Exploring the Island

Once the characters are on the island and gathered together, they will find themselves on the lower plateau wondering what to do next. An immediate priority will be food as the party has not eaten in four days. After the adrenalin of the landing has worn off the characters are now weakened by hunger. This adds 1d6+0 resistance to all actions. To sate their hunger and shake off the penalty the characters need the equivalent of two days of food immediately. The remains of the rats in the Landing Cove Cave are edible, if not exactly appetising, and count as one day's food. The main source of food is the Forest [L3]. Fishing in the sea will be extremely difficult because of the large waves and lack of equipment. Only at Fisherman's Bay [L9] is fishing practicable and that is in the middle of Forest Walker territory.

The party also has to decide where to go. They saw the Tower at the western end of the island and the smoke at the eastern end. Both of these are signs of civilisation but also unknown dangers. There are also the stone heads to investigate. There is no right option; each carries risks and consequences.

The Residents of Savage Island

Savage Island appears at first glance to be devoid of life. There is very little outward sign of activity, though the Tower and the stone heads make it clear someone or something once lived here. But looks are deceiving and there are three main groups of intelligent creatures on the island.

Fay
Ancient nature spirits.
Forest Walkers
Primitive humans manipulated by the Fay.
Quorakon
Intelligent apes to whom the island is a sacred place.

Fay Spirits

Fay Spirits are the essence of life and beauty, the living embodiment of forests, streams and mountaintops. In the beginning they had no physical form but over time they became self-aware and crafted themselves bodies so that they could walk the world. Eventually they built a great civilisation that spanned worlds and dimensions and were known simply as the Fay. Their power was almost limitless and they explored the deepest reaches of the universe. But even the immortal Fay could not escape the fate of all civilisations - collapse and anarchy. Out of the ashes rose the mortal races: humans, elves, dwarves and many more. Never again would the Fay rule the world. Only the shattered ruins remain to be plundered and built on by the mortal races.

With the collapse of their civilisation most Fay kept their physical form and fled to other dimensions, but some remained and resumed their spirit form. These are the Fay Spirits who returned to the old ways and took up homes in places of natural beauty, including the woods of Savage Island. For thousands of years the remote location kept them safe, but then humans arrived and started chopping down trees. To protect themselves the Fay Spirits used their magics to manipulate the humans into becoming their guardians.

Devils

Deep beneath the island are the ruins of an old Fay complex and some of the creatures that were created to work and guard them. Many of these creatures still live in those hot, fiery depths, completely oblivious to the world above. These are devils. The party will never meet one but in the stone heads [L2] and at The Pit [L6] they can see the effect just one devil had on the humans of the island.

Forest Walkers

The Forest Walkers are a primitive tribe of humans with little more than stone age technology. They rely on the sea for most of their food, supplementing it with very limited agricultural work and some foraging on the lower plateau. As a group they are almost schizophrenic in their beliefs due to the presence on the island of the Fay and a devil.

To them, the forest is a sacred place of worship. The trees speak to the Walkers, summoning them and instructing them to care for the woodland. In return the forest gives ample fruit, nuts and other edible plants. The Forest Walkers collect fallen wood for fires but never harm a living tree. If someone or something threatens the woods the Walkers will have no fear in defending them. Unrestrained savagery and brutality will be used on any transgressors. This is the result of centuries of manipulation by the woodland spirits.

The other side of the Forest Walkers' lives is much darker. The devils under the island have a corrupting influence and one in particular, Badanistrax, toys with the Forest Walkers. To the humans Badanistrax is a god, untouchable and able to perform great feats of magic. Whilst they love the woods, the Forest Walkers fear the devil and seek to appease it through acts of devotion and sacrifice. Numerous large stone heads of devils have been carved and transported around the island as an act of worship but it is at the Devil's Throne & Pit that most worship takes place. To appease the devils, the Forest Walkers make human sacrifices. Unless they are a respected elder, the sick, dying and dead of the tribe are thrown into the pit. In times of hardship the tribe will throw healthy children into the pit as part of night-long ceremonies.

The Forest Walkers are generally intolerant of outsiders. The island is known of by experienced sea captains but it is off the trade routes and there is little passing traffic. Any vessel trying to land on the island without the Walkers' permission will be attacked without warning or mercy. About once every three months they will light the high beacon as a sign they want to trade. Visible for over a hundred miles, well into the trade routes, local sea captains are aware of its meaning. The first vessel to arrive can make a small fortune in one afternoon but if another vessel has already been, the Forest Walkers will act like they want to trade and then attack without warning.

The islanders have only one thing to trade - pearls; and seek one thing in return - coloured glass beads suitable for necklaces. Having no notion of money, the Forest Walkers will exchange pearls for identically-sized beads. Because of this, smart sea captains will carry with them bags of beads worth a few gold in the hope of trading them for equal-sized bags of pearls worth many thousands. This strange trading behaviour is the result of the Fay's manipulation. They recognise that if the wood is to survive, the island needs to keep civilisation at arm's length. Making the merchants think that it is easier to trade for the pearls than take them by force helps in this endeavour.

Forest Walkers use crude stone weapons and superior warriors have sealskin armour. Though they are a savage people, they have few opportunities to fight anyone other than themselves. The result is that they have little idea about tactics or teamwork. Each warrior will simply charge the nearest enemy.

Quorakon

These four-armed, white-furred, ape-like creatures initially appear to be as primitive and dangerous as the Forest Walkers, but any party that attempts to talk before attacking will find them a very useful ally. Long-lived and wise, the Quorakon know more about the island than the Forest Walkers. In fact, they know more about the Forest Walkers than the Walkers know about themselves.

The small community of quorakon is just an outpost of a much larger population far off in the mountains of the Empire. It acts as a retreat, a resting place for quorakon who are ill or who wish to learn the art of shamanism. Most of the population of about thirty are visitors who stay for a few years, but a handful were born here.

The village was founded about two thousand years ago when a quorakon found a beacon similar to the Tower [L13] high in the mountains of their natural home. He sailed with the Nightship for many years until a shipwrecked sailor summoned the ship to Savage Island. The remoteness and dramatic peaks reminded him of home and he settled here. After a few years he brought more of his kind to the island via the Nightship and now, once or twice a year, a couple of quorakons will make the journey between the island and their homelands. Many of the quorakon here are young females who come to learn the arts of mysticism and shamanism. The male quorakon are young warriors, often sent with the females as bodyguards. Only the best warriors are chosen for this role and competition for these rare chances is fierce. Many who come go on to become tribal leaders, not least because many find their life mates amongst the female mystics.

One of the attractions of this island for the quorakon are the twin peaks of Towu'way and Towu'e, named after two heroes from of quorakon lore. In the summer they are home to vast numbers the Snow Ravens. A revered bird in quorakon folklore, being able to take a single feather from a bird without killing it is a rite of passage for a quorakon. In a tradition dating back to the first quorakon to sail on the Nightship, the feathers are used as payment for passage. These can be found at the Crow's Nest [H6].

Relations with the Forest Walkers are tense but it rarely comes to violence. The humans have little interest in the upper plateau and the quorakon have little interest in the lower parts of the island. Mostly they ignore each other. The only trouble spots are the High Beacon and the western end of the Island around the Tower. The humans are no match for the quorakons' four arms and strength in a straight fight but the humans are more numerous. Both sides have learnt to respect the other and generally they avoid situations which can escalate to violence. The closest it normally gets to combat is the humans shouting at the quorakons and the quorakons beating their chests at the humans.

The average quorakon lives twice as long as a human and the humans' history has been passed down amongst the quorakon better than by the Forest Walkers themselves. The quorakon have a little bit of knowledge about the island's history and the Fay, having picked it up from the Nightship. They know what the devils are, that the forest of the Lower Plateau is full of Fay spirits and how that they have manipulated the humans. A few quorakon have even ventured into the island's many caves and, though most quickly came back empty-handed, some failed to return at all.

Quorakon Ecology & Culture

Quorakon are primitive hunters found in cold hills or mountains. Generally they only hunt for food, but if their territory is invaded by creatures they consider hostile they will cease hunting until they drive the interlopers away. Orcs, goblinoids and gnolls are particularly hated for the damage they do to quorakon lands by driving away the prey animals on which the quorakon feed. Quorakon harbour a special hatred for all shapeshifters. They consider such creatures abominations to their goddess and will go to virtually any lengths to kill any such creatures which enter their territory. If they hear of an enclave of shapeshifters near to their territory they will form a war party of all available quorakon and attack it. Other races may be treated peacefully or attacked depending on circumstances and the whim of the quorakon encountered. They are great wanderers and may be found far away from their normal environment.

Quorakon may be found individually, in small hunting parties of two to six, or in tribes which may number anything from twenty to thirty. Both males and females are hunters and are often accompanied by young quorakon. When they become too old to hunt, quorakon who are part of a tribe will remain at the settlement, learning to craft stone, wood and leather to provide the hunters with weapons and other equipment. Settlements may be caves, crudely-built huts or tents of animal skins, or even combinations of all three. They do not build in stone, though they use it for weapons, and they love gems, especially green, white or blue stones. These settlements are guarded by the elderly, any hunters present, the tribe’s Mystics (who rarely leave) and often ice lynx. The most obvious approaches to a quorakon settlement are often protected by simple but brutal traps, such as deadfalls of logs or rocks, camouflaged pits (with or without spikes) and concealed nooses.

Each quorakon tribe is led by the most powerful hunter who serves as chief until another individual shows greater prowess in the hunt. The chief leads war parties to drive out enemies, decides on the type of relationship the tribe has with neighbouring races and settles disputes between individuals. Most quorakon tribes have one or more Mystics who are responsible for the spiritual needs of the tribe. These are exclusively females who undertake special training and serve as healers, diviners and advisors to the chief. They also oversee tribal ceremonies and are equal to the tribal chief in power and status.

Quorakon almost universally worship the moon goddess Jularno. Ceremonies are conducted at each of the four phases of the moon (full, new, waning and waxing). White birds, especially snow ravens, are considered holy since they are believed to carry the prayers of the quorakon up to the moon. Quorakon will therefore attack any creatures killing white birds, even pursuing them into lands far from their own territory. Their settlements often contain dovecotes or other places where white doves are fed and protected. The quorakon consider these an essential part of their community. Additionally, ice lynx are taken as cubs and trained by the tribe’s Mystics for used in tracking, hunting small game and as guardians for quorakon settlements. Most settlements have several ice lynx.

Their culture is intensely honour-bound. In the harsh mountains where they make their homes, everyone must work hard and enemies must cooperate or the entire tribe is at risk. Personal and inter-tribal feuds are only pursued at agreed times, and breaking an agreement or oath is almost unheard of. This trust is also extended to a few outsiders who the quorakon see as being honourable. Mystics have their own magics for performing oaths and taking vengeance on anyone who betrays the quorakon.

Quorakon are rare in the world of Savage Island and it is unlikely the characters will know much about them. Characters with suitable abilities may be able to find out or remember the following about the quorakon.

Easy
The Quorakon, savage four-armed monstrous humanoids occupying cold mountainous regions. Quorakon are relentless hunters, sometimes pursuing their quarry far from their own lands.
Moderate
The age of adult quorakon can be told by the number of azurite beads they wear. Their prowess in battle and the hunt can be gauged by the number of white feathers they wear in their headdresses. They worship a little-known moon goddess and revere all white birds which they consider holy. Their worship is led by Mystics, adepts of unusual powers who also advise the leaders of the tribe.
Hard
Quorakon are often friendly with giants. They dislike orcs and goblinoids and hate any sort of shapechanger, whom they consider to be abominations. However, once trust is established they are reliable and friendly.
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open/oneshots/savage_island/residents.txt · Last modified: 2014/05/23 10:25 by tregenza
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