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    Keoish Intelligence Report from the Azure Sea Part II
    Posted on Sat, July 18, 2020 by LordCeb
    Osmund-Davizid writes "The second of three parts, a Keoish Admiral details some of the more remarkable locations and personalities that roam the Azure Sea.


    Continuing from my earlier report, the Azure Sea has many uncharted islands and other power bases for minor groups of petty city-states, assorted piratical and mercantile organizations,  natural and supernatural phenomenon,  and other oddities.  Throughout my travels and battles I have come across some notable locations that may interest our Agents.  Here are some of the more noteworthy discoveries.    

    The Emerald Isle.  There is a training base for the Keoish Royal Marines on an unmarked island southeast of the city of Sanduchar.  The island is small, only about 15 miles at its longest point, and is a real oddity, rising out of the sea in an area where geologically it should not exist.  The island was settled by an eccentric family of sea going gnomes some years ago after they discovered a small silver mine and some gemstones in the island's hills.  These gnomes were able to use some illusionary and fog controlling magic to conceal the island from passing ships for years.  That is, until recently.  Some Keoish Agents managed to pierce the illusions surrounding the island and later managed to annex the island and recruit the gnomes for Keoland (Note 1). 

    Named the Emerald Isle for its beautiful green waters, the Keoish navy founded a base (Fort Emerald Bay) on its northern point where they began a strict training regime for our marine commandos.  Ship-to-ship combat, use of watercraft, and amphibious landings are rigorously practiced here under the watchful eye of the best Keoish naval officers.  With assistance from a friendly tribe of mermen, some marines are also well versed in the use of aquatic steeds, underwater combat, and the use of undersea crossbows, nets, and tridents.  The gnomes who founded the island have been employed to tinker and create equipment for undersea combat and exploration.  There is even a couple small townships on the island now, as a way to support the marines and sailors as well as serve as a secret getaway for the Keoish aristocracy and high ranking naval leaders.  Should a party of loyal servants of the Lion Throne ever need materials and specialized aquatic training, they may be sent to Fort Emerald Bay in exchange for undertaking missions for the greater good of Keoland (Note 2).  

    The Storm Eternal.  A scourge to all who sail the Azure, this unnatural hurricane has no fixed location, it moves all throughout the southern waters.  While this storm waxes and wanes over time, it never entirely dissipates.  Clearly, this is no natural phenomenon!  Old mariners claim that it is a physical embodiment of the anger of the god Procan for some long past transgression by his faithful.  Whatever the cause, the storm can usually be detected at a distance and thus avoided by sailing ships, the bigger threat is to coastal cities.  But woe betide any mariner that displeases the powers of the seas, for the Storm Eternal can move with a seeming purpose should someone blaspheme the deities.  The Storm Eternal can turn fair weather into a nightmare with incredible rapidity.         

    The Drifting Isle. Old sailors talk of a strange island near the Densac Gulf that appears and disappears off the charts as the years go by.  Evidently, this island either sinks beneath the waves periodically, or else floats about like some enormous creature.  Many rumors about the nature of this island range from it being some form of vessel or some great animal.  I believe that these are simply old pirate's tales (Note 3).

    The Sharks of Ivid.  This was a generalized term for the navy of the Great Kingdom for many years.  Currently, most ships from Prymp are content to mostly sail and raid Relmor Bay.  But there is a specific fleet dedicated to Hextor that openly plies the Azure Sea, brushing aside any resistance. This fleet is under the leadership of an exceptional admiral, the Hextorian priestess Xeria (Note 4).    She is evidently on some holy quest for Hextor and is driving her fleet ever further abroad.  With her flagship the Iron Maiden, Xeria scours the ruins of port cities looking for some sort of unholy artifact of Hextor.  It is best to avoid this fanatical priestess and her sizable fleet. 

    The Island of Nomen ("no men").  Basically just a small, barren rock pointing out of the sea just south of the Saerned Islands off Onnwal, this island appears to have nothing to offer the passing ship.  There is a huge flock of particularly intelligent and violent harpies nesting on the island, posing a great threat to any travelers.  The reefs around the island are especially dangerous, with the songs of the harpies and perhaps even some evil sirines leading ships to break up on the sharp coral.  The waters around the island are teeming with eels, barracuda, and are choked full with strangling weeds and kelpies.  All this would normally add up to being a place to be best avoided if it were not for the most dangerous inhabitants of them all - a covey of exceptionally powerful sea hags.  These hags may be the world's foremost experts in the lore of the seas, knowledge of artifacts, and are sages of nautical history, oceanography,  and metaphysics.  To those brave or foolhardy enough to seek them, there is little they cannot divine, given enough time and payment.  They will ask for high prices for their knowledge, but they never lie once they give their word to answer a query.  Getting that word takes the greatest of diplomacy and may require an enormous sacrifice on the part of the asker (Note 5).    

    The Golden Ship.  As far as most sailors and cartographers believe, there are no decent seaports in the lands around the Bright Desert.  This has been a source of concern for the ruler of these lands, the traitor archmage Rary.  However, there has been recently spotted on the high seas a ship bearing the sigil of the Bright Kingdom and in the style of the bakluni fleets of the far off west.  Clearly, this had to have been the work of Rary and his forces, as many bakluni warriors followed their liege into the desert and now serve in Rary's military.  The ship seems to be loaded with magical effects, making it exceptionally fast, and thus far it has avoided contact with other vessels.  It appears to be making its way to the jungle continents, perhaps in search of exotic materials for the archmage's magical work or else an attempt to establish trade there.  A big question as far as Keoish intelligence goes is where would these ships return - perhaps Rary has managed to create some magical construction of a hidden port facility somewhere on his coastline.

    Lendorian Elf ship.  Recently, a mysterious vessel was spotted anchored off a lonely stretch of land near the Dreadwood.  The ship had a graceful design and was obviously magically constructed.  Its craftsmanship suggests elfish work but who was crewing the vessel and to what end is unknown.  The ship made its way back to open ocean before it vanished from sight.  The best guess our intelligence has come up with is that the ship was some sort of envoy from the mysterious Lendore Islands, but the local Dreadwood elves claim ignorance on the subject and are not talking.

    The Iron Ship.  Another mysterious ship has been spotted cruising the waters off of our Keoish coastlines.  Its appearance seems to vary based on the witnesses, but the best description is that some kind of  "super Apparatus of Kwalish" has been attacking the local fishing fleets.  This vessel was first encountered in the years before the Greyhawk Wars, with no explanation as to why it has resurfaced.  A sizeable bounty has been put up by the leadership at Seaton for any information concerning this threat (Note 6).

    Burning Ship of Fire.  If you see on the horizon a red glow where none should be, then take my advice and immediately turn and flee.  For "Blazing Death" is near.  It may be some sort of violent spectral ship, a demonically possessed vessel or else some sort of evil fire elemental craft.  Regardless of its origin, it appears as a derelict ship that is somehow imbued with incredible speed, with sheets of fire as sails.  The entire vessel is wreathed in flames, with vague shapes of fire resembling crew flitting across its decks.  No ship that has come in contact with it has survived, the only ones able to tell the tales were members of convoys.  Evidently, the cursed ship will overtake one ship and leave the remainder of a convoy alone, and that may be your only hope.  Once this vessel is on your wake, offer up a prayer to whatever god you worship for a quick end.

    The Ship of Wraiths.  As if this was not enough, there are persistent rumors of a haunted vessel piloted by spectral undead plying the waters of the Azure at night.  One twist to this whispered tale is that the undead of this ship seem to specifically target ships of the Scarlet Brotherhood.  This comes from a singular report from an old mariner in which he witnessed a squad of blockading Brotherhood ships being systemically run down by this ghostly ship.  Whether this mariner was spared because the wraiths have a specific vendetta against the Brotherhood, or the fact that the rising sun saved him is uncertain.  Regardless, be wary of this ship when approaching the Tilva Strait, its haunting grounds.   

    The Pomarji Coast.  The goblinoids of the Pomarj are not known for any particular prowess in naval endeavors.   What navies they have are typically pirates headquartered out of Highport and Blue.  Those pirate fleets usually keep to the Sea of Gearnat or Woolly Bay, and do not travel the high seas.  While some sea serpents cruise the waters off the southern coast of the Pomarj, there are relatively few goblin ships or monsters to harass travelers here.  Some noteworthy exceptions are the Yellow Tooth tribe of kobolds, who operate an elaborate scheme of floating piers off the tip of the Pomarj.  Careless ships traveling too close to the shore can get snared in these traps.  Another hazard used to be the ships of the Slavelords, though these villains have not been operating on the Azure Sea lately (Note 7).

    The Purple Squid tribe of hobgoblins are an exception to the general rule of goblinoid nautical ineptness.  These doughty humanoids have proven to be excellent sailors and can craft and repair their own ships.  They now have a solid reputation as mercenaries on the high seas, selling both ships and crews to anyone with enough coin.  Some Scarlet Brotherhood blockaders are rumored to be principally crewed by these troops.  These hobgoblins are also keen whalers.  Indeed, one of the rites of passage within the tribe is to participate in a whale hunting expedition.  The Purple Squids have become so proficient with their seasonal whaling that the hobgoblins are considering working at honest trade in whale meat, oil, and ambergris. 

    Additionally, the lonely, desolate southern coast of the Pomarj is noteworthy for having the bulk of the free human population scattered about in small enclaves.  These folk have been oppressed and dominated by the Slavelords and their humanoid masters for so long that the bulk of these humans are now as feral and dangerous as the goblinoids.  To any shipwrecked sailor who thinks they may find refuge amidst these people, beware!  The cult of Erythnul is strong here.

    Independent Pirate Groups.  The list of ne'er-do-wells that composes the various piratical bands that plague the Azure would fill a library.  A few of the more powerful ones include:

    Lord Targas of Blue.  This pirate lord spends most of his time in the city of Blue, managing a fleet of cutthroats while leveraging his influence with Blue's ruling council.  He is a daring, crafty brute who has survived numerous assassination attempts and ambushes.  While he is a true villain, he has one motivation that we may be able to exploit - he greatly hates Fleet Admiral Llarnen of Prymp.  Targas recently escaped from the admiral's personal prison, and since then has shown willingness to entertain any scheme which would allow him to exact some revenge on the Ahlissian navy in general and Llarnen in particular.  He has issued orders to turn away Ahlissian ships approaching Blue.  This may be a plot worth pursuing (Note 8).

    Captain Gnorl.  A half-orc of the Pomarj, this rascal walks the fine lines that separates the pirate, the adventurer, the merchant and the smuggler.  He manages to make himself valuable to as many factions as possible, to the extent that no one of them wants to see him dead.  He is a wanted man in most ports of call, but has bought off most of the port authorities to turn a blind eye to him coming and going.  Clever and charismatic, he has his fingers in a lot of schemes and is a singularly good contact for anyone wanting information across the Azure.    

    The Sharks of Hell.  A cursed fleet led by the malign pirate Jaager, this band of killers has been spotted in the southern Azure.  May be allied with the Crimson Fleet, but the extremely bloodthirsty nature of these crews may make any cooperation limited.  They usually raid port towns but also direct attacks towards undersea folk such as sea elves and mermen (Note 9).

    Crimson Fleet.  This fleet is a loose confederation of pirates from some hidden location far south of the Azure.  Often travelling under disguise as Scarlet Brotherhood ships, they are able to get past the blockade with relative ease.  The big difference between them and the Brotherhood ships is that these captains and crews tend to be violently chaotic, bordering on insane.  They appear to be driven for some unfathomable purpose.  More investigation into their motivations is in order (Note 10). 

    The Doomed City of the Suel.  In the course of compiling this intelligence, I had the misfortune to run into a colorful rogue who occasionally works with Keoish interests, a Captain Xiander Yan Zedovol (I made some remarks on this character before in my first missive under a slightly different name.  My attitude towards him has not changed - indeed this name is probably another pseudonym, as he prefers to be known as "XYZ" now).  At any rate, he shared a story with me that ties into some legends surrounding a lost subgroup of Suel.  Dating from the time of the Great Migrations, this small group of Suloise were fleeing from another Suel tribe (Note 11).  In their haste, this fleeing group reached the end of the Pomarj peninsula.  It was there that their religious leadership had a vision to go out on to the great sea and found a city on an island refuge.  Evidently, this subgroup did make some sailing vessels and go off on to the open ocean following their vision.  This has been an old sailor's legend for years.        

    But apparently our friend XYZ has procured some ancient documents that may prove that this sailor's tale has basis in fact.  These documents refer to a former island city that sank beneath the waters centuries ago and now resides under the ocean.  Humans still live in this city, as it is protected by some sort of air tight dome maintained by some powerful magic.  This is referred to as "the Doomed (Domed?) City of the Suel - Mantor".  A city of ancient Suel now living far under the sea staggers the imagination.  A magical dome construct that can protect a whole city underwater is epic level magic, on par with Slerotin's Tunnel!  Yet the manuscripts XYZ sold me were part of a larger cache of materials that have proven to be true, so maybe there is a grain of truth to this information.  A mission to discover the truth of this information and make contact with the residents may yield much in ancient lore, magic, and treasure.  What adventurer could resist that?  (Note 12)

    With that last call to adventure, I will end this portion of my report.  What comes next is what little information I could ascertain about the subsurface of the Azure. 

    As always, your faithful servant of the Lion Throne,

    Admiral Stoutheart



    1.  The secret behind this hidden island is a series of enchanted buoys that the gnomish illusionists placed at certain magical points off the island's coast.  The effect is subtle, much like the magic that effects that protects the people of Ringland (see WGR5 Iuz the Evil, page 45).  Basically, the magical buoys project an antipathy spell combined with a forget effect that makes the recipient lose their memory of seeing the island.  This, combined with the illusions and fog magic has kept this place off the charts until the late CY 570's.  The exact timing of the island's discovery is fluid - as it a geological anomaly perhaps it rose from the sea only recently or was otherwise magically created only a relatively short time ago (explaining why it is not on the charts).      

    2.  The Keoish Royal Marines are the elite of the Keoland military.  Effectively balancing training, magic, allies, and equipment, they are a force to be reckoned with and were instrumental in defeating forces of the Scarlet Brotherhood during the Greyhawk Wars.  Unfortunately, these troops are extremely expensive to train and maintain, therefore their numbers tend to dwindle during years of peace.  The Greyhawk Wars found Keoland unprepared and undermanned with tragic results.   

    3.  See Dungeon Magazine Issue 46 "The Floating Rock" for an example of this kind of adventure.

    4.  Xeria is a rarity among the Hextorian church, in that she is an expert at naval warfare and has preached throughout the Great Kingdom to worship Hextor as more of a maritime power.  Her flagship is a marvel of engineering and boasts many magical and mundane enhancements.  It may be the strongest single ship on the Azure!  Xeria herself hates all human beings except Ivid.  In fact, she idolizes Overking Ivid as some sort of Hextorian saint!  Xeria experiences visions that she believes are signs from Hextor telling her to seek out a magical artifact.  This item can allegedly alter the magical nexus at Rauxes and thereby restore the Naelex line to the Malachite Throne.  Her fleet's numbers vary, as she sends out ships in all directions hunting for clues as to where to find this artifact, Istus only knows if such an artifact even exists!  Mostly, her ships are crewed with fanatical Hextorians and Xeria favors having more females than males, making her fleet the subject of many ribald sailor's stories.  

    5.  As the name of the island suggests, this trio of hags, in addition to their other odious habits, are manhaters and maneaters.  Treat this covey as sages of the highest skill in the areas of sea lore, magic, artifacts, history, flora and fauna.  Already, the Scarlet Brotherhood has been known to seek their knowledge on several occasions.  More recently, the Iron Maiden was witnessed anchoring  offshore.  The sea hags will only deal in good faith with other females, any males seeking their advice will find that the prices are higher and they have to be especially servile and flattering in their presence.  In any event, payment will be expensive in gold and magic items, but the hags are also known to demand sacrifices of manflesh.  

    6.  See Dungeon Magazine Issue 74 for an example of such a vessel.

    7.  The Slavelords, depending on the time of your campaign, may be on the rise or waning in influence.  With the Scarlet Brotherhood blockade post Greyhawk Wars, some sort of agreement between the Slavelords and the Brotherhood must be in place in order for the two groups to continue to operate concurrently.  Details of such an alliance would be of high value to Greyhawk, Keoland, and Irongate and trustworthy adventurers could be hired to discover the nature of this alliance of two evil organizations.

    8.  See "Keoish Intelligence Report from the Pomarj" on Canonfire for more details on this dread pirate lord.

    9.  See "Hell on Oerth II" on Canonfire for more information on this fleet.

    10.  See the "Savage Tide" Adventure Path in Dungeon Magazine 139-150 for their plots.  In summary, the fleet is attempting to hide some evil artifacts across the cities of the Azure to create a demonic "savage tide" at the behest of the Abyssal Prince Demogorgon.

    11.  This subgroup was fleeing from an exceptionally powerful and evil group of Suel.  This bunch met up with a peaceful tribe of Flan in the Drachengrabs, massacred them, and were cursed to become the Twisted Forest.  See Greyhawk Adventures Hardback for information on this tribe.

    12.  Further information on the Doomed City may be coming in a future article.

    SOURCES:  "Keoish Intelligence Reports" and "Sahuagin of the Azure Sea" on Canonfire, Slavers, the A1-4 module series, and Dragon Magazine Issue 167 for information on the Pomarj.

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