Ten years ago today, my friend Symatt and I took part in a winter-themed 4th Edition D&D blog carnival. This was our contribution, featuring a villain from the far north of the Lands of Parsantium. Enjoy!
Grandfather Frost aka Ded Moroz
Leaping effortlessly from tree to tree is a bizarre human-like figure – a creepy-looking fey with pointy ears, a stringy white beard and an evil grin. He is dressed in blue, and is wearing an ostentatious hat. In one hand, he is carrying a gnarled staff carved from caribou antlers; over his shoulder is a bulging sack.
In the remote northern villages of Urskovia, when the first frosts come and the nights start to draw in, nervous mothers and fathers order their children to be home long before dusk, and tell them that under no circumstances should they play too close to the pine forests. For this is the time when Ded Moroz, better known as Grandfather Frost, is abroad, and there is nothing he likes more than stealing little boys and girls away.
Wicked and Cruel Sorcerer: Ded Moroz’s origin is lost to the mists of time but there are fireside stories that he is the son of Baba Yaga and a frost giant jarl. Whatever his parentage, Grandfather Frost is a greedy and malicious creature, arriving every year with the onset of winter, and preying on the ill-starred peasants of the taiga. As each day draws to a close, Ded Moroz will appear in the frozen fields or at the edge of the forest, looking for victims. Children are his favourite, but he is happy to make do with grown-ups if that is all that is available.
Grandfather Frost likes to chase his prey first, toying with them and allowing to think they might escape before freezing them with his magical staff. Then, he shoves them into his sack and takes them back home to his hidden cabin in the woods where he lives with his daughter Snegurochka, the Snowflake Girl. Sneugurochka is an ice maiden <see the Midgard Bestiary for 4th Edition D&D or Tome of Beasts>, a beautiful young fey with snow-white skin and glacial blue eyes, dressed all in white. Grandfather Frost can also call upon the winter wolves of the Evergreen Forest to assist him if needed.
Ransom Demands: Frost’s captives are kept in the freezing cellar beneath his cabin, while Sneugurochka goes to the village that night and demands presents for their safe return. If a good enough ransom is paid, the victims are found on the village outskirts the following morning, shivering but alive. Ded Moroz’s cabin is filled to the rafters with all sorts of valuables and family heirlooms given to him as “gifts”.
Although evil, Grandfather Frost respects those who stand up to him. One famous tale tells of a little girl who ran into the forest after an argument with her cruel father. There she met Ded Moroz but refused to admit to being afraid or cold, despite the freezing temperatures. Frost took her back to his cabin, sat her down in front of the fire and fed her, before taking her back to her repentant father in the morning.
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Main image by Jonathan Roberts