The Boreal Steppe, also known as The Far North, is a vast barren wasteland of arctic tundra. It is the largest region of the North, but it is also one of the most uninhabitable places in the known world. There are no permanently habitable settlements in the Boreal Steppe, and much of the Boreal Steppe is still uncharted. Temperatures are so extreme in the steppe, that on average, if left to your bare skin, you'd freeze over and die within just two minutes of exposure.
To reach the Boreal Steppe, you must first traverse the Frozen Seaway. It is hundreds and hundreds of miles of frozen seawater that surrounds the actual Boreal Steppe. Once you traverse the Frozen Seaway, you will hit solid land, but it's very difficult to distinguish the Frozen Seaway from the arctic tundra. The only sure way to tell is to look out for obvious rock formations, such as hills and mountains. Beneath the thick frozen surface of the Frozen Seaway dwells the creatures of the deep. All manner of aquatic aberrations dwell and lurk beneath the ice, many of which dwell deep into the dark of the sea, where no sun shines. Occasionally the corpse of one will float to the surface and wash ashore, some with catastrophic effects.
The Everlasting Crystal
The Boreal Steppe is home to the Everlasting Crystal. The crystal was discovered in the late 1st century NWE in the time of the Great Migrators. The crystal forever marks the place where Fredrich's Comet landed. It is believed to have fragmented from the comet itself, making it a cosmic substance. Not much of the crystal is known. We do know that the Everlasting Crystal is cursed. Any living thing that spends too much time around, or staring at the crystal go mad, and turns against the living. The crystal itself has strong arcane magic. It constantly emits strong gales, and occasionally creates super storms that reach the edges of Northern civilization. Many aberrations are drawn to the arcane aura of the crystal, which is why the Far North is a magnet of aberrations. It's even believed that the creatures of the deep are drawn to the crystal's aura, which is why they dwell in the Frozen Seaway, the closest body of water to the crystal.
Hypoboreal Archipelagos Complex
Otherwise known as the HAC. It is the smallest region, and the 2nd most northern region of the North. As of January 1st, 1584 NWE the HAC is owned by the Kingdom of Eidolon, and is ruled by High King Ferdinand XIV of house Trastámara, a dynasty which has provided an unbroken lineage of monarchs for the Kingdom of Eidolon ever since the Kingdom of Eidolon unified in the late 4th century. High King Ferdinand XIV had just finished a fourteen year long war which united the entire North as one banner, the Holy Northern Empire. The High King will then ascend to an Emperor, where he will strive to work with the nobles of his land to further unify and solidify the power of the new empire. However, none of this has happened yet. The North is eagerly awaiting the marriage of Ferdinand XIV with Evelyn II, the marriage that will combine the Kingdom of Eidolon, and the Principality of Weißenaust, which will then form the new fatherland of the soon to be Holy Northern Empire. As the name implies, it is an archipelagos. The HAC is made up of a few major inhabited islands, Valdolia, The Selene Isles, and the Trinitarium.
The Ehrling Peninsula by the 15th Century
While the Kingdom of Eidolon is very much so a part of the North, it is not a part of the Ehrling Peninsula, which is the 2nd largest, and most southern landmass of the entire North. Much like the Far North, the Ehrling Peninsula is home to many geothermal hot spots, which is the only reason why the North is called "home" to an proximate two million people. The geothermal hot spots provide warm enough ground that's suitable to farming. The hottest of these hot spots are being experimented on and are being used to power giant Stirling Engines for low scale manufacturing and processing. The natural extreme heat, and the natural extreme cold of the North is excellent grounds for these Stirling Engines.
By the start of the 15th century NWE, the Ehrling Peninsula was still divided into eight nations.
The Kingdom of Catalan is located right in the middle of the Ehrling peninsula. It's a heavily forested area, with a small plot of land suitable to farming and industry. With the Ranovian mountain range to her western border, Lake Ranevia on her eastern border, and the ever neutral Duchy of Bravaria to the south, the Kingdom of Catalan was blessed to be so naturally fortified. She only ever had enemies north of her. For centuries, the Kingdom of Catalan has been absorbing nations north of her in order to gain access to the sea. Catalan was the only landlocked nation of the North, and she very much wanted to participate in the raids with the Caliphate of Almohad and Almoravids. The only Kingdom left that stands in Catalan’s way is the Kingdom of Fran. Right in the middle of Catalan is the nation's capital, Barcelonica built into the mountains. The city is so vast, and spacious that it extends eastward all the way towards Lake Ranevia.
The Kingdom of Fran was once good allies with the Kingdom of Eidolon, until the dynasty of their long reigning monarch ended. Ever since then, the authority of the Kingship of Fran has been claimed by lesser men. Thus, through poor administration politicing the Kingdom of Fran slowly alienated themselves from the rest of the North. It wasn’t long before the Kingdom of Catalan was on their doorsteps, and they found themselves standing alone against a hungry beast. The Kingdom of Fran shares a border with the Ranovian mountain range, and just north of the mountains are two forests. The Enchanted Forest of Lugarios to the south east, and the Vicinity of Yunqueria to the north west. Even further south east into the vicinity of Yungeria is the nation's capital, Françoisia which overlooks Lake Ranevia. Towards the north east is where most of the Fransiscans live, in port settlements by the sea.
There’s the Principality of Weißen all the way south and east of the peninsula, and the Duchy of Asturia just north and east of Weißen. Together these two countries own the largest farmable land in the entire North, and the hottest hot spots suitable to industry. Combined, they also have busiest fishing zones of the entire North which is a brutal combination of natural resources because the land that can be farmed in the North is very valuable, and fishing is the greatest alternative food source other than farming. Not to mention, the Principality of Weißen is the industrial capital of the North, because her natural geothermal hot spots are among the hottest.
Then there’s the Caliphate of Almohad which occupies the north western half of the peninsula, and the and Caliphate of Almoravids which occupies the south western half of the peninsula. It wasn’t until the late 14th century was those lands still known as the Caliphate of Córdova. The Caliph of Córdova was pressured by his own people, pretty much the entire North, and the Church to cease their raiding on the Westerlands. To ensure that a part of his dynasty still stood in the event of civil war, the Caliph divided his country and left his two sons to inherit them.
These lands share the Ranovian mountain range to her east, which is a useful source of stones, gemstones, and precious metals. She's sparely forested, and very little of her land is suitable to farming and industry which is why over half the settlements in both caliphates are port settlements, and of that half, over half are naval ports. Unlike the eastern half of the North, Almohad and Almoravids are far enough away from the reach of the Frozen Seaway, meaning that they were free to sail where they wished, whenever they wished.
Lastly, there’s the Duchy of Bravaria. They're mountain men who like to live in high elevations. Bravaria is located at the most southern part of the entire North. The Duchy of Bravaria has remained neutral for most of all of Northern politics for over a thousand years, and has always worked to serve the entire North by thwarting southern invaders. In return, the North as a whole has supported the Archduke of Bravaria when both Northern and Southern invaders attacked the duchy. Not that the Archduke needed the help. Corfe castle, the ancestral home of the Von Berlichingen family, blocks the only path on foot to the North, and has never been breached.
A mountain range that marks the southernmost border of the North known as the Cradle of the North is the southern border of Almoravids, Bravaria, and Weißen, but of the three Northern nations, the mountain pass only thins and becomes passable at Bravaria. All things considered, when it comes down to it, the Bravarians decide who enters, and who exits the North on foot because they have mastered the terrain over the years, and heavily fortified key passageways.
Flora & Fauna
Flora and Fauna of the Steppes
As hostile and barren as the Far North is, it is still home to a few creatures such as Boreal cod, Boreal shark, Arctic cod, Arctic flounder, Arctic halibut, salmon, fox, hare, bear walrus, reindeer, owl, beluga whale, narwhal, giant squid, harp seal, lemming, ringed seal, emperor penguin, dire wolves, dire bears, and even frost giants.
There are also a plethora of aberrant creatures that inhabit the Far North. Aberrant creatures such as, aboleths, balhannoths, carrion crawlers, chuuls, destrachans, gibbering beasts, grell, and grick. Not to mention all the undocumented aberrants of the deep found in the unfrozen waters of the Frozen Seaway.
The Eidolonians claim that there is a strange creature that lives in the far north, a creature called a Mind Flayer. They claim that these Mind Flayers are somehow connected to the Everlasting Crystal because, at least as some Eidolonians claim, these Mind Flayers can also cause living creatures to go mad, and to turn upon the living, just like the Everlasting Crystal does. Many early century Eidolonians, and their forefathers blamed Mind Flayers for sabotaging any expedition attempts to charter and explore the Far North, but no such Mind Flayer has been sighted.
These claims have long been thought to be made up fiction used to discourage dangerous and costly exploration in a barren land, and to further exaggerate the Northerners to make them seem even more tough and hardy than they are already believed to be.
However, one day, King Ferdinand XII of Eidolon moved their nation's capital from Puerto de la Madera Hierro to Valladolid, their most northern settlement, and transformed the fishing hamlet into a heavily fortified settlement... facing northward.
The Boreal Steppe is home to a few wild beasts, and aberrant monsters, most of which live in the unfrozen deep of the Frozen Seaway, or in special natural geothermal hot spots, similar to the ones found on the Ehrling Peninsula. These geothermal hot spots are farmable plots of land, but are typically heavily infested with microbes, which competes with and destroyed most crops before they can reach maturity.
A very diverse, and distinct ecosystem of microbes live in the natural geothermal locations of the Far North. Most of which are generally non pathogenic, but occasionally some pathogenic microbes find their way into these hot spots. This makes the Far North home to extremophiles, some that thrive in the extreme cold, and some that thrive in the extreme heat.
The only known settlement in the Boreal Steppe is said to be built on one of these geothermal hot spots, but hasn't been inhabited ever since a very lethal infestation broke out in the settlement early in the 3rd century. It also hasn't been seen since then, which leads many to question its existence in the first place.
The Far North is home to plenty of natural geothermal hot spots, and the natural coldness of these lands make them ideal locations to plant Stirling engine. However, as of 1584 NCE, the cost and risk, and the labor of keeping them microbe free has not connived any investor as of late.
Flora and Fauna of the HAC
In addition to all the other Northern Ironwoods that grow throughout the North, there is a special Ironwood that only grows in the HAC, Ebony. Ebony is a dark black wood, with a slight brown hue and swirl to it. Ebony is worth more than it's weight in silver as it is the strongest of Ironwoods, and it is the tallest and widest tree. It's compression strength is as good as stone, which makes it very useful building material for the most ambitious of architectural projects. The smallest Ebony trees are over 250 yards high, most reaching 285-300 yards, with some as tall as 320 yards tall.
Ebony is so dense, and so hard, that it would take two dozen men, two months to cut down the smallest Ebony tree. Ebony sinks in water, so only the sides of ships can be made with Ebony. Ebony is so strong that shots from a 36 pounder long gun simply dents and bounces off the wood. Properly treated, and lacquered, it will last several life times. It takes almost a hundred years for Ebony to grow, meaning that the growth and harvesting of Ebony is very closely monitored, and carefully guarded.
Flora and Fauna of the Ehrling Peninsula
The geothermal hot spots in the Ehrling Peninsula means that the North is home to both seasons of crop. The farmland is separated accordingly, the winter crop is grown in farmable non hot spots, while the summer crop is grown in the hot spots. Even in the dead of winter, wheat, barley and other grains are still grown and harvested as if it was still summer.
In addition to all the seasonal crop that grows all the time, much of the geothermal hot spots are dedicated to the cultivation of certain fungus, bacteria, and other microorganisms. Most of them are extremely beneficial for consumption, medicine, arcane and alchemical reactions.
Unlike other parts of the world where the good fungus and microorganisms are only found sparsely spread out in places of the Great Infected Forests of the Westernlands, the North can grow it's own good fungal and bacterial flora without the associated baggage of the fungal jungles. Baggage such as the acids, poisons, and toxins, produced as a waste product of 90% of the flora and the countless swarms of insects that utterly dominate these fungal jungles.
This is largely why the Principality of Weißenaust was in favor of the Northern Trade Federation. They wanted the trade to open the flow of new types of crop, fungi, and microorganisms so that they have a wider range and diversity of flora.
The geothermal hot spots provide an excellent breeding ground for all manner of extremeophiles. Much bacteria, medicinal herbs, edible, and medical fungus, and nutrient rich compost and fertilizer all comes from these hot spots. The hotter and hottest of these hot spots are being experimented on. Large scale versions of Stirling engines, machinery from the Old World that was recovered and rebuilt, and are placed on these lands. They are built high as to separate the hot ground and the cold sky. They also provide excellent natural hot springs which is a huge attraction to the North.
Sons of Fishermen
The long upheld traditions of fishing husbandry is believed to be why the Northerners are tough and resilient people. Fishing in the North is perilous, and devastating because of it's constant cold, wet, and storming conditions. It's also the most abundant and common source of food. At the start and end of the summer season, a thick fog rolls in from the clashing hot and cold air. For the Frozen Seaway, it's not that uncommon that it hails, rains and snows constantly, even in the summer seasons.
The Everlasting Crystal occasionally sends super storms to the HAC and Ehrling Peninsula that either arrive as hurricanes which could decimate fleets and cities if they are ill prepared. Northerners learned long ago to only build by the sea if the land is elevated, or if the coast is covered with trees. Winds from the sea brings moisture that freezes houses solid, entombing people unfortunate to be inside whilst this phenomenon happens.
Shepherd of the Ironwoods
Northern Ironwood is one of the most sought after commodities in the North. In a world where people have just recovered from a post apocalyptic event, there is a huge stride towards rebuilding civilization. When building, it's smart to do it once, the right way so that your buildings will outlive you and survive the test of time, which is why Northern Ironwood is so sought after.