Far Corners of the World02/23/2003

Snow and Ice: Monsters
of the Frozen Lands

A large number of monsters and creatures have adapted to life in the frozen lands. Some of these creatures, like the polar bear, the caribou, and the walrus, have developed thick layers of blubber and fur to shield themselves from the elements. Far more mysterious and dangerous are creatures like the frost worm, white dragon, and the winter wolf; magic creatures that have not only adapted to the cold, but have become one with the cold. These creatures are truly at home in the frozen lands, and they find higher temperatures uncomfortable at best and deadly at worst.

Presented here are three new additions to the frozen lands, all of which are born of the cold and revel in the frozen lands. First we examine the rime sprite, a mischievous fey that lurks on the shores of polar seas. Perhaps most terrifying of all are the dreaded shivhad, which are massive and deadly aberrations that rule entire glaciers. Finally we take a look at the tlalusk, which is a huge and dangerous herd animal sometimes used by frost giants as mounts.

Rime Sprite
Tiny Fey (Cold, Aquatic)
Hit Dice: 1/2 d6 (1 hp)
Initiative: +9
Speed: 40 ft., fly 80 ft. (perfect), swim 60 ft.
AC: 17 (+2 size, +5 Dex), touch 17, flat-footed 12
Attacks:Ray of frost +7 ranged
Damage:Ray of frost 1d3 cold
Face/Reach: 2 1/2 ft. by 2 1/2 ft./0 ft.
Special Attacks: Snow flurry, spell-like abilities
Special Qualities: Cold subtype, low-light vision, SR 5, water walk
Saves: Fort +0, Ref +7, Will +4
Abilities: Str 5, Dex 20, Con 11, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 18
Skills: Balance +9, Bluff +7, Diplomacy +7, Hide +17, Knowledge (nature) +6, Listen +6, Move Silently +9, Spot +6, Swim +9, Tumble +9, Wilderness Lore +6
Feats: Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mobility
Climate/Terrain: Arctic coastlines and oceans
Organization: Solitary, pair, gang (2-4), band (6-11), or tribe (12-84)
Challenge Rating: 1
Treasure: No coins, 50% goods (metal or stone only), 50% items (no scrolls)
Alignment: Always chaotic neutral
Advancement: 1-3 HD (Tiny)

The mischievous rime sprite is the bane of sailors and fishermen alike. This tiny fey derives great delight in tormenting humanoids who live and work on arctic coastlines. Rime sprites stand just over 1 foot in height. They look like animated ice statues of beautiful or handsome elves with snow for hair.

Most rime sprites remain content playing harmless jokes on people, such as freezing unattended drinks, entangling people and boats in patches of seaweed, or creating minor images of valued personal objects afloat just out of reach in the water. Rime sprites are easy to anger, though, and if they even think that they are being threatened, their jokes quickly turn deadly and cruel.

Rime sprites speak Common, Aquan, and Sylvan.


Rime sprites are fairly helpless in melee combat, and they know it. They prefer to use their spell-like abilities or ray of frost attacks from the air. They generally reserve their snow flurry ability to cover their retreats.

Snow Flurry (Su): Three times per day, a rime sprite can create a highly localized blast of windblown snowflakes at a range of up to 100 feet. A snow flurry fills a 5-foot cube, and any creature within this area must make a Reflex save (DC 14) or be dazed for 1d4 rounds.

Spell-Like Abilities: At will -- create water, dancing lights, ghost sound, open/close, ray of frost; 3/day -- entangle, minor image, obscuring mist. Caster level 1st; save DC 14 + spell level.

Cold Subtype (Ex): A rime sprite is immune to cold damage but takes double damage from fire unless a saving throw for half damage is allowed. In that case, the creature takes half damage on a success and double damage on a failure.

Water Walk (Su): A rime sprite can walk on water at will.

Gargantuan Aberration (Cold)
Hit Dice: 24d8+144 (252 hp)
Initiative: +2
Speed: 40 ft., burrow 40 ft., climb 40 ft.
AC: 34 (-4 size, +2 Dex, +26 natural), touch 8, flat-footed 32
Attacks: 6 bites +25 melee and 3 claws +20 melee
Damage: Bite 3d8+11/19-20, claw 2d10+5
Face/Reach: 20 ft. by 20 ft./20 ft.
Special Attacks: Ability drain, cold aura, crush 4d6+16
Special Qualities: Absorb cold, cold subtype, DR 40/+5, darkvision 60 ft., freezing blood, glacier bond, immunities, SR 31
Saves: Fort +14, Ref +10, Will +14
Abilities: Str 32, Dex 15, Con 23, Int 21, Wis 10, Cha 12
Skills: Climb +33, Listen +14, Spot +14, Swim +25
Feats: Dodge, Expertise, Improved Critical (bite), Mobility, Power Attack, Spring Attack, Whirlwind Attack
Climate/Terrain: Arctic mountains
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 24
Treasure: Double standard
Alignment: Usually chaotic evil
Advancement: 25-48 HD (Gargantuan), 49-72 HD (Colossal)

Only great wyrm white dragons can usually pose a threat to the massive and terrible shivhad when it comes to establishing territories. Thankfully, shivhads are quite rare, and they spend much of their time sleeping below their chosen glaciers.

A shivhad is roughly spiderlike in shape. Its eight spiny legs carry its spherical body high off the ground; most shivhad are well over 40 feet in height. Between each of the creature's legs extend long tentacles, three to a side, and each one is tipped with a slavering maw filled with sharklike teeth. Three long, grasping claws on multijointed arms dangle from its belly, and a number of savage black eyes glare with hatred from random points on its chitinous body.

Shivhads are incredibly intelligent, although their motives are alien to most other creatures. They do not seem to be driven to reproduce or expand their territories. They do tend to subjugate local tribes of intelligent creatures (often frost giants or ogres), using their might to establish themselves almost as gods to these creatures. All they typically demand of their minions is for the sacrifice of at least one intelligent being per week; such sacrifices are brought out to the shivhad's glacier and left alone for the creature to stalk, torment, and eventually eat.

A shivhad has an uncanny knowledge of languages and can speak all the tongues native to its area. A shivhad that acquires additional languages speaks them perfectly, without any trace of accent. When a shivhad speaks, it does so from all six of its mouths, creating a booming presence that is difficult to ignore.


A shivhad makes full use of its feats in combat. Against single foes, it usually uses a Spring Attack tactic: burrowing up close to the victim, attacking with a bite, and then burrowing down into the ice out of reach. When presented with multiple foes, the shivhad enjoys wading into their midst and using its bites in a Whirlwind Attack. The shivhad usually sacrifices 5 points off its attack rolls to aid its Armor Class using the Expertise feat, as well; it rarely encounters creatures that it has difficulty hitting.

Ability Drain (Su): Any creature struck by a shivhad must make a Fortitude save (DC 23) or permanently lose 2 points from each ability score (or 4 points from each score on a critical hit). The shivhad heals 5 points of damage (10 on a critical hit) whenever it drains ability scores, gaining any excess as temporary hit points.

Cold Aura (Su): The shivhad radiates an aura of extreme cold. All creatures within a 60-foot radius take 3d6 points of cold damage per round (no saving throw). This aura extinguishes open flames in its area as well.

Crush (Ex): A shivhad can step on opponents three or more size categories smaller than itself as a full-round action, using its foot to crush them. A crush attack affects as many creatures as can fit under the shivhad's leg. Each creature in the affected area must succeed at a Reflex save (DC 33) or be pinned, automatically taking 4d6+11 points of bludgeoning damage. Thereafter, if the shivhad chooses to maintain the pin, treat it as a normal grapple attack (grapple bonus +41). While pinned, the opponent takes crush damage each round.

Absorb Cold (Su): Any spell with the cold descriptor targeted on the shivhad that fails to overcome its spell resistance is absorbed into the creature's body. This effect cures 5 points of damage per level of the spell absorbed. The shivhad gains any excess as temporary hit points.

Cold Subtype (Ex): A shivhad is immune to cold damage but takes double damage from fire unless a saving throw for half damage is allowed. In that case, the creature takes half damage on a success and double damage on a failure. Note that if the shivhad's spell resistance overcomes a spell with the cold descriptor, it absorbs the cold as detailed above.

Freezing Blood (Su): A shivhad's blood is very thin and well below the freezing point of water. Anyone who successfully damages a shivhad with a slashing or piercing melee attack must make a Reflex saving throw (DC 28) or take 6d6 points of cold damage. The shivhad's blood freezes an instant later, sealing the wound; a shivhad is immune to wounding effects and automatically stabilizes if brought below zero hit points.

Glacier Bond (Su): A shivhad has a mystical bond with its chosen glacier. As long as it remains in physical contact with this glacier, it can determine the exact location of any living creatures in contact with the glacier, up to a range of 10 miles. This knowledge grants it a +6 insight bonus to its Armor Class and Reflex saving throws against any creature in contact with its glacier, and it lets the shivhad pinpoint otherwise hidden or invisible targets with ease.

Huge Magical Beast (Cold)
Hit Dice: 16d10+80 (168 hp)
Initiative: +0
Speed: 60 ft.
AC: 18 (-2 size, +10 natural), touch 8, flat-footed 18
Attacks: 2 hooves +26 melee and bite +24 melee and gore +24 melee
Damage: Hoof 2d6+12, bite 2d8+6, gore 1d12+6
Face/Reach: 10 ft. by 20 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: Bellow, charge, trample 3d6+18
Special Qualities: Cold subtype, darkvision 60 ft., fast healing 5, low-light vision, scent, SR 15
Saves: Fort +15, Ref +10, Will +6
Abilities: Str 34, Dex 11, Con 20, Int 5, Wis 12, Cha 11
Skills: Jump +20, Listen +10, Spot +10
Feats: Alertness, Improved Bull Rush, Multiattack, Power Attack
Climate/Terrain: Arctic hills and plains
Organization: Solitary, pair, or herd (3-18)
Challenge Rating: 12
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: 17-32 HD (Huge), 33-48 HD (Gargantuan)

Although the tlalusk is an herbivore that feeds on roots and other tubers it digs out of the frozen ground with its tusks, it is notoriously ill-tempered, and most carnivores give the beasts a wide berth as a result.

A tlalusk looks something like a muscular horse the size of an elephant, except the creature has six legs and is covered with white fur. The beast's head is wider than a horse's, and it sports a pair of huge horns and razor-sharp tusks, as well.

Frost giants are fond of capturing and training tlalusks as mounts. A battalion of frost giants mounted on tlalusks and armed with lances is a formidable sight indeed.

Tlalusks understand some Giant, but they cannot speak.


A tlalusk's first instinct in combat is to use its bellow to stun the enemy. It then charges toward the perceived foe, often combining the charge attack with a bull rush. If the enemy still stands, the tlalusk remains to pound it into the ground with its hooves, and then root it out and finish the job with its tusks.

Bellow (Su): Once every minute, a tlalusk can bellow. This is a horribly loud blast of sonic energy that can be heard for miles. Worse, the blast of sonic power can be focused on any one creature within 120 feet of the tlalusk; a creature so targeted must make a Fortitude saving throw (DC 23) or be stunned and deafened for 1d6 rounds. A successful save indicates the creature is deafened for only 1d3 rounds.

Charge (Ex): A tlalusk typically begins a battle by charging at an opponent, lowering its head to bring its horns into play. In addition to the normal benefits and hazards of a charge, this allows the tlalusk to inflict double damage with its gore attack.

Trample (Ex): As a standard action during its turn each round, a tlalusk can run over Large or smaller opponents. This attack deals 3d6+18 points of bludgeoning damage. A trampled opponent can attempt either an attack of opportunity at a -4 penalty or a Reflex save (DC 30) for half damage.

Cold Subtype (Ex): A tlalusk is immune to cold damage but takes double damage from fire unless a saving throw for half damage is allowed. In that case, the creature takes half damage on a success and double damage on a failure.

Fast Healing (Ex): A tlalusk regains lost hit points at the rate of 5 per round. Fast healing does not restore hit points lost from starvation, thirst, or suffocation, and it does not allow the tlalusk to regrow or reattach lost body parts.

Training a Tlalusk

It is nearly impossible to train a full-grown tlalusk (Handle Animal check DC 41), so most trainers opt to train newly born tlalusks instead (Handle Animal check DC 36). Still, it is a difficult task, and in frost giant society, tlalusk trainers are always held in the highest esteem.

Young tlalusks are worth 6,000 gp on the open market, although most cities that know anything about the beasts have made trafficking in tlalusks illegal within city walls because of the destruction even a young one can wreak. Professional trainers charge 20,000 gp to rear or train a tlalusk. Riding a trained tlalusk requires an exotic saddle. Up to four Medium-size or smaller creatures can ride on a tlalusk comfortably, although this requires an exotic saddle that costs four times the normal amount, and only one of the riders can attempt to control the tlalusk with Ride checks each round. A tlalusk can fight while carrying a rider, but the rider cannot also attack unless he or she succeeds at a Ride check (see Ride, page 72 in the Player's Handbook).

Carrying Capacity: A light load for a tlalusk is 3,728 pounds; a medium load, 3,729 - 7,456 pounds; and a heavy load, 7,457 - 11,200 pounds.

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