Seperated from the mainland by the treacherous Dirdum Strait, the Dirdums are a chain of rather large volcanic islands. The main island, officially Johor on the maps of the royal cartographers is most commonly known as Dirdum. This chain was discovered by the merchantman Belian Dirdum, who himself discovered that the island chain was once part of a thirving and advanced maritime culture and that it had completely fallen to the worst sort: goblins.
The Dirdums sit firmly within the temperate climate belt and have a rather long and sunny summer and short mild winters. During the time of the now defunt Johorian Alliance, this meant that the islands were able to produce bountiful crops of grapes, dates, olives, as well as pasture land for goats. Most of these cultivated fields are memories now.
Mount Udama is the largest of the Dirdumian volcanoes, though it is hardly a massive or impressive specimen. Dormant for nearly 300 years, the mountain shows no sign of waking. It is the ashfall from this volcano that actually enriched the soil of the islands to the point where agriculture was not only feasible, but profitable.
The islands have a few streams, but nothing large enough to be considered a river. Most of these waterways change course every few years based on the location of the heaviest rainfall on the island. This is also a factor of Utama lacking the altitude to retain ice on it’s peak throughout the summer for melt-off water.
This climate has given growth to a large forest that covers roughly 2/3rds of the island’s 700 square miles. Mostly deciduous hardwood, this timber has grown largely unmolested for going on 1000 years, since the end of the Johor culture. If not for the large goblin population insinuated into the forest and island, outside powers would have already set up operations to exploit the timber resources for ship building.
The Goblin Cities
The main island has the ruins of three human cities: Dumasek, Sembaw, and Johorim. Unlike most ruins which are lost to the enviroment, it seems that the goblin infestation occured very shortly after the collapse of the Johor culture. Most of the stone buildings remain in varying states of decay, but the wooden structures and badly damaged stone structures were all torn down by the goblins and rebuilt along goblin lines in terms of size.
Dumasek, a coastal community, has the largest population of the goblin cities as well as boasting a large fishing fleet. The goblin trawlers work the waters with handmade nets, hook and line and spear/gaff fishing. The city is surprisingly clean, though this is in large part to the thousands of pigs that are raised by the goblins in addition to goats and poultry.
Further inland, sitting in the middle of a broad grassy plain under the shadow of Udama is the city of Sembaw. Once an agricultural powerhouse, it is now a slaughterhouse of nearly unrivaled proportions. Being omnivores with a strong preference for meat, the goblins raise large amounts of livestock. The collective numbers of goats and pigs at Sembaw is almost five times the population of Sembaw. The animals are born on the plains, raised on it’s sweetgrass, and their blood flowing from the slaughter houses forms a river that flows to the sea.
The River of Blood
The Red River flows through an area of very fertile soil before it dumps out into the ocean. Along the way it pools and forms temporary blood marshes. These pits are rife with mosquitoes, biting insects, and diseases. The goblins avoid this area and goblin criminals, such as they are, are forced to dredge the bed to keep the blood flowing away from Sembaw.
Johorim was once the capital of the Johor culture, a city of broad avenues, palaces, and the laboratories of alchemists, philosophers and magi. Much of the city remains, but even more worrisome is that the goblins have carried on Johor’s technological traditions. Drawing on resources from the volcanic fumaroles, Johorian designs and alchemy and goblin ingenuity, the Dirdumian Goblins have weaponry the likes of which the rest of the world has not seen in a millenium. The once capital is often rocked by violent explosions, usually marking the initiation of a new Goblin Grenade-Master.
A Note on the Johorian Culture
The Johorian culture was an offshoot of the Old World and thrived during that time period. When the Nightmare War erupted the island chain was completely depopulated in a single night by a horror known only as the Burning Eye. The goblins still have racial memories of the entity and worship it in an obtuse fashion. Rather than make offerings to entreat it’s aid, their offerings and prayers are for the Burning Eye to stay away from their island. The Burning Eye has a single temple in Johorim where it’s likeness has been made of bones and a large red stone as it’s eye.
The Burning Eye is NOT Sauron. More to come.
The goblins were present on the Dirdums before the Nightmare War, and after the human inhabitants were devourered, they were left alone on the island. These survivors were quick to capitalize on the situation, adopting their former master’s homes, taking up their studies, and stealing each other’s livestock.
Isolation and Growth
Cut off from the mainland for a number of centuries the goblins there were given an unexpected luxury. As they were alone on the island, they were able to advance and develope their own culture without being made pawns to orcs, evil overlords, and dark magicians. While not very cultured themselves, they had the advantage of the Johor culture to build on. Thus the goblin culture began with basic shipbuilding, animal husbandry, basic alchemy and the like.
After this long period of repopulation and expansion, humans again returned to the Dirdums in primitive craft expecting to loot the island of the treasures of it’s dead culture. Instead they found a vibrant, if filthy, goblin culture grown in it’s place. Outnumbered, the humans were captured, their ship looted and they themselves were sacrificed a few at a time to the Burning Eye.
Knowing now that all of the humans were not destroyed, the goblins have taken some unexpected actions. New ships are being laid at a record pace and the waters around the Dirdums are patrolled by heavily armed goblin sloops. There is no trade to be had with the goblins, assuming you are human. Other races such as orcs, elves, and dwarves are welcomed in a limited fashion, but humans are generally killed or sacrificed to the Burning Eye.
The Dingus Awaits - The PCs find a battered sea chart pointing the way to a once settled island, possibly rich with loot for the taking, tombs for exploring, and vaults for the picking. The PCs sail into rough waters, face goblin ships, fend off goblin raids and discover their lost ruins…are really under the feet of the Goblin Boss’s house.
PIRATES! - Some goblins, in their fast ships have caught onto the idea of being pirates, attacking and looting the larger and slower moving human merchant vessels that sail close to the Dirdums. The PCs are aboard one such ship when it is caught by two goblin sloops demanding half the cargo and ten of the crew.
Goblins Only - The PCs play as goblins sent from the Dirdums out into the mainland to discover the fate of their mainland cousins and the extent of the human infestation. If there are too many humans, it could draw the attention of the Burning Eye and every goblin worth his warts knows that is a very bad thing.