Ravarnôss is a region of the Derebari Sea. An arid wasteland, save for a narrow but fertile valley along the Navan River, it is the private domain of two powerful mercenary groups that grow and sell the Chaotic Drug, a substance tainted by the Lord of Chaos’ essence. The trading port of Ravarnôss is the only town to speak of, and there is little population outside of its walls. Mainly slave workers, mercenaries and the remnants of goblinoids tribes in the hills.
- Region’s Overview
- Recent History
- The land of Ravarnôss
- City of Ravarnôss
- People of Ravarnôss
2. Recent History
For nearly three hundred years the region remained abandoned. This changed only a few decades ago when the Black Plague swept across the city of Draganor. History of this event has been written as follows :
Year 262 of the Third Age : The Black Plague decimates the City of Draganor. Desperate, the Merchant-Prince orders the gates shut and sets the lower-city ablaze. Outside the walls, peasants abandon what little they have and flee the region, bringing livestock and family. They follow goat paths across the Nàmorian Mountains and head towards the mouth of the Navan River, hoping to find the old Nar’Séquian ruins of Ravarnôssia. Little do they know, however, that goblin tribes inhabit these lands, and soon the creatures begin raiding the caravan. In the end, merely a third of the refugees reaches Ravarnôssia.
Year 263 T.A. : Constant raids characterize the first year of the surviving refugees. Within the ruins, the settlers manage to hold their ground against the goblins, who slowly lose interest in the fight. There is no livestock left for them to steal, and the remaining men and women prove to be capable fighters. For the goblins, each raid is costlier than the last, for little to no gain.
Year 264 T.A. : In the first week of the year, the settlers leave the safety of the ruins to launch a daring raid against the main goblin camp in the region. Caught off guard, the goblins are butchered. Few of them scatter in the wilds; most of them die. For the first time in a very long time, the settlers find themselves able to throw a feast and sleep well at night.
Year 265-269 T.A. : The peasants settle down for good during the following years. Hamlets are built every few miles across the delta of the Navan River. The settlers even manage to grow some crops, mostly the native sugarcane. Few are brave enough to go on scouting duty, but those that do come back with reports of red, rocky wastelands that goes on for miles in every direction. The northern part of the region appears uninhabitable. Stories of a dead forest, a stagnant lake and sterile lands convince the population not to travel that way any further. Goblin raids still occur from time to time, but are few and far between.
Year 270 T.A. : A Royal Derebari ship enters the ruined harbor of Ravarnôssia, renamed Ravarnôss. The crew is investigating whether or not settlements were built on the delta. Merchant-Princes, after sailing along the coast, made such a claim to King Lutaga III of Derebar, and promptly asked the king to rescind a century-old royal decree forbidding any travel -or trade- throughout the Ravarnôss region. This decree was originally passed to ensure no one would get caught in a deadly Mana Storm. King Lutaga refuses, but seeing how the settlers number in the hundreds, decides to give them a ship as means of escape rather than forcefully remove them from the region. The settlers, for whom Mana Storms are nothing more than a myth, choose to stay along the Navan River.
Year 271-276 T.A. : The settlers expand their fields further north, among the small isles that dot the Navan River. Merchant ships for the Fair Isles Sea begin coming alongside Ravarnôss Harbor to conduct trade missions, with little regard for the King of Derebar’s decree. In just a few years, the native sugarcane crop finds its way across the Fair Isles Sea… as its unique properties are discovered by black market specialists. It is found that the red sugarcane, when processed, induces bloodlust, confusion and severe withdrawal symptoms in the user. Sorcerers in Nurchan link these properties to the chaotic influence brought on by Mana Storms in the Ravarnôss region. It is the same influence that turned the land red and killed all life in the northern half of the region.
Year 277 T.A. : Social order collapses across the delta. Farmers, addicted to the red sugarcane, turn on each other. Days after the violence outbreak, a fleet of corsairs, known as the Bleached Skull Syndicate, enters Ravarnôss Harbor, dares sink a Royal Derebari ship on its way to assist, and quickly captures all lands and plantations along the Navan River. The surviving peasants are reduced to slavery, and the corsairs establish themselves as sole producers of the red sugarcane.
Year 278-285 T.A. : The Bleached Skull Syndicate expands the production of sugarcane tenfold. It begins refining the product in Ravarnôss, then ships it out across the Fair Isles Sea like never before. The red sugarcane becomes known, more and more, as the Chaotic Drug.
Year 286 T.A. : A merchant fleet of the Félista South Seas Trading Company arrives in Ravarnôss and offers the Bleached Skull Syndicate a deal : hundreds of slave workers, mainly barbarians from the Barkar Desert, for a third of the Chaotic Drug plantations. They also promise to open new markets across the south-eastern regions of Kur for the Chaotic Drug. Both cartels settle for a quarter of the plantations, and the City of Félista quickly becomes a major hub for the Chaotic Drug trade.
Year 287-290 T.A. : At home, the merchants of Félista supply barbarous settlements across the desert with drugs, keeping them in a weakened state, and send slaving parties against them. In just a few years, thousands of slaves are brought to Ravarnôss to work on the plantations.
Year 291 T.A. : Both cartels look into selling red sugarcanes throughout the Kingdom of Derebar. They invite the most powerful criminal organization in the land, the Bloody Hand Cartel, to Ravarnôss, and begin negotiating trade agreements.
Year 292 T.A. : King Lutaga IV of Derebar, facing an ever-growing drug empire, asks the Council of the Tome for help. Together, they work for months in order to bring all major players of the Southern Seas, Merchant-Princes, Pirate-Lords, and Masters-of-the-Isles alike, to Sumara. They hope to negotiate a trade embargo against Ravarnôss and Félista, thus putting an end to the Chaotic Drug trade. The week of the meeting, however, the Derebari Royal Guard, busy keeping the peace with so many shady dealers in the city, is caught off guard when a token fleet slips into Sumara Harbor. The corsairs, members of the Bloody Hand Cartel, set all ships within the harbor ablaze. Behind the city walls, negotiating cartels briefly turn on each other, then proceed to sack the city amidst the chaos. They flee with thousands of gold pieces worth of art and treasures. This outrage is known as the Pillage of Sumara.
The same day, the Bloody Hand Cartel lands hundreds of men on the eastern shores of Ravarnôss. Within a week, the Cartel butchers all members of the Félista South Seas Trading Company and captures a third of the Chaotic Drug plantations. The Syndicate now fights to get across the Navan River, where the Bleached Skull Syndicate makes a stand, and to breach the City of Ravarnôss itself. By doing so, the Syndicate hopes to gain control over all exports.
3. The land of Ravarnôss
3.1 Geographical Areas
This large forest is not, as its name might suggest, entirely dead. Slaves gave the name « dead woods » to the area as most of them are sent there to die. This is what the masters try to make them believe. Rumors, however, speak of inhuman experiments conducted in these woods. It is said sorcerers use the corruption in the land to amplify their powers, corrupt themselves and try out their abilities on whoever is sent to them. In return, the practitioners are supposed to shield the rest of the region from Mana Storms. Just how much of the woods were disfigured by sorcery is not known.
These harsh hills are home to Ravarnôss’ most dreadful creatures. Goblin tribes used to rule the hills and the tunnels below, but were decimated when the Chaotic Drug cartels pushed larger monsters out of the lower plains. The creatures, such as Ettins, Ogres and Hill Giants, relocated to Igish-Irigal and promptly began feeding on the goblins. The name itself is the last trait of Goblin presence in the area. The few surviving tribes, greatly diminished, have fled underground.
Leading up to the entrance of Nir-Baran, the only Dwarven city in the region, these foothills are riddled with old watchposts and quarries. The Dwarves abandoned the structures and retreated inside their city three centuries ago when the first Mana Storm swept over the region. Nir-Baran’s doors remained sealed ever since, giving all manner of creatures the chance to take over the outer fortifications.
Of note, the River Navan headwaters are located within the foothills. Several streams come down from the Nàmorian Mountains and merge together not too far from Nir-Baran.
The Stagnant Reservoir
The Parched Fields
Navan, River and Delta
3.2 Mana Storms
Three centuries ago, the First Tome of the Goddess Herself, a grimoire of untold power, was destroyed. The magical castastrophe wiped out Nar’Séquia and created a breach into the Chaotic plane of existence. Foul energies have been bursting out of the fracture ever since. Today, this power still sweeps across land and sea for miles, not unlike a hurricane would do, with the notable exception that it vaporizes everything on its path. No one is able to seal that breach, not even the almighty Council of the Tome, custodian of the Second Tome of the Goddess Herself.
These storms are called Mana Storms.
The Ravarnôss region is shielded from direct hits by the Nàmorian Mountains. The region, however, still suffers from the storms’ Chaotic influence. Some of its vegetation have been dramatically altered over the decades, the most notoriouscase being the sugarcane crops. Harvested at first in the Nar’Séquian Era, the crop has been turned into the infamous Chaotic Drug.
3.3 Chaotic Drug
The infamous main export of the region, the Chaotic Drug is a highly addictive substance that heightens aggression and bloodlust in the user, but can also trigger severe withdrawal symptoms without the aforementioned effects in controlled doses, which slavers use to their advantage.
4. City of Ravarnôss
The City of Ravarnôssia was founded over three centuries ago. The settlers, hailing from Nar’Séquia, wished to escape the ever-growing influence of the Wizards over their homeland. Many believed the spellcasters were only months away from overthrowing the republic. Time proved them right. The Wizards proclaimed the Magocracy of Nar’Séquia in the Year 1023 of the Second Age, with a ruling body composed of the most powerful among them, and the republic ceased to exist.
The mages quickly moved to secure all of the nation’s colonies around the world. Ravarnôssia was not spared. An overlord arrived in the city in the year 1024 of the Second Age. He erected -by himself- the Grand Reservoir and the Aqueduct, and set the settlers to work in the Vast Fields.
Everything fell apart less than a decade later, however, when the First Tome of the Goddess Herself was destroyed. Nar’Séquia and all her holdings in Anater disappeared in the blink of an eye. The settlers, terrorized, abandoned Ravarnôssia. They went east and murdered the exhausted overlord as he tried to follow them.
For three hundred years the city remained abandoned. All this changed in recent years, however, as described in the Recent History excerpt.
5. People of Ravarnôss
5.1 Drug Cartels
The Bloody Hand Cartel began operating in the region only a few years ago. At first, the cartel served as an broker between the Chaotic Drug producers and the Derebari Sea black market. This was nothing but a ruse, however, as the Bloody Hand used this as an opportunity to familiarize itself with the product. Then, following it’s stunning victory at the Pillage of Sumara in the Year 292 of the Third Age, the cartel landed hundreds of men on the eastern bank of the Navan River and took control of a third of the Chaotic Drug plantations. The Bloody Hand has been, ever since, waging a proxy war against its rivals, bribing hill tribes, corsairs and mercenaries into killing the other producers’ slaves and stealing their drugs.
The Bleached Skull Syndicate is a relentless criminal organization based somewhere in the Fair Isles Sea. It dominates the trade of tainted items, calling them « blessed », and is rumored to supply the School of Sorcery located in Nurchan, with magical raw material in exchange for enchanted equipment. The Sorcerers, as they often do, fiercely deny such a partnership.
Although the Syndicate itself is not a cult, most of its members openly worship the Lord of Chaos. They see the Chaotic Drug as the greatest way to commune with Demor, and worked for a time to spread new rituals involving the product across the Fair Isles Sea.
In the Year 277 of the Third Age, the Syndicate saw the collapse of the social order in Ravarnôss, with the drug farmers getting addicted themselves, as a tremendous opportunity to invade the region and gain control over all of the drug’ plantations. Mustering its forces, it found itself, however, in front of a severe addiction problem within its own ranks. At first, the Bleached Skull tried explicitely forbidding its members from using the product, but when that failed, chose to make an example out of some of its addicted sailors and fighters. The Bleached Skull gave Nurchan a hundred of them. They came back, a few months later, twisted into hulking, grotesque beings, and were sent ashore with the first wave of the invasion force. According to Captain Rigard, Paladin of the Blue Flame, the creatures devoured local farmers. The Captain later disappeared, along with his squad, presumably lost in action. Needless to say, the Syndicate was most pleased, and drug problems dwindled within the ranks.
For a few years, the Bleached Skull Syndicate kept a solid business relationship with the Félista South Seas Trading Company, as both cartels worked to expand the Chaotic Drug trade into different markets. More and more slave workers were brought to Ravarnôss, and the Syndicate even looked into repairing the Collapsed Aqueduct in hopes of irrigating the Parched Fields, and expand the production even more.
This all came to a brutal end in the Year 292 of the Third Age. As fortified as it was inland, the Syndicate was not prepared to repel the Bloody Hand invasion from the Derebari Sea. With most of its fleet sailing around the Fair Isles Sea, the Bleached Skull only had few ships off the coast of Ravarnôss. It quickly lost Ravarnôss Harbor to the enemy and had no choice but to retreat west of the Navan River, leaving some its monstrous, twisted aberrations behind to slow the Bloody Hand’s progress. The Syndicate also forgot, presumably on purpose, to evacuate the Félista S.S. Trading Co. members, whose plantations were on the eastern banks of the river. The traders were butchered, reduced to slavery or devoured amidst the chaos.
Today, the Bleached Skull holds on to all plantations west of the Navan River. It is in no position to mount a counter-offensive, and bides its time pending the arrival of its massive fleet, gathering somewhere off the coast of Sehiil.
As its name suggests, the Félista S.S. Trading Co. originates from the City of Félista. The merchant company, arguably one of the oldest in the Fair Isles Sea, has been nearing bankruptcy for over a decade. Its financial problems began thirty years ago, when the neighboring Dwarves of Barûn-Kor completed the Underway. Linking the Dwarven realm to the Rarnok region, this new tunnel complex allowed caravans to travel underground in cool and well-patrolled passages, bypassing the Barkar Desert altogether. Most merchants had no shame in moving their trading routes from Félista to the Dwarven Harbor, and the Félista S.S. Trading Co, which relied on a busy harbor to conduct trade, lost most of its business in just a few years.
In the Year 286 of the Third Age, the company realized total collapse was just around the corner. The merchants of Félista took advantage of the high demand for Chaotic Drug and offered the Bleach Skull Syndicate a deal : they would bring enough slave workers in Ravarnôss to double the production of Chaotic Drug. In return, they would gain control over a third of the plantations.
The plan worked, for a time. In the Year 292 of the Third Age, the Félista South Seas Trading Company was wiped off the land of Ravarnôss when the Bloody Hand Cartel landed hundreds of men on the eastern shores of the River Navan. With most of its assets gone, the company will most likely disintegrate in the next few weeks.
5.2 Slave Workers
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of slaves work in the Chaotic Drug plantations. A precise count is hard to establish; slaves usually don’t survive more than a few months in the region. Overseers are brutal, inexcusably so, and living conditions are dire. Slaves spend their nights in overcrowded pens. The luckiest few have wretched, decrepit housing. They’re exposed to the corrupted rain that falls every now and then. They suffer from the freezing night, the scorching days. They slowly get addicted to the Chaotic influence, and then they die.
The first slaves were farmers. They fled the City of Draganor after the Black Plague outbreak. Forced to work on the plantations, they all perished in less than a year. For a time, the Bleached Skull Syndicate sent slaving parties in the hills of Igish-Irigal. They brought back goblins, ogres and a few other creatures from the tunnels below. The Syndicate became quite fond of playing the monstrous races against one another, setting the ogres against the goblins, and using in turn their hulking, twisted guildmembers to keep the ogres in line.
Just like the farmers, these monsters did not survive for long in this environment. Goblins died like flies on the plantations and ogres, while stronger, were put to death when the Chaotic influence sent them into a murderous frenzy.
Today, the bulk of the slaves is made of indigenous people from the Barkar Desert. They are fed just enough Chaotic Drug to be kept in a weakened state. The Barbarians, addicted, suffering from withdrawal symptoms, simply keep working in hopes of getting more drugs. The remainder of the slaves is composed of captured sailors, prisoners sold to the overseers and even a few other monstrous creatures.
5.3 Other groups in the region
Following the Pillage of Sumara, the Bloody Hand cartel felt confident enough to outlaw any representation of the Goddess in the region. The only shrine in Ravarnôss was sacked and its members thrown into the ocean. The Order has not yet retaliated; it is believed the paladins do not have enough resources in the area to strike back.
Writer : Maxime Castonguay
Artist : Guillaume Lupien