Frostburn



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Frostburn

Author: Various
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Publish Date: 09/2004
ISBN: 0-7869-2896-4
Pages: 224
Rating: 7 out of 10
Retail Price: $34.95

 

I’ve had a copy of this book on my shelf for a year, though I only got around to reading it recently. I don’t normally feature arctic regions in my games, so it was never a priority for me. I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. While it was by no means a perfect book, it had a lot of interesting ideas, many of which would require little to no work on the part of a DM to adapt to their own games.

The book begins with a chapter dealing with what defines a frostfell (arctic) area. It discusses various levels of protection against cold environments, different types of cold-based dungeon features, cold-based traps and the like. I was impressed that some of the more dangerous terrain features of the frostfell, such as avalanches and snow-covered crevices, were included as traps with listed CRs. I was, however, less than impressed with some of types of “natural hazards” that were included, such as negation snow and rust snow, as they seemed keyed specifically to defeating adventurers with little thought as to how and why they should exist in the first place.

The second chapter started off very slow. While some of the listings for standard races adapted to frostfell areas was interesting, the two new races, the uldra and the neanderthal, didn’t appeal to me at all and seemed like they were included just because the authors felt the need to include new races in a new book. Surprisingly, the feat section was very focused on the subject of the book and I didn’t see anything particularly unbalanced or poorly conceived, which was quite refreshing.

The next two chapters were as I expected they would be. The prestige classes were on par with most of the other Wizards of the Coast publications, which is to say that while some were alright, most of them were so generic as to be almost unusable. The equipment section had some good items in it, but more than one of the weapons were simply larger versions of some of the standard weapons from the Player’s Handbook that dealt more damage for some small tradeoff, such as slightly decreased range.

Later, the book moved into the chapters detailing new spells and new monsters. While I didn’t see anything inherently broken in the spell list, there wasn’t much that appealed to me, either. Many of the spells just seemed like that’d be exceptionally useful for a game run completely in a frostfell environment, but much less useful if the PCs moved into any warmer climate. The monsters section was alright, containing some interesting baddies to surprise a group of players with. My favorite was the shivhad, a CR21 abberation I’ll probably use as a unique creature.

The book truly shined in chapter 7, though, which detailed two potential adventure sites. The first was an underground frozen cavern that would be an appropriate challenge for low to mid-level parties. The second was a huge devil city on top of a floating iceberg. Normally, I probably wouldn’t use such a location in my own game, but it was detailed so well that I can’t see having the slightest hesitation to drop it in. Afterward, the book moved into page after page of encounter charts, which included monsters from Monster Manual II and Fiend Folio. While useful, some seemed out of place, since the charts were separated out by terrains, many of which have no place in a frostfell environment.

All in all, this would be a useful book to any DM or player planning on spending some time in an arctic environment. There’s a lot that needs work to be truly useful in the average game, but that’s what being a DM is all about.