The winter months are a fantastic source of inspiration for fantasy stories, and for fantasy tabletop games. Dungeons and Dragons is no exception!
For your wintertime oneshots and sessions, you’ve got a lot of monsters and creatures to choose from. Frost Giants and White Dragons are common favorites, as well as more holiday-specific options like custom made Krampuses, Grinches, and Santa Clauses. Of course, if you don’t like those, there are plenty more options available to you. And if you can’t find them in releases for the current edition, don’t worry: we’ve looked through 3/3.5e’s various Monster Manuals to find a bunch for you to convert, or just take inspiration from!
Interesting Ice Elementals
A great option for survival and environment-rich games is the use of elementals as villains and enemies. These forces of nature really bring to the forefront the dangers of the winter season: chilling cold, bleak nights, and the constant struggle to survive. Giving such forces of nature a sentient, (potentially) sapient form for your players to fight against can be a truly compelling conflict.
Most elementals in DnD fall into Earth, Air, Water, and Fire categories, but older editions also included a Plane of Cold, making that an elemental category to use, as well as making Ice an elemental intersection of Air and Water.
While you might re-skin an air elemental to make a viable ice elemental, you can also go for the more intimidating Ice Paraelemental. These combo-elementals combine the might of both air and water, and are made unpredictable by the conflicting inherent natures of their elements, as with their magma, ooze, and smoke cousins.
Ice Paraelementals are usually found on the Planes of Air and Water, but neither are truly cold enough for them. So, they use their chilling powers to try and freeze over any plane that they happen to enter, including the Material Plane. In a fight, they’re shrewd, wielding icicles like spears, and faking flat-footedness to draw their opponents near enough to chill their armor to the point of dealing damage. Their twinkling eyes (like the reflection of light on ice) reveal this inclination to trickery, though their light and tinkling voices bely it.
Less outrightly evil than simple Paraelementals, Immoths are smarter, more mysterious, and generally more complicated to deal with. There is no actual set origin for these creatures, although legends supposedly guess that they were once regular elementals cursed by a powerful sorcerer when they refused to ally with him. To break the curse, they must find the words of the curse scattered about the planes. This may not be exactly true, however.
These icy giants are native to the colder areas of the Planes of Air and Water as well, but they leave mainly in pursuit of new knowledge to bring back to vast ice libraries. They prefer diplomatic tactics to get this knowledge, but are happy to resort to violence if that fails. And that violence can be devastating, since Immoths are powerful spellcasters who bolster themselves with magic, cover themselves with protective runes, and can poison their enemies with their stinging tails. And any felled enemy is unlikely to be brought back, since they sustain themselves by devouring the life force of living creatures.
Aside from elementals, there are plenty of other frosty foes to fight.
In DnD, even a peaceful snowy landscape can be a threat, and Snowflake Oozes are proof of that. And while their appearance is a great deal more attractive than other oozes, lacy and delicate and soft, they are no less dangerous than their slimy cousins.
Snowflake Oozes are mindless monsters that seek out the nearest warmth-giving creature to frost over. They fight in a similarly straightforward way, attempting to grab, smother, and freeze. Adventurers must be wary, though, since attempting to deal bludgeoning damage to a large enough Snowflake Ooze will simply split it into two foes to deal with, instead of dealing it any damage. And even getting too close can deal cold damages (with a pretty high save)!
While they hail from the Hells, these evil caribou are not, in fact, devils. Instead, they’re considered outsiders, perhaps brought there by Mephistopheles’ planar experiments. They loathe the denizens of the Hells, and frequently make their way onto the Material Plane, seeking new territory and power, much at the expense of the mortals who already live there.
Typically, a Rejkar will lend their powers to an isolated arctic village or tribe, making them weapons, creating food, summoning visions of the future, and generally making themselves indispensable. Over time, that dependence grows (magical influence usually playing a role), and the village turns and attacks any neighbors who might threaten the Rejkar’s control. In an outright fight, it will send it’s thralls to fight and kill for it, and only fights themselves as a last resort. If it does have to, it freezes its foes with a magical gaze, before goring them with its horns.
Unlike the rest of this article’s monsters, Asperi are not evil, and are not something that your players are likely to try and fight. Instead, these beautiful horses make excellent reward mounts, environmental details, or even quest-givers, since they are sapient. They may even be the culprit of dead griffins or hippogriffs since they hate such creatures and will go out of their way to kill them.
Asperi are rare magical horses that live high on mountains and glaciers, and travel around them in herds, flying on air currents to “ride the wind” and increase their speed. They are fully sapient, and very intelligent, and if pushed to a fight they prefer to fly about their opponents and force them over cliffs. That’s unlikely, though, since they’re generally peaceable. If caught and trained young, they may sometimes act as mounts, but only if they are treated with respect and compassion – they won’t tolerate a chaotic or evil rider.
Have you ever used any of these monsters in a campaign? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below!