A river of this size touches on many different regions and races. From the dwarven cities in the mountain ranges that feed the river, to the reptile races in the far northern delta, the river passes through them all. Each nation that the river passes through has their own influence on river life and traffic. Some nations allow free travel on the river to encourage trade, while in other regions merchants must pay hefty tolls and suffer their goods being seized by despots. River piracy is common in the lawless areas between cities. Most ships on the river that transport valuable goods carry a compliment of fighting men or trained sailors to fight off the attacks. Many merchants hire their own retinue of guards for their cargoes having heard tales of ships crews turning into pirates themselves once the cities are out of sight.
With so many cultures reliant on the river, the mix of races is quite vast. Humans remain the most common race to be seen due to their natural adaptations, however they are closely followed by the Halflings. The Halfling race has an affinity for the water after their flight from their homeland ages ago. Their litheness lets them scamper across the decks and up the riggings with ease, and their small size means more space can be devoted to cargo space. Most Halfling owned vessels are crewed exclusively by members of their own race. They make use of dockhands in port for the heavy lifting, but once under way the crew rarely has to move any cargo. This makes up for their lack of physical strength.
There is no one authority you can point to that controls the river. Each nation it passes through controls as much of the river as they have the strength to hold on to. Luckily, most regions understand the benefits of having traffic freely able to move on the river. When an aggressive ruler attempts to cut off traffic on the river the surrounding nations are quick to band together to end the blockades.
Many ships are part of the Ouhm River Trading Guild; a loose collection of merchants, captains, and suppliers. This group does not exercise its power directly, instead it uses its contacts to influence commerce throughout the river realms. When one nation levies a heavier tax on ship traffic, merchants are advised to increase the price of their goods sold in that region. When the cost of nearly all their goods have doubled most nations get the point and changes the levy to be something more reasonable. The guild also advise captains on what goods a nation has declared illegal so that they are not caught unawares when transporting their merchandise.
Dangers on the RiverEdit
Piracy – With so much trade occurring on the river, it attracts the attention of ne’er-do-wells. The river has many winds, bends, and coves hidden along its great length. River pirates lie in wait for a ship loaded down with cargo in these hidden places ready to strike out at passing ships. While piracy is common among every race, the most successful pirates on the river are the Halflings. They know the river better than any other race (a not unfounded claim). They are fearless, agile, and clever enough to layout complicated ambushes. Many people see only the harmless side of Halflings, equating them to children, however they are like any other race and have the potential for violence and evil acts.
The river itself is often deceptively calm. It paces along at an even and predictable pace and seems to hold no possibility of danger. Travelers quickly learn that its appearance masks dangers just below the surface. Stumps and whole trees can be worn away or knocked into the river by natural causes only to resurface somewhere farther downstream. These underwater obstacles can become lodged upright forming the equivalent of a spear set against a charging rider capable of piercing most wooden hulls. Even floating trees not yet firmly stuck present shipping hazards to thin hulled vessels if struck the right way. The water itself is not placid, it can form small whirlpools, cross currents, and undertows. A man falling into the river can be swept away from his ship faster than he realizes. In many places the river is over a kilometer wide and can tax even the strongest swimmer.
The murky waters hide a vast array of creatures. Eels and whiskered fish are the primary staples underlying the ecology of the water. These are preyed upon by larger beasts such as alligator gar and freshwater bull sharks. Both species can easily reach sizes of over 3 metres. Each region has its own local hazards depending on its seasonal weather. To the north near the Great Delta, large crocodiles and giant crabs are more commonly seen while the cold southern reaches support Chuul and Scrag (Aquatic Trolls).
Sites of InterestEdit