The Pirate Kingdoms
Countless tiny kingdoms dot the coast of the Great Eastern sea, most of them ruled by petty warlords whose fame rises and falls over the course of a lifetime. A few of the coastal city-states are more enduring, a few organizations more famous. It is from one of these ports that the crew sets out for their adventure – and perhaps, from one of these ports that the party members hail.
Patronage: Optionally, your character may have Patronage from one (and only one) of the greater city-states. This offers you 1 bonus feat, but you must live by a code laid down by the city-state’s culture, showing that you are worthy of special training. If you break this code, you immediately suffer the effects of a curse, lasting until you atone for your deed. If you choose to pursue Patronage, also design one Patron NPC who taught you the feat, who lives in the city-state of choice.
The greater city-states of the Pirate Kingdoms include:
An ancient stone-black fortification built into a cliffside, Aramshar hails back to the first settlement of humans after their arrival from the Mysterious East. Built by the early descendants of Stone, it is a crumbling, blackened fortification of endless turrets and minarets, most in a state of advanced decay, for the population of the fortress is nowhere near that of its heyday. The dour courtyards of Aramshar still sees soldiers being trained by old routines, however, and in the lightless depths of its dungeons, ninja are trained to navigate the darkness and traverse without sound. Though long past its glory days, Aramshar has retained its military tradition and defends its holdings fiercely. Its captains are not pirates, but privateers – soldiers loyal to the Fortress and its Admiral – who by tradition holds no other title. Aramshar has no King but the true heir to Stone, since long lost.
The current Admiral of Aramshar is a middle-aged woman named Reygara. A stern, salt-haired woman of fifty, she still wields a blade like the best of them despite her missing eye and leg. Rather than a peg leg, like most pirates, Reygara has an enchanted suit of armor imbued with the powers of a construct. Some whisper the armor has other abilities, like letting her breathe underwater – explaining how she was able to walk back to the fortress on the bottom of the ocean after her ship sank five years ago.
Patronage: A character with patronage from Aramshar enjoys one bonus feat pertaining to traditional weapons, taught by the ancient masters of the black castle. Your patron is likely an old warrior, trained in traditional arts, but might also be one of the castle’s ninja or a privateer in the Aramshar navy. In return, you must live by the coda “Our History Is Sacred”; disrespecting or disfiguring historical artifacts is anathema to Aramshar.
Mother-of-Pearl is a sprawling metropolis of trade, cutpursery, skullduggery and general villainy. Built along the delta of one of the coasts’ largest river, it has a practical monopoly on inland trade by ship, and furthermore controls some of the most powerful magic in the region, establishing a chokehold on most merchants in miles around the city. Though ostensibly a trade town, Mother-of-Pearl openly engages in piracy, bartering even with the worst and most immoral men and women whose ships fly no flag and bear no name. It’s a stormy, chaotic place and one of the few true metropolises of the eastern coast. Here, witches sign dark pacts with unknown creatures, bards sell performances on stage and in bed by equal measure, and gladiators ply their trade in bloodstained arenas against exotic beasts.
Mother-of-Pearl is ruled since nearly a hundred years back by a human witch nicknamed Fat Queen Bonny, a nickname she wears with pride. A corpulent woman of ruddy complexion and incredibly expensive tastes, Fat Queen Bonny usurped the merchant’s council that historically ruled the city and placed herself in charge. Her patron is unknown, a secret she keeps close to her chest, but her magic of decadence and indulgence suits the city well. Fat Queen Bonny has seven daughters, sired by anonymous men in her massive harem, each a competent adventurer on her own, vying for the throne after their mother dies – if she ever will, for rumor has Fat Queen Bonny is immortal.
Patronage: A character with patronage from Mother-Of-Pearl has an eclectic background, and may select either: Any one Skill Focus or Skill Affinity (+2 to two skills), or one Metamagic Feat, representing training by the city’s arcane scholars. In return, Mother-of-Pearl asks you live by the code “Gold Must Flow”: You must seek to obtain money and spend it frivolously. Willingly relinquishing a personal profit is anathema to Mother-of-Pearl.
Exile is a coastal Dwarven colony, although the Silver Kingdom does not acknowledge it. After the black-bearded House Kogan was thrown out of the Silver Kingdom on charges of gunpowder smuggling, they swore they would grow wealthy “in Exile”, and founded a kingdom by that name. To avoid confusion, humans sometimes refer to it by its dwarven name, Agash. Exile is built into the side of a cliff according to all the dwarven arts, employing an ingenious system of cranes and pulleys to ship goods on and off of boats. Gunpowder smuggling earned the Kogan family its wealth, and they continue with the trade to this day – Exile is the hub of the gunpowder trade along the coast, stored securely in hidden barrels somewhere within the cliffside. A grim place in the mountainside itself, Exile has an entire floating town lashed to its docks where entertainment runs brighter and life is happier (if one disregards the drunken drowned sailors that frequently float between the lashed barges).
Exile is ruled by the Kogan family to this day. Black-bearded and surly-eyed, the family holds a grudge like no others, even by dwarven standards, but are fast friends to those they trust. The current head of the family is the patriarch Kogan Uth-Murgal Hakkur Rist, known colloquially as “Old Man Hakkur”, a dour and gruff dwarf whose mood is only brightened by fine and expensive liqours.
Patronage: A character with Patronage from Exile obtains any feat relating to gunpowder weapons, such as Extra Grit or Amateur Gunslinger. In return, Exile asks you live by the code: “Never Forget A Slight”; the Kogan family only respects those who pay back their debts with cold, hard revenge.
Salt-Founded Glory, also known as simply Glory, is wealthy in bounties from the sea. Its fishermen are skilled and lucky, its long shallow shores are perfect for harvesting sea-salt, and its pearl-divers are second to none. A wide, sparse city, Salt-Founded Glory could almost be called agrarian but for its city center, a massive salt-encrusted palace-temple built from sandstone and decorated with coral and seaweed. It is to this palace-temple the inhabitants ascribe their luck with the sea, for it is dedicated to the Ocean Father and his descendants rule over the city. A long and incredibly complicated dynasty claims divine blood, and occasionally a member is born with the magical talent to prove it. The citizens of Salt-Founded Glory claim the ocean gods are mere siblings to their half-divine rulers. It’s hard to disprove them, for the residents of the temple-palace are powerful men and women indeed.
The current rulers of Salt-Founded Glory are a duumvirate of a married sister and brother. Unlike many such couples, they appear for all intents and purposes to be passionately in love, and already have a young child. Each claims the blessing of the Ocean Father, but it is the woman, Enhara-Yi, who shows the strongest magical talent. Her brother, Ydari-El, wields the trident with great skill and has the ability to heal any wound he suffers.
Patronage: The Patronage of Salt-Founded Glory allow for any one Feat related to religion or faith, or any one Teamwork Feat representing unity under the Ocean Father. In return, Salt-Founded Glory asks you live by the code “Obey The Ocean Gods”; while the rulers themselves are only semi-divine, the ancient gods of the ocean must be respected, and their omens heeded.
Anemone is not so much a city-state as it is a legend. Yet it is not lost; travelers can and do visit the place, a shrouded pleasure-palace along the northern shores of the Pirate Kingdom, secluded in a beautiful cove and adorned with colored lights. Anemone is not simply a tavern, however – it is an academy, a place where the best assassins, spies, courtesans and companions in the Kingdom receives training. As such, a little town has arisen around the place, whose locals supply the courtesans with food but keep their distance from the Great Game played by its inhabitants. Doubtless, the halls of Anemone contain blackmail material on every single ruler in the Pirate Kingdoms and many outside it too – but none dare overtly make a move against it, for almost everyone in the region employs a courtesan from Anemone, whether they know it or not. Anemone has frequent visitors, and almost every kind of indulgence can be met there by its students, eager to practice their arts… and acquire more precious knowledge for the academy’s secret halls.
Anemone’s current Headmaster is a Sea Elf man, said to be so stunningly beautiful he must always wear veils and masks lest people fall down in worship of him. He is called Prince Seihar, and it is said he is capable of enslaving with a glance and killing with a kiss.
Patronage: A character with Patronage from Anemone obtains any one social feat for free, or one of Lightning Reflexes, Iron Will or Great Fortitude to represent the toughness required to survive in the Great Game. In return, Anemone asks that you live by the code “Seek Love, Give None In Return”; those trained in Anemone’s arts must make themselves pleasing to others, seeking their approval and trust.