Niress (pronounced [NEAR-es]) is a large, altered glacier floating in the seas of the Ninth World.
Background[edit | edit source]
Niress is about 80 miles in length and 20 miles in width, but only 10% of its massive form penetrates the watery surface. It's interior is hollowed out by a labyrinth of tunnels and caverns. Despite being mainly underwater, many of their number aren't flooded. According to ancient legend, there were said to be two other similar so-called "icedrifts" alongside Niress, but the others have long since vanished for unknown reasons. The glacier is secretly sustained through artificial means by a machine known as Nalranin, which the inhabiting estathin revere as some deity. However, the more technical omaths that share their home with the estathin, prefer to study and exploit the contraption. A heat draining field helps sustain Niress' ecosystem, but unfortunately, said field only increases the severity of the already freezing temperatures within the structure. Also lurking throughout Niress are large blots of darkness referred to as Frozen Cores, which each possess something unknown, either dangerous or valuable in nature.
Niress can be found around the arctic region to the south of the Steadfast, though it can be difficult at first to figure out which iceberg is actually Niress. Once found, in order to gain access to its interior, several high doors can be found along its more mountainous limbs, though one can be spotted within the exterior estathin retreat of Mation. Additional entrances can be found underwater like the one surrounding the settlement of Shatonin. There's even said to be a hidden portal within the Frozen South that can take one inside the Niressian city of Frieth, though, surprisingly, many creatures on either end are unaware of its existence.
The artificially-generated field of cold temperatures that surrounds Niress can supposedly also pierce through clothing and suck heat away, with the exception of those who've become attuned to the field. These organisms, such as Niress's abundant flora and fauna, end up being sustained and even warmed by the field. However, those who aren't native such as explorers require the proper protection to venture throughout the glacier, including but not limited to warm gloves, face masks, and insulated boots. Even so, the cold will eventually find its way through, and those with metal will find it adhere to their flesh, making frostbite an uncomfortable possibility. Consequently, unattuned visitors will have to make a Might defense roll of level 4 difficulty each day to resist its effects, with failures being met by 5 points of cold damage.
Lastly, Niress will shake from icequakes on occasion, with each usually lasting then a minute, though there have been noted exceptions. During these icequakes, however, caverns and tunnels alike that have normally been secure have been known to collapse. As a result of this phenomenon, the natives have crafted low, dome-like structures within their cities in the event that their surrounding ice vault happens to collapse.
Native Races[edit | edit source]
Estathin[edit | edit source]
The estathin are a humanoid species that resembles people but with shorter, rounder, and far paler shapes, covered in a silky coating of white fur. While they're known to wear some clothing, they don't truly need it for survival. This is because, due to their connection to Nalranin, they possess an immunity to the perpetual chill of the icedrift. However, this connection isn't strong enough to resist the entire cold of Nalranin, only enough to sustain their core temperatures.
Estathin live in a hunter-gatherer level lifestyle with basic tools and weapons, using nut-sized pearlescent lozenges called abadis as their main form of currency. They are also known to live within extended family units. Thanks to their Nalranin, they've consequently gained a spiritual understanding of various numenera, regarding them as magic, with Nalranin as their sole deity and the automatons serving as their equivalent to angelic beings. When an estathin inside a community is in possession of a numenera device, they're usually considered blessed by Nalranin and seen as wise and respected by other members of their group. Their own language is even referred to in their tongue as the "God Tongue" and seems to be based on the Ninth World's Truth. As the estathin aren't keen on history, families mill mostly recite their own oral histories regarding their movements through Niress and triumphs or defeats within battle. They aren't aware if they had descended from humans or not, though of them even consider it the other way around, that humans were the descendants of those who were cast out many years ago by Nalranin.
As mentioned earlier, the estathin usually reside within large communities of extended family, though they could also be paired with groups of families consisting of no more than 30 members. Their homes mostly tend to be within some large ice cavern of Niress, made from low domes of carved-out ice. While collapses within Niress are rare, their homes are built to resist such occurrences. Many Estathin view the shakes and collapsing as a sign of anger or displeasure from their god. Those homes that aren't covered in domes are instead devoted to the cultivation of luminous trees that produce lighting as well as edible fruit. However, despite a variance in taste with the fruit, Estathin still supplement their diet with the animals that hunt after down the labyrinthine corridors of Niress, accompanied by blacktusks who were raised since they were kits for this kind of activity. Usually hunting party blacktusks can be distinguished from the wild variety by the glowing cords of a hemp-like material that hang from around their necks, similar to collars.
The omaths, among the other intelligent races inhabiting Niress, are seen as devils by the estathin, with their extermination of the omath halted by the fact that the omath hold much more knowledge on how to use the numenera than the estathin. As a result, the omaths usually tend to ignore the estathin.
Omaths[edit | edit source]
|“||The cold spurns death, giving life to the dead frozen into solid coffins of ice.||„|
|~ Staven, wandering healer|
The omaths are considered to be a "post-biological" species of intelligent beings native to the interior of Niress. New omaths are produced from worthy candidates involuntarily selected from mostly the estathin, though they can also be selected from humanity (those who've found their way to the icedrift). The selected individual is taken into a special chamber and frozen alive within a large chunk of metallic ice that's lines with tiny automatons. Their minds are then revitalized from within and the entombed subject is given new abilities such as telepathy, flight, swimming via levitation, and short-ranged telekinesis. As a result of their new bodies, they're impervious to the conditions of space, the ocean depths, and other hazardous environments.
The knowledge and personality of the individual from before their transformation still remain. However, their new icy, translucent carapaces provide a new overlay of culture, knowledge, and motivation to become a good member in omath society, marking the end of the person's former life with a pair of glowing red eyes. Reversing this process is impossible, even with techniques that the omaths themselves possess. If one is able to remove an omath's outer carapace, all they would find is a slushy, bloody, dying mess of a lifeform.
The carapaces of omaths are also known to hold both offensive and defensive systems, such as the ability to energize long-range beams of destructive energy from them, as is the case with omath enforcers. Omath carapaces also allow more than one omath thinker to link their minds together in order to solve problems beyond human comprehension. Omath rangers have an ability within their carapaces that allows them to trigger a chameleon-like cloaking field for stealth purposes. All these abilities and many more are available to the selected individual.
Omath cities appear to outsiders as large mausoleums filled many rows of unmoving omaths, marked with buttresses and arches carved into Niress' icy corridors. When an omath isn't moving, they don't hover. They emit no sound and only communicated through telepathy, with their normal day-to-day commerce, relaxation, or even recreation occurring via psychic contructs produced from multiple linked minds. They also don't at all require lighting and are able to sense the world around through their other senses. They are presided over by a small ruling body of government known as the Mental Council. This organization has the absolute authority to implement community and even racial goals, command all omath enforcers, among many other things. However, such changes to the omath regimen don't happen yearly, given the pre-programmed nature of each omath carapace, prior to habitation. Otherwise, the sub-communities of omaths are various but are usually filled with pleasure and discovery, including physical exploration of the world beyond. Unlike the estathin, the omaths have made great usage of the underwater tunnels that lead outside. They'll often send vast groups of rangers beyond Niress, scavenging the ocean depths or sometimes even coming up onto dry land as part of their travels. Omaths will usually try to conceal their appearances from others, especially humans, due to the later viewing them as strange, non-melting sarcophagi. Those omaths that still reside within Niress are constantly fascinated with Nalranin, believing that the machine has something to do with the origin of their race. However, the vuluns, who are composed of the same metallic ice as the omaths, will try to slay any approaching omaths on sight, force them to keep their distance. According to omath lore, it's also said that the vuluns have the ability to melt an omath simply through touch.
Omaths exchange with one another a mental currency known as "favors", though they do also keep shins among other valuables when trading with other creatures.
Frozen Cores[edit | edit source]
The so-called "Frozen Cores" are mysterious, large blots of solid black ice embedded throughout the interior of Niress. They range in size from the size of rooms to actual cities. Each core's contents vary, though they all seem to carry at least an object, a lifeform, and some type of stored energy. Omath scholars have long debated whether they contents are there as a means of imprisonment or rather as a means of preservation, whereas the estathin prefer to view them as holy shrines, revering and protecting the blots of ice while also abstaining to enter them.
In order to penetrate a frozen core, one must need either a phasing ability or one of several objects the estathin have collected over time, which serve as keys to brief doorways that lead to the core's interiors. Whenever one passes through a core's crust, they always get a brief feeling of being watched by some unknown entity. Aside from the city-sized blots, many of their contents are easy to discover, containing things ranging from monstrous creatures large enough to fill their diameters to strange, enigmatic devices. Others, however, contain a maze of metallic tunnels, circular chamber, and spiraling corridors no different than the interiors of shells.
Flora and Fauna[edit | edit source]
All plants and animals have adapted to the effects of Nalranin and consequently draw their energy from it. Grasses grow along the walls of Niress, looking like brush bristles made from silver and Trees and shrubs grow tall with flattened canopies of leaves that emit blue light, providing the primary form of illumination within the icedrift. The creatures that lurk throughout Niress, almost always covered in some coating or another of white fur, and thrive off each other and the strange foliage for survival. Some examples of the many flora and fauna include:
• Red-Leafed Doat Tree: - A tree that grows up to 30 ft. in height and fires concentrated beams of light at anything or anyone that comes within its immediate vicinity. Those caught in its range of fire must succeed on a difficulty 3 Speed roll or suffer 3 points of damage from the blast.
• Lusk: - Fern-like plants that flash their leaves in brain-dazing patterns, causing 2 points of Intellect damage to anyone caught viewing their display. In order to resist, one must succeed on a difficulty 4 Intellect defense roll.
• Blacktusk: - A feline predatory mammal over 7 ft. long that sports a pair of eponymous black tusks on each side of its mouth.
• Frellan: - An Avian creature with a vicious beak, runs on its feet rather than flying.
• Gorm: - An amorphous, heat-draining organism that consumes anything it encounters.
Points of Interest[edit | edit source]
Hearsay[edit | edit source]
Leaking Core:[edit | edit source]
A strange, reddish liquid leaks from a crack in one of the largest Frozen Cores of Niress. It doesn't freeze up or flow along any expected routes, it can even melt through Niress's walls and flow upward at times. While inert to the touch at certain, small volumes, if it fills up to a pool of at least diameter or more in size, the fluid will shift into a gaseous form and kill any living thing within half a mile of its location. Laoh, an estathin priest, claims he can stop this destructive liquid. However, it will require a trip into the specific, leaking Frozen Core.
Unholy Alliance:[edit | edit source]
A partly-insane omath has formed an alliance with a group of Nalranin extremists known as the Grey Army; with the former taking on the title of Grey Prophet. The prophet and her disciple teach, or rather show through violence, that the estathin have grown weak, soft, and too intellectual towards their faith. She speaks of "the hidden secret of Nalranin," something of a slumbering war god that will someday wake and take its followers to an exalted afterlife, but only if they prove their worth first.
Dig to the Core:[edit | edit source]
Kthama, a recently discovered titanothaur by some omath, appears to be a many-tentacled creature that's surrounded by a cloud of frozen darkness, within a hard-to-reach Frozen core. For some unknown reason, she claims that a human presence is the only way to free her from this prison. As such, she seeks any adventurers willing enough to travel to Niress, down icy corridors, and finally through narrow bore-hole drilled to specifically allow a hum to touch the outer crust.
Weird[edit | edit source]
Tuneful Wanderers:[edit | edit source]
A group of verdantly-armored creatures that appear techno-organic in nature wander about the interior corridors of Niress. All the while, they produce song-like melodies that sound more like dirges than celebrations, based on their intonations. Each of these lifeforms seems to have been damaged in some way, ranging from limp to disfigurement, almost as if they had passed through a completely antithetical region before arriving on Niress.
Bright Whispers:[edit | edit source]
At irregular intervals, a mental wave will emanate from Nalranin and affect the minds of all creatures along Niress. The wave itself will seem like a cascade of whispers, and while the waves might seem random or unfocused, some omaths believe that Nalranin actually sends out the pulses as a form of psychic sonar. If that's the case, then Nalranin is apparently searching for something that keeps eluding it. Recently, the whispers have begun sounding more desperate in tone.
Ship Sightings:[edit | edit source]
The estathin from Mation have reported on occasion a ship of immense proportions. The ship in question is presumably many miles longer than Niress, and has been stated as glowing a pale blue, with strange writing on its bow, and a red light which flashes in a non-repeating pattern. It remains unknown as to whether the the light is meant for communicating with the estathin or perhaps some other entity.
Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]
Some travelers will come to Niress simply in an attempt to study the omath and their strange method of preserving their cold bodies. The omath, in turn, volunteer one or two of their kind to be taken for study, though who's studying who is perhaps an even greater question.
References[edit | edit source]
- Cook, Monte, et al. “Niress.” Into the Deep, Monte Cook Games, LLP, 2018, pp. 64-65. Numenera. ISBN 978-1-939979-45-2
- Cook, Monte, et al. “Niress.” Into the Deep, Monte Cook Games, LLP, 2018, pp. 66-67. Numenera. ISBN 978-1-939979-45-2
- Cook, Monte, et al. “Niress.” Into the Deep, Monte Cook Games, LLP, 2018, pp. 68-69, 147. Numenera. ISBN 978-1-939979-45-2
- Cook, Monte, et al. “Niress.” Into the Deep, Monte Cook Games, LLP, 2018, pp. 60-61. Numenera. ISBN 978-1-939979-45-2
- Cook, Monte, et al. “Niress.” Into the Deep, Monte Cook Games, LLP, 2018, pp. 65-66. Numenera. ISBN 978-1-939979-45-2
- Cook, Monte, et al. “Niress.” Into the Deep, Monte Cook Games, LLP, 2018, pp. 76. Numenera. ISBN 978-1-939979-45-2
- Cook, Monte, et al. “Niress.” Into the Deep, Monte Cook Games, LLP, 2018, pp. 75. Numenera. ISBN 978-1-939979-45-2