Friday, 28 January 2011

The Frozen North

I’ve been fascinated by the idea of a ‘fantasy Arctic’ setting for a very long time now, and I’m finally beginning the process of turning into reality with both my new campaign, and my novel, now both intended to be based in this setting. The key vision is of course a Viking longboat sailing through icebergs, but there should be a good deal more to it than just that! I really want to do a ‘Robert E. Howard’ or ‘Clark Ashton Smith’ with this setting, evoking that same sense of grandeur, mixed with horror, adventure, and action. Along with the ‘Eldritch Horror’ that tends to go hand in hand with such a style, and which I want to feature in the setting.

So I need dark, twisted cities well into the ‘decadent’ phase of civilisation, strange cults worshipping dark and sinister gods, and strange sorcery that boils down to ‘that which man is not meant to know; I plan to make magic the equivalent of studying the Necronomicon, with potentially the same consequences. Lots of focus on summoning strange creatures and the like!

As for creating the world itself, I’ve decided to basically do it as I go. For the campaign – now just a week away – I need the Fortress-Town of Imrae, the dungeon underneath it, and perhaps a small map of the local area. Though given that it is essentially barren wasteland, I’m not sure a map of it is necessary! The book will rove over a slightly wider area, and any subsequent books will flesh out the world further. I have a vague idea of what lies in four directions, and in my head the landmass is analogous to Greenland – and yes, this means that the other Arctic lands are in play. (And yes, I know that Clark Ashton Smith’s Hyperborea was essentially set in a Greenland analogy. Some of his most brilliant work – I only hope that I can write half as well as he. A quarter.


  1. For another look at a similar setting, you should check out Moorcock's 'Phoenix in Obsidian.'

  2. Actual arctic explorers and teh surviving records form their efforts are really quite fascinating and could be a good resource to examine for your setting:
    both offer some excellent leads for things to look into...and migellito's excellent suggestion above reminded me of Alan Dean Fosters' Mission to Moulokin and Icerigger as well. Cold, but Fun stuff!