Little is known by the rest of Oortesia of how they came to be, of what magic it was that coaxed their life spark from the sullen and desolate churning of the Northernmost seas, but it has been postulated by scholars that it is the motion of the waves themselves, and creaks of the ice that bring the Ice Nymphs, daughters of the submerged Northern Icebergs, into physical life.
Ice-Nymphs are amphibious creatures. While they reside and lead their lives in Ice-Citadels on the Frozen Northlands, they do indeed return to the waters of their birthing for a number of purposes, the first of which is to breed with sharks. This can occur at any time of year, whenever an individual Ice Nymph is in heat. An Ice Nymph’s average life span is about fifty years.
Upon the first full moon following every Summer Solstice, the Ice Nymphs will descend collectively into the waters to collect and nurture Quque'uhuait's lifeseed (see Religion/Spirituality) from the bottom of the glaciers. This lifeseed becomes the next generation of Nymphs. Similarly, that their breed may continue, every year upon the first full moon following the Winter Solstice, they will collectively walk across the frozen ocean to deposit their fallen sisters upon the tops of the same glaciers that are their circle of life.
The Ice Nymphs are governed by a select Sisterhood, chosen by way of age-old tradition. A new Sisterhood will come into power every twenty years on the day of the Winter Solstice, coinciding with the Solstice ritual of returning the dead to the glaciers. At the end of the year of Crowning, before the next Winter Solstice, the Ice Nymph that has borne the largest litter of children will be appointed Guardian of the Throne, and her daughters will form the next Sisterhood in twenty years’ time. A Guardian of the Throne’s duties will be to act as advisor to the current Sisterhood, and ensure that they think not simply of that which will occur during their own reign, but also consider the long-term welfare of the people.
They are all female; tall, statuesque, fair, and warlike. Their skin ranges from rough, scaly and fishlike to soft and gentle, like a flower’s petals. Though humanoid in shape, little else about them can be likened to conventional sentient life. Their internal biology is complex and efficient, rather like that of a human, but with an entirely different temperature scale. Their body temperature ranges from slightly below zero to as low as minus sixty, and an Ice Nymph’s position on this scale will also determine a number of other factors: physical makeup, social standing, and magical prowess.
Those of lower body temperature will have distinctly brutish, Charcharian features, such as hunched backs and broad shoulders, or a vicious array of teeth and powerful torsos. This is usually the result of a strong male breeding partner. Warriors are chosen for their low body temperature, for they will be physically fit and resilient. Those with an extremely low body temperature, called Kze'ou (Zee-OO), are widely respected as heroes, and the finest pick of the Kze’ou are chosen to be the Sisterhood’s elite Kze’ou Guard.
Most of those closer to the freezing point are willowy and beautiful, intelligent, proud, quiet, quick to anger, and possessive of great magic. They will also be the most sexually virile, and carry a minimal amount of genes from their sea-dwelling fathers.
All of those that find themselves somewhere in between will most likely serve a menial, yet necessary societal function, be it manual labor, craftsmanship, teaching, or any number of jobs.
Where matters of the spirit are concerned, the Ice Nymphs give no recognition to the predominant religion of Yarelaeism that is so proliferate throughout the rest of the continent. In governing, and allowing themselves to be governed by, the icy currents of the Sea, they hold great respect for the God they call Quque'uhuait (koo-KWAY-oo-WAYT), a deity believed to have spawned the element water itself while locked in titanic struggle with the planet's core, Goalheim (Goo-al-HEY-em).
The higher the body temperature of an Ice Nymph, the stronger its magic will be, but the weaker its body will be. The Ice Nymph has a form of metaphysical bond to the melting point of ice; the closer an Ice Nymph's body temperature gets to the melting point of ice, the closer it will be to the guiding spirit of the water god Quque'uhuait, and the further away it will be from its physical form. Those Ice Nymphs that are dangerously close to zero in body temperature, called Kze'uhuait (Zee-oo-WAYT), will be almost intangible as physical beings, fleeting and amorphous. Such powerful mages are exalted within the Ice Nymph community for their closeness to Quque'uhuait, and their unparalleled wisdom. As long as they can remain alive, these magically supercharged Ice Nymphs can be dangerous foes indeed, but they require constant attention to their physical health and nourishment, lest they vanish completely.
Ice Nymph magical craft is completely centered in the mind as a vessel of divine power. Ice Nymph magicians channel the wisdom and power of Quque'uhait through deep meditation, which puts them in control of a great creative and cyclic life force, and allows them to see and understand the infinite nature of life and death, and release their fear, becoming infinite within themselves. When in such a state of peace, a Kze’uhuait can heal almost any wound, restore limbs, heal the worst emotional pain, communicate with any being telepathically, slow time, and, if their body temperature is almost at the Zero Point of total connection with the water god, and total sacrifice of the physical, a Quque'uhait mage might even bring back the dead. The higher the body temperature, the greater the feat that can be undertaken.
There is a subversive movement of what you might call "black magic" within the Ice Kingdom. Its practitioners are known as the Goalheim Heretics, and they are hunted throughout the Ice Kingdom and the Frozen Plains by the Queen’s elite Kze’ou Guard. This magic involves opening one’s mind up as a vessel not for Quque'uhait, but for Goalheim, and channeling the destructive, chaotic and deviant magic of the planet’s core. Many things are possible through a meditation in praise of Goalheim, but none of them are very nice. A Goalheim Heretic of low body temperature might, for instance, be capable of making your skin bubble and melt, or summoning a small fire elemental. A Goalheim Heretic close to the Zero Point might be capable of causing it to rain heavy fire over a wide plain for perhaps as long as three or four minutes, but such an exertion so close to the Zero Point would most likely be suicide. In between, you have mind control and other destructive psychic powers, channeling of extreme heat through the hands (very dangerous for an Ice Nymph), and anything else that their minds can conjure which would feed on these central elements: fire, hatred and chaos.
The Zero Point for a Kze’uhuait is the ultimate reward for a lifelong journey along the path of wisdom and enlightenment. Alongside a brave death in heated battle, it is the greatest honor any Ice Nymph can achieve. It is required of the Kze’uhuait to respect life and impart the wisdom of the water god in a pure and untainted form, thinking never of themselves but always of the will of Quque’uhuait. Doing these things will increase their natural body temperatures and bring them closer to Quque’uhuait. Those few that truly excel in this task might one day, instead of dying physically, reach the Zero Point. The Zero Point is not death per se. It is ascension of Life from the physical into the Divine, in which the body simply transubstantiates. Transubstantiation into the welcoming spirit of the water god will increase His power, and aid Him in His eternal struggle with Goalheim.
The Goalheim Heretics can also reach the Zero Point and ascend into the spirit of Goalheim by doing His will. This requires, plainly put, that one acts as evilly and selfishly as possible, destroying every bond of Love that one can see, and spreading confusion and death everywhere possible.
The Ice Nymph society is extremely cultured and intelligent, and capable of producing many fine and ingenious things. The following is a list of inventions and advances in technology that have been created/discovered by various Ice Nymphs throughout the ages, many of which parallel the efforts of the rest of Oortesia, and all of which continue to serve a purpose in Qyaan’oe life.
Blacksmithing: The Ice Nymphs are quite fine smithies, making good use of the rich mineral deposits scattered throughout the Frozen Plains. Their refining processes are second to none, making their alloyed weapons some of the strongest and most durable in all of Oortesia. Due to their intolerance to heat, they have created and perfected a manner of fashioning metal known in the common tongue as Coldsmithing. Their blades are needle sharp, straight and solid, designed to be wielded by the frightening Kze’ou.
Advanced Weaponry – The Zou: The Kze’ou army have developed a number of rather impressive battle implements. Among these is a device they call a Zou. It can be likened to a stationary ballista, but is of such a clever design that, if well-manned by three trained and reasonably strong Ice-Nymphs, it can fire at an average rate of one bolt per second. It is also incredibly accurate up to a mile away, after which the bolt loses momentum, and could strike the ground or be blown off by the wind quite easily. Their targeting system is quite ingenious, utilizing finely measured markings around the circular base, taking into account different levels of wind in different circles, as a horizontal indicator. In addition to this, a series of plumb lines extend from a retractable stick jutting out from the shaft of the Zou’s business end. Lowering the nose of the Zou until the desired plumb line touches the circular base will give an indication of where within its mile radius the Zou will strike. One may consider it a (frighteningly accurate) mechanical range finder. In established Citadels, each Zou’s series of plumb lines and horizontal markings will correspond with carefully laid markings on the surrounding terrain, making it nearly impossible for a well-briefed Zou unit to miss any mark. It is therefore entirely within the realm of possibility that an array of six Zous might hold off hundreds of invaders (though it would not be a preferred situation). The Zou’s bolts are made of iron, produced by the hundreds, balanced and tuned for straightness by master smithies daily.
Advanced Weaponry – Battle Hooks/Tan’ani: A pair of battle hooks is crafted out of the finest secret alloys of the Ice Nymph smithies. Each pair is perfectly balanced in length and weight, light as a feather, and boasting cruel, sharp, five-pronged hook ends. The handles are finely carved whale bone, tempered and custom-chiseled to match the hands of the Kze’ou warrior for whom they are made. Connecting the handle to the hook is a fine, light, deviously barbed chain. Each pair is complemented by retractable prongs of lightest alloy, held in place to the arm by wrist guards. These will be explained later.
The hooks themselves, though they require fine craftsmanship to create, are not what makes Battle Hook fighting ingenious. It is the fighting style and discipline that lays behind it. Battle Hooks, or Tan’ani, as the Ice Nymphs call them, vary in length according to the skill level of the user. A pair of Tan’ani can be anywhere from ten feet in length for a novice, up to a hundred feet for a talented master that has trained for decades. If a Kze’ou wishes to become a Tan’ani warrior, she must dedicate her entire life to the art of Tan’ani fighting, else she will never be more than mediocre. The foundation of Tan’ani fighting is centrifugal force. Every movement, defensive, passive, or offensive, will center around a given point of focus. What makes it a truly dangerous style is that none but the fighter knows where that point of focus is ahead of time. The focus point is determined by the length of the previously mentioned retractable prongs, which are held in place by a Tan’ani warrior’s wrist guards. Extending a prong will allow the warrior to spin her Tan’ani around its end. This can be done with deadly speed, allowing her, for example, to cast a Tan’ani high over her head and then catch the chain and send it screaming downwards onto whatever point she chooses, with lightning speed. All such Tan’ani attacks and defenses are highly unpredictable to the average warrior, who is not used to thinking in spheres.
The most advanced facet of the Tan’ani fighting style involves using one’s Tan’ani to catch walls, cliffs, ground, or flying, heavy objects/creatures, and spinning oneself around by a grounded point. This is considered by Tan’ani masters the ultimate point of spiritual connection with one’s instrument, actually allowing your weapon to become you, the stable force, and throw you where you wish. Used in tandem with the prongs, this style can seem to defy physics in the most unpredictable manner, allowing one to scale gigantic cliffs at a glance, leap from terrifying heights and swing through waves of enemies with lightning speed, inches from the ground, and any number of other things. At such an advanced, connected level, the art of Tan’ani fighting becomes almost improvisational.
Advanced Weaponry - Whalebone Weaponry and Armor: The Ice Nymphs have perfected a wide variety of feather-light, finely tempered whalebone implements of war, which are commonly used by the faster, lighter warriors, assassins, Zou units, Tan’ani warriors, and Kze’uhuait.
Alchemy: The Ice Nymphs expend a great deal of resources on alchemical research, encouraging education in this branch, and arranging many expeditions to collect various minerals, algae, moss, vegetation, and other ingredients to further their experiments. They have perfected a wide array of concoctions, including a duo of perfectly harmless powders that, when combined, produce a large blast of electrical energy. A common practice in war is for them to attach large satchels of these powders to iron bolts and firing them at the same target from Zous. The effect on the battlefield is quite devastating. Other advances in alchemical research have greatly furthered their spiritual endeavors, and given them a wide variety of tools for healing, subterfuge, and science in general.
under Government: the Guardian of the Throne will also act as temporary governess of the people in the event of the death or incapacitation of all members of the current Sisterhood."
"...hunted throughout the Ice Kingdom and the Frozen Plains by the Queen’s elite Kze’ou Guard." should be "...hunted throughout the Ice Citadels and hte Frozen Plains by the Sisterhood's elite Kze'ou Guard."
"There is a subversive movement of what you might call "black magic" within the Ice Kingdom" should be "There is a subversive movement of what you might call "black magic" within the Ice Citadels".
I also recommend that, in the directory of the Lands of Oortesia, we change the name of The Ice Kingdom of Qyaan'oe into The Ice Citadel of Qyaan'oe. After all, they are a purely female species, and therefore without king. Such details might seem inconsequential, but the lack of them, at least for my part, subtracts from the beautiful illusion of another world which we all work so hard to create. Call me a perfectionist...
...and one last addition (sorry guys)
under Government: Somewhere between the ages of ten and fifteen, by which time every Ice Nymph has matured physically into adulthood, an Ice Nymph must appear in the Gauging Tower in order to be Gauged for body temperature. The Ice Nymphs have, over time, perfected the science of temperature measurement, for indeed, their whole way of life depends upon placing their citizenry where their strengths lie, according to body temperature. They can Gauge an Ice Nymph with an accuracy of up to three decimal places on our Oortesian Celsius scale.
Overall this is very impressive, and some great storyline ideas here.
However, the concept of 'storyline ideas' is why I have a problem with developing this fringe region to this level of detail at this point. Since PC's are not very likely going to be Ice Nymphs, the exact details of the place are not going to be used by characters. And, by developing the place to this extent, there is no opportunity for a PC to travel there and 'discover' new information about this race and place.
So, the ideas could be correct, yet setting it all in stone, so to speak, would in terms of game mechanics, make it improbable that it would be a mysterious place on the edge of the continent, lands of rumour and the unknown. And, keep in mind the cartographers and scholars researching are from places like Arundel and Lys, so the names would be theirs, the impressions of the nymphs would be from reports, which might or might not be entirely factual.
This sort of development would be more appropriate for lands in the interiour of Oortesia, where trade and travelers and envoys and scholars frequent. But, if you want an explorer/researcher to go north and discover all this, that would be great. I think it could be very interesting whether the character makes contact with rulers or subversive elements, for example, as to what such a character 'learns' of ice nymphs.
The main concept of this site is to develop the world through characters, not OOC. In places where there are characters from that locale, in some cases much detail has therefore been added in the belief that 'everyone' would know these facts, they could be easily discovered by anyone traveling to the region, or through scholarly research. The idea is to have a sense of wonder and discovery as one's characters travel and interact throughout Oortesia. In order to become 'facts and lore' something should be either known to a character (i.e., the facts of the cities and countryside that character has seen, heard of from others, or read about in school--assuming the character can read), or else derived from the backstory and background of a character (as in, both Arundel and Lys have Kings, and there is a backstory to how they became king, details about their society, military, money and so on, and from this the lore of the history of how the nation was founded).
So, we should have the characters develop the knowledge of the facts, creating the storylines within the parameters presented by the area descriptions!
fair enough. I had written all this with the idea that people would actually create Ice Nymph characters, and that they wouldn't be just an in-game oddity or variable. I understand that their isolation from the rest of the continent could put a damper on this. How about I set up a scholarly, sturdy little hobbit character that can make a little trip up there and meet with them? And maybe an Ice Nymph character as well, perhaps the Guardian to the Throne. Other players can interact as they wish with this expedition. I don't mind playing many characters at once, in fact, I love it! If you ever need mod characters in an area of the map, let me know!
This was a lot of work, and a lot of good work. There might be some Skyld or Aardunian folktales about ice-nymphs, perhaps of a warrior who returned after being trapped by ice-nymphs? That reminds me of the Odyssey, but I digress.
I hate to say "Good work, now do more work," but not as much as I hate for you to write so much about this race and then have to do some more writing (not that it would be a chore, it'd just take a while)so that it can finally be used (did that make sense? Maybe.). Perhaps you could write a little chunk of a legend using some details you have written here? It would make a lovely addition to our World Facts and Lore, and could be a reason for a group of adventurers to journey into the area: to prove or disprove the legend. Halflings don't just wander into the Frozen Northlands willly-nilly, you know.
p.s. welcome to the World of Storm and Fury
Sure, that sounds good. I'll make a diary of a captured Skyld warrior!
Many ships from Arundel, Lys, Skylding Vorhooven, The Lowlands and Nangrar, at the very least, travel past the Frozen Northlands during the part of the year when ice does not clog the way. So probably some shipwrecked sailors, plus of course the Skylding Norse fur trappers, would seem likely sources of information, indeed.
This brings up a minor concern about the idea of all those smithies and metalworking, one would think that smoke would surely have been noticed, and investigated over time. But, we know it has not been noted, since 'very little is known about ice-nymphs.' A legend can have errors, of course, but as a rule, lore ought to conform with what is going on in the rest of the world.
In general, it seems to me nymphs ought to be more fae-like, mermaids, sirens, that sort of beings. A super-advanced society which Arundel seems to have missed over tens of thousands of years would be problematic, I think. And I think the use of whalebones and seaplants is more along the lines of what would be interesting additions--treating the ice-nymphs as pretty much the same as humans and elfs tends to lessen their mysterious appeal, in my opinion.
But, as I say, legends about great wealth and incredible societies often exaggerate. Take for example several such Earth legends: El Dorado, Prester John, Amazons, Camelot. All these probably had some factual observations, blown all out of proportion by later storytellers.
I actually do not think it impossible at all for Arundel to have missed an advanced society in the frozen Northlands. They have not done much exploring in the far far North, as the barbarian elfs have learned to kill just about any High Elf faction traveling through their lands. Would it not be worth it to see the look on Arundel's face when they found out they weren't the most advanced kingdom after all?
The smoke coming from smithies could only add to the legend, say a traveler has to travel past a sleeping dragon (that's just what the explorers credit with the smoke production). And maybe they don't use fire in their smithies, maybe they have some sort of ice forging technique (don't ask me what it would be).
But yes, I do agree that nymphs, in my mind, would be more fae-like. (I think ice-nymphs would be mean biotchy faes) Isn't that how they are everywhere, though? When I read the description, I kind of get in my head this icy Aztec, ferocious, savage society that is also quite advanced technologically; or an icy Atlantis. I think it could be pretty cool. ( The Aztec part probably come from the name Quque'uhuait)
As far as lessening ice-nymphs mysterious appeal, I do agree that it is lessened by treating them like humans and elves.......
What if these were some sort of human/elf/ice-nymph/whatever hybrids that served the ice-nymphs? Just trying to help along some sort of creative process. Silly suggestions are helpful sometimes....so?
"This brings up a minor concern about the idea of all those smithies and metalworking, one would think that smoke would surely have been noticed"
as explained under Technology, the Ice Nymphs would practice the art of Coldsmithing, requiring no melting, heating, and produce no smoke.
As for leaving mystery to explore, the fact is that nobody is exploring it. I am, to my knowledge, the first one to elaborate on their basic concept, and of course, I'm more than willing to do that in-character. Plus, I don't think expanding on the Ice Nymphs in the way that I have done takes away the mystery. Au contraire, it adds to it. The mysterious art of Coldsmithing, strange and foreign divine magic, wild and unknown battle tactics, etc. This actually provides some meat for people to sink their teeth into, and interact with, and discover even more.
apropos appearance: they are described in the Ice Kingdom section of the map as being ''tall and statuesque'', so this is what I went on. that can be changed, obviously, but really, there isn't that much about them that is anything like humans, elves, or halflings. ''humanoid'' means only that they have 2 arms, 2 legs, and walk upright. read the temperature scale theory, and you'll see that they range from sharklike to spiritlike.
and I think they could be as technologically advanced as we'd care to make them without being discovered, because they're inside these Ice Citadels that the outside world, as far as we know, hasn't seen the nature of. The Ice Citadels themselves have, according to what's already in the game, been noticed. We can't change that. And let's face it, you have to have some pretty heavy structural design in your noggin in order to construct a giant building out of ice, one that will last over centuries or even millenia.
Just as a parenthetic comment, building structures does not require much technology. Birds build nests and beavers build dams. And unless they suffered a severe technological regression between the time they built their condominiums and the time Europeans discovered them, the Pueblo Indians built some pretty impressive and long-lasting stone buildings with minimal technology.
I'll concede that point
While I know realism is hardly the venture of ice nymphs, I do have a suggestion for how the smithing *could* work without heat.
With increased pressure, ice becomes water. This is a feature unique to water, but in the transition from ice to water, energy is used and the same is true of the reverse. With decreased pressure, most metals eventually become liquids no matter the temperature.
This is the realism part. Now for the more mystical part.
Coldsmithing could be, as the name implies, smithing with cold. Using special techniques (on which I will not elaborate because I don't know), they could transfer pressure from one area (the metal) to surrounding area (the ice). The metal would melt, as would the ice, thus reducing temperature as they consume energy in their phase transitions. Not only is the smithing then done under cold temperatures, but it also actually becomes colder as it is done. When the smithing is done, pressure is slowly returned to normal and the metal would harden, while the water would turn back to ice - again, energy is consumed in the phase transition and the final weapon is colder than the original raw materials.
This is very much part realistic (using real world mechanics) and part mystic (doing the 'impossible') and all cool :D
sure, sounds good to me, mate
Ack, it seems I was a bit silly in my statement "most metals eventually become liquids no matter the temperature." That's not exactly true, as otherwise spaceships would be very difficult to build.
Still, let's just assume for a moment we can go into negative pressure ^^ Then it should work... although I should then point out that if the phase diagrams were extrapolated to include negative pressure, it would be smithing with gasses, rather than liquids.
Maybe I just shouldn't be trying to overcomplicate the matter and just accept that "Ice Nymphs can shape metals at low temperatures."
yeah, that was my original plan hehe. I was thinking it would have to do with their magic, like they would release some kind of silk-like, ephemeral substance that they would just bang into the substance with a bone hammer or something. for example.
but to be honest, I don't really care at this point, because I got bored with the story.