Coldforged Civilizations: The Fleets of Brokensail Part 2

I’m rushing headlong into the second year of writing Coldforged Material, and this year I hope to cover enough topics in preparation to print as is possible. I hope we’re in the home stretch. This week we’re going to cover the the second half of the Brokensail Fleets. So, with that, let’s dive in.

Defenders of the Isle

Captain: Lady Adir of Sigl Isle
Flagship: Undeterred
Composition: 6 Ships – 4 Junks, 1 Cog, 1 Cutter

Lady Adir is a halfling who’s laid claim to an old, abandoned keep on an island a bit off the coast of Brokensail, where she has maintained a fairly small fleet of ships at her call. Though she holds the Emerald Chair, she is not the Captain of the Undeterred, the flagship of her fleet. She leaves that more distasteful work to her subordinate and lover, Captain Elshia val Sigalus. Nothing that Elshis does is without the specific and direct information from Lady Adir, and the rest of the fleet knows it.

The Defenders of Isle are much more aggressive than their name would lead one to believe, and they go after targets up and down the coastal rivers of the continent, striking at targets as far inland as they can. They use their superior maneuverability and shallow drafts of most of their custom-built ships to engage and defeat the unsuspecting. They have no discrimination among who they bring aboard the ships and treat each of them with the respect that they earn. Lady Adir, however, is not one prone to mercy, and if you fail her, it is not something you will live to repeat.

Sitting in the Emerald chair, among the judges of the fleets as someone who isn’t a captain of their own ship is an affront to many on the council. That she has purchased the chair simply with her massive wealth and her connections to ships that owe her fealty cause constant friction. However, the size and ferocity of her fleet and her personal alliances with multiple other fleets and individual captains make her a hard target to cross.

Bringers of Carnage

Captain: Bloodshadow
Flagship: Broken
Composition: 17 Ships: 12 Junks, 3 cogs, 3 schooners

Bloodshadow is an enigmatic figure among the Brokensail captains. There is no record of them existing prior to the day they showed up in Brokensail and purchased the Topaz chair with a fortune of the gems. Since then, their forces and mystery have grown equally with their success. A number of individuals have attempted to suss out the identity of Bloodshadow, often by trying to connect their arrival with the dissaperance of another captain, but its never been solved, and those who look for too long end up missing themselves.

Bloodshadow only brings onboard their ships individuals who will pledge a specific and magical oath binding a new aspirant to Bloodshadow and their fleet and Captians. The preferred targets are coastal towns and cities where traders are landing, attacking at dusk or dawn. Their crew is well feared, as the oath also gives the crew members minor magical powers, blending them into the shadows of a dying sun or a fading night. Goblins, mostly, are drawn to service, but some halflings and a few gnomes have also sworn to the ranks. The ships of the fleet often form into three different packs, attacking spread out and taking advantage of different opportunities as they appear. Though the raids are not always successful, Bloodshadow understands that with so many operations, a number are due to fail from time to time.

Though Bloodshadow is part of the council, rarely speaks and often defers judgment when passing court. This keeps them out of the politics until the last moment, if needed, sometimes casting the deciding vote in a 2-2 split, though that has rarely happened. Bloodshadow seems to draw the most competition for their seat, either through direct confrontation or through attempts to stockpile topaz for the seat. They have, however, been able to stave this off through physical prowess in hand to hand combat and accurate information to perform raids and take the stockpiles for their own.

Locke’s Navy

Captain: Admiral Liza Locke
Flagship: The Ironback
Composition: 6 Ships: 2 Junks, 1 Cutter, 3 Schooners

Admiral Liza Locke is the only individual brazen enough to take on the title of admiral. While her fleet is small, it is daring, skilled and unrelenting. Admiral Locke was part of the Killbaran navy, before its fall, an officer that knew more than they let on, held back by her lack of magical prowess. She mutinied with the crew once they learned of the attack on Jeslith, and helped lead the relief ships out from the bay. It was her advice that saved as many as were saved, and it was her decision to stop the flotilla and land here at Brokensail that put them under the thumb of Jet, which she forever regrets.

The crews of the Ironback and the rest of the fleet are the cream of the crop of Brokensail, poached from every other fleet, trained like sailors and taught the discipline and power of a fleet of ships. They take both smallfolk and large alike, accommodating them both aboard the ships, and separating them into crews when they cannot. The Admiral is tolerated because, in addition to being one of the best pirate captains they have, she is also the hound of vengeance for the city itself. When pirate crews or fleets turn their back on the city, when other kingdoms get the idea to come and teach those Brokensail pirates a lesson, when the Gem Court passes judgment and the convicted flee, it is Locke that is sent against them, defends the city, pursues justice. She has yet to fail in her heavy duty.

Admiral Locke loves the open sea, and though she holds the Amethyst chair, refuses to sit on it for long stretches within Brokensail, instead content to pirate and persecute those who are in need of such things. She knows she has a dark job to do, and her family is always in danger because of it, but her forces are always ready to follow her orders, the best trained pirate crew on the ocean, and one that has proven its mettle time and again against Tyndarian, Killbaran, and even Brokensail opponents. Through all of it, she remains fearless.

The Luckless Fleet

Captain: Errol the Jinx
Flagship: Inevitable
Composition: 14 Ships – 6 Junks, 3 Carracks, 2 Cogs, 3 Carvel

Errol has been unlucky her entire life. From birth through childhood to adulthood, a black cloud has followed her, and she bears the scars, both physical and mental, of its passing. However, her miserable luck has never translated to those around her. She listens to the advice of those around her, makes the best decisions possible, and rides out the storm of consequences that follows.

The crews of her ships treat her like a sin-eater, absorbing all the bad luck around them so that they encounter none of it. They pamper her, shower her with gold and riches so that she keeps commanding and leading, regardless of the physical consequences that befall her. Thankfully, her decision making has always been strong, and her judgment sound. Her quality of targets and knack for being in the wrong place at the right time has led her crew to be hardened, tough, and willing to endure travails that others would not because it’s all in Errol’s component hand.

As the platinum chairholder, Errol recently ousted Halfjaw in a magnificent coup, purchasing the chair from under him with a fantastic hoard of platinum that no one knows how she obtained. Since taking over 2 years ago, she’s lead the city in a much more direct way, improving the city directly, creating an infrastructure for a better and stronger Brokensail. Few doubt her sincerity and loyalty to the city, but there are those that rumble she cheated Halfjaw out of his seat, and he will court open rebellion in order to reclaim it. Errol knows that, even if it was to come to open revolt, she would be the one to physically suffer for it while the city survives, a chance she’s willing to take.

The Mage Fleet

Captain: Killbar Cassius
Flagship: Islander
Composition: 3 Ships – 3 Junks

Killbar Cassius is a strange feature among the Brokensail Pirates. He’s a human mage from fallen Killbar who’s taken up raiding as a way to fund his very expensive, prior senator, habits. He loves his expensive wines, foods, women and the island he’s claimed south of Brokensail has all of that and more, and he needs funds to continue to enjoy the life he’s re-grown accustomed to.

The Mage Fleet’s ships are top of the line, upkept and maintained with zealous care. He’s enrolled a number of mages, sorcerers and other arcanists to help his small crews do the heavy lifting against other, larger, ships that often outman his. He’s hired a number of the “bigfolk” but also keeps most of his crews directly from Brokensail, those that can stomach working for a Killbaran. This does mean that he often gets the least savory or the most desperate, or both, crew members who he has to keep in check with a very strict hand. He is known to be exceptionally intolerant of needing to discipline individuals, with a cruel streak in his punishments and, when needed, executions. Those he employes follow him through fear and respect, though in unequal measure.

Though he is gaining in power, Killbar Cassius has yet to amass enough wealth to challenge even the lower rungs of the Admirals Council, though few know if he nurtures an actual desire to do so, though many assume his growing influence simply makes it a matter of time.

The Proper Ships

Captain: Primus Prim
Flagship: Lady Dosa
Composition: 8 Ships – 4 Junks, 2 Carracks, 2 Cogs

Primus Prim is a noble and righteous lady from Tyndaria, some say from a royal family, some from a simple noble one, and some even rumor she’s a Tyndarian commoner passing off as a noble. Either way, she requires her ships to be extremely well maintained, the crew and officers dressed and clothed appropriately to service in her fleet, and her weaponry top-notch and of the best caliber. She tolerates no failure in discipline and rewards desertion with exile, never to be allowed her ships again.

The crews that man the Proper ships are not always a well-disciplined fighting force, but they are a strong force with the courage to follow their officer’s orders. Their officers are cold and calm under attack and are well instructed in naval combat, pirate tactics, and military doctrine of the multiple kingdoms they are likely to come across. The Proper Ships have, by any account, the most educated group of sailors aboard the sea. The crew who sign up for this sort of treatment are often those who seek some sort of structure and stability, which the Proper Ships promise to provide, though at the cost of some individuality. She runs a well-oiled machine in her fleet, and some worry that one day, she’ll have the ambition to take over ruling the city itself. As if that was something that wasn’t already part of her course.

Prim is an enigmatic and dangerous figure to cross in Brokensail and has sent more than her fair share of challenges to the briny deep. It is only a matter of time before she sets her eyes on one of the Admirals chairs, though she knows right now she is not in the shape, either loyalty wise or financially. She knows the day will come, however, and salivates for it.

The Mangler

Captain: Oscal “Tiger” von Raain
Flagship: The Mangler
Composition:1 Ship

The Tiger of Kayan Bay is a special and violent individual, running a crew as ruthless and bloody as they come. While other individuals that work for the city do it for duty, and others feel forced into it through circumstance or obligation, The Oscal von Raain is not one of those people. He, in every shape and form, revels in his work. He is an elemental force of destruction aboard his caravel, The Mangler.

The Mangler‘s crew is one that matches that of the Tiger. They are brutal, remorseless and bloodthirsty. What towns they sack have no survivors, what ships they plunder end up on the bottom of the ocean. Few survivors, only enough to increase the reputation of the tiger. Though dreadful, the crew he employs is extremely undisciplined, barely able to follow orders, and strongly adverse to being instructed. They learn through experience or die in failure. They hold little camaraderie with each other, and when their fellows are killed or die, they are remembered but briefly before they bunk is filled aboard the ship, and the new, green blood is tried and tested.

Though the Tiger is feared and known throughout the waters of Tysis, he is completely disinterested in leading the city of Brokensail, or in any responsibility at all. He leaves most of the ship’s work to his Quartermaster, Igor Bonebreaker, a trusted friend and companion of years, and spends his share on women, drinks, and another more exotic fare. His type of person comes along once a generation, and those with ambition bend the world to their wills. Those without, thankfully, have a much more limited scope of devastation.

The Spectral Fleet

Captain: Pheresh “Halfjaw”
Flagship: Gravetide
Composition: 13 Ships – 6 Junks, 3 carvels, 4 carracks

What bothers people most about Halfjaw is that he is missing a significant portion of his face and that he covers that portion with an ornate and terrifying skull-mask. What bothers them next is that he’s a trained and expert magician and duelist, powerful in both the necromantic arts and swordsmanship. That he runs a powerful fleet of ships crewed by a combination of the undead and the living, following his orders to death and beyond, resolute and full of violence often runs a distant third.

The Crew and power of the Spectral fleet are in its relatively small size of living members to needed members. Each ship employs a necromancer who raises the dead after a fight, uses them as cheap and disposable labor, and then when their utility runs out or they are destroyed in battle, are easily discarded. The crew of these ships is often the dourest and bitter of individuals, given a glimmer of hope of freeing themselves from this dismal life by living long enough to loot a town or ship with enough gold to retire from piracy altogether. Many, though, have such bad spending habits that they might as well be assigned a permanent bunk. There are those, however, that are also extremely loyal to hafljaw, forming an important officer corps on the ships and ensuring that the living and the dead are both utilized efficiently and without waste. These officers are paid a handsome share of the plunder for any ships and towns they manage to loot, keeping them purchased with great shares of gold and wealth.

Halfjaw himself was, until recently, the most important pirate captain in all of Brokensail, holding the platinum chair for the last decade. Then, recently, he was ousted by a combination of conspirators within his ships, within the council, and from outside Brokensail. Those he has found cooperated with his enemies have died horrific deaths and been left outside outposts and the city, with no notes or clues beyond half their jaw missing. Those who ousted him did so to curtail what they saw as an inevitable reign of terror. They may have inadvertently set it in motion.

Well, those are some of the fleets that are important to the City of Brokensail, the city of pirates and cutthroats under the watchful eye of Jet. Next time, I believe we’ll start into a larger series on the Colleges of Killbar, the last of the civilizations that I have to detail the power structures for.

Until then,