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For these searching for a frigid Dungeons & Dragons marketing campaign set through the winter months, Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden is a transparent winner. But, Dungeon Masters would possibly discover themselves fuddled by Auril, the titular Frostmaiden herself.
Regardless of taking prime billing, Auril stays an enigmatic determine all through the journey and is essentially absent except for what quantities to a mid-boss battle in the course of the marketing campaign and a attainable look on the finish. Fortunately, there are a couple of methods to develop her character, however first, let’s check out what we really find out about Auril herself.
Be warned! Spoilers for Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden abound on this article!
A member of the pantheon of Faerûn for the reason that first version of D&D, Auril has usually been depicted as a fickle goddess of winter’s wrath. Those that worship her are likely to depend on winter for his or her livelihood or just stay in far-flung areas of the world the place prayers to supplicant her harsh, unpredictable season are inspired.
Auril has lengthy been related to Malar, Umberlee, and Talos — a lesser deity of the hunt, the grasping sea goddess of Faerûn, and the god of storms, respectively. All 4 have been as soon as known as the Gods of Fury as a result of their harmful tendencies.
Rime of the Frostmaiden takes place following the fracturing of the Gods of Fury. In a nutshell, Auril overstepped her boundaries by freezing the tides of Umberlee, and the ocean goddess allied with Malar and Talos for retribution. Collectively, the three turned their would possibly towards Auril, who fled their wrath and escaped to Icewind Dale. When the journey begins, Auril has turned the land into her private wintery area, with the move to the south blocked off and eternal blizzards slowly sporting down the morale of all unfortunate sufficient to reside within the dale.
Whereas that is an intriguing setup, Rime of the Frostmaiden stops there and doesn’t supply recommendation on Auril’s motives. Is she merely hiding from the opposite Gods of Fury or has she been actually blocked from the upper planes of existence? What’s her finish objective with Icewind Dale?
Under are 3 ways to make Auril a extra compelling villain:
The gods of historic mythology — from the Greek denizens of Mt. Olympus to the kids of Odin — have been larger-than-life beings. After they felt wronged and sad, mortals suffered. The deities of the Forgotten Realms are not any completely different, and if you wish to emphasize the anger and resentment that Auril feels on the betrayal of her fellow Gods of Fury, lean into this characterization.
This model of Auril is devastated at what Umberlee, Malar, and Talos did to her, and for an added twist, maybe her three former colleagues have stripped her of her energy and magically blocked her from accessing her divine realm within the aircraft of Pandemonium. (This realm, known as Winter’s Corridor, was talked about in older D&D books, together with the third version Guide of the Planes.) Auril desires nothing greater than to discover a manner again to her celestial dwelling. Trapped on the mortal aircraft, although, all she will be able to do is fester in frozen fury. She desires everybody to endure as she has suffered, and Icewind Dale’s neverending winter is a mirrored image of those intense feelings.
In my model of Rime of the Frostmaiden, I ran with this method and tweaked lore to make the Gods of Fury not only a minor pantheon with a shared penchant for destruction, but additionally a quartet of capricious, backstabbing lovers who have been simply as more likely to have interaction in romance as they have been to steal followers and territory from each other. This added an additional dimension to Auril, for the reason that love she had felt for the opposite gods had turned to icy hate. For inspiration with this method, try video games like God of Conflict and Hades which current the foibles, sins, and passions of historic deities, in addition to the webcomic Lore Olympus.
Possibly the Frostmaiden is just a cog in a wheel of machinations. This method is smart contemplating that Auril solely performs a comparatively small function in Rime of the Frostmaiden, with numerous different threats extra entrance and middle. Chief amongst these are a clan of duergar who need to ravage the land with a mechanical dragon constructed from the demon-tainted materials referred to as chardalyn, and a gaggle of conniving spellcasters from Luskan’s Arcane Brotherhood who hope to discover Ythryn, a misplaced part of the traditional Netheril empire that lies frozen in Icewind Dale’s glaciers.
The duergar and the Arcane Brotherhood wizards can each function “huge bads” who’re making the most of Auril to additional their very own objectives. The duergar, specifically, are secretly being manipulated by Asmodeus for causes which are by no means totally defined, however one can surmise that the Lord of the 9 Hells merely desires to foster chaos on the Materials Aircraft. Maybe he’s communicated with Auril and promised her a return to the heavens if she retains up her winter lengthy sufficient for his duergar minions to finish their mission.
The Arcane Brotherhood, then again, may be intent on looting Ythryn of its artifacts, and have solid a take care of Auril to provide her entry to the last word magical merchandise hidden inside the journey’s conclusion — a employees of energy that may activate historic obelisks and reset the world, probably returning all the pieces to an period predating each Auril’s exile and the autumn of the Netheril empire.
Dungeon Masters versed in different Forgotten Realms gods would possibly need to swap Asmodeus for an additional potential behind-the-scenes mastermind, reminiscent of Levistus, Asmodeus’ chief rival within the 9 Hells. Since Levistus is trapped in an historic iceberg and at all times trying to find a manner out, he thematically matches into Rime of the Frostmaiden completely. In my sport, I had him as the key overlord influencing the duergar and the Arcane Brotherhood, and his final objective was to activate a portal hidden inside Ythryn that led to Stygia, his layer of the 9 Hells. As soon as the portal was opened, he would have the chardalyn dragon constructed by the duergar breathe magical flames onto his icy jail, releasing him ultimately. Auril was merely a lesser god that he had subtly influenced to cover his true plans, and my marketing campaign really held the potential for my gamers to workforce up with the Frostmaiden within the closing battle towards Levistus.
For an Auril who’s fallen into darkness far past redemption, look to Van Richten’s Information to Ravenloft for inspiration on the Domains of Dread. These fiendish demiplanes are surrounded by mists and pulled into the Shadowfell by enigmatic forces identified solely because the Darkish Powers. Every Area of Dread is presided over by a being known as a Darklord. The Darklords are imprisoned of their domains and endlessly affected by the Darkish Powers however usually can’t see this as a result of a recurring tendency for deep evil.
Icewind Dale can simply be transformed right into a frosty Area of Dread with Auril as its Darklord. One can say that Auril’s hatred of the gods who backstabbed her, in addition to the wrath she has unleashed upon the innocents of the dale, led the Darkish Powers to focus on her. Solely by defeating her can the heroes break freed from the mists surrounding Icewind Dale lengthy sufficient to flee the Shadowfell.
Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden already incorporates a lot dread, with human sacrifice practiced in Icewind Dale’s Ten-Cities, coldlight walkers impressed by the poster for John Carpenter’s The Factor wandering by the wilds, and the eerie ruins of Ythryn radiating cosmic eeriness straight out of H.P. Lovecraft’s On the Mountains of Insanity. Leaning additional into these tropes is the right approach to flip the marketing campaign right into a full-on horror expertise harking back to the best Ravenloft adventures.
Even if her motivations require some tweaking, Auril is kind of the memorable D&D villain. Whether or not you propose on presenting her in a extra sympathetic gentle or as an irredeemable Darklord, take into account that she is in the end a god, and may at all times ship shivers down the spines of your gamers. When you’ve decided her motives and need to run Auril in fight, make sure to try our concepts right here for the most effective techniques on displaying your gamers the extent of her icy powers.
Jeremy Blum (@PixelGrotto) is a journalist, gaming blogger, comedian e-book aficionado, and fan of all types of storytelling who rolled his first polyhedral cube whereas dwelling in Hong Kong in 2017. Since then, he is by no means appeared again and loves roleplaying video games for the possibility to inform the tales which have been swirling in his head since childhood.
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