This snowy waste is named for a group of talking bears, who mine iron and forge it into armour, which they believe contains their souls.
Every adult bear wears armour except for the priests, or Yogis, who go naked ('bear-arsed'). Only those who are more intelligent than the average bear are chosen to be Yogis.
The Waste is infested with ghouls. During the summer they awaken, ambushing travellers and turning them into ghouls. Towards the end of the summer they make their way to a lake if they can, or if not are covered by the snow. In either case they lie frozen for most of the year, until the lakes and snows melt again. The royal court of the ghouls is said to be at the bottom of a great lake.
Since ghouls are never seen with armour, the Iron Ones believe that they can only be turned into ghouls if it is stripped from them.