Icewarren is a settlement of many different races living together in a deep glacial crevasse. Dwarven-engineered bridges of stone and ice serve as avenues that span the crevasse in criss-cross fashion. These walkways are usually covered by large canopies of canvas or hide to keep the near-constant snow off inhabitants. All manner of performances and commercial transactions occur on these often-expansive walkways, as many of which take the form of sloping ramps as actual stairs. A few are completely horizontal.
In Icewarren, the upper class lives on the deepest habitable levels, where they enjoy the warmth offered by thermal vents. The lower class lives near the very top, where the chill is an inescapable fact of life. Traversing the levels is possible by stairs – the long way – and by an elaborate system of pulley elevators – for a price. Enterprising residents and visitors know of secret routes that don’t require a toll for passage – but for those who would bar passage to earn a profit.
Elves are rare in Icewarren. Few in the city have ever seen one, and they retain a legendary status. Occasionally a stranger from a faraway land will come, either claiming to be an elf or keeping to themselves, before vanishing when their errand is through. There are some who claim half-elven lineage, but most are not believed.
The city is ruled by a representative council that includes (in order of population) humans, dwarves, gnomes, orcs and halflings. The city boasts a modest but skilled militia of men, dwarves and orcs. Race relations in Icewarren are mostly civil, but for the ancient prejudices between orcs and dwarves. All adult citizens of average Intelligence or better are required to serve shifts as census-takers, for the determination of council seats, just as all adult citizens of average health or better are required to serve as militiamen or adjudicators from time to time.
Perhaps the most popular pastime in Icewarren is drinking, and there are many establishments catering to this market. Pubs are for the destitute denizens of the upper levels, and clubs are for the extravagant citizens of the lower levels. Many clubs are actually formal “adventurers’ guilds” – just as many pubs are informal bases for adventurers.
There are many entrances to the Underdark bordering the caverns of Icewarren. These are guarded alternately by garrisons of dwarves and orcs. The threat comes mainly from legion upon legion of kobolds – which fill the role of subterranean aggressor that orcs are believed to have held in ages past – but drow have been know to encroach as well.
Many in Icewarren quest to find the fabled Cloister, a hoped-for bastion of nature and lore that predates the Ice Age.
Magic is a daily part of life in Icewarren, used as a source of heat and defense. At least one school for wizards meets in a secret cavern or caverns on an unknown level of Icewarren. Ancient enchantments bind many of the ice-carved structures of the city, and make possible the combination of icework and stonemasonry in an art that is lost to the ages. There are many who have made it their lives’ work to rediscover these arcane secrets.
There are impromptu shrines to many different gods in Icewarren, but there is no fixed temple of any size to be found. The winding caverns of the city hold many secret places for worship, however, so one never knows.
There are no graves in Icewarren, and heat cannot be spared to cremate the dead, so corpses are taken outside to the frigid wastes and “sacrificed” – as some see it – to the wild animals that can survive there.