Pirates can get
their hands on things other people cant. Expensive things. Rare
things. Combustible things. And they ask for so little in return: gems
and exotic weapons -- things gnomes have in plenty.
gnome pirate, Gimlet Watersprecht, saw this as an opportunity. Gimlet
had returned from the Pirate Isles nearly five years ago to settle down
and fish in the waters around Lantan, which is his homeland. Retirement
lasted nearly six months before the old pirate got bored. Then he started
looking around for ways to get back into the old business. What he saw
First, the Lantanese
black market appeared mainly to come through the unsavory Nelanther
pirates. These foul orcs, lizardfolk, and ogres (or worse) possessed
a far more treacherous and bloodthirsty streak than the pirates of Gimlets
experience. Sometimes Lantanese traders didnt come back from meetings
with the Nelanther pirates, with no ransom ever offered. Gimlet was
distressed that otherwise reasonable gnomes with perfectly good gems
dealt with unreliable riffraff when he knew of Pirate Isle riffraff
who had predictable and somewhat respectable codes of behavior.
Second, the goods
that Nelanther pirates dealt in were nothing an honest black marketeer
couldnt get from just sailing to Calimshan, Tethyr, or the Sword
Coast in person. They were just smelly, dangerous middlemen who marked
the price up. Pirate Isle mateys, on the other hand, had swag from faraway
Sembia, Turmish, and Unther.
pirates were amateurish and sloppy. They had no style. Further, any
decent illusionist could run them into their own islands. It was practically
criminal to continue giving them business when clever, respectable pirates
were sailing around the Inner Sea looking for safe places to unload
felt a mandate to work up a real pirate operation, for the good of rogues
and unlawful business people all over his homeland. Over the next year
and a half, Gimlet assembled a small crew of pirates and had a portal
constructed to open a pirate trade route between the Sea of Fallen Stars
and the Trackless Sea.
On the Pirate Isles
side, the portal activates over the mouth of a shallow cave on
one of the smaller, uninhabited isles. The cave is half-submerged, low,
but wide. When activated by the key (any spell in the Illusion school
will do), a rowboat or narrower keelboat with its mast struck can pass
through easily. No sane person would row a keelboat through here when
the portal was not activated, as the ship would smash into the
back of the cave about 10 feet later. Anyone taller than a halfling
or gnome must duck going through the portal.
On the Lantan side,
most of the good nooks and crannies were spoken for by someone elses
experiment or scheme. So Gimlet made his own. About a days sail
east of Lantan, two blue metal posts jut from the waves in parallel,
4 feet above the water and about 15 feet apart. Both posts are actually
long, immovable rods that extend another 4 feet below the water.
The activation buttons are on top, above the water, but have been capped
with metal hoods and fused into place so that the rods are not accidentally
deactivated. The rods delineate the area of the portal.
With his crew and
portal set up, Gimlet began a ridiculously lucrative gunrunning
operation to the Pirate Isles, raking in treasures of the nations all
along the shores of the Sea of Fallen Stars. The Nelanther pirates have
noticed the drop-off in their business, and the Nautical Spyglasses
(the semi-formal coast guard of Lantan) has recorded a slight increase
in piratical activity in Lantan. Of the two organizations, the Nelanther
pirates are the ones more likely to take action to put a stop to the
Gimlet knows that
success is perhaps more dangerous than failure in the pirate business,
so he intentionally constructed the portal to be small. Large
ships cannot possibly pass through the portal, and Medium-size
or Large humanoids cant get through without effort. The poles
on the Lantan side are the same color as the water and are barely visible
to those who know about them. As extra insurance, he used his unusual
grasp of Aquan to recruit a tojanida as part of his "crew."
The adult elemental keeps an eye on things on the Lantan side of the
portal. Gimlet himself keeps an eye out for strangers who ask
too many questions (especially half-orcs), and he has illusion spells
prepared for a moments use.
Now Gimlet has a
better retirement than he ever could have hoped for.
hp 55; see Monster Manual page 177.