Hello hello! Today I will be going over another Dungeons and Dragons title, Frostburn by Wizards of the Coast!
As another part of the “environment trilogy” along with Stormwrack and Sandstorm, Frostburn has a similar layout. The first things given mention are types of frostfell regions, from ice ages to dire winters (think Fimbulwinter of Norse legend). There is also a temperature chart, ranging from extreme heat to unearthly cold (no…those are the actual names). In addition to other rules here and there on tundra areas such as frostbite and cabin fever (again, seriously), there are some new terrain types like in Stormwrack; this time, we have Cold Gate, Everfrost, Frostfell Marsh, Frostfell Mountain, Frozen Sea, Glacier, Iceberg, Ice Field, Skyberg, Snow Field, Taiga, and Tundra. Like Stormwrack, I cannot complain here…it’s very solid and thorough, from frozen forests to icy traps and dungeons.
Like in the other books, this chapter presents old races in the area plus new races. First, the old races with new flavor…we have glacier dwarves, ice gnomes, snow elves, and tundra halflings. Again, there’s not much I can say about them. The first new race is the Neanderthal. I HATE the stats for the Neanderthal. Instead of doing any homework, Wizards decided to go the Hollywood path and paint them in the light of “dumb savages”, making them into what is essentially a race of snow orcs. The other new race it the uldra, a race of playable fey with cold resistance and natural ice magic. I think they’re interesting, just interesting enough to off-balance my rage at the Neanderthals. The new deities are…eh. They’re alright, but I would have liked to have seen some Inuit deities, just like Sandstorm has Egyptian ones. Only a few of the new feats really catch my eye, like Frozen Barbarian (which allows a Barbarian to chill his flesh during raging) and Snowcasting (which turns spells into snowcast spells, giving them to cold descriptor). The verdict on this chapter? It’s…okay. It could have been better, though.
Chapter 3 has prestige classes. You knew they were coming, folks.
Cloud Anchorite: Members of high-altitude monastic orders, Cloud Anchorites specialize in surviving in low-oxygen cold areas, as well as acrobatic skills such as Jump and Balance. They also get a climb speed, which doesn’t hurt.
Cryokineticist: This is…get this…a cold-flavored psionics user! Who would have ever guessed? 😛 Seriously though, the idea is interesting, even if the presentation (which is mostly just varieties on the theme of “I give cold damage” with some spell-like abilities thrown in) is lacking.
Disciple of Thrym: These are eXXXtreme frost giants, who gain various cold-related powers and a frosty greataxe.
Frost Mage: The spellcaster equivalent of the Cyrokineticist. I’ll take time now to note the stupidity of the art right here…the frost mage presented in the illustration is in a loin cloth and what equates to a bikini with a neck strap attached. How does this make any logical sense? >.<
Frostrager: An icy barbarian healed by the cold, who gained his powers from nearly dying in the icy waste…no, seriously, one of the prerequisites is to have reached 0 hit points from cold damage.
Knight of the Iron Glacier: Paladins of the snow that can inspire their allies, know the frosty wastes, and ride war megaloceros. That’s just epic. (For those that don’t know, megaloceros was a Pleistocene-era deer with some of the proportionally largest antlers to ever adorn a living creature).
Primeval: A primal druid that can only transform into prehistoric animals and slowly regresses into a more “primitive” state, sacrificing points of his Intelligence and Charisma scores as his physical abilities increase. He also becomes a magical beast at final level. Okay, whatever you say then…
Rimefire Witch: A disciple of the uldra goddess that can create icy bolts, move swiftly on ice, and eventually transforms into a fey. What’s with all the type-changing classes here? >_>; In addition, there’s another strange clothing choice here, with the Rimefire Witch having her breasts covered in form-fitting metal cups. *Sigh*
Stormsinger: A weather-controlling bard….wait, why is this in Frostburn instead of Stormwrack? And again with the strange clothing choices, the stormsinger is wearing a midriff-bearing breastplate and loin cloth combo. I don’t get it…this is icy cold, not a warm-weather environment!
Winterhaunt of Iborighu: These are villainous spellcaster servants of the god Iborighu, who slowly become more and more attuned to the cold, and eventually become elementals…again with the type-changing classes!
We have now reached the equipment. First up are the weapons…the only one that even starts to make me stop acting bored is the tiger-skull club, which is a club that has the skull of a saber-toothed cat on the end. That’s inventive… The other stuff is what you’d expect as well, such as sleds and climbing gear.
Magic of the Frostfell is this chapter’s title, and you can guess what it entails, can’t you? 😛 Other than the addition of the Cold and Winter domains for Clerics, there’s not much I have to say…the spells are fairly average. Unlike Stormwrack, there’s not much that really leaps out at me.
Okay, the creativity of some of the bestiary entries wins back brownie points with me. I especially like the real-world mythology entries such as the domovoi or Russian legend and Yuki-Onna of Japanese legend, the Midgard dwarf (a celestial dwarven servant of Thor), and the entombed (essentially zombies piloting ice elementals). On the other hand, the art is sometimes leaving something to be desired right here, especially with the real-life Ice Age animals. The woolly mammoths are albino for no apparent reason, the glyptodont (giant armadillos) has a “psycho eye”, and the zeuglodon (correctly referred to as basilosaurus…and a creature that lived in tropical waters!) looks more like a zombified whale than the real creature it is meant to portray. Back to the other hand, reprints of the 3.0 Yeti updated for 3.5, and sentient bear-men called urskans…both cool.
Since the last chapter is an adventures section, which I don’t review, we’re going to the final score. It’s…okay. I know I’ve said that a lot, but it just isn’t as good as Stormwrack in my mind. It could have been better, there’s no doubt about that. 7/10.