Yet another batch of snow is on its way and with it comes a new batch of moaning and groaning from everyone I talk to. Anyone who says they like winter is either lying or lives in the sub-tropics. I certainly denounce Telchur and his ways but I've decided to save my complaints this week and work on something constructive, like listing all the things that are good about winter, related to Greyhawk.
Snow Barbarians: The Schnai claim to be the strongest and are the most numerous of the northern Suel peoples. They once held the embattled Frost Barbarians (Fruztii) under their sway and generally only pay heed to the Ice Barbarians if there are Sea Barons to fight and Aerdy coasts to raid. The best part about the Schnai is where common heroes go to the four corners of the Flanaess to seek adventure, the Schnai go beyond; casually sailing across the Solnor Ocean to the mysterious isles of Fireland to fight dragons, giants and the elements.
Greyhawk Weather Generator: Originally published in Dragon Magazine #68 and later added to the World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, Greyhawk's intricate system for determining the weather has always been one of the most daunting things about running the setting. There is no fewer than nine steps in determining a daily weather report. Everything starts from a baseline latitude of 40 degrees (roughly the north coast of the Nyr Dyv) and from there random charts cover everything and I mean everything from high and low temperatures, to chance of precipitation on up to special weather phenomena. The whole system covers six pages and details terrain effects on weather, wind chill adjustments, high wind effects and other game related adjustments do to weather. A typical blizzard for instance lays down 2d8+8 inches of snow, lasts 3d10 hours, cuts movement to 1/4 and vision to 10 feet. The chance of getting lost is 35% and wind speed is 3d8+36 (mph). This added realism is incredible and was part of AD&D's charm back then, but I for one would only roll these results in advance as it generally bogged down game time. Good thing there is handy Greyhawk weather generators online to calculate this stuff on the fly.
Kostchtchie: This snowy cover from Dragon Magazine #119 depicting the demon lord Kostchtchie beating down on some Roman soldiers is among my favorites of all time. Kostchtchie, who is right out of Russian folklore, first appeared in the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. Many years later he would be featured in the Dragon #345 article Kostchtchie: Prince of Wrath by James Jacobs.
Uldra, Snow Elves and more: Issue #119 also featured the wintry Uldra created by Calle Lindstrom. These small, blue skinned fey were made available as a player character race for AD&D and later adapted to 3.5 D&D for the excellent arctic setting book Frostburn written by George Strayton, Wolfgang Baur and yes, James Jacobs. Wolfgang Baur also wrote the chilling adventure Raiders of the Black Ice in Dungeon #115 for the Greyhawk setting. The Uldric pantheon includes Aslak (the Wide One), Maitak (demigod of nature and mountains), Salturen (god of justice) and Talminen (god of freedom).
Another cold-weather player character race found in the pages of Dragon is the Snow Elf from the article, In the Frost and Snow by David S. Reimer in issue #155. These druidic flavored kin of the Valley elves, hail from the Crystalmist Mountains according to the article and worship a lesser elven deity named Tarsellis Meunniduin (god of mountains and wilderness).
Frost Giants: I can't speak about cold Greyhawkian races without mentioning Frost Giants! G2 Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl was the second part of the Against the Giants series and is still in my mind the definitive module on frost giants. Jarl Grugnur's realm also found in the Cystalmists, has it all: polar bears, yeti, winter wolves and of course remorhaz. For more on frost giant culture and some new frost giant domains, check out CruelSummerLord's article over at canonfire.
There is so much more I could cover; Wintershiven, Icy Sea, Polaria, Telchur, Telchuria, Cold Marshes, Frostmen, Vatun, White Dragons, Frostrazor, Icehand Plain, and so on...but that's for another day and another winter!