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Player Warning - please stay out

Reading X7 - War Rafts of Kron - I discovered that there was very little information in the Vault of Pandius about this exotic and unique place, so I thought I'd give it a shot trying to flesh out the place. Feel free to contribute, critique or comment!

WARNING: X7 spoilers in the text that follows!

Kron - The Raft City

by Jesper Andersen

The raft city of Kron is a unique place, forever drifting on the Sea of Dread. Its position changes constantly, and few seafarers ever get to visit this extraordinary place except by chance. Some of the Merchant Princes have established formal trade relations with the citizens of Kron and from their ventures bring back exotic corals, rare fish and even lost treasures salvaged from the bottom of the deep oceans. The people of Kron are rumoured to be weary of outsiders but generally friendly, once trust is established. The city center is built on more than a dozen large rafts, some of them as large as 400 feet across, all held together by massive suspension bridges and walkways. Surrounding the central rafts are almost a hundred smaller rafts, each supporting the house structures of one or more families. The ruler of Kron, an aged captain with the pretentious title of 'King' One-Eye, oversees the city's daily affairs from his estate on the largest raft in the centre of the city. Here, he sits on the Throne of Kron - a massive, green marble seat shaped like the hand of some forgotten sea god.

- Thaoldaw Kaseld, chronicler of Clan Corser

The city of Kron

South of the islands of Minrothad Guilds, a mysterious city built of rafts floats on the tides and currents. It never reaches land - perhaps this is another effect created by the artefact known as the Throne of Kron, which stands in the central palace. The throne is what makes Kron un-sinkable, which is ironic, because the throne itself would sink like a rock, if it fell into the ocean.

The city is home to about 1,000 souls - most of them humans. Because the city constantly moves, visitors are rare but not unheard of. Experienced seafarers, including but not limited to the Merchant Princes of Clan Corser, have learned to befriend the dolphins of the Sea of Dread, who somehow always seem to know exactly where Kron is and will gladly guide to it.

Rulers of Kron
The current ruler of Kron is an aged captain named King One-Eye. In his youth, he was a formidable fighter but due to old age he now fights as a level 6 fighter. His first mate (captain of the guard) is named Falcon (F12). There also is a court wizard named Morak (M12), who has five apprentices and an amber golem.

Daily life in Kron
The citizens of Kron survive mainly by fishing and diving. All the people are outstanding swimmers and with the help of water breathing spells, they venture into the deep after pearls, corals and other valuables or necessities. Their diet consists primarily of fish and various types of kelp, supplemented by goods traded for with outsiders. Fresh water is collected from the roofs of the city whenever it rains and stored in in large tanks. Spilling drinking water is a punishable offence - usually with a flogging.

Firewood is naturally lacking, but for cooking the citizens of Kron harvest different types of sea plants that when dried produce a suitable heat. At night and indoors the city is illuminated by luminescent corals that need to be replaced on a weekly basis.

For crafting items that require a more powerful heat source, the city relies on the potent mixes of the local alchemist, who is also responsible for producing alchemy fire for the tower-mounted ballistae used to defend the city against enemy fleets and large sea monsters.

For all-out defence, the city can also muster 24 war catamarans carrying a pilot and two archers each, and against enemy ships the city will deploy a boarding party of 24 divers using water breathing spells.

History of the city of Kron
I am drawing a blank here. How long has the city existed? Where did the original inhabitants come from? Who is this Kron, who gave the city the throne artefact, which keeps it afloat even in the most severe of storms?

The following is an overview of some of the people and establishments in Kron:

Notable NPCs and establishments

Garimir, local head alchemist and glue-maker
On a large raft in the northeast corner of the city lies Garimir's workshop and laboratory - Kron's famous 'glue factory'. Garimir and his apprentices use the glands of giant jellyfish along with other ingredients and a secret recipe to produce barrels of waterproof, sticky goo, which the citizens then use for a variety of things. Foreign traders have also come to appreciate its many uses and so Garimir has established a formal connection with Cuthbert Hengel, Master Alchemist of Minrothad Guilds of Clan Corser.

Garimir is probably one of the top alchemists in the Known World when it comes to harvesting and using plants, corals and creatures from the Sea of Dread. Few people have ever heard of him, however, because Minrothad traders are very tight-lipped about their sources, when they sell his goods abroad.

Adventurers visiting Kron could seek him out to get his help before going on aquatic adventures. He has a vast knowledge of undersea animal and plant life and therefore also a number of anti-toxins against some of the more nasty things, you can encounter in the deep. If the price is right, Garamir can supply the PCs with waterbreathing items, light sources that do not require fuel or oxygen, salves and ointments to treat wounds underwater where regular bandages are not of much use and even one-time emergency flares (for use on the surface) based on an Ochalean recipe for fireworks, he once got his hands on.

Dock Master Igoa
Igoa and a handful of men run the primitive docking area in the southeast corner of Kron. The enclosed area is only roughly 200 x 400 feet and protected on the two sides facing the sea by a floating wall and a gate mechanism. The docks also include a stables area for sea horses and other aquatic mounts and so can rarely accomodate more than two small sailing ships at any given time (an F5-I port in Bruce Heard's port classification system). Dock Master Igoa is in charge of overseeing everything that goes on at the docks - a dull job most of the time.

Ship Builder Yirav
Yirav is in charge of the large ship building yard north of the docking area. Here, he and group of skilled workers produce and repair Kron's fleet of war catamarans and other small boats used for fishing or for loading and unloading vessels that are too large to dock at the city itself. Yirav also has a number of triton customers, for whom he contructs special sea horse-drawn rafts that can operate both underwater and on the surface.

Zalni, Inn Keeper of The Maiden's Kiss
Zalni is one of the few women to run her own business in Kron - the city's only inn, called The Maiden's Kiss. It is located on one of the large rafts in the western part of the city, just west of the palace and south of the city's stadium. Her inn only has a few rooms for guests that want to spend the night and don't have their own ship, but the ones she have are fairly nice and clean. The food is also reasonable, even if the menu has very little variation.

Much of Kron's economy is based on bartering, where outsiders bring in wares and exchange them in bulk for Kron's goods from the sea, but individuals can also buy goods and services with coin and most nations' mint are accepted. At the Maiden's Kiss there is a limited but satisfactory selection of beer, ale, mead, wine and spirits from Minrothad Guilds, Ierendi and Thyatis but what is on tap can vary from visit to visit.

Since Kron is not under the rule of the Guilds, gambling is legal in this city and it is a major passtime with foreign visitors, who engage in a number of games at the Maiden's Kiss. Zalni has employed a burly fighter by the name of Vamar to make sure any cheaters or troublemakers are shown the door (and the ocean right outside it).

Paewyn's Salvage Operations
One of the wealthier individuals in Kron is the merchant Paewyn, owner of a small diving and salvage operation. He has built his business paying Kron divers for bringing up salvageable goods from shipwrecks and undersea ruins they encounter on their dives, and selling it to visiting merchants. Recently, Paewyn has expanded his operations with a sinister crew of 12 Thyatian divers - cutthroats all by the looks of them - under the leadership of one Joshua Stormshadow.

Joshua and his men have expanded Paewyn's operations by roaming far from Kron in an Undersea Boat and bringing back lost treasures. Most of the citizens of Kron are uneasy around Joshua and his men, but they keep to themselves - many suspect that they are on the run from the law somewhere. They would not be the first fugitives to lay low in Kron.

Another important but not famous (part-time) resident of Kron is Dominic Haaskinz, son of the noble Harald Haaskinz of Glantri. Dominic is following in his fathers footsteps, including taking an interest in the Elemental Plane of Water and Water Elementalism magic.

When he learned of the existense of Kron about a year ago from a Minrothad merchant he met, Dominic arranged for secret passage on a ship to the enigmatic floating city. He used his magic to slip unnoticed into the city and learn more about it. A few weeks later he returned in disguise on another ship, posing as an old scholar by the name of Jolan Tosk, come to find a quiet place to live out retirement. He was granted permission to stay and rented a small barge on the dull side of town.

To the citizens of Kron, Jolan Tosk is a kind old fellow who lives with a middle-aged manservant named Ulard. Jolan seldom ventures out but has Ulard run errands such as food shopping. Actually, Dominic is gone for long periods at a time - either attending matters back in Glantri or conducting underwater experiments to increase his understanding of Water Elementalism.

He is extremely careful - not least because of the Thyatian Joshua and his crew of cutthroats staging their salvage-operations out of Kron. Dominic owns several powerful water-related magic items, which he is certain the Thyatians would love to get their hands on.

His most useful item, however, under the circumstances is an Amulet of Disguise that allows him to assume any medium-sized humanoid form including basic equipment as often as once per turn. Dominic can appear as Jolan Tosk or some other creature, but if he tries to copy an actual person, creatures he encounter are allowed a chance to see through the illusion.

Source: Joshuan's Almanac & Book of Facts, page 144

Plots and Intrigue

The wererat
A wererat recently jumped ship in Kron, having been on the run from Minrothad authorities for some time. He is currently scouting the city in rat form, trying to find the best location to set up a more permanent lair. Since the citizens of Kron have next to no silver weapons, his presence could become a major problem in the longer run.

The greedy High Sorcerer
Morak, magist to the ruler King One-Eye, lusts for power and wealth. Eventually, he will acquire a Ring of Human Control and seize control of the king. By making a deal with the corrupt triton Ulobon and using dark magic, they will force King One-Eye to make a pact with the triton King Lopra of Suthus, in which Kron supplies Suthus' triton warriors with war rafts with which to raid merchant shipping (see X7 - War Rafts of Kron). Morak has no idea what Ulobon wants with the prisoners from the captured ships and he doesn't care.

The Spy
One of Kron's gifted native citizens by the name of Hallar has recently found employment as a local agent of the Blue Eels (see Gaz 9, p.10). His mission in Kron is to gather information about the city's salvage operations and to monitor the buyers of rare items brought up from the deep. Hallar was recruited, because the Blue Eels suspect that magical items retrieved from wrecks or undersea ruins may be working their way into unknown hands in the Minrothad Guilds. With the recent attempt on Oran Meditor's life, the Blue Eels are investigating any possible leads to who might be building up a secret force in the isles.

So far, Hallar has managed to bribe a shop clerk at Paewyn's to report on the comings and goings of Joshua and his men and clients coming to buy Paewyn's goods but nothing deeply incriminating has been reported so far.

Suggestion: How Kron came about

Approximately around the year 600 AC, there lived a powerful pirate lord on the island of Terentias in Thyatis. His name was Kelyr and his greed for treasure knew no limits. One day, Kelyr hears tales of a lush green land far to the south, where the temples and cities are filled with gold idols and statues. Intrigued by this tale, he orders his pirate fleet of 20 ships to set sail at once, himself leading on his flagship, Demon of the Seas.

After weeks of sailing, Kelyr's fleet reaches the coast of the Hinterlands and soon find settlements of isolated native tribes [remnants of former cultures Antalian/Milenian/other] living in poorly defended coastal cities. Kelyr's men plunder and burn and carry both loot and slaves - including women and children - back to their ships. They also bring along a massive, green stone throne, which Kelyr found in a temple. He likes it and intends to make it his throne at home.

The pirates depart the burning cities, their ships heavy with plunder, slaves and fresh provisions for the journey home. Everyone is ecstatic - the raid has been a major succes. But back on the shore, a mortally wounded priest calls out to the immortal patron [???] of the now enslaved people - the immortal whose temple Kelyr and his men sacked and burned and whose "hand" they took - mistaking it for a throne. With his dying breath the priest calls out to his deity and the immortal answers by cursing Kelyr and his men. They will never return home. They and their successors will spend an eternity adrift at sea.

Halfway home the weather changes and a powerful storm, which last for days, blows the fleet far far off course - into the deepest unknown of the Sea of Dread from where ships do not return. Several of the ships sink in the storm and the rest are badly damaged. Horrified the pirates watch, as giant sea monsters emerge from the depths to devour the screaming sailors that are swept overboard by crashing waves.

After 10 days the storm finally settles and the ocean calms. Only 14 of the 20 ships remain and most of them are unable to maneuver or propel themselves, having lost rudders or masts or both. Unwilling to leave his treasure out of his sight, Kelyr orders a few of his most trusted men to take the last operational ship and go for help. They set off to the north and are never seen or heard from again.

Weeks go by and food and water onboard the last 13 ships are rapidly being used up. Some of the pirates start killing off slaves to preserve what little food is left. The slaughter and blood in the ocean attracts the attention of an evil race of sea dwellers [Kopru?], who cautiously approach the smashed fleet, now bundled up together. Through weary negotiations, the evil sea dwellers - who realise that the pirates are much to well armed to take on in an assault - propose a trade: One human sacrifice a week to the evil that the sea dwellers worship [or satisfy the hunger of some powerful being they fear], and in return the fleet of shipwrecked humans will be given enough fish and sea kelp to survive.

Desperate, Kelyr agrees. Even he is not so cold-blooded that he enjoys human sacrifice to the horrors of the deep, but he eventually acknowledges that the arrangement has its uses. As such, not strictly prisoners are traded away to the sea creatures - a number of pirates who might be working up the courage to challenge Kelyr are also draged screaming to the depths to face the mouth and claws of He Who Devours.

Two years go by. The colony of shipwrecked are barely surviving on what they are being given by the sea dwellers. Kelyr has sunk into deep melancholy, realizing that despite his wealth and power, he is going to die out here on the ocean. The colony is close to anarchy, with pirates regularly killing each other over food, water, treasure or most of all - the female prisoners.

There is little the slaves can do to prevent rape and abuse, but the men of the Hinterlands have valiantly tried to spare their wives and children the horrible death of being sacrificed to He Who Devours. And so, they have drawn lots each week to determine whose turn it was to be sacrificed.

One day, a young man named Lerisar draws the shortest straw - he is to be sacrificed the next day. That evening before he goes to sleep, Lerisar prays to the immortals, and to his surprise [???] speaks to him in his dreams, telling Lerisar to rebel against his jailers and the evil of the deep.

The next day, as the evil sea dwellers come to collect Lerisar on the semi-submerged platform, he turns to Kelyr and the pirates and calls out to them. He chastises them for their lack of courage and for not giving him a fighting chance. Impressed with his courage, his pride wounded by Lerisar's words, Kelyr throws Lerisar a sword and a shield. On the stands around the platform, the crowd goes wild, as Lerisar cuts down the two sea dwellers when they try to grab him and drag him under the water. The blood flows in the ocean, and for a moment all is silent....

The whole rotten fleet shakes, as He Who Devours with a thunderous shriek emerges from the sea in a spray of water!! The stench of rotting flesh between his teeth is overwhelming, but Lerisar stands his ground. He Who Devours lunges forward, huge pinchers clicking and cutting. Lerisar dodges but disappears beneath the shallow water of the submerged platform. The crowd gasps and many scream in terror, as He Who Devours climbs further up onto the fleet. Panic spreads. A few pirates try to engage the horror of the deep but die gruesome deaths.

Suddenly, Lerisar emerges from the water, right next to the beast. He dodges a pincher, deflects another with his shield, then with a mighty thrust buries his sword to the hilt in He Who Devour's eye. The horror is slain.

Everyone onboard the fleet of lashed wrecks are stunned by Lerisar's sudden defeat of He Who Devours. As the panic dies down, Lerisar calls out a challenge to Kelyr. The pirate lord appears on his balcony above the submerged platform. He could easily order Lerisar killed where he stands. But Kelyr did not become pirate lord by backing down from a challenge - even one from a slave.

Lerisar and Kelyr meet each other in single combat and after a fierce duel the old pirate lies dead as well. Lerisar orders the slaves to be freed at once and none of the 9 remaining captains dare to challenge the man, who has just killed both He Who Devours and Kelyr himself.

The slaves are freed and quickly arm themselves with whatever improvised weapons they can get their hands on - certain that the pirates will eventually go back on their word and try to enslave them again. Lerisar senses the coming bloodsheed and orders both sides to stand down. An uneasy truce settles over the fleet as the pirates withdraw to one half and the former slaves to the other half of the wrecked fleet.

Lerisar calls for a council of the 10 captains (himself included). The main topic right now is survival - what to do without the food supply from the evil sea dwellers, and how to defend the fleet from the reprisal attack that will follow as soon as the sea dwellers get over the shock of the death of their monstrous overlord. The former slaves know many crafts that are vital to the survival of the fleet in the long run and the pirates are too few and too weak to defend the entire fleet. For now, the two sides agree to put their differences aside and work together for mutual survival. This means arming the slaves with whatever weapons can be found.

Attack of the sea dwellers
Three days after the defeat of He Who Devours comes the attack the fleet has been waiting and preparing for. Hundreds of sea dwellers swarm the fleet at night and in a horrible, bloody battle try to overrun the combined force of pirates and slaves but are defeated - though at a high price. A third of the pirates and half the slaves including many women and children are killed. Losses among the sea dwellers are even greater, however, and they do not return.

In the months that follow, Lerisar establishes a more formal rule over the fleet. The pirates acknowledge his role as leader but are afraid that Lerisar and the former slaves will seek vengance on them for past deeds. One of Lerisar's first actions, therefore, is to declare a general amnesty to anyone in the fleet. This greatly upsets his fellow country-men, who have suffered not only kidnapping from their homes but also two years of rape, abuse and seeing their friends sacrificed to the sea monsters. Wise leaders on both sides recognize the necessity of the amnesty however and help Lerisar enforce it.

Secondly, Lerisar introduces a strict regime with responsibilities for everyone - some are made fishermen, some guards, some craftmen, cooks, healers etc. Hard work keeps the minds occupied. Anyone who violates the law is severely punished and Lerisar measures out justice equally against the pirates and against his fellow countrymen.

The Rule of Lerisar
In the years that follow, life on the fleet is harsh. Of the original fleet of more than 2,000 pirates and 800 slaves, only 500 pirates and 300 slaves remain. Yet, this number is sustainable and through fishing and diving and collecting rain water the fleet manages to survive. Gradually the lashed fleet of wrecks evolve into a floating city, as giant rafts are constructed from the hulls and better accomodations are built.

A conspiracy by a group of Hinterlanders to poison Lerisar and then surprise and kill the pirates in revenge is exposed and the traitors are hung. 30 pirates later disappear on a homemade raft, trying to escape the fleet. After nearly 3 years at sea, both pirates and Hinterlanders start to get philosophical about their existence and the realization that they will never see land again. Children are brought up hearing tales of "Dry Land".

Seeking some kind of spiritual comfort, a small cult of [??? Immortal] starts practicing home-made rituals. A few years later, the young man Falim receives a vision in a dream that the Immortal [??] has found him reverent enough to become an actual servant. And so, Falim become the first priest on board the fleet able to cast priest spells!

With the establishment of a shrine, reverence spreads amongst the fleet's population and the ranks of the clergy grows. Having himself experienced an immortal's blessing, Lerisar is not opposed to this worship but still maintains a firm but just grip on authority.

In the decades following Lerisar's ascent to the throne of the floating city, the pirates and the (now free) slaves gradually form a unified society. Children har born who have never seen "dry land" and gradually as the original members of the fleet grow old or die of malnutrition and the general harshness of the life on the fleet, a new population of mixed pirate/hinterlander heritage take over.

The gender mix is far from equal - 2/3 men and 1/3 women - but because of the influence of the rulers and the church, women are far from treated as objects to be bargained for. Rather, they are elevated to something special and the men of the fleet compete for their affections. Because of this, tournaments are held 4 times a year to decide who is the best swimmer, fisher, craftsman, warrior, climber and so on. The women don't have to choose a mate from among the winners only, but the tournament is considered a good opportunity to display one's prowess and impress the ladies. A large stadium is built next to the High Captain's Hall, where many of the competitions take place.

It is not unusual for a woman in the floating city to take a new partner and give birth to a new child every five year or so. At this time, male children leave the household with their father to go live by themselves (until perhaps the man secures a new mate), while girl children stay with their mothers until they come of age and choose their own first partner (I was going to write "first mate" but... ). From the age of 5, boys are raised by their fathers to take over whatever profession or craft they know.

During the first century of the floating city's existense, a few shipwrecked sailors joined the floating colony but other than that things remained uneventful. Around 700 AC, however, the floating city of Kron, as it has begun naming itself, makes contact with friendly races of the sea and establish trade. This creates a great deal of prosperity in the city, because the sea folk bring tools and items long lost or forgotten among the fleet dwellers. A great deal of the ancient treasure is gradually traded away over the following decades, as tritons and merfolk patiently teach the fleet dwellers about the deep and how to cast water-based magic such as Water Breathing.

When a ship finally encounters Kron in 776 AC, the fleet dwellers are so set in their world that they categorically refuse to leave their raft city - even just for brief trip to "dry land" and back. As Minrothad Guild ships start regularly paying visits to Kron, the fear of the outsiders gradually subsides and a few daring citizens of the raft city do go a way and come back with fantastic tales of dry land. Not many feel inclined to leave the raft city, however, to take on such an enormous outside world filled with so many dangers.

During the 900's, Kron prospers further from trade with "dry landers", raising their knowledge of medicine, alchemy and other aspects of science and trading for much-needed metal tools and other items in exchange for what little remains of the original treasure and what they can salvage from or hunt in the deep ocean.