Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is for the love of all that glistens that men fall prey to wickedness and deceit. For some, the means is the end.
Much of what I have shared with you so far may present a fairly rosy picture of Nobles caring for their people, seeking to help them, having little thought for themselves, a near utopian ideal that I am assured by my Patron is not only improbable, but so long as people are people will not come to pass.
I speak, of course, of the corruption that lies within the many realms, within the nobility, and within the very structures that govern us.
The Emperor has retreated to Zefir, treating it as his personal demesne, The rulers deeply resent their being forced to attend the Convocation. Power struggles among the Houses, power struggles within the houses, the deft use of poison here or a sharp blade there, the angling and positioning that happens to be named an heir, the schemes of heirs, the gambits of Syndics, the machinations of courtiers, the decadent and wanton disregard of people as people, seeing them instead as tools or things.
These are all here.
While much of it no doubt falls to the ambition, greed, and gluttony of the elite, there is also a darker truth and threat that exists.
Wyrlde is a place where the dead can walk again. They are empowered by miasmas who have slipped through the planes and possessed the corpse. Some of those same beings can possess the living, and their goals are to sow despair, depression, angst, grief, and terror.
There is a Hell, there is an Abyss that stares back and laughs, there is a place of Dread where those with power seek to bind those without to them for simplest of purposes: to serve as their minions.
Devils may live off the flesh of Mortals, but they thrive on the corruption of them, the turning of them to acts of cruelty and malevolence, stripping away from them empathy and kindness. They seek to corrupt those they engage in the same way that their Celestial kin strive to lift people up and encourage the very things the Devils seek to bring forth.
Demons prey on souls and spirit, on emotion and regret, striving to inspire fear, terror, mistrust, and isolation as their victims become lifeless husks and shells of their former selves.
Hags make bargains and spin curses and twist the very essence of desire through ever expanding demands and needful things that disrupt and destroy lives, forcing their victims to turn to them for salvation, only to be enslaved to the Hag’s nefarious will.
Nightmares are real, and present, and they hunt their prey not only in their sleep, driving them to a point where what happens in a dream can kill with real world effects – or enabling them to come through and begin their wanton bloodletting.
There is enough lawlessness within Humanity as it is – prejudices, biases, and all the ills themselves – so it should be a wonder that there are any decent Nobles at all when you add in the forces of the Infernal, Nether, and Necrotic planes into the mix.
This should be known: the halls of all the Houses, all the Guilds, all the Circles, all the Noble Estates – the Halls of Power and Justice themselves – fester with corruption that centuries of pursuit by dogged Reeves and others has only made more devious, more cunning, more careful and meticulous in their planning and scheming.
The Seneschal of Sibola itself is said to be influenced by dark powers, The Shaga of Qivira took her place through the admitted murder of her spouse. The former Prince himself spends time in the deeps of a rancid prison for trying to arrange the death of his own sister. While the Empire may seek to see the blood of the line preserved, the House of Usher is not led by the Emperor, for he is too young, and there are those who think he and his daughter are not the best choice for the next just within that family.
Wyrlde does have those who band together for illegal and often violent theft and extortion and other crimes. They are general scourges to trade and travel, and while some are land and some are sea, they are all called the same thing: Corsairs.
Corsair camps are found in out of the way, easily defensible places, though on occasion some have even grown large enough to strike up small villages or hamlets. Corsair groups are typically led by a charismatic leader, often with some form of gift, and are dangerous people who have strong rules for keeping such groups of people in line. Corsair Camps are often based in ancient ruins and may even use a Goblin Lair that was cleaned out and sealed off. This often puts the onus on Adventurers to help wipe out entire bands who have become too large or too threatening.
Corsairs engage in open banditry and piracy, often taking on tasks of robbery and theft, raiding and sometimes pillaging. Corsairs are known to engage in slave taking, and other unsavory acts. Not all corsairs are wicked, and redemption seems to be a theme among them once they have seen too much, but often the true key to a corsair is that they come from a background of disenfranchisement and harm at large scales. Many Corsairs operate secretly in service to some realm or other.
Extreme poverty, raids by goblins or infestations of imps, the often-absent presence of the local Lords, famine, drought, crop failures – the sources are always something that has placed people in a situation where they must either become desperate to fend for themselves, or they have to find a way to provide for their families. Those who are more likely to operate solo or in groups of not more than five are called Brigands.
Corsair Camps often are led by one who leads through skill and cunning, a true Rogue, whose ability to deal with many things is only the start. They will have Seconds, and Thirds, who help to enforce their will – but also provide training and teaching of the crafts of those who would be corsair, in what is very much an apprenticeship all of its own.
Corsair camps are not often self-sufficient, and often will raid not for wealth, but for supplies. There are many large Corsair groups operating at any given time – it often seems as if once you take out one, another will rise in their place. Corsairs love to attack Exilian caravans, because they always travel with enough to feed themselves, and as a result Exilian caravans are not the easiest prey.
The spoils of a corsair group are often divided evenly among those who did the despoiling. Many will contact a guild for fencing, or perhaps try to pass themselves off as ordinary merchants with goods that they came by honestly, in order to find the coin to live. They then take those earnings back to the camps, where there are individuals and families who live and struggle together, often in defiance of the local customs and laws, living by what most of the all the Higher Law.
One corsair I know, who styles himself as “The King of Thieves” has five camps, scattered through three of the realms, and what comes to him often finds its way to those who have the greatest need of it. Not that he is a kindhearted sort, mind you – for all his charm and manners, he is as wicked as any other when the blade touches the throat.
As a result, while many Corsairs are hostile to the Foe on their own turf, they may not be so opposed to dealing with them in some circumstances – a corruption that always pleases Pallor.