The seas of the southern waters are rich and abundant, teeming with an array of bewildering wild-life that would seem bizarre in comparison to the more mundane life-forms that reside within the more frigid waters of Acqua. Indeed, many species of marine life from the tropical seas are prized among the wealthy mercantile elite of great metropolises like Banhosea. Banhosea’s extravagantly rich merchant princes that would not hesitate to splurge the equivalent of an ordinary seaman’s yearly salary on whatever exotic culinary delight that the southern seas can furnish their tables with. Yet another group of Banhoseans that have come to appreciate the great diversity of the Southern marine ecosystems are some of the more scholarly minded Jovian chaplains that occasional accompany the vessels of the De Madden Company on their trading expeditions to the fabled tropical isles. Collecting as many specimens as they can to titillate the minds of Banhosea’s scholarly community, it is these curious individuals that have found themselves astonished by the dizzying variety of crustaceans that thrive in the Southern seas. Long prized as delicacies by Banhoseans of all classes, most species of indigenous species of crustaceans have simply become extinct in the North, their numbers rapidly eradicated by the voracious appetites of Acqua’s largest cities.
In the South however, this has not been the case, where with the exception of the sprawling Pan-Kor empire, most of the inhabitants are overwhelmingly primitive communities of islanders that eke out a simple existence by catching the relatively small amount of sea-food needed to feed themselves. Indeed in most lagoons and bays, crustaceans are almost as plentiful as fish, providing the islanders with a welcome variety in what would otherwise be a rather bland diet.
Unique among the crustacean species of the South is the Jurokang. Its very name means ‘‘revered elder’’ in the Sagal dialect employed by most of the islander tribes, hence conveying a sense of majesty that is well deserved. Dwelling in the deep reaches of the ocean, the Jurokang are a vastly oversized species of lobster, with males typically growing to be as large as thirty five feet in length. Females tend to be somewhat smaller, averaging only thirty feet in length. These giants of the deep tend to favour the dark, brackish waters of estuaries and tidal lagoons, lurking among vast bodies of kelp.
Long lived and elusive, the Jurokang are reputed to be mystical beings of power by the natives. Much is unknown about the mysterious existence that they live, with the islanders usually avoiding the muddy waters that are the favourite haunt of these behemoths. On occasion, fragments of a giant carapace shed by a Jurokang that simply outgrown it, washes ashore and becomes an object of immediate reverence. Tribal shamans will immediately begin to collect them, chanting sonorous prayers over each piece of chitin prior to its distribution to some powerful member of the tribe. The simple mystical beliefs of the Sagal regard the Jurokang as the children of Umokowanta, the grim humanoid lobster that rules the seas, delivering sustenance and death alike in the form of edible marine life and devastating tropical storms respectively, meting out either as he sees fit. As the offspring of a supreme divinity, the Jurokang are justly adored as minor deities in their own right and have consequently become the object of an elaborate cult. In every Sagal village, large carvings of the Jurokang are found lying outside the entrance of every hut. The longhouses of the village chieftains in particular have their entrance guarded by exquisitely carved statues of the Jurokang brandishing menacing pinchers that have been inlaid with coral. These figurines play a pivotal role in the religious life of the Sagal.
On every full moon, when the raw, chaotic power of Umokowanta radiates across the seas, blessing it with his divine energies as the Sagal belief, each and every Jurokang figurine is collected and placed in the village square. Once this has been accomplished, the local shaman proceeds to slaughter a chicken and then subsequently prepares a meal of dried fish and millet. The blood of the slaughtered animal is eventually mashed with this mixture of fish and millet. Eventually, a thick, foul smelling paste is produced and is methodically smeared over the statues of the Jurokang by the shamans, as he mumbles prays to Umokowanta to accept the offering of his devotees and ensure the continued fertility of both the Sagal and the denizens of the seas that they feed on for their sustenance.
This devotion can also manifest in a more macabre form as can be seen in certain funerary rites practiced by the Sagal. Babies that are stillborn and women that die in child birth are not cremated as is usually the norm with the dead. Instead, their corpses are hurled unceremoniously into the domain of the Jurokang for the giant crustaceans to feast on. This bizarre custom has its roots in the powerful Sagal conviction that individuals of the above mentioned type, will become inimical spirits upon their death that will sow disease and death in the village. The only possible way of averting such a curse is to surrender their corpses to the Jurokang, the only beings that possesses the ability to subdue these restless souls by devouring the corpses that house them. As the giant lobsters feast on the bodies, so will they absorb and destroy the raging souls that lie within their repast, or so the Sagal belief. Hence, the importance of the Juorkang to the spiritual existence of the Sagal cannot be underestimated.
However, the Juorkang are as feared as they are revered. Children among the Sagal are frequently cautioned against swimming in the muddy waters that are the favourite haunt of the Jurokang. Even the names of these creatures are never directly mentioned, save by the most powerful shamans, for fear that mortals who do so, will incur the wrath of such powerful entities. With that said, the aura of dread that surrounds these creatures is certainly well justified.
The male Jurokang is especially dangerous. Highly aggressive, the males of this species ferociously guard the entrances to the giant crevices that they have selected as their homes. Extremely territorial and hostile to any intruders, male Jurokang often engaged in battles with one another to assert their domains over one another as well as the resident females. Although these battles often end with the defeated party scuttling away for safety, on occasion these battles may end in the death of a weaker Jurokang . Dominant male Jurokang also launch savage attacks on weaker males should the latter be in possession of cavern and tunnels that their stronger kindred desire as their residence. However, this wrath is also targeted at any other intruder that the male Jurokang deems a threat to its dominance over the territory that it claims for itself. Large sharks and fish that stray into swathes of sea-bed claimed by an especially large male Jurokang will often be seized and slain by the enraged crustacean.
However, even more dangerous to potential intruders than the notorious aggression of the males of the species, is the voracious hunger that is common to both sexes of this species. Like their much smaller cousins in other parts of Acqua, the Jurokang will not hesitate to devour anything that they are able to subdue and slay with their lethal pinchers. Lurking in wait among the thick bodies of kelp, the drab brown hues of their carapaces allow the Juorkang to blend in masterfully with the surrounding aquatic foliage, their gargantuan presence practically invisible to all but the most keen sighted. Once anything comes within the reach of their vast, powerful pinchers, the Jurokang will immediately react with terrifying speed, extending its deadly appendages to clamp them over the unfortunate creature. If the Juorkang is ravenous , its wretched prey is devoured while it is still alive. However, should the Jurokang have already satiated its appetite previously, its quarry is quickly buried in sand and then is dug out when the Jurokang feels hungry once again. On occasion, even juvenile Jurokang that have newly shed their carapaces , leaving them unprotected, wind up as prey for their elders that are simply unable to resist the prospect of a vulnerable meal. Thus, in light of the potentially dangerous nature of these beasts, it is little surprise that attacks by them on human are not unknown. Although the Sagal themselves are scrupulous in avoiding the habitat of the Jurokang, the same cannot be said for Pana-Kor fishermen and De Madden sailors eager to make a considerable profit by seizing and selling infant Jurokang that have just emerged from their eggs. In the course of this lucrative but highly dangerous pursuit, it is not uncommon for these intruders to be attacked and devoured by adult Jurokang in search of an easy meal.
More distressingly, the Jurokang have also attacked the vessels of Pan-Kor fishermen that choose to disregard the religious taboos for the Sagal and fish in the haunts of the Jurokang. Erupting to the surface of the sea with powerful strokes of their legs, these behemoths have been known to splinter a small fishing vessel with a single blow from their powerful claws and then quickly snatch the horrified occupant of the boat before they could so much as scream for help.
After all, humans with their soft hides and inability to move as quickly through the water as swiftly as most as aquatic animals, make easy prey for a predator as formidable as the Jurokang. Such deaths, when they do occur , are often greeted with discreet but hearty approval by the Sagal. Though generally welcoming of the trade with Pan-Kor traders and the De Madden Company, these folk are nevertheless appalled by the audacity of disrespectful and barbaric foreign devils that would defy the sanctity of the domain of the Jurokang, or far worse still, seek to capture and eat the offspring of Umokowanta. So great is their loathing for such rapacious individuals that greedy and unscrupulous traders that attempt to persuade the Sagal to temporarily disregard forget their religious taboos and harvest juvenile Jurokang for consumption on the markets of Banhosea and Pan-Kor, are often beaten severely and expelled from the village in question , barred from ever returning.
Inevitably, as with any phenomena that is exotic or remarkable in nature, wild and fanciful tales have sprung around the Jurokang. Certain veterans of the trading expedition to the tropical south, often spreads these stories in the taverns of Banhosea, regaling sceptical but amused audiences with lurid descriptions of monstrous and gargantuan leviathans that sometimes emerged from the dark depths of the ocean to gorge themselves on the wretched inhabitants of coastal villages that have the bad luck to be located too close to their domains. In these exaggerated accounts the Jurokang become malevolent forces of the sea that exact a yearly tribute of infants and virgins in return for not devouring the inhabitants of entire native villages.
However, despite the improbable elements that characterise them, these stories have drawn the attention of certain zealous Jovian clerics that gleefully discuss the possibility of launching a holy crusade to slaughter the monstrous fiends and liberate the wretched islanders that are in thrall to these monsters. The irony that such a campaign mounted by these fanatical and ruthless adherents of the Jovian Church would be in all likelihood, far more devastating to the well-fare of the Sagal, than the infrequent attacks on disrespectful foreigners by the giant crustaceans, would most probably be lost on them.
For some unknown reason, the Jurokang are immune to any magical attempts to seize control of their minds. Ambitious cultists of Ma-O have infiltrated visiting crews of DeMadden traders, in order to make just such an endeavour. Deploying their dark arts, these vile clerics of Ma-O have sought out these creatures with the intention of hijacking the simple wills of these lumbering giants and transform them into savage monsters subject to the will of their vile lord. These efforts however, invariably end in failure, with the shrieking adherents of Ma-O being ripped to bloody shreds by a hungry Jurokang that is all but oblivious to the psychic tendrils that futilely seek an entry into its primitive mind and more than delighted at finding itself confronted with a human foolish enough to wander into its domain. This potent characteristic of the Jurokang has led to speculation among certain magical circles that the Jurokang may indeed be of divine origin as the Sagal have always insisted.
Heroes to the rescue:The PCs are recruited by a well- meaning Jovian cleric to slay the resident Jurokang. Imagine their shock when they return to the village bearing trophies of their victory, only to have an enraged mob attack them.
Grilled Lobster:The PCs are hired by a wealthy merchant to grab infant and juvenile Jurokang for the lobster pots of Banhosea. Can they survive the wrath of both irate adult Jurokang and angry Sagal chiefs?