Welcome to al-Azraq! Below are ten useful things to know about the setting and its races. As I write more material, I’ll put those links here, too.
10 Things to Know
1. The world is a vast, unbound ocean dotted with islands, most of which are in sprawling archipelagos.
2. Although islands near the “core” of a civilization tend to be heavily populated and cultivated, the majority of the islands are untamed and relatively unexplored, hosting, at most, one port that functions as trading post and military garrison for the area.
3. Several cultures have risen to dominance and fallen into decline, leaving evidence of their passage across the islands in the form of ruins and monuments.
4. The Zamarrid Empire of the Dragonborn has been the dominant power for nearly a thousand years, but it is in decline, riddled with corruption and internal strife.
5. In a remote corner of the world, separated by a vast stretch of empty seas, scattered groups of humans have joined together into a confederation that could challenge the dominance of the Zamarrid.
6. Before the Zamarrid ascended, the seas were ruled with utmost tyranny by an empire of Tieflings, the Xarir, whose empire collapsed suddenly and cataclysmically. Rumors abound that a pact with Devils had gone awry, but the descendants of the Xarir aren’t eager to discuss the matter.
7. At the dawn of the world, the Elves sailed the seas, explored the islands, and built havens that last to this day. However, most of the elves departed through a portal to another world. Those who remain are either secluded hermits pursuing their private interests, or they are seafarers with unquenchable wanderlust. Enclaves of the latter can be found anywhere ships sail.
8. Dwarves hold hegemony in the cold, barren isles of the north, where they produce the finest weapons, armor, and metalwork. They rarely sail, so buyers must go to them; those who do sail are dreaded slave raiders, hunting laborers for the mines and forges.
9. Speaking of slavery, it is a major trade for the dwarven kingdoms, the remnants of the Xarir, and for the Zamarrid. Humanity abhors the practice, and a significant portion of their “pirates” hunt slave galleys to liberate their cargo.
10. Recently, a coalition of gnomes and humans have developed firearms. These exotic weapons are rare and expensive, and it is rumored that they are working to develop cannons whose firepower could rival that of the mages who have traditionally powered ship-to-ship combat.
BONUS: Fearsome creatures lurk in the deep waters between archipelagos, making long-distance travel even more hazardous than it would otherwise be.