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 counties 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 and littered with scrawny, dead trees, 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. Among the valleys small secluded settlements can be found, often with no permanent residents. Feral ghouls are frequently encountered in the wasteland, roaming around in the settlements and the dusty forests.
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 assumed as true since 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. 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 and carnivorous beasts roaming the desolate plains, known as redbulls. The eight-legged horses that run scarce and wild throughout the wasteland are named Sleipnirs. The unique, mutated feral dogs and wolves are called Garms and Fenrirs by the residents.
Points of interests
Vallhalla 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.
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.
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 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 permanent state of nuclear winter. Unlike it's arid, barren counterpart the Niflheim 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.
Utgard is the name for the ruins of Minnesota's capital Saint Paul. Located in Jotunheim, 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 warzone, as not only Raiders inhabits the old buildings, but also a race of unique Super Mutants called Jotuns who constantly wage warfare against their human counterparts of 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.
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 "Litch" or the "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.
Maelstrom's Cabin is located to the far west of the Niflheim, just past Leechfield. Raiders and scavengers usually stay 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 the 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.
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 and their plan to annex Canada. 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 sometimes referred to as Draugr by the local populace, depending on where in the Niflheim one visits.