Arctic land

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Peregrine, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. Peregrine

    Peregrine Lore Master

    How could an arctic land be used in a fantasy story? I have worldbuilded a region in the northernmost part of my continent where the land is always snow and ice, its similar to Forodwaith.
    The only interesting thing about this land are inuit-like tribes; silver-skinned, ice-breathing "wyverns" and polar bears.
    Because I want to be realistic, there are no trees in this arctic land.

    Since very few people live in a arctic lands (both in reality and fantasy) and my story is from the perspective of humans, what could make the arctic land be involved in the story?
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  2. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Mystagogue

    A place of refuge from ones enemies? Or a place to pass through on the way to refuge or some goal; that is, an obstacle rather than an objective.

    Or there could actually be something important in the frozen wasteland that needs be sought, a person, an object, a place of power.
    Peregrine likes this.
  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Valar Lord

    It wasn't always a Frozen land.... maybe there are artefacts or ruins of lost civilisations?
    If there are few people, use the isolation and loneliness. To those not born to it or suited for it, it might have funny/disturbing effects. The cold, the wind, the endless days and endless nights.
    Peregrine likes this.
  4. Peregrine

    Peregrine Lore Master

    Good propositions, but I can't think of anything.

    If someone came from a warmer land, what would make him end up traveling north in a arctic land?

    If you go to a freezing hellish arctic wasteland there must be a strong reason why you came so far north. Like InsolentLad said, an object, a creature or a place of power.

    If there is no reason/motive than its rather an accident that the character found himself in a arctic wasteland, therefore in that scenario the character would want to get out of this wasteland.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  5. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Dark Lord

    You can't think of anything? I can think of plenty. For example:

    Since you mention Forodwaith, I'm sure you know that King Arvedui fled there after he was defeated in battle where the Lossoth helped him. (It only didn't work out well for him because he didn't listen to their advice.)

    In Lev Grossman's The Magicians, the magician's school had a secluded training facility in the Antarctic where they could be sure no one would notice a bunch of teenagers turning into foxes and whatnot.

    In Lovecraft's The Mountains of Madness, a team of scientists when there to explore and research and ended up stumbling on the ruins of an incredibly ancient civilization.

    In Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series the main character meets a "troll" from the far north (essentially equivalent to the Inuit) and at one point along their quest they go to the troll's home to rest and resupply.

    But really all you have to do is look at our own world. Because people DO go to the arctic. They go for exploration and discovery. Humans have always just wanted to know what's out there and what the world looks like. They go to find resources that can be used. They go to conduct scientific research. And they live as close to the arctic as they possibly can simply because they need somewhere to make their home. There are plenty of reasons. You just have to use your imagination.
    elemtilas, Peregrine and Devor like this.
  6. Ruru

    Ruru Master

    On a much more mundane level, the arctic (and antarctic) of this world at least are a prolific food source around the coastal edges. Other resources are usually hidden far beneath the ice. Layers of ice are great at hiding all manner of things. I just finished re-reading Robin Hobbs Fool's Fate, and half the book is spent on an ice bound island far to the north, where the characters must dig up and/or kill a Dragon.

    Maybe your arctic land is the last remaining source of freshwater in your world? Maybe its not actually polar at all and is a great swath of ice caused by some long ago magical cataclysm and your characters have to learn what caused it? Maybe a thief of an important artifact goes there to try and hide from your protagonist (or flip it: your protagonist steals an artifact of great power and must find a way to hide it from your villain)?

    I'm just spit-balling here :D.

    P.S. when you don't have any trees, the droppings from grass eaters make a good fuel source when dried out XD.
  7. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Grandmaster

    Why did people in real life migrate. Some were fleeing, some hoped their were better areas to prosper and some simply wanted to know what else was in the world. For your story perhaps this location used to has some place or artifact of importance and the people are still looking for it or trying to protect it. It could be they were told to go their by a higher authority.
    Also consider how the people will create shelter and what they will eat for food. You may need to devise an entire food web to establish for yourself how the characters are able to stay alive.
  8. Yora

    Yora Mystagogue

    The real reason medieval and early modern people went far North into very inhospitable regions was resources. A major one being cod. Nutrients in the sea sink to the bottom and are then taken to the poles by ocean currents. Near the poles, the water is so cold that temperatures at the top and bottom are very similar, which allows water from the deep to be taken up to the surface, which carries the nutrients with it. And where that happens you end up with absolutely enormous amounts of fish and the feeding grounds of many whales. Because it's so cold and barren, cod can be air dried without rotting and it makes for an excelent preserved food, especially for sailors around the world.

    Another great resources are pelts. Arctic animals have the warmest pelts and if you want to travel outside during winter (while not doing any hard work) you really need them to stay warm. Another huge business.
  9. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Valar Lord

    I watched a programme yesterday where Arctic dwellers wait for the tide to ebb and then climbed under the sea ice-shelf. They do it to collect clams and mussels from the exposed sea floor. So there is probably a lot more food around than you would think.

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