Wavecrest Archipelago is a three-island group that forms the largest single Western state, with a population of over 250,000. Its largest island, Abalone, is the biggest island in the West, and all three islands have wide tracts of arable land and a mild, verdant climate. As such, they are not forced to depend on the sea’s bounty to survive, and Wavecrest is the breadbasket of the Western Ocean. The islands are also studded with a number of volcanoes—the largest of which is Hamoji, on Abalone—and these are often surrounded by Wyld zones. Wavecrest is a satrapy of the Realm, so Anathema are unwelcome there.
THE PEOPLE OF Edit
A visitor to Wavecrest is likely to note the large number of women on the islands. The Wavecrest islanders believe that women are superior at land-based industries, so women make up the majority of blacksmiths, farmers, merchants and so on, while men are generally sailors and fishermen. The archipelago supports a small navy, sufficient to deal with pirates and raiders.
Wavecrest is ruled by an elected president known as the Feathered One; named thus for the ancient cape of office he wears which confers wisdom, honesty and forethought on all who wear it according to legend. Aided by a council of priestesses and the mayors of the archipelago’s various cities and towns, his most important duties are preserving general harmony and appeasing the volcano gods.
DISREPUTABLE FOLK Edit
LEGAL SYSTEM Edit
If the volcanoes grow active, then any convicts currently in the jails are hurled into the lava regardless of their crimes. Should this fail to appease the deities, the Feathered One himself is the ultimate sacrifice. As a result, the justice system of Wavecrest is extremely harsh, punishing any crime stronger than public rudeness with imprisonment.
FOREIGN RELATIONS Edit
THE GUILD Edit
THE REALM Edit
SECRETS OF Edit
The greatest current dangers come from Wyld beasts wandering in from the islands’ Wyld regions and enormous sea beasts and deadly water elementals rising from the ocean near the archipelago’s volcanic islets.
The Wavecrest Archipelago is the largest single Western state. The largest island, Abalone, has a land area of approximately 100,000 square miles, and is the biggest island in Western Creation. The other two main islands both measure more than 5,000 square miles, and the entire archipelago supports a population of over a million people. Located toward the south and at a moderate distance from the Realm, these islands seem to bask in a perpetual verdant, sunny springtime.
Wavecrest is luxuriantly fertile and supplies food throughout the West. A profitable target for pirates and a lure to conquerors. Furthermore, the islands are in constant danger from the volcanoes that scar them and the Wyld zones surrounding those volcanoes. While they are kept in check by a draconian system of human sacrifi ces, the volcanoes remain a reminder of the forces of nature that all who dwell in the West must know and fear. Wavecrest’s ports and trading ships are civilized and easy-going, but the inner reaches of its islands are wild and untamed, tribal and lethal. Wavecrest may be peaceful and prosperous, but as is the case with all the West, the archipelago has its own dangers.
The Wavecrest Archipelago was not founded, as such; it merely expanded, with savage tribes worshipping the volcano gods and swelling outward into the green land and thriving seas. While there has always been enough food to survive on, the islands were not as fertile as they are now, and the islanders were forced to support themselves by fi shing and raiding as well.
Different tribes worshipped the different volcano gods and warred on each other. Bounded by the limits of primitive ships, the tribes directed their aggression at each other rather than outward.
Solar savants and engineers in the First Age sought a way to increase the islands’ fertility, seeing Wavecrest as a potential breadbasket that could serve the other Western islands and also supply Solar expeditions further into the West and the deep Wyld. Their efforts, though now lost to history (though see “Volcanic Fertility,” p. 27) met with success. However, though this turned Wavecrest’s industry from raiding to farming, it didn’t dampen the incessant feuding. Tribe still battled tribe, and their numbers grew with the increased fertility that the soil could now support.
The Solars intervened again. Eclipse Caste diplomats called together the volcano gods in a mighty council that left the ground black with obsidian for centuries. The Solars promised that the gods would still receive their sacrifi ces, but insisted that the gods declare peace between the tribes. The leader of the largest tribe on Abalone was brought forward, clad in a mantle made from garda bird feathers, and surrendered his name to become the Feathered One, who would rule all Wavecrest under Solar guidance. The volcano gods grumbled, but were eventually forced into compliance by Solar eloquence and threats and Sidereal political pressure in Yu-Shan.
It took a while for the tribes to accept peace. Petty wars continued for decades, but attention slowly shifted from internal aggression to external trade. The new fertility of Wavecrest’s soil had become a major factor in the West; with distribution coordinated from the Coral Archipelago in the north, and facilitated by First Age creativity, Wavecrest found itself undergoing an industrial revolution. The people developed new shipbuilding techniques and crew organization schema. The men of Wavecrest became proud of their new standing in the West, while the women found themselves with a higher place in society than most Western women, due to the importance of Wavecrest’s agriculture.
The entire West was shaken by the Usurpation.
Battles shattered the geomantic network and destroyed surrounding islets. Wavecrest was forced to fend off raiders who saw the archipelago as a soft target and a convenient base. The Feathered One declared allegiance to the Shogunate in hopes of protection, but was disappointed by the lack of actual assistance.
The Great Contagion was a disaster. Corpses rotted in Wavecrest’s fields, and dead bodies choked the harbors.
The volcano gods themselves raged at the devastation to their islands and the invading Fair Folk, and streams of lava flooded across both land and seabed.
With the arrival of the Scarlet Empress, Wavecrest was again quick to swear allegiance, but in return for prompt tribute and undisputed fealty, the Feathered One requested a light hand by the satrap and as much non-interference as possible. The Scarlet Empress readily agreed, having more urgent business with the Scavenger Lands.
Within the last 100 years, Wavecrest has become conscious of the growing threat posed by the Coral Archipelago. What was once simply a matter of pirate raids has now become a full-scale trade war backed up by raiding. In response, Wavecrest originated and still supports the Western Trade Alliance. The recent disappearance of the Scarlet Empress and rumblings of war from the Realm have caused further concern, as has the Silver Prince’s appearance on Onyx.
The vast untamed stretches of Wavecrest’s interior still nurture tribes that have never seen the sea except in tales, and whose worship of the volcano gods continues unabated by social pressure or civilization.
The politicians and merchants of Wavecrest work to solidify their hold on trade throughout the West, while the Feathered One mollifi es politicians and negotiates alliances. The veneer of civilization that covers Wavecrest, with its open attitude and friendly reception, is a thin one; at the heart of the archipelago, the volcanoes still burn.
The Wavecrest Archipelago consists of three large islands, and dozens of tiny islets surrounding them. The little islets lack the extreme agricultural productivity of Abalone, Halcyon and Pearl, but have chosen to ally themselves with the larger islands and be considered part of Wavecrest for two main reasons: improved trade conditions and reduced raiding. Since raiding between members of Wavecrest is illegal (though it does still happen), many local islets join up for protection against their neighbors.
The climate of the Wavecrest Archipelago is mild and pleasant all year round. Rainstorms are frequent but light, and true storms are rare, occurring mostly in winter. Natives shrug the weather off, working in the rain with wide hats of braided leaves covering their heads. Sometimes, at the height of Calibration, it snows over the largest volcanoes; this is considered a good omen for the coming year. On such occasions, groups of priestesses collect snow from the slopes, and scatter it on crowds at festivals.
Wavecrest’s intensely fertile soil supports large forests of breadfruit, mangoes, guavas, walnut, mahogany, teak, banyan, maize, bananas and other fruit trees. Pigs, goats and chickens grow fat on leftovers, and the local fishers bring in fish of all kinds, as well as harvesting kelp and other seaweeds. While Wavecrest’s biggest export is food, wood, pearls and coral all come in abundance from the islands and the sea. The one thing Wavecrest lacks is significant metal resources; the islands have some iron and gold deposits, primarily on Halcyon, but have to import most of what they use for shipbuilding, weapons and jewelry.
Abalone is the largest and southernmost of the three main islands of the Wavecrest Archipelago. This island, the home of the Feathered One himself, the ruler of Wavecrest, also serves as headquarters for the Wavecrest Navy and houses the main temple of the priestesses who appease the volcano gods. The volcano Hamoji is at the heart of the island, and a half-dozen other volcanoes are dotted across Abalone, dominating the landscape. The island’s forests are mostly located on the western side of the island, facing out toward the deep ocean, and across the center of the island, while the open tracts of farmland lie on the east. While the farmlands are slowly expanding into forest territory, this has not yet become a significant issue. Wide tracts of tribal territory and Wyld zones lie in the heart of Abalone, despite its cosmopolitan exterior. Dozens of small villages are spaced throughout the island, but the fi ve main cities are all port towns rather than inland ones.
The main cities on Abalone are Seahaven, Gullwing, Gateway and Diver’s Joy. The first three are centuries old. Diver’s Joy is comparatively new, having grown up around the pearl-diving trade; the Guild is surreptitiously patronizing the town, hoping to build it up into a major center for trade, in order to get a major foothold on Wavecrest and weaken the Western Trade Alliance. Of the other cities, Gullwing might better be referred to as a town, but the inhabitants consider it a city.
Seahaven is Wavecrest’s largest and oldest port, lying on the east coast of Abalone. Seahaven contains the Feathered One’s palace, the Realm embassy, the Wavecrest Navy headquarters and the biggest prisons on Abalone. The buildings are of stone and wood, faced with tiny nacre tiles in the better part of town and whitewashed in the cheaper districts, and roofed with slate or thatch. The buildings sprawl into large compounds rather than rising to multi-storey heights, and brightly colored awnings overhang the streets and courtyards. Deep gutters mark the center of the paved streets, dug to carry off the fl ow of water from the frequent showers. Ancient trees grow on street corners, often serving as important local landmarks.
Women walk openly in the streets, and female carters and laborers bring food and timber into the city from farms across the island. The mayor of Wavecrest is Cyretha, a woman from a respected family of farmers, who has managed to win the respect of local sailors by publicly leaving all management of the docks to her male second-in-command, Jathin. Behind the scenes, she and Jathin cooperate, but in public, she disassociates herself from all sea-related business, confi ning herself to land-related problems and laws.
Gateway lies on the northeast coast of Abalone and serves as headquarters to the Western Trade Alliance.
Much of the food that Abalone produces passes through here on its way to other islands. The city is laid out for the convenience of merchants, from the big alabaster-walled trade exchange on the Mormer Promontory overlooking the sea to the wide streets built for loaded wagons to the busy markets, where captains chaffer for cargoes. Gateway is a very cosmopolitan town, capable of handling visitors of all types, from Lintha to deathknights. If the merchants there can’t obtain a particular thing, then they’ll know who can, or be able to order it from elsewhere in the archipelago.
The mayor of Gateway is Petrin Clubfoot, who, due to his deformed right foot, has spent all his life ashore. He is quite adroit at handling merchants and sailors.
Law in Gateway is less harsh than in the rest of Abalone. The normally rapid sentencing and imprisonment of criminals, for possible sacrifi ce to the volcano gods, caused diffi culties with foreign crews and important visitors. The legal system now extracts fines for offenses of lesser assault, theft, damage to property or killing in self-defense. Either the criminal pays the fine himself, or the captain of his ship pays it. If neither can pay, then the criminal is imprisoned in the usual manner. In some cases, if the judge is bribed and the foreign criminal has no important connections, then the criminal won’t get the option of a fine.
Diver’s Joy, on the southwest of Abalone, is a young city. The actual docks are comparatively narrow, extending some distance out so that they can handle heavy ships as well as small light ones. There are local ordinances forbidding fi shing and casual sailing around the pearl beds; the only boats allowed there are the small coracles that the pearl divers use. The town is dominated by the masculine pursuit of pearl diving.
Of late, however, sea monsters have been attacking by night; oyster beds have been found stripped bare, and some pearl divers have gone missing. The Guild has offered to bring in professional hunters and guards, but the mayor (Shamshung, a locally respected elder who retired from pearl diving after losing an arm to a siaka) has so far politely refused.
Gullwing looks out toward the far West and has launched dozens of voyages of trading and exploration into the Wyld—usually Guild-run and Guild-fi nanced, but occasionally organized by adventurous brotherhoods of Terrestrial Exalted. Of late, such expeditions have become few and far between, as both the Guild and the Dragon-Blooded have more immediate uses for their jade and time. Gullwing is also the port that many of the smaller islets to the west of Abalone use when visiting the island, making it one of the most tradition-bound areas of all Wavecrest. While particular islet customs may vary, most islets have strong views on the place of women, the danger of foreigners, the threat of the deep Wyld and the general untrustworthiness of the rest of the world. Visitors from these islets take offense easily and haggle over every coin they spend, or every item they barter. Gullwing also keeps watch for incursions from the Wyld or Fair Folk invasions.
Few as these may have been, there are always watchmen in the high towers that crown the port, keeping their eyes on the distant West. Gullwing’s mayor is Elsed, a retired ship’s captain and explorer. He has an unusually male-heavy personal staff due to the need to deal with islanders from further west.
Mount Hamoji, the central volcano of Abalone, is surrounded by miles of the Wyld’s Bordermarches. The caldera is a Middlemarch. As a result, it changes shape, its silhouette on the horizon never constant from week to week (or even day to day during full moons).The Black Temple lies to the east of the Wyld zone and is the main chapterhouse of the priestesses of Wavecrest. Young priestesses are brought there to honor Hamoji (even if this requires sea travel from another island in Wavecrest), and old ones often retire there. The temple, a forbidding edifi ce of ebony and obsidian, contains worship fanes, holding cells for prisoners, instruction areas for novices and isolated cells for private meditation.
The temple is surrounded by farmland cultivated by the priestesses. Many of the priestesses who dwell here are burly, combat-trained women who practice wrestling among themselves, and who are quite capable of managing the struggling prisoners when they are dragged up the volcano. The priestesses keep wards around the edge of the Wyld zone, and patrol regularly to deal with escaped Wyld mutations or dangerous incursions.
To the north of Abalone is Halcyon. Less than a tenth of Abalone’s size, Halcyon is an island of breathtaking beauty, filled with gardens and farms, home to thousands of species of fl owers and exotic birds, famous for its hospitable inhabitants. Even the volcanoes on Halcyon erupt less frequently than those of Abalone and Pearl. The two islands on either side of Halcyon shield it from storms, hurricanes and raiders, and the island simply enjoys the benefi ts. Most of the goods that Halcyon produces are shipped to Abalone or Pearl, and then exported outward from there.
Many prominent Wavecrest sea captains have luxurious mansions on Halcyon, with private docks, servants and concubines, away from the hazards and troubles of life on Abalone or Pearl. The inhabitants (and, elsewhere, the Feathered One) are less enthusiastic about foreigners or Exalted buying homes here, but so far, good behavior and fi nancial generosity has quieted any concerns. Peleps Kaizoku Bemantis, a privateer for the Realm with a record of successes against Coral privateers, owns a home here and is locally popular.
However, there is growing ill feeling between the poor who work the farms and the rich who live in the mansions. This was less defi nite when only Wavecrest captains had mansions here, but over the last century, as foreigners and Exalted began to purchase property on the land or to buy entire plantations and turn them into private estates, the level of animosity has grown.
The Guild has infi ltrated agents among the laborers in order to stir up discontent, as it has long-term plans to bring a small mercenary army onto the island in order to seize a large area of land and fortify it. The mercenaries will claim to be acting independently but will seize what goods they can and sell them via the Guild, thus damaging Wavecrest’s monopoly and increasing the Guild’s market share.
Aside from staple crops, Halcyon’s plantations produce drugs, such as maiden tea, hashish and coca, as well as a few more exotic Wyld-descended specimens. The plantations are worked solely by women, and the normal feelings about men doing land-based work apply even more strongly here. The plantations are located toward the center of the island, well away from the sea, and are guarded by trained attack dogs and killer apes (gorillas fitted with iron claws and trained to attack strangers) as well as human wardens. Peleps Kaizoku Bemantis sees potential for his House to exploit this industry; he intends to have a fl eet of ships from his House raid the island while masquerading as Coral pirates at the height of the drug-harvesting period. He is unaware of the Guild’s plans, as they are unaware of his.
The island has two main ports, as well as the many minor private docks and harbors: Rockmouth on the southeast coast and Crescent to the northeast. Rockmouth is the more dangerous of the two ports, due to the neighboring cliffs; only a daring captain would attempt entry during a storm. The mayor of Rockport is Tirello, an optimistic man whose good nature tends to disarm all opposition. Crescent is more cosmopolitan, and is used to receiving travelers from outside Wavecrest. Its mayor is Dannisam, a retired captain from the Western Trade Alliance. Though respected for his naval experience, Dannisam is deeply paranoid, seeing Coral spies around every corner, and his recent legal reforms are making Crescent’s more foresighted citizens nervous.
Pearl is the northernmost of the Wavecrest Archipelago’s large islands. Much of the Wavecrest Navy is based here, in expectation of attacks from hostile forces. Besides the usual farms and plantations, and deep jungle interior, Pearl also serves as the training ground for Wavecrest’s army and state navy. Young men from across Wavecrest come here to serve for fi ve-year terms, and to learn how to fi ght. Many trading vessels seek crews trained on Pearl. Pearl also houses the School of Wavecharters, an informal association for training cartographers and navigators. Headed by Belmani One-Eye, the association attracts student from all over the West, and has even been known to take pupils from Coral, if they demonstrate suffi cient talent and desire to learn. The one standard is excellence.
The main towns on Pearl are Goldsails, Starfall and Windgate. There are also a dozen volcanoes across the island; the largest is Amanji, but the most notorious is Venestoro. Venestoro is in the north of the island, near Windgate, and incoming sailors have come to navigate by the volcano’s plume of smoke. Irritable and always on the brink of eruption, Venestoro requires twice as many sacrifi ces as any other volcano in Wavecrest.
Goldsails is on the southwest coast of the island, facing toward Halcyon. Goldsails is a quiet port city, enlivened by the frequent arrival of privateers and private craft looking for somewhere to hide. Though Wavecrest’s ships are usually traders or navy, a number of pirates and other gentlemen of private enterprise also operate from there. When a privateer is on the run from Coral, or from other nations, Goldsails is a convenient place to shelter. The locals are used to fencing goods, supplying and mending ships and entertaining privateer crews. The mayor of the town, Orass (or as he is generally known, Orass the Bastard) is an outcaste Wood Aspect whose skill with a bow is legendary. He’s held the position of mayor for 50 years and looks set to hold it for another 50. He doesn’t tolerate disorder in his town, handing out jail sentences quickly and plentifully. He also loathes the Immaculate Order, but Wavecrest’s satrapy status means that he is limited in the actions he can take against them; any Immaculates in town are watched closely by guards looking for an excuse to arrest the monks.
Starfall lies on the southeast of Pearl and is the oldest of the three ports. Legend has it that a star fell there from Heaven, marking the port with a sign from the gods. (According to Sidereal records, there is a starmetal meteor buried somewhere under Starfall, but due to a misweaving in the Loom of Fate at the time, nobody has yet been able to locate the meteor.) The fact that the port is one of the most perfectly formed natural harbors in Creation didn’t hurt matters. Most trade to and from the Realm or the South comes in through Starfall, and as a result, there is a heavy Realm presence, which eases the burden on the town guard. The two cooperate well, as the Realm appreciates Wavecrest’s tranquility and food trade, and the town is peaceful. The mayor is Erwis Clansten, an old merchant, but he is substantially assisted by Tramnisa, a Tya in her 60s and happy to spend most of her days on shore. Part of her success as Erwis’s unoffi cial assistant lies in her ease at dealing with female Realm representatives or sailors.
Windgate lies on the northwest of Pearl, facing up into the chain of islands that form the Neck. In addition to being a trading center, Windgate also acts as the main port and training ground for the Wavecrest Navy and houses the School of Mapmakers. The shipyards near Windgate are constantly busy, and the town itself is surrounded on the land side by forests rather than the usual farms. Storms are frequent here, and when they blow up, the prevailing wind always blows directly into the harbor, stripping tiles from roofs and flowers from trees. Natives have grown proud of this, and local sailors refer to the wind as “Old Grandfather.”
The mayor of the town is Ensan Sailmaker, whose family owns one of the biggest shipyards; his second-in-command is Mirosa Woodkin, a woman related to half the local tree plantation owners, who has to struggle to balance the port’s needs against the plantations’ ability to supply them. The two work well together, but argue frequently and violently.
There are a number of notable islands included in the Wavecrest Archipelago, known to outsiders and to Wavecrest traders for the goods they produce or for their particular customs. Among such islets are the following:
- Balderao, known for the rugs its natives weave from dried seaweed through a secret process of softening.
- Small Rock, where cormorants in all colors of the rainbow can be caught and tamed.
- Auragik, where the shells of ormers can be used to trap songs and stories recited into them.
- Tofanis, whose sailors have been bringing black jade samples to market for the last year, and who clearly know the location of a large jade deposit.
- Dreamwhisper, which teams with spiders, and whose natives keep large spiders as pets, letting them run around on the people’s bodies.
- Strange Goddess, an island close to a Wyld zone; the islet’s natives bring in opaline coral to market but are clearly more Wyld-twisted each time they visit.
ISLANDERS AND CUSTOMS
The islanders of Wavecrest are widely parodied as a nation of farmers, merchants and shopkeepers. Those who do so make the error of assuming that the civilized exterior crust of the islands represents the volcanic interior. Just because the volcano gods were forced to declare a truce, or the outer cities and ports of the islands engage in polite trade, does not mean that the islanders have lost their hot warlike spirit. Grudges are still grudges, war is still war, and insults are remembered and avenged. The people of Wavecrest have been invaded and attacked for their fertile lands too often to ever trust in peace again, and whether they conquer through trade or through force of arms, they intend to be sure of their own safety by dominating the West.
Wavecrest natives tend to have skin ranging in color from bronze to gold, and hair in dark shades of purple and black. In winter, both genders wear sturdy clothing, with canvas jackets over cotton shirts and trousers or dresses; in summer, men often go barechested in cotton trousers, while women wear loose skirts and breast-bands, and young children wear simple tunics. Women wear fl owers in their hair, and jewelry of coral or pearls with copper, while men prefer heavy necklets or bracelets of copper or gold. Tattoos are common among men and Tya, but are considered unlucky on women.
In casual conversation, Wavecrest natives are polite; this is due to the frequent wars between tribes in the past, when insults were part of the scaling-up from occasional raids to full-time feuds and open warfare.
An actual shift from politeness to curt speech or even rudeness is a sign that a Wavecrest native is seriously annoyed and actively escalating the situation.
Government in the Wavecrest Archipelago is fi xed by centuries of tradition. The mayors of towns are elected by popular acclamation, and they in turn vote on the selection of the Feathered One. Unpopular mayors quickly fi nd themselves bankrupted as all the trade moves elsewhere. Mayors can be male or female; mayors of port towns are more often male, and mayors of inland towns more often female, but this is not always the case. Tya cannot hold public office, but can serve as private advisors.
The Feathered One is the elected president of the Wavecrest Archipelago. He is named for his ancient cape of office; woven from the feathers of garda birds, and fringed with feathers from seven species of local birds, the cape is said to confer wisdom, honesty and forethought on the bearer. What’s certain is that the cape protects the wearer against assassins, becoming as hard as jade (+12L/+14B soak) and bearing the wearer aloft on great feathered wings (fl ight at three times the bearer’s dash speed), all with no commitment cost. The smaller islets have no voice in the election of the Feathered One. Their discontent was suppressed in the past, with the Feathered One and the council seldom mentioning it, and even then always as a minor issue. With the current unrest, some island-dwellers are looking for a position of strength and forming a coalition to gain a voice. Others are even more politically radical (particularly the ones without nearby volcanoes), demanding open voting, representation of all islets and even rotation of the office of Feathered One among the different islands of the Wavecrest Archipelago.
The duties of the Feathered One are to promote commerce, maintain harmony among the islands and select an admiral to lead the fl eet in time of war. The Feathered One also acts as offi cial representative for the archipelago’s dealings with other powers, such as the Realm or Skullstone. Finally, in the event of continued volcanic eruptions that cannot be quenched by lesser sacrifi ces, it is his duty to throw himself into the volcano Hamoji at the heart of Wavecrest. The last such sacrifice occurred more than 50 years ago, but everyone elected to this high office knows that he may be called upon to give up his life for Wavecrest.
The current Feathered One was once named Broknan and was the captain of a successful trading fleet. He was surprised to be elected to his position, but has held it for 10 years, mingling diplomacy with caution and occasional brilliance. He is intelligent and always on the lookout for a good deal. He sees the current situation as full of opportunity, as the unrest and turmoil in the West will allow him to increase its dependence on Wavecrest’s supply of food.
He has cut back on the regular tribute to the Realm and is plowing most of the tribute into Wavecrest’s navy. However, he has been forced to use some of the tribute to put down attempts by smaller islets to claim independence from Wavecrest.
The Wavecrest Council—made up of mayors from more than 100 towns across the archipelago and three senior priestesses—convenes on the death of the previous Feathered One to debate on the selection of a new one. They remain in confi nement until they have agreed upon a name. The new Feathered One is not permitted to refuse the honor. He must surrender his previous name and any offi ces or rank, and come to Abalone at once to take up the position. Although he may keep his wife and family, all his personal money goes into the public treasury. He lives the rest of his life as the Feathered One, unless injury or illness makes him mentally unfi t for the position—and in that case, many previous Feathered Ones have chosen to throw themselves into Hamoji. There is no political route for removing an unsuitable or incompetent Feathered One. However, if his actions threaten the safety of the archipelago (as opposed to mere private debauchery) then the volcano gods, spurred on by the prayers of their priestesses, will demand his sacrifice.
LAW AND CRIME
The justice system of Wavecrest is an outgrowth of the sacrifi cial customs, designed to provide the necessary human material. Anyone convicted of a crime more serious than public rudeness must spend time in the local prison. Terms range from a week for petty theft or minor vandalism to years for such crimes as murder, treason or piracy. (Piracy against Wavecrest or Wavecrest’s allies, that is; piracy against enemies is heroism, not a crime.) The head of the town guard in each town is responsible for the prisons as well as for maintaining law and order.
The prisons are clean and safe, and the convicts well fed, since the volcano gods take offense at blemished or mistreated sacrifi ces. In the past, when prison guards were caught abusing prisoners or stinting food to line their own pockets, the prison guards themselves became sacrifi ces. When the volcanoes begin to fume and mutter, the priestesses come to choose sacrificial victims. Serious offenders are picked before minor ones, but the prisons can be swiftly cleared of residents if the volcanoes are particularly active. Only the end of a prisoner’s term can save him from this horrible death.
As few locals wish to risk being fed to the volcanoes, the people of Wavecrest are unusually law-abiding. To attempt to escape from prison, or to assist in such an escape, is a serious crime that automatically receives a penalty of a year in prison (or an extra year, for prisoners still serving their sentence).
If a victim is found to be innocent after he was sacrificed, then the priestesses of the volcano that he was thrown into pay restitution to the victim’s family.
Traditionally, no punitive action is taken against the guards—an attitude that has caused riots in the past, followed by mass jailing and further sacrifi ces.
All forms of drugs are legal in Wavecrest, and many types are grown on Halcyon and shipped out from there. However, the offense of “reckless endangerment of others while incapable” carries a short prison term, and no drugs are available inside the cells. An area of each prison is traditionally reserved for those suffering from withdrawal symptoms.
In addition to the standard docking fees, the Wavecrest government takes a fl at one percent tax off the top of all transactions. Tax fraud is an automatic jail sentence ranging from a week to a month. The government currently puts much of the money back into public works, such as road-building, dock repair, sanitation and ship-building. Some Feathered Ones in the past have used the tax monies for their own selfindulgence, and traditionally, no one speaks against this practice, so long as the Feathered One is willing to go to the volcano if he is called to do so.
Town and dock guards keep order in the more civilized parts of Wavecrest, and impromptu militias or tribal war bands in the more agricultural or savage areas.
Rustics are supposed to drag criminals to the nearest town for formal arrest, but are likely to deal with them informally by “fi ning” them of everything they possess and then either chasing them out of settled areas or throwing them into the nearest volcano on the principle that the gods never object to extra sacrifices.
Calathis, head of the town guard in Seahaven on Abalone, is also responsible for Wavecrest’s spy service, the Obsidian Blade. Some agents of the Obsidian Blade are well known, while others (notably the ones who operate outside Wavecrest, and even in the Coral Archipelago) are top secret. Calathis practices thaumaturgy and has persuaded a number of air and water elementals to carry messages to his network.
Other nations also have their spies in Wavecrest, ranging from the offi cial staffs of various diplomatic embassies to those posing as sailors and merchants.
Calathis has identifi ed some and takes care to feed them the information that he wants them to know; in other cases, he arranges for accidents, or frames them for crimes and then leaves them to serve out their term in prison, and hopefully be first in line for the volcanoes. He isn’t aware of Koigure, the Coral operative who works in one of Pearl’s biggest shipyards; Buodona, the Skullstone woman who is a seamstress in Abalone and works for many of the highest-ranking priestesses; or Per Dimmal, an agent of the Realm’s All-Seeing Eye who has infi ltrated the Feathered One’s private accountants.
Worship divides along gender lines. The major protective deities of Wavecrest are the volcano gods on land and the spirits of the sea and sky. While both genders can pay casual respect to either group, serious worship of the volcano gods is carried out by women, while men honor the ocean and weather spirits.
The volcano gods are worshipped as a family of brothers, all turbulent and bad-tempered, needing to be constantly propitiated so that they will not consume the archipelago in fl aming lava. Hamoji is the chief of the volcano tribe, but the populace honors all the named volcanoes around Wavecrest in daily prayers, led by the local priestess if one is in the area.
In contrast, Wavecrest has no specifi c oceanic patron; the inhabitants merely pay respect to minor divinities when they are encountered. It’s the responsibility of a ship’s captain to make the proper sacrifices or intone the correct prayers and appease dangerous spirits.
The priestesses of the Wavecrest Archipelago have two main tasks: firstly, keep the volcanoes appeased through prayer and worship so that they won’t erupt, and secondly, sacrifi ce victims when the volcanoes do erupt in order to calm them again. The priestesses also placate Wavecrest’s little gods and elementals, but most of Wavecrest’s spirit courts are kept in check by the volcano gods. The order of priestesses as a whole wields considerable political infl uence, and three of the senior priestesses advise the Feathered One. While the priestesses possess a main temple near Hamoji on Abalone and small shelters or shrines near all the volcanoes on the three islands, many priestesses are itinerant wanderers, traveling barefoot across their home islands. Some priestesses even have thaumaturgical training. Priestesses may not marry, but are free to sleep with whomever they wish; touching a pregnant priestess brings good fortune, and many families vie to adopt the child of a priestess. A priestess cannot keep or raise her own child, though she can visit her child if he or she has been adopted elsewhere. If a priestess is caught trying to keep her own baby and raise the child, then both she and the child are cast into a volcano.
Priestesses are highly regarded, but becoming one is difficult and dangerous. Entrance to the order is undertaken as an apprenticeship: a woman seeking membership must gain the permission of a priestess and then travel with her until her mentor considers the novice is ready to be consecrated to the volcano gods. This involves spending a day and a night praying on the brink of a volcano; perhaps two in every 10 novices die at this stage, by falling into the lava, being poisoned by fumes or being attacked by creatures from neighboring Wyld zones. Priestesses never travel by sea if they can possibly avoid it. Journeys out to the small volcanoes on neighboring islets are considered unlucky for the priestess herself and the men sailing the boat; such missions are usually given as penitential assignments. This means that small islets end up with priestesses working off penances or lacking in application.
THE IMMACULATE ORDER
Immaculates naturally dislike the current religious state of affairs in Wavecrest, and missionaries point out how much better life would be if the volcano gods lived in subjection to the Terrestrial Exalted. The Scarlet Empress refused to allow more than a show of proselytizing, being more interested in maintaining Wavecrest’s food output (and its volcano-induced fertility) than bringing Wavecrest into the Immaculate faith. In her absence, however, the Mouth of Peace is permitting more and more missionaries to travel to Wavecrest, and civil unrest is rising as the Immaculate monks spread seditious heresy and the volcano gods demand more sacrifices in return for the Immaculate insults.
GENDER IN WAVECREST
As elsewhere in the West, women are generally forbidden to participate in seagoing ventures. However, the Wavecrest islands are home to substantial landbased craft industries and agriculture, activities at which women are believed superior. This division of labor separates the lives of men and women in Wavecrest, and members of each sex hold power in their own sphere.
The land-based industries are important enough that women have signifi cant infl uence. Men are sailors, traders, fishermen, divers, marines, shipping agents and couriers, or follow similar trades that involve the sea.
Although men and women share the land-bound jobs, women make up the majority of jewelers, blacksmiths, shopkeepers, merchants, tavern owners, cooks and farmers. Unless men are unusually skilled or successful at such professions, or clearly incapable of performing seagoing work, men who hold “landlubber” jobs are viewed as lacking or inferior. Female visitors to the islands are treated as Tya (pp. 38-41), unless the visitors give significant evidence to the contrary.
Wavecrest men and women view themselves as enlightened in allowing the genders to succeed in their proper spheres. The inhabitants point to the existence of the Tya, who originated on Wavecrest, as proof of the islanders’ liberal attitudes. And there are good reasons why women should not be sailors; the existence of entities such as the storm mothers, who actively hate attractive women, is only one of many justifications. Wavecrest islanders self-righteously despise the Coral Archipelago attitudes toward women, viewing such ideas with as much scorn as the people do anything else from Coral.
After centuries of devotion to jobs such as farming, carting and smithing, the ideal Wavecrest woman is well built and muscular. Slender beauties are viewed as good for nothing except bed and ornamentation; a Wavecrest man wants a woman who can manage a productive job and bring crops from the land, and who feeds herself and her family well. Corpulence is not applauded, but muscles and buxom health are what a man expects to see in a woman. Captains and sailors may have ethereally delicate concubines, but the men marry strong Wavecrest women.
SEX AND MARRIAGE
Wavecrest has always been a polygamous society, with one man maintaining as many wives as he can afford. Some men prefer to have a different wife on each island, so that wherever they are, they’ll have a home to go to, while others have several wives living together in a single household; the longest-married wife has authority over the other women. Many of the old farming families work this way, with the wives cooperatively looking after the land while the husband goes out sailing. Men marry early in the hopes of siring children; women usually become established in trade or farming before marrying, so that they can support themselves in their husbands’ absence. This results in young men marrying older women, which helps reinforce women’s power in society and contributes to the relative equality between the sexes in Wavecrest.
The woman has experience that the man lacks, and he must depend on her to support and guide him. Same-sex relationships are common, but marriage is to the opposite gender. This version of polygamy can lead to disagreements about the legitimacy of children born while the husband is away. There are two degrees of legitimacy in a family; the first is children who are acknowledged by both the husband and a wife, and the second is children who are acknowledged only by a wife. Children who are acknowledged only by a wife are known as “Secondborn” (or, as a derogative, “tidesweeps”), and are often badly treated inside the household and forced to make their own way in the world. Secondborn have difficulty finding decent marriages, entering into apprenticeships, being accepted as priestesses or becoming crew on good ships. Secondborn are often bitter and resentful, and many emigrate to the Neck or to Skullstone, or even to Coral. A number of Coral’s most feared pirates were once Secondborn. It is inauspicious for an unmarried girl to be pregnant, unless she is a priestess, so her family will usually arrange a quick marriage.
The islands of Wavecrest were once nearly as barren as the Coral Archipelago, providing the bare minimum to sustain a meager native population.
Using techniques of sorcery and engineering lost to the modern day, the ancient Solar savants built great engines from the magical materials and sank the engines deep in the volcanoes that studded the area.
These geomantic anchors created synthetic dragon lines that linked the engines across the archipelago.
Essence from demesnes that were considered unusable due to their location (underwater or on isolated islets) was diverted to help establish the network.
The sorcerous engines converted the ferocious elemental Essence of the volcanoes into tides of fertility, which spread through the surrounding islands. Within a generation, Wavecrest was able to support fi ve times as many islanders, and the people began to trade with the further islands as a nascent power in the region.
The sorcerous engines needed little external regulation and produced huge amounts of Earth- and Wood-resonant Essence. In an unexpected side effect, excess energy warped the areas around the volcanoes into Wyld zones; the Solar savants added cut-in motonic links to the system to drain and restabilize the afflicted areas.
The cataclysms of the Usurpation seriously damaged this geomantic web. Anchors were shaken, power links were cut off or overloaded and the whole drainage and restabilization system was shattered beyond repair.
The Dragon-Blooded were aware that the early First Age Solars had terraformed the islands, using Wyldstabilizing Creation engines, but the precise mechanics were beyond the grasp of Shogunate sorcerer-engineers.
In any case, few had the time or the funds to investigatean area that was still productive.
As the centuries went by, the land became more and more fertile, and less power was needed from the volcanic engines to maintain the land in that state. As a result, the level of Wyld energies rose, and the Wyld zones slowly expanded, while the volcanoes themselves also became more active. Wyld zones now surround all the volcanoes, including those on the three main islands of Wavecrest and those on nearby islets. This has resulted in a small but constant bleed of Wyld-tainted plants and animals into the native ecologies.
The constant power fl ux among volcanoes has had some unusual effects on the local area, in addition to the Wyld zones that surround the volcanoes. Coral reefs have grown along the synthetic dragon lines between the volcanoes, rising from the ocean bed to the point that some of them have become visible on the surface. While the reefs themselves are not actually Wyld zones, the reefs are the result of motonic overspill, and plants and fi shes can be found there that occur nowhere else in Creation. If the diagram formed by the reefs and volcanoes were to be surveyed from above, a savant with appropriate skills (Lore 3 or higher) could map the volcanoes with buried geomantic anchors, and possibly reverse-engineer the spells that bind the whole structure together.
From time to time, Wyld beasts escape the zones surrounding the volcanoes and enter the uninhabited forests that cover much of the three islands. A few even manage to mate with local animals and reproduce.
Whenever such creatures are sighted, the priestesses and their heavily armed assistants go out to hunt down the beasts. Substantial bounties also attract the islands’ most daring hunters, as well as thrill-seeking Terrestrial Exalted from the Realm. Similarly, Wyld-twisted creatures escape into the sea from the small volcanic islets and must be hunted down by the Navy or freelancers.
The three main islands of Wavecrest cover hundreds of square miles of interior jungle and volcanoes that outsiders never see. The civilized farms that extend inward from the coast never touch the deep forests.
Traders must journey with armed escorts between the tribes and across the jungle, and many never emerge.
Constant minor wars and feuds continue, despite the peace that the volcano gods were forced to impose.
The only ones who can journey safely through the deep interior of Wavecrest are priestesses and those whom the priestesses escort. Merchants come here, and explorers, and Dynastic hunting parties, but the area is far from safe.
Not only does the jungle contain its own native hazards—giant apes, leopards, fl esh-eating bats, swarms of ants, killer bees, carnivorous plants and others—but
the Wyld zones that fl ourish near volcanoes spawn
their own dangers. Even though the priestesses and
the tribes that live nearby do what they can to contain
the zones and prevent dangerous creatures escaping,
the priestesses and tribes are far from successful.
The tribes have no political power at the moment,
since they are scattered and feuding with each other;
the Feathered One and the priestesses work to keep
it that way, in order to maintain their own political
dominance. Wavecrest is the West’s breadbasket. If
the tribes united, they could destroy the West or lend
it an army.
Wavecrest’s navy numbers more than 500 ships,
and is currently expanding, as the Feathered One
seizes the opportunity to direct tribute funds into the
naval purse. Since smuggling is not a major issue, the
Wavecrest Navy’s main duty is to protect the inhabitants
of Wavecrest from all the threats that the Western
Ocean holds. The rivalry between the Navy and the
Coral pirates in particular is intense and vicious. Ten
of the Navy ships are First Age trading craft, which
have been adapted to military purposes and fi tted with
fl ame cannons; the Feathered One reserves these as
an emergency strike force. Other First Age ships that
no longer function are currently stored in caves on
Abalone, guarded in the hope of eventual repair.
CHAPTER TWO • JEWELS IN THE FOAM 29
All sailors and offi cers of the Wavecrest Navy
are male or Tya. Promotions are at the whim of the
captain, and while theoretically they come from merit
alone, nepotism and favoritism are rife in practice. In
times of crisis, the Feathered One appoints an admiral
to command the fl eet, but normally, there is no single
commander, only the separate captains, who are left
to coordinate their actions as seems fi t to them. The
Navy consists of 100 triremes, 300 biremes and various
small craft. In the case of emergency, the Western
Trade Alliance would be prepared to assist with battles
Captain Buruku is the fi rst among equals in
Wavecrest’s fl eet. The Feathered One takes Buruku’s
counsel, and the captains listen to his orders. If war
breaks out with the Coral Archipelago, he is the obvious
choice to be the next admiral. He is six feet eight
inches tall and massively built, with beautiful bronze
skin and purple hair; men quiver in fear and respect in
his presence, while women blush at the sight of him. It’s
obvious that he’s God-Blooded, as he radiates a power
that a normal mortal simply cannot match. Women and
men fl ock to him; he has no interest in the former.
Navy’s size and power, on the assumption that Coral
is taking advantage of the Realm’s inattention and
doing the same.
With the sudden rise of the Silver Prince, Skullstone
is currently an unknown quantity. Wavecrest
lacks its customary leverage when dealing with the
Deathlord and his nation, since the dead don’t need to
eat and the living in the area have enough to survive
on. Although the Silver Prince shows no immediate
signs of animosity, the Feathered One and his council
are wary of the Deathlord and his agents. The fact that
the Silver Prince refrains from allying with the Coral
Archipelago is small consolation.
The Neck and Wavecrest deal well together,
though the Neck has little that Wavecrest actually
wants. Still, the two nations maintain an alliance
and mutual peace.
THE WESTERN TRADE ALLIANCE
The Western Trade Alliance is based in Abalone,
spreading out northward into the Neck; the Trade
Alliance’s members deal on a daily basis with raiders
out of the Coral Archipelago. The sailors of the
Trade Alliance are among the fi nest-trained combat
sailors in the world, and certainly are among the
The Trade Alliance specializes in fast ships and
light cargos. Not even the Guild itself has a higher
success rate for running pirate blockades. The Trade
Alliance favors single, unescorted ships that can outmaneuver
pirates. This makes Western Trade Alliance
ship captains independent and creative thinkers. They
have fewer than 150 ships, all of them small and fast.
What the captains lack in volume, they make up in
sheer audacity, and there is a saying in the West that
all their sailors are men because only a man has the
balls to be a Western Trade Alliance sailor. (This
proverb aside, the alliance does count Tya amongst its
members.) Fifty of the ships are rerigged blue-water
merchants and 30 are biremes; the remaining vessels
are smaller, faster craft, such as fast couriers.
Unsurprisingly, there is a rivalry between the
Coral pirates and the merchants of the Trade Alliance.
While there is professional respect between the two
naval forces, and pirate captains have been known to
let Trade Alliance ships go (minus their cargoes) if the
Trade Alliance captains were particularly clever, both
sides have spilled more blood than can be measured.
The leader of the Western Trade Alliance is the
renowned Master Ciore, famed as one of the most
skilled naval commanders of all time, and notorious
CHILD OF DIVINITY
Buruku isn’t just any god’s child; he is the
son of the god Hamoji. Hamoji has seen the
growing power of the Coral Archipelago’s fl eet,
and wished to provide a worthy warleader for
the people of Wavecrest. He came down from
his volcano in human form and coupled with
100 of the most beautiful priestesses; 10 sons
were born, and the 10th was Buruku. The other
nine sons were tainted by the Wyld energies surrounding
the volcano, and when they reached
adolescence, they fl ed into the Bordermarches
around Hamoji, lurking there to await their
RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS
Wavecrest views the Coral Archipelago with
long-standing vigorous distrust and hatred; Wavecrest
islanders see the inhabitants of Coral as nothing more
than a pack of raiders who constantly attempt to steal
Wavecrest’s food and openly proclaim their intent to
conquer. Any sign of Coral aggression toward anywhere
else in the West is viewed as the next step in a grand
plan of conquest against Wavecrest. The Feathered One
and his council are working to increase the Wavecrest
as one of the most inept hand-to-hand fi ghters in the
world. A slightly plump man who loses his breath at
the slightest exertion, he has tanned skin, sun-bleached
hair and dark eyes. A born sailor and a natural tactician,
he comes across in person as pleasant and rather
harmless—except during naval engagements. His men
love him, and most would lay down their lives for him
in a heartbeat.
EXALTED IN WAVECREST
Terrestrial Exalted are frequent visitors to
Wavecrest, and the population is accustomed to the
Exalted’s powers and behavior. The question of visiting
Dynasts who commit crimes was resolved by the decree
of the same Feathered One who made Wavecrest a
Realm satrapy. He declared that no Exalted could be
sacrifi ced to the volcanoes, since they were already
divinely chosen and thus belonged to the gods who
had selected them. Dynasts who commit crimes are
fi ned rather than imprisoned, and reported to the
Realm satrap if they refuse to submit to judgment.
Outcastes are regarded as unusual but acceptable, and
some have risen to high offi ce—though none yet to
the rank of Feathered One.
Celestial Exalted are regarded with far more trepidation,
not to say outright terror. If they are setting up
a permanent base, then word is passed to the satrap
with a request for Dynastic assistance, but if they are
merely passing through, then Wavecrest islanders are
likely to give the Celestial Exalted anything they may
ask for, in order to get rid of them. If the local satrap
or any of his staff learn of the Celestial Exalted’s existence,
the satrap is apt to attempt the organization of
an impromptu Wyld Hunt from amongst whichever
vacationing Dynasts are available—but he’s aware he
cannot expect timely aid from the Realm and may
be open to looking the other way if the Anathema
leave quickly. The volcano gods themselves have a
long-standing grudge against the Solars, but are still
bound by the oaths that the Eclipse Castes extracted
from them centuries ago. Abyssals receive an unusual
degree of tolerance, since they are assumed to be from
Skullstone, and thus normal visitors rather than deathly
invaders. The Lunars amongst the inner tribes haven’t
made themselves known as of yet.
WAVECREST AND THE REALM
Wavecrest is a satrapy of the Realm, but is ruled with
a very light hand. Wavecrest provides a yearly tribute of
CHAPTER TWO • JEWELS IN THE FOAM 31
goods and jade, offi cially (on Wavecrest) gifts from the
republic of Wavecrest to the Realm out of respect and
solidarity. This legal fi ction, and the fact that Wavecrest
is far from a threat, kept the Scarlet Empress content
and allowed Wavecrest to save face. With the Empress
gone, Wavecrest’s “gifts” are now less generous. The
laxity over the terms of Wavecrest’s satrapy means that
the local Realm satrap (Mnemon Dithrem, a noisy and
undiplomatic Water Aspect whose sailing abilities have
made him undeservedly popular) has less leverage with
which to threaten. The Feathered One intends to reestablish
full tribute and make generous gifts to whoever
comes out on top of the building power struggle in the
Realm, as soon as someone does.
THE CURRENT SITUATION
The Feathered One (and indeed, most of
Wavecrest) can see that the Realm is on the verge
of civil war. The Feathered One doesn’t want to get
involved. War with the Coral Archipelago, or with
Skullstone, is far closer on the horizon, and potentially
far more dangerous.
Civilized Wavecrest stands behind the Feathered
One. Most of the captains and mayors can see that
widespread war will be bad for business. If necessary,
Wavecrest will pull back and retrench, to protect itself,
even if this may cause famine in much of the West;
but for the moment, business is normal, and everyone
is keeping a weather eye on the horizon.
group of five lightweightshipsthatserves
as a fast-moving taskforce
navy, working on the
in-fast, out-fast principle,
then leaving the
larger ships that come
behind to do the heavy work.
Commanding Offi cer: Captain Ballash Manhammer,
on the Silver Gull
Armor Color: Gray and blue
General Makeup: Five ships, each carrying 40 sailor/
marines; unarmored, but carrying swords, daggers and
lightweight throwing spears
Overall Quality: Excellent
Close Combat Attack: 4 Close Combat Damage: 3
Ranged Attack: 4 Ranged Damage: 2
Endurance: 7 Might: 0 Armor: 1
The Wavecrest Archipelago, a Magnitude 6
Military: 3 Government: 3 Culture: 3
Abilities: Awareness 4, Bureaucracy 3, Craft 4,
Integrity 3 (Religious Edict 3), Investigation 2,
Occult 3 (Supernatural Etiquette 3), Performance 2,
Presence 4, Stealth 2 (Spies 2), War 3
Virtues: Compassion 3, Conviction 4,
Temperance 4, Valor 3
Virtue Flaw: Temperance Current Limit: 4
Bonus Points: 30 External Bonus Points: 4
Notes: The Feathered One and Buruku are sorcerers
with legitimacy, while several of the mayors
and sea captains are savants. Wavecrest’s bonus
points provide a dot each of Compassion and
Conviction, two dots of Performance, and its
specialties. The external bonus points provide a
dot of Awareness. In the event of a Limit Break,
Wavecrest vastly increases its rate of sacrifi ce
to the volcano gods, potentially leading to riots
and civil unrest.