Sea Wolf

Sea Wolf

sea wolf

To celebrate the release of Open Design’s Northlands: Roleplaying in Winter’s Chill, Chris Harris and Dan Voyce bring you the sea wolf.


“I saw no more terrible beast on all my journeys north than the sea wolf. The white bears had their aloof majesty, the lindwurm serpentine grace, but the monster that gnawed away the pack ice beneath our feet and savaged any who fell into the waters was a thing of nightmare countenance. It had the body of a shark, the neck of a snake, the face like a wolf, and a mouth of dragon’s fangs. The men it snatched were torn apart like rags worried in the mouth of a rabid dog. A mighty harpoon-thrust eventually broke its back, but still, the monster snarled and pawed and thrashed.”

The sea wolf is a totem beast for many tribes and is known by many names: sisiutl, wasgo, and haietlik to name but a few. Northern kennings call it Ice gnawer, child of wolf and seal, Mara’s hound, and the spirit of sudden death…

A hybrid of fish and mammal, a sea wolf is 8 ft. long and looks like a small orca with a serpentine neck and lupine head; their huge maws are filled with rows of triangular, serrated teeth adept at tearing flesh and sundering bone. Their bodies are covered in short, white fur, which is highly prized by skin traders for its warmth and waterproof qualities. Their pectoral fins feature stubby, claw-tipped proto-paws used for scrabbling across ice. Skraeling shamans sometimes make climbing charms from these talons, or use their gnashing fangs to make arrowheads, necklaces of strangulation, and tooth-studded clubs of wounding.


Perhaps related to the bunyip of the hot south, sea-wolves prowl northern coasts and estuaries, hunting among the fragmenting pack ice each summer. They lurk beneath the surface of the chill grey waters, snapping at swimmers between the broken ice chunks or lurching up onto an iceberg to break or unbalance it, sending prey tumbling into the cold waves. When necessary, they’ll also rove beach and riverbank in search of carrion or unwary victims. Moored longships and coastal halls beware.

Sea wolves are commonly encountered in mated pairs or small family groups, working together to corral victims from fish and seals to larger prey like polar bears and kayaking northmen. They’ve been known to gnaw away at ice bridges and the frozen surface of lakes and rivers, leaving trap-like fragile patches that plunge unwary victims into their waiting jaws. Their knack for cunning hunting tricks gives many victims the impression they have greater than animal intelligence.

Way of the Sea Wolf

Like the path of the berserkir and úlfhéðinn detailed in Northlands, some barbarians let the savagery of the sea wolf inspire their rages, selecting from the following list of rage powers to emulate their totem animal: animal fury, fearless rage, mighty swing, powerful blow, raging swimmer, scent, and terrifying howl; beast totem, reckless abandon, and inspire ferocity (from Advanced Player’s Guide); and bear chest and Donar’s wrath (from Northlands).

Sea Wolf (CR 3)

XP 800
N Large magical beast (aquatic)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., scent, low-light vision; Perception +7
Aura frightful roar (30 ft./90 ft., DC 11)

AC 17, touch 12, flat-footed 13 (+3 dex, +4 natural, −1 size)
Hp 34 (4d10+12)
Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +1
Defensive Abilities ferocity

Speed 10 ft., Swim 50 ft.
Melee +9 bite (2d6+4 plus vorpal bite)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks
blood frenzy, vorpal bite

Str 19, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 2, Wis 11, Cha 7
Base Atk +4; CMB +8; CMD +21
Feats Combat Reflexes, Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Perception +7, Swim +14; Racial Modifiers +4 Perception, +8 Swim
SQ semi-amphibious

Environment cold aquatic
Organization solitary, pair, or pod (1d3+2)
Treasure none

Blood Frenzy (Ex) A sea wolf that detects a significant quantity of blood nearby has a 50% chance each round of flying into frenzy, biting and thrashing madly for either one minute or until any opponents are dead, whichever occurs sooner. This blood frenzy grants it ferocity, +2 Strength, and a −2 penalty to AC. The creature cannot end its frenzy voluntarily.

Frightful Roar (Ex) When a sea wolf roars all creatures with 3 Hit Dice or fewer must succeed at a DC 11 Will save or become panicked for 2d4 rounds. An opponent that succeeds on his or her saving throw is immune to the same creature’s roar for 24 hours. The range is 30 feet in the open air but three times that underwater. This is a sonic, mind-affecting fear effect. The DC is charisma-based.

Keen Scent (Ex) Underwater, sea wolves can notice creatures by scent at triple standard distance, and can detect even small amounts of blood at ranges of up to half a mile.

Semi-Amphibious (Ex) Sea Wolves can survive out of the water for up to an hour, after which time they begin to suffocate, effectively drowning in the air.

Vorpal Bite (Ex) A sea wolf’s grinding jaws are perfectly designed for dismembering prey. When it confirms a critical hit with its bite on a target of up to Medium size, the recipient takes triple damage and must make a DC 16 Fortitude save or lose a limb. The DC is Strength-based. Roll 1d10 to determine the location severed:

1–2         Head (this may result in instant death, depending on the victim’s anatomy)
3–4         Left arm/foreleg
5–6         Right arm/foreleg
7–8         Left leg
9–10      Right leg

(This post is Product Identity.)

5 thoughts on “Sea Wolf”

  1. There’s a vorpal blade in a game I’m currently in. The joy of rolling a natural 17 to 20 is a great delight.

    For this table, I’m thinking that roll of 1 or 2 is ideal. Nice work, Chris!

  2. This beast was a lot of fun to work on. Dan, I have to say I really love the opening quotation you added. That sets the tone perfectly.

    DoomedPaladin, I completely agree! As well, a good mangling at sea, or better yet on an icy shore, really sets the tone for a trip to the Northlands!

    (Plus, they’re a great way to spice up an otherwise lackluster character’s name, so long as they don’t roll a 1 or a 2. ‘Olaf the Once Verbose’ can be a bit tough on morale!)

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