Well, a lot of the recent reviews have been multiparters that take time to finish up. I figured I’d throw that to the curb for a moment and write the next look at the E.N. Critters series. This time we’re covering Tulenjord, Land of the Fallen One, a volume dedicated to an icy land forged from the body of a dead god.
Total number of creatures: 21 (27 counting substats within a single header)
Breakup of creature types: 2 aberrations, 2 animals, 1 construct, 2 dragons, 1 elemental, 1 fey, 1 giant, 3 humanoids, 4 magical beasts, 1 ooze, 1 outsider, 2 undead.
CR range: 1/4 to 15.
Arctic Sea Dragon (CR 9 Dragon)
What it is: A giant walrus with horns as well as tusks, larger-than-average size, and an overall draconic visage.
What it does: Fire breath, strong heat and cold resistance, and a charge attack, as well as a fairly strong attack (3d10 bite damage).
Usefulness: 3-It’s an oddy, but it’s good if you want a cold-weather dragon other than the white dragon standby. It also actually realizes that a creature in a magically-fueled evolutionary arms race in an environment of cold-weather creatures would be likely to develop fire as a defense.
Use in d20 Modern: It could be a very, very strange mutation or a rare creature of the northern (or southern) ice.
Delphine (CR 1/2 Humanoid)
What it is: A slightly more dolphin-like equivalent of an aquatic elf that strive to be battle mages for the Fallen One, the god whose corpse makes up Tulenjord.
What it does: Blindsight and a natural propensity towards magic rather than war (illustrated by the sample individual being an Adept instead of a Warrior).
Usefulness: 2-Meh, it’s another stand-in race type.
Use in d20 Modern: If you like aquatic elves in your urban fantasy, here’s your arctic stand-in. Otherwise…eh.
Digger (CR 3 Humanoid)
What it is: Yeti-men that love to fight and kill things.
What it does: They’re more or less the analogue of the brutish humanoids such as orcs and bugbears, as well as a bit of ogreish nature thrown in. Thankfully, they have two unique abilities. They are treated as undead in terms of turning and rebuking due to a permanent scar to their souls from contacting the Fallen One firsthand, and they can use a Paladin-like smite ability on any creature with an Intelligence score higher than 3 that doesn’t worship the Fallen One. That’s some serious broad scoping there.
Usefulness: 3-While another stand-in being, the digger is slightly elevated by their unique abilities and zealotous flavor.
Use in d20 Modern: As their names imply, diggers dig (although using heavy picks, since they don’t have a burrow speed). Perhaps they’re a rare Yeti breed touched by sheer madness, crawling through trenches they’ve carved through the Himalayas.
Dyravul (CR 6 Animal)
What it is: It sort of resembles the Wampa Ice Monster from Star Wars, mixing the stereotypical image of the Yeti with some more goat-like features such as hooved feet and horns. Why it’s an animal, then, can pretty much only be explained by a dissonance between the artist and the fluff writer (who described it more as a predatory herd animal).
What it does: The dyravul rage and smash stuff. That’s…pretty much it.
Usefulness: 3-These creatures hit that soft spot in between bad and good, the mediocrity belt of monsters that is so common.
Use in d20 Modern: Dyravul could roam the most isolated portions of Antarctica, their snow-white pelts hiding them in the wastes from satellites, explorers, and their prey (whether animal or human).
Fireheart Golem (CR 10 Construct)
What it is: These are golems created to be part bodyguard, part walking boiler.
What it does: A fiery breath weapon, an aura of radiant heat that both protects those around it from the elements and damages those that touch it directly, and a self-destruct attack upon its “death”.
Usefulness: 4-While these creatures are geared toward cold-weather adventuring, their immunity to fire and knight-protector-esque feel gives them a home in pretty much any magical location that needs a blazing guard.
Use in d20 Modern: Like most golems, the fireheart is at home in the same locale as any spellcaster with the proper materials and circumstances to warrant crafting one.
Fissure Fisher (CR 8 Magical Beast)
What it is: A big, white-furred dog-monkey that lives on arctic cliffs and has a pun-ishing name.
What it does: Fissure fishers has the ability to safe itself from falls while inducing other creatures to fall.
Usefulness: 1-Meh, not much to say about this creature.
Use in d20 Modern: Pick a tall, cold mountain. Put it there. I don’t particularly care.
Fleshite (CR 1 Outsider)
What it is: Vaguely humanoid lumps of frozen flesh, born of the Fallen One himself.
What it does: Fleshites are deaf and mute beings that are purely oriented on physical combat. They also have damage reduction and barbaric rage to augment their combat capabilities.
Usefulness: 2-While more intriguing than the fissure fisher they proceed, fleshites are rather out of place in this title, utterly alone in an insinuated hierarchy of outsiders in service of the Fallen One. Sure, there are other creations of the fallen one, but the fleshites are the only outsiders.
Use in d20 Modern: Plenty of stories about occult rituals involve flesh and blood. It wouldn’t be hard to replace the “body of a dead god given life” fluff about the fleshites with the idea that they are the result of some sort of startling arcane ritual.
Frostbitten (CR 9 Undead)
What it is: Frost-coated undead animated by a deity that twisted their pleas to survive the cold into a curse.
What it does: Biting cold powers, as well as an assload of spells, most deity-related (such as divine favor) or death-related (such as heightened unholy blight).
Usefulness: 3-It’s strong and all, but the deity connection and similarly-flavored powers make me prefer the similarly-themed hoar spirit from Tome of Horrors II over this critter. Hence decidedly average for me.
Use in d20 Modern: Depends on how religious your campaigns are, I guess. If it’s one where, say, the Norse gods are a prevalent force, then they could potentially be the result of Loki’s trickery or something.
Frystkalma (Elemental; CR varies)
What it is: A full-fledged multi-size elemental made out of black ice.
What it does: These elementals can transform into a blizzard and have an aura of cold around them; not much else, though.
Usefulness: 2-Not really much to separate it from a standard ice elemental so often used.
Use in d20 Modern: Frystkalma work in most arctic locales.
Glacial (CR 12 Ooze)
What it is: An intelligent, psionic ooze. Why is it an intelligent, psionic ooze? Because they were animated by the blood clots of the Fallen One, of course! …No, that’s not a joke, I’m serious.
What it does: Psionic powers most focused on pain (such as forced share pain) and an ability that renders any creature dealt cold damage by the glacial unable to heal that damage naturally.
Usefulness: 3-This creature’s elevated out of meh status by the sheer random factor of being a psionic glob of liquid animated by a dead god.
Use in d20 Modern: I have no idea. Weird science, maybe?
Halsingdrek (CR 10 Dragon)
What it is: It’s a fuzzy frost dragon with six legs instead of four legs and two wings.
What it does: The halsindrek has a paralytic breath weapon (flavored as freezing someone in place), the ability to forfeit its claw attacks for a while to slither at a fast pace, and 5th-level spellcasting.
Usefulness: 3-While not especially grandiose compared to other dragons, the halsingdrek’s breath weapon and slither abilities differentiate it enough from the white dragon it shares the frost with to avoid it being lower on the scoring table.
Use in d20 Modern: If you have dragons and icy places, the halsingdrek is a good mid-level enemy.
Herjalti (CR 2 Magical Beast)
What it is: Flying, blood draining, electrical jellyfish (!).
What it does: Flying, blood draining, being electrical.
Usefulness: 1-It’s just…random.
Use in d20 Modern: Hell if I know. Atmospheric beast on a cold world in a futuristic campaign, maybe?
Johtuliva (CR 2 Fey)
What it is: A little flying gnomey-type fey.
What it does: A fatiguing or invigorating touch depending on its mood, 3rd-level spellcasting, is shiny, can take class levels.
Usefulness: 3-It’s not the worst fey I’ve ever seen, nor is it the best. Its ability to take class levels and novel touch powers are the only things that save it from a 2.
Use in d20 Modern: Presumably part of the northern faerie-folk.
Morn (CR 15 Giant)
What it is: Big, blue giants that keep slaves because they are Lawful Evil and that’s what stereotypical Lawful Evil people do.
What it does: They can’t throw rocks like true giants, but have a fair dose of spell-like abilities (mostly cold-focused, obviously) and can naturally “see” magic.
Usefulness: 2-Morns are powerful, but in the end they have trouble sticking out in a niche fulfilled by frost and eldritch giants.
Use in d20 Modern: You could use them in a Norse-themed campaign as high sorcerers of the Jotun, perhaps, or as an accompanying piece to the frost giants if you have them in your world.
Mursigla (CR 2 Humanoid)
What it is: Mursigla are big, barbaric walrus-people that like to hunt and fight.
What it does: They can…erm…hit stuff? Really, besides having an auto-proficiency with warhammers,
Usefulness: 2-There are plenty of beefy humanoids out there; bugbears, orcs, Arnold Schwarzenegger… The only thing that saves the mursigla is their walrus theme, which could be worked with.
Use in d20 Modern: You could have them as a genetically-engineering “cold soldier” in a sci-fi setting or an arcanist experiment for an urban fantasy game.
Skyte (CR 4 Magical Beast)
What it is: Flying electrical mantas…again with the flying electrical sea creature motif! What about an icy environment screamed “flying electrical sea creature”, exactly?
What it does: Paralytic electrical attacks by either a blasting ray or through the stinger.
Usefulness: 1-See the herjalti for why.
Use in d20 Modern: If all else fails, blame it on a mad science/magic experiment.
Snow Blind (CR 6 Aberration)
What it is: A nondescript small creature veiled in a flurry of snow. Is apparently a relative of the will-o’-wisp.
What it does: Constitution drain and blinding power.
Usefulness: 2-It’s a quirky creature, but not completely without its uses.
Use in d20 Modern: I dunno. I guess roll with the “relative of the will-o’-wisp” thing.
Snow Fleas (CR 5 Magical Beast Swarm)
What it is: Chilly fleas.
What it does: Cold damage and distracting infestation.
Usefulness: 1-It has its uses, but really, ice fleas?
Use in d20 Modern: They’re fleas. You should know what fleas do.
Snow Spirit (CR 3-10 Undead)
What it is: A frosty incorporeal undead.
What it does: Cold damage and Constitution drain. Oddly enough, for every individual it kills with its Constitution drain, it increases its size.
Usefulness: 3-The size increase makes this creature rather novel, as does its icy thematics. If it was a template, I would definitely give this a 4, but since it isn’t, I’d agree.
Use in d20 Modern: These are honestly more ghost-like than most of the spirits in Urban Arcana…well, save for the whole kill-to-grow thing. They are certainly cold-hearted souls.
Surrissa (CR 8 Aberration)
What it is: A giant four-pincered crab with a shell made of ice.
What it does: Cold damage, rending attacks with its pincers.
Usefulness: 2-It’s slightly less useful than a standard giant crab due to its specialization, but isn’t so strange or useless as to warrant a 1.
Use in d20 Modern: I’m going to cop out again and say blame mad science/magic.
Woolly Goat (CR 4 Animal)
What it is: It’s a goat.
What it does: It’s a goat.
Usefulness: 3-It’s a goat.
Use in d20 Modern: It’s a freaking goat! Use it for goatly goat things!
Tulenjord falls (no pun intended) between its two predecessors; it isn’t as good as Ruins of the Pale Jungle, but it doesn’t limp along like Beyond the Campfire. I grant E.N. Critters Volume 3: Tulenjord, Land of the Fallen One a 6/10.