Skull & Shackles
Domain of the Blood Queen
When pirates began using the Shackles as their base of operations, the peaceful natives known as the kuru were driven farther and farther west, unable to resist the rough aggression of the lawless buccaneers. For as long as possible, the kuru avoided the westernmost stretch of islands known in their prehistoric mythology as the Demon’s Children. Eventually left with no other choice, however, they were forced to move their settlements to those forbidden isles, and the once friendly, peaceable race transformed into monstrous, degenerate cannibals.
The kuru of today bear little resemblance to those described in the journals of Chelish explorers recorded 600 years ago. Their depraved culture now often mirrors the appalling scenes depicted on Ghol-Gan ruins across the archipelago—their chief practice of cannibalism giving the islands their present name—and no region of the Shackles is so universally shunned as the so-called Cannibal Isles. Most kuru have settled on the outskirts of scattered degenerate ruins, inhabiting the same type of grass huts Chelish surveyors chronicled 6 centuries ago. The majority of settlements boast populations of no more than 50 tribespeople, though a handful of these camps exceed 100 residents. Since so much of what these fearsome natives do takes place beneath the veil of night or is hidden by their lush jungles, the first to come upon the islands did so in ignorance, seeing only idyllic beaches and inviting deepwater harbors. When ships failed to return from the isles, the mishaps were blamed on unfavorable weather, but with each failed voyage the true nature of the islands became more and more evident.
The only known individual to survive an encounter with the kuru is a legless beggar in Quent by the name of Strong-Arm Hix (N human fighter 4), who managed to escape in one of the kuru’s dugout canoes. Hix claims that he and his crew came upon what they had believed to be an uninhabited Ghol-Gan ruin, and were surprised to find the native kuru living in the ancient locale. Initially coming off as friendly, the kuru led Hix and his companions to a flooded temple, where he watched the kuru’s foul god, the Blood Queen, eat his comrades alive after it brutally crippled him. He only narrowly escaped the temple. While many refuse to believe his outlandish tales, few can argue with the scars he bears from that perilous journey, and ship captains harboring in Quent have almost completely ceased to travel to the Cannibal Isles since Hix’s return 50 years ago.