Campaign Setting: Icehold
All this week I’m going to be writing about a fantasy ttRPG setting I’m calling Icehold. I’ll give an overview of the main settlement, some notes about resources and trade, local threats, and even adventure seeds.
(Art by Cerafts)
The fortified harbor and trade town of Jokullnaf, also known as Icehold, is the northernmost walled city in the known world. Nestled in Jokull Harbor, it is surrounded by mountains, tundra, hyboreal forests, and ice. No other major settlement exists within hundreds of miles of it, it can only be accessed for a few months a year, it is under constant threat by undead, extreme weather, deathly cold, and monstrous threats of the far north. With the risk and isolation, however, comes a level of political freedom rare in settlements its size.
Icehold exists only because the Drakuul Crusade built the original fortress as they sought to find and destroy the First Vampire, and in those years rich veins of Blue Iron and Firestone were found in the mountains that stretch for hundreds of miles in all directions of it. Holy pilgrimages still bring a few crusaders to its walls every year, but it is the fortune that can be made mining that has maintained the town.
Though positioned far north of any humanoid settlement on its continent, it is also on the continent’s westernmost point, making it an attractive trade port for foreign nations… at least for the few months per year its harbor is not totally iced over. Even the extreme cost of the long travel and paying the high prices locals demand for labor in the harsh clime does not make it unprofitable for merchants to come to the Icehold every year, buying materials outright but also trading magics, foods, preservatives, and clothing to the icelocked settlement.
The local population are a hardy folk, descended from crusaders, the tradesfolk and servants the crusade needed to survive, explorers, and researchers, The population has a large percentage of elf, dwarf, gnome, goblin, human, ogre, orc, and gnimmocs (a gnollish ethnicity adapted to arctic environments). Less common, but noteworthy, are the numbers of halflings, logith (a humanoid species with elemental fire ancestry), lyricera (a tundra-adapted ethnicity of catfolk), and ice trolls (native to the region, predating the establishment of Icehold).
The year-round population of Jokullnaf hovers around 5,000, with another 1,000 or so living in small private settlements (based mostly in caves and defensible valleys). During the summertime Trade Seasons, the popular can almost double, as merchant ships and overland caravans rush to buy as much Blue Steel and Firestone as they can, before the surrounding sea freezes over and the long, winding mountain routes become impassible.
Ruled by a Council of Principals, Jokullnaf sets high value on privacy, individual freedom, and the right to be left alone. While there are laws dictating certain antisocial behaviors are criminal, no sect, ethnicity, ancestry, nationality, religion, or creed is banned or outcast, as long as they play by the rules.
The combination of great personal freedom, vast mining riches, a history of undead-destroying crusades, and access to the coldest places in the world attract a specific kind of person, who is willing to brave all the risks of Icehold’s harsh environment to reap its rewards.
Here’s an index of additional Icehold articles, updated as they are written.
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Posted on May 15, 2023, in Adventure Sketch, Appendix O, Microsetting, System Agnostic and tagged Campaign Pitch, gaming, Geekery, Icehold, Worldbuilding. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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