Skull & Shackles
Isle of the Dead
Notable Settlements: None
Dominant Denizens: Undead
Other Denizens: None
Resources: Hidden cove
Long before Chelish explorers made their way to the Shackles, two sorcerers of malign power with an abiding hatred for one another used the archipelago as a battleground for their feud. Gray Whyrlis and Raugsmauda brought to bear unholy energies that resulted in the destruction of one and the maiming of the other. The evil thaumaturge Raugsmauda survived, retreating deep into her subterranean stronghold on Motaku Isle to recover from her grievous wounds, both physical and psychic, and centuries passed wherein it was assumed she was gone forever.
Only 200 years ago, a group of adventurers descended into the Pit of Raugsmauda on Motaku Isle and discovered the sorcerer, now a malevolent lich. They managed to eject her from her lair, but she fled westward, eventually settling on an uninhabited, cave-riddled volcanic isle that now bears her name. Soon after the Eye of Abendego erupted in the north, Raugsmauda finally emerged from the sulfuric fumes of her lair and took to the seas as captain of the lumbering galleon Naiegoul. It flies a black flag covered with words of the Ghol-Gan language not spoken for millennia: Geghalle Omutapura, or “Hope Vanishes.” No flag is more feared in the starlit night than Raugsmauda’s, and all but the most stalwart (or foolish) flee before it.
The planks from which the Naiegoul is built are as black as a starless night and radiate powerful necromantic energy, leading many to believe that the ship’s wood is certainly not of this world, and instead is summoned from some horrid nether plane. Small batlike humanoid creatures scurry through its tattered sails, while augmented draugr, wights, and lacedon ghouls crew the decks below. Raugsmauda’s first mate is the graveknight Chouzbec (CE male human graveknight fighter 10), assisted by Pyrada Naulk (CE female human cleric of Lamashtu 11). While her equally malevolent crew members have proven unwavering in their faithfulness, Raugsmauda herself (CE female human lich sorcerer 14) always helms the Naiegoul, seeking victims for her undying malice.
The island of Raugsmauda’s Reach possesses an aura both unsettling and alien. Here sickly yellow-gray fumes waft up from the angry, rocky earth. Unhealthy, stunted trees—wrapped by thorny vines like murderous hands around a victim’s neck—writhe up from the cracked landscape, and tangles of undergrowth cover almost everything else. Madly chittering arachnids as big as hounds patrol the black sand beaches, and fat, unnatural crows perch everywhere in great numbers. At the western edge of the islet rises Raugsmauda’s wide stone tower, six stories high, the bricks darkened as though licked hungrily by hellfire. What lies within and beneath this tower is a mystery reserved for sailors’ nightmares.
A long wharf rolls out from the tower’s heavy iron portcullis into the natural harbor like the lolling tongue of some corpulent beast—the berth of Raugsmauda’s Naiegoul. The galleon sails but one night each month, but can appear anywhere across the Shackles to snatch up lone vessels with unholy, gleeful ease. The Free Captains of all the civilized islands would like nothing better than to be rid of Raugsmauda, and the Pirate Council has agreed to bankroll any group of adventurers willing to take on this undead scourge. Three expeditions have been mounted thus far, but each ship sent out has returned to port awash with blood and unmanned but for a single sailor crucified to the mainmast.