Derro… of the Sunless Sea

261414-Sunless Sea
The Sunless Sea (Failbetter Games, promotional picture)

Eerie picture right? Well it gets eerier actually, even sometimes downright disturbing on the waters of the perilous Unterzee

In fact Sunless Sea, by Failbetter Games is pretty weird and spooky and there’ some elements of it that I find quite inspiring.

A rogue-like game set in a bizarre underground environment linked to their previous Fallen London offering, the player controls a ship that ventures through the subterranean ocean or “Unterzee” in search of profit, adventure and reputation. As a game it good but definitely requires patience and a sense of fatalism, tempered by persistence – it’s not an easy games or one for the novice or faint-hearted.

As a setting though it’s pretty interesting.. and reminiscent of the Sunless Sea from D1-2 or the Night Below, but with a further Lovecraftian element refracted through a Victorian perspective.

And just who would be crazy enough to captain a ship on a subterranean ocean littered with massive stalagmites and unseen horrors.

Why a derro savant captain of course!

droki images
Cap’n Droki?

 Thar She Gibbers!

There’s actually been couple of discussions already about pirates and derro, duergar and drow sailing the sunless sea, both of them drawing on the classic material from D1-2 (see the Resources links below).

To me, the picture of Droki from 5E Out of the Abyss module looks like a good starting point for a derro savant pirate captain concept – even looks like he has a peg leg actually if you squint… OK, maybe that’s a stretch but the hat looks suitably piratical, at least grant me that.

Sure, the tug style boat pictured in the image is somewhat anachronistic for many campaigns but both Golarion and Midgard do have significant elements of technology present and if we’re talking derro pirates, it’s likely they’ve stolen it off some deep dwarf or duergar merchants anyway. Multiple Shaver stories mention “dero” having access to unusual ray-based technology, so there’s a precedent of sorts although I’d avoid the whole “dark tinker gnome” trope as much as possible.

For other concepts I’m thinking along the lines of crews of aboleth cultists, superstitius sailors making sacrifices to the deep-dread-beneath-the-water or other Lovecraftian horrors, mutated slaves escaped from derro experiments and more…

Inspirations

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