For the peoples of the world, the sea has always been a source of fear. The black oceans surrounding the various continents and islands teem with monsters that have actively and some would say deliberately impeded sea travel for centuries. But as it stands, even the horrors lurking below the dark waters cannot stop progress, and so over time various means of avoiding or preventing attack by the ocean have been developed.
The first, and to this day most common method was pioneered by the Larassans, who were able to capitalize on the naval advantage to forge their empire. Using enchantment spells focused through songs, sea shanties to be specific, Larassan ships were able to ward away the bulk of the ocean’s malignant life. The presence of a trained bard or enchanter to act as the leader of the Black Chorus, as the magic became known, is required on pretty much any Larassan ship. To go without one is pretty close to suicide.
Eventually the other nations were able to develop their own versions of the Black Chorus, and were able to begin their own naval adventures. But along the way, other tricks to surviving the Darkling Seas (technically the oceans of the region are exactly that, oceans, but Larassans named them and Larassans tend to care more about what sounds good than about accuracy) were developed. It was eventually discovered that the presence of an Executioner Knight of Caporith, or strangely a warforged would also have something of an effect, as the sea monsters seemed somewhat less eager to attack vessels bearing such warriors. The minotaurs also developed their own means of avoiding attack, specifically through the use of ritual offerings of blood and pain to oceans, conducted by the priests of their goddess.
But of all the various peoples of the region, it is the Reaverkin who have the most luck avoiding attack. Shortly after the birth of the Reave, it was discovered that the spine-ships rarely if ever suffered the depredations of the seas, and in fact periodically sea monsters have been known to assist Reaverkin pirates in their attacks. In these rare instances, the monsters seem to take their payment in prey from whoever, Reaverkin or otherwise, falls overboard. This has led to even more speculation as to the true nature of serpent-bone, and the creatures who it originated from.
Finally, and most recently there has been the development of a guild of warriors, who call themselves the Darkling Hunters, who specialize in fighting sea monsters, and protecting ships. Originating in the Lands of Confusion?, the Darkling Hunters have expanded so that now there is a Hunter Guildhouse in every major port of the region, offering their services to ships willing and able to pay.
The origins of the Darkling Hunters are unknown, and the group is viciously secretive, threatening to refuse their services to any who attempt to investigate them. Some theories have formed though, noting the strange “trick weapons” used by the Hunters, which have been seen also in the hands of Warforged.
Despite their usefulness, the Darkling Hunters are commonly shunned and feared outside of their work, due in part to their insular nature, and also due to the strange mutations that seem to afflict certain hunters. These mutations seem to follow two trends, one resulting in a monstrous blend of man and fish, or a hauntingly beautiful but incredibly alien form resembling a human-shaped mass of coral. The most common theory as to the nature of these Hunters is that the guild has somehow discovered a means of transforming themselves into spellbloods, ones adapted to fighting the monsters of the Darkling Seas.
It is in the nature of sailors to be given to superstition, especially given the highly dangerous nature of their environment. Most of these belief revolve around behaviors or individuals who are believed to attract sea monsters. Amongst the most common Larassan taboos are the following:
One of the most feared aspects of the oceans is in its tendency to produce undead. Magical study shows that the Darkling Seas carry a minor necromantic aura, which combined with the high likelihood of horrible death results in unusually large numbers of undead. In most cases, such creatures are ghosts, zombies, and ghouls, but particularly horrible shipwrecks or similar disasters have produced entire ships populated by the ravenous dead.