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Okay, so I’m working on making a setting for a TTRPG and am working on what to put on the North Pole area. I’m thinking a big ol’ Antartica-esc continent with a civilization of Nordic-like people that have castle-sized buildings of ice and stuff like mega-igloos reinforced with steel and stone and the works. However, the key idea I have for them is using the Aurora Borealis there for power. I heard they produce a lot of electricity and heat, so I’m toying with the idea that they have these huge spires that jutt into the sky with these huge basins filled with water and rods of metal that basically hold and store the power of the auroras. The energy from these auroras is used mainly in starting fires to create heat, creating electrical weapons, charging magnetite to have moving castles and stuff — kind of like what you’d see in an Uncharted game. Stuff like that.

In short, I just wanna know if it’s possible/feasible. Can you harness the power of an aurora?

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome @KanontheMemelord ! Voted up the question, but maybe it will get closed because there have been several similar questions, with a lot of interesting answers. Take a look around with the Search option, I found this one worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/5013/… $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Nov 20, 2021 at 10:16

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they have these huge spires that jutt into the sky with these huge basins filled with water and rods of metal that basically hold and store the power of the auroras.

You have a big problem, in that auroras take place in the high atmosphere, starting from 80 km above the sea level. We already find challenging to build something elevating as much as 1 km (the tallest skyscraper goes around 800 meter), and we have something better than ice reinforced with steel and stone. Oh, by the way, concrete reinforced with steel works well because they have good adherence and similar thermal expansion coefficient, it's not a given that anything else reinforced with steel will work equally well.

And, honestly, taking the hassle of building something reaching that height just to start fire seems a bit of an overshot. Moreover, where do you find the energy to build those structures, if the energy they harvest is your source?

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    $\begingroup$ "where do you find the energy to build those structures, if the energy they harvest is your source?" Oh, its simple, you need to think outside the box. You just raise some balloons into the air, harvest the energy and raise the concrete with ropes, then build the towers the other way around, from top to bottom. An alternative way would be to use a geostationary satellite straight above the pole and lower a rope from there (large grin). $\endgroup$ Nov 20, 2021 at 5:26
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    $\begingroup$ It is not only very high up, these high energy particle streams from the sun are huge in diameter as well. When you see Aurora, spanning 10-50 degrees in the sky and it is actually 80-400km away, you get an idea how big these flares are. I wonder if the energy density would allow for harvesting anything. You'd need a swarm of connected stations/satellites. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Nov 20, 2021 at 10:05
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The huge spires were already there when the humans arrived.

mountains of madness

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7960820-at-the-mountains-of-madness

You need to get really high up to capture the aurora. Higher than people can build. The spires your people are using were not built by them. Those spires were already there when the people got there. They are artificial but induced up out of the ground by some long lost art. The original colonists just put them to use, with collection fans high at the top and long wires to bring the power down.

It seems like the aurora gathers at the top of some of these spires. It is not clear why. And your people used to have more spires in use as collectors, put up by generations past. Braver generations. Now when a collection spire goes out of commission it is not repaired because the people do not like going up there. Sometimes the human built parts break. One was disconnected because it was gathering too much power and it made people uneasy. These days the engineers put windmills down lower on the spires and capture the katabatic winds.

There are some spires which were never built on, and other structures deeper in the interior. Your players might get a guide to take them there. Half way there, as it turns out.

Required reading for all worldbuilders! At the Mountains of Madness, H.P. Lovecraft

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