Piracy on the Ashen Coast
The Pirate Problem
Pirates have long been a problem along the Ashen Coast. However, for hundreds of years only a small number of vessels were permitted to sail upon the Great Ocean by the red dragon, Fuegalyr. However, since that great beasts disappearance, the number of pirate vessels prowling the waters and preying upon merchant ships has exploded.
Whilst before the small number of pirate ships was allowed to be sustained, lest any foolish navy or ruler feel the wrath of Fuegalyr (Who was known to appear from the sky to bring fiery vengeance for any such transgression!), now there are a great deal of pirate ships, of varying size and seaworthiness.
The problem is compounded by the lack of any formal navy. It was a source of great embarrassment to Emperor Rialto in the aftermath of the Empire, that some 80% of the navy ships had to be declared missing. Of those that remained, most were not considered seaworthy. It was unknown for some years exactly what had become of these ships, until they were discovered by a group of adventurers north in Juscaria! It transpired that the vessels were being used by evil priests of the dark gods, cast out from the Empire, in an effort to conquer that fair land. Sadly for Rialto the boats were put to the torch and could not be recovered.
Although it has been several decades since that time, due to measures to grant independence to the city states and some administrative errors, only a scant few ships have been constructed. Worse, none are sure where the pirates actually go when they’re not on the sea. Most stories and legends revolve around the mythical Firemist Island. An island said to be magically concealed, it’s location is said to be discoverable only be pirates. The story dates back to the time of Fuegalyr, however, when there were few pirate vessels and such a secret might be kept by fear of retribution from a red dragon. In post-dragon times there is no such threat, so many wonder how the secret would be kept with such a volume of pirates. This has lead most to state there never was such an island and it was merely a piece of superstitious folklore, kept alive four hundreds of years to increase the mystique of the pirates that roamed the seas. Whatever the truth of the matter is one fact remains; none have yet discovered the hiding place of any pirate ship.
Pirates of Renown
For the last few decades, Captain Brinemurk has terrorised the coast, raiding shipping lanes aboard his vessel, The Wandering Cutlass. Until recently, he held the distinction of being one of the very few pirates permitted to operate on the coast by Fuegalyr, the great red dragon.
Known for his cruelty and lust for treasure, it is the greatest fear of many sailors to see the distinctive red and black sails of the ‘Cutlass, as Brinemurk is not known for his compassion or mercy. However, for the last few years, fewer sights of the ‘Cutlass have been reported. However, with the massive rise in other pirate vessels, it seems likely that Brinemurk has simply lost the utter freedom to raid shipping that he enjoyed before.
None know the origin of the dwarven pirate, Sharpbeard. It is said, not even his captain, Captain Forstead. All that most know is that he is the first mate aboard the Rapscallion and is one of the most feared pirates on the Great Ocean. It is said he can bend metal bars using only his rage and fear. Some say he comes from a line of dwarven berserker’s, others that he has some psionic power. Perhaps both are true. Perhaps neither. Regardless, he has been the last sight many merchant sailors have seen.
One of the new generation of pirates, appearing in a rickety old frigate that he acquired from who-knows-where. Blackhand is a goblin and he captains a (largely) goblin crew. His good fortune, if not skill, has become legend along the Coast. He wields a strange firestick, found on one of his many lucrative raids, that he has named ‘Smoking-Death’. It is this weird weapon that has given him his name; it produces so much smoke and ash that it has stained his hands a deep and violent black.
Captain Blackhand’s crew of Goblin tars and swabbers, make up in numbers for their lack of fighting skills and can overwhelm their opponents almost before they realise what it going on.
The Legendary Treasure of the Drunk Goliath
Before her capture, Captain Misty ‘Gold Eye’ Starke hid her greatest treasure, somewhere along the Coast. None know exactly where, for none have been able to find her map. None truly know what the treasure was either – certainly it appeared the vast majority of gold and art that she had stolen over the years had been recovered. It is a mystery that has lead many adventurers on long and dangerous journeys. Still, it has not been found.
The Gray Brothers
The name ‘Gray’ came to refer to a dastardly pirate crew, lead by a number of mad halfling brothers, driven insane after their village was destroyed many years ago. The sole survivors of the attack they turned to piracy and became known as some of the most evil pirates on the seas, attacking without reason or remorse. Often they would even leave a ship and its cargo floating on the sea, the crew murdered and mutilated and left aboard. Some say that, in their madness, they even managed to outwit the great dragon Feugalyr, much to its displeasure.
Recently they became ship-wrecked near the town of Gelfar and after months of terrorising the roads out of town, they were ended by an adventuring party.