Blood-Stained Ice: Monsters of the Arctic (Part 2)
Originally posted on Monday 11-19-2012 02:01 AM at koboldquarterly.com
The world’s arctic region is both a place of great natural beauty and an inherently deadly environment. Freezing waters can turn blood to ice in mere minutes. Avalanches can bury entire parties, hiding their bodies forever under a mountainside’s worth of snow.
As deadly as the arctic is, a wide variety of monsters call it home. Having survived and evolved in one of the world’s harshest environments, humans and beasts are deadly threats to any adventurers that intrude on their frozen domains.
Fifteen feet in length and eight feet tall at the shoulders, the avalanche bear is a creature of nightmares among arctic natives and explorers. The fear it inspires is a consequence of not only its powerful build, but also its unusual stealth magic that makes it almost impossible to detect until it’s too late.
The avalanche bear has the innate power to shapeshift into a small blizzard, a very effective form of camouflage in the arctic—after all, a zone of powerful wind and blowing snow is hardly noteworthy in such an environment. While in this form, the bear can mystically perceive everything inside and around the blizzard area, essentially making it a storm with eyes and ears. The avalanche bear uses this power to sneak up on unsuspecting prey, often lurking within larger, natural blizzards to give itself an extra layer of camouflage. When the time is right, the monster shifts into its bear form and attacks with all its might.
These beasts typically live in caves to shield themselves from snowstorms and the cold, though their thick, white fur coats provide them with enough insulation to hunt in the arctic wastes for days on end if necessary. They will kill and eat anything they can catch regardless of size, dragging the remainder of the carcass to their caves for later consumption if they cannot eat it in one sitting. When food becomes scarce, avalanche bears enter a state of hibernation, though the slightest scent of prey will rouse them awake in seconds.
Avalanche bears are solitary, seen together only when mating or raising offspring. In the event of an attack on their young, both parents will viciously attack the intruders, refusing to retreat even in the face of certain death.
Avalanche Bear*** Level 10 Solo Brute
Large natural beast*** XP 2,500
HP 428; Bloodied 214; Initiative +6
AC 20, Fortitude 24, Reflex 18, Will 21; Perception +12
Speed 8; Immune cold
Saving Throws +5; Action Points 2
[mb] Bite * At-Will
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +13 vs. AC
Hit: 4d6 + 5 damage.
[m] Wind Slash * Recharge 5 6
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +11 vs. Reflex
Hit: 4d8 +5 damage, and the target is knocked down.
[r] Piercing Roar * Recharge 4 5 6
Attack: Ranged 10 (one creature); +7 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 4d8 + 5 cold damage
[a] Furious Blizzard * Encounter
Attack: Burst 2 within 10 squares; +14 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 2d8 + 3 cold damage, and a blizzard erupts in the burst, continuing until the end of the bear’s next turn. The blizzard grants concealment, and any creature that starts its turn in the storm takes 3 cold damage.
Blizzard Form (polymorph)* At-Will
Effect: A bear assumes the form of a blizzard. While in this form, the avalanche bear’s size increases to 10 squares by 10 squares. Anyone in its space is heavily obscured. The avalanche bear cannot attack or be attacked. It can move up to 4 squares as a move action while in this form. When the avalanche bear shifts back to bear form, it can appear anywhere completely within the space it filled while in blizzard form.
[mb] Claw * At-Will
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +15 vs. AC
Hit: 3d6 + 5 damage.
Skills Endurance +14, Stealth +6
Str 21 (+10); Dex 12 (+6); Wis 14 (+7)
Con 19 (+9); Int 7 (+3); Cha 10 (+5)
Alignment unaligned; Languages none
Avalanche Bear Tactics
The avalanche bear begins its assault in blizzard form. It initially shifts to bear form within 10 squares of an outlying target, immediately attacking with wind slash or piercing roar, and then uses an action point for a follow-up attack. It then either uses bite and claw to finish its initial target off or furious blizzard to hold other enemies at bay while it concentrates on its initial target. Once that target dies, the bear chooses another target, shifting back to blizzard form and repeating the process. If it loses three-quarters of its hit points, the avalanche bear reverts to blizzard form and retreats.
Christopher Mastey is a freelance RPG writer who also wrote and ran several well-received adventures at Gen Cons 2011 and 2012. When he’s not designing monsters for gamemasters to torment their players with, he takes to the tabletop miniatures battlefield with his Space Marines (Warhammer 40K) and Khadorans (Warmachine).