Skulls and Shackles Adventure Path
The overlord of the Shackles is the Hurricane King Kerdak Bonefist, captain of the man-o’-war Filthy Lucre, flagship of the Shackles fleet and one of the few ships in the Inner Sea region to be fully outfitted with Alkenstar cannons. Captain Bonefist’s obsession with firearms extends to his personal weaponry—he carries a magic pistol and claims to have shot dead no fewer than a hundred scoundrels, lawmen, and landlubbers since he procured the valuable weapon. He heads a council of pirate lords, each of whom commands his or her own fleet of ships and rules one of the Shackles’s numerous islands, ports, or anchorages. While Bonefist is king by virtue of his possession of Port Peril and command of the strongest fleet in the Shackles, in reality he reigns at the sufferance of the council’s most powerful lords. Tessa Fairwind, Mistress of Quent and captain of the sloop-of-war Luck of the Draw, is a popular figure throughout the Shackles. Rumor has it that Lady Tessa is next in line for the Hurricane Crown, either by acclaim or by force. The mysterious druid-captain known as the Master of the Gales rules Drenchport and commands the xebec Kraken, accompanied by his giant squid companion. Avimar Sorrinash, cruel captain of the brig Blood Moon, is lord of Ollo. When the Blood Moon returns fresh from a successful foray on the high seas, Sorrinash and his werewolf crew often roam Shark Island in orgiastic hunts of celebratory destruction. The disgraced Chelish admiral Arronax Endymion is of lesser importance, but still a force to be reckoned with on the council. He leads a squadron of Chelish mutineers called the Devils’ Own from his flagship, the former imperial frigate Tyrannous.
Most Free Captains command only a single ship or small flotilla, and are beholden to one of the more powerful pirate lords who control the various ports and islands of the Shackles. These lesser captains have the opportunity to increase their station by entering the Free Captain’s Regatta, a grueling annual race among the most treacherous sandbars and reefs at the fringes of the Eye of Abendego. Entrants must be captains of their own ships and pay a purse fee of 500 gold pieces. The course changes every year, and many who enter the contest never return to port, but the rewards ensure a large number of competitors every year—the winner receives the total purse from all entrants, and is awarded a seat on the Pirate Council, as well as lordship of a small island or anchorage. In recent years, the Regatta has not resulted in any changes in the Pirate Council’s membership, as the Master of the Gales has won the last 5 years in a row.
The majority of those who dwell in the Shackles are human, although half-orcs and half-elves are more common than elsewhere. Tengus dwell in large numbers in the region, with many of the cities having sizable tengu districts known as rookeries—having a tengu “mascot” on board is thought by many pirates to bring good luck, due to a popular local superstition that tengus “soak up” bad luck. In the wilder regions of the isles, goblins inhabit many of the scattered ruins of the Shackles, as do the race of savage cannibalistic degenerates called kuru, humans believed to be possessed by the spirits of the ruins’ original inhabitants. Lizardfolk raiders also make occasional sorties from the swamps of the Sodden Lands to the north. The waters of the Shackles are home to sharks, enormous cephalopods, and scattered communities of locathahs. Sahuagin villages are present near the western isles, particularly around Ollo, while water nagas dwell on the mainland’s southern coast. Farther west, feared dragon turtles prey upon ships making the dangerous passage around the Eye of Abendego.
The Shackles have only one true ally—the former Chelish colony of Sargava. In exchange for defending the colony from Cheliax, the Free Captains receive regular tribute of trade goods, including slaves, from the baron of Sargava. Elsewhere, the marauders of the Shackles are feared and hated, particularly by Cheliax and Rahadoum, who bear the brunt of the Free Captains’ depredations, as do the wealthladen ships of the Aspis Consortium out of Bloodcove.
A rumor currently making its rounds suggests that one of the Free Captains has offered to safely pilot a Chelish fleet to the Shackles in exchange for immunity for past crimes. Whether this is true or just a ruse to discredit one of the lords of the council, it’s a well-known fact that Cheliax would like nothing more than to see the pirate confederacy eradicated.