Isle of Illandra
“T’was the queerest sight I’ve e’er seen, aye, at least until I seen the Sleeper ’neath the Waves, Melora help us all. Musta been a hundred ships, all tied together so ye could amble from side to side and ne’er dip yer toe inna salt. Generous folk, till ye cross ’em. Me mate, Paul, roughed up a lass thar. Fer his trouble, he lost his stones and went inta the sink like he was chum.”
Fact and fiction are hard to separate when it comes to Foamgather, for its people guard their secrets well. They mask the truth with fanciful tales about a surviving prince from a fallen empire, refugees from another world fleeing some monstrous threat, and grand stories about how Foamgather moves between realities, slipping free from those who would do them harm. The most reliable account about Foamgather is from a crusty old sailor who claimed to have been born there. He has no name other than Old Man, but he attracts a following with the stories about his former home.
Foamgather’s history is a tangled skein made up of countless stories, each a tale of fear, suffering, and loss, shaded with embellishments. Since Foamgather is a tribe consisting of peoples from across the lands, with every culture, nationality, and just about every language represented, in many ways Foamgather’s history is the history of the world. It’s commonly known among the Unhomed that the first and oldest ships, lost in the fleet’s center, belonged to the founders, a strange people who died out long ago. Graybeards whisper they came from another world, fleeing an indescribable menace until they washed up here. Perhaps one day, the founders will return. Then again, maybe the thing they fled will come instead.
Qualifying as land only in the loosest sense, Foamgather is an island made from detritus, flotsam, jetsam, and boats of all sizes. It’s a tangled mess connected by rope bridges, gangplanks, and crude bridges. The Unhomed live on these boats, taking shelter in the hulls where possible. The larger ships’ decks serve as communal areas, where Unhomed gather to trade, exchange news, worship, or court potential partners. Foamgather has temples and taverns, an inn, a school, and several shops, where tradesfolk labor to keep the Unhomed supplied with whatever necessities they require.
Since the Unhomed come from different ports, little physically unites them. Short or tall, skinny or fat, red, brown, blue, or pink—these things matter not because loyalty to Foamgather blinds them to physical differences and binds them to a common cause: survival. Clothing and gear comes from salvage and scavenging, so people wear patched and gaudy clothes. Foamdancers defend themselves with spears, crossbows, nets, and clubs, weapons that can do double duty for fishing. Foamdancer player characters favor the martial classes, with rogues and rangers being the most common.
Outlook and Beliefs
Before joining Foamgather, a person’s past is his or her own business. No one cares about wrongdoings committed elsewhere; only the here and now matters. When a petitioner comes to the community, no one qualifies his or her worth by the individual’s deeds or misdeeds, but rather by his or her skills and what each can bring to the community. A fresh slate doesn’t mean people can do as they please: The people punish crimes against Unhomed with swift justice. Theft, extortion, assault, murder, and so on bring swift justice, with exile being the most common punishment. For the most severe crimes, the Unhomed hand over the criminal to the sharks.
Melora is Foamgather’s patron goddess, because through her will, the community thrives. They depend on the fish swimming through her waters and on her mercy when storms gather on the horizon. Foamgather’s tolerant policy also extends to religious beliefs, as long as they remain harmless and do not disrupt the community.
Magic is a talent, much like swordplay, hunting, or strumming a lute, and the Unhomed are quick to welcome seers, healers, and mages. A skilled practitioner can predict a spring storm before it strikes, curb a plague festering in the bilges, or help defend the community when the sea devils attack. The Unhomed might value a magician’s contributions, but they never tolerate reckless magic because anything that can endanger the fleet has no place among them.
Enemies and Allies
Foamgather aims for peaceful relations with all their neighbors. They trade with passing ships, pirate and merchant vessels alike, sometimes make forays into settled lands for materials they need (such as nails, tar, and canvas), and deal with aquatic humanoid races, when encountered. They do have enemies, and the sahuagin are the worst foes because the sea devils think the Unhomed are easy prey. If the dangers ever become too great, the fleet might break apart, to chart different courses toward a prearranged meeting spot where they eventually gather into a community once more.