D&D Monster Monday: Winter Eladrin
You hear and see the lonely winter eladrin weeping, but you can’t look away. Her presence has distracted you and frozen you in place. You see her crack a brief smile in-between her sobbing as she unleashes a quick blast of ice upon you. You cannot move out of the way.
For this installment of D&D Monster Monday I wanted to take one of the creatures from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. I love the book, it’s got a lot of great new content. But that’s as much as I’m going to say as I did a full write-up in my D&D 5e buyer’s guide article.
Overall there were a lot of great creatures to choose from. However, I opted to go for a more unique creature, a statblock for a playable race. I’ve been very excited for the release of the elf subrace, the eladrin, since I saw their concept art a while ago. There are 4 of them in total, one for each season. I picked the winter eladrin to do this write-up on as they’re my favorite, thematically.
With that out-of-the-way, let’s dive in!
Winter Eladrin Lore
The eladrin as a whole are a subrace of the elves. They’re natives of the Feywild which is a parallel plane to the Prime Material Plane. The Feywild is basically a copy of the regular world (Prime Material Plane) that is more focused on the presence of nature. Elves, fairies, and other fey creatures reside here or can trace their origins back to this plane of existence.
Eladrin are extremely emotional creatures and their outer form shows it. They can change between the different eladrin aspects at will. Though most will stay in a single aspect for a period of time, it could be a week or even years.
Their emotions also compel them to surround themselves with objects they deem beautiful. This also includes people and creatures who they may desire the company of. They’re not below using their magic to obtain what they want. I love this take on elves as it relates them a bit more towards dragons and their hoards of gold and precious items.
Each of the four eladrin aspects has a different outward appearance as well as emotional state. Winter eladrin are sad and bitter. They emanate an aura of sadness and literal cold as their spirits and bodies weep. While an eladrin is in their winter aspect they have the ability to cast magic spells revolving around controlling the air around them and unleash blasts of cold elemental damage.
Winter Eladrin’s Stats and Abilities
The statblock for the winter eladrin can be found on page 197 of Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes.
AC: 19 (Natural Armor)
HP: 127 (17d8 + 51)
Speed: 30 ft.
STR: 11 (+0)
DEX: 10 (+0)
CON: 16 (+3)
INT: 18 (+4)
WIS: 17 (+3)
CHA: 13 (+1)
All the eladrin have the same size, AC, and HP which does help reflect that an eladrin can change between each aspect. It’s also a pretty solid amount of AC and HP. Winter eladrin in particular, though, suffers from some appallingly low ability scores compared to the other 3 eladrin aspects. It has a single +4 and two +3’s while the rest have multiple +4’s or even a +5 with multiple +4’s in the case of the summer eladrin.
Resistances, Immunities, Saves, and Skills
Damage Resistances: cold; bludgeoning, piercing and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Senses: darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages: Common, Elvish, Sylvan
Winter eladrin is a bit tankier than the other 3 aspects. They have resistance to cold damage which is a pretty frequent spell damage type. They also have a solid passive Perception which makes it harder to get the jump on them.
Abilities and Traits
Fey Step (Recharge 4-6). As a bonus action, the eladrin can teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space it can see.
Innate Spellcasting. The eladrin’s innate spellcasting ability is Intelligence (save spell DC 16). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
At will: fog cloud, gust of wind
1/day each: cone of cold, ice storm
Magic Resistance. The eladrin has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Sorrowful Presence. Any non-eladrin creature that starts its turn within 60 feet of the eladrin must make a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature becomes charmed by the Eladrin for 1 minute. While charmed in this way, the creature has disadvantage on ability checks and saving throws. The creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of their turns ending the effect and becoming immune to Sorrowful Presence for the next 24 hours. Whenever the eladrin deals damage to the charmed creature, it can repeat the saving throw.
For a creature with a weak ability scores winter eladrin certainly, have some excellent traits and abilities. While the winter eladrin only has 1 use of each of their heavy-hitting spells per day, they can maximize the damage potential of both of these by getting into a position to charm their enemies around them first.
Their at-will spells allow the eladrin to push their enemies away from them as well as obscure their vision in a battle. These are pretty handy evasive maneuvers.
Fey Step is also a great ability and it is shared by all 4 eladrin aspects. It’s particularly great since none of them have any bonus action abilities so it can be used liberally when you have a charge of it. You also have a 50% chance to recharge this ability each round which are some great odds.
Longsword.Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4.5 (1d8) slashing damage, or 5.5 (1d10) slashing damage if used with two hands.
Longbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 150/600 ft., one target. Hit: 4.5 (1d8) piercing damage.
Honestly these are both awful. First of all not having a multiattack is odd, but the autumn eladrin also does not have it. Second of all, having only a +4 to hit as a CR 10 creature is awful. After the winter eladrin uses both of their 1/day spells they have to basically rely on their reaction, Frigid Rebuke, to deal any decent damage in combat.
I feel like even giving them Ray of Frost or some other cantrip wouldn’t have been too much to ask for. From a design perspective, it seems like they were intended to be a more spell-caster centric creature. However, they don’t have a lot of spells, and they don’t have any reliable damage dealing spells once they use cone of cold and ice storm once. Ray of Frost or Frostbite would’ve been great choices and still kept the theme and flavor intact.
Frigid Rebuke. When the eladrin takes damage from a creature the eladrin can see within 60 feet of it, the eladrin can force that creature to succeed on a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or take 11 (2d10) cold damage.
While it’s just a reskin of Hellish Rebuke it’s still a reliable damage dealing reaction. The saving throw is also pretty high which gives it a decent chance of dealing its damage. I’m not sure why a creature that passes the save doesn’t take half of the damage though.
The Winter Eladrin’s Strengths
Lots of AoE
While they may not have many uses of their big damage dealing spells, winter eladrin have a large amount of AoE regardless. They have both Cone of Cold and Ice Storm which affect a large area of creatures at once. They also have Gust of Wind which is an at-will spell and can be used to help them control the battlefield. If a creature is getting too close to them they can simply push them up to 15 ft. away which is 1/2 of a regular PC’s movement speed.
Couple all of this with Sorrowful Presence and their ability to Fey Step out of the way after their enemies’ first saving throw against Sorrowful Presence and you have a creature that can affect a lot of their enemies at once.
This amount of powerful burst damage AoE is pretty valuable and does help out with their low sustained damage after they burn through their spells. If they can finish the fight in just 2 or 3 turns it doesn’t matter about their lack of sustained damage.
While the winter eladrin has their at-will spells that can obscure their location from their enemies and can displace them, they also have a lot of mobility. In fact, all of the eladrin do thanks to their Fey Step and Magic Resistance. They can regularly move 30 ft. away as a bonus action and it has a 50% chance of being available again on their next turn.
Magic Resistance helps them avoid CC spells by giving them advantage on saving throws against spells and magical effects. Couple this with their decent-sized health pool and high AC and you have a mobile creature that has plenty of ways to dash around the battlefield without much of a threat of being damaged.
The Winter Eladrin’s Weaknesses
Abysmal Sustained Damage
Once their 1/day spells have been used up winter eladrin don’t have much in their arsenal that can make them a big threat. They have a longsword and a longbow, both of which have only a +4 to hit and deal between 4-5 nonmagical damage on average.
While they do have Frigid Rebuke it’s only 11 damage on average and if a creature passes the save they don’t take any damage. I honestly feel like this is an oversight.
While the spell save DC is high, it just feels odd to not have at least 1/2 damage taken on a successful save. This would certainly help fix the problem and maybe something I’d homebrew.
Low Ability Scores
Compared to the ability scores of the other 3 aspects as well as most other CR 10 creatures the winter eladrin are at the bottom of the barrel. They only have 2 +3’s and a single +4. While they have no negatives, they don’t have much in terms of positives.
They could’ve had a +5 in Intellect and still have been on the low-end of the totem pole for ability scores compared to the rest of the eladrin. This would also bump their save DC to 17 and make Frigid Rebuke a bit more of a threat as well.
This problem goes hand-in-hand with the poor sustained damage problem. Having even a +2 in Dexterity would’ve been absolutely fine and they’d deal an additional 2 damage and have a +6 to hit.
How to Play a Winter Eladrin
Combo your Spells with Sorrowful Presence
You only have one or two shots at landing your cone of cold and ice storm so you’ll want to line them up perfectly. Try to hit as many of your enemies as possible when you’re casting these spells. In fact, be even more tactical and wait a round and force your enemies to get within 60 ft. of you and be affected by your Sorrowful Presence.
If you can charm even a handful of your enemies you’ll be in a great position to deal a ton of damage with Cone of Cold or Ice Storm on that following round as they’ll have disadvantage on the DC 16 save.
You can use Fey Step and your movement speed to get out of their range after you’ve charmed them. During that first round of combat, you should’ve cast Fog Cloud or Gust of Wind to help you control the battlefield and set up the combo on round 2.
Keep Your Distance
Use your mobility to your advantage. Use Fey Step when you can since you have a 50% chance of recharging it each round. Outside of your +4 to hit longsword attack you have no reason to be within melee range of your enemies so use your spells and abilities to avoid being in close quarters.
Winter eladrin have high AC and Magic Resistance so they’re pretty hardy. They can last a while in combat and will have to slowly whittle down the enemies that their initial heavy-hitting spells did not drop. Be patient, and use your at-will spells to help you control the battlefield so that you can dance around it like the mobile eldarin you are!
I think that the creature is interesting and keeps to the theme very well. However, in practice, the winter eladrin falls off very quickly after 2-3 turns. This is a perfect amount of time for the average creature.
However, with a kit revolving around maneuverability I feel like winter eladrin will last a bit longer than the average creature. That being said they still have a lot of interesting abilities and are very strong defensively. Their damage, however, will not pose much of a threat to PCs of an appropriate level for a CR 10 creature.
With that being said I am eager for a chance to play an eladrin PC. The winter eladrin’s Fey Step is probably my favorite out of the four despite the creature being my least favorite. The eladrin’s lore is very interesting to me and I love the flavor that it brings to the game.
It’s really disappointing that they have one of the coolest maneuverability powers I’ve ever seen but have so little to actually get any milage out of it.