Hello all and welcome to “Expanding the Adventure” a segment dedicated to adding a little extra to official products. It’s still winter as many; at least in the northern Hemisphere know. And so I thought I’d fulfill a promise and present something I promised 2 weeks ago.
Today we are going to talk about the cult of elemental cold. The adventure “Princes of the Apocalypse.” And its associated public play events presents four elemental cults, along with their leaders and the primordial princes of elemental evil that lead them.
The back of the book which details the four elemental princes mentions two others which are not statted or dealt with in the adventure. One of these two is Cryonax, prince of elemental ice or cold.
Cryonax has not been statted, and I do not pretend to be able to make an accurate or useful version of him. He is however statted in 4th edition works, being mentioned and explained in an article in Dragon Magazine a few years ago. He is probably going to be some sort of brawler as he is described as an enormous yeti with four tentacles instead of arms, who, in that version of the game, is imprisoned on a floating chunk of ice in the Elemental Chaos by chains that keep him alive but also keep him trapped and keep his powers from ravaging the multiverse.
The other cults have specific names, such as the cult dedicated to Earth is called the cult of the Black Earth and the cult allied with Olhydra is called “The Cult of the Crushing Wave.” Therefore, the “Cult of Elemental ice” doesn’t really work. My suggestion for an appropriate name might be “The Cult of the White Wrath.” I will use this title I chose for the rest of the article.
Each cult in the Elemental Evil storyline had specific behaviors. The Cult of the Crushing Wave used hit and run tactics while the Cult of the Eternal Flame was all about passionate and rampant offense. Looking at the elements themselves can help decide what the Cult of the White Wrath ought to do. According to typical D&D elemental structure, cold/ice is a combination of elemental water and air. Therefore, the tactics of the Cult of the White Wrath should incorporate different aspects of both the Cult of the Howling Hatred and the Cult of the Crushing Wave. The Cult of the Howling Hatred is mercurial and subtle, while the Cult of the Crushing Wave is unrelenting but also flexible. Combining the two means that the air aspect provides a sort of emotional detachment, while the water aspect combined with this makes the Cult of the White Wrath use cold, surgically-precise tactics.
Each cult also has a symbol reflecting their natures and the elements they worship. My proposal for this is a sign where the hands are pushed together, with the fingers interlaced with the palms facing the body. The fingers are stretched out and splayed to try and create a sort of many-pronged figure, as close as a human hand signal can get to a snowflake. I am not sure of what you guys could come up with but I’d be glad to hear if you have anything better.
Also, each elemental cult has allies and enemies. In the case of the 4 elemental cults presented in the Elemental Evil Storyline, each has one enemy cult (the opposing element) and 2 allied cults (the cults that are not directly affiliated with the element in question. Ice however is made of two elements. So one could approach it in 3 ways.
- The cult is opposed by the opposites of both of its elements (It is allied to The Cult of the Crushing Wave and the Cult of the Howling Hatred, but opposed by the Cult of the Black Earth and The Cult of the Eternal Flame.)
- It is only opposed by a group that incorporates the opposites of both of its elements (an unnamed cult of elemental magma perhaps)
- Options 1 and 2 together.
Followers: Aside from the various humanoid followers of this cult, I imagine creatures that relate to cold are primarily interested in this cult. Boulettes are sacred to the Cult of the Black Earth, and Dragon Turtles and Aboleths have their place within the Cult of the Crushing wave. Probably creatures that are not only associated with cold, but actually have powers that rely on cold in some fundamental way fit the role well.
I’d imagine that yetis would fit the role well, as well as bjure hags. Admittedly, the options available for this cult are a little smaller than for the others, as the element of cold does not have elemental creatures or genies associated with them in the same way as the basic four. Perhaps winter wolves and ice mephits fit the bill somehow as guard animals or spies. You might also try changing the stats somewhat to earth elementals to create ice ones for summoned soldiers. And Frost giants that have turned away from Thrym might be appropriate as well. As for how to make an ice Myrmidon, just changed the piercing damage of a water myrmidon to bludgeoning damage and maybe give it a trait like that it is vulnerable to fire and creates difficult terrain within 10 feet of it, causing any creature on the same surface, hit by a melee attack to have to make a dc 12 dexterity saving throw to avoid being knocked prone.
As for the humanoid followers, creatures of the north such as barbarians, berserkers, tribal warriors, and perhaps Northmen or other cultures from cold climates might fit here. One could also add madmen from the southlands who were drawn to the cold just as Irehacklia in the “Year of Rogue Dragons” books was drawn to Auril, despite being from a warm climate.
The Front: In “Princes of the Apocalypse” each cult also had a sort of front that they used as their public faces. The Sacred Stone Monastery for the Cult of the Black Earth, for example. Because in most places the places where snow and ice are constantly present are on only the highest mountain peaks, the initial outpost of the cult ought to be there. There is already a mounted flying school, an order of druids, a river community and a monastery, so we ought to create something else for the cult of the White Wrath. I suggest perhaps a citadel upon a mountain peak well above the snow-line. As for a title, perhaps the Knights of The world’s Roof. And for a BS mission, to guard the mountain passes from on high from those who would waylay travelers on their ways.
The leader of the Front: A leader for the Front could be the following.
Farljord Tark: This shield Dwarven Blackguard was once a paladin in service to Mythril Hall, however, after being left behind by a retreating troop of dwarves during a battle with orcs, A Bjure hag took him in. Despite the evil reputation of these creatures, the hag fed him through the winter and allowed him to live in as much comfort in her dwelling as it could. It was bitterly cold but soon, he became used to it, as the influence of Cryonax seeped into his soul. The hag had worked in secret, subtle ways to turn him to Cryonax and soon gave him command over the Knights of the World’s Roof, where he furthers the efforts of the Cult of the White Wrath throughout the region.
As for the Leader of the whole thing: perhaps the following.
Grenlig Larbor: A warrior of the Northmen, on an expedition, he was stranded in the Sea of Moving Ice, where he nearly starved. On his last legs, winter wolves assailed him. Too weak to fight off the monsters, the wolves used their icy breath against him. However, instead of killing him, the breath transformed him. The blast made him into some sort of ice Genasi. The inherent ice spells he learned and could access made him seem like a sorcerer, a kind of caster most Northmen did not trust. Wandering for years, he eventually was led to the location of the Bite of Winter (a powerful greataxe and artifact of Cryonax’s cult) and then he set out to gather the Cult of The White Wrath to build his plan to release Cryonax upon the world.
The weapon: Winter’s Bite
Every cult has a special weapon wielded by the cult’s leader with significant magical power. Because of popular imagery and the fact that many Norse-like characters use axes and such things haven’t appeared among the other weapons, a greataxe seemed appropriate here.
I Hope, if you’re a fan of the Elemental Evil storyline, you can use these little guidelines and suggestions to inform bringing this wintery cult into the adventures, turning the quartet of evil cults to a quintet.
About the Author:
Zachary is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check” and is currently running their “Children of Gith” partially-homebrewed campaign. He likes classic lit and bad sci-fi and horror flicks, and enjoys the company of his two pet rats and dogs. He has been advised against joining the Cult of the White Wrath, but he used to like skiing, so he might just take the plunge.