Another important point to remember is that Frostfell is not intended for outsiders. The city is the hub of a network of world domination and a playground for the families of the ruling daughters of Baba Yaga. Heroes are typically seen as part of the world to be dominated or toys on this playground, so travelers would be well advised to spend their time in Frostfell making sure their actions have some direct benefit to someone more important than themselves. As far as the rulers of Frostfell are concerned, utility is the only reason humanity has a place in Frostfell and not the Bone Mill. A clever group of visitors can fit in long enough to do their business and get out—for longer stays in Frostfell almost always end in tragedy.
Arriving on the shores of the island, travelers know they’re in Frostfell the same way they’d find out they’re nearing Baba Yaga’s hut: after sojourning through a winter-shrouded forest of conifers, they suddenly find themselves surrounded by beech trees. These leafless trees aren’t dead, but they might as well be, for there will never be another growing season in Frostfell, and these trees will never bear another leaf. After half a day of ghostly white, the travelers come to a tall wall made of giant femurs, each sharpened and topped with a skull. This is an illusion, or a trick of the eye—as the travelers near, they note that the walls aren’t actual bones, merely bone-white. A looming gate opens onto a breathtaking prospect: a city of whites—ivory, snow-white, and the blue-white of ice palaces and statues. The main thoroughfare winds gently downhill to the edges of tall cliffs, where it turns into a delicate and impossible span connecting to a shimmering, many-faceted palace made entirely of ice. Gatehouse denizens and loiterers are quick to take note of the reaction of visitors to the site; those who stare with jaws agape are obviously new blood— first-time visitors, and easy marks. There is plenty of bustle in Frostfell, and travelers who haven’t heard the stories may make it as far as a few blocks before realizing that they’re walking on a roadway made of human skulls.
While other colors are in evidence throughout the city, the most popular styles of architecture incorporate the heavy use of white, with various pastels employed for accents. Monumental domes are often touched with light pink or green, and the ice structures show bluish-white in the sun. The Merchant’s Quarter is more colorful, with bright signs and awnings, but even here permanent buildings are likely to be more somber, with whitewash, half-timber, or pale granite being the order of the day. Most of the city’s monstrous denizens favor white and gray clothing, the better to blend in with their surroundings. The Jadwiga wear whatever strikes their fancy, though they often prefer pastels in cool colors. Merchants wear ordinary traders’ clothes, but local workers generally dress in drab browns, greens, and other typical peasant colors.
While the color scheme would not seem to allow for much individuality, the Jadwiga and prosperous slaves decorate their wooden dwellings extensively with delicate woodwork, known as locally as “gingerbread,” often involving layer upon layer of different shapes. An observer would be hard pressed to find any but the poorest houses boasting identical trim. Frostfell is home to some of the most skilled woodworkers on Langar (though the land’s eternal winter means they must import much of their wood), and because their apprentices cut their teeth on low-cost projects for the lower-class humans, the city is covered with gingerbreading. Consequently, a house of plain construction is a fashion statement of the boldest sort.
The city west of the Water Palace is riven with numerous streams, fresh from the hot springs and still steaming as they rush toward the cliffs. This district is home to many of the Jadwiga Elvanna and other government functionaries because of its proximity to the Water Palace its. Also crowded onto the islands are some of Frostfell’s heavy industries and foundries which use the rushing waters as motive power for their great wheels and pistons.
The northwest quarter of the city is among the most prosperous, featuring the homes of many Jadwiga, along with those Jadwiga in power who don’t reside in the Royal Palace. The streets are lined with fashionable shops selling a variety of luxury items. The centerpiece of the district is the elite Frosthall Theater, where the great theatrical works of Langar are performed on ice for the Frostfell nobility.
The Howlings district spans the world both inside and outside Frostfell’s walls. In fact, a gap in the wall allows the winter wolves something no other visitor to Frostfell enjoys: unfettered entrance and egress without the inconvenience of guards and customs officials. The winter wolves don’t take too much advantage of the situation, and the amount of smuggling that goes on is manageable—a small price to pay for keeping key allies happy. Furthermore, when Baba Yaga ordered the construction of Frostfell, she crafted a powerful enchantment: in the Howlings, any wolf can walk as a man, the better to deal with the humans of the city. Winter wolves in human form may be noticed by silver or white hair, and sometimes unusually large canines, but otherwise appear fully human.
The intimidating structure known as the Iron Barracks looms above Frostfell’s southeastern wall, and the grim, duty-bound aura of that edifice pervades the entire quarter. Ironside residences tend to be austere and utilitarian, and the decorative touches are fewer than elsewhere in the city. While the Jadwiga residing here tend to be lower in rank and class than those living in Frosthall, they are the backbone of the human ranks of Frostfell’s military and see themselves as the backbone of its culture as well.
The Merchants’ Quarter:Edit
Surrounding the Market Square lies the Merchant’s Quarter, originally set aside to allow merchants a safe place to reside during trading missions. Unlike the rest of the city, the Queen’s monstrous allies are supposed to step lightly here, so as not to scare off the foreign custom that is Frostfell’s lifeblood. While no winter wolf or ice troll would stand still for an insult even here, they are much less likely to pick a fight or order around those humans who get in their way. Most visitors to the city can be found here, and several restaurants and taverns that cater to foreign tastes base themselves in the Quarter.
The Troll Quarter:Edit
Trolls make up a significant portion of Frostfell’s population, and are allotted living space disproportionate to their number. Though only one in 20 residents is an ice troll, the Troll Quarter spreads over slightly more than a tenth of the city, along the southern wall. The ice trolls follow very strict customs and mores to prevent the naturally territorial males from killing each other off. Females run the district, and male trolls are usually given the most physically grueling tasks—the better to sweat out their aggressive impulses. In addition, an ongoing fighting tournament operates in the quarter, designed to allow males to fight out their grudges in the arena rather than the street; the Eyefang Arena is host to nightly ranked fighting, with the rankings used to award housing and other scarce resources, and females tending to prefer high-ranked males for mates.
Frostfell is mostly flat, sloping gently down toward the cliffs. The high points of the city are Observatory Hill and Veskaya Hill, the dual foci of the Twohill district. Around the hills lies a quiet neighborhood characterized by the shops of master woodcrafters and the studios and lofts of visiting scholars.
Frostfell is, in some ways, run by quite a conventional monarchy. There is only one ruler whose word is absolute and whose power is unassailable. However, unlike perhaps every other monarchy on Langar, Frostfell is not a hereditary monarchy. Instead, the monarch is chosen by the witch Baba Yaga who originally founded Frostfell over a thousand years ago. Every century, she returns from her endless wanderings amongst the planes to place a new daughter in charge of Frostfell; the old daughter leaves with Baba Yaga to view the infinite wonders of the multi-verse by her side. Baba Yaga also takes all of her daughter's children (Baba Yaga's grandchildren) with her; this means that every hundred years. there is a complete change of leadership and aristocracy of Frostfell. The grand children of the queen (the great grand children of Baba Yaga) are left behind and are one of the lasting legacies of any previous queen of Frostfell.
Frostfell does not have particularly good relationships with its neighbors. It's relationship with Fedore is rather strained, and while there is a pact of non-violence between the two powers, the reign of the current queen is coming to an end and some wonder how long this truce will last. Many have pointed to a build up of Frostfell's troops paroling its borders as proof that this truce will not last much longer. To the west, the island with which Ponton has been built upon is even more hostile towards Frostfell. The proud just that inhabit Ponton, The City of Courts tend to oppose the harsh and sometimes even cruel treatment of the Frostfelli lower class. Along this distant but turbulent border, the white witches have erected huts much like Baba Yaga's Dancing Hut to ward off trespassers. These huts each contain only a single porcelain doll in the imagine of a crone. Each of these dolls contain the corrupted soul of a stolen child, at night these dolls come alive and hunt any foolish enough to invade Frostfell.
The history of Frostfell as a nation begins in 984 BT - before this, the island that now makes up Frostfell belonged to the Lands of the Linnorm Kings. The winter of 984 BT was particularly cold and harsh, even by the standards of the north. The first warning the men of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings received of Baba Yaga's fell intent was when her armies of cold fey and blue skinned ice trolls rose up from the caves and dead forests of the island. Led by Baba Yaga herself, the queen of witches was all but unstoppable, killing any who resisted her and enslaving the rest. It took her less than a month to claim the lands that she wanted, that would become Frostfell. Strangely enough, almost as soon as she had conquered Frostfell, Baba Yaga seemed to lose interest in it. Instead she installed one of her daughters as the reigning monarch. Shortly afterwards, Baba Yaga returned to her life roaming the myriad planes as her whims desired. After a hundred years, she returned and placed a new daughter in charge of Frostfell. This pattern has repeated itself every century with Baba Yaga returning to place a new daughter on the throne and take the previous monarch with her to travel the planes.
Frostfell is a land dominated by the cold. It sits at the northern most limits of and borders on the edge of the Crown of the World with its subzero waters and glacial sheets forming Frostfell's northern border. Its northern location is not the only reason for its cold climate. Ever since being conquered by Baba Yaga Frostfell has been locked in an eternal winter. This harsh eternal winter gives Frostfell a palpable sense of dread. The second biggest feature of Frostfell is Glacier Lake which takes up a moderate fraction of the area within Frostfell's interior. Two of Frostfell's three largest settlements are built either on its shore or on on of the rivers connected to it,though Frostfell itself is the only one with such a population. The city itself sits on its north eastern shore.
The citizens of Frostfell, like most places, are made up of an eclectic collection of races. However, unlike most city-states, a large portion of those races are fey, troll, giant and lycanthrope-like winter wolves. Even the humans are not “normal” as a large percentage of them are made of humans alien to Langar. The majority of humans in Frostfell come from one of two sources: either they are descended from the Ulfen that were enslaved after the Winter War, or they are distantly descended from one of Frostfell’s previous Queens, and therefore technically are children of Baba Yaga, a being from another plane alien to Langar. These descendants of Baba Yaga are collectively known as Jadwiga, in honor of the first Queen of Frostfell. With very few exceptions, only Jadwiga are placed in positions of power and rule.
The province of Feyfrost is the primary home for the cold fey who assisted with the invasion of Frostfell, but as citizens, they can be encountered throughout the island. The provincial capital of Chillblight may possibly house the largest collection fey in all of Langar. The Frost Giants make their home in and along the boundary of the Whitewall Glacier. Their ancestral home of Holvirgang is the seat of power for all Frostfelli frost giants, but they can be encountered just about anywhere Frostfell military forces are massed. Likewise, Ice Trolls and other varieties of trolls are feared, but equal citizens in Frostfell. They even have a “troll” district where they can be with their own kind to minimize “accidents.”
Lastly, within The Howlings district of Frostfell, Baba Yaga granted winter wolves the ability to assume a single human form. Similar to lycanthropes, most winter wolves in these areas are human by day and winter wolf by night. When in wolf form, they are indistinguishable from normal white wolves which are little more than oversized white-furred worgs. In human form many of them have white or silvery hair. Because it is impossible to tell a normal white wolf from those capable of assuming human form, most individuals give regular wolves some level of respect … just in case.
There are small percentages of dwarves, half-orcs and gnomes mingled throughout the population, but most if not all of these are the same as their human counterparts; descendants of those races who lived in the lands before they were conquered and enslaved and are thus treated the same as other non-Jadwiga. in the last 10 years, Elvanna has been allowing a small opening in trade with other nations, so there has been a slow trickle of additional races and ethnicities, but most of these are not counted or treated the same citizens as most merchants are seen as little more than guests and are expected to behave accordingly.
In a land where every aspect of life is controlled at the whim of a despotic ruler, one would think that religion would be carefully controlled or not tolerated at all. However, the citizens of Frostfell are free to worship any deity of their choice. However, because a large proportion of citizenry are creatures, Celinel is one of the preferred deities. Due to the harsh conditions and the amount of pain inflicted and endured, Rieliah is also a frequent choice. Within the fey and giant communities, deities of their races are worshiped. Even the worship of Kostchtchie, the sworn enemy of Baba Yaga, is tolerated within the frost giant community as long as loyalty to Frostfell is maintained.