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Ice Elves of Adri Varma

by Mike Harvey

OK here's a crazy idea. This is a tangent off the other Adri Varma thread. It is not something in my campaign, I just had an idea and this is what I came up with.

Long before the time of Blackmoor, Adri Varma was near the north pole and was covered with a glacial ice cap. Beneath the ice dwelt a race of elves. The ice elves built cities of stone and ice in huge caverns beneath the glaciers, and were masters of ice and water magic.

Beneath the plateau, meltwater created a vast labyrinth of caverns. Exploring this, the elves found warm (geothermal) springs far below and deep clear lakes. Here they build pleasure houses and spas, sailing on the waters in magical crystal boats. The ancestor race of dwarf-gnomes also dwelt here in harmony with the elves. So, the elves acquired lore of the Shadowdeep as well as their ice lore.

The ice elves used their water magic to explore submerged passages far below the plateau, discovering caverns that can only be reached by submarine travel, and eventually reached the sea. Their explorations were checked when they came into conflict with a kingdom of Kopru. Some ice elves, to better fight the kopru and in order to better explore the submarine depths, used magic to adapt themselves to the water. Thus was born the race of tritons, who finally defeated the kopru and drove them from beneath the plateau. Little trace now remains: some carvings, an occasional idol, etc. After these events the elves had split into three distinct cultures: ice elves (surface), water elves (subterranean), and tritons.

Around 5000 BC a burrower entered the caverns beneath the Adri Varma. Most of the water elves in the caverns went insane, slaying each other. The tritons who had escaped to the open sea survived but were unable to return, becoming isolated. A few water elves escaped to the surface and joined the ice elves, who were able with magic to resist the burrower's corrupting influence. The burrower laired in a great subterranean lake, fouling the waters which now cause disease and insanity. It lurks in a thick layer of black slime on the floor of the lake. The waters flow out through caverns, reaching the surface and falling down the bluff to Lake Hast.

During the Blackmoor era, the ice elves knew of Blackmoor and had some knowledge of technology, but preferred to distance themselves from it, and dwelt in peace protected by a mile of ice. The burrower continued to affect them, but instead of turning on each other they developed mental disciplines to control their emotions.

In 3000 BC, there were terrible earthquakes and then life returned to normal. The elves didn't realize it yet, but everything had changed. The ice cap began to melt. The immortals saw what was happening and preserved some of the elves as the Icevale Elves in the hollow world.

As the cities became exposed to the open sky, the sun was blinding and hot. The elves conjured up cool winds and dense fog to shelter their cities. The ice was replaced by green grasses and mosses that thrived in the cool foggy environment. But it was a harsh environment. The land, scoured by ice, was unproductive, and the climate was harsh. The elves adopted the custom of exposing their young. The Ice Elves are developing into the Mist Elves, and the ice elf way of life fades.

Around 2200BC the ice elves came into contact with some of Ilsundal's elves in Glantri. The mist elves help them adapt to the climate and the two groups form an alliance. Around the same time the ice elves come into contact with Taymora. Influenced by Thanatos via the burrower, they shun the Taymorans. Thanatos establishes the Adri Varma as a stronghold against Taymora, and Aztri-Voca an azcan finds his way into the caverns, becoming a lich.

Around 1700BC the elf alliance is now fighting directly with Taymora, unknowingly encouraged by Thanatos. They discover a blackmoor device and try to use it as a weapon, but it backfires creating the broken lands. Many mist elves are safe on their high plateau, they retreat and stay there. Those in glantri flee underground. The mist elves remember their subterranean lore from long ago and teach the glantri elves how to survive. The two groups merge to form the shadow elves. From the mist elves come the practice of exposing infants, the pale complexion and subterranean lore.

On the plateau, the ancient ice elf spell of fog and wind continues. The winter has foggy blizzards, the summer cool foggy drizzle. It is always cold and damp. The land has great rockoutcroppings, mountain ranges carved by glaciers, areas of scraped bedrock, boulder fields, moraine lakes. The elves continue to resist the burrower through mental discipline, but the intense focus isolates them even from each other. The corruption takes the form of reducing them to animalistic, barbaric survival among the cold wet stones and moaning winds; they become loners in the wilderless, losing the habit of speech. Their ancient cities fall to ruins. They avoid everyone, and travelers begin to speak of the "elf ghosts" and "mist spirits" that inahbit the plateau. The elves are touchy and territorial but not cruel, curious yet shy; they may help travelers or kill them, as whim takes them. They instinctively hate and fear the underground, the source of all evil; they will not enter, and they slay anything that emerges from it, including adventurers exploring the ruins. They eat their meat raw, like animals, but play with their prey like cats.

The flaems were attracted to the plateau due to its obvious magical nature and the artifacts it contains, but their fire magic was stymied by the cold water magic of the elves. The whole plateau is like a damper for glantrian magic, Worse, there are shadows in the mist, and those that spend the night dream of brooding darkness and drowning in slime. A few (low level NPCs) go insane within a couple of weeks of this: running off into the mists, descending into dark holes, hurling themselves off precipices, even cutting their own throats. This freakish behavior causes the place to be shunned. Only the most powerful wizards try to discover its secrets, and it is the rare archmage that can build a tower in the forbidding place.

Beneath the plateau it is worse... much worse. The burrower has drawn abominations that dwell in the depths in vast caverns, where they worship Thanatos. There is a city of Ostego, colonies of corrupt Shadow Elves (having turned to Thanatos), and Neh-Thalggu prey on them all. The burrower lives in the black slime at the bottom of a subterranean lake, and the waters that flow from the lake are utterly foul.

The lich Aztri-Voca rules the southern end of the plateau, presiding over a kingdom of undead lizard men. He wants to take over the surface but is prevented by the mist elves.

If the campaign contains outer beings they have little or no presence here, it is the stronghold of Thanatos. Those who die in the cold mists rise as undead after 24 hours. The plateau is home to packs of Yowlers.