Vicious Venues
The Cave of Icy Wonders
By Skip and Penny Williams

The cool depths of a cave hold ice sculptures year round -- some beautiful, some grotesque -- but all carved from blue-green ice that looks like a frozen bit of the sea. Each statue possesses some illusive, artistic quality that makes it oddly appealing, if not exactly lifelike.

Background for the DM

The cave lies a short distance from an alpine glacier. A mile or so up slope, a finger of ice has forced its way underground, and the cave marks its farthest advance south. Inside, one finds a cluster of limestone chambers near the cave mouth and ice chambers farther back. During the warm months, an icy stream flows from the cave mouth, fed by melt water from the subterranean glacier. During the cooler portion of the year, the ice advances a little and the stream dries up.

The cave has one permanent resident, Kaddmeia Elthaneios, a fiendish medusa who has created the sculptures. Kaddmeia loves to preserve some of the creatures that fall victim to her petrifying gaze, as many medusas do. Kaddmeia keeps those victims she finds the most comely, and also those whose postures she finds appealing. She considers herself an artist, however, and frequently takes the time to pose her victims in some unusual or macabre pose before unleashing her gaze attack. Not content to simply decorate her lair with stone statues, Kaddmeia first stains her work with a sea green hue, then carefully sprinkles the statues with water. When the water freezes, the statue has a mantle of ice and it looks exactly like an ice sculpture chipped from blue-green ice.

Kaddmeia shares her cave with a fiendish harpy, Rhiannon Roe, and the pair has allied themselves with a tribe of grimlocks that dwell in the lightless caverns below their cave.

Kaddmeia and Rhiannon have fled their native marshes for a cooler, drier mountain climate. Kaddmeia thinks they both have a little ice devil in their blood. They pose as two elderly human sisters: one nearly blind, the other crippled. They seem to make a scanty living selling ice from a pool in their cave. In reality, the "sisters" use their ice business to get news from the towns below them. They and their grimlock allies attack travelers passing though the area (usually in the dead of night) and occasionally raid neighboring farms and settlements. This far, they successfully have blamed the raids on orcs and even giants living high in the mountains.

The cave is best located in a mountainous or arctic area, but one not too far from civilization. A mountain range that marks the border between two counties would be ideal.

The Setup

Though Kaddmeia and Rhiannon try to keep a low profile, they have achieved considerable notoriety in the area where they live. Everyone knows about the two weird sisters who share an icy cold cave and peddle ice to the cities and towns below. If the PCs listen to the local tales, they might hear any of the following:

  • Yup, we've got an icehouse to keep everything fresh and cold. We get a shipment every month from the weird sisters on the mountain. People say those two have ice in their veins. They live in a cave of ice and never come out 'cept in winter. Now that's not true at all. Why just last month that Kaddmeia was here, half-blind as she is, seeing that a shipment came in all right.

  • Ice is all those weird sisters think about. They live in a cave full of ice and they peddle it. When they're not selling it, they're carving it. Folks say their place is chock full of ice statues -- which must be something to see.

  • The weird sisters aren't really sisters at all. Some folks say they're a pair of witches or sorcerers who do ice magic all day. That's how they make their famous ice sculptures. They're crazy about those silly ice statues. Never want to sell a single one of them, even though they'd make a pile more money than they do now just selling plain ice. Many folks think the sisters must be a pair of retired adventurers living up there with all the loot they collected over the years.

  • Selling ice is just a cover for the weird sisters. What they really have up there is a diamond mine. Folks who've been hunting up there say the whole area is peppered with deep, deep holes where blind miners work in utter darkness, digging out gems for the sisters. Folks who get too snoopy go into the holes and never come out again. They just stay down there and dig until they go blind from want of light. Years ago, some cocky group (an elf, a human, a dwarf, and a halfling) went up there to find out what was going on. They were never seen alive again, but my cousin swears he was up there getting ice one day and saw all four of 'em all carved outta ice.

The PCs could simply come across the cave while traveling through the mountains, though it's more likely that the pair's grimlock allies attack during the night, perhaps with Kaddmeia or Rhiannon in support (probably the latter if the attack occurs on a dark night). The PCs might then track any surviving grimlocks (or perhaps a cohort or comrade who has fallen prey to Rhiannon's captivating song) back to the cave.

Entering the Cave

The following text assumes the PCs visit the cave in winter. An icy stream flows from the cave the other three seasons of the year. If the PCs visit the cave during a hot day, all the ice in the cave generates a thick, white mist that rises in clouds from the cave mouth.

A rocky cave mouth opens from a snowy hillside. The ribbon of glistening ice emerges from the opening and meanders down the hillside in erratic loops before vanishing under a snowdrift. Clusters of gleaming figures stand on either side of the ice, nearly invisible under the shelter of the cave. The figures seem lifelike. A few seem to stare in wonderment into the distance, but most appear locked in wild, but frozen action -- oddly animated, but motionless all the same. All the figures appear as silent and still as the icy landscape surrounding them.

Kaddmeia has left some two dozen figures at the cave mouth. Most of them are her petrified victims disguised as ice sculptures as described in the Background section. A few, however, are genuine ice sculptures. If the PCs examine all the statues closely, they'll notice that few of them (the ones made wholly out of ice) are much lighter than the rest. A round or so of chipping at a disguised statue removes its icy shell and reveals the painted stone beneath. All the sculptures look slightly less lifelike when viewed up close. They have a thick-featured, chunky look. Nevertheless, they're undeniably appealing.

Beyond the cave mouth and its collection of statues, visitors find a vast chamber floored with a sheet of ice. More statues (disguised as ice sculptures) are scattered throughout. There also is a vast pile of ice blocks and a frozen pool from which the ice blocks have been sawn. The floor in here is fairly slippery. Creatures can walk in here at half normal speed. Moving at full speed, charging, or running requires a balance check (DC 15), or the creature falls prone. Kaddmeia wears spiked shoes that allow her to move normally without Balance checks.

Openings lead farther into the cave, where Kaddmeia and Rhiannon have their personal chambers. The "sisters" also have a storeroom. The depths of the cave are solid ice. Several ice chambers are empty and one is stocked with discarded statues (more of Kaddmeia's victims). The whole cave complex runs about a quarter mile back into the slope before it completely dead ends against the glacier.

Creatures (EL 8, 9, 10, or 11): Kaddmeia and Rhiannon live here year round, with occasional visits from their grimlock allies. Two versions of Kaddmeia are presented here, one with a few sorcerer levels, and one without. If the PCs have previously met and killed Rhiannon, Kaddmeia is here with some grimlock bodyguards.

Kaddmeia: Female fiendish medusa; CR 8; Medium monstrous humanoid (extraplanar); HD 6d8+6; hp 33; Init +4; Spd 30 ft.; AC 19, touch 15, flat-footed 15; Base Atk +6; Grp +5; Atk +10 melee (1d4-1 plus poison, snakes) or +10 melee (1d4-1/19-20, dagger) or +10 ranged (1d6-1/x3, shortbow); Full Atk +10 melee (1d4-1 plus poison, snakes) or +10/+5 melee (1d4-1/19-20, dagger) and +5 melee (1d4-1 plus poison, snakes) or +10/+5 ranged (1d6-1/x3, shortbow); SA petrifying gaze, poison, smite good; SQ damage reduction 5/magic, darkvision 60 ft., resistance to cold 5 and fire 5, spell resistance 11; AL LE; SV Fort +4, Ref +10, Will +8; Str 8, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 19.

Skills and Feats: Bluff +11, Craft (sculpting) +6, Diplomacy +6, Disguise +12, Intimidate +6, Move Silently +10, Spot +9; Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Finesse.

Petrifying Gaze (Su): Any creature within 30 feet of Kaddmeia that meets her gaze turns to stone permanently (Fortitude DC 17 negates).

Poison (Ex): Kaddmeia delivers her injury poison (Fortitude DC 14) with each successful snakes attack. The initial damage is 1d6 Str, and the secondary damage is 2d6 Str.

Smite Good (Su): Once per day, Kaddmeia can make a normal melee attack to deal +6 points of extra damage against a good foe.

Possessions: Dagger, shortbow, 20 arrows, bracers of armor +1, ring of protection +1, cloak of resistance +1, spiked shoes.



Kaddmeia: Female fiendish medusa sorcerer 2; CR 10; Medium monstrous humanoid (extraplanar); HD 6d8+6 plus 2d4+2; hp 40; Init +4; Spd 30 ft.; AC 19, touch 15, flat-footed 15; Base Atk +7; Grp +6; Atk +11 melee (1d4-1 plus poison, snakes) or +11 melee (1d4-1/19-20, dagger) or +11 ranged (1d6-1/x3, shortbow); Full Atk +11 melee (1d4-1 plus poison, snakes) or +11/+6 melee (1d4-1/19-20, dagger) and +6 melee (1d4-1 plus poison, snakes) or +11/+6 ranged (1d6-1/x3, shortbow); SA petrifying gaze, poison, smite good; SQ damage reduction 5/magic, darkvision 60 ft., resistance to cold 10 and fire 10, spell resistance 13; AL LE; SV Fort +4, Ref +10, Will +11; Str 8, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 20.

Skills and Feats: Appraise (sculpture) +4, Bluff +12, Concentration +6, Craft (sculpting) +9, Diplomacy +7, Disguise +13, Intimidate +7, Move Silently +10, Spot +9; Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Finesse.

Petrifying Gaze (Su): Any creature within 30 feet of Kaddmeia that meets her gaze turns to stone permanently (Fortitude DC 18 negates).

Poison (Ex): Kaddmeia delivers her injury poison (Fortitude DC 14) with each successful snakes attack. The initial damage is 1d6 Str, and the secondary damage is 2d6 Str.

Smite Good (Su): Once per day, Kaddmeia can make a normal melee attack to deal +8 points of extra damage against a good foe.

Sorcerer Spells Known (6/6; save DC 15 + spell level): 0 -- arcane mark, light, mage hand, prestidigitation, resistance; 1st -- charm person, shield.

Possessions: Dagger, shortbow, 20 arrows, bracers of armor +1, ring of protection +1, cloak of resistance +1, potion of blur, two scrolls of magic missile, spiked shoes .



Rhiannon: Female fiendish harpy; CR 5; Medium monstrous humanoid (extraplanar); HD 7d8; hp 31; Init +2; Spd 20 ft., fly 80 ft. (average); AC 14, touch 13, flat-footed 12; Base Atk +7; Grp +6; Atk +6 melee (1d6-1, club) or +10 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); Full Atk +6/+1 melee (1d6-1, club) and +1 melee (1d3-1, 2 claws) or +10 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); SA captivating song, smite good; SQ damage reduction 5/magic, darkvision 60 ft., resistance to cold 5 and fire 5, spell resistance 12; AL LE; SV Fort +3, Ref +8, Will +7; Str 8, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 9, Wis 12, Cha 19.

Skills and Feats: Bluff +12, Intimidate +8, Listen +7, Perform (oratory) +6, Spot +3; Dodge, Flyby Attack, Persuasive.

Captivating Song (Su): When Rhiannon sings, all creatures (other than harpies) within a 300-foot spread must succeed on a DC 17 Will save or become captivated. This is a sonic mind-affecting charm effect. A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected again by the same harpy's song for 24 hours. A captivated victim walks toward Rhiannon, taking the most direct route available. If the path leads into a dangerous area (through flame, off a cliff, or the like), that creature gets a second saving throw. Captivated creatures can take no actions other than to defend themselves. (Thus, a fighter cannot run away or attack but takes no defensive penalties.) A victim within 5 feet of Rhiannon stands there and offers no resistance to the monster's attacks. The effect continues for as long as she sings and for 1 round thereafter. A bard's countersong ability allows the captivated creature to attempt a new Will save.

Smite Good (Su): Once per day Rhiannon can make a normal melee attack to deal +7 points of extra damage against a good foe.

Possessions: Club, masterwork light crossbow, 20 bolts, +1 ring of protection, +1 cloak of resistance.

Grimlocks (6): hp 11 each; see Monster Manual, page 140.

Tactics: If Kaddmeia and Rhiannon arehere alone, Kaddmeia goes forth to meet the PCs while Rhiannon retreats to the depth of the cave. Kaddmeia appears in a shabby peasant dress and a hooded shawl. She stoops and has a visible hump at the left shoulder. Under her hood, dark glasses are visible. (These neutralize her gaze attack while she wears them.) Kaddmeia does her best to win the PCs confidence. Read or paraphrase the following.



"Who's there?" says the hooded old woman, "Is that you, Herschel? Your pickup isn't till tomorrow! Or have I lost a day somewhere? It's a sad thing to get old, you know . . . never seem to know what day it is. But do sit down, dears, whoever you are, and let me get you a cup of ice water. It's the healthiest thing you can drink; did you know that? Shocks your digestive system into working a bit harder."

Kaddmeia happily chats with the PCs while sizing them up. She mentions the following in answer to appropriate questions or to make small talk as needed."Oh, you've seen my sculptures! My sister says I could have been a famous artist, and there do seem to be plenty of people willing to offer money my statues. But I just sculpt for my own pleasure and the joy the finished statues bring to me and my sister in our declining years."

  • "I suppose we could make more money selling statues than ice, but our needs are simple and few. We have more than enough customers to support ourselves, and the ice is easy to come by, though a bit too heavy for the two of us to extract at times. Some nice boys downstairs sometimes help us with that part."

  • "Why live in an ice cave? Well, comfort, for one thing. We enjoy the cool, crisp air, and there's nothing like icepacks to help rheumatism. It's cheap, too. My sister and I are poor, and we can't afford to pay the kind of rent they charge in town. Furthermore, it's very safe. It's amazing how few of the criminal types that prey on older folk are unwilling to come up here."

If the PCs get suspicious, or if Kaddmeia decides she'd like to add a PC to her collection, she whips off her dark glasses (a free action) and looses her gaze attack. She uses her spiked shoes to keep her distance from the PCs. She keeps up a steady fire from her bow (her quiver and bow make the hump under her shawl). If you're using the sorcerer version of Kaddmeia, she protects herself with a shield spell and drops the occasional charm person spell on characters that get too close.

While Kaddmeia fights, Rhiannon starts her captivating song from the depths of the cave (she sings Kaddmeia a few bars each morning to give her temporary immunity). If Rhiannon draws someone away from the fight, she tries to push the victim into an icy sinkhole, then flies to the main chamber to assist Rhiannon in the fight. She averts her eyes from the medusa and keeps up a steady fire with her crossbow.

If Rhiannon is not present, Kaddmeia's grimlock bodyguards lie low until trouble begins, then they move into the main chamber, wearing spiked shoes so they can move normally, and try to engage the PCs in melee while also staying between the party and Kaddmeia.

The Cave as a Happier Place

Kaddmeia and Rhiannon don't have to be nasty monsters. They could, for example, be pair of fairly young silver dragons (perhaps young or juvenile) just keeping an eye on things. As a dragon, Kaddmeia could still be an artist and sculptor, but she would work only in ice from the cave (which might naturally have a blue-green color from minerals in the area). A dragon version of Kaddmeia might be willing to sell her work to help build her treasure hoard.

About the Authors

Skip Williams keeps busy with freelance projects for several different game companies and has been the Sage of Dragon Magazine since 1986. Skip is a co-designer of the D&D 3rd Edition game and the chief architect of the Monster Manual. When not devising swift and cruel deaths for player characters, Skip putters in his kitchen or garden (his borscht gets rave reviews).

Penny Williams joined the roleplaying game industry as Game Questions Expert for TSR, Inc. in the 1980s. Since then, she has served as RPGA Network Coordinator, Polyhedron Newszine editor, and Senior Editor and Coordinating Editor for the RPG R&D Department at Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Now a busy freelancer, Penny edits for several game companies and runs the online playtesting program for Wizards products. When not enhancing the cruelty of the deaths PCs will suffer at the hands of designers, Penny puts up jam, works jigsaw puzzles, and tutors students in math and science.


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