I’d never given that much of a thought to the weather in any of my campaigns until Frostburn, Sandstorm and Stormwrack were released for Third Edition, and even so, I used them very sporadically. This month, though, Mark, from Dice Monkey, decided to set it as the theme for December’s RPG Blog Carnival and since I’m about to start an eberronized version of Dragon Heist, I decided to have a glimpse to what I’ve been leaving outside my campaign in order to start using it.
From all the types of extreme weather, the one I like the most is the cold one. No, I’m not a big Frozen fan nor I’m turning Elsa into a D&D character for this article, but there must be some ways to add some ice specialities to the 5e spellcasting classes, and that’s what I’m writing about. After all, Winter is Coming.
Divine Magic: the Cold Domain
Life, just as climate, has a cycle. Servants of deities related to winter and cold revere them as metaphors of life itself, and they have commited themselves to keep the cycle rolling. If you choose a deity related to winter and ice as your patron (and if your DM allows the use of homebrew content), you can select this Cold Domain. Just as a harsh winter, clerics of these deities are merciless, and its abilities include offensive powers to freeze and destroy.
Selecting the Cold Domain for your cleric character will give them the Frostbite cantrip and the following domain spells:
|1st||armor of agathys, ice knife|
|3rd||gust of wind, snilloc’s snowball swarm|
|5th||sleet storm, slow|
|7th||control water, ice storm|
|9th||cone of cold, maelstrom|
Starting at 1st level you can move across difficult terrain created by ice or snow without spending extra movement. Additionally, you may use an action to extend an aura of cold around you. While the aura is active, you gain resistance to cold damage and immunity to conditions originated in cold weather and the terrain around 15ft of you becomes difficult terrain. This aura lasts for one minute. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (a minimum of once), regaining all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
Channel Divinity: Frostburn
At 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity to summon freezing cold and use it as a weapon against your enemies. When you roll cold damage, you can use your Channel Divinity to deal maximum damage, instead of rolling.
Starting at 6th level, when you deal cold damage you may also reduce the target’s speed by 10ft until the start of your next turn.
At 8th level, you can imbue your weapon with divine energy. Once per turn, when you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can cause the attack to deal an extra 1d8 cold damage to the target. When you reach 14th level, the extra damage increases to 2d8.
Starting at 17th level, when using your Cold Passage feature, you become immune to cold damage and the range of it becomes 30 feet, and spells that deal cold damage to targets within it deal an extra 2d6 cold damage.
Nature Magic: the Circle of Winter
Just as with clerics, some druids see winter as the last stage in life before it starts over again in summer. Druids of the Circle of Winter have commited themselves to keep the cycle rolling, even if that means to actively destroy so other can create. As a druid, you can select Circle of Winter as your Druidic Circle feature at 2nd level.
Arctic Wild Shape
At 2nd level, and as you gain the Wild Shape feature, the maximum CR oif the beast you transform into is doubled if you select an arctic beast (as indicated in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, p.24). For example, you can turn into a Brown Bear (CR 1) at 4th level.
When selecting the circle, you gain the Frostbite cantrip, and at 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th levels, you can select a spell that deals Cold damage or one that belongs to the Circle of the Land (Arctic) list and add it to your spell list.
Starting at 6th level, your connection to the Frostfell protects you from the elements. You gain resistance to cold damage and advantage on Constitution saving throws against exhaustion from cold-induced effects such as extreme cold weather. Additionally, you suffer no penalty when moving through difficult terrain caused by cold weather.
From 10th level, you can expend two uses of Wild Shape at the same time to transform into an ice elemental (which is an amalgamation of an air and a water elemental, using the best stats among them and keeping both resistances, immunities, senses, languages, and special attacks).
Shape of Snow
Starting at 14th level, when using Wild Shape, your attacks deal an additional 1d8 cold damage, and you can transform into a beast with a challenge rating as high as your druid level divided by 4, rounded down.
Arcane Magic: Frost Sorcery
The Frostfell may be but a manifestation of the elemental forces on the material plane, and as such, it can also be that sorcery is influenced in the same way by Air and Water elementals at once. When creating a sorcerer, you can select Frost Magic as the origin of your powers.
Tongues of the Winter
At 1st level, you add Primordial to your known languages, which allows you to understand Auran and Aquan among other elemental dialects.
Also since 1st level, when choosing a new spell to your known list, you can choose to change its damage type to cold. Additionally, you can add 1d6 cold damage to non-damage spells that have a target, such as Hold Person. Doing so changes their school to Transmutation and adds audiovisual cold-thematic elements, such as flakes and gusts of wind. Spells cast this way are easily noticeable, and as such they gain no benefit when used with the Subtle Spell metamagic feature (you can still cast them with no comatic or verbal components, but their effects will still be very obvious).
Grip of Winter
At 6th level, you gain resistance to cold damage. In addition, when casting a spell of 1st level or higher that deals cold damage, an instantaneous blizzard erupts around you causing creatures of your choice that you can see with 15 feet of you to take cold damage equal to half your sorcerer level. Spells you cast ignore cold resistance.
Shield of Ice
Starting at 14th level, when you are hit by a melee attack, you can use your reaction and one sorcery point to reduce the damage dealt by summoning a layer of thick ice between you and your agressor. The damage reduced equals your sorcerer level. Additionally, when taking the Dodge action in combat, you can use your reaction in the same way for any kind of attack.
When reaching the pinnacle of your powers at 18th level, you gain immunity to cold damage. In addition, any spell or effect you create ignores resistance to cold damage and
treats immunity to cold damage as resistance to cold damage. From this point you’re no longer affected by conditions that originated in extreme cold weather.
Are you planning to use one of these or will you “let it go”? Just kidding. Until the next time, embrace the Cold Side of the Force.