20 February 2021

Ice River Crossing Battlemap + 8 Encounters

From the fiery insides of a volcano for my last battlemap, to the icy tundra this time. Now, I know it wasn’t all that long ago that I released another snowy themed battlemap, but the recent weather has had me wanting to design something like this again. The arctic theme has so much potential in DnD, and I definitely feel like I didn’t maximise on it in the last snowy map.

This week, I am focussing more on unique/brand new monsters again, instead of arctic variants of existing creatures, or simply re-using statblocks from the basic rules. I wanted to create something a little more fun this time around, to maximise on the environment. In total, I have included six brand new monsters, each built to fit the environment.

The Map Itself

The Map

The map is relatively simple this time around, with a simple dirt road/path crossing a bridge in the middle of a frozen forest/river scene. There are, however, a number of fun mechanics you could play around with using the environment alone in this map. For starters, any creature (medium or larger) attempting to cross the ice itself, must make a dexterity (acrobatics) check, DC 14, to see if they can do so safely (and at the start of any turns they spend on the ice) to see if the ice beneath them cracks. If it does, the creature takes a number of d4 of cold damage (scaled to the party level).

Another fun idea would be to have it so that the snow itself is actually over a foot deep, counting as difficult terrain. This way, smaller creatures, native to the region, could move about relatively unseen, whilst the players would struggle to move to catch them.

Whatever you use the map/encounters below for, I really hope you find something fun and useful in this week's battlemap post!

Encounter 1: Fox-Like Fey (Levels 1-3) Easy/Average

Rumour has it, a pack of Corusqui have recently begun to invade the village the party find themselves in. These tiny, white, fey foxes, while adorable, are causing havoc for the residents, who have found odd items going missing all over the place. Never usually anything of value, but with food supplies already low, the villagers need to keep ahold of what they have.

The party are tasked with travelling into the local woods, where the Corusqui live, and help thin their numbers, and discourage them from stealing from the locals. Cruel though it seems, these creatures could easily be the reason a whole community of people don’t have enough food to make it through till spring. Upon entering the woods, the party will find themselves surrounded by a yipping sound, as the Corusqui emerge from the trees, fascinated by the newcomers to their territory. 3d3+2 Corusqui (statblock below) emerge from behind trees and out of burrows, but are not immediately hostile. If attacked, however, they will fight back.

Encounter 2: Tundra Turf War (Levels 1-3) Average/Hard

As they walk through the woods, the party suddenly find the body of a young wolf thrown onto the ground in front of them. Immediately after the body lands, an audible howl can be heard forming from the trees. Suddenly, out of the tree line, a small pack of wolves emerge, chased by a Saber-toothed tiger. 1 Dire Wolf (basic rules - p123), 2d2+1 Wolves (basic rules - p159) and one Saber-Toothed Tiger (basic rules - p159) now block the parties path, clearly fighting against one another. The wolves will focus on the Saber-Tooth, unless the party approach them or the dead cub, but the saber-tooth will attempt to attack the party; assessing them as a threat.

The combat will be between three parties; the wolves, the party themselves, and the saber-tooth; after the saber-tooth is dead, the wolves will focus their attention on the party, though in a mostly defencive way, and they will not give chase if the players decide to flee.

Encounter 3: Forgettable Fey (Levels 4-6) Average/Hard

Local legends tell of the Ijat’ria, the shapeshifting spirits of the arctic woods. As the players travel through a small village/town, they hear rumours of these creatures, a local legend, who live in the frigid forests, and lure travellers and children off of the path and to their deaths. If a traveller encounters a wild beast, and feels a compulsion to follow it into the woods, they may have encountered an Ijat’ria. The only way to tell whether the creature in front of them is a true beast of the region, or an evil fey spirit, is by looking at the eyes; if they are red, then they are in the presence of the Ijat’ria.

Whilst many are said to have encountered these creatures, nearly no-one in the town can tell of an account of having met them. It appears that most of those who meet these creatures either die, or forget the experience entirely, unable to warn others of the perils. Should the party venture out of the safety of the settlement, or even go hunting for these mythical creatures, they will encounter 2d2+1 Ijat’Ria (statblock below) in the woods. Each one will be in an animal form when the party encounter them, and will each use their Lure ability to attempt to tempt the party to split up from one another.

Encounter 4: Lost Souls (Levels 4-6) Hard/Very Hard

As the party make their way to the next village, the evening drawing in quickly, they come to a small bridge in the woods, crossing over a frozen river. As they cross the bridge, the more alert members of the party hear a faint knocking sound emanating from beneath the ice. Before they can react, however, they find themselves set upon by a pair of ethereal blue specters. These two Isspöken (statblock below) will attack the party, without moving too far from the river (no more than 100 ft., as this is where two bodies are trapped deep in the river, beneath the ice). After finishing off the party, the weather begins to turn bad, and night falls. Unable to search the area in any detail, they head for the town, where they set themselves up for the night.

Whilst in town, they overhear talk in the tavern (or wherever, really) about the children that have been going missing in the woods. Local legends tell of evil fey spirits that live under the ice, luring children in, and drowning them. The next day, the party will encounter a local, who will beg them for help, telling them that her daughter went missing overnight, and that she just needs to know what happened. The locals will point them back to the area in which the party encountered the Isspöken the night before.

If they head back that way, they will find themselves faced with three Isspöken, and they will again hear this knocking sound from beneath the ice of the river. This sound is coming from a Qualliuk living in the water. It will fight to prevent the party from finding the bodies of the children (three now) that it has hidden in the river, and attempt to drag a member of the party under the water to try and drown them. Any creature (except the Qualliuk) that enters the water takes 2d6 cold damage at the start of each turn it spends there, and every time it enters the water.

Encounter 5: A Blur in the Snow (Levels 7-9) Easy/Average

As the party make their way through the woods, they hear sounds from the surrounding treeline. Between the trees, they can make out some blurred black shapes moving around, seemingly following them. Before they make it too far, and cross the bridge, 2d2+2 Displacer Beasts (MM - p81) set upon them and attack.

Encounter 6: A Slimy Situation (Levels 7-9) Average/Hard

As they travel through the woods, the party begins to notice movement in the snow either side of the path. No matter how hard they look, however, they cannot find anything other than snow. They continue on their journey, only for one of the group to suddenly step in a pile of snow that feels different to all of the others, almost… slimy? As they begin to move away, they feel the cold radiating off of the creature, as a pseudopod lashes out at them.

2d2+2 Snowcloud Oozes (statblock below) hiding in the snow, will begin to attack the party from all angles, from either the snow beneath their feet, or even falling from the branches of a tree above.

Encounter 7: Ice on the Wind (Levels 10-12) Difficulty

Travelling in the arctic woods is always dangerous. Especially when a mating pair of Rime Dragons (statblock below) have recently moved into the area. As soon as the party enter the area in which the Rime Dragons live (the map), they swoop down from the sky and attack. The Rime Dragons will attack the party with their sharp tail lashes, attempting to freeze them solid.

Encounter 8: Run-Morhaz (Levels 10-12) Very Hard/Deadly

As they trek through the icy wilds, the party suddenly begin to feel eyes on them. As they look around, a patch of snow nearby begins to suddenly steam and melt. Bursting from the snow, a Remorhaz (basic rules - p341) suddenly bears down upon the closest creature to it, while from behind the party one (or two, if you’re feeling cruel) Young Remorhaz (basic rules - p258) emerge and attack.

Corusqui Statblock

Ijat'Ria Statblock

Isspöken Statblock

Qualliuk Statblock

Snowcloud Ooze Statblock

Rime Dragon Statblock

The Map: With Grid (25x25)

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