Pirates of Dark Water: The Origins

Author: Michaeljack


Imagine a Mer that had never seen the Dark Water, a Mer with no Dark Dweller. In the far future of this Mer, the people came under a threat from an extradimensional source; creatures akin to those described by H.P.Lovecraft broke the dimensional boundary and attacked en-masse. The world was shattered in a frighteningly short time, but before the end came a think tank of bio-transmuters, sorcerers and ecomancers who came up with a final solution.

They created a living force of destruction, an entity that lived only to kill and grew by feeding upon whatever it destroyed. They also created a ritual to send the creature through the dimensional interface and far back in time to destroy the extradimensional threat before it ever reached them. They succeeded after a fashion; the entity travelled back in time and annihilated the invaders, but this created a fork in the river of time. Yes, back in the past, the invaders were killed before they could even discover Mer, but causality cannot be torn; instead, two time streams were created. In the first, the invasion still took place and the think tank died assuming their creation had somehow failed; in the other time stream, however, things were vastly different.

This then is the Mer of PoDW. The entity sent back in time eliminated all life within the continuum, then found a way of breaching the dimensional threshold and came back home, far in Mer’s past. The entity had only one thought when it returned: to feed. Fortunately for the then-inhabitants, the entity was created only to battle the extradimensional threat, so though powerful, it was at a disadvantage against the Wise Men of the time. At the time the entity was mostly composed of alien matter that reacted violently to life and matter (not exactly antimatter, but definitely a hostile substance).

Mer was at the time quite primitive, with only the Ecomancers of Andorus being in any way equipped to meet the threat, especially as their power was in direct opposition to the anti-life of the entity, but it proved too powerful to destroy. In every confrontation, not enough damage could be inflicted to incapacitate the entity and the cost in ecomancers’ lives was terrible. Ruul, a young ecomancer, proposed the solution. Ruul reasoned that if ecomantic energy was so hostile to the entity, it could used perhaps to contain it. 13 crystals of condensed ecomantic power were created and used to bind the entity far beneath the seas; Ruul hoped that over time the ecomantic power would eventually snuff out the entity’s existence.

In its long millennia of entrapment, much changed both above and below; the tale of the entity became a legend known of by few and believed by fewer, but all the time the entity struggled in its captivity–it was greatly weakened by the ecomantic prison around it, but it had been created to adapt, so it did not die. But by the time of PoDW, when the treasures were lost, it was too weak to assault directly; thus, it sent out small pieces of itself–the Dark Water–to do its work.

 

Pirates of Dark Water – The Future

I always assumed that PoDW would have ended by Ren reuniting the Treasures and returning the Dark Dweller to its imprisonment, this time deep beneath Mer. In the ending I envisioned Bloth finally realising Morpho would only destroy Mer, and joining in an uneasy alliance with Ren in the final episodes. As to whether or not Bloth would have survived, I preferred not to decide and left that to history (I always had a certain affection for old bluelips!). In all likelihood Ren and Tula would have become king and Queen of Octopon (I would rather have seen her with Ioz, but the chemistry between Ren + Tula seemed evident to me). This victory marked a turning point for Mer, as in the aftermath of the years of the black tide, there was a need for reconstruction and cooperation.

Millennia passed, wars were likely fought, but eventually, as civilization came upon Mer, people grew together rather than apart. The disciplines of science arose alongside magic, both making life easier, and at some point, the various leaders managed to agree upon an organization to promote peace and understanding between each other–the United World Assembly (kind of a UN with teeth).

All this time, the Dark Dweller languished in darkness; the wards were stronger this time and no lucky chance was going to release him.

The best way to describe the world at this time is to think a little of the image most people have of America in the early fifties–a time of innocence when the future only seems to hold promise. Science and magic had practically ended hunger and deprivation, and plans for a mission of exploration to one of the twin moons had already been put forward.

Enter into this picture a man named Thaddeus, a man of puritanical demeanour who looked upon the world with disgust. A bad upbringing by a violent, alcoholic father had scarred Thad and given him a propensity to see the worst in human nature. Thad was an archaeologist and a sorcerer whose personal goal was to publish the lessons and mistakes of the past to educate those of the present. Unfortunately for Mer, it was he that found the Dweller’s prison buried within the ruins of the ancient civilization of Octopon. The Dweller could read Thad’s thoughts only too well and subtly guided him to the prison; he poured sweet poison into Thad’s ears, telling him what he sought was below. When Thad removed the first of the Treasures, his fate was sealed; pouring a little of himself into Thad, he extinguished the deluded man’s spirit and walked upon the world again.

This time the Dweller was subtle; his plan took years to unfold. Thad started a new religion, a cult of personality preaching against the evils of the world. He promised to lead his followers into a new, better world and recruited the angry, the bitter, and the worthless. As each received a drop of darkness they became willing servants working toward the Dweller’s re-emergence. More of the treasures were removed and blood was spilled to give the Dweller strength.

As the cult spread, Thad branched out more, recruiting those in positions of authority until the final phase could be undertaken. Nicknamed the ‘sunrise’ project, it appeared to be an initiative to provide cheap power to all in firstly Darsia (the present name for Mer) and later the world; in reality, what was being built was a soul engine that would drain the life from all in Darsia to feed the Dweller and allow him to emerge again.

The plan succeeded and the death cry of a continent signalled the rebirth of the Dweller.

The rest of this story was run entirely as a campaign, and so is a little difficult to describe. The main characters were Lucas, Thaddeus’ oldest son; General Treyvelyan of the UGA strike force; Sellenia, an Ecomancer from Andorus; Gabriel, a combat sorcerer attached to the UGA; and Shayne, a dagron rider.

During a series of adventures that took 3 years to play through, the characters uncovered the history of the Dweller, realised that containment would most likely lead to another catastrophe in the future, united much of the shattered world in mutual defence, and finally brought a final end to the Dweller by detonating the treasures within him.

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