Friday, September 30, 2011

The Snow Queen

I've been working on this entry for the Winter is Coming blog carnival being hosted by T.W. Wombat pretty much since the minute he announced it. Before diving into the actual text, I need to give some serious thanks to Jim C. Hines, whose princess series introduced me to the Snow Queen. I've also borrowed some text in here from Matthew Brenner's article on Terrain Powers, and have tried to adapt one gaming-specific statblock written by Mike Shea in his article on Abyssal Plague Demons.

OK, enough... on with the article.

At the end of the Dawn War, the gods sat back to observe the world they had created. Khala’s power was tied to the cold, but as the goddess of winter, she could observe wherever water traveled. Traveling to the largest glacier at the heart of the winter, she removed a slice as thick as her hand, bound it in silver, and polished it with snowflakes until it shone like a mirror. Laid on its side, it seemed to be a frozen lake on the valley floor. As Khala wove the words of power to enchant the mirror, a tendril reached out from the Chained God, unnoticed by the lady of winter. His touch on the magic caused the mirror to distort what she saw, perceiving only the worst of anything reflected in the mirror, but it also amplified the spell beyond Khala’s intent, granting the mirror the power to bend those reflected in it to her will.When forced to surrender her power to the usurping death goddess, Khala’s last act of spite was to break the great scrying crystal, shattering the ice and sending shards flying off in all directions. Unknown to her, these shards still bore the taint of the Chained God. Magically connected to each other, the shards of the mirror make those who are touched by them more vulnerable to the mirror’s power. Even worse, when under the mirror’s influence they are open to the Chained God’s touch, if he should chance to reach out.

Greatest of Khala’s retainers was the exarch known as the Snow Queen, who spread the snows as winter approached and guided their retreat as spring approached. When the Raven Queen assumed control of the winter snows, the Snow Queen herself refused to bow to the goddess she saw as a usurper. Absconding with the largest fragment of Khala’s Mirror, she retreated not to the Shadowfell where Nerull’s bride kept her abode, but instead to the coldest reaches of the Feywild. Some suspect her influence in transforming the Sun Prince into the mighty fey being known as the Prince of Frost. Certainly, her snowflake retainers can sometimes be seen as honored guests inside the Fortress of Frozen Tears.
Hard of heart herself, the Snow Queen now roams the world and the Feywild, although her dislike of the Raven Queen keeps her far away from the walls of Letherna. She occasionally spots a mortal to whom she takes a capricious fancy, and may transport that individual off to the Heart of Winter for a time, until that mortal freezes to death despite the gifts she bestows. She can otherwise be found anyplace where there is water, for all water has the potential to become snow and ice. When her ire is roused, expected a blizzard to ravage the area.

Only rarely does the Snow Queen leave her palace without being accompanied by many of her retainers. Often, they may be present in lighter snowstorms, even when their monarch herself has not chosen to venture forth from the Heart of Winter. Serving as her eyes and ears, they are quick to advance, quick to retreat, and ride the winds with unmatched skill. Bitter foes of the Sorrowsworn, they will often summon reinforcements and swarm the Raven Queen’s servants who venture out of the realms of the Shadowfell.

At times, it seems that the Show Queen seeks to reassemble all the lost fragments of Khala’s great mirror. If she did so, it is entirely possible that she could challenge the Raven Queen herself, especially if the Prince of Frost were to ride forth at her side. It is unclear whether she is aware of the Chained God's touch on her mirror, which may explain her restraint.

The stat blocks weren't all playing nice with pasting into the post, so click here to download the entire article, story text + 4E statblocks (1.9 Mb PDF)
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