The Sundered Sea - A 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign
The waves crashed over the bow of the Velvet Lady, sweeping Dresk off of his feet and leaving him clinging desperately to the wheel. He pulled himself up to his knees, his knuckles whitening as he gripped the wooden spokes. As he pulled himself to his feet, the captain felt heavier than his years -seawater sloughing off of his waxed leather longcoat. While each volley of rogue waves sapped away his resolve, he grit his teeth into a wry smile as his eyes fixed on the horizon. I’m headed home again, he thought as he steered into the storm. I’m headed home…
The Trackless Sea is the contiguous ocean which wraps around the land of Sundren. Two major continents comprising the majority of habitable land: the western, smaller continent of the Waning Isle and the larger, eastern continent of Ur’duryn. The leagues of ocean between the two continents is commonly referred to as the Sundered Sea, and is crisscrossed by the passing of scores of Deeprunners travelling between Sunderhold and the settlements on the western shores of Ur’duryn – typically the port of Runner’s Rest.
The Cartographer’s Bane
Aside from the stable and well-established locations of Ur’duryn and the Waning Isle , sailing to any point in between is always a novel experience. Small landmasses, islands, whirlpools – even structures and ships – will commonly appear out of the mist where open waters had been in the past. There is no set amount of time these anomalies will last – some will reliably remain in place for weeks, and some will vanish by the next rising sun – some may disappear as moonlight breaks through the clouds and strikes the water.
Attempting to chart the Trackless Sea in any amount of detail is a fruitless endeavor, though this hasn’t stopped some of the more ‘eccentric’ cartographers of the era – even though nobody has achieved any modicum of success in doing so.
Sailors and Deeprunners who have spent their life on the seas have told tales of spotting the same smuggler’s island they recalled from when they were green deckhands on their first ship decades in the past, or a familiar abandoned vessel drifting past after being missing for several years. This leads scholars and researchers to theorize that the anomalies in the open oceans may be drifting in and out of our plane of existence, or that there may be some pattern to how certain anomalies may appear or disappear.
For reasons largely unknown, the thaumium-infused arcane engines, which drive the vessels of Deeprunners and the city of Sunderhold’s fleet alike, produce a protective aura commonly referred to as the “Thaumium Veil.” Ships frequently vanish during the journey between Sunderhold and Ur’duryn, and recovered captain’s logs nearly always show the arcane engines were disabled shortly before the ships vanish. As a result, sailors and runners making a trip of any significant duration on the Trackless Sea are careful in how they utilize their arcane engines, lest they and their crews disappear as well.
Sailing the Trackless Sea is a treacherous journey, no matter the port of call or the destination. Conditions are unpredictable and typically harsh, with wild ferocious winds and turbulent currents and waves being the hallmarks of most voyages.
Deeprunners tend to favor the routes between Sunderhold on the eastern coast of the Waning Isle , typically sailing due east toward the harbors of Runner’s Rest on the west coast of Ur’duryn. Aside from the fortified settlement of Runner’s Rest, further attempts to establish harbors and settlements on the eastern shores of Ur’duryn have not succeeded for two reasons: first, due to marauding tribes of orcs attacking out of the Gaia’s Jaw mountain range, and second, due to the treacherous sailing conditions involved in sailing west from the Waning Isle . All sailors have heard of the horror stories of rogue waves high as mountains, and spellstorms strong enough to blast a ship’s bulkhead in two.
The Trackless Seas are also victim of the wild magic storms which plague Ur’duryn – commonly referred to as “spellstorms” by Deeprunners. Sailors who survive the experience tell tales of brilliant, menacing green storm clouds which form in minutes – striking the sea and any unfortunate ships caught off guard with bolts of arcane energy and permeating the air with untamed, arcane fury.