Illoria: the Circle of the known World
Vaporia is a continent covered in the shadows of once great empires. In the east the Kuruthian Empire once ruled all but a region in its south, which belonged to the Dothmiri elves. The Kuruthians are a race of half devils that were once men. They made war with the navel power that was the Dragonborn Tumarian Dynasty of the westernmost continent Arkhosia; a war which crippled them. The Kuruthians sent a ship with a cargo of gold to Arkhosia to appease the Tumerians but it never arrived, lost at sea and the dragonborns continued their war. In desperation the Kuruthians made a pact with the devil Asmodeous. He gave them the power they needed and the Kuruthians crushed the Tumarian Dynasty; scattering the dragonborn into small clans in far flung reaches of their continent.
But they grew arrogant and when Asmodeous came to them demanding payment for their victory they refused him. Asmodeous laid waste to their empire, cursing its people to forever bear the mark of Asmodeous. Horns sprouted from their heads, tails from the base of their spines; their skins changed to purple, red or brown hues and their eyes filled with blood and turned scarlet so that all would know their treachery and be wary of them. Meanwhile the dragonborns had begun to rebuild, though not to the same level of power that they had once possessed, this time under the Haskarial Dynasty, a dynasty that still presides even now.
West of the river Eldrahorn and as far north as the Grand Peaks, and skirting the Cairns of Old Vaporia was ruled by the men of the Agatian Empire. After the Kuruthian Empire fell the Agatians expanded east, claiming Kuruthia as their own, absorbing its people into their society. The empire endured for over 500 years, long after the Tumarian Dynasty and the Kuruthian Empire were reduced to bones, and many Dragonborn clans had migrated to Vaporia’s shores. But it began to slowly crumble, the lands rebelling against generations of unjust rulers. The rebellion culminated in the Night of Blades; the night assassins systematically killed off the entire of the empires government; the Senate and then the Emperor and his family. Their deaths proceeded the current dark times. War is rife and although a new Emperor sits on the thone, in reality he is unable to govern much further than the walls of his capitol.
Beyond the Cairns of Old, in the northwestern peninsular the hills and forests are ruled by the Saorsa Tribes of elves, who run naked and paint themselves with blue woad and whose hair is as red as fire. They fiercely hate Vaporia for trying to enslave them during the War of Settlement, a task the Vaporians were unable to complete when pitted against the guerrilla tactics and unrelenting wrath of all of the Saorsa Tribes.
North of the great Peaks lies the land known only as The North. It is a land of humans though the gypsy orcs and the Saorsa cross the borders as they please. Many in the Vaporian states consider the Northmen to be barbarians and savages. Although they tried Agatia never conquered the North . The architecture style favours wooden long houses and it is ruled over by the capital city of Dunedenrock. Mostly the villages are ruled by Thanes. Slavery is outlawed in the North, unlike in the rest of Vaporia. Every man, whatever his occupation is expected to be a warrior.
South of Vaporia, in the Razoukan Ocean lies the sunken, nameless continent whos peaks stretch from the equator and the tropics to the ice field of the south, and which make up the Southern Archipelagos. These lands which are a maze of islands, both inhabited and uninhabited. These largely uncharted seas make for perfect layovers for pirates where they can weigh anchor in secret. Two small empires make their home among the Archipelagos: the Minotaurs of the Labyrinthine Isles in the north and the Orient Isles in the south. Briefly the Vaporian empire, in the late 200’s A.A tried to colonise the Archipelagos but the inhabitants rebelled, fighting a fierce guerrilla battle of attrition until the Empire was forced to retreat.
To Vaporias southeast, beyond the Razoukan Ocean lies the dark and dusty continent of Azrakahn, a land made up of desert, almost devoid of water and divided up into several nation-states, governed by the powerful Sorcerer Kings. Azrakahn enjoyed good trade agreements with Vaporia until the fall of the empire. Now their merchants deal primarily with Trading House Voran, who snatched up the contracts as soon as they became available.
Trading House Voran
An old firm of merchants, Voran have branched out into money lending and banking and have become the largest banking organisation in Vaporia, as well as the largest group of merchants in the whole of Illuria. They hold the contracts with many of the small merchants on most of the continents across the Circle of the World, buying from one land, exporting the product on their own, vast fleet of ships and selling them, through their own agents in other lands. With the fall of Vaporia, Trading House Voran now has the largest fleet in the Circle of the World, making them the navel power on the waves of Illuria. It is they who set the rules of trade on the open waters, a situation which grates on many smaller merchants, free spirits and, of course, pirates.
There are two main types of ship: the Man-of-war and the galley. A man of war simply refers to a ship powered by sails while a galley is a ship that relies mainly on the power of man and oar for mobility. Within these two broad categories of ship are many subcategories, and some that bridge the two definitions.
• Jonque ships- sailing vessel from the Orient Isles with varying numbers of masts and whose sails are comprised of bamboo sail battens with a long overhanging counter.
• Greatships- enormous, four masted vessels that require a crew of twenty and can carry 200 souls and 500 tonnes of cargo. Usually used to transport soldiers. Makes up the mainstay of the Imperial Navy of Agatia and of Trading House Vorans lines of the line
• Northman Longboats- This single-mast ship has a shallowdraft, allowing it to travel up rivers or onto beaches. It is crewed by one pilot and 3-4 deckhands. And can carry usually 20 souls. If the longboat is being powered by oars then all 20 souls may be required to crew the vessel. The crews often hang the shields of their most prestigious warriors over the sides of the ship.
• Galleons- Primarily developed by the Tumarian Dynasty in the late 100’s A.A for war with the Kuruthian Empire, they are now widely used by the nations of the circle of the world. Large ships with 3-4 masts and crewed by up to 20 souls and capable of carrying 150 souls and 300 tonnes. A lowered forecastle and elongated hull gives an unprecedented level of stability in the water, and reduced wind resistance at the front, leading to a faster, more manoeuvrable vessel than the traditional Greatship
• Pinnace- This two-mast ship functions equally well close to shore and on the high seas. In addition to the pilot, it requires a crew of four to sail effectively. In the navel fleets of the circle of the world they are mainly used for carrying messages between the larger ships.
• Apparatus of Kwalish- This vehicle resembles a huge metal lobster. Kwalish, a wizard skilled in architecture and arcane engineering, built the original apparatus to explore the ocean depths and establish ties with sentient aquatic races. A hatch situated beneath the apparatus’s tail opens into its hollow central torso. This space holds two chairs for a driver and a passenger. The apparatus is propelled magically through water of any depth or current. It can traverse the swiftest rivers and descend to the depths of the ocean floor.
• Ark- A huge, city sized ship that houses people, animals and gives over whole decks to agriculture, wood covered in soil deep enough to plant in. Arks are colossal vessels that never make port and by nessessity of their size must sail far away from land in the deepest waters. Above decks are a myth to most denizens of the ark but the huge deck space hold gigantic masts to help power the vessel, though mostly an ark is powered through magical means.
Ships of Repute
The Narwhal- Northman pirate longboat, the narwhal is a marine animal native the seas surrounding the North, a almost mythical creature, whose horn is said to have magical properties. The Narwhal has an actual Narwhal horn instead of a figurehead at its prow. Captained by Cairn Redcrow
Coral Rose- The Lost Golem Ship of San Orsimmar- A ship crewed by golems, bound to follow whoever wears the Hat of Captain Jussika van Symmes. Current whereabouts unknown.
The Beggars Bluff- a ghost ship, captained by a devil known as Kritor and crewed by the souls of damned sailors and pirates lost at sea. Kritor sails the waters between this world to the Shadowfell, offering deals that will allow them to escape death for a price, to dying sailors and harvesting souls for his master, Dagon, the Demon Lord of the Sea. The captain of The bluff is the only person who knows all the routes between worlds and can find the Secret Places of the Sea. The ship is a spectral galleon with ragged sails and barnacle encrusted, moulding, grey wood.
The Shrieking Gull- A ship of repute, captained by the infamous pirate, Captain Dantius du Locke and his long suffering first mate Mister Ross. The Gull was once a ship of the line in the Imperial Navy of Agatia but was stolen by Dantius and Ross for a wager. Reportedly engaged in numerous pirate activities ever since.
THVS Merciless- A greatship, reportedly taken a prize by privateers in Trading House Vorans employ, the Merciless is infamous among sailors for having the dubious honour of sinking 47 pirate vessels while under the command of Captain Gozorn, late of the Royal Arkhosian Navy. The Merciless is a First Rate Man-of-War and has an impressive three artillery decks, each deck boasting three siegebows per broadside. Its power is unsurpassed in combat and is bluff above the water but sharp bellow it, meaning she is heavier, but faster despite it, than other ships of her size.
Katana- A jonque greatship from the Orient Isles and captained by the pirate Chow, the Monk. It is said that its crew carry no weapons, that the Katana is the only weapon they need. Rumoured to be the fastest ship on the ocean as well as the quietist.
Oceans Jewel- The flagship of the Archfey Lady Artemisia, Hunter on the Sea, Mistress of the fabled Grey Ships of the Fey. The Oceans Jewel or any of the other Grey Ships is rarely seen in the mortal world, as they generally glide their way across the oceans of the Feywilde. Sighting the Jewel is heralded as a sign of good luck by many sailors.