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