Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Unholy Island

A few miles north of Dolorous Garde and perfectly visible from its walls lies Unholy Island - a flat and mostly featureless expanse of dunes, tough grasses and marsh, with, at its very eastern tip, a hill which thrusts itself up like a dorsal fin. Beneath the hill is a natural harbour and standing on its summit is a fort of red stone: The Nunnery.

The nuns of Unholy Island have given themselves in marriage to Old Mister Sharpness, a God of Theft. Their worship of him consists in devoting themselves to stealing - of material possessions, naturally, but also of skins, which they flay from their captives alive. This is a function of their doctrine, which stipulates that theft can only be theft if the item is taken from somebody living (because the dead have no possessions); if its taking deprives the owner of its use; and if the taker gains a benefit from the taking. A flayed skin meets these requirements - provided of course that the victim can be kept alive to the end of the process, which is by no means straightforward. This is because the skin is taken from the living; because its taking deprives the victim of its use; and because it benefits the taker, who can put the skin to various practical effects. It is a point of dispute among the nuns as to whether it is necessary to actually use the skin, or whether it suffices that it could in theory be put to use, in order for its taking to count as theft. Those who hold with the former interpretation use skins to make velum books and scrolls, to make leather items, to repair their coracles, or even for ships’ sails. Those who hold with the latter hoist them like flags in praise of their husband and master at various places around the island.

The piracy of these women extends up and down the entire coast. By longstanding custom they do not molest the people of the Town of Dolorous Garde, and they do not stray too close to the Place of the Keepers. But any fisherman, merchant or coast dweller must be constantly vigilant for their presence. Fortunately, for the locals, their numbers are relatively few.

Unholy Island is a tidal island and is accessible by a south-easterly approach across mud flats for d3+3 hours twice over the course of any 24 hour period. Whenever the PCs visit, or if it is necessary in advance to work out tide times, simply roll 1d12 to determine the hour between 1am and noon at which the first accessible period begins. Then roll another 1d12 to determine the hour between 1pm and midnight at which the second accessible period begins. At all other times the island is a genuine island which can only be accessed by boat.

A tiny islet sits just off the southernmost tip of Unholy Island, like a small boat moored to the sea’s bottom. On it there stands a low circle of six thin white columns. Each day, a group of nine Type IV automata walk across the mud flats as soon as the tide is out, whether it is night or morning. They remain there from that point for the rest of the day until the last possible moment before the second accessible period ends, at which point they return to the shore and wait for the next accessible period to begin. According to the people of the Town of Dolorous Garde, they have done this since the time of the Emperor. To what end, they cannot tell.


  1. Holy crap! Those are some nasty nuns!

  2. Yay for mudflats. I grew up near the German North Sea coast. Not beeing completley sure if and how much sea, it would actually involve, were a central feature of all trips to the coast.

    I always wanted to do something cool with the Wadden Sea in an RPG adventure.

  3. Bravo. Tight, amazing, read. So playable. I hope the Northumberland Yoon-Suin is full of this type of thing.