[Let's Read] 4e's Faces of the Planes

VoidDrifter

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Since my "4e Racial Supplements" let's read was so positively received, I thought I might strike up another topic along a similar lines. In 320s of Dragon Magazine, we were introduced to the recurring series "Demonomicon of Iggwilv", which examined the demon princes of the Abyss. When Paizo lost the rights to Dragon & Dungeon and they were struck up as WoTC's new e-zines, the Demonomicon not only came along for the ride, but gained three sister serials; "Codex of Betrayal", focusing on high-ranking devils; "Court of Stars", dealing with the Archfey of the Feywild, and "Lords of Chaos", dealing with the Primordials of the Elemental Chaos.

If people are interested, my plan is to go through all of these articles collectively and present my readings here. For those curious about what's on offer:

Demonomicon of Iggwilv

  • Dragon #364: Yeenoghu
  • Dungeon #172: Codricuhn, the Blood Storm
  • Dungeon #188: Jubilex, the Faceless Lord
  • Dragon #369: Baphomet
  • Dragon #376: Turaglas, the Ebon Maw
  • Dungeon #205: Shemeshka the Marauder
  • Dungeon #208: Fraz Urb'luu

Codex of Betrayal

  • Dragon #365: Beleth, Prince of Imps
  • Dragon #373: Alloces, The Butcher of Nessus
  • Dragon #427: Levistus, Prince of Stygia
  • Dragon #428: Amon the Wolf
  • Dungeon #176: Geryon, The Broken Beast
  • Dungeon #197: Glasya, Princess of the Nine Hells

Court of Stars

  • Dragon #374: The Prince of Frost
  • Dragon #420: The Carrion King
  • Dragon #420: Thrumbolg, First Lord of Mag Tureah
  • Dragon #422: Hyrsam, Prince of Satyrs
  • Dungeon #196: Baba Yaga, Mother of All Witches
  • Dungeon #205: Tuxil, The Trinket Lord

Lords of Chaos

  • Dragon #370: Mual-tar, The Thunder Serpent
  • Dragon #421: Cryonax, The Bleak Monarch
  • Dungeon #199: Olhydra & Yan-C-Bin

If you're interested in this thread, because I really want to promote 4e's fluff better, let me know which article you'd like to see tackled first.
 
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Alter_Boy

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I've always been partial to Alloces, including him whenever I can. Could you look at the accompanying Monster article from that issue as well?
 

VoidDrifter

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Codex of Betrayal: Alloces, The Butcher of Nessus
Opening Thoughts:
I've never honestly paid that much attention to devils, so going in on the Codex of Betrayal articles is pretty virgin territory for me. I have no particular biases or expectations of this content starting out.

Just looking at the first page makes my skin crawl, between the chilling short fluff of an angel's horror as he realizes he is to be one of Alloces' next victims and the artwork, which depicts a ghostly pale humanoid with an ugly, almost-human face straddling a half-naked, bleeding man, who is screaming in horror as the assailant's fingers visibly burrow into his chest like tree roots. This is already promising a seriously creepy charcter, which is good; that's what I'd expect of someone called the Butcher of Nessus.

From here, we segue into the opening of the article, which reminds us that although devils are best known for their scheming and deceit, hell is also a place of torment and horror, particularly for the souls that wind up trapped there. And Alloces, also known as the Prince of Beasts and the Father of Monsters, is one of hell's greatest torturers, driven by a sick and twisted obsession with life that has led him to the unique position of hell's kennel-master.


History:
In the beginning, Alloces was a non-entity; a powerful angel, but of little importance. We don't even know what type of angel he was; the in-universe Codex of Betrayal lists him as an "angel of wrath", but the article explains it just uses that as a generic term for any number of angelic soldiers. What set him apart was that, unlike most angels charged with vengeance and punishment, he developed a true sadistic streak even before Asmodeus rebelled.

Not that Alloces was initially interested in rebelling; he has no great loyalty to He Who Was, but neither did he particularly care for Asmodeus. Only an incident at the end of the infamous Battle of Blood-Dimmed Stars, where one of Asmodeus' officers was captured alive, changed his mind. Alloces suggested he be allowed to torture the captive, in part out of sheer sadism, in part arguing that he could extract valuable information from it. Instead, his peers executed the captive and chastised him. This gave Alloces two conclusions; the first being that He Who Was and his loyalists would lose this war, due to being crippled by their own virtue, and the second being that he would find a far greater welcome in the camp of the rebels. And sure enough, when he approached Asmodeus with the heads of his former comrades, he was snapped up.

Assigned to the service of Geryon, Alloces served the rebel archangel well as an inquisitor for a time. But, ultimately he became obsessed with the secrets of life, fascinated to an unholy degree with the malleability and resilience of flesh. He stopped caring about interrogation and became fixated upon his gruesome studies; by the time Asmodeus had damned his followers all to their imprisonment in Baator, Alloces' star was on the wane and even other devils thought he was a deranged lunatic.

Immediately after the Infernal Kingdom was born, Alloces was left at a loss. Driven by his obsessions, he made a living as such by hiring himself out to various infernal dukes and barons and princes, interrogating their enemies so long as he could take the broken remnants for his own experiments afterwards. This led to him developing his first experiments in crafting monsters, bizarre entities born from parts and pieces of angels, devils and others astral beasts. Indeed, some devils began to specifically hire Alloces as an infernal breeder, either to craft some specific horror-beast or to increase the size of his employer's herds of hellish creatures.

The sudden influx of mortal souls to hell was what gave Alloces true purpose; now he had entirely new populations to experiment upon, and equally new metaphysical discovers to make. Learning of the soul, he became obsessed with its study as he had of the flesh beforehand, honing his efforts at shaping horrible new life from the essence of previous lifeforms.

Determined to be independent of the other devils for his share of souls and living mortals, Alloces took a unique approach to founding a cult in the mortal world. He unleashed a variety of newly designed monsters from his personal menagerie, and began falsely claiming credit for the creation of others - to this day, he still insists on having created, amongst others, nightmares, chimeras, manticores, the first cambions and the first lycanthropes. Everyone pretty much agrees that he was in fact responsible for none of these, but he still keeps spreading the lies. He was also responsible for sharing many secrets of animating dead flesh; Nerull may have been the first necromancer, but Alloces is credited with being responsible for the creation of the first golems of flesh, bone and similar matter.

Through these efforts, Alloces has become strongly associated in occult circles with a wide variety of the stranger and more horrific beasts to plague the natural world. Thus, cults to Alloces are typically called "beast cults", although they're not his only worshippers.

In the modern era, Alloces has become a figure to recognize and fear. Having long discarded his now-disgraced master Geryon, Alloces is the kennel-master of hell, keeping and breeding vast herds of hellish monsters on behalf of all the devils of hell, great and small.


Alloces's Goals:
Fixated and obsessive, Alloces cares only to continue his "great work". Ironically, this indifference to power in many ways makes him worse than the typical avaricious, ambitious devil, as his narrow focus allows him to devote his time to his torturous experiments - and to acquiring the "raw materials" for his work.

See, Alloces isn't in the strongest position when it comes to getting his "ingredients". He lacks power, he lacks name recognition, and lacks broad appeal; all aspects that other devils have used to acquire a steady influx of souls. What Alloces has done is concentrate on specific populations where his narrow field of expertise is most useful. It is a combination of these cults & cabals and payment for his efforts from other devils that provide the flow of victims for his lab, so Alloces works a lot harder than some devils of comparable power.

The article then details the three major "recruits" of Alloces.

Firstly, those suffering from disease and deformity - his skills allow him to offer cures to things even mortal magic can't fix.

Secondly, what I personally call "blood sages"; vivisectionists and wizards, often of aristocratic background, whose desire for knowledge or simple sadistic desires align perfectly with Alloces' own feelings. Wherever there is a wizard obsessed with creating their own monstrous minion, there is a potential servitor of the Father of Monsters.

Finally, we have beast cults or monster cults; usually primitive peoples whose fear of local monsters leads to them coming to worship them, and throgh them the power they believe created and masters them: Alloces himself.

Each segment is quite detailed as just what Alloces is able to offer these individuals, and how they operate. A sidebar offers a sample cult called the Carnate Cabal, which is a two-fold cult; an outer circle comprised of a beast cult, who perform depraved but generally harmless prayers and rites to appease the local wild monsters, and an inner circle comprised of blood sages, who perform more hideous experiments in things like golem-crafting and cross-species transplanting.


The Hierarchy of the Nine Hells:
This segment talks about just how Alloces fits into the sprawling hierarchy of the Nine Hells and, to put it bluntly, he's an anomaly. Most of his power comes from his favor and influence; he's drastically lacking in territories or other things that more directly suggest power.

It also notes that this devil does have a small code of honor, in that he will never, ever sabotage, delay or otherwise interfere with one devil's order at the behest of another. It's not explicitly said, but this one bit of steadfast honesty is probably integral to helping Alloces maintain his position.


Crunchy Bits:
The next part of the article talks about Alloces as an individual, describing his appearance, his tactics, the Lore one can learn through a successful Religion check, and two sample encounter groups.

Oh, and his statblock, of course. A level 28 Elite Controller (Leader) with the ability to summon one of three backup groups (a seraphic golem and 2 infernal hounds, or 2 war devils and 2 shrieking steeds, or 1 war devil, 5 legion devil legionnaires, and 2 infernal hounds) once per encounter, a powerful Recharge 5+ ranged burst debuff attack, and who is never encountered alone, fighting Alloces is not for the faint of heart.


Enemies, Allies & Minions:
For the most part, Alloces stands alone in the Nine Hells; considered a weird if scary recluse, most devils are content to ignore the fact that Alloces even exists. Still, a small number of devils great and small have deeper ties.

Asmodeus recognizes Alloces' services to him well enough that the devil is in a position to call upon the fiendish god for an occasional boon, although Alloces knows better than to abuse this privilege.

Despite their long time working together, there is no loyalty between Alloces and Geryon; the Father of Monsters parted ways well before the Broken Beast was cast out from hell.

Levistus and Baalzebul do not trust Alloces, and will have nothing to do with him.

Bel's frequent use of the Butcher's breeding programs makes Alloces a close ally, or at least a valuable employee, to the archdevil.

Glasya likewise trusts Alloces, as far as she can be said to trust anyone.

Perhaps the closest thing Alloces has to a friend is Machalos, the Sutured Fiend; a former pit fiend who used to work alongside Alloces under Geryon, he was fatally injured when Levistus overthrew the Broken Beast. On a whim, Alloces chose to salvage Machalos' essence and place it into a flesh golem-lime body made of devil and angel components. Machalos is sincerely grateful for his salvation, and loyal as a result, but he loathes his diostorted, clumsy, weaker body. If he ever confirms his vague suspicions that Alloces could place him in a more well-designed and powerful body but has chosen not to, then he will turn on Alloces in a rage.


The Brood of Alloces:
Naturally, WoTC couldn't put an article in this issue about a monster-making devil without detailing some of his personal creations.

The Butcher's Servitors:
This little prelude to the article gives advice on using cosmetic tweaks to existing monster statblocks to represent the fruits of Alloces' deranged labors. It's simple, flavorful, and really gets the imagination pumping.

The Menagerie:
The precise monsters covered in this article consist of the following:

Creeping Teeth: A heap of animated teeth, bones, claws and other hard bits that scuries across the floor like a more solid counterpart to an ooze and rips victims apart by slamming into them with jagged pseudopods.

Damned Choir: The simplest of Alloces' "Melded Souls" category of monsters, a writhing array of tormented souls fused together and left to randomly drift round, looking for victims.

Carpet of Flesh: A literal heap of flayed skin, chuks of meat and gobbets of viscera that, animated by stray shards of soulstuff, slithers and oozes about looking for prey.

Vile Host: A massive soul-stuff golem, specifically designed to come apart after taking sufficient damage and reform into several smaller "component" golems.

Shrieking Steed: A mass of humanoid souls/victims mashed together into a ridable monster that loosely resembles a long-legged spider in outline.

Nessian Hounds: Taking their name from how they are used rather than their physical form, this is a catch-all term used for three varities of living construct - called soulstuff hound, hellfire hound and infernal hound - used as hunters, harriers, guards and living weapons. The Lore segment for these monsters is particularly interesting, because it name-drops certain obscure "devil-beasts" from editions past. Specifically, we're told that "hellcats" are actually soulstuff hounds with a feline shape, whilst yeth hounds are actually one particular "model" of infernal hound.

Seraphic Golem: The final entry in the list, this is the simplest of Alloces' atrocities; a flesh golem made using the meat and astral substance of dead angels.


Closing Thoughts:
I stated in the opening that I've never really cared much for devils. But Alloces, I like. I've a lot of love for 3rd party setting for 3e called "Infernum", which takes place in a very distinctively designed Hell. Alloces, and what he says about the Baator of the World Axis, reminds me a lot of the Infernum. All in all, I think this is a really solid article, and it really speaks as to the positive effects that removing the reliance on Alignment to speak for what a character is like had on the game.
 

VoidDrifter

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Demonomicon of Iggwilv: Codricuhn, The Blood Storm
Opening Thoughts:
This article was different going in, for one key reason. It's the first article I've read with a proper "title page". No teasers, no explanations. Just an incredibly powerful image of Codricuhn himself, and an ominous little invocation on the side. It's setting the mood wonderfully.

Turning the page, we are confronted with paragraphs discussing what the nature of evil is, and how it makes its impact felt in the world of D&D, setting the mood before finally discussing Codricuhn himself.


On Codricuhn:
The Demon Prince is described with very powerful words, creating a very vivid image of what an abomination this thing is. I'll admit that the terminology can be a little purple prosey - "scrutiny reveals a dim sentience in the one baleful red eye, which is a gaping wound containing a jaundiced orb replete with crimson iris around an impenetrable pupil" and "Codricuhn's form hemorrhages crimson mists from dark suppurating pits dimpling his body", for just an example - but I grew up on Conan pulp novels and this reminds me a lot of the terminology, so I actually find it very inspiring. It really drives home what a terrible monster this beast is.


Codricuhn's Origins:
According to his history in the article, Codricuhn was once as primordial known as the Prince of the Eight Seas, who fell into the Abyss in the wake of the Chained God's aborted war. Somehow, he made it to the very bottom of the Abyss, where he came into contact with the Seed of Evil - the force from which the Abyss and the demons ultimately originate. It twisted him, warped him into a grotesque abomination of his original form, and then sent him clambering slowly back up from the Abyss. Should he succeed, then the Seed of Evil will carry out its ultimate goal.

What is that goal? We'll get to that in a minute. Suffice it to say that it's so awful that we're told all manner of creatures, even devils and demon princes, have tried to stop Codricuhn's assent. All of these, whilst they slowed him, perished in the process, leaving only wreckage littering Codricuhn's bulk.

Perhaps the creepiest part of this segment is that it informs us that the original Codricuhn is still alive and conscious of what he's become - a puppet who knows his strings are being pulled by the Seed of Evil, but who is helpless to stop it and can only sink deeper into madness as he reaches his goal. That's a powerful image, personally.


Fighting Codricuhn:
My one complaint with Codricuhn is that, mechanically, he's a little underwhelming. For something that's supposed to be one of the most terrifying and powerful , you'd expect him to be in that rare 30+ level range - instead, he's a level 27 Solo Controller, with a statblock shorter than Mual-Tar's. Tactically, he's an erratic combatant, as he honestly doesn't care if he lives or dies in the fight.


Codricuhn's Goals:
Here at last we find the truth about Codricuhn; during the Dawn War, this Primordial wanted not to tear down and rebuild the world, he wanted the respect and worship of the mortal races. As he saw it, they were the product of his labors, merely refined by the gods - they owed him their veneration and service for the gift of flesh. This belief led him to the service of the Chained God. And, ultimately, to his damnation in the Abyss.

Now, he is but a puppet of the Seed of Evil. And what it wants is destruction. Creation's utter and complete annihilation, and a slow and agonizing death for all who live in it. It wants to tear down everything that is, was and could ever be, to spread the foulness of the Abyss to consume everything and to create a heart of darkness that will spread its foulness to all of the many possible realities.

In the face of this, and his tormented state, Codricuhn only wants death now. He craves oblivion, having given up hope on being restored to what he was. But the Seed will not let him just throw himself to death, forcing him to fight against any attackers.


Codricuhn's Servants
The Blood Storm wants no servants, recognizing that they only worship the Seed's influence and not himself, but his power attracts them anyway. They have to find their own ways of benefiting from servitude, but they still come. For the one thing, Codricuhn can create aspects, just like other powerful Demon Princes. For another, he has his own exarch; the Voice of the Storm, once a cherished archon companion, now a grotesque nightmare that is truly loyal only to the Seed of Evil. Towards the article's end, we're presented with details on a sample Blood Storm cult; the Imminent Catastrophe, mortals so broken by the horrors they have received that they prey for Codricuhn to slay the world and thus end their suffering. We're also given an example of a demon species heavily associated with Codricuhn; the Terraguhl, sentient masses of grave-dirt and corpses that were first born when Codricuhn passed through Thanatos and whose sole delight is burying living creatures alive.


Coagulus:
The final unique aspect of the article is the writeup of Codricuhn's "realm"; an eternal storm that feeds from his madness, lashing the lands he passes by relentless winds, lightning, jagged steel barbs and toxic rain. At its heart; six orbiting moons, formed from abyssal realms the Blood Storm passed through, all infested with demons.

The six moons themselves are:
Addaecacus - A jagged knot of rusting metal buildings whose interior is a sprawling labyrinth of death traps, inhabited by insane, evil elves and their evistro master.

Caedices - A stone ball of bristling towers that jut out at odd angles, all covered with leering gargoyles and grotesques that comit blood, and filled with armies of demonic mercenaries.

Condordus - A mirror-finished glass sphere that is the private home of the Voice of the Storm, its interior housing its private crystalline palace.

Doelen - A dripping, soggy ball of mud and slimy rivers, home to a glabrezu who built a palace from the carapaces of giant crabs.

Luesithica - A great mass of blacks tone resembling a rotten tooth, capped by an enormous lake of poisonous water and ruled by a beautiful marilith named the Lady of Sorrows, who searches for perfect mortal love but drowns every mortal she takes in the pools of her realm.

Proelidimar - A shattered half-sphere where a half-dozen hezrou demons fight an eternal and futile war for sole control of the desolate ruin.


Closing Thoughts:
This is an awesome article. Plain and simple. Codricuhn was the first Demon Prince to be completely unique to the World Axis, and he proved that 4e could make lore just as unique and memorable as past editions.

Really, words fail me in describing this article. I think it perfectly encapsulates the kind of epic tier, metal-tinged heroic fantasy that 4e embraces as its heart and soul. This is testament to the strength of 4e's decision to define what D&D actually means, and it perfectly highlights the strengths of the World Axis over the Great Wheel.
 

Gilphon

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Man, yeah, so much I love about Codricuhn. Like how he can theoretically be encountered in whatever abyssal layer in convenient for the campaign's purposes. And the implication that the only difference between him and the rest of the Demon Princes is that his mind was spared, allowing him to understand what he'd become- the others are puppets as well, there's just not enough fight left in them for them even think about resisting.

Though it's a bit odd that he can create Aspects. Like, why would he bother? I can't imagine that Aspects would be free from the Seed's influence, so wouldn't that just be giving the Seed a powerful new servant?
 

VoidDrifter

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Man, yeah, so much I love about Codricuhn. Like how he can theoretically be encountered in whatever abyssal layer in convenient for the campaign's purposes. And the implication that the only difference between him and the rest of the Demon Princes is that his mind was spared, allowing him to understand what he'd become- the others are puppets as well, there's just not enough fight left in them for them even think about resisting.

Though it's a bit odd that he can create Aspects. Like, why would he bother? I can't imagine that Aspects would be free from the Seed's influence, so wouldn't that just be giving the Seed a powerful new servant?
Sorry, I probably should have elaborated on that; Aspects are created by rituals used by his "cultists", literally tearing chunks of meat, elemental matter and metal from his body and summoning them to their side. These fragments are swiftly possessed by the Seed and animated; Codricuhn has no control over them, and often neither do their summoners.
 

VoidDrifter

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Court of Stars: The Prince of Frost
Opening Thoughts:
Going to this article for the first time, I was really excited; demon princes and archdevils had been done to death, and I figured even in 4e we'd probably get a barrage of old content - as it turned out, literally the only new Demonomicon entry we got was Codricuhn; even Turaglas had appeared way back in Drgon #312, before the Demonomicon articles were a thing. But archfey? They were new to D&D - past editions had left the fey as a toothless and sprawling mess of sexpot dryads & nymphs and cutesy-poo little folks (sprites, brownies, pixies and their interminable variants), for the most part. 4e's Feywild gave them a home; now Court of Stars was giving us some complete newcomers to the important figures of the Planes.

Just going into this, it already looks promising. With wording and terms that remind me of an old-school faerie tale, it talks about the Prince of Frost, mightiest of the Winter Fey and certainly the cruellest. The Pale Prince who lives in the Fortress of Frozen Tears, a citadel built from pure sorrow in the heart of the Vale of the Long Night, who keeps a menagerie of beautiful and skilled mortals trapped forever in icy prisons, whose agents live to spred sorrow and tragedy and snuff out the light of hope.

I know this might sound a little melodramatic, but I found it very flavorfully written and very powerful stuff.

The Prince's History:
The article warns us that the histories of the archfey are things more of story and myth than solid fact and history. Still, it presents what is generally believed to be the history of the Pale Prince.

In ancient times, he was actually known as the Sun Prince, eldest son of the Summer Queen. He was engaged to a beautiful and valorous eladrin prince, Lady Sharaea, eldest of the three Daughters of Delight, and loved her with all his heart. However, she grew disillusioned with the endless revelry of the Summer Court and left to wander the mortal world, seeking to make a difference in the lives of the people there. The Sun Prince's jealousy pushed her away, and she fell in love instead with a mortal warrior: Hayne Kasar, with whom she traveled the world, defending the innocent and battling the forces of darkness.

Ultimately, the Sun Prince's heart froze lolver with bitterness; he demanded Sharaea return to him, and when she refused, vowed he would drag her home and wed her by force, even if he must keep her a prisoner forever more. Knowing she couldn't hope to defeat him, and afraid for her lover, the two fled to Letherna and made a deal with the Raven Queen. In exchange for a future favor to the Goddess of Death, she drew their souls from their bodies and cast them forward in time, destined to be reborn at some unknown point.

Sharaea had hoped this would give the Sun Prince time to heal from his jealousy. Instead, it only pushed him over the edge in despair, transforming him into a fey embodiment of sorrow, darkness and cold, freezing his once-beautiful demesne into the Vale of the Long Night. Consumed by hate for mortals, he sought others with similar connection to winter, and helped pave the way for the foundation of the Winter Court.

Goals of the Prince:
The Prince of Frost has three major goals.

First and foremost, he wants to find Sharaea's soul agin, so he can at last force her into matrimony.

Secondly he wants revenge against those he blames for "stealing" Sharaea from him. First and foremost, he yearns to find the reborn Hayne Kasar and make him suffer, but all who are bold, brave and heroic can remind him of his rival and earn his hatred.

Finally, to soothe his frigid heart, and to amuse himself, he sends his agents to torment the mortal world, sowing sorrow and seeking to best mortal heroes. Still, this is a petty trifle to him, and sometimes he considers loftier goals - like claiming the entire world for himself.

Using the Prince of Frost:
This segment talks about five particular ways in which players could run into the Prince of Frost or his agents, either as a once-off quest or as something long-running.

The simplest way, of course, is to have the players encounter his Wintertouched as they strive to pursue one of his great goals or just their own cruel and petty games.

Secondly, if the party includes particularly selfless and noble champions, he may seek to undo them, trying to push them to become as cold and cruel as himself or outright chllenging them to contests of chance or skill.

Thirdly, there's the ever-useful option of trying to rescue one or more of the important souls trapped in his Fortress of Frozen Tears.

Fourth is the option that the article calls "Remembrance of Valor and Delight". In a nutshell, two of the player characters are the long-awaited reincarnations of Sharae and Hayne Kasar, and the Prince learns of this. It's a potentially very rewarding campaign base, but it does require two of your players being willing to portray their PCs as romantically bound to each other - the concept sort of loses its oomph if the mythical lovers can't stand each other, wouldn't you say?

Finally, you have Rise of the Long Night, where he attempts to blanket the mortal world in an endless winter. This is another great campaign-seed level concept, and can be tweaked in various ways - for example, what does the Raven Queen think of this feat, which would boost her powers greatly? Or perhaps the Prince seeks to ascend past the ranks of archfey and join the gods themselves by stealing the portfolios of Winter, Darkness and Vengeance from their current holders?

Facing the Prince of Frost:
From here, we pass on to what could be considered the true heart of the article; a physical description of the Pale Prince, details on his tactics and powers, and a complete statblock writeup. And as a 31st level Solo Controller, hoo boy, he ain't going down easy.

This also includes a neat sidebar, suggesting some possible ways one could gain an edge in fighting the Pale Prince: finding his True Name, learning and playing the Song of the Heart that Sharae composed for him before she spurned him, and locating Sharaea's long-lost betrothal amulet that the Sun Prince gave her back when the world was new.

Icy Relations:
The Pale Prince's relationships with others is... complicated, to say the least. He has little room for affection, and less for challenges to his power. Most other fey don't like him much. But, his power commands respect across the many worlds, and despite his malice, he is still loyal to his mother and his kinfolk, earning him a reputation for being as honorable and possesed of integrity as he is cold-hearted.

In fact, even the Winter Fey can't really be said to support him. He does have a personal retinue and soldiers, but he can't demand fealty from all Winter Fey - many of the most powerful Winter Fey factions actually despise him. Still, such is his power that they will gather together under his banner at the Court of Stars, and the Winter Fey Lords are likely to answer his call to war... at least, if they don't think they can safely get away from it.

The closest thing he has to loyal vassals are Mournwind and Soulsorrow, the Sisters of Lament; once Lady Sharaea's sisters, their despair made them easy prey for the Prince of Frost, who lured them to his Fortress and entrapped them. Ultimately, they withered away and became tormented, frozen, spectral remnants of themselves - almost like unique banshees. Their stats are included in the article; level 24 Elites, Mournwind is a Skirmisher and Soulsorrow is a Soldier.

They have their own sidebar, incidentally; one which states both that they could potentially be redeemed and that a PC who has found true love has added protection against their Cries of Despair, Longing and Lament. It also mechanically spells out just what you need to adjudicate that, but it comes with the nifty litle note that if this happens, the sisters and the player alike become aware of why that PC was protected.

Despite what you might think, though their courts are opposites, the Summer Fey's relationship with the Prince of Frost is quite complicated. Some Summer Fey, usually young and foolish, hate him for who he is and what he does. The greatest lords of the court, in comparison, mournfully remember his youth as the Sun Prince and wish he would return to them. Indifferent to scorn, shunning and pity alike, the Pale Prince still cares for his mother enough to come to her aid against dire threats.

Similarly, despite his own evil nature, the Prince of Frost despises the various malevolent races opposed to the fey, such as formorians and goblins, and he is a staunch ally of the fey against these foes.

The Gloaming Fey's attitude towards the Prince of Frost is essentially one of indifferent neutrality. Save for one: the Prince of Hearts is no friend to the Prince of Frost, given the latter's relish in dividing lovers and snuffing out love. And yet, the Prince of Hearts also still has hope that the Pale Prince can be redeemed. He could be a potential ally to the players against the Prince - or call for their help in his quest to redeem the Pale Prince by finding him a new love.

...And that actually might not be impossible. See, whilst the Prince of Frost holds the Raven Queen in contempt for her role in Sharaea & Hayne's escape, she herself has come to respect him. They are both harbingers of sorrow and deliverers of death, and that similarity has won her admiration. In fact, she's secretly eying him up, hoping to take him as an exarch - or, better still, a consort. The Pale Prince is completely ignorant of this, but... what would happen if he learned? Maybe, it would thaw his heart to know that somebody else loves him. Maybe it might even restore him back to being the Sun Prince again.

The last of the Prince of Frost's relationships to take note of are the Wintertouched; his collective name for the various mortal servitors he has garnered. These predominantly include warlocks who have learned icy fae magics through pacts with him and corrupted, savage druids and wardens. An example of one of these mad druids, Azara Iceborn, is statted in the article.

Pacts with The Pale Prince:
Because the Pale Prince has both the power and the desire to forge warlock pacts, the final segment of the article is devoted to using that Prince of Frost as a warlock's patron.

We start with an examination of four different reasons the Pale Prince may have for granting your character their pact, each with an attendant creed of three simple rules.

The Bitter Creed demands that you Never Love, Be Cold, and Never Steal. These warlocks are usually selected as one of the Pale Prince's bitter games, with steep penalties on the line for breaking the creed.

The Vengeful Creed demands you Seek Vengeance, Show No Mercy, and Punish The Deserving. As its name suggests, these warlocks either sought the Pale Prince's patronage to empower them on a vengeance quest, or were on such a quest when they attrated his attention.

The Lovelorn Creed demands that you Search for Sharaea, Encourage Love, and Follow Instructions. These rare warlocks have somehow struck a cord with the tiny candle of love still locked deep in the Pale Prince's heart, and so won his patronage in exchange for agreeing to help him in his quest to regain his love. This could be sincere, or it could be part of a ruthless ploy to capture Sharaea, or it could even be part of another fey's machinations.

Finally, the Tragic Creed is similar to the Lovelorn Creed, but replaces Encourage Love with Spread Sorrow. These warlocks have no choice in the matter; they are forced to serve the Pale Prince's goal.

Beyond these, we also have a new feat called Frost Step (create a zone of difficult terrain when you use Misty Step) and a new level 7 attack power called Lash of the Long Night. We come to a close with the Pale Prince's dedicated Paragon Path: the Long Night Scion. This path revolves around cold damage and doing lots of it.

Closing Thoughts:
In a nutshell, I love this article. It reinforces every positive notion I had about making the Feywild its own thing and finally giving D&D faeries a strong central identity. The Prince of Frost is an excellent morally gray figure, who can serve as distant patron or close, personal enemy, depending on your needs. And the part about the hidden love of the Raven Queen for the Pale Prince is both hilarious and poignant; I really adore the way 4e's cosmology made the various powers that be actually play off of each other, instead of sprinkling them across the Great Wheel like the cosmic equivalent of roadkill stains. I don't normally think much of gods, but I could easily, in my next homebrew campaign, see the Raven Queen being a paired-off deity who is matched up with the Sun Prince, or perhaps even promote him to full-fledged godhood as part of the redemption process.

All in all, the Court of Stars is clearly off to a great start, and we can only hope that the others in the series retain this level of quality.
 
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