Next week, my pirate campaign sails where no livin’ mortal has sailed before: Lasthaven, Lord Neptune’s final destination for jaunty and noblehearted seafarers. This afterlife has always been my favorite concept about our homebrew pirate setting, and I set this campaign upspecifically to take the group there.
In our “Pirate Pantheon,” Neptune is he who invites men to try their chances on the sea; embarking on any voyage is metaphorically referred to as “wrestling” with Neptune or daring him to destroy you. Neptune rejoices in such audacity, and admires most highly those mortals who risk their lives for the sake of adventure. Storms and obstacles are taken to be Neptune “sporting” with the mortals, that he may take pleasure in their courage. These contests often result in death, so Neptune has constructed the perfect afterlife for his favorites.
Mortals die anyway; for Neptune, the most virtuous act a mortal can perform is to embrace it, laughing – to count the adventure as being worth it – to die with a clear conscience that you gave it your best shot. To die cursing your luck means damnation. (note this leaves the loophole that people who are unafraid of death for other reasons – cultists who worship it, for instance – can also find their way here. Like the sea itself, Neptune is somewhat careless)
The souls of the noblehearted find themselves on board a ghostly vessel, just pulling into port. All their friends and rivals are already in the taverns, drinking ale, playing dice, and telling their yarns – all are equal here, except in the greatness of the yarns you have to tell.
To the eyes of mortal souls, the Lasthaven reality looks like an endless port city, filled with taverns and Neptunian temples – which may well be the same thing. In Lasthaven at large, the food and beer flow freely – there is no need to buy Neptune’s bounty. The sky is a brilliant white, the bay a glassy calm, and the buildings themselves seem to be fashioned out of mist and crystal.
The Quarter of the Discontent
The “Quarter Of The Discontent” houses the souls who died courageously enough to gain Neptune’s favor but who still carry “ballast;” that is, any little thing that still binds their hearts to the mortal world. That could mean anything from unfinished business, to a base-minded frustration that there’s nothing “more” to this life than sitting around swapping stories. (In the case of my old PC, Eleazar Balboa, he was still determined tosave the world – so much so that he found a way to send a message to his old shipmates, which started the campaign) Thus it’s a kind of purgatory that is within the realm of Lasthaven, but for souls who aren’t yet ready for its full blessings – and clearly these souls are imperfect, since there is no more to life than sitting around swapping stories!
Because the discontented still feel a need to pay for things, the Quarter has its own economy – bartering things plundered from the dead, or acquired in transactions with mendacious sorcerers in the mortal realm. (how such an economy would actually work definitely bears more development than I had time to give it in one adventure! However, it would seem reasonable that such things as mortal blood would be priceless, if only for reasons of supply and demand…) Many of the discontent think of themselves as entepreneurs, actually preferring the Quarter to the real heaven.
The buildings here are made of the same materials, and any new construction is “hewn” out of reality by the power of pure discontentment; but whether discontentment itself actually has the ability to alter Lasthaven, or whether this is just Neptune’s kindness in giving the discontented what they think they want, is a matter of speculation.
The Green Hydra
At the heart of the Quarter is a speakeasy called the Green Hydra. It’s rumored that the barkeep was the first discontented soul ever to arrive in Lasthaven. The sign over the door depicts a hydra, as green as envy, with its seven heads straining after symbolic depictions of the seven deadly vices – the monster itself looks as if it’s about to be obliviously pulled apart by its competing lusts. In spite of the surprisingly self-aware sign, the Green Hydra is a center for all kinds of vice. Anything can be bought here.
A Note: Do Ships Have Souls?
The “soul” of a ship often reflects the characters of their crews and captains (not to mention the deeds, for fair or foul, that have been wrought on their decks), but it is also a distinct and unique entity.
In Lasthaven, sailors sometimes arrive on board the “ghost” of the ship they were just serving on – especially if she’s been wrecked. This is particularly true in cases where there was a deep personal connection between you and the ship – there have also been accounts of ships that “loved” their captains so deeply that their souls left their physical hulls behind to cleave with his in death. This causes curious effects in the physical “bodies” of ships that have been left behind – they are still operable, but missing something. Such a ship has become, in a sense, just a ships – a kind of death that will be mourned by any who knew her well.