Frostreave

Jack Shear’s post on Frostreave is here. This is one of the country descriptions for my upcoming book on the World Between. This is a draft.

Basic description.

Grim frozen northern land, populated by Northron warriors who survive in spite of ice and monsters. Too poor to survive on its own, it is proud nation of raiders.

 Stylistic Feel

Not-Vikings. A dark land, full of depression and berserk rages. Life is short and hard, death is always in your shadow, and even if you cannot expect to win you must fight hard all the way down. They have dealt with their land of demons and monsters by becoming monsters themselves, escalating their own violence until they can credibly threaten what threatens them. This is a place of privation and grim fatalism, against a backdrop of breathtakingly beautiful scenery that can kill you.

 Ruling Structure

Katrina Rimehart, the Masked Queen of Iron and Ice, rules from the capitol Iskanten. Chieftains rule clans. The Council of Marches extends her rule through the country. Law is simple and violent.

 Stereotypes

Giant, either tall or fat. Flaxen gold hair. Gigantic mirth and disabling depression. Impossibly blue eyes. Crude workmanship. Fatalistic. All of them are formidable warriors—men, women, children. They have no interest in civilization or history, or the art of other cultures. No loyalty outside the clan. No mercy. Slavish worship of Merrihel, death goddess, who urges them to die in combat as soon as possible. Desired by the fey for some reason.

 Famous For:

Mercenaries, especially marines. Long ships and sailing skill. Monster fighting tradition.

 Major Cities

Iskanten. Backed up into the Forest of Wolves, the city is made of pale granite. It has never fallen to mortal siege, though it has been conquered three times by frost giants. The city is mythic in legend, in part because of the polar bear cavalry of its berserker army. They build ice ships that sail on the plains when the snow is deep enough. They specialize in survival against both supernatural and natural threats, and their land-locked position isolates them from the culture of the rest of Frostreave.

Mordklokke. This fortress overlooks the Moon Sea across from Vengeance Point in Ulverland. It is the most hostile port in Frostreave, the launching point for most of the raids that hit coastlines all around the World Between. This city is holy to Merrihel, the death goddess that goads her raiders on. They specialize in the raider culture, monsters who haunt the southern coastal waters and who return loaded with plunder. They hold monster hunters and land lubbers in contempt.

Sarhals. The primary trading port for Frostreave is not even on the mainland. This city is the most open to outsiders in all of Frostreave, and a place where the goods of the frozen north find their way to trade caravans headed south.

Verdentopp. This weird city was founded by warriors looking to stop the raids from the Aether into Frostreave. Warriors train here to do battle with monsters from beyond space and time who stalk the skeletal forests; be they demons, aliens, or gods, the warriors of Verdentopp will have a go at killing anything that trespasses in the world where it doesn’t belong. They worship dread stars as gods. The city is considered safe as it is in a meteor crater from thousands of years ago, and nearby are mines rich with ghostsilver. They consider any plunder they get from other countries or the supernatural to be dues owed them for keeping the world from being overrun. They specialize in fatalism and rage.

Langtland. An improbable city of Frostreave, on the east side of the mountains. The wanderlust presses the Northron out over land as well as sea, and this is their trading post with the Scavenger Lands. It was founded by a banished prince, and the Volgortch River is named for him. Filled with violent Northrons, this is one of the safest places for outsiders to visit in the Scavenger Lands. They focus on the honor and venerable tradition of the noble caste.

 Notable Locations

Storm Throat. This long, narrow sea requires tremendous skill to navigate; between the rocks, the ice, the uncooperative weather, and the rocky shorelines it is very dangerous.

Arctic Wall. This mountain range was full of dragon lairs. A thousand years ago the dragons poured out and burned their way across Frostreave. Only a few small white dragons are still awake, but killing one is a source of pride and assurance of a place in legend.

The Northern Gate. There is a semi-permanent gateway to the Ardenwald in the mountains, and a human(ish) city has grown up on the fey side of the border. Those who can manage to trade with the city can bring back remarkable goods and impossible stories.

Mushroom Forest of Khem. A vast forest of mushrooms the size of trees, loaded with all kinds of unpredictable spores. The forest is full of completely insane goblins. It is not always on the World Between, but in the northeastern mountains, it sometimes manifests.

 Supernatural Elements

Death Goddess. Merrihel, a death goddess of battle, is the patron god of Frostreave. The dread stars are also worshiped. Once, the people worshiped the Father and Family of Ulverland, but the cult of Merrihel put a stop to that. (Only Sarhals still has Father and Family worship.)

Reparation Servitude. Harrowfaust retaliated after countless raids over centuries. They passed a law that any Northron causing trouble in Harrowfaust could be given to a noble (probably a vampire) as a slave. Frostreave lacks the focus to go to war over the issue, and bad things were happening to raiders who were caught anyway, so this is mostly a gesture that infuriates and insults Frostreave with little consequence.

Aethyric Raiders. Gaunt and almost mummified, these weird creatures scream out of the blackness of space and attack, raiding for slaves and riches. Only when it is darkest night, in deepest winter. The strange starmetal of their weapons has found its way into Northron hands, and the knotwork they are famed for comes from studies of these weapons.

Giants and Trolls. The fey seem to think they own Frostreave, and periodically frost giants will stir themselves from their mountain fortresses and try to kick humanity out. They’ve not yet succeeded. Where they die on the field, trolls emerge some decades later. It is not understood why, but trolls are as much of a problem as giants are.

Dwarves. These squat fey artisans play both sides against the middle. They aid the humans against other elements of eldritch power, but they do so for their own ends. They are not to be trusted, but possessing one of their weapons is a sure path to power before meeting a grim fate.

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