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Varada The Shattered Wheel

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A Captain's Plight (click for an introductory vignette.)
From atop the crow’s nest, Captain Ileyra Skyswift watched the ship to their rear and muttered a curse in her mother Elven tongue.
“They’re gaining…” She inhaled sharply and slammed her telescope shut. “Keep a weather eye on that damned storm, Ru.” She grabbed a rope and nodded to the black-feathered aarakocra perched precariously on the topgallant mast.
“Aye, Captain” replied Ru, keeping his focus on the roiling mass of dark clouds off the port side.   Ileyra leaped and expertly swung down on the rope to the deck, landing with a flourish. She made her way over the raised platform at the stern, patting the shoulder of the hulking figure of the minotaur at the helm on the way. She addressed the elven man on the platform, whose arms were outstretched towards the sails, his hands glowing with an arcane blue light.
“I’m guessing you can’t give me any more speed?”
“You guess correctly Captain,” he said with a wry smile. Sweat beaded on his forehead as he concentrated on the spell, magical wind whipping up all around them to billow into the sails. “It’s all I can do to keep us going in this direction,” he switched to Elvish and lowered his voice, “those Corsairs have maybe twice our cannons - what are we going to do?”
“Win,” she replied, fixing him with a hard gaze. “Get below, don’t die. I want as much speed as we can get out of the old girl.” She patted the bannister of her ship, the Waverunner, with affection.   The ship’s mage gave Ileyra a grave nod but did as commanded. She walked swiftly down to the main deck, nodding at Gurban - the hobgoblin lieutenant was a stalwart presence on this top gundeck. The waves were swelling up larger as they neared the storm, and the Corsair ship was coming alongside them with alarming speed. She could now see the crest on it’s purple flag snapping in the wind: a horned face biting down on the haft of an axe. So it was Aradani after all. She cursed again and leapt onto the taffrail, holding a rope for balance.   She turned to address her crew, arrayed in their positions ready to light cannons and fire crossbows:
“Captain Aradani has caught us, Exiles. Hoping, no doubt, to prevent our rendezvous at Elatela.” She watched the eyes of her crew and knew that behind her, the Red Thief was nearly on them. She drew her sabre and raised it to the sky. “But we will show her - that when caught, we are as fearsome as the Hydra!” She roared to the sky, her crew joining her in an eager bellow.   Ileyra turned to face her foe as both ships came alongside one another, each waiting for the perfect moment to unleash a broadside. A mage on the Corsair ship began to cast a spell. She spotted her counterpart on their main deck - vibrant red skin and two horns that curled forward distinctly. Aradani… of course it would be her. Ileyra muttered a small prayer to Ryvsyn “Please, protect my crew - get us through one more scrape,” and she felt the familiar flutter in her chest as a reply. She gave the command with a smile and watched her counterpart do the same and magic and cannon unleashed all at once. Her world exploded in smoke, gunpowder, blood and fire.
Welcome to Varada. A vast nautical world where conquerors, traders, pirates and explorers of all stripes set sail across interconnected planes of lush archipelagos, mysterious reefs and looming ruins in the deep. They sail for adventure, profit, religion or the causes of their hearts.   The seas churn and ports buzz with rumours of all the odd and wondrous things that sail out on the waves. It is said that strange living ships sail from far-off Fey ports, nameless black ironclads arrive on the horizon and the dreaded tomb-cutters of the Blood Fleet scour the sky in darkness, allowing their undead crews to plunder new waters. Everywhere trader ships laden with their mercantile endeavours fear the sign of the Corsairs; the unfurling of a purple flag. And below the waves, forever a threat, are the endless aquatic hosts of Leviathan: massive sea creatures, bizarre emissaries and legions of loyal marine subjects.   This is a new world, and many factions have emerged to lay claim to parts of it, their ships clashing in sight of both humble trade ports and grand flying cities. Empires and Gods scheme and plot as the Wheel turns, recruiting mortals to their causes and religions. And while the mortal peoples strain and struggle against and for these larger forces, the Grey Mariner awaits all of them with the patience of the grave - knowing that in time, they will join her on the Silent Shore.   It is on and below these waters and in these bustling ports, amid the ploys of pirates, the designs of great powers and the machinations of Gods, that the stories of adventurers are also being written. They venture to unexplored islands and sail to realms undreamt of, trying to discover their destinies - as well as what might lie beyond the horizon.

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Varada 5e 1st Campaign

Dungeons & Dragons 5e