How to make the encounter with Auril the Frostmaiden into an epic final battle!

In this article, I’ll take a look at how to make the final battle with Auril the Frostmaiden an epic final battle and climactic end to the official 5E published adventure Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden. There are heavy spoilers ahead, so if you’re not a DM running Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden, you may want to click escape now. You’ve been warned!

Beyond lending her name to the book’s title, Auril is also behind the Everlasting Rime that is blanketing Icewind Dale in perpetual winter. To end the goddess’ wintery curse, the characters must destroy the goddess’ physical manifestation and/or use the Ythryn mythallar to reverse her magic.

In either case, a confrontation with Auril is inevitable. So let’s make sure the encounter with Auril is as fun and exciting as possible!

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Auril’s Wrath

In this article, I’ll be focusing on how an encounter with Auril by the Ythryn mythallar could look, but even if you’re running the encounter with Auril elsewhere, most of the advice here is still applicable.

We’re told (pg. 260) the following about Auril’s appearance in Ythryn near the end of the adventure:

  • Auril is joined by 3 frost giant skeletons, 6 snow golems, and 6 winter wolves.
  • Auril sends her minions out to attack the characters while she waits at the Spire of Iriolarthas.
  • If Auril captures any of Avarice’s cultists, she turns them into coldlight walkers.
  • When most of her minions are defeated, Auril demands the characters leave Ythryn and then goes into the city to find them, if they don’t.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, I would hold back on having Auril seek out the characters until they begin activating the Ythryn mythallar. I also suggest that undoing Auril’s spell takes 24 hours, during which the character(s) attuned to it must remain close to the mythallar. This does a few things:

  • The encounter with Auril will be at the very end of the adventure, as a good climactic battle should be.
  • The characters have enough time to take a long rest if they have just fought with Iriolarthas within the spire before trying to attune to the mythallar.
  • There’s enough time to have the characters face several smaller encounters interspersed with short rests.

So that’s the premise. The characters have dealt with Iriolarthas, have taken a long rest, and are now gathered near the Ythryn mythallar as they wait for it to be ready to undo Auril’s magic. 

Icewind Dale Rime of the Frostmaiden
The Complete DM's Bundle for Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden has advice, notes, handouts, cheatsheets, encounter maps, and other DM's resources for Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden.

Auril the Frostmaiden

Before we get into the actual structure of the encounter with Auril, let’s take a look at the goddess herself, and make sure she’s properly outfitted to provide an exciting challenge.

Auril’s Minions

First off, Auril isn’t quite powerful enough on her own to challenge a fully-rested 11th-level party.

To even out the odds, you can have Auril be accompanied by a few minions for some added protection, such as one of the following options:

  • Two frost giant skeletons
  • Two coldlight walkers
  • Three winter wolves
  • Four snow golems

Which option you choose is up to you, but I’d go for something that the characters haven’t faced too many of already and that won’t steal too much focus from Auril, such as the frost giant skeletons or snow golems.

Now to the star of the show herself: Auril the Frostmaiden. 

In the book, the goddess of wintery wrath is given three forms, each of which must be destroyed in turn in order to get rid of the goddess. That’s a cool concept, though it isn’t without issues. Foremost among them is that these forms aren’t all equally exciting.t

Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden

First Form

Auril’s first form is – to put it bluntly – underwhelming. It has only single-target attacks that deal damage (and which are very similar) and a few less-than-impressive spells (ice storm and misty step being the standouts). To spice it up just a little (and make her slightly more dangerous), you can make the following changes:

Talons changes to: 

Talons. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) piercing damage plus 3 (1d6) cold damage. If Auril hits a Medium or smaller creature with two Talons attacks in the same turn, that creature is grappled by Auril.

This gives Auril some additional tactical options, as she can grapple a creature and fly it up into the air before dumping it to the ground below, or whisk it away from its allies using her Teleport legendary action (see below).

The Teleport Legendary Action instead reads:

Teleport. Auril teleports to an unoccupied space she can see within 30 feet of her, along with any object she is wearing or carrying and one creature she is grappling.

Again, barely a noticeable change, but which may be useful in a pinch, as the goddess can bring a creature away from its allies.

The Touch of Frost Legendary Action instead reads:

Touch of Frost (Costs 2 Actions). Auril uses Touch of Frost against each hostile creature within 5 feet of her.

It’s a subtle nuance, but it gives Auril some manner of close-quarters AoE, and helps her dish some damage out if she’s surrounded. It’s obviously a power boost, but it will only be good situationally, so it shouldn’t change too much. 

Second Form

Auril’s second form is much stronger than her first form and also has more diverse action options, including the ability to cast cone of cold, create ice mephits, and use Ice Stasis (which is very cool, pun intended).

If you want to take it up a notch, you can do the following:

The Ice Flurry Legendary Action is replaced with:

Ice Spikes (Costs 2 Actions). The ground in a 20-foot radius centered on Auril becomes filled with icy spikes until the end of her next turn. The area is difficult terrain for all creatures other than Auril. When a creature other than Auril moves into or within the area, it takes 5 (2d4) piercing damage for every 5 feet it travels.

This is simple crowd control that enables the goddess to dissuade melee foes from reaching her – and replaces a very underwhelming feature.

The Splinter Legendary Action’s cost is reduced to 2 Legendary Actions.

This change makes Splinter a slightly more viable option (otherwise it’d only very rarely be better than making three melee attacks).

Third Form

With 19 AC, 136 hit points, and a protective Blizzard Veil, Auril’s third form is definitely the most durable, but far from the most exciting. It has a dangerous Frigid Aura and a potent Polar Ray but has no really exciting effects – and if the characters are warded against cold damage (as they should be), this final stage of the battle is likely to be very underwhelming.

To spice up the third form, you can make some or all of the following changes:

Auril gains Cold Absorption:

Cold Absorption. Whenever Auril is subjected to cold damage, she takes no damage and instead regains a number of hit points equal to the cold damage dealt.

A goddess of cold really should have Cold Absorption. Plus, it allows for various minions to actually heal her with their cold damage attacks.

Polar Ray is changed to:

Polar Ray. Ranged Spell Attack: +13 to hit, range 120 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (4d6) cold damage and the target’s speed is reduced by 10 feet until the end of its next turn.

This enables Auril to use the ray to slow down her targets and keep them in her dangerous aura.

Replace the Intensify Aura Legendary Action with the following Legendary Action:

Teleport (Costs 2 Actions). Auril teleports to an unoccupied space she can see within 30 feet of her. In addition, Auril’s Frigid Aura deals an extra 10 cold damage until the end of her next turn.

Not only does this provide Auril with more mobility, but she can also use that mobility offensively, to bring herself (and her dangerous aura) closer to her foes.

The Blinding Gleam Legendary Action is replaced with the following Legendary Action:

Spark of Cruelty (Costs 2 Actions). A target creature Auril can see within 30 feet of her must make a DC 21 Intelligence saving throw. On a failed save, the target loses the ability to distinguish friend from foe, regarding all creatures it can see as enemies until the end of its next turn. Whenever the affected creature chooses another creature as a target, it must choose the target at random from among the creatures it can see within range of the attack, spell, or other ability it’s using. If an enemy provokes an opportunity attack from the affected creature, the creature must make that attack if it is able to.

Replacing Blinding Gleam, which is underwhelming and works poorly with Auril’s Blizzard Veil, with this action is both in line with Auril’s tenets and also enables her to shake things up a little by turning her foes against each other. 

Running the Final Encounter

Now, when it comes to actually running the final encounter, there’s one overarching thing you should try to remember: it is a final, climactic battle. A final, climactic battle should be exciting, dangerous, and drawn-out. It’s alright if a player character or two bites the dust – in fact, it might even be preferable – but we still want the heroes to win out in the end. It’s about making that victory feel earned.

That is a difficult line to tow and also why it’s imperative that you’re ready to adjust the difficulty as you go along. Luckily, the encounter with Auril provides us with a bunch of tools we can use to do exactly that. Let’s take it step-by-step.

General Adjustments

Using Legendary Actions. As a rule of thumb, the easiest adjustment to make with Legendary Monsters is to limit or hold back on their use of Legendary Actions. Using fewer or no Legendary Actions is a simple way to make the fight easier without the players actually noticing that you’re holding back.

Using the Mythallar. The Ythryn mythallar has several impressive qualities, including the ability to recharge magical items. If the characters aren’t aware of this, you can have the mythallar (which is quasi-sentient), do it for them – suddenly recharging the wizard’s staff just when they need it! The mythallar also deals an incredible amount of damage to anyone that touches it, which the characters can use to their advantage. If they forget to do so, you can have Auril’s minions accidentally touch it to remind them!

Preliminary Encounter

Shortly after the characters activate the mythallar or after they’ve finished a long rest near it, a small force of Auril’s minion shows up. This isn’t meant to be a difficult encounter, just something that’ll drain some resources and let the characters know that Auril is near, such as:

  • A frost giant skeleton and three winter wolves.
  • Four coldlight walkers.

The characters should have an opportunity to take a short rest after this encounter, which will also help close the gap between characters that rely heavily on short rests (warlocks, fighters, etc.) and characters that rely more on long rests (paladins, wizards, etc.).

If the preliminary encounter is too easy, or you want things to be more challenging, you can run two of them instead. Just be mindful that these encounters won’t be the most tactically challenging or exciting, so they shouldn’t fill up the whole session necessarily.

Auril’s First Form

Once you’re ready, Auril shows up in her first form alongside a few minions. 

If the characters have gotten a long rest recently, there’s very little chance that this encounter in itself will be particularly challenging, as an 11th-level party should make short work of Auril’s AC 13 and 95 hit points form, even if it is protected by her minions. That’s alright, though – the first form is the most boring anyway, so we’re fine to move on to the next form within a round or two.

On the off chance that the characters are actually greatly challenged by Auril’s first form and her minions, you always have the option to end the fight once they defeat her. As long as they were entertained and challenged, there’s no actual rule that you have to use Auril’s additional forms.

Auril’s Second Form

As the first form is destroyed, it’s time to spawn the second form. The second form is stronger and more durable than the first but is still unlikely to last much longer than 2-3 rounds against a well-prepared party of 11th-level adventurers.

Before you have the second form appear, pause for a second and consider the party’s current state.

If they’ve breezed through everything thus far with only minimal effort, you may want to beef the next challenge up a bit. An easy way to do this is to have Auril’s second form spawn alongside 3 (or more) ice mephits. That’ll save her the trouble of summoning them herself and make the encounter slightly more difficult.

If the characters are already running low on resources and you want them to go the full distance, this could also be a good place to give them a break. As the first form dies, you can have a gust of icy wind fly away from its form, cackling ominously. Let the characters know that they still sense Auril’s presence, but it seems that they’re safe for now. This gives them an opportunity to take a short rest before Auril reforms and shows up wearing her second form.

As before, if the characters are sufficiently challenged as they deal with the second form, you can have its destruction be the end of the encounter.

Auril’s Third Form

When the second form dies, it’s time for Auril’s third and final form. This form is also, at least if you make the suggested adjustments, the most elusive and dangerous form. Unless the characters are particularly well-equipped to deal with the goddess’ Blizzard Veil, it is likely to take them at least 2-4 rounds to bring her down.

As before, consider the party’s state before introducing Auril’s third form.

If the party is still a far bit away from being actually challenged, you can choose to have Auril’s third form appear alongside 2+ snow golems. While not particularly dangerous, the snow golems work well with Auril’s Blizzard Veil (they have Blindsight) and Frigid Aura (they heal if they take cold damage).

If the party is low on resources, you can, as before, choose to give the party a short rest before she shows up.

While running the encounter with the third form, you want to keep that balance of difficulty in mind. We want the victory to feel earned and for the final moments of the battle to be exciting and tense! If you need to make the fight last longer, you can have Auril’s Cold Aura also heal herself for 10 hit points each turn, and have additional snow golems spawn during the fight. 

If you need to make the fight a bit easier, have the goddess’ Blizzard Veil drop away and don’t let her use it again – without it, she’s much easier to bring down. 

Ending the Battle

If the characters are in dire trouble, or you’re looking for an extra-epic ending, it should be noted that Auril’s third form is Small and has low Strenght and Dexterity scores, making it easy to grapple. If the characters think to do it, they can drag Auril’s form to the Ythryn mythallar, triggering its radiant burst and (very likely) destroying Auril. If they don’t get the idea on their own, you can have the mythallar manifest it in one of the characters’ minds as a last resort. To make the ending even more epic and bittersweet, you can have the radiant blast also hit the character who drags Auril to the mythallar – there’s no better way to end a long campaign than with a heroic sacrifice!

However the fight ends, make sure to describe Auril’s destruction with a fittingly epic flourish – illustrate how the goddess’ divine essence glows with an azure flame until her crystalline form bursts into millions of pieces, blasting everyone to the ground and leaving nothing behind but a gentle, beautiful snowfall. The fight should end with the goddess’ death – there’s nothing more boring than mopping up the leftovers – so have any mephits or golems still present turn into puddles of water as their mistress dies.

Summary

To quickly summarize, here’s what the final encounter with Auril could look like:

  1. Start. The characters are near the Ythryn mythallar, rested and ready to fight.
  2. Preliminary Encounter. A handful of Auril minions show up for a preliminary encounter.
  3. Short Rest. The characters get an opportunity to short rest. Step 2-3 can be repeated.
  4. Auril’s First Form. Auril appears in her first form alongside a few minions for a short encounter.
  5. Optional Short Rest. If the characters are low on resources, they may get a short rest after defeating Auril’s first form.
  6. Auril’s Second Form. Auril appears in her second form, perhaps alongside a handful of ice mephits.
  7. Optional Short Rest. If the characters are low on resources, they may get a short rest after defeating Auril’s second form.
  8. Auril’s Third Form. Auril appears in her third form, perhaps alongside a handful of snow golems.
  9. Climactic End. Auril dies climatically – either by the adventurers’ hand or as a character pulls her into the mythallar!

And, here’s just a quick rundown of the tools you have for adjusting the battle’s difficulty on the fly:

  • Use the enhanced and slightly more powerful statblocks for Auril’s forms
  • Limit Auril’s use of Legendary Actions
  • Add/remove Auril’s minions
  • Give the characters’ breaks to take short rests between Auril’s forms
  • Cut the battle short after the first or second form’s defeat
  • Have the Mythallar aid the party

Alright, that’s it. I hope that helps you set up an exciting final encounter with Auril the Frostmaiden in Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden. If you want to see more content like this and support what we do, you can sign up to our newsletter, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and support us on Patreon.

Thank you for following along!

J. A. Valeur

Eventyr Games

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