Monster Analysis: Gelidon, the Nightmare in Ivory (Ancient White Dragon)

  • First Appearance: 2-75 Rime and Reason

  • Armor Class 20

  • Speed 40 ft, 80 ft flying

  • Blindsight 60 ft, Darkvision 120 ft, Passive 23

  • Immune to Cold Damage

  • Legendary Actions, Legendary Resistances

  • Suggested Average/Max HP: 333, 504

White dragons may be least clever of their type, but their ferocity, unrelenting persistence, and perfect memory make them among the most feared hunters. They decorate their icy lairs with the trophies of those they fell. Coins, diamonds, magical items, anything of value is frozen in solid blocks of ice the dragon can easily bore through, but would take would-be thieves well over an hour to chisel to even touch. Bribes of any value are seen as a grave insult; why accept your piddling offer of platinum when they can just take it over your cold, dead body? That’s how they like it, after all.

This is the third white dragon we’ve seen on Critical Role. Half of Vox Machina took on a “mere” adult white dragon, which provided a very dangerous challenge to the party of five level 11 characters. Later, all of VM successfully battled an ancient white dragon. It had over 850 HP and required the assistance of a powerful fiend just to soften it up for a party of level 15 adventurers with a few Vestiges of Divergence and their own ancient dragon. Keep in mind that the suggested HP values are those presented by the Monster Manual; the dragons of Exandria are made of much tougher material.

The Nightmare in Ivory

Gelidon hadn’t been seen for a hundred years prior to their encounter, and the Nein learned why after their first battle in Mythburrow. The yetis that made the antechamber of Gelidon’s lair home worshipped her and provided her with everything she wanted- food and riches- without the dragon having to do much work. Gelidon got to sit comfortably in her lair and only come out when the yetis called to her. She would make quick work of whatever unlucky creatures they brought to her hunting tunnel, take its remains back to her lair to eat, then seal herself in again.

Combat wasn’t an option for the Nein. This encounter was a heist.

The Plan

1. Caleb casts Leomund’s Tiny Hut.
2. Jester places the mithral on a shield near where their bait spider will stand that is tied to a rope that goes back to the hut
3. Fjord holds the rope within the hut
4. Jester and Nott hide in a place where they can see the mithral together
5. Beau invisibly hides where she can see the mithral and get to it quickly if it turns to iceflex
6. Reani summons an ice spider queen and directs her to stand by the mithral
7. Jester calls for Gelidon through Thaumaturgy
8. Gelidon arrives and breathes on the spider and mithral, turning it to iceflex
9. Gelidon goes away with her quarry
10. The Mighty Nein takes the iceflex
11. Caleb casts Teleportation Circle
12. Profit.

As with any heist, things started out well enough. The yeti “guards” had already been dealt with the day before, allowing the Nein to set the scene undisturbed. Jester, Beau, and Nott were all positioned to observe if the task had been completed, grab the iceflex unseen, and get back safely to the magical hut. Reani summoned her ice spider queen, Jester called for Gelidon, and the game was afoot!

Reani’s choice of summoning an ice spider queen was the lynchpin to this whole plan working at all. The spider was big enough to get and keep Gelidon’s interest, and its resistance to cold damage allowed it to live long enough for the dragon to blast the mithral twice, imbuing it with enough energy to convert it to iceflex. Without Reani, the Nein would have needed to turn someone into a creature through Polymorph, putting themselves at risk from the very beginning. Plus, once Gelidon tore through their polymorphed form’s hit points, they would have reverted to being a humanoid right in front of the dragon rather than just disappearing like the spider. 

And as with any heist, there had to be a change in the plan. The risk of putting the mithral so close to the spider was that it would get eaten as Gelidon tore into the spider or would get frozen to the spider, and the latter came to pass. Beau’s decision to cut the rope attached to the mithral was panic-inducing at first, but worked out in the Nein’s favor. There was very little chance that the Nein were going to win a strength contest against an ancient white dragon to pull the mithral away from it. Had they tried, it likely would have gotten Gelidon’s attention, drawing them into battle with her in a room that they had described earlier as “fish in a barrel.” With the mithral frozen in the block of ice where the spider used to be and squarely in the dragon's nest, the team had to utilize each of their strengths to distract the mark long enough to make off with the prize (as well as a few extra accessories).

The Revised Plan

9. Gelidon goes away with her quarry and the iceflex
10. Gelidon chews on the block of ice that once housed the spider, breaking it apart so the iceflex is grabbable
11. Reani casts Pass Without a Trace
12. Reani turns into a giant owl
13. Reani flies into Gelidon’s lair with Jester, Nott, and Beau and doesn’t get Gelidon’s attention
14. Nott and Jester hide
15. Reani flies in with Beau
16. Beau sets off a firecracker to get Gelidon’s attention
17. Gelidon flies after Reani and Beau
18. Nott and Jester Dimension Door to the mithral.
19. Jester grabs the mithral
20. Reani and Beau escape to the hut
21. Jester Dimension Doors her and Nott to the hut.
22. Caleb casts Teleportation Circle
23. Profit.

Once again, Reani’s abilities enabled this entire plan to work at all. As a Circle of the Moon druid, she was able to cast Pass Without a Trace and maintain concentration on it while she Wild Shaped, which no one else could have done while Polymorphed. She also wisely chose to Wild Shape into a giant owl rather than a giant eagle. That may seem like a choice made just for flavor, but definitely wasn’t: giant owls have +4 stealth, while giant eagles only have +3. Between that, Pass Without a Trace, and Bless, her stealth check to fly in beat Gelidon’s Passive Perception of 23.

Jester was equally clutch throughout this whole heist. She was able to cast Pass Without a Trace to keep everybody hidden, Dimension Door multiple times to get to and from the iceflex quickly, and utilize her cold resistance as a little blue tiefling to take minimal damage from grabbing the frozen iceflex. 

During their escape, Beau and Reani learned that Reani’s giant owl form had one major disadvantage to the giant eagle form: giant owls have a fly speed of 60 ft, while giant eagles have a fly speed of 80 ft, the same as an ancient white dragon. Gelidon was able to catch up to the fleeing pair before they could get to the hut. Time for the Revised and Edited plan!

The Revised and Edited Plan

19. Jester grabs the mithral while Nott grabs a rainbow stone
20. Reani and Beau get blasted with cold breath, turning Reani back into an aasimar and nearly killing Beau
21. Nott grabs a chainmail shirt while Jester leaves a Traveler statue
21. Beau runs into the hut using her 45 ft movement speed
22. Reani Wild Shapes into an ice spider queen
23. Reani gets blasted with cold breath and remains a spider
24. Jester and Nott Dimension Door out of the lair with their treasures
25. Reani gets into the hut
26. Jester and Nott get into the hut
27. Caleb casts Teleportation Circle
28. Profit.

Beau got especially lucky that Gelidon’s cold breath didn’t deal much more damage than it did because she would have gone unconscious. As it didn’t knock her out, she was the only member of the Nein who could have gotten into the hut from where she started without risking being outside of its protection for another round. Reani’s Wild Shape saved her life again; turning into an ice spider queen gave her the HP and cold resistance to withstand another cold breath and get her into the hut safely.

Beau and Reani’s wild owl chase bought Jester and Nott enough time to grab the iceflex… and a few other baubles that we’re sure that Gelidon definitely won’t miss. (We’re being sarcastic; Gelidon is going to be furious.) Jester’s Dimension Door provided an easy escape for her and Nott to leave the chamber, arriving at the dome just before Gelidon commenced her assault.

With everyone within the hut, Caleb began to cast Teleportation Circle. Caduceus threw seven platinum at Gelidon, and while all of us would be glad to suddenly have 70 gold at our disposal, she will likely see it as yet another insult. That said, the Nein got away with their lives and their iceflex… and the attention of vengeful ancient white dragon.