Far to the south-east of the Empire of Splendour lies the small island of Tas-Nabrenor. The name once struck fear into the hearts of criminals as a place of exile and hard labour. Now, it is a pirate kingdom rich in rare minerals, and it's the authorities who fear the name.
Tas-Nabrenor is a volcanic island discovered by the noted explorer Jevri Lancehold a quarter of a millenium ago, far to the west of the Necklace of Plenty in an area of sea that was thought to be completely devoid of land. Lancehold explored for no more than a week and during this time four men and countless pieces of equipment went missing. The island was declared haunted, uninhabitable, and to be stricken from the maps. This latter order was never carried out.
Three years later, the Empire of Splendour declared their intentions to build a prison colony on this small island for criminals too dangerous or embarrassing for imprisonment or execution. Over the next ten years or so the prison grew as more and more prisoners were dumped on the Immortal-forsaken island and left pretty much to their own devices. The prison itself was built on the southwestern part of the main island of Tas-Nabrenor, as far as possible from a mysterious stone circle discovered in the north-east. The island's largest volcano, Mount Kalo, was evidently still active but no-one worried overmuch if a bunch of criminals were engulfed in lava. The prison did have warders, but often these ex-soldiers were as bad as the prisoners, usually having annoyed somebody important to get posted to an outpost in the middle of nowhere.
Over time, the Empire ordered exploration of the island, and veins of silver and other rare metals were discovered. The number of wardens was increased, and hard labour became part of a Tas-Nabrenor sentence as these mines were exploited for the Empire. Reports of ghosts and disappearances were abundant during this time, and exploration of the interior of the island only served to spur on tales of forest spirits that stole items, killed men and vanished into the trees and the rocks.
Time passed, the silver supply dwindled, the Empire dwindled and all but forgot about Tas-Nabrenor, except as a metaphor for a far-off place of exile. The descendants of the prisoners and the wardens became a small colony, and would have eventually died away altogether had it not been for Paradise.
Paradise started life as a village across the Lancehold Strait from the town of Prison. It started life as a stop-over and hideout for pirates, and grew into a semi-lawless place with its own support mechanism of farmers and fishers. As Imperial support for the silver mines of Prison dried up, the pirates of Paradise took over. The people of Prison and Paradise intermingled. Although the riches of Tas-Nabrenor were deemed beneath the interest of the Empire, still they provided a nice income for Paradise, and mining continued.
Forty years ago the Prison Mines happened across a strange silvery ore that came to be known as Dragonsblood. Shiny like silver, flexible yet robust, with magical properties, the discovery of dragonsblood brought new prosperity to Tas-Nabrenor as pirates turned trader to sell it to the Merchant's League. The remote nature of Tas-Nabrenor meant that, although hungry for the product, the League preferred to use the existing resources to extract it, and grudgingly paid the exorbitant prices charged by the Tas-Nabroni.
Today the Prison Colony of Tas-Nabrenor is known for the fine metals they extract and export. Paradise is known for unchecked debauchery, lawlessness, and a large population of escaped, 'reformed', and unaccounted for criminals, low-lifes, and undesirables. The volcanoes have been quietly smoking and the monoliths unmoving. The tales of jungle and mountain spirits still pop up from time to time, but both Prison and Paradise often blame strange occurrence on the more unsavoury nature of their inhabitants. There are rumours, however, that these spirits gather their power from a gigantic glowing statue deep within the jungle. This statue is composed entirely of silver, dragonsblood, and gemstones and would be worth a nearly limitless fortune.
Tas-Nabrenor, and its twin settlements of Prison and Paradise, are a great setting for lawless pirate havens where everything is for sale, and the rule of the sword prevails. If a game involves pirates, sooner or later the action may move to Tas-Nabrenor.
Prison is still a fortified stronghold, but its days as an actual prison are long gone. It is ruled with an iron fist by "Warden" Tevronash Jakuul, a short, shaven-headed bulldog of a man whose size belies his strength and whose temper can lead to murder. Warden Jakuul (also known as Little Tev, but never to his face) keeps the mines working. Descendants of the original prisoners are treated as slaves, an underclass of workers destined for a short, hard life in the mines and the foundries.
Paradise, by contrast, is in the business of trade and hospitality. Ore dug from Little Tev's mines is sold here to traders, stolen goods change hands, and the docks are supported by an array of taverns, casinos, yaama dens and brothels (often all four in one establishment, such as the infamous Happy Fortune Club). Paradise is ruled by a consortium of would-be rulers, with competition and jealousy preventing any one from gaining the upper hand. All of the consortium members hate Little Tev with a passion, resenting his stranglehold on the ore trade. They would pay well if he were to be 'removed'.
The silvery metal known as dragonsblood is liquid in its natural state and can be brought to a semi-solid form by careful crafting. It has the unique property of conducting magical energy, and is sometimes found as a component of wands, rods and staves. It can also be added to armour, weapons and other items to act as a protective "grounding" device against incoming spells. Any weapon, item or armour can be "laced" with dragonsblood with no change in weight, although the method is not suitable for casters that suffer an armour penalty as the magical-absorbing properties of dragonsblood can exacerbate this effect.
Weapons and items can be laced with dragonsblood for an extra 1000 gp (100,000 yen) and provide a +1 resistance bonus to saving throws against spells, spell-like abilities and supernatural effects. This bonus is not, itself, magical in nature. A dragonsblood-laced item causes a +5% spell failure chance.
Armour can also be laced, but due to the patterns that can be formed, the effect is different. There are three levels of lacing; light, medium and heavy, and armour must be of at least the equivalent type to receive that level of lacing (e.g. medium armour can receive light or medium lacing, but not heavy). Armour lacing provides spell resistance. Light lacing gives SR 13 and costs an extra 4000 gp (400,000 yen), medium lacing gives SR 15 and costs an extra 9000 gp (900,000 yen) and heavy lacing provides SR 17 and costs 16000 gp (1,600,000 yen). None of these alternations change the weight of the armour, but they do increase the spell failure chance by +5 % (light lacing), +10% (medium lacing) and +15% (heavy lacing). Alternatively, armour may be treated with the resistance bonus effect as for weapons and items, but this cannot be combined with spell resistance lacing.
In its raw state, dragonsblood ore costs from 1-6000 gp (100-600 thousand yen) per ounce, and gives off a mild anti-magic field. Raw dragonsblood cannot be affected by magic in any way, but does not extend this property beyond itself.
(c) 2009 The Creative Conclave.
City of Llaza
Empire of Splendour
Necklace of Plenty