Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Creature Comforts - Arctic

The frozen wastelands of the arctic regions of the world are probably some of the harshest environments known. Little food, deadly cold temperatures, and virtually no shelter make survival in such areas difficult – if not impossible. Even in these landscapes, however, civilizations have managed to survive and even thrive. As the hearty folk of the arctic go about their day, they depend on a few creature comforts to make their lives a little easier to bear. Here are a few of those comforts:

Ice Hotel

Ice that stays frozen long enough becomes like rock. As rock, ice can be carved and shaped into many uses. An igloo is a good example of a building made from blocks of rock-hard ice. Such a structure is temporary, though, and larger ice structures can be carved into buildings that retain their shape for years. An ice hotel or inn is a perfect example of utilizing the materials at hand to create a beautiful yet functional building. Ice hotels contain all the amenities of a conventionally constructed hotel, but are (obviously) made of ice. After experiencing the harsh arctic winds, the beautifully carved (and often polished) surroundings help lull the visitor into a restful slumber, while the occasionally echoing drip lends an exotic note to the experience. Visiting an ice hotel can certainly be considered a creature comfort.

Game Rule: A hero that takes an extended rest within an ice hotel gains a +2 to cold Endurance checks until his next extended rest. While the cost of a stay in an ice hotel is left to the discretion of the DM, the opulence (and rareness) of such places means that the cost of the hero’s stay can run as much as 10 GP per night.

Exotic Metals

Meteors streak through the sky everyday. While most of these burn up in the atmosphere, a few manage to make their way to the planet’s surface as meteorites. No where do these precious rocks show up better, than in the vast white plains of snow and ice that are found in the arctic regions of the world. While many meteorites are simple rocks, more than a few are actually chunks of precious metal. Iridium, mithril, gold, iron, and other metals can be found in such rocks. The amounts found are usually small, but their exotic nature lends itself to rituals and alchemical formulas . In edition, Star Pact warlocks often make journeys to such places, in order to find the perfect “star piece” to use as an implement. As valuable and useful as meteorites are, they are almost certainly a creature comfort.

Game Rule: A hero that spends 8 hours searching a minimum 1 square mile of an otherwise featureless plain of ice and snow, can make a Nature check in order to determine how much precious material he can find. If the result is 20 or less, the hero finds nothing of value. If the result is 25 to 21, the hero finds 1d10 ounces of metal. If the result is 30 to 26, the hero finds 1d20 ounces of metal. If the result is 35 to 31, the hero finds 1d4 pounds of metal. If the result is 36 or greater, the hero finds 1d10 pounds of metal. A hero needs to wait at least 1 year before a previously searched area can be searched again. It is left to the DM to determine the value and type of precious material found. In addition, a Star Pact warlock that uses a piece of meteorite as a focus, gains a +1 to attack and damage rolls when that object is incorporated into a weapon or implement used by the warlock.


While not always the case*, arctic regions occur at the poles where the atmosphere over the crust is thinner and holds much less heat. As the planet revolves around the sun, it’s magnetosphere captures radiation from the star it orbits. While most of this radiation is harmlessly shunted around the planet, a certain small portion is funneled by the magnetosphere down towards the poles. When this radiation strikes the atmosphere, it ionizes the atmosphere, leading to a beautiful display of hypnotic light. Called an “aurora”, these lights have had a soothing effect on arctic civilizations since intelligent creatures first looked up at the night sky. Quietly luminescent, the aurora gives its viewer a calm perspective, and bolsters one against the harsh elements of his surroundings. Lighting the way, even in the darkest of winters, the aurora is probably the most comforting of creature comforts.

Game Rule: A hero that spends at least 1 hour during an extend rest observing the phenomenon of the aurora, gains a +1 to Insight and Perception checks until his next extended rest. A hero that observes the aurora for more than 1 continuous week, however, loses this benefit.

Cold and forbidding, the arctic reaches are a test for any soul not actually raised there. Fortunately, the creature comforts here can help ease the burden of a hero’s day to day survival. I encourage you, as a DM, to sprinkle some of these comforts around whenever the heroes might find themselves in the frozen wastes.

Until next time…

Game excellently with one another.

*These comforts assume an earth-normal type planet. Certain creature comforts might vary based on the physics of your local environment.

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