rating: +7

7 votes (+7, -0) 5★

rating: +7+x


Frozen in Time

Difficulty 5/5 Extreme peril throughout. No permanent safety.
Entity Count 4/5 Countless beasts.
Chaos Gradient 1/5 Little to no changes in limspace.
Basset-Frazier Index 3.33/5 Hostile winterland made even more dangerous by terrible monsters.


To the North lies one of Thalasso’s Cardinal thresholds known by many names, such as The Eternal Frost, Cocytus, Absolute Zero, and Shivergate. No matter the name, one thing is sure, this world is a frigid hellscape. The many names for Shivergate originate from the many different entrance points across the Northern Hemisphere. The threshold has multiple entrances due to its gigantic scale and the tendency for some openings to shift positions. This makes Shivergate a world home to various cultures, daring explorers, and bone-chilling beasts. However, only the most resilient survive the frozen wasteland, as Shivergate is not a forgiving land.

Shivergate is divided into three zones, each with its own perils. Verglasking’s Labyrinth, The Howling Forest, and Hailscream are the chilling challenges that those who wish to venture into Thalasso through the North Cardinal must best.


The most common entrances into Shivergate are through Brinkways, suddenly materializing ice caverns within mountain ranges. The Brinkways give no inclination of when or where they will emerge but will always dissipate slowly within 24 hours. Traversing Brinkways is treacherous as there are often massive drops, sharp icicles, and slippery conditions. However, while spelunking a Brinkway, the environment gradually shifts into one of the cave systems of Verglasking’s Labyrinth. Once the shift occurs, wanderers will find their path replaced with a solid wall of ice miles thick.

Brinkways have taken the lives of many unfortunate souls. However, the number of victims has steadily declined as safety organizations have enforced stricter caving laws, and a few Keepers1 have devoted themselves to tracking down the Brinkways and making sure to keep people out.

Beacon Trees

Thought only to be a local legend, Beacon Trees are peculiar trees that sprout during fierce snowstorms in colder climates. The trees are massive and durable enough to withstand the fiercest blizzards. Their glowing barks and leaves guide stragglers in the white storms to their dependable roots. However, those who seek refuge in the Beacon Trees find that the tree is not their savior but their doom. Lingering under a Beacon Tree for too long causes the tree to drop its heavy crystal leaves like a net to catch its prey. The tree then descends through the ground silently with its catch until it eventually sprouts in The Howling Forest of Shivergate. This rapid descent through the bounds of reality is almost always deadly, yet some still see these crystalline trees as their chance to enter Thalasso.

Beacon Trees are found throughout The Howling Forest but are much more docile than their Baseline counterparts. Survivors have found that the tree’s wood and leaves are excellent for crafting shelters and tools. However, it is a dangerous game trying to cut down even one of these mighty trees as not only are they durable, the life around them is deadly.

The Glacial Eye


Wandering Glacial Eye

Lastly, of the entrances to Shivergate is The Glacial Eye—a towering archway carved into a glacier that roams the Arctic Ocean. The Glacial Eye is exceedingly difficult to find due to the scale of the Arctic Ocean and the fact that the eye usually avoids contact with humans. Even when found, The Glacial Eye may not even be active. Only during full moons does the eye open and allow passage to Shivergate. A ship is required to pass through the eye as the eye has no steady land to traverse. When traversing, ships find themselves somewhere within the sea of Hailscream.

Strangely, however, The Glacial Eye has recently been reported seeking out ships and forcing them to pass through. The reasoning behind the shift in behavior is unknown.

Verglasking’s Labyrinth


An open section in Verglasking's Labyrinth

Verglasking’s Labyrinth is the largest and least documented of the three zones of Shivergate. At first, Verglasking’s Labyrinth is indistinguishable from the Brinkways and their treacherous ice caverns. However, deeper into Verglasking’s Labyrinth, the cavern becomes a casket of ice. The natural-looking carved ice tunnels shift into a web of connected passageways without rhyme or reason. Dead ends, impossibly deep falls, and elaborately artistic rooms litter the labyrinth. The cavern frequently changes from neatly carved halls with stone brick patterns and etchings to roughly chipped tunnels. Some halls are large enough to be traversed by large groups, while others are barely large enough for someone to crawl through.

Deep in the ice, the destruction of an ancient and grand city is caught perfectly in time. Behind the thick frost, partly destroyed stone brick homes, temples, and palaces lay full of humans frozen with faces of fear and anger. Birds are suspended high above, cattle lay with solidified blood in the frosted fields, and numerous chimeric beasts latch onto the anguish-filled soldiers forever. This once-great city is out of place here in Shivergate. The people were ill-equipped for the unbearable frost. Where this city came from or whether it was always here is a mystery that seemingly has no answers beyond the primary culprit, the Monarch in Glass, Verglasking.

The landscape of Verglasking’s Labyrinth is not the only source of peril in the frosted maze. While the labyrinth is not the best at sustaining life, a few animals have found solid ground. While most of the animals in the maze either die quickly or escape back to Baseline or The Howling Forest, two animals, in particular, have found themselves in a stalemate for survival. The Icechippers and the Diamondweavers live to kill one another.

Icechippers are giant white moles with impressive claws to break through the most formidable ice. Despite being giant, the Icechippers do not require much sustenance. They only use energy when they have to. They can wait for several days before moving in on their prey. Their prey is usually any animals that wander into the maze, but their main prey is the Diamondweavers.

Diamondweavers resemble giant spindly blue spiders adorned with crystalline armor. These giant arthropods prey upon anything that stumbled into their invisible but durable webs. However, they much prefer the flesh of Icechippers to the point that they will target an Icechipper over any prey caught in their nets. They camouflage amidst the ice and wait for Icechippers to try and catch any prey. The waiting game between the two lasts until one finally decides to move. Whoever gets the jump on the other is usually the winner. The Icechipper’s claws break through the Diamondweaver’s armor as if made of sand, while the Diamondweaver’s webs can completely halt the Icechipper’s movement.


Another victim of Verglasking's Curse

Within the labyrinth walls, a powerful being known as Verglasking resides. The Monarch in Glass, as he is called by many, rules the maze using his thousand eyes and arms. The walls of ice can, at any moment, become vessels for his will. Living constructs of ice, warping tunnels, and manifesting traps are all signs of Verglasking. However, encountering Verglasking himself is extremely unlikely. In most cases, wanderers only meet remnants of the lord’s will through golems of ice left to wander the tunnels until destroyed.

While Verglasking has dominion over the entire labyrinth, he does have a physical body. Deep in the glass maze, a massive cavern houses a monumental ice castle at its center above a frozen lake of an impossible depth into darkness. It is in this castle that Verglasking sits upon his throne of crystal. His form is usually that of his ice subjects but in the shape of a king wearing a mask-faced-crown. However, like his labyrinth, he can mold his icy body in any way he desires—from a lowly ant to a fearsome dragon.

The few who survived encountering Verglasking claim to have felt deep pangs of deep sadness and freezing in their bones, unlike anything they had felt before. All who make physical contact with Verglasking are afflicted with Verglasking’s Curse. This curse causes those afflicted to slowly freeze over time, scaling with the level of contact with the king. Brief contact causes the curse to take several years before the eventual freezing of the body, while prolonged contact causes the curse to freeze the body within minutes. The unlucky souls who have suffered Verglasking’s Curse can still be found where they lie entombed in the ice forever. Unlike some other curses, Verglasking's Curse has not been found to be curable.

While he mainly resides within his domain, Verglasking occasionally wanders into The Howling Forest and rarely visits Hailscream. When he leaves his maze of ice, he brings several dozen ice constructs as escorts. The already frigid landscape chills into glassy ice as the group walks through the forest. The beasts of the woods stay clear of the king of ice and stand frozen, staring at his regal parade. The reasoning for why Verglasking leaves his labyrinth is unknown. His trips are not on a schedule and are rarely seen.

The nature of Verglasking, his labyrinth, and the frozen city are enigmas that have beckoned a few explorers to the frigid halls. Yet, the deeper they venture into his domain, the more questions are spurred, such as what lies under the frozen lake, what Verglasking truly is, and where it all came from.

“At my advanced age, I have been asked many questions about the seas I crossed and the perils I faced. In each town, someone always asks me what the worst experience of my life I had conquered was. They always ask it to bring hope to the weary and inspire the children to seek great things. I tell them about my battle with the Red Whale that took my leg each time. However, each time, I tell the tale knowing that I am lying to the faces of those who trust me."

"I lie to them because if I told them the worst experience of my life, they would lose what is left of their little hope. My time in Verglasking’s Labyrinth is not a tale of triumph and legend. It is a frigid tragedy where I only made it out alive because of the sacrifice of my friends and family. Even then, I made it out by the skin of my teeth. So, whenever I am asked about the worst of my tales, I tell the tale of that silly Red Whale.”

— Gunnar Hearth, Charter

The Howling Forest

Those who escape Verglasking’s Labyrinth find themselves either in Baseline or deeper into Shivergate. The Howling Forest is a treacherous tundra landscape of death full of hills, crystalline trees, and lethal hunters that hide in the snow. While the labyrinth is a slow, calm death, the forest is an eternal vicious battle between strugglers and monsters. The constant harsh winds and blizzards only drown out the howls and screams.

The trees that make up the forest are Beacon Trees that vibrantly glow throughout the permanent night. Anyone who wants to survive The Howling Forest must adapt and utilize the Beacon Trees, as the trees are the only hope within the frosted lands. The Beacon Trees in the forest are one of the primary food sources within Shivergate because of their Ghost Apples. Ghost Apples are small, partly translucent apples that glow a slight cyan. The bark is solid, nonflammable, and gives off a bright blue light regardless of its condition. These traits make Beacon Trees essential to braving the elements and traversing deeper into Shivergate. Those not using Beacon Bark will not last long in the dark.

Most structures in The Howling Forest are made of stones, Beacon Bark, and bone. Most of the found structures have been abandoned for a long time, left without a purpose in the storm. The grand castles that perhaps held hundreds of brave souls are now little more than dead cold shells. However, resourceful survivors have adapted old castles and homes into decent bases to withstand the berating ice and snow. The glimmer of hope that is towns like Crystalhold,2 Slaterock,3 and Crag Dock4 proves that The Howling Forest can be challenged.

While the forest can be challenged, it cannot be beaten. Life within the forest is nothing but terror. The simplest animals, such as Rockback Owls and Tremblebars, are prime examples of how awful the forest is. The Rockback Owls resemble snow owls except with wings of slate that cleanly cut through prey and stone alike. Their speed and hyper-aggressive behaviors, mixed with their bladed wings, make these winged predators a deadly threat. However, these brutal birds are the primary source of meat for survivors because they are the easiest to hunt. Their rough meat is barely worth the effort of taking down a Rockback Owl, but in The Howling Forest, you take all the meat you can get. These owls attack anything they consider a threat or as prey. Though, they primarily eat Ghost Apples.

If entering a town within The Howling Forest, do not mention Tremblebars unless you want to see the color leave the listener’s face. Almost no one has something good to say about Tremblebars. The hulking bears are monsters that can outrun anyone, break down just about any defense, and roar loud enough to rupture eardrums. Tremblebar hide deflects bullets easily and keeps the bear warm through even the coldest blizzards. Despite the danger of Tremblebars, a few brave or perhaps foolish will go out in hunting parties to try and slay one. A slain Tremblebar can feed a village of 10 for several weeks. The harvested pelt can be used in thermal clothing or fetch for a high price in a market. However, most parties never return from the hunt.

Aside from evolved animals, there are a few enigmas within the winter wasteland. Falsemen, are mockeries of humanity that burrow under the ice waiting to ambush anyone unlucky enough to walk over its trap. Their slimy skin and grotesque arms give away their brutal nature, but Falsemen look like lost survivors at a distance. There are a dozen myths about the Falsemen and where they came from. Could they be cursed humans or evolved fish? No matter the case, Falsemen are deceptive ambushers that utilize the low visibility of The Howling Forest to survive.


A Snow Angel with its prey.

A dastardly species known as Snow Angels also make their home within The Howling Forest. Despite their name, Snow Angels are more akin to demons. Towering and slender Snow Angels are often mistaken for Beacon Trees. This mistake is costly as the angels are the most dangerous living thing in The Howling Forest. All the animals avoid Snow Angels, even prioritizing getting away from the angels over their own lives. There is even a story about the Beacon Trees uprooting themselves to get away. The native life knows of the nightmare that is encountering a Snow Angel. Being around a Snow Angel for too long is almost a guaranteed death sentence as the world around you and your mind begin to meld. The things that are real and what are fake start to mix and swap. Deepest fears become materialized while the snow seeps deeper into the mind. The angels create an inescapable personalized hell, all while standing and staring. When the angel's prey is catatonic, they are absorbed into the angel’s body, where they will be kept in stasis for as long as the angel lives. The whole time, they are stuck in their mind.

Beneath the ice, Titanicas lie in the hundreds. These behemoth whales rest facing upward forever. No excavation of a Titanica has ever been completed because of the sheer scale of the beasts, the treacherous environment, and the lack of resources. However, from the attempts, it was discovered that these whales were still alive. Their hearts beat slowly through the ground. Usually, the screams of the forest would shut this out, but they can be heard up close. Little else is known about the Titanicas.

Interestingly many of the castle ruins of the forest have carvings of whales, and some even have altars with whale sculptures. Many believe the Titanicas to be a key piece in understanding the history of Shivergate and its intricacies. Others consider them the same as the massive skeletons of Giant’s Rest.

Many dangerous entities exist in The Howling Forest, such as Sheerps,5 Hallowed Wolves,6 and Whisperwalkers.7 More information about the life of The Howling Forest can be found in The Howling Forest's bestiary.

"I’ve seen many come and go here as a dock worker. As our docking town is on the cusp of Hailscream, our visitors are those who trudged through the entirety of The Howling Forest. I could barely keep myself from throwing up my guts the first time I saw newcomers. They were so mutilated I could hardly tell they were human—missing limbs, blood-crusted clothes, and, worst of all, their solemn faces. Anyone who arrives here and is happy is either insane or just holding back the tragedy. That damned forest is full of nothing but monsters and death!"

"We let the weary stay and help around the docks and shrivel farms. The few that tell their stories seldom have any good tales to tell. Death. Lots of death. The stories of eating the fallen always make me sick. Still, to this day, I can’t stomach the thought of eating any of my friends. Yet, among the survivors are… heroes. Some people have been molded by the hostile environment and look like they could conquer anything! Their big white cloaks and glistening axes make them look like they belong in the forest among the beasts! The heroes are the best but often return to the woods or aboard a ship to Hailscream."

"Oh, Hailscream. Why anyone would want to go deeper is beyond me. Some say they feel a pull at the back of their mind to go, but I call them crazy. I’m content staying here in the middle of two frigid hells."

— Charles Outlie, Dock worker


Scraping the ragged cliffs of the Howling Forest like claws against hide, the waves of Hailscream are perpetually cold onslaughts of water. The constant storm that rages on in Hailscream is the origin of its name, for the screaming of the wind never ceases. Far into infinity, the sea stretches, beckoning those who seek Thalasso.

Traversing the terrible waves is challenging, even with the most willing ships. There is never a still moment on the sea as the tides rise and fall to great heights and depths without warning. The winds bow to no captain as they pull ships deeper into the cobalt sea away from the calmer Howling Forest. The voyage across Hailscream is less of cutting through the water than it is trying to bounce back from what the ocean throws at you. The slicing winds, pounding hail, and tearing waves alone would scare most captains. But beneath the waves lay the true terrors of Hailscream.

Bergshells are colossal crustaceans with shells of ice that drift against the extreme tide. Their mountainous backs, akin to icebergs, have sunk many ships of the unaware. The gigantic crustaceans target boats as they see them as easy prey, something hard to find in Hailscream. If a vessel somehow navigates out of the Bergshell’s path, it could still be in danger. Bergshells can break chunks of their icy shells off with powerful claws to throw at fleeing ships. The thrown ice has caught many off guard and led to many ships sinking to the bottom of Hailscream. The dangers of Bergshells have not dissuaded those who go out each day hunting their precious succulent meat. One Bergshell could feed the entirety of Crag Dock for weeks. The hunt is dangerous, but many devote their lives to slaying them. Additionally, a Bergshell corpse could be fashioned into a rudimentary ship or home.

In the frozen abyss, few beasts survive, for only the toughest can survive Hailscream. No flora can withstand the cold, so the battle for survival is fought only by predators of the deep. Tearflakes are at the bottom of the chain in the Arctic waters but are still a considerable threat as they move in swarms of thousands, brutally ripping apart any meat that falls into the blue. The multitudes are so immense that, on numerous occasions, they appear to be living waves. Without these terrible swarms, coastal camps and towns like Crag Dock would cease to exist. The Tearflakes are a staple food for the coastal cities as it is much easier to catch than hunting in the Howling Forest. Cruelly, despite their numbers, Tearflakes have minimal edible parts. Their tiny bones only harbor scraps of meat. It would take tens of thousands of Tearflakes to feed a smaller town for a week. This hasn't stopped many fishing boats from fishing up the swarms. They pray that their anchors to the coast don’t give up and let them drift into the sea.

Cutting up the flocks of Tearflakes are the Snowserpents, decently sized vicious snakes that dart through the water with ease. They pierce through the Tearflake hives, chomping dozens of fish instantly. Snowserpents must eat several times their body weight daily to maintain their health. When the Tearflakes are few, Snowserpents target humans aboard their ships. A Snowserpent attack on board is a nightmare as the blinding white of the snake, combined with its incredible speed, make it seem as though the crew is simply falling overboard without a noise. Thanks to Snowserpent attacks, the wise implement durable cages to their ships so that the staff doesn’t get dragged into the blue. Even worse, it's believed that Snowserpents are also highly venomous. Few survive Snowserpent attacks, and even fewer survive its chilling bite. The freezing of the blood kills victims, in most cases, not the venom. However, several Tearflakes have been found with poison in their system and bite marks matching that of Snowserpents.

Far into the frosted sea, a creature so terrifying and mysterious swims. At some point in the frozen ocean, the waters, as does the storm, come to a still. This repose is short-lived, as the glaciers and ice sheets begin to melt rapidly into the sea. After the ice caked on the ship melts, the water bubbles with scorching heat. Then with a large explosion, Krakaboa, the Scorched Survivor, surfaces with its eight blazing legs and glowing flame body. Krakaboa is a sea spider even greater than the massive Surfacumo spiders deeper into Thalasso. Perpetually ablaze, Krakaboa boils the sea around it with its presence alone. The three crews who survived to tell the tale of Krakaboa all tell of its evil aura and blistering rage. Its legs stabbed through the water just next to their ships, instantly boiling the water and catching the boat on fire. They recount how Krakaboa seemingly laughed every time it got close to skewering the ships that tried to pass—its laugh booming like an erupting volcano. The crews that survived the encounter mention how when they got away, Krakaboa seemingly waved one of its legs as if saying farewell before diving into the water again. Because of the little information and credibility of Krakaboa, it is unknown whether it is accurate or just a story made to bolster the crew’s egos. A Bergshell was recently found with a melted icecap, and its meat burnt to a crisp. Even if Krakaboa is proven real or fake, the ships venturing into Hailscream will be cautious.

Listen all ye who wish to cross Hailscream!
Listen to me tale of those who gone before!
Full of life and drive, they set off onto the gleam!
But hear me tale for they had no idea what was in store!

They set sail to best the waves and storm!
To pass to the world of color and warmth!
Put at the mercy of the waves that transform!
They sunk into the deep sea of the North!

The winds did howl, the waves did roar, as they pressed on ahead!
But unseen beasts beneath the ice hungered for their dread!
Swarms and serpents tore them apart dead!
They should have listened to what I said!

They set sail to best the waves and storm!
To pass to the world of color and warmth!
Put at the mercy of the waves that transform!
They sunk into the deep sea of the North!

The ice, like jagged teeth, consumed their fragile ship!
And in that frozen graveyard, their dreams began to slip!
A scorched titan laughed at their fate!
Left in a frozen state!

They set sail to best the waves and storm!
To pass to the world of color and warmth!
Put at the mercy of the waves that transform!
They sunk into the deep sea of the North!

Now you’ve heard the tale!
Will you go challenge the gale!
With your hearts, heed my story!
For the dead have no need for glory!

— Hailscream's Fools, well-known shanty within the Howling Forest8


At the edge of Hailscream, the sea is replaced by a solid ice mass known as Permafrost Wake. From surface to seafloor, the sea is completely frozen solid—caught in time with its high waves and trapped sea beasts. Most ships are incapable of being dragged along the supercontinent of ice. Thus, the journey deeper into Thalasso must take place on foot. There is no life across the frozen ocean. It is a long walk into Havenpost.

A tunnel through the ice continent was discovered deep under the sea. Using a submarine, wanderers can traverse the tunnel into Havenpost. This tunnel is dangerous and mysterious as the waters are boiling, and the ice tunnel is fragile as if exposed to extreme heat. Some believe this heated tunnel to be proof of Krakaboa's existence. However, no conclusive evidence has been provided.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license