Woolly Bay is the northernmost prong of the Sea of Gearnat, which is itself the northern extension of the Azure Sea. This bay bordered by the Wild Coast on the west, the Pomarj on the south, and the Abbor-Alz and Bright Desert on the east. Though some distance removed from Greyhawk, it serves as the highway for all waterborne commerce from the south. As such, its status is of some concern to the directors of the city.
Merchant ships ply the bay, some from ports as far away as Relmor Bay, which borders Nyrond and the port of Prymp in the country of Ahlissa, to the Azure Sea. Others sail down the Selintan River from Greyhawk or farther north from harbors on the Nyr Dyv or along that lake’s tributaries. All this makes Woolly Bay one of the most important maritime seaways of the Flanaess.
Settlements and Locations along the Woolly Bay include:
- Arok’s Landing
- Barren Point
- Blue Bay
- Cantona, Ruins of
- Dragonnel’s Tail
- Faxharbor Cove
- Ghost Tower of Inverness
- High Pass
- Jonnosh Manor
- Megas Landing
- Newtemple Parish
- Sevant’s Cove
- Zarak, Ruins of
The peoples on all sides of the great bay sail its waters in small cogs, easily capable of making the journey up the Selintan. Large galleons and galleys from the seas to the south are not uncommon here. Most of these must load their cargo onto smaller craft if it is destined for Greyhawk. though the smaller galleys can make their way up the river.
Woolly Bay has long been notorious for the small bands of buccaneers who prey upon merchant ships sailing these dark waters. Some of these pirates have become so famous, they have found their way into local ballads, folklore, and legends. Tales are told of the sinner Solomon Clawsen, whose hand was bit off by a shark, and who sails these as looking for a replacement. Then there’s the Ballad of Bloody Grady, once a popular privateer who found the lure of gold a greater master than even his lady fair. The most famous female pirate is Gravedigger Merci, who has put many a man in the ground after granting him the grace of digging his own grave. Last but not least is the half-orc pirate Angelthroat Anhke Garrote, who hung his own crew for killing a magistrate’s son and costing him the ransom.
This pirate problem grew worse after the Pomarj fell to orc invaders in 513 CY. Highport and, to a lesser extent, Blue became safe havens for the worst sorts of buccaneers and slave-takers. These pirates often operated along the coast of the Bright Desert, far from civilized shores, where their deeds remained unknown to the world. From 520 CY to 584 CY the threat of piracy was at its peak, and merchants only put to sea in small armadas accompanied by a ship-of-war. Things have gotten worse in the past five years, with evil humans, hobgoblins, and orcs from the Orcish Empire putting to sea to attack ports and shipping from Woolly Bay to Relmor Bay and the Azure Sea. Piracy has grown more brutal and sophisticated over time.
Until recently, the only armed warships on Woolly Bay were privateers, paid by coastal towns to protect their own ships while raiding others. Safeton, Fax, Elredd, Highport, Blue, and even Scan of Onnwal took part in such part-time piracy, with Highport the worst offender. Hardby’s ships were generally left alone, as they nearly always carried sorceresses capable of hurling fire and lightning magics, and in some cases having charmed sea monsters trail in their wake. Eventually, merchants from many cities formed seafaring guilds and began sailing in armed convoys, taking wizards and ship-to-ship artillery along for protection. Pay-offs were even made to some Wild Coast and Pomarj cities to gain limited immunity from their piracy.
Following the Greyhawk Wars, piracy declined. The orc invasion of the southern Wild Coast left major ports in flames. The walled city of Elredd was razed, though the nearby Port of Elredd was largely spared. Only Highport sponsored buccaneers during this time, with only a few ships. Then, in 585 CY, an orc-crewed cog was sunk in Woolly Bay. Shortly thereafter, it became evident that orcs and humans were teaming up to rebuild a pirate force. With Onnwal’s rebellion in late 586, a counter to this chaos has formed, with Safeton and Hardby sending out warships to patrol the north, and Onnwalish ships from Scant guarding the south. This reduced the incidence of piracy, but it has hardly eliminated the problem.
Two slow currents circulate in Woolly Bay the Safeton Spin flowing counter-clockwise in the northern third and the Wild Current traveling clockwise in the southern two-thirds of the bay. Ships sailing from Hardby to Safeton often ride the Safeton Spin, traveling along the Wild Coast from Hardby south past Carnakh and Pelgaryn to Safeton and the ruins of Cantona. Ships from Safeton hug the coast to avoid the tug of the current up to the mouth of the Selintan and then to Hardby. Sailing against the Spin slows ships by 50 , but this can be overcome by traveling closer to the coast using sails or oars. Hardby ships heading for ports in Relmor Bay or the Azure Sea nearly always take the long leg of the Spin, cruising down the western coast and crossing the bay until they near Barren Point, a rocky peninsula of the Bright Desert about 160 miles south-southeast of Hardby. Here, the ship must quickly cross the current to catch the top of the Wild Current, which will carry the ship east and south along the Bright Desert coast to the Sea of Gearnat.
An abandoned ship drifting with the current would slowly be carried by the Spin from the Dragonnel’s Tail, a long promontory 100 miles south of Safeton, straight east to Barren Point. The Dragonnel’s Tail forms the north shore of Faxharbor Cove and once served as the boundary between the northern and southern halves of the Wild Coast. These days, the border with the Orcish Empire, just south of Safeton, is the feature most people use to mark this boundary. Arriving at Barren Point, the drifting ship continues north along the Bright Desert to Megas Landing, then on around to Hardby.
Rumors and Whispers
Ships baring yellow sails have once again been spotted plying the waters of Woolly Bay. For many, this is an uncomfortable reminder of the Slavelords who once terrorized the region before being destroyed by a brave band of adventurers. Others remark that this is nothing but coincidence.