About a month’s travel by ship away from the mainland lies an archipelago known as the Islands of Nefaria. Territories have been bought, fought over, and taken by force over the last 250 or so years. Some islands have been in disputed territory while others simply exist in a liminal space, untouched.
Gol’dara, Selucia, and Jardium each claim a few islands for themselves, and the East Selucian Company stakes a significant claim in the region as well. There are also known pirates in these waters who have at least a couple of islands they’ve laid claim to, Port Sweetmouth being the largest and best known among them.
Port Sweetmouth used to be a private prison run by the East Selucian Company. Prisoners of war, privateers gone rogue, and other banished criminals were shipped to Sweetmouth to work on the sugar plantations. In 780K there was an uprising and the criminals took over.
Nefaria is not a country or officially recognized government. Rather, it is a collection of territories and colonies, along with several unclaimed islands. With its distance from the mainland, Nefaria is unable to keep significant force of law, and in many cases the largest sword in the room is king.
The concept of luck is a rather pervasive motivator for Nefarians, who may have certain rituals or superstitions they adhere to. One of these is the concept of Trinket Trading. Trinkets are pendants, made from an object on a cord or chain, that are swapped between associates. These are worn on one’s person, occasionally around the neck but more often displayed as belt favors. The more often a trinket has been traded, the more luck it is said to bring the wearer. Trinkets are rarely given away without something in return, and it’s generally accepted that trading them is a mutually beneficial deal.
Since trinkets are usually made from things like sea glass, bones or polished stones, stealing trinkets off Nefarians has no real purpose other than to degrade or humiliate, and to wear the trinket off a corpse is an invitation for bad luck.
Within official colonies, laws and cultures of the colonizing country tend to be followed, though the disconnect from the mainland allows for significant leeway. On unclaimed islands, or islands held by the various pirate entities, rules and cultures are as varied as the inhabitants of the islands themselves.
The East Selucian Company provides the strongest official presence in the region, though Selucia’s official neutrality forces them to not operate a fully militaristic operation in the area. Following the insurrection at the company-run Port Sweetmouth, much of the Company’s authority in the region was lost, as their failing at Sweetmouth was seen as a symbolic weakening of the once-strong organization.
Allies and Enemies
Nefaria is colonized by Selucia, Gol’dara, and Jardium. While officially at peace with each other, political tensions often run high, and a ship or shipment going missing here and there is a relatively common occurrence.
The primary antagonism in Nefaria comes from the various pirate ships and fleets which call the archipelago their home. The pirates tend to be vicious and bloodthirsty, and will not hesitate to do harm to anyone in the region if it strikes their fancy. Each pirate crew is governed by its own code and all attempts thus far to curtail the pirate threat have been futile, largely due to the varied nature of the pirates’ desires and methodologies.
Nefaria’s tropical climate allows for many exports not found elsewhere in Desara. Sugar grown on plantations provides a significant portion of incoming wealth, along with other tropical foods and products such as citrus, bananas, coconuts, tobacco, and coffee.
Gold mines scattered across the islands provide further wealth to the region. Due to the heavy presence of gold, and the tense political relations between the countries already in the region, piracy has become increasingly prevalent. Because of this, merchant vessels run heavily armed.
For several decades Nefaria was used as a prison colony, utilizing prisoners convicted of serious and violent crimes as workers on the plantations and in the mines. Following the breakout at Port Sweetmouth, several further prison breakouts were attempted across the islands with varying states of success. Due to this, in recent years the prisons have been shutting down and private companies have been attempting to hire laborers to continue the mining and agricultural operations in Nefaria.
As Nefaria is a collection of colonies, the holidays celebrated tend to be those of the colonizing countries. Because of this, there are no officially recognized holidays across Nefaria as a whole.
To say Nefarians value freedom is an understatement. The openness of the sea and the lack of regional authority have led to wild, reckless, drunken parties. Drinking, gambling, philandering, and carousing are common pastimes in the many taverns across the islands. Many Nefarians make trinkets to swap in their free time.
Common Sayings and Dialect
A sail’s furl - a measure of distance, similar to “a stone’s throw”
The cat’s sixth toe - a symbol of good luck
Sylvanborn second - an unknown amount of time, used to say one doesn’t know how long something will take
Deep six - The unit to measure depth of the sea is called a fathom, which is 6 feet- about the height of a sailor. This term was used to refer to throwing something overboard, and it has come to mean getting rid of something.
“I have deadly nightshade,
so twisted does it grow
with berries black as midnight,
And leaves as white as snow.
Some cocky young Selucian
came to mine for tea,
he touched me without asking
now he’s buried ‘neath the tree.”
A jumprope rhyme for young Nefarians.
A Nefarian's sense of style is eclectic to say the least. Their fashions typically closely resemble that of their home nation though, much like Selunari, they also tend to pick up bits and bobs that are telling of other places they've traveled. Though strange, most Nefarian sailors are still very practical with their clothing as to not impede their ability to work on a ship.