Here is the basic story arc, written from the point of view of the Gellmar (explained below) for an upcoming game I will be running with another DM. More to come on that development. Please read and give feedback. Also point out any grammatical/spelling/punctuation errors so that I can correct them.
Let me know what you guys think of the story. (this is 3.5e)
The Singing North
According to tomes possessed by the Gellmar, an ancient arctic society of Elves, this wasn't always a frozen wasteland. Some five or six decamillenials ago this was a temperate land with lush forests, clear lakes and great rivers. The Dwarves and the Elves fought a great many centuries over control of this vast territory. There came a time when the two races tired of this constant fueding, and an Elven princess was betrothed to a Dwarven prince. While both of their names have long passed from mortal memory the story of their passion has not. The newly crowned King and Queen ruled in relative peace for the first time in centuries, the two races, while still recovering from the wounds of war found reason to be civil towards one another and a period of prosperity ensued.
The Queen proved herself to be a wise and patient ruler. During their reign the queen tempered the Kings flaring temper, bringing a sense of compassion to the throne. Because of her patience the kingdom was able to recover economically and to develop a just set of laws, the Queen declared edicts of fair trials for citizens, public office holding, voting, and share rulership of the people and the monarchy. The Queen created the first council of elders to draft legislation on behalf of the people. During much of this time the King was either absent, or fumed and railed against her on matters of dispersing the powers of autocratic rule. In time, the Kings distemper would be the undoing of her achievements.
The King, being a Dwarf, was simply not content to live life by the rules of Elvish nobility. Repression turned to brooding and finally he caved into temptation. Carefully the King hid his activities and took a great many mistresses across the land. The Kings passion was of legend, his mistresses were not simply sexual transgressions, they were lovers. He seduced all manner of maidens, Nymphs, Harpies, Mermaids, Ice and Fire maidens...the true extent of his philandering has been lost.
The Queen had learned of his transgressions early on, and with great temperance she attempted to win back the favor of her prince through various means. She would languish for years over his continued affairs. The King would repeatedly disappoint her. Eventually she tired of his transgressions, determined to confront the King and expose his infidelity to the High Council she gave him one last ultimatum. The King became furious and in his indignance began pointing the finger at the Queen, slandering and defamating her at the court with baseless charges, calling her cold and barren. In a fit of jealous rage the Queen stabbed him in the heart. While the King was dying she cut out his heart, sliced it into pieces and sent a piece to each of his mistresses, cursing them to live an eternal life of mourning-with the intent of making them suffer as she had suffered.
The death of the King immediately reignited the fueding between the Elves and Dwarves, each side pointing its finger at the other, but one thing is certain, the Dwarves would deal the first blow by stealing away the heir and declaring the queen unfit to rule. Ignoring the facts of the case, the Dwarven Storm Guard attempted to murder the royal family. The queen, her heart hard and cold from the pain, betrayal and loss, amassed an army and waged a campaign against the Dwarves, ultimately driving them out of the North into the savage jungles of the South.
With the war won the Queen locked herself away in her chambers, mourning her loss and slowly descending into madness. The proceeding years became known as the gray years. The Queen, in the twilight of her life, became bitter and cold. Unable to deal with the pain of her losses, the failures of her marraige, and the betrayal of those she was closest to, she slowly became a recluse. The Northern territory became a solemn place, as if an air of despair hung over the entire continent. The day the beloved Queen died it began to snow, Elvish legend holds that winter has not broken since the death of the Ice Queen (as she is now referred to). Unable to reunite the remaining royal family the Elves descended into petty bickering as the strength of the former Queens edicts dissipated. A few short years after her death the Elves fractured into multiple factions and civil war ensued.
Thousands of years of warfare resulted in a diminished Elvish empire and two distinct factions living apart from one another. The Gellmar, those loyal to the royal bloodline and the icequeen settled further south on the now frozen central freshwater sea. There they built a massive city. The Gellmar are a matriarchal society in the most extreme sense. Men are subordinate to women, women make up the military, the hunting party's (little crop growing can be done in the frozen wastes), and run the politcal sphere. Men labor, clean, and act as servants and 'breeders'.
The Gellmar are a people of tradition, custom is important to them, to the point of being held in higher regard than reason. The Gellmar are extremely distrustful of outsiders, especially men. Most of their shopkeepers won't even sell to outsiders, but overall they will still discuss business with outsiders, who are so rare they almost immediately garner a seat at the High Maidens table. The High Maiden rules the Gellmar with an iron fist-although even she is subordinate to custom and culture. The High Maiden has the authority of an absolute dictator, but is expected to conform to tradition, and to rule with wisdom and patience.
The second faction is the Snowblind. When the Gellmar won the war the remaining Elves were driven away high into the mountains, here they have become savage and barbaric over the millenia. The Snowblind are a patriarchal society, although the women are not nearly as subordinate as Gellmar men. This society exists more as hunter gatherers. Although they are Nomadic, they may stay in one location for many years before deciding to move.
The Snowblind are expert hunters, and like the Gellmar are highly distrustful to outsiders, unlike the Gellmar most Snowblind will either hide from, or attack outsiders on sight. Few have ever encountered a Snowblind settlement as they are very remote, and well hidden.
The Singing North has earned its name because of the curse laid upon the maidens thousands of years ago. For thousands of years the sweet mournful music echoing out of the wildlands has been a haunting reminder of the pain suffered in this land-and a continuation of it. The Singing North is an especially hazardous place, if the constant blizzards, bone-chilling cold, viscious predators, savage elves, ancient dead and trap filled ruins, or vast unforgiving environment don't kill you-the singing maidens will. For thousands of years the singing maidens have captivated the minds of travelers, enticing them to follow the music-invariably to their demise. It is for this reason that so few men are allowed to traverse the ice alone, the Gellmar send out only women, in hopes they will be less likely to follow the voices should they catch the sounds of faint mournful notes in the distance.