Grim Up North
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Basic Information

This speculative fiction trope depicts an icy hell in the far north. It may be home to vikings, vampires, The Dark Lord or other dangerous folks. The trope typically focuses on it being cold, dark, and remote. It focuses on the fact that places near the north pole have extremely long dayless winters without ever mentioning the extremely long nightless summers - presumably for a world that didn't tilt on its axis, this would be entirely congruent and even more applicable as without those long summer days, habitability would fall off a lot faster that it does on our world.

On a less extreme basis the North of anything will tend to assign itself the reputation of being tougher and "grittier" than the South, besides any actual cultural differences that exist - for large chunks of the developed world1, "the North" is usually more (post)industrial and of lower socio-economic status, invoking tropes such as rust belt and urban prairie, with concurrent themes of poverty and self reliance.

Presumably this would apply much the same towards the South Pole, except that little inhabited land runs that far south. Again, different planets may have different approaches to this.

The application of this trope to places like Vietnam and Korea is incidental … those are places where the weather was the least of their problems.

Related Tropes:
Evil Is Deathly Cold
Mysterious Antarctica
World Shapes

See Also:
Global Warming
North Pole



Game and Story Use

  • As Superman can tell you, the poles are a great place for your secret headquarters.
    • Should someone disturb you there, however, you know they mean business. People don't cross arctic ice sheets for nothing.
    • Which fits just perfect with this being the site of the Big Bad's Supervillain Lair. Putting his HQ in such a place has two impacts:
      1. The PCs have a long trek ahead of them, and there won't be convenient towns to resupply at.
      2. The villains mooks will have higher-than-normal constitutions. Wusses can't survive in such an environment.
        • Okay, I guess wusses with really good survival gear and thick winter coats might survive it.
  • Weather and Exposure are sure to present additional Environmental Hazards for the players to cross.
  • This is also a good place to re-do Dune only with snow rather than sand…
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