Pirates of Dark Water

Map of Mer (not to scale; click for larger size)

Mer is a fictional rocky planet, where Pirates of Dark Water is set.[1]

History of Mer[]

As told by Shalimar Essper

Mer, the world of my birth, is a vast, ever-changing planet with an abundance of inhuman creatures, unexplored lands and a vague, almost non-existent history. However, to ensure that our children do not forget their heritage, my family, the Esspers, has been given the titanous task of recording events which have taken and are taking place throughout Mer.

Now, a little of my history to help explain why I and my kindred were considered qualified for this auspicious task. I come from a lineage of telepaths that can only telepathize amongst our kin. Therefore, all Esspers, save my Granduncle Zeffer, whose constitution is too weak to allow travel, are dispersed over the Twenty Seas. Seeing as our telepathy is unrestricted by distance, all information gathered is relayed to Granduncle Zeffer, who is on our small island, where he records it in the Book of Records. Most people we have talked to in our vast travels have a common question: "Doesn't being away from your family take its toll on you?" All I can say is that we are in constant, telepathic contact, and no matter the distance, we are only a thought away.

This job of mine is the most rewarding job on Mer. However, I envy my forefathers, as they spent vast amounts of time with the Kings of Octopon, the true rulers of Mer. I, on the other hand, have only been in contact with Ren, son of King Primus, for a brief period, as he embarked on the quest for the Thirteen Treasures of Rule. After all, I couldn't go with him. His travels are arduous and history-making, but, although my intellect is great, I was not meant to be a swashbuckler. However, whenever Ren returns to Octopon, I am contacted and told about the events in which he has partaken. Lastly, I, the youngest of the Esspers, have been assigned yet another prestigious job-to tell in my own words to you, the apprentice scholars of Merian history, the events of Mer. Anyway, enough about my personal life. This tome is to help you better understand the workings of Mer and how all of the eclectic events throughout this magnificent world are interconnected.

Mer, predominantly water-covered, is a two-mooned world with an abundance of unexplored island continents. For centuries, these islands were just a blur in the minds of early Merians, and in some ways, things have not changed. To this day, over 60% of Mer's population is jammed into its four major cities, where most individuals live their entire life.

Although the population is not spread out, even a cursory look at the maps of Mer tells you that there is still an abundance of unexplored territories, and the vast open spaces that King Primus termed "the tyranny of distance" only accentuates the sheer overpowering extent of Mer.

Mer is in constant flux, with land masses being randomly created and destroyed. Although many continents have existed for thousands of years, many are born, live and are destroyed almost overnight. In addition to constantly changing the appearance of this planet, this flux causes wide climactic variations. While a monsoon drenches the southern coast of Octopon, snow falls on the Merigol Mountains just a few leagues to its north. However, despite these extremes, the climate where most of Mer's population dwell is mainly tropical, with few, if any, seasonal differences.

To the eye, Mer's landscape looks rugged and inhospitable, yet with a sprinkling of rain, the land blooms with hundreds of varieties of wildflowers, and just behind jagged cliffs lay forests of indescribable beauty.

Most of Mer's culture and beliefs evolved from the land. Merians learned to survive in even the harshest conditions by becoming one with nature. Early civilizations lived along the shores were food was plentiful and often island-hopped in large bamboo rafts. They hunted and foraged in small communities and became highly adept at survival and developed sophisticated ways of living with the land. As time went on, and the small communities began to grow, a brave few set out to explore the unknown wilds of Mer. However, due to its ever-changing appearance, creating a useable map of Mer was all but impossible. Most expeditions failed to return home. Finally, after years of exploration, a number of land masses appeared constant, and maps were created based on those lands. At this time, entire communities moved as one in the hopes of finding a more prosperous land. These communities are the forebears of the city-state culture that today exists on Mer.

Since their earliest days, the city-states have arrived at informal agreements when it suited them, with trade and profit usually being the common factors which overcame the rivalries that were always just below the surface. Even though each city-state had its own priorities and worries, there was a growing realization that this self-seeking system could not continue to exist. With piracy running rampant, it became necessary to form some sort of federation between cultures to insure that commerce could freely continue. After years of negotiation, a Trade Federation was established between Mer's four major cities. Although this agreement was heralded as an end to piracy, it had little to no effect on it. As before, each city-state only protected itself, and as soon as a ship left its waters, it was fair game for all. Over time, the treaty was all but forgotten, with each city-state becoming more and more isolated from the others. Today, each city-state has its own culture, people, and laws, and unless visitors know in advance about a specific culture, those visitors are considered outsiders and treated as such.

Perhaps I have gotten ahead of myself. Although this is pertinent information, I believe that there is an even more important story to be told: the slow death of Mer.

From the beginning of time, the Thirteen Treasures of Rule have sealed the heart of our planet. The Treasures, imbedded in a reef far below the sea beneath Octopon itself, have emanated a collective power, nourishing the entire planet with a harmonious life-force.

Then, one day, years ago, the mystical stones were pried loose by a violent and unknown power. They were scattered far and wide in a furious storm of upheaval. From that day forward, the planet headed on a course of slow, degenerative destruction.

Dark Water rises[]

The crippling, which at first appeared only spiritually and emotionally, soon took living form in the substance which has become known as Dark Water. This substance oozed slowly, perversely, from the fissure where the Treasures were ripped from the bowels of the earth.

In the early years there were wild tales of a capricious, driving shape that moved across the watery planet, devouring anything unlucky enough to land in its path. Then, slowly, there were more and more sightings of the Dark Water, always moving, consuming and leaving nothing but loss and despair in its powerful wake. The vastness of all that is evil had taken a form...become tangible....It was the Dark Water.

Read more in: Dark Water

Quest of Primus[]

When King Primus, a past ruler of Octopon, saw what was happening to his world, he left his infant son, Ren, in the care of a lighthouse keeper, and set out with his royal fleet on a quest for the Treasures of Rule, the only things able to save his kingdom.

One day, word returned to Octopon that Primus had located seven of the Thirteen Treasures, but then he had been attacked by pirates under the direction of a grotesque giant named Bloth. Whatever hope the Treasures had for Primus and Octopon, the Pirate Lord saw them only as a chance to master the evil power of Dark Water and use this control to extort all of Mer.

Under siege, Primus dispersed the seven found Treasures among his most trusted captains and ordered them to flee in different directions in order to successfully hide the Treasure. Unfortunately, Primus himself was not so lucky and was captured and held aboard Bloth's great ship, the Maelstrom.