Undersea and the Sunlit Sea
“The sea is a vast place with a great many races in it. But the sea people are content to live life at a slower pace than you surface dwellers. A mere glance at the history of this region will show you the difference; while intrigue and war riddle the chronicles of the dry nations, the sea’s history has been shaped more by natural events. Where in the surface world can you find eight races living together in relative peace? However, don’t make the mistake of assuming that the sea people are complacent or weak. They can fight as fiercely as anyone else at need, and not all are truly peaceful. Be especially wary of the shark-kin; they will rob you blind without a thought…”
- Kellendion, an Aquarendi trader, to a Meditor adventurer
The LandThe Sunlit Sea is the northern portion of the Sea of Dread, stretching from the mainland to the edge of the continental shelf. Its name comes from the fact that its waters are relatively shallow and warm. It contains the surface nations of Ierendi, Minrothad and part of Thyatis, and its waters are home to many aquatic races.
The largest underwater realm is Undersea, the underwater kingdom of the tritons. It is located in the waters around the western Minrothad and eastern Ierendi islands. Directly to the northeast of Undersea is the Deep Water Pool of the Kna, where the kna breed their mashers; this area is off-limits to non-kna and is the closest they have to a nation. To the east of Undersea live the Aquarendi, the aquatic elves, mostly around the island of Alfeisle.
The sea floor is dotted with volcanoes, as well as ruins of the ancient Taymora culture. Kelp forests cover wide expanses, and large oyster beds can be found around the islands. Some areas contain whirlpools; coral and rock formations create most of these, but triton legends claim the largest lead to the lairs of terrible undead monsters. No one who has investigated the latter whirlpools has ever returned.
South and southwest of Undersea, the waters begin to deepen; in order of depth, the areas are known as the Terraces, where many of the shark-kin tribes live; the Twilight, where sea giants as well as various large monsters live; and the Abyss, where kraken, and other legendary monsters dwell.
HistoryThe waters of the world have been inhabited since time immemorial, the oldest race in the region is the aquatic elves. Following the Great Rain of Fire, after making contact with their cousins in Minrothad, they settled the area around Alfeisle. Three thousand years ago, cataclysmic upheavals rocked this region, destroying the land-dwelling Taymora culture and sending its settlements to the sea floor. These upheavals also destroyed many deep-ocean merrow’s* territories, and many primitive merrow tribes arrived in the Sunlit Sea three centuries later, looking for a home. Later tritons, fleeing the devilfish, arrived and established the kingdom of Undersea.
More recently, a rash of lycanthropy broke out in Minrothad and spread to Undersea; the following purge was known in Undersea as the Night of the Long Knives. Many lycanthropes are suspected to have escaped the purge. The last two centuries have seen brushes with the devilfish, which have lately become more frequent.
The PeopleThe majority of Undersea’s inhabitants are tritons. Over 10 000 of them live in this watery realm. They have a high level of culture and art. Coral-shaping is considered a high art in Undersea; the dwellings are made of coral, and are of breathtaking beauty; a triton settlement appears as an underwater coral fairy grotto. All tritons are either clerics or magic-users; both of these factions live in peace with the other, though there is a certain amount of mutual suspicion. Many other sea races live here as well. 30 tribes of merrow have sworn themselves to Undersea, and many of the nomadic merrow tribes pass through. They often clash with tribes of shark-kin, whose sharks prey on the merrow’s and triton’s fish herds. The shark-kin also occasionally raid the Aquarendi for magical items. The kna, the traders of the sea, are also a frequent sight in Undersea, bringing goods from Ierendi, the mainland, and farther locales. They do not trade with Minrothad because the Minrothad Guilds violently discourage other traders; ever since, some kna have turned pirate against Minrothad shipping in revenge. Small groups of kopru inhabit the volcanoes, smelting and trading steel. As mentioned above, many Aquarendi live to the east; their culture is similar to their land-dwelling cousins’. They are a frequent sight in Undersea, along with nixies and the occasional allied sea giant.
Religion and GovernmentUndersea is divided into eight baronies. Each baron is responsible for his own territory; the borders of the territories tend to shift according to the population. However, the borders never expand south of the edge of the Terraces. In practice, each baron controls the territory around his or her castle. Weekly courts are held, where citizens can bring grievances and disputes before the baron; any resolution may be appealed to a jury of 21 citizens. Though technically a hereditary post, barons can be replaced with the approval of a majority of their barony’s citizens. The eight barons are presided over by Queen Tarovra, who lives in the castle of Smaar at the centre of the kingdom. Four times a year, the barons and queen meet in council, where they discuss events; any major decision of the queen’s may be vetoed by any of the barons. By tradition, dating to the Night of the Long Knives, the ruler must be both a cleric and a mage. In theory, the post is granted to the highest-level cleric/mage available when the former monarch dies; in practice, the ruling Farmarva family has always groomed its children for the post, making them the preferred candidates.
All of the sea races follow Manwara, the Old being; either Triton, Merrow, etc according to the speaker’s race; of the Sea. In addition, each of the races reveres its own heroes, each of whom is credited with giving the race some of its special abilities or skills.
*Note to AD&D players: the merrow are the equivalent of AD&D merfolk – not aquatic ogres.