Slay bells ring, are you listening? In the snow, blood is glistening–a frostbitten sight, that causes you fright, monsters in a winter wonderland.
There’s something about winter that inspires monstrous encounters. Whether reflecting on the fact that the harsh cold and scarcity of winter represent hardships, or perhaps because fighting snowy monsters in furs and capes evokes fantasy of all stripes. Whether we’re talking lords and rings…
…thrones won in games…
…or liches about to get stitches,
…the ice and snow are a great source of inspiration for adventure. If you’re looking for rugged terrain with equally harsh fights, we’ve got the perfect winter monsters, from abominable yetis to winter wolves.
The original snowy monster, available in two versions, abominable and regular. Yetis live in the arctic wilderness and are absolute beasts up close. With multi attacks featuring deadly claws interspersed by a freezing gaze, these are excellent stalkers who can hound their enemies, using their mobility and strength to snatch up incapacitated victims to store in their cave later.
The lords of winter and ice, Frost Giants make excellent foes. Their brute strength and immunity to cold means they do well if they fight in the middle of harsh environments. Extreme cold doesn’t affect them, so they can lay into their foes freely with their massive axes and hefty boulders, while their enemies struggle against the weather and the giants.
Mephits are capricious elemental tricksters whose idea of a prank is to kill you, or at least cause wanton destruction as a result of their actions. They may only be CR 1/4, but these frost spirits can stay out of reach and breathe ice on foes from afar, staying just out of reach until they are either cornered or forced to escape.
This is one of my favorite monsters. Remorhazes are massive predators that hunt beneath the ice and snow–they can burrow into the ground and have a tremorsense that reaches out to 60′, meaning they can pop up from below a foe, bite an enemy, swallow them whole, then back beneath the ground before you know what’s happened. Like a frost bulette.
Mammoth/Saber Toothed Tiger
There’s a whole genre of beast that’s basically a monster from the Ice Age, and they work perfectly here. These are two different brutes but encountering one automatically suggests how cold and wintry it is–conveying a sense of ‘yeah we’re out where the cold is primal’ and can be used to great thematic effect.
Also they make great party pets or druid forms (eventually).
Winter wolves are supernaturally evil wolves who breathe freezing cold, have advantage to hide while in snowy terrain, and also fight with pack tactics. They’re a fantastic enemy to face in packs, or as a challenging single encounter for a lower level party.
Dragons are perhaps the most iconic monsters–and White Dragons might be the weakest of all of them, but they’re still incredibly powerful in their own right. Able to walk and climb cross icy surfaces without suffering penalties, able to burrow beneath the ground to await their foes, and even swim in subzero waters without suffering its deadly effects, these are excellent ambushers and strikers.
White Dragons are brutes, yes, but they’re brutes with a number of escape options, because what they really want is to fight enemies in their lair where they can use those sweet sweet lair actions to ruin a party’s day.
And whatever monster you use to bring a chill dread to your players, always remember that fighting in arctic climes means it’s always cool to use ice puns.