Over a year ago, we talked about Genasi options who were under the influence of the para-elemental planes of Smoke, Ice, Dust and ooze. Now, we’re going to go on an expedition to one of the aforementioned planes; the plane of ICE.
Now, you’ll need a bit more prep than you did for The Swamp of Oblivion. As with most elemental planes, the Plane of Ice, also known as Frostfell, is a dangerous place for mortals to tread. Throughout most of the plane, the bitter cold is a death sentence. You can’t just throw the long johns and the heavy coat and gloves on and think you’ll be good. In fact, it will take some magical preparation as in Ring of Warmth level or higher magic.
The bottom line is that most things that stop moving in this frozen wasteland stop living soon after. So, do your homework before visiting. But, once you’ve done that and are properly ready, Frostfell really is an interesting destination for a mid to high level party.
CRYONAX: BRINGER OF THE ENDLESS WINTER
Art by Ryan Van Dongen on ARTSTATION
First of all, you must understand that, unlike the Swamp of Oblivion, there is no real question as to the monarch of Frostfell. Cryonax, the evil archmental reigns supreme. His origins, much like those of creatures like him, are nearly lost to history. But legends abound.
Some legends claim that Cryonax is a former demon lord who attempted to conquer the Elemental Chaos itself and failed. This may put him, although not on par, very near the power of the Demon Princes Demogorgon, Grazzt and Orcus. But this may go a long way to explain why he has no real competition in ruling this massive land of ice (that and most don’t want it).
If legends from the Dawn War are to be believed, he’s gone toe to toe with the All-Father of the Dwarves, Moradin. Obviously, he lived through the experience, but the story does mention some loss of teeth that you can still find among the mountains where they fought.
DM’s NOTE: This may set up a rivalry turned to revenge. First part: Gather the teeth. Second Part: Take the fight to those pesky Dwarven Gods!
Now, to say this creature has NO competition would be a lie. For, although there is no good elemental ice archmental and even challengers from other paraelemental planes pose no threat, somewhere in the eternal ice awaits a schemer gaining support against Cryonax’s claim on his ice throne. The ‘Great White Wyrm’, Albrathanilar is beginning to become a viable option. She is ruthless and cunning and has a network of covert spies even among Cryonax’s ‘faithful’. She is not yet able to amass enough of an army among the many mephits, white dragons and rogue elementals who oppose the Blizzard King. But she’s waits and plots.
Meanwhile, Cryonax rules from his colossal fortress of ice called The Chiseled Estate. IT rises more than a mile above the glacial roof of this domain (and another four miles down into the ice) and is self-proclaimed as the coldest place in the plane (although most know that to be THE MOUNTAIN OF ULTIMATE WINTER). It is within the frozen halls that, some say, Cryonax has abducted many high level wizards and Clerics, most of which are water, wind and ice genasi. They work continually to create new spells to inflict more ice related damage in order to win the coming war with the dreaded White Dragon (mentioned earlier).
Besides keeping his throne, Cryonax also delusions of grandeur. Because, although not seen as a peer to the other elemental archmentals, he aspires to make the ‘paraelemental plane’ of Ice the fifth elemental domain and Ice the fifth element. But his arrogance doesn’t stop there. His true goal is an eternal winter overtaking all of the elemental planes.
To this end, Cryonax has located a prison of a powerful Xixecal; creatures born of ‘gods whose portfolios include evil, ice and chaos’. The winter storm for the ages moves in their wake blanketing all in a cold unimaginable. A 100 feet high or taller, a walking glacier veiled by the storm. They draw white dragons to their storm. Xixecals are merely walking cataclysms; worlds shake in their path. With this creature in his armies, none dare oppose him!
DM’s NOTE: Seeing that this creature was showcased in the Epic Level Handbook, you might want to save it for an epic, ending fight.
THE MOUNTAIN OF ULTIMATE WINTER
The Chiseled Estate stands on the border of the PRECIPICE and the Ice Core at the center of the plane. The Precipice is the glacial flat land that connects the core with the Elemental Plane of Air ending in sheer cliffs that drop out of sight in an unending drop. Near The Chiseled Estate, mountain peaks explode out of the surface creating a range near the border with the Shimmering Drifts that lead to the Quasielemental Plane of Lightning. Nestled within and rising high above the rest of the peaks is The Mountain of Ultimate Winter.
Art by Brian Despain
It is in these peaks that the White Dragon hides within hidden caverns and plots for war. But, on its coldest peak, lives the enigmatic creatures known as Immoths. These scholarly creatures walk the planes gathering knowledge from all corners of the multiverse. They have perfected the ability of this region to freeze, not only people, but fire, thought and words distilling them into frozen power for their own personal use. They also use this tactic as they walk the ‘warmer planes’. So, if you need some forbidden or lost lore, the Immoths are the ones to petition. Rumors about that these creatures were an experiment created by one of Cryonax’s spell crafters that refused to bend a knee.
THE MYSTERIOUS CITY OF TIERA MINUUTE
Art by Robert Crescenzio on Artstation
If you’re looking for a more hospitible entrance into the Plane of Ice, the strange city of Tiera Minuute could just be the ticket!
Floating just above the edge of the PRECIPICE, the city of Tiera Minuut is a welcome, tolerable enigma in this barren, icy killing machine. Legends say the city was built by a priest of a long forgotten wind goddess. Whatever its beginnings, it is now more of a meeting and market place in the multiverse.
DM’s NOTE: This is great place to either slowly introduce this dangerous plane, get your party ready for the dangers below or allow an escape from the violent, lethal weather of the plane.
There are portals to other planes here that can either be your entry point or a way to another destination. This floating city is ruled by nine men and women who work at making this a refuge and free. The markets are open to the multiverse, but the exotic elements of FROSTFELL are on display here and this city is the easiest place to access them. Just don’t expect them to be cheap!
Art by Penumbria on Deviantart
DM’s NOTE: You may also run upon a Qorrashi; a genie of cold and ice. They are opposed to Cryonax and also could be helpful as Patrons or power brokers.
Also accessible on this plane and, therefore, in this city’s markets are Spell Keys. It is here that these magical items can ‘overcome the magical restrictions for the schools of FIRE and EARTH’.
More than likely, you can find a lone Immoth who can sell you some of their mystical frozen delights. And, although the ability to purchase frozen thoughts, elements and spells are much sought after, the most valuable element sold in this city is the ETERNAL ICE itself.
Eternal Ice is ice that never melts, no matter the heat. It is sought after to create items that will never dissolve or age.
DM’s NOTE: I think it would be a great element to make weapons and armor out of. Although, how would you forge it if it resists the fire? Maybe that’s something for a future article.
THE BLOOD MIRE
Also on the Precipice is a monument to a great battle of the past. The Blood Mire is a frozen lake of blood and is all that remains of the combatants who fought and died here long ago. Frost Giants and Trolls met on the battlefield and left this grotesque monument that is frozen in time. Bodies of all sorts of creatures litter the shore and even extend up out of the blood ice as if to warn those still living. Of what, there is no record, but the monument will stand forever encased in ice.
DM’s NOTE: What kind of uses could you come up with for this ancient, frozen blood?
ARCOLANTHA: THE FROZEN ARK
Deep under the ice of the Precipice, surface of the Frostfell, there is a massive pocket of elemental air where stands a monument to life across the multiverse. This pocket realm is miles in diameter and the walls of ice are polished like glass. At its center is a glowing orb that lights up the whole, massive cavern.
But, although all of this is spellbinding, what draws people here are the millions of animals encased in its ice walls. But they are not dead. No, they are perfectly preserved in the ice. In fact, if they were chiseled out and thawed out, they would live again.
DM’s NOTE: A great adventure hook may be a quest to bring back an extinct species!
THE SLEEPING ONES
Even deeper in the life freezing ice lies the greatest mystery of Frostfell: THE SLEEPING ONES!
Many races speak of them in varied pockets across the planes, but the mysterious Kua-Toas pass this legend on the most. The story goes that these ‘sleeping ones’ were once awake and were responsible for the creation of all existence. Then, for some unknown reason, they broke away from the Material Plane and buried themselves here within the Frostfell.
They are said to be awaiting a time that needs their immense power again. This, of course, draws many acolytes, priests and, of course, cults. There’s only one problem. Anyone who ventures to their resting place and gazes upon their massive visage (some are said to be miles in size) looses a part of their mind. This leaves them rambling maniacs and, therefore, are hard to believe.
Sounds like Cthulhu stuff to me. Just saying…
OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST
As with much lore in D&D, there are a lot of undefined, named places left for some creative DM or writer to glean for their own personal campaign purposes.
- The FOG OF UNYIELDING FROST borders the quasielemental plane of Steam.
- The Shimmering Drifts border the quasielemental plane of Lightning.
- The Frigid Void borders the quasielemental plane of Vacuum.
- The Stinging Storm rages near the quasielemental plane of Salt.
THE SEA OF FROZEN LIVES
One last destination lies in the deepest parts of the Frostfell. It is said that the deeper you go, the wetter the ice is. This must be true since once you venture deep enough you meet the Elemental Plane of Water. In fact, the Paraelemental Plane of Ice floats upon the Water Plane. This is why the whole plane of Frostfell is called the Floating or Bobbing Plane.
FROST SALAMANDER HUNTERS
One of the most flavorful and interesting events in this barren, frozen wasteland is the continuing battle between the Frost Salamanders and those that hunt them.
AZERS beings of fire travel here in order to lure these creatures of cold and hunt them for many of the valuable elements they carry.
DM’S NOTE: This could be an interesting adventure for a mid to high level party. There may possibly be something the Frost Salamander’s have that the party needs to finish their quest, create a potion, magic item or weapon. But how they buddy up with the hot headed Azers is all up to you!