The Island and Firth of Crueloar
Location: 60 leagues south east of the Port of Thab in the Shallows of the Farie Sea.
Royal Allegiance: None
Parish Following: None
Flag: three triangular banners flown from a single pole: white, white, black
History: The island of Crueloar is located in the great shallows of the Farie Sea. During the Nomar era slave galleys traveling North-South used sight of the Island as a marker for when they had gotten close enough to Thab to start assessing inventory and as warning to avoid the shallows. Upon first sight of Crueloar a 15 degree adjustment is generally made away from the island either west or east. When the slave galleys came parallel to the island it was customary to drop those slaves that were dead or unfit for market. The ocean current was such that the bodies were carried directly to Crueloar. The spirits of these unburied dead were bound to this plain inside their unlamented bodies. This resulted in the hellish animations that aimlessly roamed the island for years. It was several generations ago that orcish raiding galleys began to strike ships passing along the shallows. It was believed that orcish pirates had set up a colony on Crueloar and mapped the shallows. For forty years the lanes of shipping were harassed from Crueloar, and the Orcish pirates amassed the combined fortunes of many merchants princes.
The days of the Orc pirate lords came to an end when an adventuring general named Kernin was enticed by some long since forgotten merchant prince to take the island by force and wipe out the pirate fleet. With borrowed gold and the promise of legendary plunder Kernin recruited an army of dishonored knights, dark priests and un-sponsored mages. Kernin’s force was said to be as ruthless as it was efficient. Using the arcane wisdom of his unholy sages he took his fleet through the shallows and attacked the Orcish fleet. The Orcs were crushed, but Kernin was wounded in the assault and betrayed by his men into the sea.
Kernin’s soul was joined to the tainted spirits of the island, and his rage and ambition endured. The undead general's powerful spirit gave direction to the listless undead that roamed the island, and they began to march on Kernin’s army still encamped at Crueloar. A second battle ensued this time between the mercenary army assembled by Kernin, and Kernin's undead self leading a legion of once human abominations. The dark clerics and mages the mercenary army were able to use their arts to protect the firth of Crueloar from Kernins masses. Yet the spirit of the betrayed is strong on the island and it is said that no thinking being that dies on the island stays dead: even within the protective barrier.
Shortly after the city and firth were secured gems, emeralds, were discovered in the outer banks of the firth. The source of wealth and possession of a defensible free port lead most of Kernin’s Captains to stay on the island. The piracy did not stop, but slowed. The new Kingdoms of Beerjam, and Reku outlawed most of the old Nomar ways including slavery and magic. The slavers, rather than fight the pirates or be forced out of business, began using Crueloar as clandestine slave market. For these reason the riches of Crueloar have become legend and so has its depravity.
Crueloar information for the discerning traveler:
How do I get there? It isn’t easy. Transportation to Crueloar can be easily arranged with any of the illegal Beerjamian or Rekushu slave ships but accommodations are cramped being that passengers are considered cargo. Ships commanded by one of the Crueloar Captains are known to move freely to from the island. It is strongly suggested that no boat try and approach the island unless captained by somebody who has been trained in the specific geography of the shallows.
How do I get around?: The town of Crueloar is made up of narrow streets and carefully terraced farms. Movement through the alleys is made more difficult by masses of the unemployed and unlanded, those waiting for death, and those dead who have slipped past the noses of the corpse wenches. It is not suggested that you bring a mount or carriage. Also coin purses and backpacks should be closely guarded.
What do I use for money?: Most gold and silver currency can be employed. Crueloar also employs a vigorous and open minded barter system.
Where should I stay?: It is advised that you stay on your ship should you have one. If not then staying as a guest in the home of one of the many wealthy merchants is the closet thing you will find to security. But if you must, there are 4 inns in Crueloar: The Safe Harbor, Jack Keg, the Mill Tavern and the largest is called The Warhall.
What should I eat? It is recommended that when dining on Crueloar you ask to inspect the animal prior to it being served to you and witness its slaughter. The most impressive eatery is not doubt the Warhall. This large Inn and Tavern is actually the remains of the original orcish Warhall located outside of the main city on the southern slope. Run by an articulate aging Orcish berserker named Drake and situated partially outside of the cities defined sanctuary, the Warhall caters to only the most rugged of patrons. The menu itself is a varied one serving dwarfish, orcish, Beerjamian, Edo and Rekushu cuisine and special items for those members of the Kernin’s masses sophisticated enough to use money. For the purchasing of food stores the towns only granary is a triplet of wind mills located on the highest point of the town. Clean fresh water can be a rare find. There is no well in the town, and though the rain is plentiful enough that cisterns rarely go empty droughts take a heavy toll.
Geography: The island is oblong with its longest axis running from northwest-southeast. The highest point on the island, sometimes called Warhall mountain or just the southern peak, is located on the south eastern end of the island overlooking the firth. On the northwestern arm of the island is a smaller flat topped peak which overlooks a small inlet called the Eddie of Corpses. Between the peaks the island is mainly scrub forest. There is fresh water lake between the peaks. Aside from the animated corpses very little is known about the wildlife, but there is said to be pack of wild pigs that roam the scrub forest.
The firth is on the east side of the island. The firth is two miles long, and half a mile wide. Its deep waters are relatively immune to the tides and the whole firth serves as port. The city is on the eastern face of the mountain at the west end of the firth. The magical shell which protects the city of Crueloar from the undead has roughly a three mile radius. On the north shore of the firth are the gem pits, and the southern shore of the firth has the small estate farms of the Captains and slave traders.
Government: Most the city’s populace is some form of Orcish, but the power still lies with the remainder of Kernin’s men. And the Council of Captains is the closest thing to a governing body. Each Captain commands a small military force, and the Council is, at least in theory, a mechanism by which these small forces could be united for a common cause. The Council meets irregularly and without regular attendance. There are several institutions that can be seen as serving the common well-fare. The NecroSages continue to protect the city from invasion by the undead. The Captains and the NecroSage both sponsor a citywide corpse removal service. These CorpseWenches wander the streets during the daylight hours with hand carts removing the bodies of all those that fell the night before. The war galley Kernin’s Fortune is anchored at the mouth of the firth and crewed by men at arms in the employ of the Captains. Depending on the mood of the crew it polices, taxes or directs ships entering and leaving the firth.
What are the worthwhile places?: There is a large library for the NecroSages of Crueloar. The slave market is always lively. The chief salesman of slaves to the aristocratic crowd is a smarmy man named Lotice, and he retains a larger estate on the southern shore of the firth. The Hole located on the southern side of the slope offers top notch entertainment for those that love the thrill of live combat. And if one is wishing for paid friendly company, The Dead Ogre Field at the base of the Northern slope offers the widest selection on the island. Bring a blanket or pad however, because it is indeed just a field.
Trade and Commerce?: All import and export is conducted by the Captains or by merchants who have paid one or more of the Captains for that right. Again a merchant ship entering the port without such protection would likely be seized and stripped of everything. Even with a promise of safe passage from the Council of Captains there is no rule of law in Crueloar so trade is conducted with in the constraints of introductions or under the protection of force. The gems are mined freelance with a single orc usually in possession of a pit in which he or she pans for rough jewels. They then sell them in town, often for little more than a few silver pieces, pint of liquor and a hand full of grain. Lumber is rare in town and captured ships are completely stripped by the Shipwrights on the towns waterfront. Aside from the Shipwrights and the NecroSages there is no skilled industry to speak of.
The PCs could be hired by the NecroSages to finally eliminate Kernin.
The PCs could be hired by Kernin to eliminate the NecroSages.
The PCs could be in the town when the magic shield breaks down and the undead horde attacks.
The PCs could be hired to find someone captured into slavery and this island would be a natural place to look.
The PCs could be a bunch of evil slave traders and this island could be their base of operations.