A Light in Darkness
The Sea of Sorrows
Cultural Level varies from island to island. Most are 8 (Chivalric) or 7 (Medieval)
The Sea of Sorrows lies to the west of the Core, a frigid expanse of gray ocean that stretches out into the Mists. Although storms are not frequent on the sea, the winds are unpredictable, often picking up or dying suddenly. Where the air is calm, thick fog banks cover the water’s surface. Ship captains try to keep their speed low, as obstacles and other vessels can appear out of nowhere in the haze. Daylight is weak and sickly on the sea, while night is as black and oppressive as a tomb. Without stars to guide them, sailors find navigation exceedingly difficult, though wealthier captains have benefited from the magnetic compass in recent years. Clever navigators have learned to set a straight course within sight of the Core’s western coast and maintain it as best they can until land is again spotted. The sea has something of a haunted reputation; tales of ghost ships, particularly the legendary Relentless, are common among veteran sailors.
Numerous islands dot the Sea of Sorrows, but most are sparsely inhabited, if at all. The largest is Markovia, a tropical isle in the northern sea. Other known islands include pastoral Ghastria, rocky Blaustein and Dominia, home to the Heinfroth Asylum for the Mentally Disturbed.
The Sea of Sorrows has few permanent inhabitants. Although ships carrying merchants and explorers constantly ply her fog-bound waters, the sea is only a highway for these souls. The scattered folk who dwell on the sea’s islands are hardy, stalwart people. Most are of Mordentish or Lamordian descent, but some hail from more distant lands. It is hard to speak generally about the sea’s island inhabitants. Some, such as the simply farmers of Ghastria, warmly welcome any contact with the Core. Others, such as the thugs and ruffians of Blaustein, are likely to brutally attack those foolish enough to land on their island. As a whole, however, islanders tend to be survivors. Isolation from the Core has taught them self-reliance and honed their maritime skills.
No formal government. No domain clams the Sea of Sorrows as its own. Traditionally a realm’s territory extends to a half-mile beyond its shores. The rest of the sea is regarded as neutral, best left to the islanders and ghosts.
Each inhabited island is governed differently, but is is usually the will or charimsa of a single leader that maintains law and order. Ghastria is ruled by the Marquis Stezan d’Polarno, an aristocrat who throws annual galas for nobles who make the journey to his islands. Blaustein is controlled by the dread Bluebeard, a secretive tyrant who commands fervent loyalty from his subjects. Dominia’s only settlement is the asylum of Daclaud Heirfroth, a renowned institution for those plagued by madness.
Trade and Diplomacy
Resources — potatoes, turnips, sheep, cattle, dairy, herring, cod, tuna, sardines, salmon, lobsters, whales, wine. Coinage — none. A smattering of obscure coins pass through some settlements, but trade is conducted through barter on most islands.
For the Core’s western coastal domains, the Sea of Sorrows has proven to be a valuable source of food and a gateway to distant lands. Unfortunately, the perpetual cloak of fog has also created a prime hunting ground for pirates. When tales of ghost ships and haunted isles highlight such threats, only the most courageous captains dare to brave the sea’s dangers. With the exception of Ghastria, where foodstuffs from the Core fetch impressive prices, markets on the islands have not generally been profitable for seafaring merchants. Most vessels quickly leave waters close to the Core, seeking out the exotic lands beyond the Mists.
Realm Magic Rating
The magic rating of the Sea of Sorrows varies between 2 and 4