Oncoming Wave of Mâl
“You cannot stop the whispers when you get near those green ichayaak, no matter what you do…” - Greyak the Earless, hobgoblin marine

Capital: The Whispering City
Settlements: Gateway (8,000), New Karkoon (2,000), The Whispering City (12,000)
Ruler: The Unknowable Concord of Mâlites
Government: Druidic Theocracy
Races: Dromite, Hobgoblin, Mâlites, Sahuagin
Faiths: Ithreia, Lyvalia, Mâl, Nise, Poison Wave
Resources: Resincraft, relics, shipcraft
Languages: Aquan, Common, Mâlite, Goblin
Border Conditions: Inconsistent (Gateway is surrounded by a porphyrite border. Other borders change with the tides.)

History
The hobgoblin empire of Karkoon was once a prosperous and thriving nation stretching across an archipelago of a dozen islands in the Sea of Karkoon. Each island thronged with well-armed and organized hobgoblins and their various servant races; ‘domesticated’ goblins and a few hives of dromites, the latter in a range of administrative roles. Nominally at peace with their nearest neighbors, Karkoon mercenaries were much in demand especially their marines, as the island empire generated hardened soldiers who were also at home on the water.

All of this changed when the NewGod Wars came to Porphyra. When the elves and orcs split reality apart one of the rifts opened in Karkoon, and through it came the consuming forces of Mâl. Many of the surviving hobgoblins believe this to have been intentional: that the ambitious elves feared their expanding civilization and strong warriors and deliberately allowed one the most hostile gods in the cosmos to gain a foothold in their lands. This enmity continues to today. The elves themselves vehemently deny this, and show as much revulsion to Mâl as any race. Whoever is right, the end result was the same: mâlites poured through the portal and brought their sand-blasted, beetle-infested world with them.

The hobgoblins initially fared well against the mâlite soldiers, but they failed to understand the purpose of the glittering swarms of beetles that howled alongside them: every mouthful the beetles took of Porphyra’s native life was returned to Mâl and reformed into continually adaptive war-beasts. As the hobgoblins began to fall in battle the mâlite custodians devoured the corpses and regurgitated them as more mâlites, and the tide began to turn. With ever-increasing speed the mâlites spread across the islands and where they went, their unnatural weather went with them. Eventually the last survivors of Karkoon boarded their ships and sailed for the open Opal Sea, abandoning their homeland to the clutches of the mâlite wave.

Current Events
The area now known as the Wave of Mâl—comprising the territories of Karkoon and several miles of sea around it—has been drastically transformed by the arrival and work of the mâlites. The islands themselves have been swathed in the green-gray sands of Mâl’s prison plane; in some places the buildings of the old empire have been completely buried, and in others they can be seen jutting from the new terrain. The seas have become turbulent and rough, with an unpleasant tinge—but aquatic life continues to thrive. The sinister sahuagin are the most notable sea race in the area, once the hobgoblins’ rival for control of the place, and now are entangled in the tension between the mâlites and the rest of the world as neutral third parties loyal only to coin and their own savage kind.

In the skies over the Wave an unnatural purple-green storm blankets the sky at all times, allowing only filtered gray sunlight through during the day, and making the nights pitch-black. No rain falls from this storm, although lightning can be seen flickering from cloud to cloud. The clouds only open at the behest of the mâlites below, to facilitate the rain of the hard green resin that the mâlites use to construct their buildings and weapons. What the mâlites want is a mystery which the despots of the other nations of Porphyra spend a lot of time pondering. The alien creatures want the freedom of their god, that much is clear, and they spread wherever the armies and navies of other lands cannot drive them back—but they are not relentlessly hostile, and can be negotiated with under certain circumstances. In diplomatic talks they show a hunger for knowledge of arcane magic and its practitioners, perhaps due to the mâlites’ own lack of skill with the arcane. Particularly unethical slavers find that the mâlites pay well for sorcerers.

Settlements
The major settlements in the Oncoming Wave of Mâl are:

  • The Whispering City is the center of the mâlite infestation - a city of green resincraft buildings built directly over the ruins of Kolat-Bal, the capital of old Karkoon. Over ten thousand mâlites walk its streets, accompanied by the swarms of beetles which are present wherever mâlite corruption is heaviest. They are not, however, the only inhabitants of the Whispering City – several other nations, selected seemingly at random, have been given leave to establish embassies there and treat with the Unknowable Concord, the body of druids who interpret Mâl’s will on Porphyra. Meantime, in the shadows, the mâlites and the embassies probe each other in search of weakness.
  • Gateway is the site of the original tear in space which allowed the armies of Mâl access to the world. The portal remains, one of a very small number allowing transit to Mâl’s prison. Now that the mâlites have a strong foothold on Porphyra the portal sees little use, but visible on the other side are mountainous stacks of giant bones, the biological material of the original mâlites. Gateway is strongly defended by some of the most dangerous mâlites yet created, but select arcanists have been allowed to study the portal in exchange for their insights into the ways of magic. Many do not survive but enough do for knowledge of the prison of Mâl to trickle out.
  • New Karkoon is little more than a heavily guarded encampment populated by the last of the hobgoblins and dromites that refused to capitulate to the mâlites and leave Karkoon. They developed alchemical processes which ward off the omnipresent beetles. Powerful weather control magic keeps the storm from burying them under mâlite resin. The mâlites vastly outnumber them, but New Karkoon is entrenched in the mighty fortress of Kadarach Fel, reinforced and redesigned in the face of the extraplanar threat. Its scant thousands of guardians could hold out against a force many times their number, so the mâlites settle for keeping them contained. In the meantime, the hobgoblins of New Karkoon gather their strength and recruit mighty adventurers to their seemingly hopeless cause.

Intrigues

  • The PC’s ship, carried miles off course by a savage storm is shattered on the rocks of an island now controlled by the Wave of Mâl. The mâlites there are hostile and unwilling to talk but the local sahuagin are friendlier… for a price. They know where an old Karkooni warship is moored in the ruins of a coastal town - but what will they ask for in return?
  • The nature of the Whispering City lends itself to strange alliances and covert betrayals as nations jockey for information and try to avoid the blunt instrument of mâlite justice. As agents of one (or more) of the national embassies there, the PCs are up to their eyes in this shadow war.
  • The hobgoblins of New Karkoon need allies, the more powerful the better. PCs might be the ones they seek, or they might be sent to carry messages of friendship to distant potentates- perhaps even beings on other planes. Of course, this is in between defending the keep from mâlite aggression, striking at targets in the Wave itself, and maintaining a cramped keep of 2000 souls surrounded by the enemy… There’s never a dull day in the resistance.

See Also