I'm working on an arctic/far-nothern setting. The northernmost areas are like Antarctica, further south are areas with a climate similar to Canada/Scandinavia/Russia/etc. Throughout the entire region are enormous mountain ranges. Think Himalayas, Rockies, Alps, and so on. The area is in the midst of a gold rush, largely spearheaded by humans and dwarves. I'm planning to use default race, classes and flavor from 5e whenever that's fully out, potentially with modifications to make things more interesting.
What are some cool ideas for adventures/campaigns/BBEGs/etc.? I'm sure you guys have plenty of ideas.
It broke up due to real life issues, but I once played an ice-world campaign, with stone age tech and weak magic to boot. Honestly, monsters were far less danger than the risks of just being caught out in the open and dying of exposure or starvation or something.
I've always thought expanding that could be really, really cool.
I'm not sure about stone age tech and weak magic, if only because I'm planning an active mining economy in this setting. I figure if the continent is being swarmed with prospectors, they'll probably stumble across quite a bit of iron while they're digging for gold, silver and gems. Although I suppose I could move the setting forward or backward in time by a few centuries, so that it's either before the gold rush or afterward.
Setting events after the gold rush might be good because it would leave plenty of dangerous abandoned tunnels and well-established economic interests while reducing the wilderness population to just a small number of miners and maybe one or two remaining cities.
Also, just in a practical sense, I'm not sure my players would want to use a stone age, low-magic setting. I think they're going to want to try out all the spells and swing around magic swords and everything like that.
If you've ever read any of the 3.5 splats you can pull some neat ideas from there.
One in paritcular I liked was the lightning pillars made of ice. If you stood next to one there was a random chance it would draw a bolt of lightning to you or other such effects like planar effects which caused patches of snow or ice to have negative energy effects.
Hell, have a Xixcal (or whatever the fuck it's called) that just randonmly walks around lost in its own storm or just permanetly stuck in a mountain and have a BBEG living on top of it's head or something.
I'm thinking the mountainous regions are like that. Very desolate and rocky, not much food, fresh water or shelter. Probably some old temples scattered around, likely to be a hotbed of mining activity. I'm also considering having a big empty cold-weather desert, similar to the Gobi, although presumably very few people would ever go out there.
Oh, and I think there's a giant peat bog in the extreme south, where the climate becomes more temperate. It's probably filled with wandering undead, and would make a good setting for a generic lich campaign.
I had no idea. That would be a good basis for why towns would spring up in that region.
I've actually come up with quite a few ideas for that region, but I've been reluctant to actually use it for my players. I'd rather focus on the more obviously arctic areas, because that feels like the main hook for the setting and I haven't fleshed it out nearly enough.
But you know, figured I throw that part out there in case it really speaks to someone around here! I'm happy to listen to any ideas, really.
I wish I had the Illustration for it, but in a Swedish RPG there is described a frozen valley where there rests the body of a huge, ancient demon in the ice. Nobody knows if the thing is truly dead, or still alive, waiting to be released from it's icy prison, and the ice seems to thaw a bit for each passing year. Many mystics, holy men and wizards have traveled to the valley, trying to stop the thawing, but none have succeeded yet...
I got some ideas.
>Glacier area. Lot's of ice, with pits and crevasses. They go down very, very deep. All kinds of nasty things live down there.
>Tibet zone. Big abandoned temples atop mountainsides.
>Airships. Zeppelins and stuff would be easy to do. Maybe this is how the more advanced miners transport supplies in. Against the very cold air to the native region, moving the airships would be very easy.
>Frozen civilizations. All kinds of ideas here. Dead and cold cities. Castles buried in the snow. Gulags, Prisons where ancient people sent there most awful prisoners to rot.
There are tribes of Siberian natives that, to this day, exist in a "reindeer culture"; They harness reindeer to pull their little houses which are built on sleds. Imagine an entire village of little huts with stovepipes out the top being pulled along by gigantic reindeer (and they get as big as elk in Siberia). True story. I just couldn't find a pic of them. These people would have wisdom and knowing of the frozen wilderness around them.
>Huge narwhals with metallic horns. They exist under the ice in little societies like aboleth, and communicate with the souls of the dead people.
>Shipwrecks under the ice, holding long buried secrets
>Druidic rituals that take place under the Aurora Borealis
>Preternaturally intelligent dire wolves that protect a long-dead and abandoned city of the giants. They hunt and eat the local taun-taun like creatures that some human tribes use for specialized mounts in the snow.
>Remains of a lost expedition (w/journal) to rescue someone from a legendary necromancer.
>Legendary necromancer is holded-up in a warm underground complex (Skyrim influence here) trying to harness the secrets of long-forgotten dwarven technology. Place is guarded by undead spiders.
>The northernmost areas are like Antarctica
Wouldn't it be more appropriate to say the Northermost areas more like the North pole?
Like, I'm not trying to be a butt, but the north and south pole are very different... The south pole if I remember correctly is a technically a "desert" after all and it's a LOT fucking colder.... also it's almost solid ice with little to no actual ground.....
Underneath the south pole lies a humongous swamp frozen for millions of years- Both the North and the south pole used to be swamp kind of boreal environments before the dinosaurs decided to fuck off.
It's just that the south pole is literally buried underneath a few miles worth of ice.
Actually, I went with Antarctica on purpose. The north pole in this setting is a certain death zone. It's lethally cold, windy, dry and empty. It's the kind of place where idiot barbarians strip down and wander around as a test of strength, and then freeze to death within an hour or two.
Anyway, here's some ideas:
>Cultures and Races/Species
>Northern Tribes of Cyclopes: living in the Hinterlands and the Tundras in small isolated communities; they are a quiet, reclusive, and fair featured culture of one-eyed Giants. They are best known for their astounding metallurgy skills: venturing out into the Tundra to collect Iron from Meteors embedded in the ice to make outlandish weapons of otherworldly quality. They frequently and very willing to trade their skills and crafts for materials, food, and supplies.
>Tundra Orcs: Black blueish hued skinned Orcs with Black hair and quiet solemn dispositions. They are well adapted to the looooong nights and the cold climates, while making a living: herding caribou, hunting mammoths, foraging for roots, berries and edible lichens. The coastal communities fish and hunt seals and whales. All Frost orcs though are Avid raider- by sea or by land they venture outside of their territories armed with Ivory and stone weapons, leather armor, and occasional metal equipment crafted by Cyclopes.
Stuff like this is worth looking into:
The PCs dig up an ancient city from when this place was a tropical forest.
The residents have been eaten by their mad servitors. And they're getting hungry, hombre.
Not that anon, but I recognize it.
It's from Based Don Rosa's The King of Klondike.
You mentioned the gold rush.
Scrooge McDuck was the ultimate badass during the gold rush, I'd encourage my players to follow in those footstep.
No idea, I got it off an imageboard. Here's one more though.
OP's image looks like art for Northern Lights/Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman.
The BBEG is trying to melt/explode the polar icecaps in order to flood the world and allow his evil masters, an ancient race of aquatic creatures to rise again.
I did reverse search, but all I got was anime wallpaper sites
thank you and >>33707552 anyway
So the BBEG would be a complete idiot who would fuck over everyone in exchange for short-term gain that would be immediately devalued because everyone would be fucked over.
Somehow this seems very topical.
I know there are a couple real life stories about people going out into the cold and going insane/missing with no real explanation. Maybe you can do something similar with an abandoned mining facility, which has been hit with a dramatic decrease in temperature the past few years. There can be insane miners, travelers, and cannibals roaming about through the tunnels.
So here's a question, what kinds of ancient, extinct civilizations could live in this area? What were they doing in such a desolate place, how did they manage to establish a successful civilization, and what killed them off?
Since it's 5e, there could be a long-dead Tiefling wizard-king who once established a tyrannical kingdom in the region long ago. Maybe some snow-elves who may or may not be fully extinct.
I remember I had an idea for a crazy-ass setting I made a while ago
in what used to be russia there are these super massive nuclear silos (think hoover dam times 2) and everything around them is antarctic levels of cold
people live in 'radiation slums' built inside the silos because of the warmth from the still-burning nuclear fires
obviously this leads to massive amounts of mutations and sickness, but it's better than freezing to death
the rest of the world is probably too offtopic to mention
Buried in the northern ice are ancient stone chambers which are kept warm and illuminated by enslaved fire elementals. The people inside have managed to survive for eons, but constant exposure to magic from the plane of fire over the course of generations has turned them into strange elemental hybrids. No clue how to turn that into a campaign though.
>but it's better than freezing to death
No it's not.
You should do some study on how radiation illness works.
It cooks you alive from the inside, there are few things in this world worse than it.
It shouldn't be a gold rush so much as a rush for ancient X buried under the ice, technologies, minerals and magics long forgotten to this frozen world. But even the icy grip of death is looser in the dark, deep beneath the earth and ice and strange...things remain, fulfilling purposes long forgotten, seeking what little warmth they can.
Any non-humanoid enemy or non-sapient enemy could and should have remarkable senses in regards to finding heat from how important it would be to a frozen world. Heat is safetyfoodhealthlife.
An idea from a thread with a similar search for ideas was the idea of glacier dwarves, a sub-species of dwarves who adapted to living in the mountains of ice that were glaciers. Specially adapted with high-light vision, incredible enchanting skills for using both the ice and the minerals picked up by the movement of the glacier through land, ridiculously long lived, well adapted to the cold and very...chilly relations with other species.
Even if you don't go with that, I would say to look up how glaciers moving around affected the landscape. Its actually pretty cool stuff.
The glacial dwarves are well known for holding a grudge long past the lifetimes of their enemies. Far too often will a country be ploughed over by a Mobile Oppression Glacier, centuries after everyone but the dwarves in question forgot what caused this to happen in the first place. This has not endeared the glacial dwarves to anyone but they care not. There is little chance for the other races to recompense them for their seemingly random acts of incredibly slow destruction given the unassailable nature of their glacier-homes.
I imagine heat would actually be fairly easy to find, for the creatures native to the region. Just digging down under a mountain would prevent most of the real dangers from extreme cold, and the mountains are filled with natural caves and tunnels. All of which would inevitably lead to an underdark ecosystem if you went deep enough, because D&D.
How about places that aren't out to get you? Cities, towns, enclaves, that kind of thing? How do they keep out the cold and provide food? And more importantly, what kind of fantasy flavor would be appropriate for this kind of setting?
Easymode: Interesting things involving ice and snow
Hardmode: No ice or snow, still arctic themed
Not OP, but i'm working on a campaign based inside the spirit world reflection of northens wastelands, where the only light is from the stars and the dances and hunts of the twins sisters of the aurora borealis, and the memories of ice crystalize forests and beings into reality. The world itself is a large plain of ice, mirror like, surrounded by tall mountains (of ice as well, other materials are very scarces), whose summint and then the void.
I can expand on theses if necessary, but i would like some help with some stuff.
Nearly the end of the campaign, the players are going to the highest peak at the edge of the world, to the Throne of what the locals spirits call the Old King. It's supposed to be the king of this realm, the Father of primordial cold, darkness and enthropy (opposed to the Queen, the mother of fire, light and life, the Sun, that it battled out of the realm). It's not supposed to be evil, more like an elemental force, way beyond them. It may even just a sort of somehow sentient concept. But a giant old man, with blue skin and a long white beard soon pretty underwhelming...
Have you ever read "The Left Hand of Darkness"? Gender issues aside it's an interesting look at a culture that lives permanently in sub-arctic conditions. One thing I thought was really interesting was the idea that their idea of bravery is all about endurance; how much are you willing to suffer, rather than how much you are willing to risk. Everything is so marginal and surviving is so hard that someone who gets themselves killed puts everyone's life at risk. One character comments that an offworld would be considered cowardly for his preference to take riskier shorter paths rather than to endure the longer, safer path if he were one of them.
Frozen polar region? Enormous mountains? Go read At the Mountains of Madness, anon.
OP here, been there and done that. My first (shitty) stab at setting a campaign in this setting had the players venture forth and sort of confront a lovecraft monster. Kind of. Until things fell apart, it's a long story and suffice to say that low-level 4e isn't a great platform for lovecraftian adventure, especially when my players are way more interested in dragons.
It was way too ambitious for a first-time DM anyway.
Unfortunate but understandable. Perhaps there's an ice dragon ruling a kingdom of some sort that is at odds with the gold rush? Or has gotten his claws into it for his own profit?
Perhaps make him an inky blob sitting deep down in a crevice at the top of the mountain. When it talks an icy wind kicks up, spraying snow in the PCs face. If they watch the skies as they get closer the stars will start disappearing one by one until even the brightest light creating spell only throws light out to 5 feet. The Old King does not leave his throne but that does not mean his presence is far felt in his realm. The ice around his thrown cracks from the constant movement of the Old King making it difficult to even get close. When calm his voice is similar to the slow grinding of a glacier or the sigh of an arctic breeze. When angered his voice snaps and cracks like breaking ice and the high whine of gale force winds. The closer they get to the throne the more they feel impeding doom, like something waits just outside their light.
I ended the dragons-and-cthulhu campaign arc abortion already, and I'm happy to start fresh with a new edition. Maybe I'll have them fight ice dragons at some future point. If nothing else, I think they got dragons out of their system.
I really wish there were more drawings that show the effect of the cold on characters,half of these they don't even cover their ears. I lost some skin on my ears from going 6 blocks to the store without a toque one winter.
The villain and villainness have teamed together in a bizarre relationship to transmute lead into gold with the secret of an ancient machine, thus inundating the market and ruining the gold rush! Only a humble cat burglar can stop them!
Not the person you're replying to, but you should look into maybe reading The Terror by Dan Simmons. A fair amount of exposition on the psychological aspects of dealing with almost permanent darkness, cold, and isolation. And there's a monster as well.