Skull and Shackles
Halfling Beacon against Slavery
Capital: Slipcove (1,400)
Notable Settlements: Beachcomber (1,140), Rumbutter (795)
Ruler: Jolis Raffles
Major Races: Halflings
Languages: Common, Halfling
Religion: Besmara, Cayden Cailean, Norgorber
Plunder: Bullion, honey, lumber, wine
Home to the highest concentration of halflings in the Shackles, Bag Island and its residents have a tragic history, many of the halflings dwelling on the island being newly freed slaves who once belonged to nobles of the Chelish empire. Bag Island’s lord, Jolis Raffles, was born and raised in the devil-worshiping country, but when he was captured and forced into servitude as a rower on the galleon Fiend of the Waves, he quickly grew disillusioned with the nation he once loved. Raffles was able to inspire a mutiny among the hundred-some other enslaved halfling rowers, and they overthrew their captors. The revolt allowed Raffles and his fellows to throw off their shackles, and the mutinous crew renamed their captured ship Chains of Freedom in honor of their newly forged independence. Rather than repatriate themselves back to the nation that had so cavalierly stolen their freedom, Raffles and his crew took to the pirate life as well as the pursuit of justice, and embarked on a string of daring raids on Chelish slavers. Before long, the charismatic ex-thrall and his loyal followers had liberated nearly a thousand slaves, many of them halflings. Raffles was confirmed as leader by acclamation, and his fleet consisting of seven galleys, five sloops, and a pair of hardy frigates set sail for the Shackles, intent on finding a base of operations for the fleet’s anti-slavery crusade.
Bag Island had long been a haven for small pirate fleets, but the scattered hideouts and coves along its shores only became proper settlements when Raffles and his allies settled upon the island. His pirate island quickly became the unofficial halfling refuge in the Shackles, though
members of all races remain welcome as long as such individuals share a passion for freedom and justice.
Raffles’s continued commitment to crushing the slave trade is demonstrated by his ongoing conflict with the much-hated Bedu Hanji and the Rampore Isles to Bag Island’s north. A greater contrast between pirate centers could not be found in all the Shackles, as the rakshasa-led northern islands are a major axis of the slave trade. The two island nations have been involved in a cold war for years now, and not a week goes by without a Bag Island ship encountering a vessel flying the blood-red flag of Rampore. Bag Island crews fight to the death in such conflicts, as captured individuals are inevitably crucified on the southern shore of Rampore’s largest island. Raffles himself narrowly avoided capture in one such encounter, losing much of the sight in his left eye when a slaver’s stray arrow tore off a good chunk of his face. Since then, Jolis has started to contract private agents outside Bag Island for clandestine missions to the Rampore Isles in hopes of disrupting Hanji’s lucrative operations.
While the south of Bag Island is mainly grassy plains, rolling hillocks, and sandy shores, the remainder is craggy and dotted with thick patches of scattered rainforest. The major river that permeates the island, the Libera, is lazy and shaded through most of its journey, feeding several hot marshy areas home to less savory creatures, including venomous snakes, oversized insects, and giant amphibians, and rumors of manticores and even a black dragon are bandied about the southern settlements. Of course, there is also much talk of buried treasure in the wild regions, and occasionally a group of adventurers will set off overland from Slipcove in search of this or that dead pirate’s forgotten hoard. In fact, several cruel-hearted wags make a healthy living in Bag Island’s taverns selling phony maps to gullible outsiders, and more often than not such foolhardy vagabonds find their graves instead of riches.