Flotilla History

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Flotilla History is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.

The Rise and Fall of the Elite Open Seas Mercantyler Corps: Or How the Great Piratical Flotilla was Founded and a Pirate Queen was Born

By Sachraika Arijaka, Sailor and Scholar of the Nathala Dai, with a foreword by Isienaka, Chief Scholar of Atan Irith


With the further exploration of the seas opening in recent years, including the town of Kraken’s Fall, I called upon the scholars in our port cities, asking for new information and stories. What I found was a lifelong sailor from a family of sailors with a penchant for gathering histories and taking copious notes while enjoying life on the open seas. Sachraika Arijaka has sent numerous documents to me, but none more compelling at the moment, than this history of a heretofore mostly unknown flotilla of merchant pirates.

Part history, part legend, part ghost story, part myth... this is a welcome addition to our library. If ever there was a Scholar of the High Seas, Sachraika Arijatk is it.

— Signed this 2nd day of Phoenatos in the year 5121 in Atan Irith
— Chief Scholar Isienaka


My family has lived by the ocean shores for generations; we feel the pull of the tides, the susurration of the waves, the crash of storms upon decks. It is in our blood, our soul, our livelihood. We are a family of fishermen and sailors stretching back to the beginnings of Atan Irith, and we carry on our traditions through story and song.

No story was more compelling to me as a child than that of a mysterious flotilla that was part piratical operation and part merchants’ bazaar. My grandmother took to the far seas soon after my father was born, leaving him with her more grounded husband to raise. The waves spoke to her, the seas drew her in, but the legend of the flotilla held her captive. Fortunately for us, she found this flotilla, and when she came home to visit, she shared her stories.

Gathered here are firsthand accounts from both my grandmother and myself, as well as numerous stories I collected not just from my family but from the many ports of call I’ve stopped at along the way. While I have no doubt there are other stories out there, these are the most prevalent.

A note on my grandmother: she left several years ago to find the flotilla again, and we haven’t seen her since. My next voyage will be to seek out the flotilla and, hopefully, my grandmother.

By my hand,
Sachraika Arijaka, Sailor and Scholar of the Nathala Dai

Founding of the Elite Open Seas Mercantyler Corps

Historical records in the libraries of Nydds indicate that roughly 500-600 years ago, when pirates were prone to picking off an individual merchant ship, a group of several wealthy merchants banded together. Knowing strength was in numbers and hiring maritime protection cut into profits, the merchants instead created an elaborate system of travel.

Twenty of the most powerful merchant houses across several cities signed the Western Sea Accords, forming the Open Seas Mercantyler Corps (“Mercantylers”). Under the Accords, the houses would coordinate ship travel so at a minimum, five ships, all armed, would be together at all times. The houses agreed to not undercut one another, nor to impinge upon another house’s trade specialties.

The days of easy pickings for pirates was gone, and the Mercantylers became known for its elite fleet and low fatality count (and most importantly, low inventory loss). Smaller houses and individual merchants could also sign up to travel with a Mercantylers fleet, for a fee, and many took them up on it. It was not unusual at its height to see 10-30 merchant ships traveling together, flying under the Mercantylers banner (an ebon chest bursting with gold on an ocean blue field). As their success grew, so did their cocksure nature. The Mercantylers began to increase the price for smaller merchants to sail with them, often charging rates close to the profit margin for that ship. In addition, they began to require the non-Mercantyler ships accompanying them to adhere to the strict requirements of the Accords, specifically in regard to wares and competition. As these independents did not reap all the benefits of the Accords, and indeed paid a hefty fee just to sail with the Mercantylers, these practices soon drew disfavor amongst all independent vessels.

Infighting, Competition, and Disaster: The Trifecta of Maritime Tragedies

It started, as these things often do, with a misunderstanding, a misinterpretation, a miniscule misreading. One House specialized in the importation of exotic fruits from Kezmon Isle, sending bolts of elven silk to them in exchange. Another provided import/export of several different types of wood. When the former sent a ship filled with handcrafted mistwood chairs featuring elven silk cushions to Kezmon, they felt they were acting strictly within their charter. Unfortunately, the other House vehemently disagreed, claiming the furniture was made mostly of wood, which was their domain.

Simultaneously, dozens of lesser Houses and individual merchants decided to break away from using Mercantyler services, the price-gouging finally outweighing the risk of solo trips. Had they stopped there, much disaster may have been avoided. However, they decided banding together to do what the Mercantylers did would be beneficial. The Free Seas Fortuneers (“Fortuneers”) began much like the Mercantylers -- several merchants got together, hammered out some arrangements, and proceeded to band together when shipping from port to port to protect against raiders and pirates. The Fortuneers even allowed non-members to ship with them at much reduced rates compared to the Mercantylers and minus any nonsense about competing wares.

For the next several years, the infighting escalated within the Mercantylers. The arbiters of the Accords were flooded with complaints, and the decisions were rabidly unpopular, each party believing themselves totally in the right and unable to compromise even a little. Meanwhile, their competition, the Fortuneers, was successful at almost eradicating their side business of overcharging independents. The Mercantylers at this point decided to fight a war on two fronts: the internal home front war and one with the Fortuneers. The Mercantylers, backed by its wealthy houses and its own independent coffers controlled by the Accords Council, surreptitiously hired a dozen raiding vessels to attack a Fortuneers’ fleet. Known to be transporting significant wealth in goods and gems, the loss of its ships would deal a death blow not just to the Fortuneers but to a good many of these smaller houses and merchants, allowing the Mercantylers and the Greater Houses to rise again. It was also thought that this would band the houses back together and lessen the infighting, as profit margins for all should soar.

Unfortunately, disaster struck instead. The stories here get vague, as no one really wanted the truth to come out, so obfuscation amongst survivors became the name of the game. What we do know is this: a key member of the Fortuneers had ties to the raiders and word of the Mercantylers’ plans leaked to her. In addition, several captains in the Mercantylers felt the weight of political maneuvering by wealthy aristocrats and did not like it. The Fortuneers sent out a diversionary fleet, without the valuable cargo. This heavily armed fleet was ready to fight the raiders. A half-dozen Mercantyler captains broke with their fleet and hurried toward the Fortuneers, intent on helping their brethren (the ties of the sea being greater than the ties of the Accords to them). And, to further add to the disaster waiting to happen, the Accords Council failed to deliver full payment to the raiders, causing them to turn their sights to the (now weakened) Mercantyler fleet instead of the Fortuneers.

When the Fortuneers saw the (friendly) Mercantyler fleet bearing down upon them, they took immediate action and began firing, and a pitched sea battle between what could have been allies began. Some distance away, the remaining Mercantyler ships were attacked by angry raiders. Eventually, a Mercantyler captain hailed a Fortuneer captain, and peace talks ensued. Realizing their errors, fighting ceased and repairs and recovery began. Distracted by peace talks and repairs, it took quite a while for someone to realize the expected raiders had not shown. Leaving behind any ship too damaged to fight, the remainder banded together and sailed toward the Mercantyler fleet. They arrived too late to save most of the ships, but not too late to attack the raiders who had lingered to drink the rum and plunder the holds.

By the end, the raiders were wiped out by superior firepower, but the Mercantylers and Fortuneers experienced irredeemable losses as well. Having suffered so much at the hands of the great merchant houses, the survivors vowed to do better.

Formation of the Great Piratical Flotilla

Independence from the merchant houses was key to the great piratical flotilla. The idea, the dozen or so remaining captains decided, was sound, but it would always be tainted when landfolk were involved. The open sea has no borders and no laws but maritime laws and traditions. To be truly free, they decided, business must be conducted here. Gathering together the floating remnants of numerous ships, a flotilla was formed and new accords struck. The Lazuli Compact gave each vessel independence. They could dock at the flotilla and sell wares for a nominal docking fee that would not be changed. Ships could come and go as they please, and visitors were welcome (if they could find them). Deals were struck with several pirates as well, giving them the same rights as these independent ships to dock and sell wares, no questions asked.

The flotilla drifted along the sea and grew as the years passed. Ships and merchants came and went, but the flotilla itself always had a few permanent ships and several visiting ones at any given time. A makeshift inn and tavern were formed, and soon pirates from across the Elanthian seas were seeking out the flotilla.

The Pirate King and the Formation of the Jetsam Court

Pirates tend to respect power and in the absence of a leader will seek to fill that void with themselves. This led to near constant fighting on the flotilla, and the frequent attacking of other ships to steal wares to sell themselves at the flotilla. After nearly three decades of growth and lawlessness, one pirate saw the ultimate opportunity and solution. Jareseth the Spotted was captain of The Flying Nautilus, the most feared pirate ship of his time. He and his crew were responsible for dozens of sinkings of merchant ships and led one of the only successful attacks against the Mercantylers at the height of its glory. As such, he had the respect and fear of most pirates, making his coup of the flotilla almost too easy.

Seeing a vacuum of power, he docked at the flotilla and declared himself Pirate King. A few skirmishes and brawls later, and he was sitting on a throne in the largest permanent room. He called it the Flotsam Throne, as it was comprised of bits and pieces of all the ships whose captains he defeated to place himself there, and always one to appreciate a good sea-based theme, he called his court the Jetsam Court. At first, everyone balked, but soon they realized he was ruling as a pirate, and this was a language they all spoke well. The Pirate King filled a necessary void, bringing leadership (of a sort) without bringing structure or order. The flotilla thrived under Jareseth for many years. The Jetsam Court included a dozen pirates and ships’ captains, and no decision was final until all agreed on it. Jareseth was known to “assist” in decision-making if they took too long or argued too much, but overall, he let the court govern and work on what was best for all.

As time went on, the flotilla developed protocols for any number of emergencies (the krol, merchant houses, bad weather, krakens—the oceans are a dangerous place).

About Jareseth the Spotted
Of Jareseth the Spotted himself, not much is known. He was piebald (hence “the Spotted”) but also so covered in tattoos and scars that no one could tell what race he was. It was assumed human, but people swore there was a tinge of blue to his skin when he got angry, and he had a sturdy build as if a tall dwarf or short giantman, but one ear was distinctly pointed, and it was common knowledge he spoke a dialect of Elven. When asked, he would laugh and say his mother took so many lovers indiscriminately it would never be known. Pirates are a mystical sort, and rumors and legends abound about Jareseth and his origins. A favorite of many is that he was part-giantman and part-merman. Courtesans on board would whisper of scales in unusual places, and a young cabin boy claimed Jareseth took a bath each night in salt water and his legs would turn to fins.

The Present: Flotilla Structure and The Derelict Queen Kyncera

Jareseth ruled the flotilla for dozens of years, but age comes to everyone, and it eventually came to Jareseth. Hoping to avoid a void in power and another decade of fighting, Jareseth named a successor -- an up-and-coming young pirate whose name has been excised from all records and never spoken in any tale. Apparently, the Court was unfond of the pirate and fell into arguments despite Jareseth’s best wishes.

This is where we move from written history into oral storytelling. Where facts become nebulous and legend is born. This is where we meet the Derelict Queen Kyncera.

Some say she had been a part of the Jetsam Court, but other confirmed members of the Court deny this vehemently. When asked where she came from, however, their answers inevitably vary. She came out of the fog, docking at the flotilla, killing most the Court and taking control. She sailed through the worst storm in the flotilla’s history, found most the Court dead, and her leadership saved the rest. She docked in the midst of a krolvin attack that claimed the lives of most the Court and single handedly drove off the attack, causing Jareseth to appoint her to the Court. Regardless of what story they tell of how she joined the flotilla, however, they all agree on what happened next: the kraken attack.

Fear for the Kraken
As Jareseth faltered and the Jetsam Court was in disarray, a kraken of epic proportions attacked the flotilla. Catching everyone unawares, the usual “scatter and regroup elsewhere” approach was unavailable. Having recently joined the flotilla, Captain Kyncera rallied the faltering pirates and merchants and led an unprecedented full frontal assault on the kraken, while directing others to circle behind and attack other tentacles.

Several ships were lost or significantly damaged and parts of the flotilla’s permanent structure were ripped to shreds by vicious tentacles, but Kyncera was successful. Preternaturally successful, many say. Kyncera appeared to be everywhere at once, inspiring the flotilla whilst simultaneously harrying the kraken. It is said a storm rose up, shaking the kraken’s grip on the flotilla and placing it in the path of Kyncera’s ship. The skies went dark, and the seas became unnavigable. The other ships circled the edges of the storm that hid Kyncera and the kraken, willing but unable to assist. When the skies cleared, the kraken floated in a sea now crimson with its blood. Cheers erupted from the decks, and just like that, Kyncera cemented her place as the Derelict Queen.

Today’s flotilla flies a banner of ultramarine, the dark blue of the deepest parts of the open seas. Outlined in ivory, a stylized flotilla and its ships surround a kraken floating in a crimson pool. Embroidered along the bottom is the flotilla’s motto, “Fear not for the Jetsam Court, Fear for the Kraken.”

Lucky Sea Kobold
Like most sailors and pirates, Kyncera is quite superstitious. When a sailor of Torre insisted on a ship’s cat, she agreed. On that voyage, she had the best haul of her career, but when she went to the hold to give the cat its due spoils, she found in its place a pair of kobolds who had followed their next meal aboard and been stuck hiding ever since.

And thus became the tradition of the lucky sea kobold. Ships who sail with Kyncera do so with a well-fed kobold who happily keeps the ship clear of rodents in exchange for a warm bed in the hold. It’s thought that several other pirates who regularly come in contact with the flotilla have also adopted this tradition, so if you ever see a kobold who likes to dress like a pirate, perhaps they were once a lucky sea kobold.

Tales and Legends

Speak to denizens of the flotilla, and you will hear tales of dozens of mythical creatures and unlikely encounters, from sirens to mermaids to sea dragons.

The Sea Serpent Skeleton
The flotilla denizens are more than happy to regale you about the massive sea serpent they defeated a few hundred years ago that now attacks them in its skeletal form. They claim it shimmers with an absinthe green glow as it coils across the sea, and it won’t rest until it takes down the flotilla. Alleged sightings will cause the flotilla to scatter quickly, shaking visitors off its docks and disappearing into the distance.

The Giant Sea Turtle the Size of an Island
Far from any land, it is said Jareseth encountered a sea turtle the size of a large island. He claimed it was benign but could accidentally destroy the flotilla with a flick of its oversized flipper. Others add to the tale, stating the turtle has a small village on its back, home to the only surviving members of the House of Ashrim.

Mermaids of the Obsidian Trench
Every culture seems to have its tales of mermaids, and the flotilla is no exception. Indeed, the flotilla claims that while mermaids may exist in other seas, they definitely exist in the Obsidian Trench. However, it is almost impossible to get extra details from any who allegedly encountered these sea creatures. One pirate, a tough half-krol scared of nothing, turns absolutely ivory white when pressed for details about his encounter. All he would say was to avoid it during a winter storm originating from the south.

Whether or not there are mermaids in the Trench, something there scares a lot of fearless pirates, at least when the conditions are right.

Flotilla Sea Shanty

Fear For The Kraken
Inspired by the epic kraken defeat that set the Derelict Queen upon the Flotsam Throne, this sea shanty is constantly being changed, having verses added during drunken renditions in bars. Sometimes the kraken is barely the focus of a verse but is instead a celebration of Kyncera, another legendary defeat, or just the alcohol talking. The most commonly heard verses are below and are thought to be the origins of the song.

Upon the deep ocean
the flotilla's got backin'
Don't fear for us
Fear for the kraken

When waters boil and
waves come crashin'
Don't fear for us
Fear for the kraken

When seas get rough
and the flotilla is rockin'
Don't fear for us
Fear for the kraken

GM Xynwen Thanks and Honors

This document was born out of my attempts at feature-creeping former GM Sook when he took on the nascent idea of designing a flotilla (which is coming, we are hard at work on it!), and then surprise, I got inspired to write a history and feature-creeped myself right into the thick of the flotilla! The pirate queen's name was changed to honour our beloved and missed Kynlee, who also was assisting with a few of the key aspects of the flotilla itself, that we look forward to releasing soon.

Many thanks to my World SGM team who always supports my flights of fancy and inter-team work and to the Systems Team and SGM Retser for being awesome and letting me create!