|Art by the incredible Robert Shore|
I started this project last year with all the best intentions of having it completed by December 2015, but, as we all know, life always has other plans. Exploding computers, crazy work deadlines,and the universe failing to cooperate, means it will be out this summer ( my winter). It will be available through D_oom Productions with Thaumiel Nerub in charge of lay-out and artwork. It's been a fun project and I want to share the introduction with you all, so you can get an inkling of what to expect. This ( I hope) will be the first of many goodies I aim to release into the gaming wilds.
The Skeleton Coast
“Down, down, and down you go
Into the depths where the dead men go.
Cold, cold, as cold as snow
Into the black where the dead things grow…”
Goblin Sea Shanty
“In the days of the great exodus, the merchant world was troubled by rumours of an avenging monster. A mighty sea-beast, a leviathan by all frenzied accounts, was on the loose. Vessels were being sunk as they cruised along an area known as the Skeleton Coast on the shores of Ki’Afra; and travel along this nightmare route dwindled to but a few brave souls…”
The Mariners Almanac
On the Skeleton Coast
“Carpeted with the bones of whales, seals, ships and men, the Skeleton Coast is an inhospitable nightmare, a graveyard for all the sea has to offer. Pray you never come ashore here, ‘cos if the sands don’t strip your skin, the vulturekin will.”
“And the earth was filled with violence
And the oceans full of spite
But when they came together
The gods themselves were put to flight.”
The Book of High Jason
The north is a corpse. Rotting, bloated, picked over constantly by greedy merchants, and tyrannical kings. Heavy are the heads, and heavier the taxes, of those who wear the crowns. Wars rage with no end in sight. Banners rise and fall and yet there is no victory to be had from any of it. There’s no glory to be found, here, amongst the corpse eaters and maggot lovers, the despots, the tyrannical charlatans. No treasures worth seeking, no worthy fights to be fought. The lands are barren and devoid of hope; even the gods are leaving. Best you leave it all behind. That’s why you’ve booked passage south, to new lands, new beginnings.
You’re on your way to Whalers’ Bay, a tiny foothold very far to the south on the mighty continent of Ki’Afra. There you hope to spread your wings, head out into the wilderness, seek your fame and fortune beyond the circle and shadow of your firelight; make a name for yourselves.
It won’t be easy. Ki’Afra is after all, the land the gods made in anger. Mistakes are met with death, and not just at the hands, hooks, or claws, of ineffable horrors either, but at the merciless whims of the elements: the relentless sun, the ferocious rains, the baying winds. The land itself is your foe, your mortal enemy. You are soon to be wandering where even angels fear to tread. Walk lightly, and with respect, and adventure in a realm that was old when the seas were young.
Shortly before dusk, three weeks out from the safety of Whaler’s Bay, the men on watch bellowed a hurried warning. Something off the starboard bow was approaching rapidly. You rushed to join the rest of the crew to see what it was, as the captain tried frantically to steer the vessel from its path. But no matter which way the boat turned, the unseen menace did too.
Then, slowly, and beyond all comprehension, a pale white leviathan of immense proportions rose silently from the depths below, and, despite its gargantuan bulk, cut gracefully through the water. Its skin was stained blood-red by the setting sun, as it pushed an enormous bow-wave before it. It bore down upon you with unerring accuracy. You stared aghast, as the beast hit the ship and sent men somersaulting high into the air. The world around you exploded and you realised with cold certainty that death had come for you all.
The Black Bart, now cleaved in twain, slid slowly into the bosom of the ocean, and you were, to an adventurer, too in shock to utter a single word. It was all happening too quickly to comprehend. The beast, the leviathan, circled, and came back to finish the job. It sailed past you, so close, you could’ve reached out and touched its harpoon studded flanks. Its massive mouth was open, and you could have sworn you saw figures in there, moving around in the cavernous gloom of its maw; they appeared to be working in unison, hauling in the flotsam and jetsam.
Just before you hit the cold water, to suffer its cold and numbing embrace, you gazed up in awe at the creature that had doomed you all to a watery grave. You stared directly into its gigantic, black eye, an orb that looked as cold, and dead, as the world beyond the stars. And you knew with certainty, that whatever sentient life had once inhabited this mighty frame, was now gone. All that was left was madness, chaos, and a taste for death. It seemed as if it had just one unwavering focus, one single furious purpose, and that was to destroy all that came trespassing upon its waters…