Sea of Moonshae

Overview

The Sea of Moonshae is commonly used to refer to the large expanse of water between the islands of Alaron, Gwynneth, Norheim, and Norland, but geopolitical boundaries include the straits and shallows around all the islands.

Timeline

  • 576 DR: Year of the Sunless Passage: The western arm of the Jotunspine Mountains collapse and create “the hole in the wall” (known as Canthrelloch). Fish populations in the Sea of Moonshae decline rapidly and remain low for many decades causing starvation among the sahuagin and the collapse of Kressilacc.
  • 924 DR: Year of the Cracked Turtle: Gerrliss “the Red Fin” unites the sahuagin of Kressilacc into a single nation once more.
  • 948 DR: Year of the Clarion Trumpet: The aquatic elves storm the Trench of Kressilacc and slaughter many of its inhabitants, it is a century before their numbers recover.
  • 1143 DR: Year of the Talisman: Scrags pour out of the sea tunnels beneath northern Alaron in unprecedented numbers and swiftly subjugate the sahuagin of Kressilacc.

Geography

Caer Allisynn: Legends among the ffolk speak of a castle that floats among the Sea of Moonshae, or the Strait of Alaron, location varies depending upon the origin of the teller. Most sages agree that Caer Allisynn is the resting place of High Queen Allisynn, wife of Cymrych Hugh, and that tomb is built inside a fortress upon an island that was sunk to the bottom of the sea so none may disturb her rest.

Ffolk sailors and travellers across the centuries speak of a mysterious island appearing where none existed before, allowing worthy travellers to rest and seek shelter during the worst storms or from pursuit of their enemies., however, their accounts of its location are as varied as the myths.

The truth about Caer Allisynn is that there were multiple islets around the various larger islands that have sunk beneath the waves during the last few millennia. More than a few of these islets were used by the llewyrr to house lighthouses and watchtowers (before the ffolk arrived). High Queen Allisynn was laid to rest in just one of these island keeps, and shortly after sank to the bottom of the sea.

Occasionally, for unexplained reasons, these islands have risen above the waves (some even claim the islets can move), and all are attributed to the legend of Caer Allisynn, but only one is the true tomb of the High Queen of the ffolk.

Deepvale: One of the many sea elven nations surrounding the Moonshae Archipelago, Deepvale is the oldest and original home to the aquatic elves in this region. The nations of Nindrol and Tir faoi Thoinn were all seeded by houses from Deepvale and are all part of the greater Kingdom of 

Nindrol: Founded in 191 DR, the elven nation of Nindrol was established by the aquatic elves of Deepvale to guard the ruins of the island and nation of Sertra which now lies hidden beneath the ocean and of which only Toaridge at Suns Setting remains above the waves.

Nindrol was all but destroyed during a volcanic eruption that rent the sea bed and almost annihilated the entire ruling house. It is now a vassal state of Deepvale.

Sea of Moonshae: The Sea of Moonshae proper is the large expanse of water internal to the archipelago, surrounded by the Isles of Alaron, Gwynneth, Moray, Norland, and Norheim. It is a generally calm, if cold (fed by the waters of the Trackless Sea) body of water that is often shrouded in heavy mist during the hours of morning and the months of spring and autumn.

In winter (and occasionally at other times), horrendous storms and blizzards strike the Moonshae Isles from the north and west that are strong enough to break into the Sea of Moonshae. During these storms the Sea of Moonshae becomes challenging to navigate at best, with currents that can throw a ship 50 miles off course.

The Sea of Moonshae is driven by a large counter clockwise current that is fed by the Northern Coastal Gyre that runs south to north up the Sword Coast, and the Vrail that runs north to south down past the west coast of Moray. Water enters the Strait of Alaron surging north around the Isle of Oman, more water then comes down the Northwind Strait and through the Canthrelloch (the hole in the wall) to push the current down towards the Isle of Moray and out the Strait of the Leviathan.

Winds blow through the various straits around the Sea of Moonshae and can help a sailing ship go against the current, but such winds are whimsical in direction and greatly affected by storms that rage around the Moonshae Isles (which are much stronger and more frequent in the winter months).

Kressilacc: The largest city in the Moonshae Isles lies at the bottom of the Kressilacc Trench (from which the city takes its name) which stretches for 50 miles in length and over a thousand feet deep between the Isles of Alaron and Oman.

Built into the canyon walls and along the canyon floor, are the buildings of Kressilacc, carved out of the petrified form of enormous anemones and coral growths. Along the edge of the trench are the rotting remains of thousands of hulks of sunken ships, the skeletons of their former crew arranged on deck to warn off intruders.

The wealth of a thousand years of sailors has gone to supply the nation of Kressilacc with riches, gold and silver sculptures made from the melted down coins of drowned sailors adorn almost every building. Kelp and seaweed hang from every outcropping, giving the whole city a unique jungle visage interspersed with glimpses of huge gold figurines.

It is unknown when the sahuagin claimed Kressilacc for their own, but it is known that the sea devils plagued the west coast of Callidyrr during the reign of High King Cymrych Hugh. The aquatic elves of Deepvale, Tir faoi Thoinn, and the llewyrr mention the sahuagin in this region almost 10,000 years ago.

The nation of Kressilacc is a temporary union at best, hundreds of Hunts (the term used to identify a related or organised group of sahuagin) of sahuagin claim whatever territory they can control along the canyon floor. Occasionally a particularly lucky, brutal, or enormous sahuagin will battle his way to control many Hunts, until he is defeated or he controls the entire Kressilacc Trench.

Religion is a quick route to power for many sahuagin as these religious organisations (best described as cults given the sahuagin level of worship) control the largest Hunts, although this popularity can quickly wane when events turn against a particular religion. Currently the sahuagin of Kressilacc worship a variety of gods that mirror the deities of surface worlders; Koraxis the Ravening Maw (Bhaal), Ssassatal the Black Squall (Talos), Nutasslin the Briny Waste (Auril), Ragarmax the Seawolf (Malar).

Koraxis the Ravening Maw is a firm favourite among the sahuagin and has the largest cult because the volcano of Koraxis Maw has had a continual and sometimes devastating effect upon the ecosystem of the Sea of Moonshae (the collapse of the Jotunspine Mountains in 576 DR coincided with a huge eruption of Koraxis’ Maw). The worship of Ssassatal the Forked is relatively recent, after a large steel disc bearing a triple forked lightning symbol came to rest in Kressilacc, and the power of the disc to call lightning even into the depths of the trench allowed the formation of a cult dedicated to an ancient sahuagin legend of a storm that collapsed the world, the cult of Ssassatal is still on the ascendance and is the second largest (after the cult of Koraxis).

For the past two hundred years the sahuagin of Kressilacc have been ruled by a gang of over 100 scrags that regularly brutalise the strongest sahuagin to reimpose their authority. The scrags are representatives from a horde of sea trolls that migrated to the Moonshae Isles about two hundred years ago through a series of gates hidden in sea caves and tunnels that worm their way through the base of the Isle of Alaron (these two way gates are known as the Bore Gates and are only periodically accessible from their terminus in caves on the southern coast of the Chultan peninsula).

The current ruler of Kressilacc is the sahuagin Sythissall, a great red finned brute of a specimen, who allied himself with the priestess’ of Koraxis the Ravening Maw to make himself the most powerful sahuagin in the Trench and spent the last decade conquering the other Hunts of the Trench, but his rule is only at the pleasure of Tagrash “the Blackjaw” a scion of the ruling clan of scrags that conquered Kressilacc 200 years ago.

Prince’s Sound: This deep and large natural bay on the western coast of Gnarhelm is named so after the death of a prince of a short lived ffolk realm that briefly occupied the region after it was taken by the illuskan invaders. The Warleader of this nation declared that the fortuitously timed roaring sound that emanated from the bay was the Earthmother honouring his son’s death (in reality it was the sound of the tunnels filling with water as the Bore Gates reactivated).

The Prince’s Sound is home to large numbers of scrags that plague the longships of Olafstaad despite concerted efforts to eradicate them.

Strait of Alaron: This channel between the islands of Alaron, Gwynneth, and Snowdown is among the busiest trading and fishing lanes in the Moonshae Isles owing to the close trading links between the wealthiest ffolk nations, and to the regular salmon migrations that sees huge numbers of salmon swim from the surrounding Sea of Swords and Trackless Sea to spawn in the shallow gravel beds of the Sea of Moonshae.

Strait of the Leviathan: This channel stands between the east coast of Moray and the western coast of Gwynneth, it is home to a strong current that runs south to north and carries norl longships from Norland to Gwynneth in a single day. The Strait of the Leviathan is rumoured to be the home of the legendary leviathan Elmaraethe.

Strait of Oman: Much like the Strait of Alaron, this water channel between the south coast of the Isle of Oman and the north coast of the Isle of Gwynneth is mostly shallow gravel beds and sand banks that are a favourite spawning bed of the ocean salmon that come here each year.

The Strait of Oman is too shallow for large vessels, but is perfect for the shallow berth curragh’s and longships that the ffolk and norl use. Since the settlement (ffolk would say conquest) of Codsbay by the norl of Oman, this strait has become the territory of the Kingdom of Oman and is dangerous for anyone to sail without the express permission of the King. The norl of Oman are not consummate raiders like those of Norland and Norheim, but they do not like trespassers and will seize any ship they do not recognise as a trading partner.

Despite the Strait of Oman being among the largest, at over 50 miles in length, it is easily navigable along its entire length in under 8 hours by rowing or sailing, there is a light current that draws ships from west to east, and winds can blow in either direction depending upon prevailing storms.

Important NPCs

High Queen Allisynn Hugh (Good, Elf – Sunrise, Expert 6): High Queen Allisynn Hugh is the first High Queen of the ffolk. She was slain in the War of Moon and Shadow and is trapped as a fey spirit within the broken harp she once bore. Allisynn Hugh acts the head of the secret organisation the Heralds of the High King, and ultimately judges the worthiness of those individuals with the potential to reform the High Kingdom of the Moonshae Isles.

Marqillor (Good, Elf – Aquatic, Warrior 3): Marqillor is the Crown Prince of Deepvale.

Nuva (Neutral, Sahuagin, Magic User 2): Nuva is the lead priestess of Ssassatal the Black Squall and current holder of the Eye of the Storm which she uses to eliminate rivals and enemies as much as to inspire her followers.

Sanamarl (Neutral, Elf – Aquatic, Warrior 1): Warrior of Deepvale.

King Sythissall (Evil, Sahuagin, Warrior 4): The King of Kressilacc is large even for a sahuagin, towering well above 9 feet tall with large spines protruding from his back.

Important Organisations

Claws of the Deep: The Kingdom of Kressilacc is home to a large and powerful religious cult that worships the god Koraxis and is inspired by the raging volcano known as Koraxis’ Maw (or Surtr’s Maw if you are from the surface) which has had such a profound effect upon the history of the sahuagin of Kressilacc.

The Church of Koraxis believes that their god will devour all sentient life on the surface (and the pesky sea elves, tritons, and mermen beneath the waves), the priestesses of Koraxis encourage the sahuagin to devour their captives alive, something that attracts a large number of followers among the sahuagin.

The Claws of the Deep serve as the armed forces of the Church of Koraxis, mostly a rabble of vicious or hungry sea-devils that return a tithe of their captured treasure to the Church in return for the protection it provides, but a number of the larger and more exceptional sahuagin have joined to gain access to a greater pool of potential allies. King Sythissal is one such exceptional being that has allied himself with the Church of Koraxis so he can use the Claws of the Deep against his enemies.

Heralds of the High King: Although not a major power in the Sea of Moonshae, the Heralds of the High King have a number of major bases in and around the waters of the islands in the form of floating islets, including Caer Allisynn. From these islands the Heralds observe events and offer assistance to those individuals they judge worthy.

Important Items

Allisynn’s Spectral Harp: The pieces of this delicate hand harp lie amid a bier in what functions as the Great Hall / Throne Room of Caer Allisynn. It has a long and glorious history, having been used against Kazgoroth twice, first during the War of Raging Leaves by Urphania, and again during the War of Moon and Shadow by Allisynn Hugh when it was shattered as Allisynn sacrificed herself to force Kazgoroth to open his defences so that Cymrych Hugh could slay the beast.

A portion of High Queen Allisynn Hugh’s soul was trapped within the harp by the fey power of Kazgoroth, and it is trapped between the Faeree Plane and the Material Plane, unable to journey on to the afterlife. Allisynn Hugh can manifest as a fey ghost within a short distance of the harp, and has appeared to many a worthy individual that has arrived at Caer Allisynn.

Allisynn’s Spectral Harp, once known as the Shimmering Harp, was made of plant resin that refracted the light into a rainbow of colours. It had the ability to blind and confuse those that heard the music emanating from it. In its current form, the harp can only daze those that stare directly at its shattered form for at least a second.

Deepglass of Anarliss: This crystal orb is known as the Deepglass of Anarliss to the sahuagin of Kressilacc, who believe it to be a fabled device of seeing used by one of the first sahuagin, Anarliss the Dark. The priestess Ysalla claims this crystal orb is fashioned from ice of the Great Glacier and forged in the fire of the Peaks of Flame, although these are completely fabricated.

In truth the Deepglass of Anarliss is none other than the Crystal of Flamsterd, a scrying device fashioned from one of the Shards of Skarda. The Crystal was kept by Flamsterd on his island until it was stolen in the chaos of 1291 by one of his greedy and ambitious apprentices. Ultimately the Crystal ended up in the possession of Belistar who survived the conflagration that consumed much of the Isle of Flamsterd and fled.

During his crossing of the Sea of Moonshae, one of several storms struck and Belistar lost the Crystal of Flamsterd over the side of his small coracle. It was claimed by the sahuagin priestess Ysalla, who used it to great effect to spy on her enemies and her would be allies.

Emergency Bladders: These curious items were created by Flamsterd for his friends; High King Cymrych Hugh and High Queen Allisynn Hugh, to keep them safe on the many voyages they might make around their kingdom. These seemingly ordinary sacks were linked to an extradimensional space that was supposed to be filled with air to allow someone to take breaths underwater (by holding it upside down and placing their head inside), or allow them to float for extended periods (by tying the end and lying atop it.

Unfortunately High Queen Allisynn only declined in health after her coronation (soon succumbing to the wounds inflicted by Kazgoroth), and High King Cymrych Hugh lost the desire to travel around his kingdom, instead brooding at Caer Callidyrr most years. The Emergency Bladders were interred with High Queen Allisynn and they have remained among the treasures at Caer Allisynn since then.

The Eye of the Storm: This large steel talisman resembles an ornate disc roughly a foot in diameter is designed to be affixed to a ship or building or other structure in order to bestow its powers, although it has in the past been carried as a shield into battle (it is a bit too heavy and unbalanced for this purpose).

The Eye of the Storm first appears in history during the illuskan invasion of northern Alaron in 852 DR where it was fixed to the lead ship of the illuskan fleet and legend has it carried into battle by Helmud the legendary warleader where it deflected the magic of the defending ffolk and was later used to disable magical defences by affixing the talisman to defensive structures.

Like many of the treasures of the norl and illuskan, eventually the Eye of the Storm was buried at sea with some noted nobleman, and sunk to the depths of the Sea of Moonshae where it was found by the sahuagin of Kressilacc and is still venerated by a number of religious zealots to this day.

The primary power of the Eye of the Storm is to call forth a lightning strike on the position of the holder of the talisman, while making the bearer of the talisman immune to the effects of the lightning strike (where it is affixed to an item or structure, that item or structure and everyone in contact with it is also immune to the effects of the lightning strike. The Eye of the Storm also reflects all magic cast at the talisman (or its bearer, or anything it is affixed to) back at the source.

It is believed the Eye of the Storm was crafted during the time of Stornanter to assist in a coup to remove Laeral the Witch Queen by disabling the immense magical powers of Laeral and her court wizard Marek Aldhanek. Unfortunately the plot was discovered before the Eye of the Storm was ready and the plotters were forced to spring their plan early (it resulted in Marek’s death but failed to slay Laeral).

Fang of Koraxis: This elongated golden dagger is currently in possession by Ysalla, the high priestess of Koraxis in Kressilacc. It is made entirely of gold but is as hard as steel, and as light as a kelp frond. Ysalla maintains that the Fang of Koraxis was naturally formed in the magma lake of Koraxis’ Maw during a catastrophic eruption coincided with the collapse of many Norheim islands centuries ago.

The Fang of Koraxis is enchanted to enhance the speed and strength of the wielder, making them a fearsome opponent in physical combat. The Fang also drains the blood of those it slays, and this appears to power the enchantment of dagger, making the wielder faster and stronger with the more opponents slain.

Gloves of Elvenkind: This pair of skin thin gloves was once popular among the elves of Illefarn, so delicately thin as to be invisible against the skin when worn, yet enchanted to allow a fine item to be hidden undetected within each glove. Usually the gloves were enchanted to improve the favoured skill of the owner (normally spellcasting ability, with the secret pouch used to hide a small spell component), but among the llewyrr it has long become popular to enchant the gloves to enhance musical ability.

The greatest benefit the gloves provide is that it becomes difficult to bind the hands of the wearer by any means (magical or non-magical), as most bonds simply slide off when pulled by the prisoner.

Few Gloves of Elvenkind remain among the llewyrr, the secrets of their creation having long since been forgotten, but at least one pair is known to reside in Caer Allisynn as they were owned by the High Queen (a gift from her father).

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