The arctic can be an undeniably cold and vast place. Isolated and unforgiving landscape lurks monsters that are much more dangerous compared to those you can find in greener pastures. However, for a Dungeon Master, the Arctic offers a broad range of themes to explore.
From the tyranny of a coldhearted Ice Queen to the survival of the arctic tundra, the arctic is a blank, white canvas to put your ideas on. So feel free to explore the ideas and encounters throughout this guide.
General Information about the artic
An Arctic encounter in Dungeons and Dragons is an encounter or situation that takes place in a cold, snowy, or icy environment, such as the Arctic tundra. This could include encounters with creatures and beings that are native to the Arctic, such as ice giants, ice elementals, and polar bears, as well as challenges and obstacles that are specific to the environment, such as navigating treacherous ice fields or surviving in extremely cold temperatures. Have your players take a step into the land of frost and ice.
3 fun Arctic Encounter 5e Creatures
1. Ice Mephit
Mephits are elemental creatures that cause trickery on the land. Ice mephits, in particular, are native to the Arctic and can be found hidden in a shard of ice. This makes for an interesting encounter since you can bring these creatures where a player may least expect them, whether in an icy cavern or an abandoned temple. Even if the party manages to wipe them out, their Death Burst leaves them with a final blow of 1d8 damage.
The distant cousin of Big Foot, the Yeti makes for a classic Arctic encounter. As the ghosts of the Arctic, given their Snow Camouflage and Keen Smell trait, they are great hunters of the alpine and can surely sneak up on your players for their next meal. But watch out if you have a player who’s an expert in the fire, as the Yeti’s Fear of Fire may backfire against you.
3. Frost Giant
If you’re characters a ready for a real challenge, a Frost Giant is a creature you can serve up to your players in your upcoming Arctic encounter. As they are beings that respect only brute strength and skill in battle, you can present this to your players with not exactly putting them up against the Frost Giant. However, through quests and missions, your party can prove its worth.
Arctic Encounter Locations
The Polar Desert
The harsh weather conditions of the Arctic can make it lonely and difficult to inhabit. This gives you the perfect playground to put in the unexpected. Some of the most dangerous creatures live in the Arctic, so you can play with an array of creatures from frost giants to ice elementals. What’s more, the Polar Desert is that harsh weather conditions can be implemented and mixed in from third-party rule sets to add more interest to the campaign as the party battles through the frost.
The North Pole
If you are thinking of a more festive theme if the winter holidays are approaching, the North Pole is a classic location for you to touch upon. You can have your party save Christmas or even play out like the Grinch. Feel free to tap into old tales of the world’s beloved gift-giver Santa Claus along with his dear wife, elves, and reindeer. This can be a great heartwarming and fun tale to bring to your party for your upcoming holiday-themed one-shot!
Best Arctic Encounters in 5e
1. A Worthy Trade
Exploring deep inside a mysterious cave, the party comes across a tribe of ice dwarves living in tunnels and caverns beneath the snow. Many tribal dwarves native to the underground are skilled craftsmen and traders. If the party proves themselves worthy of their craftsmanship, the dwarves may be willing to make a trade.
2. The City of Giants
Stumbling upon an ancient ruin, the party uncovers an abandoned city once home to a powerful civilization of great ice giants. The city seems very advanced, with great structures and magical technology. But the area is filled with hidden traps and dangers, but also valuable treasures, magical artifacts, and remnants of the time of giants.
3. What Lurks Beneath Your Feet
Upon a treacherous ice field, the party tries to navigate through it for safety. But behind them are a pack of hungry dire wolves stalking them for their next meal. The wolves are hungry and desperate, and they will stop at nothing to catch the party and make them their next meal.
4. Stepping on Thin Ice
Before the party is an enchanting frozen lake in the middle of the night, the ice glistens under the aurora lights making it quite captivating. However, they must carefully navigate the frozen lake since the ice is thin. Little do they know that below thrives a giant sea monster. The party must avoid falling into the frigid water below before worse comes to worst. Make sure you have an ice wall ready!
5. An Unforgiving Winter
The party comes across a group of stranded travelers who are struggling to survive in the Arctic’s harsh winter. Even for the party, it seems like this winter seems to be the worst that they’ve encountered. The travelers may need rescue, and the party must use their skills and ingenuity to help them survive and return to safety.
6. The Ice Age
While exploring an icy cavern, the party stumbles upon a primordial beast frozen and preserved in ice. The beast, from what they knew, has been extinct for millennia. But they are unaware that the beast encapsulated in ice is still alive. The smallest of fire sources can release the beast from its icy prison.
7. Frozen Inside
Finally, finding civilization, the party makes their way to an isolated village. The village seems to thrive on fishing and gathering for resources, and many people seem to live active lifestyles. However, it seems like a disease has plagued the village. The disease appears to freeze the victim inside out until they are completely frozen, but the cause of it is unknown.
8. The Frost of Hell
The players have revealed that a coven of Bheur hags has been preparing a demon-summoning ritual. If they manage to complete the ritual, they may be able to summon an ancient and powerful ice demon from the Nine Hells. As a party, they must decide whether to try and stop the ritual or find a way to escape before the demon is unleashed.
9. Treasure Trolls
Rumor has it that there is a nest of trolls far in the icy plain, wherein the trolls have gathered abundant treasure from pillaging villages. If the players are to find the nest’s location, they must fight through hordes of trolls to reach the treasure hoard at the center of the nest.
10. The Leader of the Pack
Deep in the arctic wilderness lives a rare breed of winter wolves, whose population is depleting due to hunting. The pack the party finds are being hunted by a group of ice hunters. The players must decide whether to help the packs of wolves, join the hunt, or try to stay out of the conflict altogether.
Advice and final thoughts
Arctic encounters offer a flexible landscape that can easily change from a winter wonderland to a frozen dystopia. They can provide unique challenges and opportunities for players in Dungeons and Dragons. The harsh weather and limited arctic resources can test players’ skills and ingenuity.
At the same time, the potential for encountering exotic creatures and discovering hidden treasures can add excitement to the game. Overall, including arctic encounters in a campaign can add depth and variety to the game, providing players with new challenges and enjoyable experiences.