About 30 miles south of the Bloodmaw, the Sanguis Isles (sanguis is Latin for blood) is an archipelago. Though most don't know the actual physics behind it, the Sanguis Isles is a dormant caldera. It has not exploded in centuries. The Sanguis (pronounced San-gui) Isles are marked by the treacherousness of the seas nearby, though this is to be expected for an archipelago just south of the Bloodmaw. There have been many shipwrecks in the area because of changing currents, submerged rocks, and deadly reefs. In fact, the natives generally don't need to use wood from the forest because of the prevalence of driftwood.
Sanguis Isles used to be the home to three tribes, one for each of the major islands. These tribes were highly peaceful. There is nothing more embarrassing than to send half your menfolk out to war, only to have them die inexplicably when the currents change. But soon technologically superior people, the Naeporue, came and conquered these tribes, and set up base. And eventually, Sanguis Isles were given there liberty because Naeporue didn't want the hassle of sending ships to support them, only to have to send a second (and possibly third) when the first one got destroyed.
Though the islands themselves are, usually, fairly nice, the fact that it is difficult to travel in between islands forces each island to be self-sufficient. This atmoshere breeds an independant, stubborn, and resilient people
The islands of Sanguis are in a general circle, around an empty space. The larger islands tend to be nearer the center, on the central ring, but this is not always the case (see Palus Island). The currents around the islands are unpredictable, and can switch suddenly. There are reefs lurking under the surface, which can tear a ship's hull to shreds. And the rocks are just as bad. It takes a skilled helmsman to steer a ship around. Generally speaking, most of the larger ships are not taken into the center of the islands, in favor of the smaller, nimbler crafts. The Sanguisians usually just use canoes if they want to go somewhere, and bigger boats if they are transporting large goods or lots of goods.
Note: This is only a selection of the five most significant islands. There are numerous islands that are inhabited by people, and probably double that that are uninhabited. There are many more islands than the five presented here. And as a side note, all the names of the five islands are Latin words reflecting something about the island and/or people.
1. Potens Island: The second largest of three main islands, Potens is roughly 20 miles in diameter. The land gently slopes upward toward the center, and back down again to the opposite shore. A small bay lies on the northeast shore, the side facing the empty area in the middle of the archipelago. On this bay is the capitol city of Sanguis Isles- Patior. The area around the bay is generally used for the raising of sheep and a little agriculture, and the bay is used for shellfish, pearls, and fish. The water for this comes from a small lake in the center of the island. This lake is mostly a natural reservoir. It consists of mostly rainwater, wit a small bit provided by a small spring. When the isles were taken over by the Naeporue, they almost died when they used up the water too quickly. Now, the city carefully rations who gets how much water from it, while importing barrels of it from neighboring countries. Another way the people of Potens get past the lack of water is by alcohol and juices. The Patiorians generally only drink apple juice (the apple is a native species) and beer, both of which is made locally.
2. Poena Isla: A sharp contrast to the other islands, Poena Isle is nowhere near a beach paradise. It is 3 miles in diameter (roughly). All it is is a reef that was thrust upward with geological uplift, though no one knows of that. It is mostly limestone, a porous rock, which means that there are no lakes, streams, or freshwater sources. The water simply vanishes into the rock. Because of this, walking across the terrain- even if you walk very carefully- will shred boots. Going the three miles across Poena will turn a new pair of boots into a couple strips of leather. It is possible to walk across the island with bare feet, but not for non-natives. Only native people can get across the island with bare feet and expect to have feet at the end of the trip. The 1/10 of the island that is not rock is separated into further tenths. 6/10 (or 6/100 of the entire area) is located on the west shore. This is where most of the inhabitants live. This area is mostly beach. 3/10 is located on the northeast shore. Only a few people live over here, much less than on the west shore. And 1/10 is scattered over the center of island. The economy of Poena is composed ff luxuries. The small beaches of Poena are the haunts of sea turtles, several flightless bird species, and some other living luxuries. The small northeast beach is particularly famous for the amounts of sea turtles that go there.
3. Palus Island: The third largest island, Palus is 17 miles in diameter. It is the nearest island of Sanguis to the mainland. As such, the Sanguis have established a military base and customs check there. All goods must stop on Palus before coming to the rest of Sanguis. Most of the island is plains. There is no sources of water besides rain, and as such, the military has set up a large reservoir near the center of the island. The island also has a good bay, which is used to house Sangui's navy. Some of the inhabitants of Sanguis Islands feel that there are secret government tests going on here for military purposes, but if there are, the government isn't talking.
4.Pravus Isle: Lying on the north side of the archipelago, Pravus Isle is avoided by all. Its a small island, roughly a mile in diameter, and is composed of almost all sand, with a few trees here and there. The whole thing is usually covered by a low fog, which is only dispelled at noon. At night, it is next to impossible to see the moon, and is impossible to see stars. No animal life lives on Pravus Isle. Most say that ghosts inhabit the island. Whether this is true, or simply a trick of the light (or lack of light), Pravus Isle is an island cloaked in mystery.
5. Praemii Island: The largest island, Praemii is a respectable 30 miles in diameter. Praemii (pronounced Pray-me) Island is the breadbasket of Sanguis, with almost all the farming being done on it. The whole island, besides the small town, is farm land. Because of the fact that they need bountiful harvests, Praemii imports manure by the shipload. In fact, Praemiians call the ships bringing in the manure a "Shit Ship." Praemii also boasts the most dependable freshwater of all the islands, with a permanent small river. Though the river is used mostly for agricultural purposes, water is much cheaper there than it is on any of the other islands.
Sanguis is, strictly speaking, a monarchy. But because of the fact that ship trade is so undependable, what with trick currents, hidden rocks and killer reefs, most of the islands can be considered self-governed. The king can handle relations with other countries and play in his court while we handle the day-to-day business of raising sheep, catching fish, or growing crops. As such, the people themselves enforce, govern, and determine laws. Each island, and groups of small islands, has a council composed of 12 citizens (male, free, citizens). The council generally meets once a month to discuss happenings on the island.
Taxes are light, and generally paid to the council, which uses it for purposes it determines. Sometimes the king will send a tax collector to each of the islands if he needs extra money. If this happens, then the council will be required to give a quarter of the taxes it got to the king, though the council will usually lie and give half that.
Imports: Metal (iron, gold, silver, etc), agricultural products (wheat, barley, beef, etc), timber.
Exports: Fish, sea turtle, shellfish, wool, pork.
Naeporue (67%), Natives (16%), hobbits (7%), elves (7%), dwarves (3%).
The Modern Currents: all ready bad enough, the currents have grown worse. Now almost no ships can travel between island and island. This makes the whole country poised to crumble. Most of the islands have no farmland, or at least not enough to feed themselves. As such, they are dependent on the ships bringing in food. With the increased currents, those ships cannot reach the places they need to go for fear of getting shipwrecked. When these deadly currents go back to th norm, the king receives a letter threatening months of these currents if the senders demands are not met. Who but the PCs can save the day?
Bridging Gaps: to make travel between islands much easier, the king is attempting to make a system of bridges between as many islands as possible. Of course, to do this, the king has to connect islands that are not fully explored yet. As such, just in case, he is hiring a bunch of mercenaries to protect the hired labor as they build. And what do you know, the PCs were hired, and now have to take out Orc, goblin, and undead infestations on the neighboring isles so that the bridge progress can continue.
The Dead Can't Progress: a truly horrible thing has happened. The king of Sanguis has given women their rights. And certain neighboring countries... disagree with the notion that a women's place could possibly be outside the kitchen. Some of these countries disagree so much that they have declared war on Sanguis, while others support it whole heartedly, and are willing to defend it. And it looks like things are shaping up for WWI (world war one, not wizard war one). Will the PCs try to negotiate peace back to the land? Will they fight for women's rights? Will the male players decide to annoy the female players by fighting against women's rights? Or will they all decide to go kill things that don't have anything to do with Sanguis?