It looks like Rime of the Frostmaiden is going to continue making boss fights memorable with new mechanics–come see the latest rules in the new book.
Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden will pit adventurers against the wintry machinations of Auril, the evil goddess of winter and darkness. But far from just facing down a legendary creature, Auril, also known as the Frostmaiden, will take off with rules presumably inspired by the new Mythic Odysseys of Theros book. Theros, if you’re unfamiliar, introduces the idea of Mythic Monsters which take on a new form when you hit certain triggers, and with Auril it looks like they’re taking the idea and expanding on it. According to spoilers revealed in the latest Dragon+, Auril has three different forms which you must beat in order to finally defeat her.
The Frostmaiden uses a new fifth-edition mechanism where a creature can be destroyed but instantly takes on a new form. Auril is a tough cookie for any party that chooses to engage her, as she has three distinct forms, each with their own stat block.
This is an approach we haven’t used before where a single creature can have multiple stat blocks. Because each form is slightly tougher than the one before it, the fight becomes increasingly intense. Your party’s resources are being used up during the combat, but Auril’s are not.
And Auril, being one of the fury deities out of the Forgotten Realms, ties into the whole idea of the maiden, mother, and crone–mythological touchstones to be certain. But, according to writer/designer Chris Perkins, they want you to feel like you’re fighting the goddess “backwards in time.”
To wit you first face the “elder” of her three forms, the cold crone, which is a goat-wolf-owl monstrosity pictured above. Defeat that and you’ll get to face the brittle maiden:
If you defeat that, you’ll face her final form: the winter’s womb.
This form is meant to resemble “a radiant diamond that contains her divine spark […] representing Auril in her most primal form.” And the miniature certainly looks very womb-like. Now here’s where you might wonder if a company working to promote a more diverse and inclusive presentation of “humanity in all its beautiful diversity” is putting its best foot forward by publishing a stat block that reduces a goddess to “a womb”. After all, this is D&D where ‘if it has stats we can kill it’ is the order of the day, so it’s easy to read this as “you totally get to punch a goddess until she’s nothing more than a womb without a woman attached, hey don’t get mad at us there’s more women in the game”.
It is worth pointing out that half of the team working on this book identify as women/non-binary/non-male, and this reveal comes to us out-of-context with the rest of the adventure, so it’s entirely possible the whole concept is carried out tastefully and we’re missing some important info. So we’ll wait to see what the full context is, but it certainly raises some concerns. Horror, as a genre, is full of anatomical/body imagery used to disturbing effect.
Either way, this villainous form sets an interesting precedent. One wonders how long before you see the masculine counterpart where you end up fighting “summer’s pouch” and it’s basically the Gonarch from Half Life 1 all over again.
Again, we’ll wait and see how the concept is carried off in the final version–and the core idea, fighting a boss through three different forms that become more condensed and primal and powerful as you go, is pretty cool.
Speaking of cool, in Rime of the Frostmaiden, Auril has cursed the land to prevent the sun from rising in the area, which leads to the whole “isolation and cold” that suffuses the adventure. This lack of sunlight has come to the attention of another mini who recently revealed another antagnoist in the adventure: Xardorok Sunblight.
Xardorok Sunblight is an ambitious duergar who has plans to become the first of his kind to establish a kingdom on the surface. These evil, subterranean dwarves are tempted to the surface when they realize the land is perpetually dark. It’s too good an opportunity for Xardorok to pass up.
Xardorok is driven, Goldfinger style, to collect a magical material called chardalyn that can absorb magical energy and emits it like radiation–especially if it’s evil magical energy. Suffice it to say you’ll likely be fighting this guy and his “vast supply of chardalyn”.
Finally my favorite part of the recent reveals, an ancient ruined city buried under the ice. The lost magic of Netheril, one of the big magical empires that ultimately destroyed themselves because power corrupts and magic rivaling the gods but without weird divine restrictions or an overdeity to keep you in check leads to magical nukes before you know it.
So under the ice you can find a lost Necropolis–where finally we might learn the answer to the strange mysterious obelisks that keep showing up in every adventure.
This is also the adventure in which the D&D team finally answers a question that has haunted fans for several years: what’s up with those mysterious obelisks that keep showing up in every adventure? You’ll have to read the adventure to find out.