The Sundered Sea - A 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign
The brave, bold, or foolhardy sailors which brave crossing the Trackless Sea in search of cyphers, treasure, and glory are referred to as Deeprunners. At any given time, seven crews of Deeprunners are active between the Waning Isle and Ur’duryn.
The crews come together to form the Deeprunner’s Order, a demarchy of sailors and adventures led by a rotating council of their peers, who in turn, form the Triumvarate. The Triumvarate exists to serve as a liason between the different Wardbarons and organizations within Sunderhold, as well as to adjudicate any disputes between individuals within the Deeprunner’s Order.
The crew aboard a Deeprunner ship falls into a different category of hierarchy and governance than typical ships across Sundren. There is no captain, or single authoritative leader making decisions on behalf of the crew. The ship is ran on majority consensus, the crew forming a family of sorts – each with an equal share in power and say over the direction of the party.
Instead of a captain aboard the ship, there is a shipmaster. While mostly a symbolic title, the shipmaster is generally in charge of the general operation and maintenance of the ship, often delegating tasks during operation of the ship as a matter of necessity. The shipmaster is a mantle which is placed upon one member of the crew by majority vote or consensus, and is able to be placed upon another at any time.
For over a century, each Deeprunner crew has enjoyed some form of patronage from with the City of Sunderhold – primarily wardbarons or other notable, wealthy individual. The cost of maintaining and retrofitting arcane engines to vessels to travel the Trackless Sea is an expensive endeavor, and Deeprunner crews typically rely on the connections and money a patron can provide. What the patrons receive in return is often a private matter between patron and crew, but typically they enjoy a percentage of cyphers returned to the City of Sunderhold, and as such, a percentage of the wealth and fame as well.
Because of the dangerous nature of a Deeprunner crew’s work, an effective crew must be able to come and go through Sunderhold at a moments notice, and must also enjoy free movement through the city to sell their unusual wares.
These privileges might easily be abused, which makes the typical Sunderhold guard or naval officer often suspicious of Deeprunner ships and their crews. However, the powers that be in the city cannot ignore the riches and powerful artifacts these crews retrieve and bring back to Sunderhold, and so an unspoken agreement exists between the law of Sunderhold and the Deeprunner’s Order – commonly referred to as the Deeprunner’s Concord.
In essence, this concord states that (within reason) the comings and goings of a Deeprunner ship and its crew are to be overlooked. This does not mean a Deeprunner crew can sink ships, rob merchants in broad daylight, or get away with murder – rather the crew can enjoy an aura of begrudged anonymity when sailing in Sunderhold’s waters and traveling the wards.
To be recognized as such, a Deeprunner’s outfit usually incorporates a broad, blue stripe on their cloaks, closed with a golden pin of a westward-crashing wave. The sigil of a crashing wave is the generally accepted symbol of the Deeprunner’s order, being a permutation of the goddess Umberlee’s divine sigil. (last link will open in new wiki)
The prestige, status, and relative privilege of sailing as a Deeprunner comes with a cost. In return for the navies of Sunderhold allowing Deeprunner crews to operate for the most part as they please, a Deeprunner crew must agree to serve as an auxillary naval vessel for Sunderhold in times of conflict or attack.
The Deeprunner’s Concord serves as a social-political sort of pact between the Deeprunners and the Sunderhold navy, a compromise keeping both factions in agreement with each other.