Pirates of The Jewel Archipelago
Rumors and Folklore
The empire and the Southern Seas have a long tradition of fairy stories and tall tales. All are exaggerated but some are based on truth.
- Ghost Ships – sometimes, the entire crew of a ship will be lost at sea, but the ship will survive. When encountered, these empty ships are extremely disconcerting to sailors, who will make up fantastic and terrifying stories to explain the disappearances. Some say that the sailors all go mad and jump overboard, trying to swim to the ocean floor. Other variations have mermaids or sirens luring the sailors overboard. Other tales tell of ghost ships crewed by the ghosts of drowned sailors, attacking ships with spectral weapons that only bite flesh. The most famous of these haunted ghost ship legends is of Red Rackham, a pirate whose heart was so black that no god would take his soul, dooming him to sail the seas forever.
- Sea Monsters – while it may seem strange that a world of magic and dragons could have mythological creatures, there are many that scholars agree cannot exist. Merfolk feature commonly in legend, but no credible source has ever recorded an encounter with half-fish humanoids. There are several species from Khitai that can breathe underwater, leading many scholars to believe that these races are the origin of the merfolk myth. The Kraken is also assumed to be myth, a faceless horror to blame mysterious shipwrecks on. Giant squid have been seen, hunted, and cataloged, but nothing on the supposed scale of the Kraken. There are also tales of fish with fins a hundred feet long that glitter like jewels, tiny jellyfish that glow bright enough to light the night up like a torch that surround ships and set them aflame, miles-long serpents that can swallow a ship whole, and other fanciful creatures.
- Cannibals – Even before the trade flourished in the Southern Seas, there was talk of natives of the myriad islands being cannibals. No evidence of these claims ever came to light, but the stories persist, even saying that settlers on certain islands turned to cannibalism, not because supplies were low, but because their minds grew warped by evil forces that corrupt the islands. On the other side of that legend, there are many credible accounts that the lizardmen of the Crextec Peninsula have no qualms about eating other humanoids.
- Shapeshifters – There are many legends, throughout Pangaea, of shapeshifters. In Khitai shapeshifters tend to be more benevolent, using their powers for harmless pranks, or to seduce mortals. In the Middle Kingdoms, shapeshifters tend to be thieves and villains, changing shape to sire an heir to a throne, or steal a valuable item. The latter tales usually involve the shapeshifter stealing something to teach the hero to not rely on physical objects to help. In the South Seas, though, shapeshifters are often wicked and predatory, luring victims to their deaths, often it is the shapeshifter itself that eats the victims.
- The Well of Souls – No tale of the heroes of old is complete without a mortal hunting for the Well of Souls. It is said that when the gods finished building the Material Plane they were sad, for their creation had no life. Moradin, father of creation, built a great forge of star iron, and used it to create the souls that would bring life to the world. But the gift of souls proved too great a power for even the gods. War came to the heavens, and to prevent any god from gaining such power again, Moradin built a great labyrinth, full of devious traps and deadly hazards, then sealed the well within it. Several mortals throughout the ages have managed to steal through to the Well and drank from it to become gods themselves.