The Niflheim is the derogatory name given for the ground zero area to the north and to the west of Lake Superior, spanning the northern regions in the former state of Minnesota. Though the name of the area is also used as an amalgam to describe the state as a whole in its current condition, much to the disdain of the residents still living there.
Described as a barren wasteland consisting of rolling hills, wide open plains littered with scrawny, dead trees, and deep dark forests. There is little purpose for the everyday survivor to seek his or her fortune in the Niflheim. Out on the open plains the radiation levels are high and often fatal after one or two days of constant exposure, if not treated. Among the valleys small secluded settlements can be found, often with only temporary and no permanent residents.
Dark clouds and grey skies often loom over area, giving the visitor a surrealistic sense of gloom and somberness. The Niflheim has also often been described as a place where "the barns and the hovels outnumber the people", which can be considered as true since indeed many abandoned farms and homesteads can be found all over the Wasteland.
Mutated timber wolves, moose, mountain lions and yao guai are common in the Niflheim, and both larger and stronger than their mutated counterparts in other states, having adapted to the harsh climate of the north. And although they exist, Deathclaws are rare encounters. Thus the Niflheim can be considered as a good location to visit for the daring game hunter. The wasteland is also plagued by predatory rodents known as gravehogs, evolved from the common, pre-war groundhog. The once gentle bison has mutated into large, fearsome beasts roaming the desolate plains to the north-west. The eight-legged horses that run scarce and wild throughout the wasteland are named Sleipnirs. The mutated feral dogs and wolves are called Garms and Fenrirs by the residents.
The unique feral ghouls called Draugr are frequently encountered in the wasteland, roaming around in the settlements and the dark forests. They are considered to be among the most dangerous of creatures found in the Niflheim, due to their ferocity and heightened aggression. Their bodies have mutated to the point where they are particularly weak when exposed to any light source similar to that of the average flashlight, and will begin to blister upon contact. As a result they only hunt at night and stay in caves and ruins during daytime. In contrast to their weakness to light, they are far more faster, agile, and deadlier in the dark, with accurate senses and reflexes. Though they can't see particularly well they are exceptionally sensitive to sound and will pick up upon almost any movement. Strangely enough, in comparison to other types of ghoul mutations, a scratch or a bite from a Draugr, will result in an infection that will deteriorate and eventually break down the infected's body, until they eventually become a Draugr themselves. To combat the infection and the Draugr threat, several outposts have been established all around Valhalla armed with floodlights that shines constantly through the night, forming a visual wall of light to keep the Draugr out in the dark. These outposts are all linked to Sol Security's main office in Valhalla City.
Points of interests
Vallhalla City is the only settlement in the Niflheim with a population of over 1000 permanent residents. It is located in the ruins of Minneapolis and built within the ruins of what used to be the IDS Center, the tallest skyscraper in the city, with surrounding buildings. Remarkably well-preserved from the blast and the aftermath; the tower has functional elevators and manages to conserve heat for the residents living there when the nights get cold and dark. It is also the home of Valhalla City Radio that can be heard all over Niflheim. Two competitive military branches keep the city safe from danger, composed of an all-female troop called the Valkyries and an all-male troop called the Einherjars. At the top floor is the office of Sol Security, a corporation systematically working to minimize the risks of a Draugr overtaking.
Vault 42 was a dysfunctional vault built to cryo-genetically preserve its residents to be launched into the atmosphere. It was dedicated to the studies and the research of pro-longed human exposure during interstellar space travels. But the cryo-pods were instabile and when the aftershock of the bombs finally hit the vault they all failed to function, leaving their residents to die during their sleep and then become mummified as the years passed. The vault now remains as a desolate tomb.
The project that went on in Vault 47 was well underway and labeled as classified by the U.S. government and military even before the bombs decimated the state of Minnesota. What little that is known about it is that it involved the development of a separated strain of the FEV virus, along with experiments and tests performed on both animals and humans. As to what end remains unknown, but scavengers and explorers alike have returned from the vault with unbelievable ghost stories. Though it is mentioned on the list of official Vaults, the knowledge of its whereabouts has become lost with time.
Vault 58 was dedicated to the research of parapsychology, all its residents having been chosen because of the unnatural phenomena they had at one point or another displayed in their lives. To properly study the consequences and the results of the residents' paranormal abilities, they were all exposed to short intervals of torture when it was proven that the best results were yielded during moments of intense stress or pain. The eventual fate and decline of the vault remains unknown.
Jotunheim is the name for the area spanning over the mid-southern counties of Minnesota. Due to weather and temperature anomalies caused by the aftermath of the Great War, the whole of Jotunheim has been put in a perpetual state of nuclear winter. Unlike it's barren counterpart to the north, travels through this region has been made particularly hard for the traveler seeking refuge in one of the greater sanctuaries to the north, such as Valhalla.
Nidavellir is the name given to the reach of the former Duluth Complex, specifically the mines stretching underneath the mountains. The mines have gained a reputation for inhabiting Draugr, gravehogs, and worse, thus most people tend to stay away from them. However, due to their vastness and sheer size, they are said to carry great value within their unmeasurable depths. They are also said to be the fastest way for anyone wanting to cross the mountain range from south to north, or vice versa, but only to those who know the way through their dark labyrinths.
Utgard is the name for the ruins of Minnesota's capital Saint Paul, neighboring Minneapolis. It is considered to be Raider territory and thus trade caravans tend to stay clear of the area altogether, due to fear of being spotted by Raider patrols. The ruins are considered a war zone, as not only Raiders inhabits the old buildings, but also a race of unique Super Mutants, called Jotun, who constantly wage war against their human counterparts of mayhem and destruction. Many buildings have yet to be looted and can thus hold many unexpected treasures for the scavenger. Behemoths also frequently appears in this area for reasons unknown.
A settlement and outpost constructed in the ruins of Fort Snelling. It overlooks both Valhalla City with surroundings and Utgard from where it's sitting. Its population is entirely loyal to Valhalla City, and as a result suffers greatly from being constantly put under siege by both Raiders and Jotun alike, serving as Valhalla City's last line of defense in the Twin Cities area.
The ever-burning burning hellscape that was once the port city of Duluth is named Muspelheim. It's a no man's land where the brave fighter units of Valhalla City wage constant war against the unique Fire Jotun that dwell there, thriving on the heat from the fires they start. Black smoke always rises from Duluth, and the sky is colored red from the plumes of fires reaching from the rooftops. Though it used to be Raider territory, the Fire Jotun have claimed it as their own under the leadership of the tyrannical behemoth Surtr.
Finland Air Force Station
Finland Air Force Station is a huge, abandoned military complex just north of the former town of Finland and west of Lake Superior. Remarkably intact and well-preserved since the Great War, few have entered the area. However, due to its isolation and its overview of the Withered Wastes, the visitor is granted a good field of vision for any predatory beasts roaming the plains in search of nutrition; such as redbulls and gravehogs.
Leechfield, sometimes simply known as "the Leech", is the name for the ruins of the former town of Litchfield. Raiders tend to stay away from the area due to the highly concentrated radiation levels which seems to have attracted an unusual amount of attention from feral ghouls of all kinds. It is also the home of several non-feral ghouls who live side by side with the ferals, using their dangerous nature to fend off unwanted visitors.
Vigridr is the name given to the region of Buffalo Ridge, spanning prairies and rolling hills. While not of any particular interest for the traveler, there are plenty of smaller communities strewn across the landscape that are not marked on any maps. This is because these settlements are merely temporary and its residents are nomadic by nature, due to the extreme conditions of living in the Niflheim. They move from place to place and set up a makeshift village for a couple of months or less: hunting, foraging, and scavenging what they can from the area before moving closer to Valhalla City. They often trade with one another and with the occasional traveler. If crossed, however, they are ready to deliver a classic case of wastelander justice by paying the transgressor with fire and lead.
Maelstrom's Cabin is located to the far west of the Niflheim, just past Leechfield and Vigridr. Raiders and scavengers usually steer clear of the old farm due to rumors of it being haunted. A popular ghost story tells of the "ol' man Maelstrom" who lived in the cabin together with his family long before the Great War. According to legend, Maelstrom had an altar in his basement dedicated to a dark, unidentified deity. One night he prayed to his god to become the greatest farmer in Minnesota and that his fields would bear the most bountiful harvest in the county. Whatever happened that night remains a mystery. All that could be heard from the cabin were the terrified screams of ol' man Maelstrom and his family, whereas the next day not a single trace of the family members remained to be found. The interior was in tatters as if some wild animal had been set loose upon the house. To this day no explanation has been given, but the ghost story itself has been enough to keep even the bravest of souls far away from the mysterious building.
Also known as the Iron Woods, is the name given to Superior National Forest. The area is composed of naked, dead trees with strange outgrows, no doubt mutations resulting from the outcome of the bombs. Despite the decaying state of the trees, the area is dense and easy to get lost in without a guide. It is also teeming with wildlife of all kinds, and especially Draugr, who thrives in the dark caves of the valleys and come out to hunt at night. The few permanent residents residing deep within the woods keep a generator running all night to feed their lights, in order to survive for just another day. Jarnvidr has also been a point of interest for Sol Security to establish outposts in, with a strict parameter of floodlights to keep the Draugr isolated within the area.
The Withered Wastes
The Withered Wastes is located to the far north-west of the Niflheim. During the Sino-American war the area became a warzone when the People's Republic of China retaliated against US Army forces. While the liberation of Canada was a success, many lives were lost on both sides, and now the remains of pre-war vehicles and war machines lies scattered over the desolate landscape as a constant reminder of the destructive nature of man.
Frag-O is a community built upon the ruins of the former city of Moorhead and its twin city in North Dakota, Fargo. Notorious for its rough lifestyle and dangerous inhabitants it is strangely enough considered to be one of the safest settlements in the Niflheim. Explosive traps and defenses clutter the wastes surrounding its walls and guards are posted to guard every entrance and exit by night and day.
- The number of Vault 42 and its relation to space travel are an obvious reference to Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, in which the number 42 is said to be "the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything".
- Many places, characters and creatures in post-apocalyptic Minnesota get their names from Norse mythology, as a reference to its pre-war history of major Scandinavian immigration.
- The Niflheim gets its namesake after the Norse underworld.
- Valhalla gets its namesake after the stronghold of the gods.
- Utgard gets its namesake after the stronghold of the giants whereas Jotunheim gets its namesake after the homeworld of the giants.
- The feral dogs are named Garms after Garmr, the guardian dog of Hel. Whereas the wolves are named Fenrirs after Fenrir, the giant wolf that is prophesied to devour Odin at Ragnarök.
- The mutated, eight-legged horses are named Sleipnirs after Sleipnir, the steed of Odin.
- The mutated boars are named Gullinbursti.
- The super mutants are named Jotuns after the mythological race of the same name.
- Feral ghouls are referred to as Draugr by the local populace, the Old Norse equivalent of a zombie and/or vampire.