Thursday, October 20, 2016

Catamaran - The Isle of Bones

My 5E campaign has run two sessions now and things are getting more settled.  Well, 3.5 sessions if you count all the prep, which included doing a Smallville style relationship map to create the island the players live on.  This involved drawing various items on a white board and then linking them to show relationships, which was done over the course of two rounds.  On round one the players could add physical things like locations, resources, geographic features, etc, to the island, while round two was adding allies, enemies, other islands, etc.  The group did really well with this and created the Isle of Bones, the most metal island to have no metal on it ever created.    

The Isle of Bones

The Isle of Bones is well known among the Children of Keruna as it is where you take the dead to be interred so they may reach the afterlife in the Seas of the Dead, that realm left by Keruna for her followers to inhabit after her passing. The Isle of Bones is the domain of the Bone Witch, a god of death who makes sure the living and the dead receive their proper rewards. The remains of those of virtue are thrown into the volcano the Fire of Keruna so they can receive her blessing, while criminals and other ne’er-do-wells are taken to the Skullyard where their remains are used to serve the people they once wronged as undead. Corpses come from across the sea to be buried here and include offers in of food, wealth, etc, to ensure the corpses are properly treated by the Tribe of Bone. Also those who have not led virtuous lives can come to the island and serve in order to try and work off their sins, creating a population that is a mixture of families who have long been on the island and penitent criminals hoping to find their way into Keruna’s fiery embrace.

It is well known that the people of the Isle of Bones do the bidding of the Bone Witch, and so are welcomed politely but with fear when they leave their island. There have been times when the Bone Witch decreed the deaths of those outside the island, usually for inscrutable reasons, thus visits from the people of the Isle of Bone are always cause for alarm.

A split has developed on the Isle of Bone regarding the disposition of bodies. The Bone Witch is at best a misty presence that whispers to her cleric or when she sits in judgement, but she cannot personally judge all the corpses that come to the island. Thus overtime the leadership of the island, under the direction of the Baron/Baroness of the Bone Hall, has taken up the slack in helping decide who has earned a trip to the volcano and who is condemned to the Skullyard. Over time complaints of bribery and corruption have begun to circulate as known criminals whose bodies came with great offerings of wealth have been sent to the volcano despite their crimes. Thus far nothing too obvious or far over the line has happened, but it has created a rift between the inhabitants of the settlement who want to see the people of the island prosper and those who want to see the will of the Bone Witch be done.

Features of the Island:

  • Blackmire Forest: A forest of massive myrran trees, these large trees have wide, branching roots that dig deep into the swampy soil of the forest. These trees grow up to one hundred feet tall and can develop trunks thirty feet across at the base, though they tend to taper off the higher one gets. The myrran trees are regularly harvested for use in shipbuilding. Blackmire Forest was also the home of a family of wizards until recently; they were murdered by the Stormfeather Order. 
  • Keruna’s Fire: The volcano at the center of the island, it is said to the portal to the afterlife for the children of Keruna. Those who are worthy are placed into the fires of the volcano amid pomp and ceremony according to their station and the gifts they sent to the Isle to pay for it. The bodies of the dead are consumed and their spirits move on to reside with Keruna in the next world. 
  • The Bone Hall: Made of the bones of whales, krakens, and other massive sea beasts, the Bone Hall is the center of government on the Isle. Here the Baron of the Bone Hall sees to the civil matters of the island, such as dealing with immigrants looking for absolution, organizing resources and workers, and hear disputes in need of judgement. The Bone Witch also appears in the Bone Hall, having her own place at the center of the hall where she hears the tales of the dead to weigh their deeds and assign their afterlife. She only does this for a limited amount of time each day, so sometimes these matters fall to her cleric or the Baron of the Bone Hall.
  • The Skullyard: Located behind the volcano, on the other side of the Isle from the village that has sprung up around the Bonehall, is the Skullyard. Here the bodies of the unworthy dead are left to rot in the open air, to be picked at by the beasts and the birds so their spirits never join with Keruna. In the past these bodies were used to create undead as needed to defend the island, but with the passing of the previous cleric of the Bone Witch, this has fallen off. The Skullyard is the home of the current cleric of the Bone Witch, who lives in a tree top hovel overlooking the yard. 
  • The Dirgehall: Located near the port and the Bonehall, the Dirgehall is built of driftwood and other detritus that have washed up on the beach of of the Isle. Here the dead are remembered in song and performance so their memories may be honored and their deeds magnified to earn a place in Keruna’s Fire. It also functions as the social gathering spot of the isle and various types of alcohol, mainly made from pineapple and coconuts, are consumed here. 
  • The Port of the Final Journey: What was once a simple funerary dock for the brining of corpses to be Bonehall has grown to be a massive complex of half a dozen docks, a shipyard, and numerous merchant stalls and shops. The commercial heart of the island, this is the first stop for all newcomers to the Isle as they offload their dead and make their gifts to the island. All mercantile activity on the island happens at or near the port and it is continually bustling with both locals and outsiders. Of the different parts of the island, it is the most lively and the least affected by the morose feel that follows in the wake of the Bone Witch. 
  • The Starmount: This plateau is the second tallest point on the island after the peak of Keruna’s Fire. The Starmount is home to a large stone henge complex that can be used for predicting the lunar and stellar cycles; it was originally used to calculate the exact date of death for those brought to the island, but now sees wider use for predicting eclipses and other events.
  • Firedust Mine: Located at the bottom of the Starmount, the firedust mine was created by a mixture of geologic forces and thousands of bats living in the mine for as long as the island has existed. This has created a rich deposit of firedust, but until recently the locals did not know it’s value. The Thunderhand Guild, an inter-island trade group, has made a deal with the Baron of the Bone Hall to mine the Firedust in exchange for various supplies and trade concessions. 

Important Entities:

  • The Bone Witch, God of Death: The god of the Isle of the Dead, the Bone Witch sees that the children of Keruna receive the appropriate afterlife. She is not much concerned with the matters of the living; conflicts between islands or political factions do not concern her. Instead she is only concerned with the dead receiving the appropriate reward, though she has been known to decree that someone has outlived their allotted span and that their life must be ended. In such cases she sends her cleric with some allies to end the person’s life, but thus far there has been no obvious rhyme or reason to how she selects these people. She is cold and etheral, only occasionally appearing in a wispy physical form. 
  • The Baron of the Bone Hall: Political leader of the island, the Baron is the hereditary leaders of the island. His family can be traced back to the earliest settlers of the Isle of the Dead and they have led it for over twenty generations, though some better than others. The Baron is a politician through and through; he would rather make a deal than fight and is always trying to get a head, but he also uses both these traits to protect his people. He is more loyal to the people of the island than the Bone Witch and has been known to make decisions about what to do with corpses without her input, especially when there is a lot of wealth on offer to secure a place in the volcano.


  • The Stormfeather Order: A group of wizards who seek to harvest the arcane essence that gives wizards their power and combine them into one source of power, which they will then put in one of their leaders to create a massively powerful wizard. Or possible a god. 
  • The Untainted: A group of fanatics who believe the burial rites of the Isle of Bones are nothing but a trick to give the souls of the dead to Keruna, who does not deserve them. This group hates all gods of the ea of Keruna and has many allies among the druids who live in the islands that no longer have a god.

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