INTRODUCTION: THE CHALLENGE OF LIFE IN THE FREEZER
The idea of Minecraft In The Arctic derives from a challenge I posted on the dataless822.net forums as far back as August 2015, back in the days before Data migrated solely to modded Minecraft - which I don't watch as I don't do mods, hence why I've drifted away from those forums. Anyone who took the challenge had to start a Customised world changing only the "Biome" slider to Ice Plains. This creates a whole new world with only freezing cold biomes, where trees and food are scarce. I further threw down the gauntlet to build an enchantment table and a chicken farm - but how do we do that when animals don't spawn in Ice Plains biomes? Enchantment tables need books, after all, and there are no cows to bring us leather, and where will the chickens come from?
One person took up the challenge and posted a massive spoiler. Said spoiler (which was essentially the answer of how to unlock the enchantment table and a whole host more otherwise-unobtainable items) was then usurped by the additions to the Ice Plains biome that 1.9 brought in, but it also brought the possibility of a third challenge - build a cactus farm. How do we get hold of cactus, that only grows in Desert and Mesa biomes?
The clue lies in the biomes that are available in this restricted world. Ice Plains are present, as you'd expect, but there are also Ice Mountains and Ice Plains Spikes. So far, so snowy. However, we will also find both FrozenRiver and the regular non-frozen River cutting through this world - and hence, alongside these rivers, oak trees can be found. This means a supply of apples, from which we can craft golden apples, and cure zombie villagers of their plague, meaning we can build up large villages with all manner of items available to buy from the villagers, provided we have something to sell first. In 1.9, with the addition of the igloo, some of these have one villager all ready to go and a zombie villager, complete with ready-prepared curing facilities - but they're incredibly rare, only half of them have this downstairs section, and they're disguised against the snow-covered ground.
As it turns out, villagers aren't essential to the original two challenges! There's another way of obtaining the leather needed to make the books, and the same method is used to obtain name tags, so that when chicken jockeys spawn, the chicken left behind once its rider has been disposed of won't disappear. The answer to both, at its most basic level, requires only three sticks and two pieces of string.
Meanwhile, I've analysed the complete inventory available in Creative mode, and here's what I think is the definitive guide to what is rarer than usual in this world and what is absolutely unavailable.
THE 13 SACRED QUEST ITEMS
That night, the longswords were grinded and the shields were forged in blood, at the hands of the most dextrous blacksmiths. And sacrifices were made to the goddesses and the gods, in the woods by the mighty tree, known in heathen kingdoms as the mighty Irminsul, that was built as an immense landmark of heathen pride and honour, and a symbol of what shall be...
- Falkenbach, Heralder
And so I'll be setting myself up as the most dextrous blacksmith of them all, forging the ultimate weapons, armour and tools available to me. But I won't be able to do it without the helpful folk of a thriving village, particularly those librarians willing to impart their knowledge of magical incantations for a few emeralds each (and that's once I've bought the blank books off them in the first place in the form of bookcases, obviously).
Many of these have equivalents in Sinclair's Foundry, but it will be more effort to obtain them in this world...
THE ULTRA-RARE MOBS