Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Summer Isles

Jewels in the sea, the Summer Isles are the last vestiges of the splendor of the fallen Empire.  They're a rich and warm place, of silk and persimmons, elephants and lavender, bronze and frankincense.

The first elven city on this side of the world was founded in the Summer Isles, nearly two hundred years ago.  From this city, a viceroy has long governed the colonies, on behalf of the lost emperor (long may he reign).

Once the Summer Isles were the gateway to all the North, a comfortable center of administration and trade.  Now they're a stranded borough of Old Empire, fading in the sun.


They say many things about the Isles.  Choose three rumors from the table below.
  • One of them is abundantly true, not exaggerated in the slightest, but it's in danger of failing.
  • One is absolutely false, though it used to be true before the apocalypse.
  • One is twisted: with an unexpected purpose, using a strange method, or it is not like it appears.
Rumors (d8)
1A great fleet of ships, swift and terrible.
2Bountiful fields, a place untouched by hunger.
3Mighty workshops churning out machines and cloth and cannons.
4Fine jewelers and watchmakers who design intricate devices.
5Wise astrologers who study the heavens and learn the secrets of the stars.
6Alchemists and doctors who can cure many ailments.
7A library where knowledge from the empire is stored.
8A great many people, ten thousand elves or more.

First impressions

Choose a few first things to notice upon arriving at the Summer Isles.

Things to notice (d10)
1giants gathering sap from thorny incense trees
2fragrant jasmine and roses
3great stone fortifications with rusting cannons
4many small boats, gathering kelp and diving for pearls
5a large encampment of elves on a mission
6distant music: singing and stringed instruments
7many-colored banners flying in the breeze
8gunfire and urgent military drills
9smoke everywhere from coal fires
10a great ship preparing to set sail


Visiting the Summer Isles is not easy.  They're a few days' sail south of the mainland, and society there is closely guarded.  Choose three rules that apply in the Isles:

Regulations (d8)
1Weapons may only be carried with a license from the office of the viceroy.
2Chartered companies have a monopoly on each major trade good. You will need their permission to sell your wares.
3Pay a toll for docking a ship, a toll for unloading goods, and a toll for entering the city.
4Papers from the government of your home city are required to set foot in the Isles.
5Show proper respect for spirit houses and temple processions. Temple law is strict here.
6Curfew during the middle of the night and during the midday rest.
7Register upon arrival with the local lodge of your secret society and wear their emblem, as they will be responsible for your good conduct.
8Outsiders must be invited by a local official if they wish to visit.


The viceroy is supposed to be the representative of the emperor (long may he reign), but no ships from the empire have been seen in fifty years.  The old viceroy, the last one properly appointed, made it clear before he died that his lieutenant was to be in charge until contact with the empire could be restored.

It's been nearly ten years.  She knows the empire isn't coming back, but as viceroy, it's her role to maintain the facade of empire.  Her position is a dangerous one, balancing between competing forces that threaten to tear the colonies apart.

(Choose some serious personality flaws for the viceroy.)

Under pressure from all sides, the viceroy has two main goals right now:

Priorities (d10)
1Strengthen her position by taking down a rival: having them arrested, killed, shamed, or exiled.
2Gain the support of someone powerful: lavishing them with gifts, giving them an important position, making a public display of support.
3Eliminate a heterodox religious movement.
4Correct a wayward colonial city.
5Interfere with the local city government here, much to the displeasure of the Lord Mayor.
6Mount an expedition to search for one of the lost elven colonies in the North.
7Reestablish a resource-producing colony that was lost during the apocalypse: wheat, gold, tobacco, timber, etc.
8Revoke the charter or trading license of one of the major companies.
9Send agents to infiltrate an organization.
10Find a good scapegoat for the problems in the Summer Isles to deflect blame.

The viceroy is charged with governing the entirety of the Northern Lands.  All the elven cities, all the colonies and missions of the region (and even the humans, giants, and goblins) are all officially under her domain.  Most surviving elven cities still send imperial taxes to the viceroy.

Over the course of the story, the viceroy might have to choose between maintaining her position and maintaining the entire colonial venture itself.  Will she see another govern a prosperous world in her place, or will she have a long reign as the last viceroy of the North?

Try rolling up your own Summer Isles:

the Summer Isles
Rumorstrue but failing
false since the apocalypse
Things to notice
Priorities of the viceroy

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