Dreams of Ice and Madness
It was centuries ago when the frost first began to stretch south of it’s traditional homes. Summer turned to winters, and the grip of ice flowed steadily southward. Unprepared, civilizations thought little of the northern threat, until within mere years, their great cities and fertile farmlands would wither and die under the ice. By the time the magnitude was realized, the threat was apparently irreversible. None who walked north of the Frostfell returned, and every year it grew.
There came a time when the great races, many of their kingdoms and outposts lost to the ever expanding polar region, realized that they could only run.
The journey south is beyond the memory of men and their allies, but it exists in the histories of all known settlements. In the deep valleys between the ancient southern ice and the growing northern frost, the races who had lost their wonders, their civilizations, and their people to the impenetrable snow planted new roots, settling in with, in the minds of their leaders, a dour acceptance of the fate of the world.
Only the bravest traders or those with a death wish would dare cross the thin band of liquid water that separated the great southern continent from the rest of the world. Outposts waited, the last rearguard waiting to accept survivors fleeing from the north – Only to then endure generations without sign of refugees before they, too, would no longer journey north.
The races did the best with what they had in this new land. The fear of final days faded into ancestral memory. The might of warlords, the decadent desires of the wealthy, and selfish merchants shaped the new societies, even as new ways of life – and, the new gods of the hoary world to the north – made themselves known to the exiled peoples of the south.
And then, thirty years ago, came an event which bred both hope and complacency among the great races. They called it ‘The Thaw’, and it seemed as if a spring had finally come to endless winter. The temperatures rose. The ice receded, offering glimpses of the coast to the north as fishermen once more ventured forth.
While many believed that trouble was passing, finding hope, the efforts of the cults renewed and some saw their inaction vindicated. With more food grown, populations increased, and as life got better, it only made the eventual return of the frosts that much more bitter.
Most of the Heroes have been born during the thaw, and seen the world around them grow grimmer as the ice returned. For some, it is a mere backdrop to their more urgent motivations. To others, it has been a signal that they must act now, before worse fates befall the Great Races.