Dragon Encounters

Making dnd combat fun, finding monsters that fit together, monster tactics and strategies, and other ways of using the monsters of dungeons and dragons


ICE DEVIL: Making Proper Use of the Ice Wall

minions/allies

Combat rating 17

 

1 Ice devil (CR 14)

2 Young white dragons (CR 6)

4 Winter wolves (CR 3)

 

Combat rating 19

 

1 Ice devil (CR 14)

3 Air elementals (CR 5)

1 Abominable yeti (CR 9)

 

Combat rating 21

 

1 Ice devil (CR 14)

3 Frost giants (CR 8)

1 Remorhaz (CR 11)

 

Combat rating 23

 

1 Ice devil (CR 14)

2 Stone golems (CR 10)

1 Roc (CR 11)

 

How to Use – Defending the Ice Wall

The best use for the ice devil is to have him cast his ice wall, and then defend it.

If he casts the ice wall behind him, it won’t slow the players down for more than 1-2 turns. The ice devil doesn’t have a ranged attack that it can use to hit them on the far side of the wall, but even if it did, they’d be past the wall before it got a chance to use it.

Even if you use the ice wall to split the party in half, [the most obvious way to use it], the PCs on the far side will have broken a hole in the wall by the time the ice devil gets another turn. Except perhaps for the damage they take going through the broken wall, it might as well not have been cast.

Of course, you do want to give the players a reason that they need to get across the wall. If not, they’ll ignore it and just focus on the ice devil. I’ll get to reasons for that under the combat encounters heading.

If your ice devil has an ice spear, you might want to put him on top of the ice wall, hitting out at PCs who come near to attack the wall. The text doesn’t talk about walking on top of the wall, but his feet look like claws, and it seems realistic to believe that he could get a good grip. (Being immune to cold damage should also mean that he won’t find it uncomfortable to dig his claws into the ice.)

Without a spear, or possibly even with one, he can be placed in front of the wall, tearing into any PC who comes near the wall.

With or without a spear, once the wall is breached, he’ll stand behind the breach, forcing any PC who wants to engage him in melee to stand in the freezing cold air of the breach. [Assuming they don’t have a reach weapon.] The positioning means that he can’t be attacked by multiple melee attackers so long as he stands there, as the breach is only so wide. He’ll also have cover from range attacks, in the form of the melee attacker who is standing between him and the rest of the PCs.

The only way that these advantages will no longer hold true will be if they breach the wall at least twice. Attacking the wall when they could attack an enemy goes against the way most players think, and even if and when they do it, they’ll have to go through the freezing air to attack the ice devil.

On the first turn standing there, he’ll ready an action to attack the first PC who comes into range. If you’ve done a proper job of putting sufficient incentive into the players to get past the ice wall, there will be a PC there by the end of the round. If not, you’ll have to decide if to keep the ice devil there or to have him charge the PCs.

If he successfully rolled to recharge his wall, you can wait until most of the PCs are through before putting up a new wall behind him. If the ice devil is down to half HP, it might not be worth it, as by that point it might make more sense to the players to just finish the ice devil off.

Combat Scenario 1. Pursued (difficulty 17)

In this scenario, the PCs are being pursued by a large amount of some kind of monster. I would suggest a large pack of winter wolves. By the time they reach the ice devil, the enemies are hot on their heels, and I would have them start appearing at a rate of 2-3 a round within a round or two of reaching the ice devil, if not right away.

Your ideal setup for this encounter will be to start with them having to enter the area, knowing that the enemies will be after them as soon as they’re discovered. One possibility is that they have to get to the other side if a valley or other area, and by entering stealthily, getting past the sentries or wandering members at the fringes of the group, they can get a head start.

A different idea is that they have to obtain a gem, or other item, kept by the group. In order to get it, they have to be stealthy, but they also learn that they can’t get very far before the enemies are alerted, and that they need to be ready to run for safety.

The idea behind both suggestions is that they set the expectation that the players with have to outrun their enemies. They also ensure that this situation develops through the players’ success, not through their failure, which will play a critical role in getting them to accept it.

On the way to the ice devil, place one or two lesser obstacles. This will make the scenario feel real, not just be a setup for the ice devil climax. Possible ideas include:

  • A narrow ice bridge across the chasm. The bridge is slippery, as is the ground near the chasm, making it hard to traverse in a hurry.
  • A hill, covered with snow, that they need to climb up or dwon. With the snow prone to shifting under them, everyone knows that this isn’t easily done.
  • A partly frozen lake. If they go around it, it will slow them down, and increase the chances of the enemies overtaking them, but they can’t be sure if all the ice is frozen.
  • A different enemy, perhaps a mammoth, trapped in the ice. If they can get past this enemy, it won’t pursue, but the cliffs on either side are narrow and getting past won’t be easy.

With all these scenerios, having a few of the faster enemies catch up will greatly increase the difficulty. Ideally, I would decide whether they catch up, and how quickly, based on how well the players have been doing until now.

Also with the ice devil, I would decide whether they have one or more rounds before the enemies catch up, and how many rounds they have, based on how they’ve been doing until now.

Combat Encounters 2-5.

Below are other ways to put pressure on the players to get across the wall, and to have to do so quickly.

  • Encounter 2: (difficulty 15) The PCs are on a frozen sea. On either side of them a pair of large icebergs form tall cliffs. (Because the wall can only be so large, and you won’t have mountains inside the sea very often.) Perhaps because of some magical effect, the ice is breaking behind them at a steady pace, probably on initiative 20 of every round. By the beginning of round 3, they’ll be forced up against the wall. By the beginning of round 4, they’ll either be in the water, or on the other side of the wall.
  • Encounter 3: (difficulty 15) Have some monsters be hurling projectiles across the wall. What you really need are something that will explode, such as balls of ice that will split into shards, doing piercing damage to everyone around them. (This will unfortunately be homebrew, as D&D does not provide any such projectile attack to any monster. For the monster hurling the ice balls, frost giants or some form of catapults make the most sense.)
  • Encounter 4: (difficulty 17) Any encounter involving multiple enemies will do it easily. You put the wall between the PCs, splitting them into two different groups, and they need to get past the wall or they’ll be at a severe disadvantage for the course of the fight. [You do need enemies on both sides, or the PCs on the side without enemies will breach the wall very easily.] Be aware that if your enemies aren’t immune to cold damage, they’ll have trouble once the players manage to make a hole in the wall, especially since they probably have a lot less HP than your players have.*
  • Encounter 5: (difficulty 16) For a really tricky idea, put your players in a boat traveling downstream. The ice devil will encounter them in a place where the river is bordered on both sides by walls, and he’ll put the wall above the water, anchoring it in the cliffs on either side. This will cause the boat to continue on, and the PCs to be swept off. If the water isn’t freezing cold, place rapids downstream. *2

* If you plan to have the wall push the PCs, place some obstacles and/or precipices on the map, to reduce the chances of them all choosing to be pushed to the same side.

*2 In this scenario, the ice devil should drop into the boat to attack, not fight from on high. Even if they get past the ice wall, having an ice devil inside their boat will be fun. Doubly so if they arrive at rapids with him still in there.

Combat Encounter 6: Trapped in the Dome (difficulty 15)

The ice devil also has another option for its wall. It can place it in the shape of a dome, trapping the PCs inside.

Like with the wall, it should place itself where it can reach them. In this case, that means inside the dome. By itself, that will make the scenario somewhat difficult, as the spellcasters won’t be able to stay out of the ice devil’s way very easily. If you want a harder scenario, have allies of the ice devil load up the top of the dome with snow, ice, and boulders. If the fight lasts long enough, the ice devil can banish its wall, and cause the entire load to fall onto the PCs. [While it will be buried as well, being immune to the cold lessens the problem, and it can claw its way out.]

To increase the likelihood of the PCs getting buried, you can run the encounter with two ice devils. One of them remains outside, and is the monster shoveling snow onto the dome. It will also be the one to cast the dome. This way, when they manage to crack the dome, the ice devil inside can create a second, slightly smaller dome inside the first dome, giving them another obstruction that they have to break through before they can escape.

6

 

The ice devil should be in front, or on top, of his wall, defending it. If he hides behind, the players will take it down fast. It won’t be worth summoning. 

Here are six ways to use the wall.

 

1)     A large pack of winter wolves, or other monsters, are after the players. Alternatively, the ground is collapsing behind them. If they can’t get onto the heights in time, they’ll be in trouble. Of course, first they have to
get past the ice wall.

2)     Monsters on the far side of the wall are hurling projectiles.
They can’t retaliate without crossing the wall. Frost giants hurling balls of ice works great. The balls splinter, so they don’t need a direct hit or sight.

3)     Place the wall between the PCs. Place a weak monster on one side, the ice devil on the other. It’s the divide and conquer trick.

4)     The wall can also be used as a bridge, letting a constant stream of monsters come in to join the fight it the players can’t take down the ice wall bridge.

5)     Trap the PCs inside an ice dome, with the ice devil inside with them, and some other monster such as frost giants piling up snow on top. If the PCs can’t escape before the ice devil dismisses the dome, they’ll be buried.

6)     The PCs are in a boat, traveling downriver. The ice devil places his wall where the river goes between two hills, placing it at the right height for the boat to go past, but not its passengers. Then he jumps into the boat
with them.



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About Me

I have been a DM for several years, and I was designing home RPG games since my young childhood. I have been a fan of many different types of games (computer, board, RPG, and more) and have designed several for my own entertainment. This is my first attempt to produce game content for a wider audience.

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