Excerpts 09/11/2004

By Wolfgang Baur, James Jacobs, George Strayton

Winter's chill can be lethal. Explorers of frostfell environments face deadly hazards, from icy terrain to cold-thriving monsters to the lung-freezing air itself.

So of course you want to send your PCs there.

Frostburn, the new supplement for the D&D game, explores the impact of arctic conditions and extreme cold-weather environments on every aspect of game play, from natural challenges to magic. It's a subzero survival manual for adapting to, navigating through, and enduring hazardous cold-weather conditions and foes. Our sneak peak offers a look at new races, feats, prestige classes, monsters, and other essentials of adventuring in icy realms.

Frostburn: New Race


Uldras are small fey that dwell in the arctic wilderness, living at peace with the natural world. In particular, uldras are quite fond of the wild animals of the world, and see themselves as the guardians and protectors of such creatures, especially in cases where civilization encroaches. Although they generally prefer to avoid conflict, they are quick to rise in the defense of local wildlife.

Personality: Uldras are exceptionally emotional creatures, and their reactions to new situations are always powerful and expressive. An uldra can be laughing with joy one moment, screaming with rage in the next, and then be calm and serene a moment later. To an uldra, these ever-changing mood swings are natural and logical, but they often project a feeling of insanity to more civilized people.

Nothing brings joy to an uldra's heart more than watching, playing with, or helping wild animals. They find domesticated animals to be depressing and enraging, and often stage midnight raids on villages to "rescue" cows, dogs, and other domesticated animals by kidnapping them and helping them to return to their wild roots. Uldras have a strong dislike of cities and civilization in general, and many of them take it upon themselves to harass and annoy travelers and other obviously city-bred folk they encounter.

Physical Description: Uldras are short and thin, standing anywhere from 2-1/2 to 3 feet tall and typically weighing 30-40 pounds. They are fairly long-lived, rivaling the elves for longevity. An uldra becomes an adult at approximately the age of 100, and can live to be more than 600 years old. Their limbs are long and thin, and each of their hands possesses three long fingers and a thumb. Their toes are also long and thin, with long sharp toenails. They tend to walk or run on the balls of their feet or their toes. Uldra skin is generally pale blue or even snow white. Hair color is typically some darker shade of blue or black, frosting to gray or light blue in advanced age. Their ears are large, but their nose, mouth, and chin are fairly small, giving their faces an expressive but undeniably alien look. The most startling feature about the uldra's visage, though, is its eyes; an uldra's eyes are quite large and colorful, and can be nearly any color (and often have two or three hues). Combinations of green, gold, and red are the most common. In the dark, their eyes seem to glow with a soft light. They prefer to dress simply in rustic clothing, and often eschew clothing altogether. The major exception is hats; uldras have a deep love of hats (especially pointed hats) and it's rare indeed to see a hatless uldra.

Relations: Uldras prefer the company of other fey (particularly dryads and other uldras), but since they tend to live closer to civilized lands than most fey, contact with the humanoid races is common. They find the most in common with gnomes, and most actively enjoy the company of gnomes and visit gnome villages to trade goods, stories, or friendship. They get along well enough with elves and halflings, but as a general rule they don't seek them out. Brutal races, such as orcs and goblinoids, are often thought of as little more than monsters by uldras, and they try to avoid contact with these creatures. The majority of conflicts in uldra society happen with humans and dwarves. These races have embraced technology more than the others, and their habits of expanding violently into the natural world or mining it for its riches enrages and depresses the average uldra. As a result, most uldras view humans and dwarves with bitter suspicion at best. Since uldras tend to avoid interacting with most nonuldra races except in times of conflict, they have developed a mostly undeserving reputation as a sinister and evil race in the eyes of most humanoids.

Alignment: Uldras are free-spirited and often give in to their emotions or act on a whim; as a result they are most often chaotic neutral. Many uldras, enraged by the lack of respect afforded the natural world by other races, turn to evil in an attempt to exact vengeance and to fight back in nature's behalf. Good-aligned uldras are rarer, but those who do resist their darker natures try to find peaceful ways for the civilized races and nature to coexist. Lawful uldras are quite rare, but not unheard of; usually such uldras are those who have had long contact with lawful humanoid societies.

Uldra Lands: Unlike humanoid races, uldras have little interest in building cities. They dwell in natural caves, hollow trees, dense thickets, or icy glacial tunnels or spires, finding comfort and shelter as they can. They tend to live in small groups of three to six family units, with about six uldras per family. Their lives are nomadic, and their society anarchic. Leadership, when necessary, is usually assumed by the loudest or strongest, and even then only lasts for a short time. Nothing breaks up uldra families faster than oppressive direction by a single overbearing authority figure.

Uldras are ferociously territorial, and usually react violently to any attempt to cultivate or alter natural regions by civilized races. They are less antagonistic toward explorers, wanderers, travelers, and adventurers, although if such creatures penetrate too deeply into lands held sacred by uldras they are often the target of ambushes.

Once in a great while, a group of uldras become seized with a powerful form of wanderlust, an irresistible urge to seek out new realms of nature beyond the tundras and glaciers and taigas of their ancestors. These uldras travel for many months, often years, following an almost terrifying obsession to find a new location to settle. These sudden urges to wander are known to uldras as homecomings, for upon arriving at the location that they have been mysteriously drawn to, uldras have a strong sense of belonging and ease. It's generally thought by uldras that a homecoming affects a particular family when a part of the natural world is endangered in some way, and this spiritual call for aid is answered when a new uldra family arrives to take the needy region under its care. Uldras usually settle in arctic regions after following a homecoming, but it's not unheard of for uldra homecomings to draw them to temperate or even tropical regions. Sometimes, an uldra family forges an iceheart (see page 110) to keep their new home at a more comfortable temperature, but for the most part temperate- and tropical-dwelling uldra families disband within six months.

Religion: Uldras do not normally worship deities, per se, but prefer to focus their religious attentions to nature itself. They view the natural world as a mystical force, a gift to the living that must be protected and nurtured. Animals, in particular, are viewed as the holiest portion of nature. Often, a group of uldras select a particularly powerful or ancient animal and worship it as a direct manifestation of nature. Some uldras do venerate deities, but these uldras tend to be loners or hermits that have given up family life for solitary existences.

This was not always the case, however. In the ancient past, most uldras were devout worshipers of a beautiful uldra deity named Hleid, and their faith in her tempered their natural inclination to be chaotic. Unfortunately, she was nearly slain one terrible night by her nemesis Iborighu. Her fragmented body was cast into the polar seas, where the burning remnants transformed into rimefire eidolons, which then created huge icebergs to protect themselves from further harm. The battle wounded Iborighu grievously as well, but he survived intact, and today his cult is the only organized religion in many uldra lands.

Since this time, robbed of the benign guidance of Hleid, uldras have slowly but inexorably grown more chaotic and suspicious of the world.

Today, Iborighu counts numerous sects of uldras as its most devout followers. Uldra cultists of Iborighu believe that the natural state of the world is one of perpetual winter and frozen beauty, and constantly seek ways to extend the freezing embrace of Iborighu into warmer regions. Uldra worshipers of Iborighu are, as a result, the most commonly encountered uldras outside arctic regions, and are the greatest reason that many humanoid races tend to view uldras as sinister and evil. Recently, clerics of Hleid have begun to reappear in the frostfell as well, possibly indicating that the deity is nearing a return to full divinity.

Language: Uldras are gifted linguists, and most know at least three languages spoken in the local region. Despite this, they have never developed their own language. The closest uldras have to a racial language is Sylvan. Most uldras believe that their gift for language is a gift from nature, that they were selected by the natural world to be its voice.

Names: Uldras choose their own names not long after they learn to speak as children, often basing their names on some facet of the natural world that particularly appeals to them. They don't attach much more significance to their names, and it's not unusual for an uldra to change names numerous times throughout his lifetime, as he encounters new manifestations of nature that appeal to him.

Male Names: Bluetop, Chillblood, Glacierface, Icetongue, Shiver, Tusktooth.

Female Names: Coldcrystal, Frostwillow, Glitterrime, Skie, Skitterime, Whispersnow.

Adventurers: An uldra usually becomes an adventurer in order to travel the world and seek out new natural realms to explore and experience. Often, an uldra with the urge to see the world joins with a group of like-minded adventurers (usually those with druids, barbarians, and rangers) for protection.

Uldra Racial Traits

-2 Strength, +2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom. An uldra's small size is more than compensated for by his vigor and faith in his convictions.

Small: As a Small creature, an uldra gains a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks, but he uses smaller weapons than humans use, and his lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters of those of a Medium character.

An uldra's base land speed is 20 feet.

Darkvision: Uldras can see in the dark up to 120 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and uldras can function just fine with no light at all.

Low-Light Vision: An uldra can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.

Nature Scholar (Ex): The Knowledge (nature) skill is always a class skill for uldras, and they gain a +2 racial bonus on all Knowledge (nature) checks.

Cold Resistance (Ex): Uldras are completely at home in freezing environments, and they suffer no harm from being in a cold environment. The uldra's equipment is likewise protected. Against attacks that cause cold damage, an uldra possesses resistance to cold 5.

Frosty Touch (Su): Uldras are supernaturally cold, and as a free action they can infuse their hands with cold energy. While their hands are frosty, their unarmed attacks do an additional 1 point of cold damage. Any melee weapon an uldra wields is infused with cold and does an additional 1 point of cold damage on a successful hit as long as the uldra continues to hold the weapon. This additional damage does not stack with a magic weapon's ability to deal cold damage (if any).

Spell-Like Abilities: 3/day -- ray of frost; 1/day -- speak with animals, touch of fatigue. These abilities are as the spells cast by a druid or wizard (save DC 10 + spell level) of a level equal to the uldra's Hit Dice. The DCs are Wisdom-based.

Fey Blood: Uldras are fey, and as such they are not subject to spells that specifically target humanoids, such as charm person or hold person. Likewise, effects that affect fey affect uldras as well. They possess no particular weakness against cold iron, although they find it uncomfortable to the touch, similar to the sensation of holding a rotting fish in your hand.

Automatic Languages: Common and Sylvan. Bonus Languages: All. Uldras are gifted linguists, and the Speak Language skill is always a class skill for them.

Favored Class: Druid. A multiclass uldra's druid class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.

Level Adjustment: +1.

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