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April 13, 2014, 6:41 pm

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The Island and Firth of Crueloar


A rough town which is haven for outlaws is a staple of all adventuring genres. In the fantasy genre the town of Crueloar provides places in which you can share a dinner table with a vampire or learn the ways of dark magic.

The Island and Firth of Crueloar

Location: 60 leagues south east of the Port of Thab in the Shallows of the Farie Sea.

King/Lord: None

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.

Adventure Ideas:
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.

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Comments ( 17 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

March 15, 2009, 15:48
Here we go, a sub with a presentation that improves the idea. I like the 'information for the discerning traveler' format!

It is recommended that when dining in Crueloar you ask to inspect the animal prior to it being served to you and witness its slaughter Lol, nice!
Voted manfred
March 16, 2009, 6:03
A nice location indeed! It is added now to the right codex.

There's a few typos, but the composition makes it easy to digest... speaking of which, I also like the cuisine and the 'un-sponsored mages', what a nice way to call a necromancer. The occasional undead mingling is encouraging for a visit as well. See the sights! Don't let anything kill you!
Voted valadaar
March 16, 2009, 19:29
I like this one - the tone is nice and the locale is quite useful!
Voted punkcasher
March 17, 2009, 1:25
Great Post. 5/5.
Barbarian Horde
March 18, 2009, 21:16
I was looking for information on Sweden.
March 18, 2009, 22:37
You're like Bugs Bunny, 'cept he took a wrong turn at albuquerque.

While innocently looking for Sweden, you stumbled upon the NECRO-SAGES OF CRUELOAR instead! Buahahahhaha
Voted Nocontrivedname
March 19, 2009, 1:37
hey all,

I really like this, full of typos, but we aren't supposed to care about that are we? I was just thinking about a plot idea. Th punkcasher had an idea for goblin labor unions, and I think that could apply here. The Orc's seem to be getting the scat end of the stick and then hit with the other end. What if they form a union.
Why don't they write whole DnD books like travel guides anyway? I mean there is a reason travel guides have that format, it makes it easier to use right? You should do submissions like this for your whole world. Or do you just make all that other stuff up to fit with this setting?

March 23, 2009, 19:48
Updated: a few changes
Voted Pieh
April 1, 2009, 2:25
I like it. The tone of the whole thing is very nice. I wish that first History section were a little easier to read, but it does contain some high quality information. Good stuff.
Voted Michael Jotne Slayer
April 8, 2009, 5:00
The fantasy globe trekker guide meal recommendation says eat there and sleep there.. I disagree with nocon, I dislike the setup, but not the content that glimmers trough. So all in all I would say that this is a solid piece. Good work.
Voted MoonHunter
April 16, 2009, 1:52
Needed to be linked to the islands sub. I will do that. You did hook it up to Scum and Villany. Thank you, it saves me the trouble.

Interesting, but not that exciting. The history had some nice elements. It is a very high fantasy kind of setting. Or at least a high magic world.

I have to agree that the format is very useful. I didn't need the first few entries King/Lord, Royal Allegiance, Parish Following These would of been mentioned in the other areas. Location, unless there is going to be a full set of related locations (which has not been indicated by freetext or linking), is really quite un-needed, especially since this will be pulled and used by others (thus making such details pointless). Still I like the format. I like the effective bullet points.

I would also explain what a firth is, for those that don't like to google or have an insane knowledge of descriptive terms.

A couple of other questions do come to mind.

0) How Big is this island? I don't need exacts. I just need to know it if is the size of a town and a bunch of rocks, is it several miles across, is it dozens of miles across? All we know is "the east side of the island, two miles long, and half a mile wide." This phrase makes no sense. I assume it is the Firth itself.. but..

1) Is there a stigma against "evil undead" "evil mages" etc in the rest of the world? If there isn't then the tenor and themes in the piece are all wrong.

2) If there is, why aren't they doing something about this nest of villian. A holy crusade, especially since the Dark Arts are taught here.. the source of "All (okay most) Evil Magics" comes from here... really seems quite possible if there is anything like an organized religion (with its own magics) and a military arm (paladins). If they don't have their own on tap, they certainly can provide incentives and moral justification for some group to deal with it. Even if it isn't religious, there are practical applications to wiping this place off the face of the planet.

3) Why isn't any nearby state (or other government) seizing said island. It seem strategically advantagous given that a small pirate fleet was based out of here for quite a while. (And still is) They were able to support themselves seeming on piracy only. This is a place I would want under my control to watch over sea lanes and be a forward naval base to protect their own interests. (Okay I see that undead might make the island less than a vacation spot, but enough trauma and the undead could be cleaned out or at least held back with or without the magic shield). Combine this with number two and it leaves unanswered questions.

4) See above, when dealing with slavery. I mean if you take the slaves anywhere else are they still slaves? And nobody is upset by this? Nobody swiped a noble's kid or friend by accident and sold them as a slave, thus providing motivation to go to war or deal with this? Again, good justification for that moral stance that gets people on your side.

5) The Evil Magic here can't be that overpowered as to protect them completely. Countermagic/ Dispell, a common enough spell in most systems, eliminates some of their edges. Do they have a military or an effective security force? The harbor, as described, isn't a defensible point. Blockage and blockage running could go on. Chaining. I mean there are many things here.

6) Is this a lawless zone on the land? How is order enforced, public consent? Do the Captains enforce anything? Do they have a brute squad? Is there any law at all besides what you can enforce with your battle prowess that you can muster?

I have a couple more, but these need to be addressed first.
April 16, 2009, 10:54

Of all people I thought you would know what a firth is.....

April 16, 2009, 13:53
Actually I do know what a firth is, but I bet very few other people do.

For q1, q2, q3 The reason I had those questions is the write up makes no mention of it. In fact, it implies that this is the stable status quo and that this island has been here and this way for quite a long time. (Tortuga in the pirate era lasted 30 years, though some say 44 with the treaty.) That was the impetus of the questions.

There is also no mention of anyone trying to "attack" the island and failing. It seems like the world is "happy" to leave this place alone (for now). If that is the case, a reason or a comment to that effect would be nice.

Related to q1, What is your expected stigma for the Dark Arts for the setting? Is it just an "icky thing" like being a mortuary science or a torturer or butcher in Japan or it is something horrific? This expresses the degree of acceptance.

q4, admittedly the question was an afterthought. Certain cultures/ states would find it more offensive than the black magic. (Depends on the degree of stigma against the Dark Arts. ) Just wanted to see if there was any response to their place of slavery. Would the Pirates sell the Slavers out (thus ensuring their own freedom)? That would then be a plotline for the setting.

There is a small disconnect for a place dammed by dead slaves would actually allow slavers to operate. Would not the undead just being pressing against the wall because of it. I would expect things getting through, ghosts of slaves who die working from the inside. I would expect a horde and something happening along those lines. Sure you have this defensive barrier, but it seems stable and something that nobody worries about failing.

Also there is no need to be defensive, by the way.

q6. I know there is no rule of law. The write up is clear on that. Even Tortuga had a small group of thugs that kept the worst of it down and helped to keep things from getting too out of hand. However, small personal armies for defense needed to be mentioned. Small armies to prevent others from taking over from the Captains (and how do you get to be a captain? a follow up question) would of been a good mention.

Are the captains importing prostitutes like they did in Tortuga?
Voted Moonlake
January 12, 2015, 23:07
I'm not personally into 'ghettos' but I have quite a fondness for how this is presented through a info for travellers format. In the "what to eat" section, I nearly thought that the Warhall provides all kinds of dwarfish, orcish, Beerjamian, Edo and Rekushu meat as opposed to cuisine.

I also think all of MH's questions have been addressed in the update. Good work with the update.
January 13, 2015, 10:38
Aside from grammar and spelling there were no updates to to content, MH questions have not been addressed:(
January 13, 2015, 18:40
Really? Well, then I guess I just have different interpretation on this sub than MH. Personally, I think Q. 0 and 6 are small quibbles or maybe I'm just not geared towards these practical aspects that border on minutia. Q. 2-4, I would say that with slavery being outlawed in all surrounding regions, the slavers have a vested interest to ensure that this island stays at status quo else who knows whether slavery would still be allowed with a change of authority at this place? Some of the other logic contained in them also does not speak true to me and that's all I want to say regarding this aspect. Q.5 is game-speak and I'm a non-gamer so it doesn't concern me.

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