, and bizarre weather phenomena make Glacius unlike any other place on the planet. All of these rarities are not as strange as the seemingly abandoned tunnels dug into the frozen snow. Where exactly the tunnels lead and what their purpose was is up for debate, as no expedition deep into the tunnels has ever come back.

Glacius’ frozen ocean is the most dangerous place to get rich quick. Frozen within the ice is gold dust. Ice-breaking ships manned by all-or-nothing crews make their way through the sea, trying to find the best places to saw out blocks of ice flecked with gold. These blocks are melted aboard the ship and the gold is then harvested. Of course, the frozen ocean has many of its own hazards such as weather, thin ice, hidden icebergs, polar bears, krakens, ice pirates, and more. Boats can get stuck inside the frozen ocean if they venture too far into the ice and the sea freezes their path behind them. In this case the crew can starve and freeze or abandon ship and try to survive out on the ice – a miserable existence. Perhaps the most frightening hazard upon the frozen ocean is The Undead Miner Army. Sailors tell tales of a greedy legion of wights who met their fate mining gold on the ice. These undead are always looking to increase their ranks and horde of gold by attacking the crews of the living. There may be truth to these rumors, since destroyed mining ships have been found with all their gold removed and not a single corpse ever in the bloodstained area.

Imagine… a legion of this guy!

The Ice Ranges of Glacius are the unmapped area of the continent. The ice-covered mountains have peaks higher than 20,000 feet. As a result, no one has ever ventured beyond the outer-most mountains so what occurs within the Ice Ranges remains a mystery. Occasionally a white dragon can be seen flying toward the mountains and those with keen ears can hear thunderous booms erupting from the inner peaks through the howling blizzard winds.

Two active volcanoes live in Glacius. Mt. Steam sits on an island in the frozen ocean. Some sailors claim to have seen a massive red dragon coming from or going to Mt. Steam, but those rumors have never been corroborated. The other volcano, Mt. Hyrias sits on Glacius’ coast and seems to constantly spew ash and lava into the sea. Mad soothsayers claim that the aberrants buried a weapon beneath this lava flow long ago and are soon going to return to use it and cover Canus in ash and fire.

The Poles

If Glacius is remote and dangerous than Canus’ poles are the hardest-earned suicide mission Exploration Age has to offer. Barely explored, and less often survived, few know what the poles have to offer. To some that is a reason to stay away, but for others the challenge has become a draw. The Society of Seekers and The Explorers’ Guild have a bit of an unofficial race going between them. The Society has an independent pet project of exploring the South Pole while The Guild is exploring the North. Both are hoping to prove their superiority over the other by filling in the blank spots of their pole’s map first.

While both poles are cold, icy masses of frozen ocean with treacherous terrain and more dangerous weather, each does have its own unique hazards. The North Pole’s winds are stronger than any other on Canus. Whirlwinds of snow and ice can kick up at any moment, or gusts of wind could blow so strong that a traveler without ice cleats may be lifted off of the surface of the frozen ocean and carried into the air. Flying is not an option on the North Pole for any but the most powerful creatures.

Below the surface of the North Pole swim predatory creatures known as ice-breaker sharks. These crafty beings use the bony growths upon their heads to weaken the ice in a given area then surprise their prey by either breaking through the weak spot or allowing their target to fall through it before attacking. Either way ice breaker sharks can sense footsteps through the ice from up to a mile away and will begin preparing a hunting ground with plenty of these weak spots. They often allow their prey to travel far into the hunting grounds before attacking so they can surround the victims with weak spots, giving no option for easy escape.

Who wants to snuggle?

The South Pole is just as deadly as the North Pole. Winds are not as fierce, however the snow falls so heavily here it forms massive dunes that are treacherous to climb. The snow is uneven and could collapse at any moment, burying a traveler. As if the snow and weather weren’t enough, earthquakes constantly shake The South Pole, threatening to level and reform new snow dunes constantly, not to mention bury and knock adventurers off their feet. But the worst of the worst hazards in The South Pole is The Lingering Havoc.

No one is sure of The Havoc’s origin. Some say it is an ancient remnant of aberrant societies, some say it migrated from The Damned Lands or mysterious parts of Verda, and others believe there is a darker force somewhere deep within the South Pole controlling the force. Few have seen The Lingering Havoc and lived to tell of it. Those who have their minds permanently warped. Yet all those who describe The Havoc have a similar story to tell. Either coming out of the snowy depths or rising through the broken ice, a massive creature, more than 500 feet tall by many accounts. The Lingering Havoc is a hulking mass of bones and corpses of various humanoids, animals, and monsters that have somehow formed together into one colossal engine of destruction.

Other than their ongoing competition, why would The Society of Seekers and The Explorers’ Guild continue to risk it all over two seemingly worthless hunks of ice? Because there could be profit, adventure, glory, and discovery to be found over the next snow dune. Aberrant ruins that have yet to be picked over, a new race of intelligent beings, portals to other worlds, and more endless possibilities live in the minds of adventurers and PCs. It’s my promise to deliver on those expectations, provided they survive the harsh cold… and the ice breaker sharks… and The Lingering Havoc… you get the idea.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!