Campaign of the Month: September 2016
Age of Serpents
A forested, mountainous isle, 40 miles west of the coastal Sargavan city of Eleder.
On 3-3-4716 AR, several passengers aboard the galleon Jenivere (Dornas, Kishtari, Kor’lec, Monica Montana, Nemanji, Aerys Mavato, Gelik Aberwhinge, Jask Derindi, Sasha Nevah) survived their ship being run aground on the northern coast. The adventuresome among them decided to salvage supplies from the wrecked ship in order to survive and explore.
Monica stated that the Shiv was well-known as a ship’s graveyard and widely believed to be haunted. She also speculated that there was something on the island worth sabotaging a ship for.
That something might have been discovered in the caverns of Black Widow Bluff, a rise on the northern peninsula. There, the remains of a ten-thousand year-old serpentfolk stronghold were discovered and the visible motifs on the walls there indicated that it was one of several that once existed on the island. Later in pre-history, Zura cultists would occupy the land, drawing upon it a curse that persisted into contemporary times until it was broken by the Castaways. In doing so, the Castaways would cement their reputations as heroes and explorers by uncovering serpentfolk and Azlanti ruins on the island — the latter being the first hard evidence of that civilization’s reach that far south.
The dryad Aycenia was among the island’s oldest residents, though she knew next to nothing about the serpentfolk strongholds until pressed into looking for them. She found two before the stones’ psionic backlash broke her communion with the land. One was the Beast Stone in the sanctum mentioned above, another — the Tide Stone — she found near Red Mountain, a volcanic peak in the island’s southeast quadrant.
After revealing that Kor’lec would help her to bear two children, Aycenia suggested that the powerful druid would always find a welcome home on Smuggler’s Shiv, as one of the agents responsible for ridding the island of its many evil wounds. As the Castaways prepared to leave the Shiv aboard the Red Gull, a mutual agreement was brokered between the Mongrukoo goblinoids and the dryad Aycenia to protect the island from those who’d seek to exploit it in the wake of its shattered curse.
| The Brine Demon
These were a small gang of skeletal pirates who haunted the hulk of a decade-old shipwreck. The Brine Demon was once captained by the cruel Avret Kinkarian, a Shackles pirate, who, along with corrupt officials in Sargava, framed Jask Derindi for skimming off the tithes proffered to the Free Captains.
According to ship records, The Brine Demon sailed Desperation Bay for years. On his vessel’s final fateful voyage, Kinkarian had stolen a vast treasure that enraged the Sargavan navy and the Pirate Council. Fleeing their ships, Captain Kinkarian risked a desperate attempt to throw off pursuit by sailing around Smuggler’s Shiv. While this tactic did indeed force his pursuers to break off the chase, the dangerous currents seized the Brine Demon and drew the ship toward the Shiv’s cutting edge. Faced with an imminent wreck, the crew, under First Mate “Loudly” Lancaster, mutinied, but were killed and reanimated as skeletal undead. The creatures were finally laid to rest by the Shiv Castaways. Kinkarian’s remains were found inanimate, reaching for an intricate box containing a gold locket bearing the likeness of castaway Aerys Mavato.
Kinkarian’s ghost later appeared and attacked several Castaways, but the unquiet spirit was finally laid to rest when Aerys presented the open locket and allowed him to gaze upon the the image of his beloved “Aeshamara” one last time.
The locket, housing a good and protective fragment of Kinkarian’s soul, was given as a gift by Aerys to Kishtari.
Mere days later, the Brine Demon was burnt to cinders and destroyed by the Thrunefangs (see below) when its occupants were elsewhere.
The Salty Strumpet was a wrecked ship near Red Mountain, in the lagoon located just past the surrounding foothills. Its sole inhabitant was a mischievous and mad water mephit calling himself Captain Ekubus, who was guessed to be the familiar of the ship’s original wizard captain. Ekubus believed that the natural sea-life dwelling on the ship were his crew and that the hulk was still sailing on a journey to deliver “magical treasure” to Ilizmagorti.
| The Fungus God
The Fungus God was an Abyssal analogue of the violet fungus, a creature metastasized from the dead Pathfinder ship captain Havner Ames. Ames, whose journal was discovered on the remains of the Nightvoice, explained within those pages that his crew succumbed to a violent fungal infection after a strange pod they’d collected in the Southlands burst open. He later attributes the pod to the demon Cyth-V’sug. All Captain Ames could do to prevent the infection from spreading to civilization was to alter the ship’s course so that it instead crashed against the rocks of Smuggler’s Shiv’s northernmost islet. Delirious and mad, Captain Ames abandoned the wrecked ship and crawled through a seaside cave, hoping to find a place to hide the fungal bulb away where it could do no more damage. Ultimately, it absorbed him, and the fungal beings that emerged from the bodies of his crew (and others they’d captured across the decades) came to worship him as a god. His existence and the threat it posed to the world was finally ended by the Castaways.
| The Hive Queen
A vicious eternally pregnant spider monster, perhaps some kind of variant ettercap who birthed swarms of cobalt-blue arachnids. She was aligned with the Klixarpillar mites (see below) in an old serpentfolk stronghold in Black Widow Bluff, choosing to lair near the Beast Stone. The Hive Queen hungrily attacked the Castaways as they were studying the stone, and because she was far too large to scoop up into a cup and take outside (and very scary), she had to be destroyed.
A hostile clan of mites who dwelt in the high tablelands of the northern edge of the island. Their renewed war against the Mongrukoo monkey goblins (see below) was interrupted and terminated by the Castaways in the goblins’ favor. When they were alive, the mites answered to Tlukkah and had a rapport with a species of swarming cobalt-blue arachnids the Mongrukoo called “hive spiders” spawn of the dreadful Hive Queen.
A tribe of monkey goblins. First contact between the creatures and the Castaways was a violent conflict with a hunting band. Later, the goblins would prove surprisingly cosmopolitan despite their worship of a cannibal demon baboon god they called Mechuiti, an aspect or avatar of Angazhan. The protagonists managed to negotiate a tentative peace with the goblins, and bargained to learn the tribes’ disease panaceas in exchange for safeguarding the chief’s son.
Though the Castaways would outgrow the need for the Mongrukoo ointment, the truce stuck for the weeks they inhabited the island. Likki was adopted as a full and equal companion and friend, even invited to join the group on their journeys post-escape. After the last of the threats limiting Mongrukoo expansion were defeated or destroyed by the Jenivere’s adventuring survivors, former chief Basako took it upon himself to show his people were ready, or almost ready, to become stewards of the land by negotiating an alliance with Aycenia.
|• Nemanji II|
| The Red Mountain Devil
A winged chupacabra. This saurian, strangely batlike creature was infamous among the Shiv’s natives. A clever and sadistic hunter, the Devil seemed to delight in the fear its presence caused. It began stalking the Castaways from the first night they wrecked on the island, always feeding on goats or goblins just out of range of sight, perched in the branches of the trees. When the Castaways went to Red Mountain, the creature attacked them, but was driven to its lair and finally put down.
A clan of roughly two dozen ferocious cannibal barbarians allegedly descended from the crew of a lost Chelaxian warship called the Thrune’s Fang. They controlled the southern half of the island, occupying the remnants of an older, long-abandoned Sargavan settlement that included a lighthouse.
Interrogations by the Shiv Castaways revealed that the Thrunefangs were unrepentantly depraved and enjoyed killing and eating other humanoids. They incorporated diabolic motifs, such as pentagrams, in their costume, self-scarification, and rituals, but their beliefs and sympathies were closely aligned to Zura, a demonic patroness of blood and cannibalism. Nylithati or, “Mother Thrunefang,” was the cannibal tribe’s spiritual guide, though they had a patriarchal chief who was the only one of their number allowed to mate and have children.
Ieana was discovered to have visited the Thrunefang’s camp prior to the cannibal’s encounter with the Castaways. After securing herself among them, she used her orphic abilities to send the barbarians after the remaining survivors of the the Jenivere. It was also divulged that Ieana and her servant, Captain Kovack, were granted an audience with Nylithati, though only Ieana returned from that meeting.
The Thrunefang tribe were decimated by the Castaways in 4716, leaving only their chief, Klorak the Red, his wives, and a handful of men alive. Mama Thrunefang and her lacedon children were totally destroyed. The surviving Thrunefangs were generously offered their lives in exchange for use of the lighthouse and an pact of non-aggression.
The ceasefire was predictably short-lived. Klorak and his remaining forces attempted to “re-negotiate” as soon as they felt they had the upper hand by taking the Castaways’ ritual-weakened friends hostage at the apex of Red Mountain. When the Castaways discovered this sudden but inevitable betrayal, they let Kishtari wipe out the entire group in an instant, except Klorak himself, as if they’d always planned for it. The late arrival of a Mongrukoo “cavalry” allowed Dornas to turn the humbled Thrunefang chief over to the island’s sole remaining power, excluding Aycenia. The goblins were thrilled to make use of the smoldering Thrunefang bodies and had a celebratory feast on the mountaintop that the Castaways declined to participate in. Klorak, last of the Thrunefangs, served as “guest of honor,” entertainment, and finally, just dessert.