I tried to write this post in my more usual long form, but it wasn't working. So here's this instead.
Precis: A cold, bitter frontier beset by inhuman enemies; fantasy Russia by way of Byzantium
Conspectus: Monomakos, the Overlord of the White Throne; ice age megafauna; dark forests crawling with the twisted results of failed experiments from the ancient elves tinkering with the now lost technology; the twisted, half-fish immortals in the service of His Piscine Majesty, the Viridian Emperor; tribes of fearsome Leiber-style "Ghuls;" Orcs! (it's been years since I've had them in one of my games); Kelnorian ruins in their marbled splendor crumbling in the cold snow; the remnants of Markrabian star-cruisers leaking "magic" into the surrounding area; blue "northern" elves; the ice wizards of Valon; demons trapped for millennia beneath glaciers; forest products; the screaming banshees of the Sidhe Hills; Rigorn the Magnificent, a Ghul Mage of terrifying power and mercurial mood; The White Throne with its scrimshaw panels of mastodon tusk and tiger bone depicting the conquest of a people; Bullywug ruins in the marshes of the Greatflood River; cavemen morlocks and white apes, oh my!; amazons riding polar bears and sabertoothed tigers; a bitter but petty skirmishes along a long and wild border; strange pylons that create the warm weather found in the Land of Beasts, where dinosaurs roam free; the lost elven city in the mountain; cairns and barrows of a peoples lost to historical record; the whip-wielding disciples of the fish god Armadad-Bog; the cold bodies of dead gods of wood and stone who were dead before the first man walked the world
Taste; Sound; Image: "Winter's Wolves," Laketown from The Desolation of Smaug*
A Note on the new look: I decided changing the name of my blog temporarily would probably get confusing, and I liked the vaguely purple color scheme so I found another picture on my hard drive that fit it.
*I actually have some serious problems with this movie, and it's not very Tolkien, but its combination of cold town on a lake with medieval Russian looking guards mimicked what I was already thinking about for Damkina very well.