Atlas Rules Resources Adventures Stories FAQ Search Links
Icevale Elves Mini Gazetteerby argentmantle from Threshold Magazine issue 9
Icevale Elves Mini Gazetteer
History of the Icevale
On the Surface
More than 2500 years ago, around 1700 BC, Glantrian elves were exploring the Broken Lands. During their explorations, they stumbled across an ancient Blackmoorian device, whether discarded, hidden away, or simply forgotten no one knows. When the device was discovered, through simple accident or curiosity, the device detonated. This poisoned the air and caused a deadly rotting sickness amongst the elven peoples.
Through the Darkness
Driven underground by the wicked rotting sickness, the elven population began a long journey through the tunnels. Some say it was inspired by the immortals, others say that it was a matter of desperation, for the trip through the caverns was harrowing. With each day, the waste of rotting sickness diminished the population of the elders. These elves were too frail to carry on in the subterranean trek or succumbed quickly to the wasting. The youngest elves were poisoned by the same disease and died as their parents looked on, unable to do more than wail at the losses. Those still in the womb at the time of the disaster were twisted and deformed by it, stillborn or worse, being born hideous and broken. In time, even the adults suffered the effects of the wasting disease, the arduous journey, and the simple of attrition of their long march. This strange combination of casualties caused the Icevale population to lose almost all of its adults, children, and elders in a short span.
Story: Tale of the Lonely Elf]
During their wanderings through the deepest places of Mystara a legend has sprung up. There is a tale, a hushed one, whispered in the cruel hours when the floating islands obscure the sun. Our people came across a lone elf, amidst a cavern full of bodies. The rumor that your mother may have told is that the elf was mad from the pain of the loss and was unable or unwilling to be roused to join our ancestors. That tale, my child, is simply not true. .
Our scouts, operating far from the bulk of our people came across a group of elves in the darkest places here. We were happy, we were overjoyed, though they suffered as did we from the hideous sickness. We could take solace in knowing there were more survivors, that the whole of the world did not end. Supplies could be shared, perhaps a feast could be planned, no matter how meager in the place where the sun brightens not.
The survivors ambled toward their kin. Our column of refugees raised the few pendants and banners of our home and marched to the cavern where our brethren had last been seen. The scouts, operating much closer to the main group came across it first. But the whole of the group, elves far too young to see such things, saw it as well. There was nothing that could be done that would not sear those images into their minds.
The whole group, hundreds if not a thousand, all lay withered by the sickness, or their throats cut, bodies hewn, or torn by spell. Sitting in the middle of it all was one lone elf, sorely wounded. He was their king, maddened and spent by the loss around him. While our healers endeavored to tend his wounds, our diviners conjured up what little magic we could muster. In the visions that came, they saw that this one elf had acted with great evil, a twisted sense of compassion. Rather than see his people suffer, the king, had called upon his guards to slay the people, then he in turn slew the guards. He was all that was left of his people.
During our wanderings through Mystara’s greatest depths a legend was borne. It is a tale, whispered in hushed tones during the sinister shadow hours when the floating continents obscure the sun.
Long ago our people encountered, amidst a cavern full of corpses, a lone elf. The myth your mother may have told recounts of an elf mad from grief, and unwilling or unaroused to join our ancestors. That fable, my child, is fiction.
Our scouts, reconnoitering far below, happened upon a party of elves amongst the darkest caverns. We were overjoyed, so few of us surviving, though they suffered as did we from the hideous wasting. We took solace in knowing there were other survivors; and that the whole of the world had not come to end. Provisions and knowledge could be shared. A meager feast transpired, though an impressive banquet in a land where the sun shines not.
After, our column of refugees raised the few remaining pendants and banners of home, marching toward the cavern where our brethren had last been seen. The recovered survivors ambling after their kin. The scouts, now surveying much closer to the main congregation came across it first. But the entire assembly, counting elves far too young to see such things, saw it well. Nothing could take back the images of carnage seared into our minds.
The whole colony, hundreds if not thousands, all lay dead. Bodies hewn, throats cut, or warped by spell. Amongst this massacre sat a sole elf, (mortally/sorely) wounded. He had been their king; now maddened and spent by the loss of his people. While our healers endeavored tend his wounds, our diviners conjured what little magic we could muster. In the visions that followed, they perceived his acts of great evil, and twisted sense of compassion. Rather than see his people suffer, this king had called upon the guards to slay his subjects. Then in turn he slew the guards. The soulless last survivor of his people.
Unable or unwilling to sentence our own kin to death, even in such a dark place at such a dark hour, or perhaps because of it, we scoured the surrounding caverns for remaining supplies and materials. Healers tended his wounds, but then bound the mad elven king, condemning him to the dark.
Afterwards, we took a vow. Never would we end as had our kin. Better to slowly succumb together, our souls intact, than suffer the soullessness of suicide or mass slaughter. Our king relinquished his reign, so none among us would hold power over the rest. Eventually the darkness diminished, and we found ourselves in the land of a red sun.
Tale of the Lonely Elf, Laelithriana reciting a bit of the Icevale Elves’ experience within the dark lands.
In their wisdom the elders recorded what they could on their stony deathbeds. Mortally wounded adults spent their last moments, recording the secrets of their trades or crafts, not wishing their loved ones peace or a blessed future without them. This strange amalgamation of knowledge and the bitter realities of their survival transfigured the Glantrian Elven culture into the culture that grew up in the tunnels.
Under the Eternal Sun
Guided by their immortal patron Wotan, they finally emerged from the darkness and harsh tunnels into flat plains bathed in the light of a crimson sun. The elven survivors, a motley bunch, immediately settled in and recovered after the terrible ordeal. The land was strange and alien, they encountered strange reptiles, creatures akin to the size and appearance of dragons. These creatures fit the descriptions that had been passed down from the most ancient elven traditions, the great and terrible ‘thunder lizards.’ Living near these ancient herds and their predators were men. Simple and savage men from the times before the Blackmoorian cataclysm, the Neathar.
After a brief succor on the plains, the group turned their eyes to the north. They spotted the cold glimmering peaks that their people had left in the chill lands of Glantri. With purpose and a renewed vigor, the elves once again broke camp. This time though, they needed no immortal guidance to spur them on, theirs was a goal finally in sight of their keen elven eyes.
With their remnants of their culture in their hearts, the knowledges of crafts and trades far too complex for mere youths, and the few artifacts and trappings of their country on their back, the elves quickly sauntered through the last few days and weeks of their journey, until finally they arrived at their new home.
In the Icevale
With the trek behind them, Fredar and Fredara, the husband and wife guided the elves on settling the new lands, building homes and making the valleys and peaks their own. Finally, the elves had a land of their own and began the long process of turning the land into their home. The clan of elves has spread out and learned about the mountainous terrain. Once the necessities of survival had been seen to, the young adult elves who had matured far too much along the journey began the process of scribing and recording what they could of their ways, their culture, and their crafts. Collectively, the whole clan breathed a sigh of relief. Their ways and people would carry on. In celebration of this, they turned their memories back to the ancient celebrations of the elves on the surface and did as best they could to emulate the fae feel of such a raucous event.
Ever since, the clan has inhabited the Icevale. For the first few years, the Icevale elves worked diligently in the constant sunshine to build small timber cabins to live in while they carved out the caverns on the sides of the cliffs and slopes. They honed their almost forgotten skills of skiing, hunting, farming, and woodcraft. For a few, it was the first time in their lives that they could remember happiness and home, it was the first time that they could feel the cold raw air of a mountain wilderness. It was the first time they truly had a home.
Celebrations, feasts and dances were common. If there was a holiday they could remember, the Elves of Icevale chose to celebrate it as passionately as they could. Drinking and dancing, singing and storytelling soon became a craft that was as appreciated as much as smithing or leather working.
After several years in their new land, the Hollow World experienced a drought. The people that had inhabited the plains to the south remembered the strange travelers. Thinking these travelers knew of more plentiful game, the Neathar tribes sent hunting parties ranging deep into the mountains. At first the elves were curious. Watching the crude spears bring down game, but soon the desperation of the human tribesmen caused them to over hunt the area.
New Friends and Foes
The elves found this disrespect of nature abhorrent. Yet the clan leaders were unprepared. Of all the things that their ancestors taught them as they lay dying, war was not truly one of those things. Yes, they knew the elven skill with the longbow and sword, but they had no idea how to fight a protracted engagement. The young leaders used the skills they had learned, treating the whole thing as vicious pranks and lightning attacks. The elves used their mastery of the wild and their knowledge of the mountainous climate to wage a guerilla war against the Neathar. They would trigger an avalanche to tear through a camp of the hunters, then strike immediately after the confusion on skis. Eventually, the Neathar, fearing they awoke some vengeful mountain spirits retreated, telling tales that the hunt of game is allowed, but take too much and the mountains will scorn them.
Celebrating the victory, was of course a necessity for the Icevale Elves. It was during the celebrations that one couple, a pair of young elves madly in love, at least for that week, snuck off from the rest of the gathering to become better acquainted. This pair was walking through the snow when they came upon a lump of fur in the snow over a small hole. The lump of fur was a sorely injured mountain wolf, a shewolf who had been injured by the Neathar while hunting for her pups.
Upon their examination, they found that she could barely sit up and struggled to protect her den of pups. The elf couple spoke to the wolf in the language of the old elves, singing to her, calming her, and demonstrating that they meant no harm. After the first day, the couple returned, bringing the wolf a few scraps of raw reindeer meat. Slowly they earned her trust and on the third day, the wolf could sit again on her haunches. They brought more food for the pups and slowly earned the strange lupine kinship that the Elves of Icevale keep today with the wolves that pull their sleds. After that, the elves of course threw a party.
The elves also met the Antalians during these early years in the Hollow World. The Antalians were traveling far from home, when they came upon a cabin that had not been there before. The raiding tradition they were famous for got the better of them and they struck at the elven home. Though violent and sudden, they harbored little brutality and stole steel, gold, winter wine, and furs from the elves living there. Thinking it plentiful loot, the Antalians moved on to the next cabin, but found it strangely deserted.
In the snowy peaks, the elves made ready to push these new invaders out of their homes. Striking with sleds drawn by wolves, sniping with arrows along rime covered tree lines, and using the land for trap and ambush, the Antalians retreated. Oddly, the next year the Antalians returned, this time under a flag of truce. They brought with them trade goods, strange furs, exotic spices, smoked fish, sea shells, and things that elves were lacking. In return, under a cautious eye, the elves invited these strangers into their homes and soon built up a respect for their neighbors. In fact, the elves threw a magnificent party to celebrate the victory against the raiders the previous year and their new friends they found in the Antalian traders. Of course, a few seasons later the Antalians would start the cycle all over again.
Far stranger than the raiding Antalians is the first meetings that the elves had with the Beastmen. Whatever the events that transpired, the elves and Beastmen have taken turn attacking, defending, surrendering and trading with strange ebbs and flows that are as wild as Beastmen bloodlines. From these northerly neighbors, the elves trade steel and smithed items for materials, raid for it the next, have it all stolen back a couple years down the road, and then settle it all with odd diplomacy. Of course to celebrate their Beastmen friends, trade, or victory the elves planned feasts and festivities to commemorate the date.
The Krugel Horde
Only three times in the course of fifteen centuries have the Elves of Icevale come in contact with Krugel Horde. Every battle has been bloody, the fighting fierce and the orcs pushed out of their lands. The animosity between elf and orc is the stuff legends are spawned from and the meetings between these two members of their respective races has been the same. The Krugel orcs strike with their thundering cavalry, destroying and killing elves as they go. In time the elves mount vicious ambushes and terrific traps and force the orcs away from their homeland. The elves follow the orcs back to their lands, harrying the orcs and in turn being driven out by the response of the Krugel Horde. Few things will anger the elves more so than an orc, Krugel or other, on the sacred soil of their mountains.
Reign of Rimebite
A century or so ago, during the cold summer nights and colder winter nights on the frosty slopes of the Icevale Mountains, there was concocted a plan both terrible and heinous. An Icevale Elf had been cast out from their community when just but a babe. It was the beginning of just a few unlucky coincidences that led to a year of terror among the rest of the Icevale. The babe was found on the slopes by of all things a rather matronly white dragon. Now, not the most intelligent nor compassionate of the dragons, this old motherly sort was not about to abandon a babe on the slopes. Whatever her name was, it matters little to the tale.
The dragon raised this twisted elf, a club foot, black hair, with pocked skin, and loved him like only a mother could. In time, a century or so, the even now nameless elf child, learned cruelty and hatred weaned from the poisoning tales of a very cunning white dragon. So venomous were her tales that she raised him to hate the elves. In time, he grew powerful as a wizard, for as a warrior he was too twisted by his birth to master. With his power, he slew his adoptive mother when one of her children had returned. He took the time and power to subdue that fell wyrm. A white dragon by the name of Rimebite. With a dragon under his control, this nameless elf soon rallied a few packs of winter wolves and tribes of frost giants of Kulear to his cause. His cause? It was simply to rule the people who cast him out.
With the fierceness of someone with little to lose, the nameless elven outcast soon began to lead his strong force against the Elves of Icevale. Striking from the cold wintery snowstorms, the group of giants and wolves would raze settlements that would not capitulate, and enslaved the ones that did. It was soon apparent that village after village would fall against these cold-hearted villains. The elves tried their tactics, but found that the cold weather and rugged terrain did not hamper the wolves, giants, or the dragon any more so then it slowed them. They found that nothing they did could stop the powerful army of creatures arrayed against them until one young elven warrior, Heshalon, found the courage and means to stop them.
He rallied the demoralized elves and setup the first military that the elves had seen since they had come to the land of the Eternal Sun. In rank and file, they met the giants and wolves. Reindeer used as cavalry, sleds were wielded as chariots, and turned the natural magicks of the elves against them in full fury. Striking on skis and dancing away the elves turned the tide. It wasn’t until the final battle, when the unnamed elf and his frosty mount were slain was the threat to the Icevale finally over. It would be a grand reason to celebrate if Heshalon had slain the beast and rider in mortal combat, but the elven leader was slain trying that. It was an unlikely thing, a timid hero, an elven woman of slight stature but keen mind that slew the white dragon and its rider, casting upon him spell after spell, and weathering the frosty breath in a winter wolf pelt cloak. She stepped in when Heshalon was slain, not to rally the army in disarray, but simply protect her dying brother. With the threat to their homeland, nation, and people vanquished, the elves of Icevale began a celebration that lasted a week with a great feast, dances, drinking, and singing.
The most recent years have passed relatively peaceably for the elves. The Antalians and Beastmen trade some seasons, raid the next, and life in mountainous land continues as it has for centuries.
Sidenote: Immortal Grudge
One of the most vicious things that the Icevale Elves may be responsible for is their own oppression at the hands of Rimebite and the nameless elf. Some of the priests of Wotan have seen that this was caused by the meddling of another immortal. If this is true, what immortal has a vested interest in causing them such harm? Unknown to most of the Icevale Elves is the legend of the Lonely Elf is true and they had stumbled upon Atziann in the dark tunnels. If so, Atzanteotl may hold a personal vendetta against them.
People of the Icevale
The people inhabiting the Icevale region of the Hollow World are the elves who bear the same name. These elves are a blond, pale skinned, race descended from the Glantrian clan that once lived in the frosty peaks of that region on the surface world. They migrated through the tunnels that snake through the bowels of Mystara. They are surprisingly strong and healthy for elves. Some have likened their fitness to that of the dwarves of Kogolor, but that would be a tall tale. The average Icevale elf is well-built, not the slight slender frame normally found on the elves. The very active lifestyle of the elves and high altitude also help the elves develop their hearty constitutions.
The Elves of Icevale are a merry sort, celebrating and feasting whenever they get together. This culture of merriment is one of the ways that they forget the nightmares of their past and the price they still pay for it today. To keep their people strong and healthy, the Elves of Icevale have made the cultural decision to cull the sickly and twisted infants born as a legacy of the Rotting Disease they bore out of Glantri. These grotesque mockeries of elves are called the ‘Silent’, a nod to the fact that they would have been better off stillborn. Of course with this in mind, the celebrations also helps them forget the many children who are stillborn, coming out of the womb but never drawing a breath. This is part of the burden that they still bear for the sins of their ancestors.
Another survival trait that has become part of the culture, is that the infirm or elderly will leave the communities they are part of. They will gather their friends and family together, disseminate tales and farewells, and pass on whatever knowledge they carry to the ones staying behind. With this ‘going away’ party, the elves will revel in the life of the soon to leave, enjoying a celebration of joy to remember them with. Once the party or feast is complete, the guest of honor will leave the community and enjoy the solitude and peace of the world before passing.
The Elves of Icevale are truly omnivorous. The high cold mountains make agrarian pursuits challenging to say the least. As such, a large part of their diet is formed of meats, cheeses, freshwater fish, dried fruits, berries, nuts, and a few strapping examples of root vegetables that eek out their existence on the mountain slopes. Having lived for more than five decades underground, the society does know how to cultivate mushrooms and fungi to augment the crops. And then there is honey. This summer time treat is used to sweeten things and make a form of mead that is fermented with mushrooms and mountain berries. This drink is truly potent, besides being alcoholic it has more than a little hallucinogenic property to it. Now, back to the honey, even if the elves are on the hunt, they may stop at a beehive for awhile. The elves will gather around a few combs and share a laugh or two, celebrate the bounty of nature, and then pack up a few combs for the rest of the community and get back to business.
The average Icevale elf wears leathers made from reindeer they herd and the beasts they hunt. These garments are by no means clumsy or crude, as the elves have practiced their craft for generations. The trousers and jackets are fur lined whenever possible, sometimes they add more exotic linings like silk, flannel, or wool when it can be acquired. Cloaks and overcoats are either made from furs or lined with them, keeping off the vicious wintery air. The boots worn by the elves are hardened and formed leather, sometimes with steel for solid traction on the loose rock and stone, all while keeping the feet warm and dry. When the time arises, the leathers are augmented with heavier pieces of armor ranging from stiffened bear leathers to suits of elven chain.
Society of the Icevale
Unlike the idea of a nation of hunters and furriers, the elves of Icevale aren’t nomadic. They are an advanced steel using society that uses steel tipped arrows and spears, iron traps, and leather snares to assist with whatever task is at hand. The idea is that just because something is made of steel doesn’t mean it is better. The Icevale elves are practical and as such, they use the best, not the flashiest.
Like other elves on the surface world, the Icevale elves have a leadership structure governed by their elders. These elders are revered until they decide to leave their place of governance and walk into the mountains. Strangely, even the most revered and respected Icevale Elder would be considered an immature adult on the surface. This has a lot to do with the fact that the culture was founded in the Hollow World by the memories of the survivors of the trek through the tunnels and most of these were adolescents or young adults.
This means that the Icevale society is one of constant youth. Not perpetual or eternal youth, but one where the culture does not know how to mature beyond its current state. They are curious, fiercely individual, and very willing and able to learn. This is tempered with the awkward price that they pay for this immaturity.
Elves of the Icevale have learned to find joy, beauty, and pleasure in all sorts of activities from sports to singing. This is in part to ward off the boredom that passing centuries can weigh on an elf’s mind, but it is also a cultural tradition that sprung up in the dark caverns. Because of the tragic history, Icevale elves do have a more rapid pace than most elves. They try to cram much into shorter periods of time, in comparison to other elves, to strive to maintain a balance between relaxation and tedium.
The tests of survival from just getting to the Hollow World though have created a society that is knit together on every level. Religion, magic, marriage, child rearing, hunting, crafting, and every other aspect is geared to the future of the race. This makes the other aspects of an elf’s life immensely valuable as expressions of the individual elf’s personal freedom and individual natures. The style of clothing, dancing, singing, cooking, and individual customizations all are immensely personal. What this has done is actually an amazing aspect of the Icevale community.
Considering that their population had been decimated by the disease and flight from the surface, the value of an individual elf became so high, their companionship so valued, and the their elven spirit so important, that protecting all individuals became a paramount concern. In turn, this created a strong drive to preserve the culture and people as a whole. Even though they are all fiercely independent, they value others’ worth to be something that brings them joy and would not want to diminish their own merriment.
Even the Icevale pranks are a sign of their strange cultural immaturity. The elves are actually practicing military maneuvers against the butt of the joke but are willing to simply laugh it aside. It’s a strange game of ‘play war’ where if no one gets hurt (severely) or killed, the elves will invite the travelers for a feast or celebration. This also means they are constantly honing their arts of hunting, ambush, and wintery travel, all skills they need for survival in their alpine homes.
The Icevale Elves try to practice simple laws and rules that are easy to understand. Clan leaders and towns make the decisions that govern and arbitrate their peoples, but there are times when the elves need a single ruler. For this they turn to the original clan of Icevale elves, the clan that all the others are descended from. This ‘Icevale’ family provides leadership in times of conflict or when a decision is necessary for the whole nation. They are advised by a council of elders from the rest of the clans, but the decision they make is final and solely their own.
The elves of Icevale are divided up into large groups of families, commonly referred to as clans. Like their Glantrian ancestors, the diversity of such clans is large enough to keep the race from suffering from inbreeding. In the years following the Glantrian accident, the elves took careful notes of bloodlines, not in an effort to keep them pure but, in an effort to keep them from interbreeding. The bloodlines of the Icevale elves are scattered across the mountains but still are more prevalent in the lands of their ‘clan’.
In matters of law and governance, the clans rule over their own for most day to day activities. For more important rulings, say that affect an entire region, the clans involved will meet and send a representative. Each of the clans provide a respected elder to the group and are careful to always maintain an odd number of participants without the ability to abstain. This insures that there is not a tie vote and matters are decided instead of lingering forever. For matters involving the whole of the nation, the clans each send an elder to advise the king or queen on the views of their peoples.
The Icevale Clan are the original clan of elves that migrated so long ago to the Hollow World. The members of this clan have actually dwindled, with only the eldest of a family being allowed to keep the name originally. This promoted the growth of the younger clans to help diversify and expand the battered population of Elven youth into a full nation.
The Argentmantle Clan is the clan that is now most famed for the number of wizardly elves it produces in the Hollow World. It carries a higher percentage of wizards than every other clan. The elves of this clan are also expert furriers, hunting game across the mountainous peaks and into the valleys below. They have a tendency toward solitary existence, wandering the woods between towns, trapping and hunting down animals for their coats.
The Silverstreak Clan are the farmers and herders of the region. These elven families hate to be simply referred to as farmers since their craft is far more intense than planting a row of crops. They quest across the highland pastures tending their herds of sheep, reindeer, and protecting them from the wild predators of the region. They get their clan name from the wolves that have been adopted into their work as herd tending animals.
The Steelarm Clan is the clan most associated with mining and ironworking. Their population is clustered around the rich ores of steel, silver, and other metals near Tuathar. They also produce a limited number of suits of fine elven chain each year, gifting it to the other clans and to the royal family. Their expertise also includes the fine manipulations of forging as well. A surprising amount of skill, subtlety, and delicacy goes into their craft.
The Pinedancers Clan members are an anathema to what most people think of as elves. These are the loggers and builders of the Icevale elves. They have a reverence for the land and plants, like all elves, but believe that tending the forests are part of the natural cycle. Their carvings and bows are works of function combined with beauty. In addition, they have a nearly supernatural gift with herbs and concoctions, using their woodcraft to create poultices, salves, and oils to heal wounds, cure infirmaries, or poison a particularly deadly foe.
The Frostwalker Clan came about as the scouts of the original group of migrant elves formed their own clan after they had established their new home. These hearty members range far and wide across the lands of the Icevale. Originally, they kept their eyes and ears open, constantly scouting for new threats and bringing news between communities. As the centuries progressed this tradition continues, but they have added a new skill to their repertoire. Oddly, they are the most powerful trading party amongst the elves, venturing so far as the Antalians to the west, Neathar to the south, and Beastmen to the north. They travel in small caravans between communities, trading goods.
Beneath the clans are the families. Basically, a grouping of everyone related by a three generational spread. In these groups, the elders give advise to the younger members of the family but live with the idea that the youth will make their own decisions, mistakes, and successes. Each family passes their skills and traditions internally, but will often ‘trade’ the training of a younger member who is disinterested in a family skill for one from another family or even clan. This helps to create strong relationships with the neighboring families.
The Icevale Elves are a barter based economy. They do accept coins from outsiders but not always at the face value of them. An elf may take it as a lump of precious metal that might be valuable to trade. In the event of very large transactions, the elves will use an oral contract and then arrange the logistics of the trade later.
In times of hardship, the elves adopt a more socialistic approach, sharing resources so that as many as possible will live better. Sometimes the favor can be returned, sometimes not. This is actually a source of the hospitality of the Icevale Elves. If they come across travelers in need, they may very well lead a deer to the group or leave some food to strengthen them. Of course, the pranks may happen beforehand, but the elves enjoy good sports.
Geography of the Icevale
The Icevale is an alpine land. The high peaks of the mountains are covered with snow. In fact, more snow falls on these points than melts during a year. Below the highest peaks these towering mountains have a ring of shale and stone, often bare or with just a hint of plants that cling to the surface. This area of terrain extends from the bottom of snowy caps to the treeline. About half the mountain is covered in usable forest or pastures, the other half in bare rock, snow or ice fields, frigid mountain lakes, or lichen fields. The descent into the pine covered trees that make up most of the forests on the mountainside is broken up by a pasture or two. Between the mountains are the valleys. These provide another tract of arable land that the natives graze their reindeer and plant a few hearty crops.
The weather of the Icevale is common amongst the other mountainous areas of the world, both Known and Hollow. The sun shines brightly some days, nearer to the heavens than few other places. Yet, the place is cold and with a sort of emptiness to the air. During the summer, some of the snow melts filling arboreal lakes and streams, eventually becoming rivers below. The area is wracked by cold storms though. These range from the daily gentle snow storms in the winter to terrific blizzards. During the warmer months, the area sees a goodly amount of rain to keep the game and plants plentiful even in times of drought.
Dominating the mountains of the Icevale is Mount Svelthys. This inactive volcano towers above the surrounding peaks like a giant among gnomes. The heart of fire and magma has long been asleep, but every decade or so, it shakes and belches soot and smoke to the heavens. The volcano has become a natural place that elven elders seek out at the end of their days. Of course, the impetuousness of youth also calls many elves to the mountain to explore. Climbing the slope of the mountain is difficult as the last eruption, long before the elves, sheared off the southern and western part of the top. This has created a treacherous ascent in the best of conditions. Considering the tendency for nasty weather at the top of the world’s peaks, this makes Svelthys an almost suicidal climb. According to some legends, Rimebite’s corpse, and the corpse of his rider was tossed into the fiery pit at the heart of the mountain. If so, the fire dwarves rumored to live within must have been a bit worried when he fell into the pit.
Not far to the west of the Icevale is the Mid World Gate, this pass connects the frigid north to the Azcan plains below. The moutains are easily crossable here after ascending the plateau on either side. The volcano Gatterfang stands like a lone sentinel over the pass, the last part of Icevale range. This volcano shows none of the signs of life that Svelthys does.
Not far from the mountains that the Icevale call home, is a quiet little pasture called Aifar, a giant man shaped few standing stones and rocky lumps break up the green fields nestled in the coniferous forest. Its hard to believe that one of the fiercest battles against the Nameless’ horde and Heshalon’s newly formed military occurred here. Heshalon’s sister, Laelilathra led a force of elves here to stop the depredations of the giants and the winter wolves that were threatening her people. The Battle of Aifar turned into a massacre, only the sorceries wielded by the elves held the giants back, and only when they used their most powerful magics. If one looks closely at the lichen covered stones, they can make out the features of a man carved into the rocks. If someone studies the rocky outcroppings, they can see the fine details of a wolf mid stride, frozen in stone.
Beyond Aifar, halfway to the Antalian coast to the west is a village similar to the Antalian ones not too far away, if not for the sheer size. This village, named Kulear is the home to a powerful frost giant chieftain, a jarl, who commands the giants like chiefs command lesser men. This settlement is composed of a massive wooden palisade and wooden long houses all centered around a great mead hall in the center. In it are no less than seventeen adult male frost giants, fifteen females, and twenty-two young. The culture of these frost giants is an imitation of the Anatalians further to the west. In fact, the frost giants here have even gone so far as to try and raid the Icevale Elves and then strike up trade with them. So far, this has not met with much success, though the elves are warming to the endeavors.
Communities of the Icevale
(One of the interesting pieces of material is the fact that original map listed Argandir as a ruined city, however, in the PWA1010, it is listed as the largest city of the elves.)
Argandir is the capital of the Icevale elves. This walled wooden city is located deep within the mountains on one of the slopes of Mount Argan. It is home to over five thousand elves living in the protective pine forest all around them. This city swells to over ten thousand during times of festivals and gatherings. With the great feasts and celebrations that are part of the Icevale Elves culture, it is no strange thought that the largest city is home to the biggest.
Avair is a typical Icevale Elven community. Built with great care and respect to the natural surroundings, this city is located along a large stream in the middle of a deciduous glen. The town is home to a few of the greatest thinkers (and pranksters) of the nation and seems to birth more wizards than the rest of the nation combined.
Goidec is the first stop on the Antalian trading route or raiding plan. This large elven city is protected by thick timber walls that are reinforced with glacial ice. Located on the upward rise above the plains they can also spot large groups of Beastmen before they can reach Llyr. This town is the primary trading post for many of the elves who range to the north.
Gotlund is located closest to the Midworld Gate and the forests to the south. Many furriers and hunters come to this town to trade after a season. Of the Icevale communities it is almost less reminiscent of an elven town and far more similar to human trading post. The buildings house more than three hundred elves year round but these numbers can swell.
Llyr is an oddly deceptive town. There is but one entrance into a large network of caverns that the elves have moved into. Here, it is strange to see the woodland subtlety of the elves built into the rock walls, but everywhere is it present. Llyr is located in a valley that is often the first place that Beastmen traders, or raiders (depending on the mood) visit. Llyr is home to nearly six hundred elves, many of whom are shrewd traders and capable warriors.
Mag is a city left in ruins by the vicious fighting against the nameless elf in the past few centuries. Even today, there are still the broken ruins of buildings and moldering pieces of the palisades that lay about. The town has been rebuilt in the center, but is only home to about two-hundred elves.
Tuathar is located nearest to the volcano Svelthys. This is the primary smelting and mining town in the Icevale. The elves here practice their trades of smithing for hours at a time, taking great joy in the goods they produce. The metalwork of an elven craftsman from Tuathar is said to be equal to that of a dwarven smith, luckily there are few dwarves in the area to argue this matter.
Military of the Icevale
The last couple centuries in the Hollow World have seen the rise of a martial tone in the nature of the Icevale Elves. This has led to the semi-formal creation of regional defenders, a militia, so-to-speak. The territory is divided into ten regions and in turn each of those regions plays host to ten squadrons. This puts nearly thirty five hundred of the Icevale’s population under arms at any one point. The military is strong considering its small size, which has been deemed large enough to hold out long enough to mobilize perhaps ten times that number if the situation is truly dire. Though nominally equipped with swords, spears, longbows, and chain mail, many of the soldiers make use of their own weapons and armor.
The tactics employed by the elves are harrying in nature. They strike using natural terrain features and creatures as much as possible. Avalanches, rock slides, angry predators, traps, and natural barriers to strike quickly and then fade away. The elves also make use of their superior mobility in the mountainous terrain, skis, snowshoes, and sleds are as commonplace as swords.
Skiing, Reindeer Cavalry, and Snowshoes
The Elves of the Icevale live in an area that can be very dangerous to the unprepared. This danger is magnified if the elven military is making the terrain work against an opponent. The elves will wear white cloaks, or camouflaged with magic as their outer world kin, and trackless move across the snow to strike from ambush. In a wintery campaign, few demihumans or humanoids can match their fleetness. This is made possible by the use of many winter accoutrements.
Elven cavalry rides on the back of the strongest reindeer of the domestic local herds. These animals are able to navigate the poor conditions and are hearty enough to survive trekking through the mountains on military missions. More than a few lines of reindeer have been bred to haul especially heavy loads for trade and to haul cargo. If the need arises, it is not unheard of for the elves to harness these animals to pull three person ski chariots. A driver will control the beasts as they pull the chariot sled, while the other two will use spears and bows to whittle down their opponents. These light war machines harry an opponent’s flanks and cavalry, tying them up with surprise attacks and quick withdrawals.
The elves make use of snowshoes and skis in their daily lives. Using them to cross otherwise exhausting terrain with haste. In a military use, this makes most of the Icevale’s infantry as fast on snow as the opponents cavalry is on good ground. This allows the elves to pick and choose their battles, engaging the enemy on terms that allow their tactics of hit and fade to work for them.
Table 1: New Equipment
No penalty for regular movement on snow
4 pounds or 40 cn
Allows ‘running’ movement rates on snow
8 pounds or 80 cn
Magic of the Icevale Elves
The elves of the Icevale are not as apt to practice magic as their surface world cousins. However, they make up for this lack magical ability by focusing on elemental magic. Their magic is less subtle than some forms, but embraces the elven traditions of living in tune with nature. Icevale Elven magic is includes other types of magic but favors the elemental forms. These are all enhancing abilities for a wizard’s survival in the frozen lands.
Tree of Frost
A Tree of Frost is the most holy relic of the Icevale Elves. Like their surface world cousins, they use this to create powerful magic items. The frostbrand sword, the icelances, oils of cold resistance, and of course the hoarships.
Like the surface world’s trees of life, the Trees of Frost are large trees that have sylvan intelligence to them. These arboreal wonders are always coniferous in nature, with brilliant blue green needles that are always frosted and cool to the touch.
An Icevale elven Clanmaster, Icevale elven Treekeeper, and many aids will make use of the Tree of Frost to create magical artifacts.
The Treekeeper will draw a single ounce of sap from the Tree each month, distilling it down to a single bluish drop of liquid cold. The process of a year’s worth of distillation only creates a single ounce of the liquid. Over time, the Treekeeper, Clanmaster, and the aides guide the tree by pruning off branches and needles. These are saved for uses in crafting the magical items noted below.
[Sidenote: Adventure Note]
The Tree of Frost at the town of Mag has been missing since its ruination. No one is sure of its whereabouts and finding it would provide friendship with the Elves of Icevale for generations to come. Naturally, along with this friendship this would include an amazing feast and celebration beyond the other more material rewards.
Oil of Frost
This bluish liquid is constantly cold. The Treekeeper will take the distilled oil from the tree and drop it into a small globe of water. The magic of the oil freezes the water around the oil in a flask of unmeltable ice. The flask weighs just 5 cns or a half pound. When broken and applied, this oil grants immunity to cold and fire for 3 turns (30 minutes). This process uses a 1/12th of an ounce of the oil (i.e. 1 month’s worth.)
These elven swords are forged of silver and steel by the Clanmaster and his aids. The Treekeeper will tend a forge made by the burning of the needles and branches gathered from the Tree of Frost that it will melt the alloy allowing a sword to be forged. The sword is tempered in no less than a half gallon of the precious oil, sixty four ounces.
This counts as a sword +3 of extinguishing. In addition, it glows at temperatures below freezing. While it is glowing it adds the extra talent of slowing.
Ice Lances are crafted from the branches of the Tree of Frost and then soaked in a half gallon of the precious Oil of Frost. They must be fitted with a spear head fashioned by the Clanmaster from a shard of ice.
This counts as a +3 spear of slowing. When the temperature falls below freezing the spear always inflicts maximum damage against living creatures.
To build a hoarboat, the Clanmaster and Treekeeper must fashion it using the branches from the tree, collected for a century as the planks. The needles are woven together to lash the boat together. Finally, when this is done, a centuries worth of the oil is spread across the hull on the coldest night of the year.
The hoarship is then complete, able to fly through the air at 360' per turn with perfect maneuverability as long as the temperature remains below freezing. If exposed to temperatures above 80 degrees, the boat immediately starts to melt. After a turn at the temperatures above 80 degrees, it is reduced to inert wood and water.
http://pandius.com/hw-northern-iciria-40.png, Northern Iciria 1000 AC (by Thorfinn Tait)]
Hollow World Boxed Set
AC1010 Poor Wizard’s Almanac & Book of Facts