Unto the Breach
Welcome, adventurers, to the island of Saelún! In this brief introduction, you will be brought up to speed with the world in which our journey begins. The following information is entirely usable in-character, as it is readily available knowledge that could be gained from speaking with locals and ship captains, listening to hearsay, et cetera.
The island itself, while settled, is shrouded in mystery. Named from an old Elvish word translating roughly to “strange place” or in some dialects denoting a location of mystical significance, the island appeared seemingly from nowhere about a decade ago. The denizens of the world at large were all taken by surprise as pirates and naval captains alike began reporting encounters with a landmass that was on no charts of an otherwise well-mapped expanse of open sea, wrapped in a thick fog that gave the impression (as many captains will attest) that the island was “creeping up on you.” Scrying began immediately: those with access to divination magic sought to peer onto the island from afar, but they were met with interference, a magical mist accompanying the physical. The name came soon after. It was impossible to tell what may lay in wait… as such, for the first half of its existence, it was considered cursed and was universally avoided. The governments of many major nations prohibited travel out of the desire for safety, as they viewed it unwise to rush into the unknown – but even those not officially bound dared not sail too close. One seemingly arbitrary day, however, the veil lifted. Nobody saw it go, but it did, and suddenly Saelún was in plain sight. Scrying magic came back clean, with no evident traces of danger or magical meddling – as far as anyone could tell, it was just an island. Those curious enough to go ashore confirmed as much and were met with resource-rich lands: dense forests, some of which seemed ancient, and sky-scraping mountain ranges, capped with virgin snow and riddled with deposits of metals and minerals both common and precious. They discovered an ecosystem that was as balanced as any other, replete with all manner of creatures from predator to prey. This, of course, attracted more than a few entrepreneurial souls. Faced with such bounty and opportunity, the question of the possible origins of the island lingered in the minds of all who set foot upon it… but as if swallowed by a dream, that doubt faded quickly to the realm of memory as the newcomers set to work exploring this new land.
The city in which we lay our scene is the port town of Anchorpoint. The first settlement constructed on Saelún, what began as merely an amalgam of temporary dwellings soon flourished into a proper town. It has been constantly renovated and expanded over the years, with districts spreading outward from the docks as the center of activity. As newcomers to the island are frequent and many, there are no gates or walls marking the boundaries since this would make active expansion difficult. There is, however, a well-armed and well-trained militia guarding the town from any attempts at attack from pirates or other rogue and criminal elements. Trade culture is thriving in this city, and it is the main walk of life for the majority of its inhabitants. Everyone and their mother (and father, siblings, cousins, and estranged aunt…) sailed in with levels of wealth as large as minor fortunes or as small as the clothes on their back – and almost each one of these people now owns a business in the city or has started some manner of resource-gathering operation. Logging, hunting, mining and fishing are all popular sources of income and the community is practically self-sustaining with a major export industry. Due to its open nature, the social climate of the city is incredibly accepting. Crime and violence are stamped out by the city guard with a zero tolerance policy (not that some don’t try), but there are no judgments passed on anyone based on who they are or where they’re from, with the caveat that they are there to participate in the flourishing industry of the island. Outsiders arriving with unclear or ulterior motives are not turned away, but they may be met with a manner of suspicion. Once the population had become large enough, a system of government was established to plan city development, draft trade laws, and so forth. It is a council consisting of seven members, one of whom acts as a figurehead called the Speaker to draw council meetings to order and break tied votes. The Speaker’s position is mainly symbolic with no extra powers or privileges… at least, not officially. Many a trader has been known to curry favor with the Speaker by various means in the attempt to influence trade law, but it is rarely if ever effective. The city is surrounded almost immediately by dense forest, with most deforestation done to the south to accommodate farmland. The farms are all affiliated with Anchorpoint but mostly autonomous with many farmers choosing to maintain minimal contact and live quiet, peaceful lives, but many others engaging in the trade of food goods and livestock. A watchtower guards the bridge to the north, leading to more forest that is far less explored.
Along the cliffs of the bay on which Anchorpoint lies, a keep was built several years ago and named Eastgate. While the town has no walls and expects no threats from within, it was understood that the neutrality and independence of this new society did not extend to the other nations of the world and defenses should be in place in the event some foreign power took a hostile interest. Additionally, piracy is an ever-present threat and a large, ominous guard structure does tend to send the message that theft will not be tolerated. Eastgate houses the town’s expanded guard and militia and land-to-sea defense ballistae to defend against enemies at sea.
Along the southern coast, on a small and sandy peninsula, there is another settlement – similar to Anchorpoint, but far different. To put it simply, not all of the business interest on Saelún is… legitimate. Hangman’s Haven sprang forth from the organized criminal elements seeking to exploit anyone and anything they could on the island. Essentially a large, glorified shanty town, it is a wretched hive of scum and villainy, but honor among thieves allows it to be considered neutral territory where less savory “entrepreneurs” can rest, relax, and sell their “wares” between “jobs.” Most sensible residents of the island don’t consider it a place they want to be anywhere near any time soon.
To the west, standing tall and proud among the grassy plains, exists the city of Mazaerun. There is not much known about its origins, but the commonly accepted tale is that its matron, a high elf, left her house and her noble status behind in order to found it. The location has caused some questions as to her true motives, as it seems opportunistic due to the island’s resources, but if you believe its citizens it exists for one purpose: to shelter those in need. Be they struggling members of the island’s trade populace, immigrants from other nations, refugees fleeing war and strife, or simply those looking for a fresh start, all who seek a home are welcomed and shown compassion in this city. Everyone is given a way to contribute to the community based on their skills. If someone is unable to work, they are given the best care available. In essence, Mazaerun and its population seem to be striving for some manner of utopia, and succeeding to a degree. It is worth noting that the unsavory elements of Saelún have not once caused any problems for this sanctuary.
Far to the northwest, past the mountains, exists a conglomeration of orc encampments. Their arrival was recent, and it is almost entirely unknown why they are there or what they are doing. All that is clear is that they are present and staying entirely isolated from the rest of the island.
That’s it! These are the basics of what your character may know as they arrive in Anchorpoint. Feel free to roleplay as much or as little of this as you’d like, although it would be logical that at the very least your character would be seeking something specific on Saelún based on the above information.
See you in-game!