Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Welcome to Iconic Design, where we discuss the creation of exciting new character builds for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game!

No build up, this article is too long for me to waste precious pages with a silly opening. We’re making Elsa from Frozen today. Read on.

Background

You’ve had to have been living under a rock to have not heard of Disney’s latest blockbuster, Frozen. Without giving too much away (because it is rather new still), the plot focuses around two princesses who have been shut out from the rest of the world. Early on we see that the oldest princess, Elsa, is a natural-born sorceress: she can command ice and snow effortlessly, and as she ages her powers become more and more powerful. In this regard, Elsa is the poster child for the sorcerer class. In some respects her tale is more powerful then that of Paizo’s own iconic sorceress because of the powerful emotions that are poured into Frozen’s story. I almost feel bad doing this article because if you watch Frozen, Elsa’s build practically writes itself. But here I am, ready to take advantage of an easy article. Sue me.

Build Concept

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: in order to build Elsa, we need Crossblooded Sorcerer. This build is so similar to Richard the Warlock’s from last week that I copied Richard’s article to serve as a template. I regret nothing: on to the build!

  • Sorcerer (Crossblooded): Elsa’s bloodlines are Elemental (Water) and Boreal.
  • Race: Human.     

THIS IS WHAT YOU GET FOR COMPLAINIG THAT I NEVER DO SPELLCASTERS, FOLKS! FEAR MY MASTERY OF ARCANE MAGIC!!!

Early Levels (1–7)

  • Classes: Sorcerer (Crossblooded) 7
  • Feats: Widen Spell (Bonus), Combat Casting (1st), Spell Penetration (3rd), Rime Spell (5th), Empower Spell (Bloodline), Elemental Focus: cold (7th)
  • Abilities: Bloodline Powers (elemental ray (3+Cha per day), icewalker), Bloodline Spells (burning hands, elemental aura (cold only), scorching ray), Crossblooded Drawbacks (–2 on Will saves, one less spell per level)
  • Spells (3rd):  elemental aura, ice spears
  • Spells (2nd): frost fall, scorching ray, snow shape
  • Spells (1st): chill touch, burning hands, hydraulic push, snowball
  • Spells (0): arcane mark, dancing lights, open/close, prestidigitation, ray of frost, resistance

I tried to be somewhat interesting with this build, so I didn’t shy away from spells that aren’t in Paizo’s Core Rulebook line (though all spells featured here are from Paizo products). With that in mind, none of the spells I’ve chosen feel out of place for Elsa, specifically ice spears, snowball, and snow shape. Now, I’m aware that I’m going to catch a lot of flack for using snowball in my build because of the observed ‘OP’ness of this spell. It’s essentially a close ranged touch attack version of shocking grasp that has a chance to stagger its target for 1 round. Definitely a powerful spell, but I personally don’t think its monumentally better than shocking grasp and I really needed a cold spell to fill out this stage of the game, so snowball it is!Ice spears is very similar to scorching ray, save it can knock foes prone and requires a saving throw instead of a ranged touch attack. Snow shape, finally, is a snow version of stone shape.

I’m sure some people are surprised that there are fire spells on Elsa’s spell list, but remember where they come from: the elemental bloodline. The neat thing about having the Elemental Bloodline is that it grants a bunch of spells that would normally be fire spells as spells of a different element: for the water bloodline, they’re cold spells. Likewise, this bloodline can change spells that deal one type of energy damage into cold damage, which gives us a little more flexibility when picking Elsa’s spells. (Of course, as a PC you have the choice to not use this arcana while Elsa the character doesn’t.) Speaking of the bloodlines, I love the synergy the Boreal and Elemental bloodlines have together: it seems like every time this is an ability I don’t like for Elsa in one bloodline, the other one has an ability that makes perfect sense for her. We’re only 7 levels in and I can honestly say that this already feels like Elsa.

Mid Levels (8 –14)

  • Classes: Sorcerer (Crossblooded) 14
  • Feats: Widen Spell (Bonus), Combat Casting (1st), Spell Penetration (3rd), Rime Spell (5th), Empower Spell (Bloodline), Elemental Focus: cold (7th), Greater Elemental Focus: cold (9th), Heighten Spell (11th), Improved Initiative (Bloodline), Preferred Spell: frost fall (13th),
  • Abilities: Bloodline Powers (elemental ray (3+Cha per day), icewalker, snow shroud 1/day), Bloodline Spells (burning hands, cone of cold, elemental aura (cold only), elemental body III, scorching ray, wall of ice), Crossblooded Drawbacks (–2 on Will saves, one less spell per level)
  • Spells (6th): elemental body III, freezing sphere
  • Spells (5th): cone of cold, fabricate, icy prison
  • Spells (4th): ice storm, minor creation, shout, wall of ice
  • Spells (3rd): elemental aura, hydraulic torrent, ice spears, sleet storm
  • Spells (2nd): frigid touch, frost fall, scorching ray, snow shape, unshakable chill
  • Spells (1st): chill touch, burning hands, grease, hydraulic push, stumble gap, snowball
  • Spells (0): arcane mark, dancing lights, detect magic, open/close, prestidigitation, ray of frost, read magic, resistance 

In my recollection of the movie, Elsa’s favorite tactic is to freeze the area around herself, which we simulate using frost fall, which is why it serves as her Preferred Spell at 13th level. If you’re using this guideline to make a PC, you’re welcome to pick one of her other spells for this task. Elsa’s saving throw DCs are likely to be high: not as high as Richard’s, but still high. She has both Element Focus (and its greater version) and the boreal bloodline boosting her spells’ saving throw DCs. In this regard, the boreal bloodline and the elemental bloodline mesh well together because the elemental bloodline states that it gives whatever spells it modifies the cold descriptor, which pleases the boreal arcana.

 In addition to the ability to create things like clothing, sleds, and ice skates with her minor creation and fabricate spells, Elsa an array of cold-based tactics, including knocking people off of castles with hydraulic torrent/push, making people slip and fall with grease (we’ll just say its ice instead), and she even can freeze foes solid with icy prison. Her wide array of metamagic feats also allows Elsa to adjust the power of her spells as necessary, though cold immunity is her biggest enemy. Let’s see how she looks after six more levels.

Endgame (15+)

  • Classes: Sorcerer (Crossblooded) 20
  • Feats: Widen Spell (Bonus), Combat Casting (1st), Spell Penetration (3rd), Rime Spell (5th), Empower Spell (Bloodline), Elemental Focus: cold (7th), Greater Elemental Focus: cold (9th), Heighten Spell (11th), Improved Initiative (Bloodline), Preferred Spell: frost fall (13th), Spell Perfection: frost fall (15th), Quicken Spell (17th), Endurance (Bloodline), Greater Spell Penetration (19th)
  • Abilities: Bloodline Powers (elemental ray (3+Cha per day), icewalker, snow shroud 3/day, blizzard 1/day, child of ancient winters), Bloodline Spells (burning hands, cone of cold, elemental aura (cold only), elemental body III, elemental body IV, meteor swarm, polar ray, scorching ray, wall of ice), Crossblooded Drawbacks (–2 on Will saves, one less spell per level)
  • Spells (9th): crushing hand, mass icy prison, meteor swarm
  • Spells (8th): greater shout, polar ray, summon monster VIII
  • Spells (7th): control construct, elemental body IV, scouring winds
  • Spells (6th): elemental body III, forceful hand, freezing sphere
  • Spells (5th): cone of cold, fabricate, fire snake, icy prison
  • Spells (4th): ice storm, minor creation, resilient sphere, shout, wall of ice
  • Spells (3rd): elemental aura, hydraulic torrent, ice spears, sleet storm
  • Spells (2nd): frigid touch, frost fall, scorching ray, snow shape, unshakable chill
  • Spells (1st): chill touch, burning hands, grease, hydraulic push, stumble gap, snowball
  • Spells (0): arcane mark, dancing lights, detect magic, open/close, prestidigitation, ray of frost, read magic, resistance 

And here we round out Elsa. I chose summon monster VIII as the best spell to replicate Elsa’s ability to create snow golems. Although Craft Construct would have been neat, Elsa shows no ability to create other magic items, so a summon spell works best. She could easily have summoned an elder ice elemental, however, so we’ll go with that. Other then that choice, most of the spells are self-explanatory. The hand spells were chosen to replicate many of the effects that Elsa produces with her ice, including grapples, bull rushes, and so forth. Ultimately, Elsa transforms into an effective character that uses ice magic to control the battlefield and freeze enemies alive.

Mythic

Nothing from a non-mythic source can replicate her power’s ability to induce an eternal winter, however: the best way to replicate this effect with the mythic terraform spell. Here’s a quick mythic build for Elsa, if you choose to take it:

  • Path: Archmage (arcane surge)
  • Path Abilities: Mythic Bloodline (1st), Bloodline Intensity: Diehard (2nd), Arcane Potency (3rd), Arcane Metamastery (4th), Arcane Metamastery (5th), Arcane Metamastery (6th), Arcane Metamastery (5th), Eldritch Breach (6th), Elemental Bond: cold (7th), Arcane Potency (8th), Arcane Potency (9th), Arcane Potency (10th).
  • Feats: Spell Lore (1st), Elemental Focus: cold (3rd), Improved Initiative (5th), Spell Penetration (7th), Extra Path Ability: Arcane Potency (9th)
  • Mythic Spells: burning hands, cone of cold, control weather, hydraulic torrent, ice storm, meteor swarm, polar ray, terraform, unshakable chill, wall of ice

 Elsa’s Mythic build takes what she’s good at and makes her EVEN better at it. She gets more spells per day, can apply metamagic to her spells effortlessly, and gains additional uses of her bloodline powers. Ultimately, this is a very simple (but appropriate) build for a very straightforward character.

And that, as they say, is that. What do you think? Is this an accurate representation of Elsa, or is there something you would have done differently? How do you feel about having seen two Crossblooded Sorcerers in a row here at Iconic Design? How would you feel about seeing more characters from Frozen given the Iconic Design treatment? Are there any other characters from movies or games that you would like to see build here on Iconic Design? Leave your answers and comments below, and I look forward to seeing you next time on Iconic De—

WAIT

What? I’m closing the article.

No You’re Not.

Why?

You’re Ignoring the Elephant in the Room!

Am I?

Uh Huh. You Didn’t Take a Single Level in the Most Iconic Ice-Based Spellcasting Class IN THE GAME! Explain Yourself!

Oh. Right. Okay, well, there is an iconic ice magic-based class in Pathfinder. It’s a witch archetype called the winter witch that upgrades into a winter witch prestige class. It seems like an obvious choice for building Elsa, especially because of all of the cool supernatural abilities it gets, but it really doesn’t work for Elsa in my opinion for a few reasons and all of them revolve around her character. First, the movie flat-out calls Elsa’s powers as being “sorcery.” Second, her character background reads like an entry for the Iconic Sorceress: born with her powers, can’t control them, feared of being feared, it’s all there. In my opinion, she’s as Iconic a sorceress as Seoni, Pathfinder’s iconic sorceress. Finally, Elsa has nothing resembling an arcane bond: no witch’s familiar, no spellbook or amulet if she were to take the bonded witch half-elf witch archetype. While winter witch is cool, it just doesn’t work for Elsa. At all. Ever.

And with that, I make my leave. Have a great spring, everyone!

 Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long over 90% of his colleagues. Affectionately called a “budding game designer” by his partner at Radiance House, Alexander is the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series (Radiance House) and a handful of other Third-Party Products. Before founding the Everyman Gaming blog, Alexander gained notoriety for writing the GM’s Guide to Challenging Encounters, which remains accessible to this day. His favorite color is blue, his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is kitsune Disney princess, and his favorite pastime is running up to strangers and asking them if they’d like to build a snowman.

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10 thoughts on “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

  1. I like it! While I don’t think it’s as terrifyingly powerful as Helegur from Ravingdork’s Emporium is, I think this Elsa is a better fit, ability and personality wise.

    However, one thing I would suggest you change is swapping Arcane Surge to Wild Arcana. It allows her to add metamagic feats to the spells she cast in this method (unlike Arcane Surge), and it allows her to cast *any* Sorcerer spell (not just ones she knows). The big thing is it allows her to cast Fabricate without needing to know it, which I think is important as Elsa had to of used Fabricate to create both the ice bridge, and her castle in this method, because the creation spells aren’t permanent. Bonus! If you look closely, Elsa makes several ‘gestures’ during the creation of her castle and a separate magical effect occurs because of it. This fits as the creation of her castle would take several castings.

    Though I guess it could be argued she’s using Snow Shape however this would take *a lot* longer than multiple castings of Fabricate.

  2. I would say that the ability to manipulate and shape water the way the Undine Watersinger Bard Archetype does would be an appropriate level dip, however, the class is a race archetype for Undines and I simply don’t see it being able to be used by a Human, (unless the adopted trait could allow for it). But with all the singing that she does, you simply can’t have her not have at least 1 level of bard in there somewhere

    • I disagree. Just as you don’t need to be a cleric to worship a deity, you don’t need to be a bard to be good at singing or to sing often.

      Elsa sings a lot, but her singing isn’t tied to her powers. Her emotions are, and she just happens to be singing during all of her emotional scenes.

  3. So that was pretty cool. An argument my friends keep on bringing up for the Winter Witch angle is that she took Improved Familiar to get Olaf as her familiar. I still like the Sorceress concept better though.

    • Here’s the big reason you can use on your friends to explain why that does work. Spell preparation.

      A witch cannot prepare her spells without her familiar because a witch receives her magic from a higher power (her patron). For Olaf to have been her familiar, Elsa would have had to have Olaf teaching her magic from her childhood and the character is clearly not introduced to the story until the beginning of Act 2. It’s more accurate to call Olaf an animated object.

      Also, it’s hard to make a case against her being a sorceress when A) her powers are clearly fueled by her emotions and B) someone clearly calls her magic ‘sorcery’ (I think it’s the Weaselton guy when she explodes at the party).

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