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The Plane of Ice: Tales From The Underberg; An Underdark Companion

Welcome to the workshop ~
This post is part of the "Atlas of the Planes" Project. Come and stop by our announcement page here to view the full list of planes, the sign up sheet, and links to other posts of the project.
Fictional Editor — qt. unqt. “Corrupted” Mind Flayer, Izu Kafka
Written by — Izu’s thrall, foen7

Title Page

GoblinFit — tunes playlist -- “Official” playlist.

This post was made using Google Docs. As the post currently exceeds the Reddit character limit (110k / 40k), it is recommended to view this content via the link here.

Table of Contents

Title Page 1
GoblinFit — tunes playlist 1
Table of Contents 2
Discovery: 4
Timeline [Mystery Table of Contents] 5
Travel 8
To the Plane — 8
Within the Plane 9
Survival 11
Locals 12
Canon Sentient Races 12
Fodder from Monster Manual — see document pg. 68 for full table 12
6 Homebrew Suggestions — see pg. 68 again 13
Encouraged Classes, see Locations; PRCF, Mysteries, & Surface Epilogue 13
Order of Ceruleans 13
Guild of Dragonfire Architects, 13
Nine Nations 14
Denisovans — Frost Giant Surface Keepers 15
Locations (1 of 2) — Sub-Surface 17
Table 17
Settlements (5) 17
Industrial, Economic (4 + 8 Remodeled Spas and Sauna, see Mysteries) 21
Excavations (8) 23
Battlezones (6) 26
Curiosities (6) 28
Mysteries (1 of 2) — Sub-Surface 32
Strawman FAQs 32
Class Homebrews 33
Barbarian: Path of the Wanderer (a.k.a. Travels of the Foreigner) 33
Bard: College of the Crystal Willow 36
Warlock: Otherworldly Patron: Coven of the White Witches 37
Key Locations — Timeline Focal Points 39
Remodeled Spas and Saunas 52
Solved Mysteries — 53
— 3 Campaign Pitches 53
Politics / Religion / Culture / Factions 57
Intro: Ojibwe Influences, a Lens 59
Disclaimer 59
Nine Nations 59
Cerulean Religion 66
Nine Nations Religion 66
Expansion — Surface Setup 67
Open World Surface Layer 67
Epilogue 67
Day Cycles (3 Regions) 67
Biomes and Overview, Refresher 67
Homebrew Ecology Table 68
Don’t forget about the Remorhaz!!! 76
Loc. (2 of 2) — Surface 77
Mysteries (2 of 2) — Surface 79
Surface Mysteries Table 79
Environmental Subsystems 83
Arctic Botany Table 83
Iceberg Fishing Table 86
The End 87

Discovery:

Summary Notes and Campaign Starters
“Ice is history.”
“Think of the elementals and their states of matter — solid, liquid, and spirit — across their Astral Realm incarnations. In them, we see that the trinity of primordial elements of fire, earth, and water existing across each of these states of matter. To return to the incarnations of water and Ice — do we not observe that across nearly every plane, water persists? Look to the Feywild, Elysium, and even the bloody abominations of the abyss. That where water isn’t, it’s absence is the defining characteristic. But is not water itself a mischaracterization of a melted element, one that is as concrete as the earth?
The Plane of Ice today remains one of the most well documented Para-Elemental or Quasi-Elemental Planes of Existence. As civilizations have better outfitted their extremities with increasingly efficient arcane mechanizations, from the fur coat to the hearthstone to the ring of fire, what were once arctic horrors of hypothermia and frostbite now appear as inconvenient truths of ill preparations.
Ice, we once thought, is as eternal as the death that often follows it’s unforgiving temperament. But as the Clockwork Gate has been opened, the March of Modrons have escalated in frequent recurrences, and the Prime Material Worldians have begun to reverse engineer perverted arcane technologies, the lowest foundations of our Icecrown Citadels of Knowledge have become increasingly flooded with glacial runoff. This may have been worsened by the many domestic excavations within the subterranean layers of the Underberg, which many factions, including the Order of Ceruleans, have honeycombed the plane into a house of glass pane cards.
This fate has worsened with the dissolvement of Equifrost Trading Company’s assets and shareholdings by a band of heroic adventurers, introducing the new cantrip spell of “Borrowed Ice Cube,” which has given novices across the realms the ability to reach into the plane for an approximately fist-sized snowball or chunk of ice. This has largely antiquated the need for a corporation specializing in ice block shipping for use among domestic and small business culinary arts. A worrying — and to some reassuring — trend of industries, however, is they continue to prove themselves as adaptable as the meatbags that have founded them. Now as a consequence of their former passions, inhabitants of the plane now stand poised to launch their own mechanical conquest across the Astral Sea, should they so wish it. Has the prophecy of the Githyanki re-fulfilled itself once more? In answer, this entry will attempt to explain the locations known, the history prior to, and recent events preceding the beginning of the plane’s fifth age, currently pending certification.
Enough exposition to these peons, thrall. Translate these charts into their archaic hieroglyphics.”
  • “Corrupted” Mind Flayer, Izu Kafka

“Pontificate in the prep work, drunkenly slur in misremembered delivery. This is the way my master instructed me.”

“As unfortunate as it may be, nature is not unlike a grand machine. By that, I mean it can be as cold and heartless as steel. Although as many human philosophers have romanticized, nature need not be so cruel.”
  • Tsenu Odiwun, Half-Orc Epistemology Scholar

Timeline of the Plane's History -- See Doc

Non-essential, but hopefully helpful.

Travel to the Plane — Table


Name Type Ease of Access Entry Barrier
Snow Globe’s Call Ritual 2 Transcribed within the lost artifact, “The Tome of Permafrost”
Appeal to Europa (Zeus > Jupiter > Moon) Prayer - Invocation 3 Motive of intent is ascertained and judged by demigod and / or deity. See Religion in 5e PHB, 298-299.
The Golden Compass Divination Artifact 4 Artifacts typically require 3 phases of acquisition: informed of by x, discovered by y, and conflict with z. To top it all off, the compass uses cryptic hieroglyphics to compute.
The Subtle Knife Artifact, creates interplanar portals across the Astral Sea 5 Potential decade-long campaign of Rift Chasing, in which a band of adventurers journey across the planes tracking down rogue portals created by the lost knife spinning across fantasy space.
The Cerulean Spyglass Artifact, detects temporary portals within snowstorms 2 Mass produced by Equifrost Trading Company approx. 100 ya, marketed as commoner’s binoculars until the invention's byproduct use was quietly discovered, spurring the company to initiate a product recall to secure it’s near monopolistic entry to and from the plane (at time of recall).
Here Compasses Spin Location, an unremarkable plain in the far north 5 No small expedition.
Mt. Aurelious Location, among top 10 tallest in PMW 1-3 Compared to others routes, climbing a steep, glacier-covered mountain is relatively easy
Svalgard Location, Island in North Sea 2-3 Sometimes called “Ice Hag’s Kiss,” Isle is a dormant cryovolcano.
Obtaining security clearance to, or searching the ruins of, a warehouse of Equifrost Trading Company Many locations, shipping distribution centers across the continents 0.5 Pffft, why would I climb a mountain?
Meet a Rabbit Folk Random Event 1-5 A native to the Plane of Ice with mastery over natural portal hopping, see Locals.

Travel Within the Plane

Underberg Infrastructures and Vehicles
  1. The Chainlift -- a. prime material world Ski-Lifts, patented by GoblinFit (™)
  2. Ice Sled Rails -- Magnetically charged subways, without actual metallic rails or lumber planks. Blackglass is used in acceleration and deceleration of the vehicles, while maintaining speed en route instead relies on ionized ice, a valuable strategic resource and magical component found rarely along the border between the planes of ice and lightning. Ionized Ice often requires encasement in a temperature controlled copper shell, requiring off-planar trade for the conduit metal.
  3. City Cranes -- Horizontal and vertical elevators installed along the ceilings adorning the Order of Cerulean cities
  4. Moulin Plunge -- a) An ancient elevator has been discovered, and it’s technology reverse engineered after the rediscovery of ionized ice. b) Githzerai engineering, using vertically based heavy magnetization. Known elevators, by contrast, work on rope and pulley fulcrums.
  5. Gi’Thousten — Mythical Gith Airship Shaft (Gith + Houston) -- a) A silo to the surface; a Moulin, see locations (ctr+f the phrase “M-[x]” for definition). b) Has been invaded and abandoned by githyanki. c) Reused by undead following surface purge. d) Rediscovered by Order of Cerulean
  6. Dracohound Sled Races, and Dracohound Iceways -- See Volvo’s Guide to Monsters for creatures; dragon dog themed sled races and highways.

Survival

Environmental Hazards
Please refer to the document's entry, pg. 11.

Locals

Data list here, juicy paragraphic table in P / C / R / F.

Canon Sentient Races

  1. Kobolds
  2. Mind Flayers
  3. Githzerai and Githyanki
  4. Tabaxi - Cat Race, Volvo’s Guide to Monsters
    1. Archaeologists and Treasure Hunters
    2. Mysterious land of origin in canon
  5. [Frost] Orcs
  6. Frost Tritons, Ice Mermen, Volvo’s Guide to Monsters / Homebrew
  7. Frost Giants -- see DENISOVANS detailed entry below.

Fodder from Monster Manual — see document pg. 68 for full table

More Homebrews can be found in Mysteries - Epilogue, which covers the reclamation of the surface
  1. Dragons, silver / brass / white / red* / green**
    1. Dragonkin faction
    2. * Red = geothermal pools
    3. ** Green = subglacial forests of mushroom hybrids, eg. pinespore groves
  2. Remorhaz
  3. Winter Wolf
  4. Saber-Toothed Tiger
  5. Phase Spider
  6. Polar Bear
  7. Giant Weasel / Weasel
  8. Giant Elk / Elk
  9. Yeti
  10. [Frost] Sahuagin
  11. Quaggoth
  12. Ice Mephit
  13. Flumph
  14. Darkmantle

Order of Ceruleans

Primary Classes of Recruitment among Prime Material World imperialists, boasting a high status within their social hierarchy

Nine Nations (Indigenous Homebrew, see disclaimer)

Homebrew key focus in P / R / C / F
The Nine Nations*, and their International Council of Arctic Region Entities of Sentience (Neutral Good)**
  1. Crane Folk
  2. Beaver Folk
  3. Yak Folk
  4. Deer Folk
  5. Tabaxi (Volvo’s Guide to Monsters)
  6. Walrus Folk
  7. Otter Folk
  8. Min-yeti
  9. Rabbit Folk
  • * See Politics / Religion / Culture / Factions
  • ** alignments reflects a cumulation of the collective goals defined by the council, while individual nations express a variety of alignments)
Expansion Nations:
  1. Siberian Tiger Folk
  2. Snow Owl Folk

Denisovans — Frost Giant Surface Keepers

Frost Giants are not the friendly cousins of either the Stone Giants, Fire Giants, or Cloud Giants, as strong as their familial ties may be. Their practical barbarism stretches back across all accounts detailing the passing of ages. Yet, it would be a misnomer to claim the Denisovans (/Deni/, push of will; /sov/ strength; /an(s)/ people of) are stupid. They possess the conceptual knowledge of bronze, iron, and perhaps even steel forging, though their bio-arcane frameworks prevent them from practicing any form of blacksmithing according to Prime Material World methods of fire and flame.
Yet, Ja’Kardiem, the rare Frost Giant settlement serving as a city, boasts one of the grandest forges of curious practices in the planar regions of positive energy. Using Frost Fire [liquid nitrogen, semi-canon], the Denisovans forge an alloy known as Sub-zero Steel. Ionized Ice is also said to have been pioneered by the Frost Giants, who stumbled upon the compound along the borders with the Plane of Lightning.
Again, while the Denisovans are not a stupid race, they do remain a self-interested one with little investment in the affairs of other races, perceiving them as little more than toddlers to feast upon. A redeeming quality to them, perhaps, is that they warred along the Order of Ceruleans and Nine Nations against the undead incursion into the Plane of Ice. Ceruleans records of this relationship do indicate a temporary exchange of information and cultures, even extending the benefit of doubt toward Frost Giant values for centuries following the Curse of Cartilage and their mutual loss of contact. The Legend of Tylo Krash, however, exemplifies the true Denisovan zeitgeist.
Frost Giant lands, that is, the surface, are broadly characterized as the regions of a) Steelstone Ridge, which experiences Winternacht,, or evernight, of the bright and aurora borealis coated variety, b) Burrlucia(n) (Oldwoods), which experiences Treya, a tri-season calendar of day and night cycles, , and c) the Isea Coasts, which experiences Summerpole, or the lasting polar noon. Each of these are sub-regioned into the lands.
These lands are explored in greater detail within the Expansion: Mysteries - Epilogue section, but shall be granted an overview here. Steelstone Ridge is a centralized zone subdivided into 1a) The IronRange, which borders the plane of Earth and suggests a continental sublayer to the Underberg, 2a) Blitzstrum Pass, which borders the Plane of Lightning and leads into IcePine Ridge, and 3a) Run-way Plateau, an arctic mesa, rumored to have ice-chiseled cliffside cities and flying penguins. Burrlucia encompasses much of the southern hemisphere of the plane, undergoing the seasons of Winter (lasting half a year), the Thaw (lasting a quarter of the year), and Frostfall (lasting the remaining quarter of the year). It’s zones include 1b) Nahanni Valley, which is known for its taiga forests and orange leaf(ed) birch trees, natural springs, and colossal moose, with the second region being 2b) The Snow Globe in the Sky, a mysterious region of a floating icebergs above the snow dune foothills, the largest iceberg said to be in the shape of a pyramid atop a flipped pyramid, it’s facades inscribed with twisting, interwoven spiral designs. The final region consists of the Isea Coasts, to the north, west, and east edges of the plane. The “north” coast, which begins reversing direction south, as if atop a cone, is the 1c) Bergice Sea, which borders the plane of water and hosts unknown rich quantities of marine bio-arcane species. The region bordering the Plane of Ash is known as 2c) Cindersnow Marsh, a place oddly easy to navigate for newcomers should they follow the primordial cyclopean brick road, which leads to Greywaste in the connected plane. The final region is of sublime note, known among mortals as the Five Great Lakes of Frozen Volcanos, lying dormant for millennia, though their lake beds still bubble with sulphuric vigor, and this region is said to border the Plane of Magma.
Many of these lands were once home to the Nine Nations, and evidence of their settlements and / or city-states might lie awaiting a curious band of adventurers or heritage invested first nations. Structures of unknown origins [gith, old god, insectoid, fey, and undead] also coat the near subsurface, their walls and towers sometimes sinking into the hungry mouths of glaciers and snow dunes.
***
“The Giants say that in the foothills under the snowglobe in the sky is a path of floating icebergs leading up to the Moonlands.”
  • Tylo Krash, Human Paladin
***

“Do you know what terrifies me most? No Dragon, no Oni, no Mind Flayer, no government or secret order, no inhospitable world, no God even, for all those things have been killed by the well informed. No, to me that pedastal is reserved for the creature called the Shield Guardian. It may seem basic to the likes of you, but it has sealed a dark promise in my mind, that one day magic and machine will blend together in some combination that I cannot grasp the fundamentals of, let alone comprehend.”
  • Skadi, Goddess Queen of the Denisovans
***

Locations: FAT Table, see doc. pgs. 17-31.

Mysteries:

Class Homebrews go here: Barbarian, Bard, and Warlock.
For a FAT table re: mystery codes, locations, descriptions, and rewards, see doc. pgs. 39-51.

Class Homebrews

Barbarian: Path of the Wanderer (a.k.a. Travels of the Foreigner)

Note: This subclass was made in ignorance of the Ancestral Guardian subclass described in Xanathar's Guide to Everything, though the seed may have been planted by the Dungeon Dudes tier list ranking of Barbarian subclasses (which was forgotten during various drafting and editing phases). As each subclass stands, the following should be considered a fusion of the Ancestral Guardian and Path of the Totem subclasses, with a de-emphasis on the role of off-tank or secondary tank. Use of Path of the Ancestral Guardian subclass remains encouraged across the Plane of Ice.
Core Description:
The Path of the Wanderer invokes the heritage, blood, and traditions of an individual's many, many ancestors. Followers of these paths may come from an isolated village, or from the outskirts of a diverse trading network full of travelers, adventurers, and strangers. In battle, you channel the strength of one or several of your forebears, honing their strengths with new techniques discovered along your travels.
In this way, you become a vessel of harmony of your people’s collective wrath, wisdom, and wrongdoings. Aiding your affinity to Charisma and Wisdom, you draw upon their collective experience through Ancestral Stances.

Leveling

Blood Memory: Starting at the 3rd level, you gain access to the following cantrips: Message, Guidance, and Friends. These spells enable contact with your deceased family tree, as well as influence the surrounding fragments of the world you encounter. The personality traits of your ancestors may be divined from the “Backgrounds” tables of the PHB, starting on pg. 125.
Ancestral Stances (3)
At the 3rd level, when you adopt this path, you choose an ancestral archetype as your primary mentor of imitation. You must acquire, inherit, or recreate a relic to bind the memory of this sentient being to your presence on a consistency basis. This relic can be an item of jewelry, a childhood toy, or a trinket of artistic merit, such as a journal, stone painting, or a wicker vase. As an option, your physical attributes may shift in a minor way to more closely mirror your mentoring ancestor, regardless of gender or racial divides. For example, with a measly heritage of 4% or 16% half-elf, an individual's ears may become more angular, or a similar heritage of a distant dragonborn princess may have more dry and scale-like skin.
Your mentoring ancestor might be an archetype related to those listed here, but more appropriate to your culture of origin. For example, you could choose Fem Fatale in place of “Grandma was a Badass.”
“Uncle was a Storyteller” (U.S)
While raging, you gain a +5 modifier to all charisma checks possible in combat, usable as free actions, and you become renowned for your battle taunts. While others find that their wrath blinds and stutters them, you find clarity and newfound authority by the anger and judgements of those who came before you. Exceptionally worded taunts have been known to provoke opportunities of advantage and disadvantage, at the DM’s discretion.
“My Great-Aunt was a Medicine Woman” (G.A.M.W.)
At the start of your turn, you gain or regain a maximum of 5 temporary hit points. By casting the cantrip Message as your action, you may instead distribute 15 temporary hit points to a nearby ally across three turns, regaining your choice of action next turn; usable once per encounter.
“Grandma was a Badass” (G.B.)
While raging, you gain advantage to wisdom and charisma saving throws. Outside of combat, you gain a bonus of +5 to wisdom based skill checks.
Forebearers’ Fate
At the 6th level, you gain a magical benefit based on the teachings of your mentoring ancestor. You can choose the same ancestor you selected at the 3rd level, or a different one.
“U.S.”
You gain the attributes of a renowned storyteller. Allies and enemies can no longer detect your usage of the cantrips Message and Friends. Additionally, you facilitate a tighter kinship of union among your party with your jokes, tales, and anecdotes.
“G.A.M.W.”
You gain the knowledge of local flora and fauna based medicines, as part of your ancestor’s continued research port-mortem. These remedies must be prepared and used outside of combat, curing minor afflictions, curses, and diseases, as well as potentially the amount of hit points equivalent to half of a short rest.
“G.B.”
You become a Natural Explorer, similar to the core functions of a ranger’s familiarity with the natural environment.
Divination of the Clan
Beginning at the 10th level, you gain access to the perks of The Third Eye, found in the wizarding School of Divination (see pgs. 116-117 of the PHB).
Gospel of Kinship
At the 14th level, you gain a magical benefit based on the teachings of your mentoring ancestor. You can choose the same ancestor you selected previously, or a different one.
“U.S.”
While you’re raging, an ally within 15 feet of you has an advantage to attack roles, including spellcasting. An enemy is immune to this effect if it can't see or hear you, or if it has modifiers to specific saving throws.
“G.A.M.W.”
You gain two spell slots of the 3rd level, and one spell slot of the 4th leveling. You may choose among the spells Longstrider, Barkskin, Darkvision, Daylight, Water Walk, or Freedom of Movement..
“G.B.”
You recover from broken bones with ungodly speed, reflected by your now permanent access to the spell Stoneskin’s effects, conditional upon your daily prayers to your grandmother every morning at dawn.
***

Bard: College of the Crystal Willow

The Gig: Bards of the College of the Crystal Willow are thoroughly intuitive to deep mental and spiritual pain within themselves and other sentient beings. This intuition can spark from an former trauma in the Bard’s life and experiences, though is nearly as equally persistent in the rare personality traits of empathic individuals who follow their intuition and research accordingly. Followers of this school are both highly sensitive and fiercely protective.
Students of this school maintain a balance of healing through active listening and reserved tokens of advice, not wishing to lecture according to the teachings of their birth culture, but instead enable those around them towards a path of resiliency, redemption, and self-improvement. They themselves echo the pain of others within their creative outlets, as well as offer respite with cherry-picked teachings from the vast collection of their open minds. The members of this college lean more towards a predisposition of natural wonders of the world over the artificial constructs of a so-called “civilized society.”

Leveling

We are not Shamans
Beginning at the 3rd level, you gain the feat Lucky for free, whether or not your campaign invokes the use of feats.
We are Rockstars
Beginning at the 6th leveling, you gain +2 to your passive AC, reflecting your thick skin towards criticism and personal faults.
We will Follow You
Beginning at the 10th level, your usages of Bardic Inspiration are doubled on or against targets with half or below their maximum hit point potential.
We can Guide You
Beginning at the 14th level, you gain a greater understanding in your word choices, grammar, and verb usage in charisma checks, enabling you to essentially take a mulligan on a low scoring charisma based skill check once per day or long rest. The DM will assist and interpret the role-playing aspect of this ability to their own discretion.
***

Warlock: Otherworldly Patron: Coven of the White Witches

The Juice: Your Patron enables your demi-divine ascension along an altruistic path. While you continue to acquire forbidden knowledge of dark and evil entities and locations throughout the known and unknown world, your actions drift towards practicing protection against such malfested manifestations. As such, you have limited knowledge beyond the teachings of the commonly taught wizarding schools of Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Illusion, Necromancy, and Transmutation (hereby abbreviated to School A, C, D, I, N, and T).

Leveling

Flunked Out Too Soon
Beginning at the 2nd level, you may choose among the perks of Arcane Ward (School A), Minor Conjuration, Portent (School D), Improved Minor Illusion, Grim Harvest modified for exclusive use against constructs and undead (School N), and Minor Alchemy.
Gone Your Own Way
Beginning at the 2nd level, you gain access to schools of magic that are normally limited to the Warlock class. At the 6th, 10th, and 14th level, when you gain a spell slot or the choice of a new spell, you may choose from any class, similar to the Bardic College of lore perk Additional Magical Secrets. You remain restricted to the Warlock class spell list for all other levels.
Slippery Victim
Beginning at the 6th level, you may choose among the perks of Benign Transposition (School C), Undead Thrall (reflavored to Undead Spirit, retaining prior classification), or Transmuter’s Stone. Your choice of perks must come from a different school than previously selected.
Forbidden Adept
Beginning at the 10th level, you may choose among the perks of Improved Abjuration (School A), Focused Conjuration, The Third Eye (School D), Illusory Self, Inured to Undeath (School N), and Shapechanger. Your choice of perks must come from a different school than selected at the 6th level, though you may repeat a specialization selected at the 2nd level.
Doctorate of Independent Study
Beginning at the 14th level, your affinity toward expert spellcasting allows you to choose a perk from previously restricted schools of expertise, including the schools of Enchantment and Evocation. You may choose among the perks of Spell Resistance (School A), Durable Summons, Alter Memories (School of Enchantment), Overchannel (School of Evocation), Illusionary Reality, or Master Transmuter. Your choice of perk is not restricted by prior selections.
***
PLAYERS, ARE YOU SICK OF BUILDING YOUR OWN CASTLE OR BUSINESS?
WELL NOW, YOU CAN BUILD, REMODEL, AND FUND YOUR OWN SENTO / ONSEN / BATH HOUSE SPA AND SAUNA, RIGHT HERE ON THE PLANE OF ICE. See doc. table on pg. 52.

Politics / Religion / Culture / Factions

(re: what do the inhabitants desire and value?)
Listed below are summations of what is officially available to off-planers under the Order of Cerulean’s Censorship pertaining to other factions surviving beyond the Order’s empire of caverns: Note that much of the Order’s knowledge on these factions is biased in such a way that feeds their propaganda of constant victory in their Ice Cavern Crusade, pitched as nearing its end, but rumored to have stagnated, or worse, even abandoned. It seems the fervor driving planar unity has lost it’s zeal, likely as a consequence of the Order’s continued involvement in inter-planar politics.
  1. Blackglass Collective (Lawful Evil)
    1. A secret society spearheaded by a few competing mind flayers and their thralls
    2. Blackglass is known for its extreme magnetic properties, thus earning it the commonly translated nickname “Compassbane”
  2. Cult of Frozen Blood (Chaotic Evil)
    1. A multi-racial society centered on raiding, blood sacrifice, ritualized cannibalism, and the veneration of grotesque biomatter effigies
    2. Thought to have been a perversion of an ancient fertility pantheon, misnomer-ly labeled as “old gods”
    3. Their mascot symbol is that of the Corrupted Deer Folk, who develop antlers protruding from their shoulders in place of their crowns
  3. Githzerai Isolationists (Neutral); Githyanki Raiders (Neutral Evil)
    1. Astral Sea explorers, whose present and former structures almost certainly predate the arrival of undead to the plane
  4. The Warlord Hiveminds of SteelStinger Insectoids (Chaotic Neutral)
    1. Primordial antagonists to Denisovans, as well as two races of Gith
    2. Gith control never seemed to extend to that of the Order of Ceruleans Empireistic reach, prior to and after the arrival of the undead. SteelStinger Hives, however, once pocketed the plane like holes in a honeycomb
    3. Hive Colonies can exceed metropolis sized complexes, generally oriented around a central shaft resembling a hurricane’s eye to the surface
    4. Steelstinger drones, workers, and soldiers resemble other insectoids such as the Thri-kreen, albeit with the addition of blade-like stationary wings. Their abdomen ends in a stinger resembling a drill bit. Their forearm appendages are thricely bulkier to their upper arm counterparts, suggesting an additional evolutionary appendage for excavation, though to what end nature makes itself redundantly incarnated is the subject of precious few debates, leading one perhaps to an outlier theory that is the horror of one competing species such as ourselves: that the Steelstinger Hives may have in fact uncovered some dark art method of bio-engineering, applying their revelations to the very generational fabric of their own species.
  5. Denisovans — Frost Giants (Chaotic Neutral)
    1. See dedicated section above in Locals.

The Nine Nations

Please see doc. for more information scattered across many, many tables.
Table’s Contributing Author —
— Walrus Folk, Vince Tularoue the Third, Professional Comedian and Adept Sous Chef.
Crane Folk
Primary Value: Good fishermen ambush.
Secondary Value: Bad fishermen hunt
Fault or Crisis -- a) Beaks didn’t evolve to debate, did they? b) Low population struggling with genetic diversity.
Curiosity: Caves aren’t as great when you have wings
Politics -- Amicable with Beaver and Otter Folk, despite sharing overlapping territories. Hostile to Min-Yetis, who eat their avian eggs.
Beaver Folk (River Triad 1/3)
Primary Value: Breakfast is best served with coffee and calculus
Secondary Value: Dad always said, “what chew gonna do, sit there all day and watch your teeth grow?”
Fault or Crisis -- Tectonic shifts have damaged many of their oldest civic projects, causing them distress towards the mystery of their origin.
Curiosity: Call it projection or whatever, but something in their beady eyes tells me they could chew through my shin bone in about seven seconds flat, should they wish to.
Politics -- Strongest ties with the Otter and Walrus Nations, long since bannered under the River Triad. Beaver Folk are least impressed by the Rabbit Folk nomads. Oh, and they have a mutual respect with the Ceruleans by virtue of exchange of their shared Hydraulic technology
Yakadians -- Yak Folk
Primary Value: Always spouting woke shit like “The spirits of our ancestors will guide our people’s survival.”
Secondary Value: “These animated skeletons be wack, what the hell?” They tend to be more serious than that, however, as they know their way around a grass pipe.
Fault or Crisis -- Yakadians make repeated attempts to unite the nations, seeing the Undead Purge as a cyclical threat that will return. Their passion against the undead is fueled by the contradiction of the incarnation to their belief system of life after death
Curiosity: Yakadians make for eager clerics, paladins, shamans, and monks, often fulfilling the role of communicating with the spirit world on behalf of their community
Politics -- Longest on-again off-again ally status with Order of Ceruleans, who share a common enemy and dogma against undead reanimations, though Yakadians fault the Order for prioritizing Planar Politics over Underberg Unification
Deer Folk (normal)
Primary Value: Deer Folk practice and research medicine, drawing on their vast collective knowledge of polar botany.
Secondary Value: Best growers across the Nations, developing dozens of sub crop species of polar maize, winter squash, tunda tobacco, arctic kush, crystal willow, cave birch, and saxo-antler reeds.
Fault or Crisis -- They bury their dead across vast stretches of glacial snowdunescaping mounds, forming them into ornate patterns. These sites are often desecrated by corrupted Deer Folk and their faction of the Cult of Frozen Blood.
Curiosity: They gather and collect their fallen antlers, repurposing them into religious and musical instruments.
Politics -- They posses stronger relations with terrestrial folk, though do not invoke animosity to nations such as the Crane Folk or River Triad.
Deer Folk (corrupted) (not a recognized nation)
See the Cult of Frozen Blood, above. These folk have antlers erupting from their shoulder blades, in contrast to the the well-known crown of antlers found on most deer, elk, and moose.
Tabaxi -- See Volvo's Guide to Monsters, pgs. 113-115. Additional re-canon-izing here.
Primary Value: Wealth as a ration, to be stored away for hibernation
Secondary Value: The story behind a rare, mystical artifact.
Fault or Crisis -- Wanders of other planes, and former enslavers of the Rabbit Folk, to whom they continue payment of reparations.
Curiosity: The tabaxi express perhaps the widest variation of alignments, going through each as a phase in their so-called nine lives.
Politics -- Shaky with Crane Folk and Rabbit Folk; neutral with water triad, Staunch Friendship with Deer Folk and the Min-Yeti.
Walrus Folk (River Triad 2/3)
Primary Value: Armchair Academy, including armchair philosophy, artistry, comedy, and puppet theater.
Secondary Value: Counter Culture, Tragedy and Comedy
Fault or Crisis -- The artist Loufin Van Stash once thought cutting off his left tusk and gifting it to a pretty walrus would be romantic. It wasn’t.
Curiosity: The nation’s favorite sports include King of the IceBerg, and Otter Polo Spectating
Politics -- Walrus folk complete the River Triad, though hailing from the surface oceans. They openly mock most lacking their stout stature.
Otter Folk (River Triad 3/3)
Primary Value: Stay away from my clam!
Secondary Value: I like rivers, do you like rivers? Here, dis be bestest river map eva, you pay me back, yes?
Fault or Crisis -- A surprisingly moody, rude, and brash — but also quite clever and cute — group of sentients.
Curiosity: Their origin story involves a Promethean demigod delivering to them both a clam and a hard rock.
Politics -- Otter Folk tend to be a polarizing force among other nations and clans, altering their friendships and rivalries as frequently as the river adjusts and corrects its flow
Min-Yetis
Primary Value: "OHMYGOSH;" "HIIIIIIIIIIIII." Min-yetis are generally content with life the way it is, so long as it’s with company.
Secondary Value: "Hungry! Excited! New Friends!" Min-yeti’s were once renowned astronomers, with some stories saying they fell into a sort of madness after extended confinement in caves, possibly explaining their current difficulty in expressing their more complex observations.
Fault or Crisis -- Min-Yetis are seen as overly trusting in disposition, leading to their manipulation by more nefariously minded “friends.” Other nations may or may not refer to their perceived stupidity.
Curiosity: "Why do I put up with you?" Min-Yeti prefer traveling and trading petty trinkets in lieu of studying or crafting goods. They make decent bodyguards, enforcers, and bouncers, given patiently extensive training programs
Politics -- Min-yeti delight in chasing Crane Folk, shouting “TALL, WEIRD, AROO AROO AROOOOOOOOOO.” They also enjoy eating Crane Folk egg yolks, having formally raided the nation in many brutal skirmishes over the centuries.
Rabbit Folk
Primary Value: Down the rabbithole? Wait until you see this hat trick — Rabbit Folk have a natural affinity to finding and creating portals.
Secondary Value: Fiercely anti-Tabaxi, their former enslavers.
Fault or Crisis -- have a predisposition to self-isolation policies.
Curiosity: Rabbit Folk are masters of portal hopping, and display a natural affinity to the arcane.
Politics -- Rabbit Folk often struggle to find a common ground with other nations, save for the Yakadians, whom they hold in fraternal esteem, and the Deer Folk, which they barter agricultural practices with.
***

Fin (/s) — Addtl. 20 pages of Surface Layer Content

Expansion — Surface Setup
Open World Surface Layer

Epilogue Preview:

Homebrew Ecology Table -- see doc. pgs. 68-76, including loot, alchemy components, trade goods, and cultural significance.
Surface Table of Locations -- including half canon, half homebrew, see doc. pgs. 77-78
Surface Table of Mysteries -- see doc. pgs. 79-82.
Arctic Fauna (Botany) Table -- see doc. pgs. 83-85.
Ice Fishing Table -- see end of doc.

Actual Fin

The End


This post is dedicated to the current entities of awareness: Gabrielle White Bear, Allison Childs, Nancy Jane, and Kelsey Yunker, all powerful spirits incarnated as females of varying degrees of indigenous heritage. Given another chance, this user would gladly take the lessons gained in the present to that of yesterday, given another lifelong scenario of “Groundhog Day)” repetition. Thank you so much for reading, and to the mod team for their advice. Happy belated Indigenous Peoples Day (formerly known as Columbus Day) as well as early celebration of the day of giving thanks, here in the USA on 26 Nov. 2020! All the well wishes to those in stress and suffering during our current political, environmental, and pandemic-based global crisis ~
  • Editor “Corrupted” Mind Flayer, Izu Kafka, and user Foen7, Izu’s Thrall
submitted by foen7 to DnDBehindTheScreen

8

Masterpost on the People's Republic of China

Introduction
The People's Republic of China is the largest nation on Earth, and one of only four officially Marxist-Leninist states in the world today (alongside Vietnam, Laos, and Cuba). Over the last few years it has emerged as the world's leading economic power, and as a result has been subjected to near-constant demonization from Western media and propaganda outlets. In order to gain a proper understanding of the PRC, and to distinguish legitimate points of criticism (of which there are many, particularly relating to political and civil rights) from Sinophobic slanders, it is necessary to go over the history, economy, and development of the country. As always, all sources are cited at the end.
Pre-Communist China
Before going over the revolutionary and post-revolutionary periods in China, it is necessary to understand what the country was like before the People's Republic was declared in 1949. According to a study in the Journal of Global Health, China at this time was "one of the most impoverished nations on Earth." To quote:
After a century of domination by Europeans, the fall of the Qing Empire was followed by partial Japanese occupation and a 38-year civil war. The vast majority of the population were engaged in subsistence agriculture, and a survey on the causes of death conducted in 1929-31 revealed that more than half of all deaths were caused by infectious diseases.
In a book on China and India, Nobel-winning economist Amartya Sen (Harvard University) notes that pre-communist China suffered from "high levels of mortality, undernutrition, and illiteracy." According to a study from the London School of Economics:
Western visitors to China in the 1920s and 1930s paint a picture where land scarcity is the predominant cause of high levels of hunger and poverty. Famines were widespread and severe and periods of hunger were a fact of life for many Chinese peasants. Ownership of land was highly unequal. The best estimates from this period suggest that, taken together, landlords (who were rich enough to avoid doing agricultural labor) and rich peasants (who did agricultural labor but also relied heavily on tenants and hire labor) typically owned upward of half the land though their share in the population typically did not exceed 10 percent. Poor peasants and agricultural laborers who owned little or no land formed the majority of the population.
Educational standards in Kuomintang China were horrible. According to a study in the journal Population Studies, in 1949 "more than 80 per cent of China's population was illiterate. Enrollment rates in primary and middle schools were abysmal: 20 and 6 per cent, respectively." In addition, women's rights were highly curtailed and patriarchal norms were widespread; according to a study in the journal Modern China, this trend continued as Kuomintang rule took root in Taiwan. All-in-all, KMT China can be safely said to have been one of the poorest societies in the world, plagued by starvation, patriarchy, and feudal oppression.
The Maoist Period (1949-1976)
After the PRC's founding was declared in 1949 (an event captured on film, for those who are interested), the Communists quickly set to work implementing their new agenda. According to the aforementioned study in the Journal of Global Health:
The Communists were quick to make good on promises of land-reform and establishment of a national “people’s” government. In 1950 a Marriage Law was enacted, providing equal rights for women, and the first National Health Congress established a focus on rural health, disease prevention through campaigns, and collaboration between western and traditional Chinese medicine.
According to the aforementioned study from the London School of Economics, the land reforms "led to the destruction of feudal power relationships in agriculture," leading to "universal and egalitarian access to land within localities." The reforms also led to a dramatic reduction in poverty and hunger. To quote:
Mao's legacy of universal and egalitarian access to land represents a key means of avoiding hunger. This helps us to understand how China has managed to escape the high levels of hunger which typify low income countries.
Health outcomes improved dramatically after the Communists took power. To quote from the Journal of Global Health:
China’s progress on communicable disease control (CDC) in the 30 years after establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949 is widely regarded as remarkable. Life expectancy soared by around 30 years, infant mortality plummeted and smallpox, sexually transmitted diseases and many other infections were either eliminated or decreased massively in incidence, largely as a result of CDC.
The aforementioned study in Population Studies, confirms these findings, noting that "China's growth in life expectancy between 1950 and 1980 ranks as among the most rapid sustained increases in documented global history." Another study, this one from the journal Health Services Evaluation, makes similar observations:
The health of China’s population improved dramatically during the first 30 years of the People’s Republic, established in 1949. By the mid-1970s, China was already undergoing the epidemiologic transition, years ahead of other nations of similar economic status, and by 1980, life expectancy (67 years) exceeded that of most similarly low-income nations by 7 years.
According to the Journal of Global Health, these improvements "can be attributed to population mobilization, mass campaigns and a focus on sanitation, hygiene, clean water and clean delivery," as well as "clinical care and continuing public health programs to the masses through community-funded medical schemes and the establishment of community-based health workers."
Education also improved dramatically in the Maoist era. According to the aforementioned study in Population Studies:
China made large strides in primary and secondary education under Mao. [...] During the 1950s, capital investments in primary and secondary school infrastructure increased tenfold, and dramatic increases in attendance followed. Primary school enrolment rates rose to 80 per cent by 1958 and to 97 per cent by 1975, and secondary school rates increased to 46 per cent by 1977.
Amartya Sen makes similar observations, noting that literacy was greatly expanded under Mao:
China's breakthrough in the field of elementary education had already taken place before the process of economic reform was initiated at the end of the seventies. Census data indicate, for instance, that literacy rates in 1982 for the 15-19 age group were already as high as 96 percent for males and 85 percent for females.
These achievements of the Maoist era made possible China's later economic miracle. Amartya Sen states that "the accomplishments relating to education, healthcare, land reforms, and social change in the pre-reform [Maoist] period made significantly positive contributions to the achievements of the post-reform period. This is so not only in terms of their role in sustained high life expectancy and related achievements, but also in providing firm support for economic expansion based on market reforms." In his aforementioned book on the topic, Sen summarizes the achievements of the Maoist period thusly:
Because of its radical commitment to the elimination of poverty and to improving living conditions - a commitment in which Maoist as well as Marxist ideas and ideals played an important part - China did achieve many things… [including] The elimination of widespread hunger, illiteracy, and ill health… [a] remarkable reduction in chronic undernourishment… a dramatic reduction of infant and child mortality and a remarkable expansion of longevity.
Of course, with all of this said, it should not be denied that the Maoist era saw some extremely serious problems. Most notable is the Great Leap Forward, which was a colossal failure, contributing to the Great Chinese Famine. A study in the Journal of Health Economics notes that the famine had major long-term effects on health and economic development in China, leading to reduced population height, and having a negative impact on labor supply and earnings of famine survivors. Even still, it cannot be denied that the Maoist period brought massive gains to the Chinese people, massively improving health, education, and nutrition, and laying the groundwork for China's later economic development.
Socialism with Chinese Characteristics
In 1978, in response to a perceived lack of necessary economic progress, the Communist Party of China embarked on an ambitious reform program, leading to the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics (SWCC). These reform programs have produced impressive results; according to a 2020 study in the Journal of Economic Issues:
Succinctly, in terms of economic development, the model has simultaneously achieved the following, all on unprecedented scales, particularly since the turn of the century: rapid expansion in both investment and consumption, rapid rises in both productivity and the wage rate, and rapid increases in job creation. All these have provided the necessary material conditions for broader social development: the fundamental enhancement of the power of labor, the reconstruction of a publicly-funded comprehensive healthcare system, and the acceleration of the process of urbanization.
We may now go over some of these achievements in more detail. To begin with, poverty in the PRC has been dramatically reduced. According to a 2019 report from Philip Alston (UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights):
China’s achievements in alleviating extreme poverty in recent years, and in meeting highly ambitious targets for improving social well-being, have been extraordinary. [...] Over the past three decades, and with particular speed in recent years, China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. This is a staggering achievement and is a credit to those responsible.
Economic growth has also increased dramatically. According to a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, "reforms yielded a significant growth and structural transformation differential. GDP growth is 4.2 percentage points higher and the share of the labor force in agriculture is 23.9 percentage points lower compared with the continuation of the pre-1978 policies." These results are remarkably impressive, and indicate that SWCC has been successful at its principal goals of developing China's productive forces and meeting the needs of the proletariat.
For those who argue that China is no longer socialist, or that SWCC is simply a form of "state capitalism," I would remind them of what Lenin said in his pamphlet The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It:
You will find that, given a really revolutionary-democratic state, state-monopoly capitalism inevitably and unavoidably implies a step, and more than one step, towards socialism! For if a huge capitalist undertaking becomes a monopoly, it means that it serves the whole nation. If it has become a state monopoly, it means that the state (i.e., the armed organization of the population, the workers and peasants above all, provided there is revolutionary democracy) directs the whole undertaking. In whose interest? Either in the interest of the landowners and capitalists, in which case we have not a revolutionary-democratic, but a reactionary-bureaucratic state, an imperialist republic. Or in the interest of revolutionary democracy—and then it is a step towards socialism. For socialism is merely the next step forward from state-capitalist monopoly. Or, in other words, socialism is merely state-capitalist monopoly which is made to serve the interests of the whole people and has to that extent ceased to be capitalist monopoly.
This perfectly describes the situation in the People's Republic of China: while there are capitalists and markets, they are under the constant control of the Communist Party and the proletarian state. In addition, state-owned enterprises continue to play an essential role in the Chinese economy, as we will now see.
The Continued Role of Public Ownership
Contrary to the popular perception that China's growth has been the result of a transition to capitalism, the evidence shows that public ownership continues to play a key growth-driving role in the PRC's economy. A 2019 study in the Review of Radical Political Economics found that "a higher share of state-owned enterprises is favorable to long-run growth and tends to offset the adverse effect of economic downturns on the regional level." Similarly, the aforementioned study in the Journal of Economic Issues found that China's state-owned enterprises "appear to have performed well in terms of productivity and profitability." They also "appear to have fulfilled the functions of broadly-based social and economic development." In other words, public ownership continues to play a leading role in the Chinese economy, being a major driver of growth.
Healthcare in Modern China
In the Maoist period, China built one of the developing world's most robust public healthcare systems, based on rural primary care, barefoot doctors, and regular mass campaigns, known as "patriotic health campaigns." Since the beginning of the reform period, China's healthcare system has gone through a number of phases. After an unfortunate period of regression and privatization, China has spent the last decade making rapid progress towards a new universal healthcare system. A 2020 study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) summarizes many of the goals and programs of China's recent health reforms:
Priority was given to expanding the scope and health service package of the basic insurance coverage, improving provider payment mechanisms, as well as increasing the financing level, fiscal subsidies and reimbursement rates. [...] The government has increased investment in primary care, with initiatives that include strengthening the infrastructure of primary healthcare (PHC) facilities, expanding human resources for primary care through incentives and supporting projects, establishing a general practitioner system and improving the capacity of PHC personnel through training and education, such as general practice training and continuous medical education programmes. [...] The ‘equalization of basic public health services’ policy implemented the national BPHS programme and the crucial public health service (CPHS) programme. [...] This policy seeks to achieve universal availability and promote a more equitable provision of basic health services to all urban and rural citizens.
The study goes on to note that China has made significant progress towards meeting its reform goals, and building a developed and equitable universal healthcare system:
During the past 10 years since the latest round of healthcare reform, China made steady progress in achieving the reform goals and UHC [i.e. universal health coverage].
In short, while China's healthcare system is not perfect, and is still in need of development, it is certainly moving in the right direction, following the general trend of the PRC's progress towards building a developed socialist society. As with many other aspects of China's socialist construction, this provides a model for other developing nations; according to the aforementioned BMJ study:
The lessons learnt from China could help other nations improve UHC in sustainable and adaptive ways, including continued political support, increased health financing and a strong PHC system as basis. The experience of the rapid development of UHC in China can provide a valuable mode for countries (mainly LMICs) planning their own path further on in the UHC journey.
This is another benefit of China's rise to prominence on the world stage. China demonstrates to the world that it is possible for a desperately poor country to rise from poverty, develop its economy, and meet the needs of its people.
Democracy and Popular Opinion in China
Polls conducted by Western researchers have consistently found that the Chinese people have a high level of support for their government, and for the Communist Party. A 2020 analysis by the China Data Lab (based at UC San Diego) found that support for the government has been increasing as of late. Similar results were found in a 2016 survey done by Harvard University's Ash Center:
The survey team found that compared to public opinion patterns in the U.S., in China there was very high satisfaction with the central government. In 2016, the last year the survey was conducted, 95.5 percent of respondents were either “relatively satisfied” or “highly satisfied” with Beijing. In contrast to these findings, Gallup reported in January of this year that their latest polling on U.S. citizen satisfaction with the American federal government revealed only 38 percent of respondents were satisfied with the federal government.
It is worth noting that the Chinese people are significantly less satisfied with local government than they are with the central government. This points to major issues with responsiveness and accountability at the local level, which must be addressed. Still, these results disprove the common notion that the Chinese people are ruled by an iron fisted regime that they do not want. Indeed, one official from the Ash Center noted that their findings "run counter to the general idea that these people are marginalized and disfavored by policies." As he states:
We tend to forget that for many in China, and in their lived experience of the past four decades, each day was better than the next.
In addition, most Chinese people are satisfied with the level of democracy in the PRC. A 2018 study in the International Political Science Review notes that "surveys suggest that the majority of Chinese people feel satisfied with the level of democracy in China." However, the study notes that "people who hold liberal democratic values" are more likely to be dissatisfied with the state of democracy in China. By contrast, those who hold a "substantive" view of democracy (i.e. one based on the idea that the state should focus on providing for the material needs of the people) are more satisfied.
Many of the other claims surrounding authoritarianism in China are highly overblown, to say the least. For instance, an article in Foreign Policy (the most orthodox of liberal policy journals) notes that the Chinese social credit system was massively exaggerated and distorted in Western media. An article in the publication Wired discusses how many of these overblown perceptions came to be. None of this is to suggest that China is a perfect democracy, with zero flaws; it certainly has issues relating to transparency, treatment of prisoners, etc. That being said, it is far from the totalitarian nightmare that imperialist media generally depicts it as being.
Chinese "Imperialism" and the Belt and Road Initiative
China is often accused of being an "imperialist" state, due primarily to its investments in Africa, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. These critics ignore the actual views of the African people themselves, who overwhelmingly approve of China's role in their economic development. In addition, the extent of Chinese involvement in Africa is smaller than often believed; according to a 2019 paper from the Center for Economic Policy Research, "China’s influence in Africa is much smaller than is generally believed, though its engagement on the continent is increasing. Chinese investment in Africa, while less extensive than often assumed, has the potential to generate jobs and development on the continent."
A 2018 study in the Review of Development Finance also found that Chinese investment in Africa raises incomes in the African nations that receive the investment, in a similar way to foreign investments by other nations. The author state that these results "suggest that the win-win deal China claims when investing in Africa may hold, and Chinese investment contributes to growth in Africa. Put differently, Chinese investment is mutually beneficial for both China and Africa."
For those interested in learning more, the economist Yanis Varoufakis discussed the topic in a recent lecture given at the Cambridge forum. He helpfully debunks a number of myths on the matter.
Conclusion
The People's Republic of China is undoubtedly the world's leading socialist state, and it is essential for all socialists to understand it. While there are many legitimate criticisms that one can make of China (from past economic errors to current human rights violations), it has made enormous progress in improving life for the people, as well as providing investments in developing countries in a mutually beneficial way. For this, it deserves the respect of all socialists and communists.
Sources
submitted by flesh_eating_turtle to GenZedong