Islands of Fire
The following is a sneak peek at a setting in progress for Savage Worlds. It is based on a three-part novel of the same name, originally published by the now-defunct jukepopserials.com in 2013, and now available as a series.
WELCOME TO MOKUKAI
Islands of Fire takes place on the world of Mokukai, a place of vast and dangerous oceans, islands of dense jungle, lakes of steaming lava, and both aching beauty and savage cruelty.
Mokukai is a world rife with magic. It permeates the air, the stones, the sea. It is a powerful force that even bends the will of the gods themselves.
Legend tells of Mother Ocean and Father Sky as the progenitors of the world. Father Sky is the embodiment of all that is above: the stars, the sun, the moons, the air, and the winds. Mother Ocean is the embodiment of all that is below: the sea, all water, and all life. The two of them made love and created a countless number of offspring. These are the Gods, powerful beings that dwell on Mokukai and have claimed smaller domains for themselves. Some gods have also created lesser beings, which is the case with humans, who are said to have sprung from the coupling of the first two of Mother Ocean and Father Sky’s own children and spread across Mokukai. And there are other, more insidious, beings out there called devils, who lurk in places where humans rarely go.
The Progenitors, Mother Ocean and Father Sky, possess great mana, yet rarely become involved directly in the affairs of humans. They can be found almost anywhere, and are usually mentioned in daily prayers, though not directly worshipped. Sailors are more likely to directly pray to Mother Ocean for favors or safe passage while at sea, and farmers will often pray to Father Ocean for rain or a change in weather.
The Gods do not have physical forms, though they will occasionally manifest them as they see fit. Gods are most often bound to the land. In fact, when the Progenitors created the gods, each made a home for himself or herself and these became the islands, cradled in their mother’s bosom. Thus, almost all gods are limited to a landform, be it great or small. Large islands are usually the home to more than one god, who have joined together to create the large landmass and rule over it, though not always peacefully. The smaller the landmass, the more likely it was created by one god. Each god has a different personality, takes particular interest in different aspects of their domains, and is more or less friendly to humans.
Creations of the gods are generally referred to as demigods, though they come in many varieties and exist for different purposes. Some are simply meant to guard an area, some are created to deal with supplicants, and others exist for a myriad of purposes. In most cases, demigods are ageless, though not immortal. Humanity is the one creation of the gods that is neither of these things, though unlike most other beings, they have free will.
In dark places dwell the devils, malicious beings of chaos and ruin. Devils can be created in a lot of ways. Some are former gods or demigods who have become corrupted, some were born of terrible magic, some were created by wicked gods for nefarious purposes, while others seem to have simple sprang into existence. Many devils have a physical form, and almost all are tied to a specific place, though not all – the devil Tumatu appears anywhere that murder is in a man’s heart to offer his services, and the devil for war roams the face of Mokukai at will.
Many moku, or nations, comprise the world of Mokukai. Almost all of these are human nations that share similar customs and language, though some regional variations might exist.
This island is a volcanic remnant and barrier reef, part of the Holua Iti archipelago. Villages are small, and though life there is generally peaceful, the interior of the island is still dangerous and wild, the jungles and narrow valleys holding all manner of mysteries. The introductory adventure in Islands of Fire takes place on Kuakiki.
The Howe’a Archipelago
This archipelago is comprised of barrier islands encircling one massive central volcanic island, Howe`a, which is rumored to be home to devils and angry gods. The ring of islands around it are home to several independent nations, while others are mostly empty, their jungles or rocky shores holding hints of ancient civilizations.
The people of towering, mountainous Keli`anu are known to be masters of dark magic – Keli`anu produces more sorcerers than anywhere else.
Kilakila is the collective term for a long archipelago of small atolls and volcanic islands that stretch for hundreds of miles in central Mokukai. Many of the islands are flat rings of sand and brush with a central lagoon.
The largest landmass in all of Mokukai, Kotuhiwa’s abundant resources have allowed humans to flourish and reach population levels never before seen in Mokukai, leading to the formation of very large villages. Biggest of them is Huka`i, a city of 20,000 souls perched at the head of the northern bay at the conflux of two rivers. Stories of strange weapons made of a type of shiny material have come out of Kotuhiwa, though most in Mokukai consider these rumors fanciful.
Despite being blessed with two sheltered, natural harbors, Ku`ano`ano’s people aren’t known for their penchant for seafaring. They are a strange people who consider displays of emotion to be kapu, and adorn their bodies with piercings, ritual scars, and tattoos. Music, other than drumming, is kapu. The people of Ku`ano`ano are master drum makers, and are said to be able to infuse their drums with a dark magic that summons the ghosts of those who have been sacrificed and their blood used to stain the drum heads.
Lohoke`a (The Teeth)
In the far eastern expanse of known Mokukai is a vast shallow sea, where one can wade for a hundred miles. In the middle of this sea are the tiny uninhabited islands of Lohoke`a, also known as the “Teeth,” limestone pillars that rise out of the turquoise water. Many are riddled with caves. Travelers who return from passing through The Teeth sometimes report seeing strange stone buildings on some of the pillars.
Lo`okapo is heavily forested, and most beaches are rocky. The sea bottom drops off quickly, leaving the shores exposed to heavy surf. Only one sheltered harbor provides access. Despite the rough seas, kahuna in Lo`okapo are considered master craftsmen, making canoes that are not only functional but beautiful, sought out by ali`i from all over Mokukai.
The lonely island of Maku`ua seems like prime real estate: It has great weather, ideal terrain for farming, and reefs rich with fish. But settlements don’t last long there because the island is the home of a colossal and violent devil. To this day, travelers rarely go much farther than Maku`ua’s beaches if they have to stop over, don’t stay long, and refuse to read the inscriptions on the various ritual stones left around the island.
This strange feature of the ocean is a vast whirlpool so deep that the rocky bottom of the ocean itself is exposed nearly a mile down. The remains of hapless sailors rot in the exposed mud. None who fall into the Mouth ever escape.
The people of distant No`okewa are insular and half-mad, the victims of their environment and their own blind faith. Having cut down every tree on the island, the people of No`okewa huddle in caves and fight one another for survival. Anyone who visits the island is quickly murdered for his possessions.
Papu’s rugged jungle interior hides the remains of a dark secret: a civilization of twisted serpent people. They dwell in the ruins of their former glory in cities of stone that are swallowed by vines and ferns and tree roots that warp the old buildings and avenues.
Somewhere north of Kotuhiwa is a stretch of empty, open sea with currents that move in a languid circle. All manner of seaweed, driftwood, and other flotsam from across Mokukai gets caught in the currents, growing more and more thick as one draws closer to the center. It is said that a strange island made only of seaweed can be found if one makes it to the center, and this island is home to terrible creatures and the restless dead.
Savage Tonu`ia is a land avoided by most seafarers due to the terrors that live upon it. Reports of crabs the size of huts, massive carnivorous birds, insects as large as a man’s hand, and snakes that stretch out along the length of an entire beach are enough to keep most of the curious away, but mariners passing by recently reported seeing a wild boar that was taller than the treetops.
An Ocean of Adventure
Scores of other islands and archipelagos are scattered across Mokukai. No one really knows how many they are, or where the islands finally end and only the infinite ocean remains – if, in fact, it is infinite. Some believe there must be some kind of end to Mother Ocean’s reach, though it appears in some legends as a solid wall, others a plunging waterfall, others strange new lands filled with unknown people, and still others hold that sailing far enough one way will cause one to come back around on the other side. So far, nobody holds the answers. Perhaps the truth can be discovered by new heroes.