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The action begins in Shellspear, the largest of several free towns, nestled in a great deep harbor at one side of a wild, dangerous island. Arms of reef and jungle-covered earth reach in great arcs, sheltering the harbor from the worst of the weather and making its entrance a maze that delays and hinders any force large enough to threaten conquest or destruction. Pirates dock here in abundance, but thousands of less dangerous folk have begun to make lives for themselves outside the judgement and control of the authoritarian colonies that dot many of the largest islands in the archipelago. After the last great slave revolt, the population has nearly doubled, and for the first time, citizens are clearing large swathes of forest further inland, driving away the predators and turning chaotic growth into regimented soil.

Just before the campaign began, the slaves of three colonies rose up simultaneously under the leadership of the Lost Man, an anonymous revolutionary who vanished during the struggle. “He” might have been a man, a woman, a committee, a disguise- nobody knows, or if they know they aren’t telling. Whoever or whatever he was, he organized ten thousand people to strike at the same hour on the same day, throwing off their chains and fleeing across the water to the Shellspear. The revolution was nearly bloodless, which many of the new freemen are coming to regret- it seems inevitable that the colonial governments will come together to strike and restore their oppressive “order.”

Six months before the revolt, the Pirate War swept through all the free towns and left most of them weakened and reduced. By a tradition now centuries old, any waters within a horizon of a free island are protected; you might be raided by pirates the hour you’re out of sight of land, but until that time you should be safe. And that’s how it was, with minor offenders swiftly punished by piratical peers, until one Captain Vertexious decided that he should be an Admiral instead. He formed a “Shadow Navy” in secret and his crews united and struck while already docked in several safe harbors, bringing all the smaller free towns under control in very little time. The rest of the pirates came together in a turbulent but ultimately successful alliance, operating from Shellspear, and pressed Vertexious from one side while the colonial Navies attacked from the other. Officially, the Pirate War ended with the grand public execution of Admiral Vertexious. Really, there are now dozens of crews without ships and thousands of sailors carrying lingering resentments, oaths of vengeance and debts of honor in their hearts.

While ragtag adventurers gather to strike the earth and begin to explore, merchants and criminals alike start to sink their hooks into the burgeoning community, attempting to gain a foothold in the enterprises and opportunities sure to result in the seeming center of the free New World, the Jewel of Emvar both resources and contacts alike. And some have darker plans for this symbol of freedom and revolution from colonial rule. This is where you land- a travelling merchant looking for the next impossible sell, a former slave now aimless after rising up against his oppressors, a pirate looking to strike it big in the dealings of the criminal underworld, and [Whatever the hell Emiliano, Dearborn’s friend and Kiyoshi are].

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