The free lands of Shaderock reside off the northern coast of Pax Thallos, a chain of some four dozen large to small islands, surrounded by reefs, atolls, and azure seas.
This major island chain was originally a thriving serpentfolk kingdom known by only a few outsiders as the Den of Sesvack. Ruled for centuries by sorcerous serpent kings from their alien ziggurats, the lands of Sesvack eventually fell to a swarm of refugees displaced by the fall of Kedabus and the sacking of Easpear between the years of 458-459 CM.
After the fall of Sesvack the free folk from Kedabus established the island chain as a confederacy, ruled by a triumvirate of nobles who fled the sacked city of Easpear that were crucial in the capture of the newly named Shaderock Isles. While these nobles have long since passed, the tradition of triumvirate rule continues within the Pirate Confederacy of Shaderock to this day.
An isolated and wild land, Shaderock lacks most of the natural resources that mainland kingdoms enjoy. As a result, shortly after its founding, the ruling body instilled a policy of organized crime and piracy to build the pirate confederacies infrastructure. Although much time has passed since its formation, the current occupants of Shaderock continue to engage in rampant piracy throughout the shipping lanes of northeast Tharstelding, lending to this regions fearful reputation.
The Shaderock Isles are a tropical island chain, ocean temperatures range from 74 degrees to 80 degrees throughout the year. A diverse reef ecosystem, most of the islands that comprise the Shaderocks were created from either volcanic activity in eons past or were built upon skeletons of long dead reef systems. The largest and oldest island within the chain is named Mayersk Islet, after the noble Vays Mayersk, one of the founding rulers of Shaderock. Mayersk is the seat of Crackstone, the de facto capital of the Shaderock Isles. Crackstone is built upon the ruins of a massive serpentfolk city at the pinnacle of a deep sea harbor. Half of the city rests within an extinct volcano. Magical and ancient stone piers stretch into the sheltered bay. The magic of these old Sesvack piers calms the entire harbor, making its surface appear like glass and acting as a jetty or wave breaker no matter how violent the outer sea swells. At the west end of the island chain can be found the smoldering volcanic islands known as the Crimson Smokers, these three small volcanic islands constantly spray forth molten earth and crystal and are mostly uninhabited. Several other islands of note include Claybar, the Whelkfin Archipelago, Bluewash, Eglar’s Folly, Qualm and Northwake.
Being a tropical island chain, the weather throughout Shaderock remains near 80 degrees year round, annual rainfall of near 100 inches serves to feed the lush jungle and creeping verge that surrounds the ancient ruins of the old serpentfolk kingdom. Cold fronts sweep through the small island chain 2-3 times per year, dropping temperatures to a balmy 60 degrees for several days at a time. High humidity and long hours of daylight are constant within Shaderock, the area is also well known for its severe tropical storm season that spans from the months of Feastmoons to Sunsets every year.
People: The people of Shaderock are of Thallan descent, sharing a dialect and appearance with their religious neighbors to the south. While the differences in verbiage and dress are obvious to both Thallans and Shaderockers, they are so subtle as to be confused as the same by people from Castros, Tirmordane or Xar Zanth. Those that call the pirate confederacy home tend to dress in whatever they can scavenge while raiding the Thallan coast or while sailing abroad. Shaderockers tend to boast a carefree and borderline reckless lifestyle, often living pocket to mouth as it’s called among the free folk. While the surrounding waters are well known to be dangerous to travelers, the port towns house a healthy population of visiting tradesmen bent on selling their wares, adventurers bound to explore the many Sesvack ruins and missionaries from the Temple of Dunes or the Holy Five determined to convert the free folk.
Government and Alignment: (Triumvirate, Oligarchy: CN, CG, CE): The islands of Shaderock are ruled by powerful pirate lords, each of which controls his or her own fleet and holds a seat of power. These pirate lords comprise an oligarchy class similar to nobles from other lands, no hereditary title or right bestows a pirate lord with their authority. They rise (or fall) by merit and deeds to command the respect (or fear) of their fellows. The pirate nobles are beholden to the rulers of Crackstone, the Tempest Eye Triumvirate. The triumvirate serves as judge, jury and executioner within Shaderock. Two thirds of their vote is required to pass a verdict on criminals, settle disputes or call the banners to war. The current members of the Tempest Eye Triumvirate include Selystra Fellfin (CE), a vicious oceanic elf of great charisma and cunning, she currently is the longest tenured member of the triad at twenty three years. Moss “Starfish” Tate (CN), a middle aged swashbuckler amazingly quick with a cutlass, rumored to secretly have more than two arms. And finally Old Wilston of Northwake (CG), an aged and weatherworn salt that has seen more days on the open sea in his youth then any can claim.
Membership within the Tempest Eye is bestowed for life. When one of its members “expires”, the recognized pirate nobles (those holding a fleet and seat of power) select one of their own to take the vacant seat.
Major Settlements: Shaderock is riddled with small fishing villages, pirate camps, makeshift forts and ancient serpentfolk ruins. The largest settlements include the magical stone pier harbor of Crackstone (Metropolis) Population: 25,079, the sugar fields and drug mecca of Fellfold’s Run located on the island of Qualm (Large City) Population: 17,814, the City of Statues, the grand columned port of Tribute located on the island of Northwake (Large City) Population: 11,279, the bawdy pirate shanty of Scoundrel’s Rest located on the island of Claybar (Small City) Population: 8,889 and the sprawling docklands of shipbuilders at Raven’s Ransom located on the island of Eglar’s Folly (Small City) Population: 6,910.
Religion: A wide swath of religion sweeps through the Shaderock Isles. Missionaries from both the Holy Five and the Temple of Dunes have small churches set up within most major communities. The majority of Shaderockers worship one or more of the following members of the Shattered Pantheon; Xenis the Sky, Zelkar, Vellarious, Aireot, Gilldronis, Calldarop, The Tenfold Wind, Lenarsiz the Dripping Prince, Bardawn, Volstar the Torrent and Ologos. The Shaderock Isles are also a haven to many religious organizations that would otherwise be outcast from more lawful society. Several darker cults have made the island chain their home, including; The Sires of Sesvack, a cult dedicated to dark arcane arts and the worship of Relk. The Skulks, a dangerous cult bent on destruction that seeks to free Randarous the Void. And the Eternal Pyre, a collection of pirate aristocrats that gather at the Crimson Smokers to beseech Infernis to grant them wisdom.
Outside of organized religion, the pirates of Shaderock live their lives by a code, which for many replaces the need of churches and priests. Typical Shaderock pirate code varies from ship to ship, from captain to captain, but a few “rules” seem to stick with the majority of those that adopt this standard. Such as he that sees a sail first, will have the best arms available from within the armory. Any captain may ask for parley prior to an engagement, and after lights are doused at 8PM those that remain festive must drink above deck.
Conflicts: Conflict is a way of life for those that call the Shaderock Isles home. Pirate lords jostle and position for strength while the Tempest Eye endeavors to keep the chaos to a manageable level. The loose nation is beset by enemies both within its borders and from outside.
Piracy, while legal within Shaderock, is punishable by death in nearby Pax Thallos. Merchant vessels from Tel-Rink, Tel-Aasa, Bactriex and Easpear often employ marines to guard their boats. If the cargo is of considerate value the merchants may employ the services of several military vessels to escort their goods through the treacherous stretch of water. As a result, several free companies of the Myriad of the Mirror have set up operations within major Thallan ports, offering services to merchants that can afford their hefty price.
Half of the islands of Shaderock have no permanent settlements, and remain mostly wild, teeming with foul creatures that lurk within the ruins of Sesvack, hide in the shipwrecks off the sandy coasts or migrate through the region regularly. The lands are known to contain a high number of sahuagin, dire sharks, merfolk, skum and monstrous crab, squid and eels. Several massive dragon turtles have been spotted within the island chain during the summer months, leading scholars to believe these islands may be a spawning or mating ground for the powerful beasts. The occasional kraken and sea serpent can also be spotted by less than lucky sailors. The region is further noted to contain several dragon families. A brood of young red dragons have taken up residence within the Crimson Smokers, harassing merchant vessels that dare travel within sight. Bezkiz and Flyormansol, a mated pair of bronze dragons, call the Whelkfin Archipelago home, preferring to live in peace and tend their horde and eggs. Finally, a group of brine dragons call these islands home. Summoned by the long dead serpent folk in a last ditch effort to save their kingdom, the brine dragons now stalk the ruins and shipping lanes of old Sesvack.
Economy: The economy of Shaderock is vastly different then mainland kingdoms, waxing and waning as frequently as the surrounding tides. With no significant trading partners, and no mass production of finished goods, Shaderockers are used to taking what they can when they can from who they can. Pirate lords fund expeditions throughout the surrounding shipping channels, explore the regions many ruins and charge taxes to those that inhabit their holds. These lords in turn pay tribute to the Tempest Eye Triumvirate in Crackstone.
Relationships: Very few from outside of Shaderock carry feelings of good hope and fellowship towards the pirate confederacy. The region’s major adversaries include the Avian Lords of Tirmordane and the ruling theocracy of Pax Thallos. A haven for misfits, outlaws and scoundrels, Shaderock is a sanctuary for those that would otherwise want to lead a life of profit free from the restraints of law. As such the region houses a high number of for profit organizations. Chapter houses for the Black Iron Company and the Myriad of the Mirror operate freely out of Crackstone.