The Near Lands (sometimes also called the Close Lands or Close Isles) are located near to Daunton; often they can reached by a few days or weeks of sea travel. There are potentially dozens of them, some barely large enough to stand on, others of prodigious size. Two of the near lands, in particular, have a strong relationship with Daunton due to fey zones that linked them to Daunton's interior forests: The Isle of the Fey Court and the Savage Lands, and a third holds a special place in the hearts of all native Dauntonians: Allaria, the old motherland
The Isle of the Fey CourtEdit
Possibly connected to the great fey court that ruled Kythira in legend the Isle of the Fey Court is reputed to be a charming and friendly place. It was linked to Daunton's interior for centuries until the intervention of Argo the Black, the mentor of the five, who enacted a powerful ritual and arranged for the magics to be dispelled.
Characters from the Fey Courts are usually considered to be from the Feywild Region.
The Savage LandsEdit
A massive hinterland filled with warring savage humanoids some people say it is a thousand miles from end to end, others merely hundreds. Until the intervention of a great hero it was linked to Daunton by the same zones that connected to the Isle of the Fey Court aggressive bands of goblinoids used to travel through the feywild and launch savage raids on Daunton. A Years of Steel Rain is a popular play enjoying a resurgence about a particularly terrible decade when the zones were open almost constantly and Daunton was trapped in a state of siege. Argo the Black cut off the zones some years ago.
Travelers still shudder to see the massive coastline of the Savage Lands suddenly appearing out of the fog as they sail to and from Daunton; so much so that sailors have a term for it ("being savaged") reflecting both the damage their ships take trying to navigate it's vicious weather and rocky shoals as well the damage the crew endures when the tribal longboats streak out from shore to assail them.
As signs that the zones to the feywild on Dauton have begun to re-appear become more manifest Dauntonians have begun to lend more credence to the tales that Arga's ritual was only temporary and required replenishment, and that her student Esthanapiros was secretly maintaining it all those years.
Isle of the Laughing GallowsEdit
Many wild rumors stir about this wicked island, but a few things remain certain: It’s a haven for many exotic avians, it has deadly reefs that frequently retract and extend like the claws of a beast, and some of the most notorious pirates gather here at the infamous black markets. The people of the island are commonly called gaolers from a saying "everyone's a gaoler here and everyone a prisoner too".
Some say the island reefs are actual claws, belonging to an immense slumbering creature of the deeps, others that a mad crooked mage has bound the Gallows with a powerful ritual to raise the reefs at a whim, yet the popular tales say that the island is alive and has fits of great hunger – the fate of unfortunate souls that run ashore. Regardless of the truth, it would appear the more established resident pirate captains either has deduced some pattern or found a measure of control over the reefs – they rarely lose ships, neither does those who pay the fares for safe navigation charts.
The island is particularly elusive and usually drifts with swift currents throughout the Shifting Sea. Nobody knows whether the powers that be have a hand in this, but drunken locals tell exaggerated stories of a vengeful sea commander that sought to invade the Gallows and chased the island with his fleet for weeks in vain.
There is no well-known common method of tracking down the island, but a few, periodically changing systems are sold to those who have paid a hefty price and sworn the oath: to never betray the island’s secrets or face the punishment of piracy – the gallows. No magic curse is known to be involved but highly suspected; it seems that word of mouth simply spreads news of treachery and the offender is hunted down and hanged by pirates.
The isles name came from the habit of pirates, who would hang on the gallows when caught, and turning the punishment on its head by applying it to those who had wronged them (i.e. betraying the secrets that keep the isle a haven for pirates). When a "traitor to the island" is hung, he or she invariably dies with a massive smile on their face, to add to the myth as do the ever present mob of gnolls supplying cackling hyena-like laughter.
Races on the IsleEdit
Gaolers sneer at Dauntonians who claim their island is the most diverse on the Shifting Seas and laugh that they have never been to the Isle of the Laughing Gallows (almost certainly a true statement). While the orcs can be said to be the dominant group no race exists in the near purality that humans have on Daunton and the streets of the Nest are thronged with a diversity of races (many of whom travel cloaked, to ward off attentions of bored gnolls and hide their identities).
Orcs dominate the isle having lived her for as long as anyone can remember, and the ancient ruins lying among the Jagger Dagger Mountains suggest there was once some sort of advanced culture; but even the proud pirates would scoff at the idea of an advanced orcish culture that once made its home here, even as they take advantage of some decidedly peculiar geography.
Gnolls are common on Laughing Gallows as well, so much so that natives sometimes joke that their savage high-pitched cackling when anyone is strung up on the gallows is supposed to have given the island its name (though in reality it predates a significant gnoll presence on the isle); they often form shock troops and first wave boarding parties among the pirates as well as cheap, if nigh-uncontrollable muscle. Gnolls here largely reign in their cannibalistic side, though persistent rumors of gnoll shops selling "long pig" are popular among certain gaolers who hold that its a poor idea to hire more than a few gnolls on any ship.
Gaolers who count traffic on the street would probably pick Kobolds as the third most numerous race. Quick on their feet they are persistently popular with captains: "feed 'em half as much, but they do 3/4ths of the work of a human...". Invariably they form groups of 3~8 called Hydras; adopting a collective name and identity they move as a group about the isle and serving on ships as a unit. Even a hungry gnoll pack thinks twice about taking on a hydra; no matter how they're attacked the kobolds swarm one target at a time, ensuring (at least) one of their attackers doesn't survive the fight (and the cowardly gnolls have no stomach for personal risk).
Gith, while few in number, are a growing presence here. Aside from a few warriors joining crews they don't seem to do much more than watch and listen, but persistent rumors of Gith parties traveling into the Jagger Daggers has raised eyebrows among the isle's denizens; gaolers snort at rumors that the Silent Asylum is located on Jagger Daggers.
Places of NoteEdit
Slydove Bay and the NestEdit
Beyond these jagged dangers lie Slydove Bay, a vast stretch with a shore full of ports, harbors, and the occasional watch tower. Outlying collections of abodes may seem separated, but most of the pirate forts seem to crisscross together in a collective fortress-city that is simply called “the Nest” by the residents. The Nest is the central trade center for the locals, filled with seedy bars, shady markets of plundered goods, run-down brothels and well-guarded warehouses.
The Bay holds scores of minorities of cultures, religions, and races, many of which are considered monstrous or savage by other islands (most inhabitants of the Gallows are considered scum by anyone’s standards). Unlike the civilized isles the norm here is tension rather than tolerance, and brawls and murder in the street are common sights. The established captains keep anarchy at bay near their respective domains, and traders on their turf must usually pay a measure to remain protected (or at least unmolested by “authorities”).
Strangely, the waters within the Bay are fairly calm, even when the Laughing Gallows move at speed to external observers. It takes its name from the abundant flocks of so-called slydoves – aggressive birds native to the Gallows that are used by crafty seafarers to more easily find their way to the pirate island sanctuary. The ever-present avians are also the source of much of the local lingo; wealthy traders are called “golden eggs”, while “nesting” is another way of saying that a pirate is laying low or holed up against his enemies.
Nortrim’s Singing SailsEdit
Nortrim Seven-Fingers owns this extensive shipyard located on the outskirts of Slydove Bay that is manned and guarded by a fairly well-paid crew. Wealthy captains come here to repair, buy, sell, or modify ships, though the Singing Sails also feature a number of miscellaneous engineering services. The most popular one is modification of captured ships beyond recognition – many a ship have returned to the ports of Daunton and Bacarte under new name and command, the previous owner none the wiser. A popular gambling den is also located under the ship yard, and periodic tournaments result in the occasional ship changing hands.
The Restless DeepsEdit
Just beyond the retractable reefs near a passage towards Slydove Bay, lies a series of underwater caves called the Restless Deeps by the locals. It is home to a sizable tribe of sahaugin, under command of their four-armed baroness Amauzzan. The sea devils are a menace to the common man but hunt with some restrain, having painfully experienced that there are powers in the Nest resourceful enough to retaliate with crippling consequences. Amauzzan has adapted and over time managed to strike several loose bargains with a number of established pirate captains; the sahaugins now exchange information of activities in island waters or salvaged goods from the deeps (especially following naval battles), in exchange for well-crafted equipment, occasional choice slaves, or other goods. Seasoned pirates have a saying that they would “rather face the gallows than the deeps underneath,” since sahaugins are known to swim fairly close to the ports of Slydove Bay at night. They pick off those who fall in the water due to drinking and brawling – and sometimes those who just get too close to the shores.
Jagger Dagger MountainsEdit
The central parts of the island rise into overgrown mountainside, called the "Jagger Daggers" by natives. Many of the more dangerous avians can be found here. Near the clouded tops can be found more than a few roc nests, and most sane wanderers give the fondly called “Beak Peak” a wide berth. Despite the dangers, ambitious treasure hunters come here once in a while; some of the giant birds are known to swoop down on unsuspecting ships, snatch an inviting or glittering piece of cargo from the deck and take off for their nests. An extraordinarily brave or foolish band of bugbears is camped out in a makeshift fort up high and sometimes mount expeditions to steal eggs or hunt for valuable cargo snatched from the ships of Slydove Bay.
Personalities and CreaturesEdit
Captain Bohem GrogmarrowEdit
Captain Grogmarrow is a renowned human pirate on the rise, a practical man and seasoned seafarer with a sharp wit despite strange antics - he is extremely paranoid and prone to spy on his crewmates up close while they sleep.
Grogmarrow is physically not an impressive sight and dresses neither dashing nor intimidating, but usually wanders with a silvered pocket watch in his hand and a pseudodragon sitting on his shoulder (often ranting to it about sorting out traitors in his midst). Despite appearances, the man is a masterful combatant and his knife-throwing skills are legendary – they say he’s skewered captains with a single dagger before his ship was close enough to board.
Captain “Artsman” GrimbroodEdit
Grimbrood (an orc) may be one of the most bloodthirsty pirates these seas have known in recent memory. He fancies himself an artist and cuts his victims in monstrous ways that he finds aesthetic, then displays the “masterpieces” on bow, stern, and sides of his ship to horrific effect – woe be the poor bastard who sees the sails of the Red Mistress close in.
The captain is a bald warrior with a beard that could rival a dwarf’s and contrasting appearance: though he dresses in splendid clothes for an orc with a personal tailor stitching them after engagements, they are always heavily stained in blood and worse as Grimbrood fancies himself a walking piece of art.
Captain Koob DanderonEdit
“Friendly Koob” (a halfling) may seem like but a rowdy prankster if not a redeemable scoundrel, but rest assured he is anything but. The double-crossing halfling may be one of the best sources of information in the Nest, but if you don’t pay well he’s just as likely to gut you halfways and leave you bleeding slowly to death in the streets.
His trusted men approach newcomers to the Isle to offer “friendly guidance” and point towards the captain’s services, but their real purpose is to keep Koob informed on recent developments among scum and sailors – and scavenge “easy pickings” when they set foot on the docks.
Seven-Fingers is the corrupt human owner of the extensive shipyard and gambling den, Nortrim’s Singing Sails located on the outskirts of Slydove Bay that is manned and guarded by a fairly well-paid crew.
The Isle of OEdit
The Isle of O is dominated by arcanists, or more precisely ritualists; the island's history and true identity are shrouded in secrecy. The inhabitants uniformly believe that knowing something about another person enables you to target them with magic (the most powerful of which being their true name); and Dauntonians mostly hear about the island because of the perverse and bizarre curses various ritual groups inflict upon each other. The most ridiculous rumor involve a cabal of warlocks that was permanently transformed into sheep; the rumor alleges that one of these warlocks sits on the city's governing body.
Arcanists within the isle have developed a grand tradition based around obfuscation; developing elaborate names that are often palindromes or otherwise have mystical significance. Dauntonian wizards, who often feel that they are the inheritors of the grand martial traditions of the war wizards of Allaria and their more direct methods, often scoff at the ritual based magic of the Oans. Though that attitude has changed some what since Mauros Esthanapiros famously rebuked a younger arcanist at a gathering of Dauntonian arcanists two winters ago saying that "Only a fool feuds with an Oan for more than nine minutes" -- a clear reference to the traditional amount of time it takes to complete a ritual.
The best known Oan living in Daunton is probably the reclusive sage Doddoddod. Since his arrival ten years ago the sage has built quite a reputation with Daunton's upper crust reportedly resolved any number of problems for his clients without ever leaving his tower. (He has an apprentice who handles all the grunt work for him.)
- Main Article: Allaria
Known as the lost continent, Allaria was home to the once grand Allarian Empire. The old empire occupies a special place in the mind of the average Daunton citizen: settlers fleeing the destruction of the empire several hundred years ago transformed Daunton from a remote border outpost. What remains today in Allaria is a mere shadow of the once great nation, with near broken survivors scratching out a meager existence, surrounded by powerful threats on all sides.