Over five hundred years ago a massive meteorite crashed into the sea of Allswellia. The tidal wave it created wiped out entire gnome coastal communities. The impact of the meteorite was so powerful its crater rose new islands from the depths of the sea. The gnomes who survived the tidal wave viewed this archipelago with superstitious awe. They considered it to be a cursed place and would warn off anyone who tried going near. When the communities sent boats out they would sail far around to avoid the islands. As a result, the archipelago remained undisturbed for hundreds of years.
Despite the gnome’s best efforts, adventurers eventually set out to explore and map the archipelago. As they sailed closer, the crew noted there were three enormous islands with smaller rocky outcroppings between them. The expedition also noticed that the plant and animal life seemed to have a strange metallic sheen. Upon closer inspection, the expedition was shocked to find every living thing was coated in metal. Some of the explorers were eager to turn back but pressed on despite the anxiety. Landing on one of the islands, the explorers were amazed to discover they were not the first intelligent beings there.
A tengu with golden feathers appeared on the beach to great the expedition. His name was Oatnuqs and he explained how his people came to live on the island. The Gold Crows were the descendants of sailors whose ship ran aground centuries ago. Oatnuqs introduced the explorers to his king and established formal diplomatic relations with the mainland. The gnomes also dispatched envoys to the other islands, despite the advice of The Gold Crows. The envoy that was sent to treat with lead clad syrinx was rebuffed but otherwise unharmed. The diplomat that was sent to make inroads with the adamantine clad orcs was never seen again.
The Gold Crows live on the largest island in the archipelago. They are also the most tolerant and open-minded of the local cultures. Each of the Gold Crows can trace their ancestry back to the crew of the ship that crashed on the island. The king of the island can trace his family genealogy back to the captain of the ship. After living in isolation, the Gold Crows are eager to establish trading relationships with the outside world. Lumber is a highly valued commodity since all of the local wood is coated in gold. With gold literally growing on trees, the tengu have been able to perfect their craftsmanship. The ornaments and statues they create are sought after on the mainland for their unsurpassed beauty.
Unlike the Gold Crows, the nearby lead clad syrinx prefer the isolation of their island. They have not opened up diplomatic or trading relationships with any other communities. Information on their island and culture is scarce. The scarcity is compounded by the divination blocking properties of the syrinx’s lead skin. The only information they have revealed is that they are an order of sorcerers called the Plumbites. Beyond that, everything else can only be inferred by observing their behavior from afar. The Plumbites are often seen flying between squat buildings built on high rock outcroppings. Around the time of a new moon, they will gather in an elevated circle of stones to gaze at the stars. What goes on in those buildings and why they watch the stars is a mystery.
Neither of The Gold Crows or The Plumbites will willingly venture to the third island in the Ferrous Archipelago.It was long ago overrun by orc raiders who have since trapped themselves there. The favorite pastime of the self-styled Steel Skins is to bash each other with whatever they can find. The loud booming noises this makes is why the locals call it Thunder Island. The orcs are either unaware or don’t care they are actually covered in adamantine rather than steel. No one has been able to explore much of Thunder Island. The Steel Skins tend to attack any outsider to find out what kind of sounds they make.
The Ferrous Archipelago has opened up to the world for both good and ill. One unintended consequence has been the introduction of creatures that can disrupt the environmental balance. Many of the Gold Crows have reported rust mites attacking their crops and livestock. No one has been able to figure out exactly where the metal eating swarms first originated. As a result of the devastation, the king of the Gold Crows has considered shutting his island off from trade. The Plumbites do seem unworried about the mites and swiftly obliterate them with magic. For the Steel Skins the rust mites as just one more thing for them to try and smash.
The conventional view is that there are three islands in the Ferrous Archipelago and three races that inhabit them. Reported sightings of another metallic race are beginning to challenge that assumption. Tales from traders about silver elf-like creatures have been spreading among the islands. The creatures will follow ships from a distance and flee if engaged in any way. Most people dismiss these stories as encounters with shy merfolk. The traders insist the creatures are a unique race with a secret home. The Gold Crows have sent a representative to The Plumbites because of these stories. They wish to pool resources to discover the truth of these allegations once and for all.
Drag & Drop Encounter (CR 9)
The waves rock gently against the side of your ship. The wind is bearing you slightly off course, pushing your ship towards the island of the Plumbites. As your ship approaches the rugged cliffs, you hear a harsh roar and see two gray winged shapes above. In a coordinated motion, they both swoop down from opposite sides. One of them flies over, attempting to grab someone with its fangs. The other rakes against the ship trying to damage it and sink the crew. Knowing their think metallic skin will safeguard them from most blows, the creatures circle back for another sweep of the ship.