In the cold, northern reaches of the Known World are a series of bights where the Yaun-Teel call home. These shallow bays are the central hub for the vast mercantile organization that powers the Yaun-Teel government. With little natural resources of their own the Yaun-Teel have set themselves up as masters of trade, and positioned themselves as one of the most economically rich of the Fluid Nations. As such, they are afforded much more leniency when interacting with the other Piscean races, and their practice of slavery is many times endured in order to maintain favor. The influence of the Yaun-Teel mercantile caste is far-reaching and deep. Perhaps only the Locanth are beyond the financial manipulations of the Merchants of the Great Bazaar.
Though cast as one of the Primitive races, the Yaun-Teel more closely resemble the Mer, from which the concept of the Piscean Form was detailed. The physiology of this slaver race seems to indicate some connection to anguilliformes — your typical eel. Distinctive features of the Yaun-Teel are the elongated neck, the frilled fins of the dorsal, pelvis, and tail, and overall leaner features of the torso and limbs. Despite what one would expect, the extended neck of the Yaun-Teel possesses the same number of vertebrae as any Mer, but each segment is stretched out to three time the length. Also like the Mer, the Yuan-Teel are the only other species of Elqua capable of a full head of hair. Other minor traits that signify Yaun-Til descent are slanted, seed shaped eyes, their muted, greyish coloration, and on average are generally head and shoulders longer than the Merfolk. The overall effect gives the Yaun-Teel an appearance of grace and poise. Even their language, with its dulcet, lilting tones, reinforces the image of the gentle caregiver. This perceived image is quickly shredded when the true cruelty of the species is unleashed.
Supposed excerpt from the banned Vitruvian Codex concerning the Yuan-Teel
The secret of Yaun-Teel procreation is a chilling one, and brings great shame to the species. The fact is the Yaun-Teel are not completely a separate race from the Merfolk. A full-blooded Yaun-Teel is incapable of producing offspring with other of its own kind. Having children can only be accomplished by individuals with a significant amount of Mer heredity in their gene pool. Part of the reason for the Yaun-Til practice of slavery is the procurement of viable breeding stock. This, coupled with a cultural predilection for multiple spouses and a social expectation for ostentatious display makes the truth of Yaun-Teel reproduction an obfuscated secret. Despite the bright variation of coloration the Mer possess, Yaun-Teel hybrids never show anything other than the muted greys associated with their species.
Yaun-Teel marriages are a complex web of relations. Each individual can have three spouses, with each one of those spouses allowed another two. Charting this out, the minimum of six individuals forms a sort of helical arrangement, but instances so simple are also incredibly rare. More common is a long chain of relations across a whole community, resulting one way or another with being able to trace a familial tie between any two individuals. This leads to myriad combinations of cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews twice, thrice, or even further removed becoming their own elder or younger relative.
The social structure of Yaun-Til settlements revolves around the core tenants called “The Principles of Service“. Boiled down to it’s most simple, these prinicples state:
1. Like it or not, everyone serves someone else.
A child must serve the dictates of its parents. The parents must serve the expectations of the leader of is settlement. The settlement must serve the laws made by the nations’ ruler. And in turn, the ruler must obey the will of the people. No matter how powerful or socially reclusive, your existence serves the cause of someone else.
2. Your servitude is a gift, and should be treated as such.
It is only through serving that you have the ability to survive. A child’s existence is a gift from its parents. The parents livelyhood is a gift from the settlement. The settlement’s protection is a gift from the nation. The nation’s prosperity is a gift from its people. Without the chance to serve, you would not benefit. This is a debt you are expect to repay through service.
3. The refusal to serve is the surrender of will.
A child is punished when it does not obey its parents. The parents are gaoled when they abridge settlement’s goals. The settlement is excommunicated when it abridges the nation’s laws. The nation crumbles when it abandons its people. By not serving, you jeopardize the well being of others around you. In doing so, you create a debt to them that you must serve to pay back.
And yet, despite this rigid codex in expected behavior, the societal norm for each Yaun-Teel is to circumnavigate the rules to their own best interest. Deceit and trickery are common tools to entrap the unwary into the service of the Yaun-Teel. Not only do they routinely add stock to their slave pens through raids and force, but they gain an extra level of notoriety when the same acquisition is made with guile and finesse. Even their own kind are not immune to becoming shackled. Yaun-Teel slaves exist, but are more likely to be of the indentured than captured variety.
Make no mistake about it — the use of “service” is a hollow euphemism. Debt is repaid through slavery, and cruel treatment is but a sweet dessert to the cruel masters. Their packbreeders are renown for the employment of negative reinforcement in the training of their beast of battle. They seem to relish inflicting pain upon the animal until it shows the preferred behavior — usually the reinforcement of violent tendencies. It is hard to argue the efficacy of their method. It is a well documented fact that Yaun-Teel trained warbeasts are among the most vicious and relentless killers. But they also have the reputation of turning on their buyers at the slightest lapse in domination.
Prowling the waters south of the Creche of Civilization are the aggressive Sahaguin. The area is known as the Sahaguin Lagoons, and is most notable for its shallow, submerged plains. These plains support a disproportionate amount of life that straddles the border between the waters and the Vastness. Great trees grow up out of the water, breaking the surface and blooming in the Vastness. The ecosystem here has evolved in such a way as the lines between surface aberration and aquatic society have become blurred. Great, massive creatures, like extraterrestrial dinosaurs, wade through these waters. And among their footsteps, the Sahaguin hunt.
The Sahaguin seem descended from reptilian stock — most likely of crocodilian origin. They are the second largest of the piscean species (a distant second to the gigantic Orcans), and the largest of the primitive races of the Periphery. Extending six to seven feet in length, the Sahaguin body is lithe but tightly muscled. This gives the species an almost chiseled look with pronounced abdominal, pectoral, and bicep muscle groups. The coloration of their bellies and palms pale, and it is here that their scales are the thinnest.
Their body is overall greenish scales, with dark banding along the extremities and dorsal side. Their arms and tail possess a similar extended fin much like the Locanth, and their dorsal fin peters out along the cranium in a row of spines. The head of these sea tyrants is ridged along the eyebrow and continues back behind the ear. Their eyes are huge and dark, like polished onyx orbs, and it has been described as a “hypnotic call to the abyss” by those that have stared back into a Sahaguin’s gaze. While they have lost the tell-tale snout of their crocodile forebearers, they retained the interlocking row of sharp teeth.
Each finger of the Sahaguin hand ends in a vicious talon, perfectly suited for rending flesh from bone. Even the ends of their pelvic and caudial fins are tipped in a keratin-like substance that can slice unprotected skin. Grappling a Sahaguin is a dangerous endeavor because of these. Even if you overpower the creature and pin its arms, its tail and pelvic fins can still rake the aggressor with little effort. A berserk Sahaguin is a frenzy of slashing claws, flensing the muscles off a victim and flooding the local waters with clouds of blood.
Alleged Resurrectionist document titled “Vitruvian Sahaguin”.
Of special interest is the reproductive system of the Sahaguin. There is no doubt that new Sahaguin are born, as their numbers are not dwindling like the Chelon are. Somehow new generations of Sahaguin are shoring up the schools — out of sheer necessity, new hunters would be needed when a warrior is killed. But there seems to be no record of Sahaguin young, or even the sight of Sahaguin females with child. Ressurectionists with little morals have taken possession of Sahaguin cadavers and autopsied them. There ministrations have revealed little difference between Sahaguin anatomy and that of Locanth, Mer, or Yaun-Teel. They lack a navel, so the race obviously does not give birth to live young, yet never has a clutch of Sahaguin eggs been discovered. They possess all the necessary anatomy for reproduction, yet there seems to be no transitional evidence that they indeed do reproduce other than the end offspring. Sahaguin in heavily domesticated areas (where day-to-day contact is unavoidable) show no sign of the early stages of childbirth. Those around them can never remember having seen a female show signs of impregnation. The mothers never seem to need any recovery post-birth. They do not even seem to “duck away” so they may give birth in secret. It seems as if the children simply “appear” with those urban Sahaguin families. Inquiry about this mystery is a taboo subject for the race, and usually results in either anger or hostility, and ends in either the end of cordial relations with the asker, or his death.
There do not appear to be any examples of subspecies among the Sahaguin. Instead, they form very closely knit bonds with other local Sahaguins. They will look upon other settlements of their species as not simply competitors, but enemies. This reactionary mindset is lessened with urban-raised Sahaguin, but in many ways still guides their behavior to those outsiders, treating them with suspicion and scorn. Despite these initial hostilities, a Sahaguin may gain favor with a new group by proving himself not just in battle, but by asserting his will in everyday activities. A Sahaguin takes what he wants, and backs that up with his might. Eventually acceptance comes and the new individual becomes integrated into the settlement.
Rural Sahaguin settlements are akin pirates, invading each other’s territories to poach and plunder. They do not shy away from confrontation — if anything, they may go out of their way to trigger as much violence as they can during their raids. These invasive expeditions are not relegated to just Sahaguin cities. The Narwahl are a common recipient of Sahaguin incursions, which the Narwahl strangely welcome, viewing it as a means to keep their ancient Cetacean instinct honed to perfection. Many of these confrontations have become notorious, leading to infamy for many Sahaguin and Narwahl alike. These leaders become larger than life characters, vivid in their flamboyance as they are in their savagery.
There exists a special animosity between the Sahaguin and their neighbors the Mer. The sea tyrants need little impetus to invade Merfolk territory, and on occasion they have seduced a native Mer into betraying their homesea current and aiding the invasion. Border settlements along the Current/Lagoon no mer’s seas often reinforce propaganda about keeping information to one’s self out of fear that the one you speak to may be a Sahaguin spy. These ongoing border skirmishes have kept the Mer Currents at odds with the Sahaguin Lagoons for centuries.
“Take up your unguis when a Sahaguin asks, `Why?’
for it is already too late to convince him…”
— An old Cetacean proverb on Sahaguin belligerence
The First Ones
When the world was new, and the First Verse still echoed through the oceans of Elqua, the First Ones rose to prominence. The burgeoning seas, brimming with new life and vitality, were a fertile spawning ground for the first, true race of the Endless Blue. The boundless waters were theirs to explore, its bounties enough to quell the greatest hunger, its riches enough to slake the most desperate greed. They rose to the top of the food chain, tamed the tides and dominated the submerged globe. Their names were eroded from the world by the unstoppable waves, save for a single innocuous scroll hidden in the Kouton Mausoleums. There they rest to this day, awaiting discovery by the brave, the brazen, or the barmy…
Andrew R H Girdwood
Marion F. Carpenter Jr.
Oliver von Spreckelsen
Pascal Bouchard A.K.A. The Crazy Lunatic
“All days are numbered; all nights eternal.
In light humbled; in dark infernal…”
– The First Verse, or the Last Verse, depending on your viewpoint.
Secretive and reclusive, the Kouton originate from the south-western part of the Known World, but have since migrated to the other Fluid Nations. Despite whatever settlement or society they choose to dwell amongst, inevitably the instinctive Kouton secrecy keeps them from becoming fully integrated. Not anti-social, Kouton still find it hard to form intimate bonds with others of their own kind, let alone the other sentient races of Elqua. The deep seated compulsion to hoard information, collect precious secrets and obscure knowledge, makes a Kouton seem cold and difficult. They simply do not profer details unbidden. A charismatic speaker that knows how to frame questions that illicit more information from a listener will find an easier time conducting a conversation with these reluctant people.
The overall physique of a Kouton is thin of limb but thick of torso. Their arms and tail are thin, almost reedy, while their concave chests accentuate the paunch of their bellies. Even the most athletic of Kouton, their musculature developed to the fullest extent, has a look of flab and sag about him. Bags under the eyes and a stooped back make all Kouton seem old before their time, but also adds to the image that these pisceans are wise beyond their years. Their skin is delicate, and must be kept well lubricated in the oily sweat their endocrine glands excrete. The procedure for maintaining their skin’s juvenance is intensely personal and a taboo among their kind. akin to the elimination of bodily wastes — they all do it, but it is never spoken about.
Perhaps even more of a taboo is the practice of collection this excreted oil and mixing it with other alchemicals to form a sticky adhesive. This adhesive is resistant to dissolving in water, and that fact is utilized by Kouton who coat their aegis in the material as an aid to disarming enemies. Ungues that strike such a coated item become stuck, and the Kouton can then wrest the weapon free, leaving their attacker defenseless.
The side effect of keeping their epidermis freshly coated is a minor but significant ability of chameleonic pigmentation. The emotional state of a Kouton will cause cells in their skin to change color. This change is a reflexive one, and cannot be controlled anymore that a person can control blushing. The color change is a general shifting in hue of the skin, and lacks the ability to mimic finer details needed for true camouflage. The emotional state determines the shade of coloration: frightened Kouton turn pale; angry Kouton become livid; saddened Kouton turn blue, and so on. To a race whose most sacred ideal is the seclusion of information, such obvious tells of their emotional state are a glaring contradiction.
The digits of the hand, as well as their caudial and pelvic fins, are elongated and webbed, ending in flattened pads at the tip. The expanded surface area of these pads provides the superior gripping needed to pry objects away from the adhesive concoctions the Kouton use. The webbing of the hand is shortened, extending between the second knuckle and the first, and provides little added benefit to Kouton swim speeds.
The head of a Kouton is flat, almost truncated at the face, giving the impression of being pressed against clear glass. Their bulbous eyes are wide spread on either side of the head, with just enough mobility to be able to focus their gaze ahead of them. Each eye has a pair of membranous inner eyelids. Semi-transluscent, these inner nictating eyelids move independently the other, and out of sync with the other eye. Because of this non-rhythmic blinking, Kouton constantly adjust the angle of their head while looking at something, some times even changing to the other eye when closely examining an object. These additional eyelids grant the Kouton its extensive visual acuity, acting as lenses that provide a filter for light. The inner pair provide the Kouton with the ability to see into the infra-red wavelengths, allowing them to see in low-light to no-light conditions, while the outer pair enable vision in the ultraviolet range, granting the ability to variation in coloration due to fluorescent properties.
Behind and a bit below each eye is a circular depression. These are the ears of the Kouton, and the skin stretched tightly over the audial crater in their skulls forms a tympanic membrane that vibrates in the presence of sound, sending the signal into the audial crater, which acts as a reverberation chamber. The ears of a Kouton are well suited for picking out the slightest of inflection in speech, but further aggravates the Kouton’s head-cocking behavior as it adjusts its head for optimal sound reception.
Their wide mouths house a multitude of tiny, needle-like teeth behind wrinkled lips, which sag downward into loosened jowls around the neck. Their jaws can lower to a great degree, showing of an almost circular ring of sliver teeth jutting from their gums. When their mouths are closed the rows of razor sharp teeth interlock. An individual tooth is both pointed at the tip, and serrated along the edge, making it perfectly suited for tearing wounds into prey that cause bleeding out.
Alleged Resurrectionist document titled “Vitruvian Kouton”.
Like most of the Primitive Races, Kouton reproduce ovipariously. The female lays a clutch of eggs that the male then fertilizes. The eggs hatch into a larval form of Kouton, transparent and toothless, little more than a pair of bulging eyes on a tail. The eyes have their nictating membranes grown over their cornea, sealing the eyeball in a fleshy bump. As the larva slowly grows, it develops teeth and limbs, and the flesh over the eyes splits to form the inner eyelids. As they mature into adulthood Kouton young are utterly dependent on their parents for feeding and protection. But as soon as the juveniles reach an age where they can collect secrets on their own, they are abandoned and treated as any other Kouton — basically a rival. While family is noted in Kouton society, it does not grant one any preferential treatment.
Adventures in the ENDLESS BLUE
ENDLESS BLUE stories all revolve around a common theme: the struggle to survive. Not just the basic story of eat or be eaten, but survival in all its forms.
Personal survival — It is very easy to slip into the mentality of “it’s us or them”, facing the choice of who survives and choosing yourself.
Survival financially — This is the most implicit motive for adventures in RPGs, where the adventurer makes a living for themselves mercenarily by fighting monsters and collecting treasure.
Social survival – The pursuit of power and fame is a seductive goal, and many will go to extreme lengths to achieve it.
Survival of the environment — The Xanthellaette coral shapers of the Chelon are painfully concerned with the killing of Elqua’s crucial reef systems.
Survival as an individual in a collective — The Narwahl Orcans felt so strongly that the Cetaceans were losing their identity that they abandoned their homesea rather than become assimilated into society.
Survival against nature — Perhaps the most ever-present struggle on Elqua, from the approach of predators into settlements to spread of the red tide, even the rumored Indigo encroaching from the hinterseas.
Survival against supernatural — Entities from beyond the mortal realm, such as the Elsewhere cults whom revere the same extra-planar powers that bolstered the Krakens’ rise to dominance.
Survival against themselves — Each person has a dark side, a shadow of sorts, that works at their own destruction. The allure of pleasure over dedication to responsibility can bring the most powerful down to ruin.
Survival from mistakes — Some of the best intentions have resulted in the worst horrors in history. Do you own up to your error and face the repercussions, or cover up the mistakes that were made and let others deal with the consequences?
Survival of belief/ideal — The Godless remain steadfast in the face of divine proof. The Resurrectionists seek to recreate life. The Synesthete Synod seek the perfect future, while the Stoic State intend to free the world from magic. The single-minded pursuit of these goals at the cost of all else can result in catastrophic ends for all involved.
Survival of a way of life — Some would call it progress to abandon tradition, other would call it a betrayal of ideals. Which leads to…
“New Traditions“ is the name of the exclusive Kickstarter adventure for the ENDLESS BLUE Campaign Setting. It concerns the actions of a particular Locanth tribe that has turned its back on the ideals of balance and harmony with nature in the face of impending starvation. It brings them into conflict with other Locanth tibes, and brings them the attention of the Kelpygmies. The resulting repercussions affect the surroundings and others, with the players caught in the middle as the resolution comes to a head. Is impending ruination inevitable or can salvation be found in a compromise? Hard choices will have to be made in this 32 pg. black & white adventure.
William James Cuffe
Good Evening, Everyone!
We are entering the Final Week for the ENDLESS BLUE Kickstarter drive, and I’ve changed the project image to reflect that. It’s been a roller-coaster of a first three weeks in 2013, and who knows what the finals days will bring? Your continued support means everything to me. I want to thank everyone that has stuck with me this far, and welcome anyone new to the water world of Elqua and her vivid, complex, and intriguing history. Come what may, I am thankful to have found an audience for my ideas…
William James Cuffe
Alright, an early update for today, mostly because I want to have this in effect as long as possible.
Today is my birthday, and to celebrate, I’m giving you the present, in the form of an addendum to the Patron Rule.
For those that don’t know, the Patron Rule is something I came up with to reward those backers that pledged early, as opposed to waiting until the project was funded. I decided to give Patrons an in-game reward that scaled with how soon they donated, yet was still significant for those that got their pledge in on the last day. To meet these requirements, the Patron Rule gives donators an amount of initial funds equal to the number of days left in January and the end of the ENDLESS BLUE Kickstarter drive. Pledge on Day 1, you got 31 gp during character creation; wait until the 31st, you got 1 gp.
Today, I expand the Patron Rule. In addition to extra starting funds, characters of Patrons benefit from an extra amount of XP at the end of each game session. Just like the starting funds reward, take the day of the month you pledged on and subtract it from 32 to find the number of extra experience points you get at the end of each session. To validate if a player qualifies for the extra XP, just look in the Patron section of the ENDLESS BLUE Campaign Setting rulebook, and the date of their pledge will be there so you can do the math for yourself.
So, there you have it! I survived another year, and you get to benefit from it!
William James Cuffe