|Titles||Land of Eternal Winter|
|Images of Irrisen|
Source: Irrisen, Land of Eternal Winter
Irrisen (pronounced IHR-ih-sehn) is a harsh, cold northern land covered in the snow and ice of a winter that has lasted centuries. The snow never melts, and almost as omnipresent as the snow and ice, is the feeling of dread that pervades the nation, for as harsh and unforgiving as the land is, it is nothing compared to those who rule it. The land has traditionally been governed by the White Witches of Irrisen, descendants of the terrible crone Baba Yaga. All the White Witches are obedient to their queen, who is traditionally a daughter of Baba Yaga, although the current queen Anastasia is Baba Yaga's granddaughter and the first of the line to not be a winter witch herself.
The history of Irrisen as a nation begins in 3313 AR — the territory before this belonged to the Lands of the Linnorm Kings. The winter of 3313 AR was particularly cold and harsh, even by the standards of the north. The first warning the men of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings received of Baba Yaga's fell intent was when her armies of cold fey and blue-skinned ice trolls marched down from the Crown of the World. Led by Baba Yaga herself, the Queen of Witches was all but unstoppable, killing any who resisted her and enslaving the rest. It took her only 23 days to claim the lands that would become Irrisen. Strangely enough, almost as soon as she had conquered Irrisen, Baba Yaga seemed to lose interest in it. She instead installed one of her daughters as the reigning monarch, and then returned to her life roaming the myriad planes. She returned a hundred years later to place a new daughter on the throne in Whitethrone. This pattern has repeated itself every century.
- See also: Queens of Irrisen
Irrisen is a monarchy, and the 15th and current queen is Anastasia, granddaughter of Baba Yaga. However, unlike almost every other monarchy on Golarion, Irrisen is not an hereditary monarchy. Instead, the monarch is chosen by the witch Baba Yaga, who originally founded Irrisen over a thousand years ago. She returns every 100 years from her endless wanderings amongst the planes to place a new daughter in charge of Irrisen, and the previous daughter is presumed to leave with Baba Yaga, who also takes all of her daughter's children with her. After her installation, the new queen is expected to quickly place her own descendants in positions of power throughout the country, resulting in a complete change of leadership and aristocracy of Irrisen every century. The grandchildren of the previous queen are left behind and become one of her lasting legacies.
This tradition was broken in 4713 AR when Queen Elvanna rebelled against Baba Yaga and attempted to usurp her power. A band of adventurers thwarted the plan of Elvanna and her brother, Rasputin, and Baba Yaga accepted their request to crown Anastasia as Irrisen's new queen. The life of the common people of Irrisen knew a marked improvement in her first years of rule, yet many winter witches are resentful and regard her as the Fraud Queen.
The Three Riders
Before the arrival of Baba Yaga, the Three Riders — the White Rider, Red Rider, and Black Rider — roam Irrisen to assess the loyalty of Baba Yaga's subjects. They are believed to represent the three aspects of Baba Yaga's arcane mastery. Those they find to be truly loyal are awarded with boons, while those they find disloyal are cursed or destroyed.
Although the rulers of Irrisen have little real interest in diplomacy with outside powers, they still pay some heed to nearby nations. The nation also enjoys some trade (especially food, since the frozen land is not ideal for farming) with southern nations.
The White Witches have erected huts much like the Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga to ward off trespassers along all of Irrisen's borders. These simple structures each contain only a single porcelain doll in the image of a crone sitting in a small chair, and each doll contains the corrupted soul of a stolen child who watches the border. At night, these dolls come alive and hunt any foolish enough to invade Irrisen.
Lands of the Linnorm Kings
Hated and despised by the Ulfen people to the west, Irrisen gives and expects no quarter from the wild warriors, and raids from both sides occur frequently. The kingdom of Trollheim is a particular target for the White Witches, who raid the nation for weapons, armor, supplies, and occasionally children.
Realm of the Mammoth Lords
Irrisen is a land dominated by the cold. It sits at the northernmost limits of Avistan and borders the Crown of the World where its glacial sheets form Irrisen's northern border. Its northern location is not the only reason for its cold climate. Ever since being conquered by Baba Yaga, Irrisen has been locked in an eternal winter. This harsh climate gives Irrisen a palpable sense of dread. The second biggest geographical feature of Irrisen is Glacier Lake, which takes up a large area within Irrisen's interior. Two of Irrisen's three largest settlements are built either on its shore or on one of the rivers connected to it. Irrisen's capital, Whitethrone, sits on the lake's northeastern shore.
The people of Irrisen generally trace their heritage to one of two sources: they are either descended from the Ulfen that were enslaved by Baba Yaga or they are distantly descended from one of Irrisen's previous queens. Regardless of their heritage, the people claim to adore the White Witches, though no one knows whether this is genuine adoration or simply a result of Irrisen citizens' fear. The people of Irrisen are generally quite isolated from the rest of Golarion, as few traders ever visit Irrisen and just as few residents muster the courage to attempt to leave. They generally spend their days tending what few crops will grow in the harsh conditions.
Symbols play an important part in Irrisen's culture, and are believed to ward off the bad luck and attention of Baba Yaga or her daughters. Motifs of cats, dogs, gates, and trees are believed to hold particular power, and are frequently found carved into the homes and belongings of Irrisen's common folk. Because of their symbolic power, cats and dogs are also frequently kept as pets, as are ravens, who are believed to be noble and intelligent. Crows, on the other hand, are universally distrusted and killed on sight.
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