Servants of Auril
Note because of how I must approach books due to scanning necessities or use of audio text-to-speech, proper names are spelled phonetically as I heard them with my best guess as to their spelling and I might be off.
Outside my house right now it is the coldest day it’s been all winter. It is so cold in fact that the temperature inside my house is lower than the temperature it will be outside in a couple days as the weathermen are predicting a sudden and over 50-degree warmup over the next couple of days.
Global Climate change, pollution, and just plain weird weather in my area are what I can blame for this strangeness. I don’t have the excuses your heroes in D&D might resort to for a sudden and brief cold snap.
I want to talk about one of those possible reasons today, that is, Auril and devotees of her faith and what they can mean to your game.
Auril is also known as Lady Frostmantle and she has been described in D&D sourcebooks as being a rather attractive, yet angular blue-skinned woman in furs and being pulled along in a sleigh. This sort of reminds me of the White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia, particularly when she first appears to Edmund in the live-action film from a few years ago. She seems rather lovely and she plays the subtle temptress there very well. Later in the film she is distinctly more barbaric and horrible once her true colors are being flown. This might in fact be a way to introduce her into your campaign in a wintertime adventure, particularly if your version of the Realms or your own world that still features her as a goddess is a world like the Greek or Norse mythic worlds where the gods often appeared in person.
Even if you don’t use Auril in this way, her clergy could be very similar. In “The year of Rogue Dragons” trilogy, there was a chosen of Auril named Iarehacklia who uses charms and her own stellar looks to try and tempt the cleric of Lathendar to her side. Because of “The Sword Coast Adventurers Guide,” This may not be canon any longer as they say that the clerics of Auril are Celibate, however, you as DM or your DM are ultimately the arbiters of such things so the decision is up to you.
In regard to locations, Luscan is possibly an excellent spot to have an Auril-themed adventure. The city celebrates an Aurilite holiday where people march through the streets in the dead of winter to appease the cruel goddess. There are three ways I see that a holiday adventure could be set here. The first of these is the players must endure the harsh test of endurance for some reason. The second is that despite Auril’s evil alignment and the general evil characters of Luscan, the festival must be protected from an outside threat so it can be completed. Perhaps a prophecy states that if a certain bad event happens here, something even worse might be set in motion, or perhaps Auril’s wrath might descend on the city, hurting a lot of horrible people, but not leaving the little guys unscathed either. If your party is a fan of helping the common people, this might be your avenue.
The third might be something that imperils the players at the hands of Auril later, but involves actually disrupting the festival itself by their own hands. Perhaps Auril will lose significant power without the strange worship offered up in this celebration.
Auril and her followers might not in fact, always be enemies. She is the Goddess of winter, and though it means hardship and lean times for many, in many ways, winter is an incubation and recuperation period for the land. Perhaps the problem with a particular year is Auril is actually crowded out and the winter is unbelievably short, thus making the spring brought in by Lathendar much more problematic than before. Perhaps extending the winter might actually be a goal of the party in a high-level adventure.
Of course, the obvious large-scale threat by Auril or her followers is an unusually cruel or long winter. Ending such a situation might be a goal of the party. But even if Auril and her followers are not the current enemies, a number of threats could arise from the extension of winter or severe winters being more widespread, listed below.
1. Large-scale unrest from lack of food or wood, possibly threatening forests and their dwellers.
2. Incursions of cold-climate creatures outside of their normal ranges
3. Blockage of navigation routes during a time of crisis
4. Large-scale conversions to darker powers such as Auril herself, devils, demons, winter Fey, or other evil Gods and Goddesses.
5. Emergence of the cult of elemental cold (to be described in a later column.)
And as for players or friendly NPcs that follow Auril? How can they be placed in a non-evil campaign? Here are a few ideas.
1. It is good at the time that the winter either occur or last longer, thus putting a character of evil alignment in the right in spite of themselves.
2. Many druids follow Auril according to “Sword Coast Adventurers’ Guide” as one of the eight gods they revere. Perhaps a druid character, or one that follows the great circle of some similar class such as ranger or barbarian (as many barbarians follow Auril) have a connection to her and thus take the grim look of wintery lands more seriously. These characters might be harsh but they need not necessarily be evil.
3. A character in the cleric class might just be naïve and not fully understand their goddess. Or a Warden paladin (oath of Protection I believe or Vigilance) might guard an arctic or subarctic land, thus bringing them in closer to the goddess.
I hope you enjoyed your look at Lady Frostmantle and I hope you are able to find a place for her in any of your wintery adventures.
About the author:
Zachary is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check.” And has been interested in D&D for the past 23 years ever since he got the core rulebooks of 2nd edition. He enjoys classic literature, bad monster flicks and his pet rats and dogs. He recently tried to ask Auril out on a date but she gave him the cold shoulder, and arm, and neck, and ear, and… well you get the idea. He is now recovering from severe frostbite.