Monday, May 11, 2009

Javartan Mixed Nuts

I haven't posted much about my nascent colonial campaign recently because I've hit that stage where most of what I'm developing can't be seen by my players… yet (plus I've been pretty busy lately). Still, here's a grab-bag of entries to give you an idea of how things are going. 

The Timoran Merkingdom
An undersea nation of lithe, almond-eyed mermaids claim the Timoran Sea, a kelp-choked stretch of water between the Koatung Straits and Cape Lucknow, as their own.

The mermaids (there are only mermaids, no mermen) believe themselves to be superior to land dwellers. They trade with humans and ogres alike at certain designated islands at the edge of their waters, but are very aggressive at protecting their territory.

The ogres respect their desire for privacy, but humans (especially merchants and pirates) have a history of attempting to intrude in their domain. This, in spite of the tendency of the kelp to foul rudders and becalm vessels.

Such intrusions has slacked off in recent decades, since humans intruding in mermaid waters uninvited began to disappear without a trace, their ships found months later, empty and deserted, some distance away. The mermaids themselves offer no explanation for what befalls the crews, but firmly remind the inquirer of their isolationist policy.

The Kwaichow Wall
The great Kwaichow Wall, also known as the ‘Door of the West’ and ‘Barbarian’s Gate’, straddles the entirety of the Kwaichow Peninsula. On the east side of the wall lies the outer boundaries of the Eastern Empire. On the west side lie the lands of the lowly barbarian. By writ of the holy emperors, no outsider may cross into the Empire without express permission of the emperor or his duly appointed representatives.

According to legend, it was built by the Celestial Court, but no one really knows who build it or why. It has certainly been around as far back as known recorded history goes.

The wall, fashioned from seamless grey-blue stone of unknown type, is some 50 feet tall, and inclines from either side from a 20-foot base to a razor-thin edge on the top. It has two interesting features: it cannot be scaled by any known agent human or inhuman, and it has no opening of any kind.

It does, nevertheless, have a gate. An emperor long ago set his men to digging under the wall, and now each side features an elaborate gatehouse with a broad tunnel that runs some 15 feet beneath the wall. Only three centuries ago, when the Eastern Empire began to discover signs of a world beyond its traditional sphere of knowledge, it built ramps, towers, and walkways on the eastern side of the wall, enabling defenders to man its ramparts.

Being caught within 2,000 feet of the wall on the western side carries an instant death penalty unless the encroacher can produce proof that he bears the emperor’s permission to trespass on Imperial soil. For most Imperial merchants and travelers, this is a standard traveling document issued by the government before they pass through the gate on the east side. Humans and ogres are, by definition, outsiders, and will be executed on the spot if they do not bear a travel visa. Even having a visa merely stays a death sentence by a few hours in most cases, since most are forged—the government issues very few such documents for foreigners in any given year.

Sung Chen “The Bountiful Rain”
Sung Chen hails from the mainland of the Eastern Empire. He was once a captain in the service of a regional governor, but was outlawed when he helped a musician and her family escape the clutches of a corrupt official. He now wanders the islands stealing from wealthy merchants on the road, drinking himself into a stupor, singing to the moon, and brawling. When sober he is an astounding swordsmen, and even when inebriated can hold off most comers. Indeed, he remains at large chiefly because those charged with his arrest fear to draw near, and because his sword Jade Dragon strikes hands from wrists and arrows out of the air with equal alacrity.

Sung occasionally remembers himself when presented with injustice, and in such times intervenes to correct some perceived wrong. He is known by his nickname “The Bountiful Rain” due to his famed generosity to peasants and the downtrodden.

The Dead Cat Gang
Mister Edward Hobbs and his bully boys Robbie Doyle and the hulking Krieger brothers ruled the Narrows, a maze of stilted alleys flanking the Eastside Docks in Barclave. Caught in a crackdown on the waterfront criminal syndicates, the survivors of the Dead Cat Gang were packed on the convict ship Amanda Gale and promptly forgotten by their erstwhile associates and enemies alike.

The Sunken Temple of Sanputra Swamp
Long ago it was a thriving place of worship and knowledge, but the dark waters rose and the dead inside their burial cisterns began to stir. There are treasures here, to be sure, but it isn't wise to venture into its dank halls, not at all, unless one is either a second Sung Chen or under the protection of a minor kami. And few kami of a mind to offer protection to lowly mortals approve of stealing and looting…

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