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Monster Monday: Draugadróttinn Hel’s Heart, Lord of the Undead

Dragon at the Hopperstad stave church (Photo by Nina Aldin Thune)Cold as the land of the dead, thrice kissed by Hel, the dragon came! Draugr and vaettir arose from their barrows and follow in its wake! Thrice kissed by Hel, the hearts and swords of the most valiant berserkers break!
—From a runestone in Donnermark

Background

For two centuries, every appearance of the wintry menace known as Hel’s Heart has been commemorated by a runestone; dozens of these monuments stand in areas spanning from the Frozen Reach to the Swive and on every shore of the Nieder Straits. The merciless dragon has slain or enslaved thousands of souls and created as many undead. Hel’s Heart’s infamous reputation is such that the most dauntless warriors only whisper his name, awestruck by his stature. Rest assured that if a Viking ever says that a place or person has been “thrice kissed by Hel,” it means the worst possible curse or fate imaginable—it’s an expression that calls to mind (to those familiar with Draugadróttinn) the utter annihilation of an entire city by Draugadróttinn Hel’s Heart.

Motivations and Goals

Draugadróttinn revels in the cold winds of destruction that he brings to the world in the name of Hel, his terrible mistress. She repays her servant with riches beyond comparison. Hel has even promised to Draugadróttinn that he would be able to bring his immense hoard with him in the afterlife. Thus, the dragon is eager to offer as many souls as possible to Loki’s daughter.

Schemes and Plots

The Lord of the Undead often converts forcibly those who survived the massacres that he perpetrated, and Hel’s Heart is now much more than the beast’s epithet, having become a synonym for the congregation of lost souls that follows the white dragon everywhere. A persistent legend says that Draugadróttinn leads processions of the damned far into the frozen north to break the mettle of the strongest prisoners. Those among these creatures who ever give up hope or lose faith before death claims them end up in Hel’s glacial domain instead of Valhalla. So far only a handful of indomitable characters have reached the goal of these marches of the dead, where they died honorably in Draugadróttinn’s lair.

Draugadróttinn Hel’s Heart, Lord of the Undead     CR 15
51,200 XP
Male adult white dragon cleric 5 (Hel)
CE Large dragon (cold)
Init +5; Senses dragon senses, snow vision; Perception +22
Aura cold (5 ft., 1d6 cold damage), frightful presence (180 ft., DC 20), plus moderate chaos and evil

DEFENSE
AC 27, touch 10, flat-footed 26 (+1 Dex, +17 natural, -1 size)
hp 200 (13d12+5d8+90)
Fort +17, Ref +10, Will +14
DR 5/magic; Immune cold, paralysis, sleep; SR 21
Weaknesses vulnerability to fire

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft., burrow 30 ft., fly 200 ft. (poor), swim 60 ft.
Melee bite +23 (2d6+10/19-20), 2 claws +22 (1d8+7), 2 wings +17 (1d6+3), tail slap +17 (1d8+10)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (10 ft. with bite)
Special Attacks breath weapon (40-ft. cone, DC 21, 12d4 cold), channel negative energy (3d6, Will DC 18, 6/day), bleeding touch (melee touch for 1d6/round, 2 rounds, DC 15 Heal check to stop; 5/day)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 13th)
At will–fog cloud, gust of wind
Spells Known (CL 1st)
1st (4/day)–shield, true strike
0 (at will)–dancing lights, detect magic, mending, ray of frost
Domain Spell-Like Abilities (CL 5th)
Copycat (5 rounds, 5/day)
Cleric Spells Prepared (CL 5th, concentration +7)
3rd–animate dead [D; see Special Abilities below], speak with dead (DC 15)
2nd–death knell (DC 14), desecrate, invisibility [D], snowblind stare* (DC 14)
1st–chill heart* (DC 13), death watch, detect undead, disguise self [D], freeze potion* (DC 13)
0–bleed (DC 12), create water, detect poison, read magic
[D] Domain spell; Domains Death, Trickery
* Spells from Northlands.

STATISTICS
Str 25, Dex 12, Con 21, Int 12, Wis 15, Cha 19
Base Atk +16; CMB +24; CMD 35 (39 vs. trip)
Feats Alertness, Combat Casting, Extra Channel, Flyby Attack, Improved Channel, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Bluff +12, Fly +11, Intimidate +20, Knowledge (arcane) +17, Knowledge (religion) +14, Perception +22, Spellcraft +17, Stealth +13, Swim +31
Languages Trade, Draconic
SQ icewalking, ice shape

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Cold Aura (Su) Draugadróttinn radiates an aura of cold. All creatures within 5 feet of the dragon take 1d6 damage at the beginning of the dragon’s turn.
Ice Shape (Su) Draugadróttinn can shape ice and snow at will. This ability functions as stone shape, but it works on only ice and snow, not stone. A white dragon’s caster level for this effect is equal to its Hit Dice.
Icewalking (Su) This ability works like the spider climb spell, but the surfaces the dragon climbs must be icy. The dragon can move across icy surfaces without penalty and does not need to make Acrobatics checks to run or charge on ice.
Lord of the Undead (Su) Thanks to his strong ties with Hel, Draugadróttinn can indefinitely control an unlimited number of undead creatures that he has created with animate dead spells (a caster can normally control only 4 HD worth of undead creatures per caster level). Still, the draconic cleric can’t create more HD of undead than twice his caster level with a single casting of animate dead. Another peculiarity is that Draugadróttinn can create draugr (Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 2) instead of skeletons or zombies if he wants with this spell.
Snow Vision (Ex) Draugadróttinn sees perfectly well in snowy conditions. He does not suffer any penalties to Perception checks while in snow.

TACTICS
Before Combat
Draugadróttinn is a trickster that sends waves of undead to distract his victims. The dragon’s first attack always comes unexpectedly due to the invisibility that masks him. He sometimes chooses to use an illusory double provided by his copycat ability.
During Combat
The white dragon primarily uses his breath weapon, but also channels negative energy in between such glacial blasts. Those who are unaffected by Hel’s Heart’s breath weapon are mercilessly bitten and rent.
Morale
Hel awaits, so why fear death?

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3 Replies to "Monster Monday: Draugadróttinn Hel’s Heart, Lord of the Undead"

Charles Lee Carrier

September 25, 2012 at 7:32am

Very nice article. I especially like the background information – erecting of runestones to mark past appearances gives the tale a properly ancient and legendary feel.

Morgan Boehringer

September 27, 2012 at 4:16pm

As Charles said – a well described background brings the focus out and away from a mere statblock – and this one is no mean feat. Nicely done Jarrod!

Jarrod Camiré

September 28, 2012 at 1:56pm

Thanks guys!