"…The Sea Bulls, as they call themselves…are possibly my grandfather's greatest mistake. He should have forced them into allegiance with the empire, yet he allowed them to retain their independence. The Sea needs the might of an Imperial arm to ensure a Devastation such as the last never again befalls us…yet what lot of men do we now entrust with defending our lands from faceless horrors beyond the horizon? Honorless ruffians, cads, and scoundrels all…"
~ His High Imperial Majesty Gwideon III, 135 A.D.
"…And damn proud of it, too!"
~ Grand Mariner Chapps, 151 A.D.
The Sea Bulls are the undisputed masters of the oceans and seas that engulf Otep. They were officially established soon after the Devastation with the aid of Bill the Bullfish, whom they revere and for whom they are named. The Sea Bulls maintain dozens of fleets and floating villages on the sea and exert their control over all trade, travel, and transport that takes place on the water. Today they are led by Grand Mariner Bronze Eye from his headquarters on The Primordial Isle.
During The Devastation, no group of people were more prepared to face the catastrophe than the hardy men and women of the unforgiving seas. During the titanic storms that ensued throughout the Devastation, every ship not smashed by the enormous waves found itself flung far out to sea without enough supplies to survive the voyage to shore. Many sailors perished from hunger, and those that did not found each other and banded together to create enormous floating rafts of timber and sail, shipboard communities that pooled their meager resources, struggling to survive. Aware of their plight, the hero Gladin asked a friend, His High Imperial Majesty Gwideon I, to provide supplies to sustain these stranded men and women. Emperor Gwideon complied, hoping that this act of kindness would draw these able people into the fledgling empire and form the foundation of an Imperial Navy. A mountain of supplies were gathered at Whiteport and Bill the Bullfish, Gladin's ally, was charged with delivering them to the shattered peoples of the sea. The lost sailors eagerly accepted the wealth of supplies and, to the chagrin of the Emperor, swore their allegiance to their enormous bronze savior, Bill. With his help the floating colonies managed to contact each other and establish a viable life on the ocean, and named their new alliance in deference to Bill. Having stabilized the fledgling communities and sown the seeds for a great seafaring nation, the newly founded Sea Bulls asked Bill what they ought to do as he departed, his job done. His response, "Make sure you don't get eaten!" remains the credo of the Sea Bulls to this day.
There is little recorded history of Sea Bull activities due mainly to their decentralized and informal nature, though also due to the fact that writin' things down is for sissies and that almost all of the most important events in Sea Bull history were either preceded, followed, or directly caused by several dozen barrels of mead and nobody was quite sure of the details in the morning. Nearly all the remaining and verifiable historical events involve interactions with more formalized, less inebriated nations who were more likely to write on paper than to piss on it.
7 A.D. - With supplies provided by Emperor Gwideon I, Bill the Bullfish rescues the surviving peoples of the sea following the Devastation, inadvertently establishing The Sea Bulls.
100 A.D. - Detecting a great threat from the sea, The Sea Bulls ally with The Empire, The Free Nations, and The Underfolk to overcome an invasion of regenerating aquatic sea creatures in a conflict known as the War of the Red Tide. Casualties include Aquarian, son of the Heroes Lutin and Lucky, and the two eldest sons of Emperor Gwideon II. The Emperor, also injured during the war, would die of complications related to his wounds three years later. Bill the Bullfish himself is rumored to have been mortally wounded during the conflict, and is afterwards never seen again.
220 A.D. - In their explorations, The Sea Bulls discover The Primordial Island of Law and Chaos, where they establish an offical, permanent headquarters.
425 A.D. - A catastrophic earthquake ravages the southwest portion of the continent of Otep, plunging most of the land into a newly created bay. All that remain above the surface are hundreds of rocky crags ranging in size, some rivaling the size of Whiteport. The Sea Bulls declare dominion over these new islands and establish the settlement of Bayrest on the largest.
Today the Sea Bulls are more powerful and influential than ever, garnering an appropriate amount of respect (from the peoples of The Free Nations, who praise them for their commitment to indomitable independence) and fear (from the peoples of The Empire, who dislike their contempt for authority and unpredictable nature). The Sea Bulls regulate nearly all ship traffic throughout the seas of Otep, granting themselves the exclusive right to ship cargo and ferry passengers over water and imposing tariffs on any trade goods that grace their hulls. This is a point for contention with The Empire, who believe a lack of free reign on the ocean inhibits the spread of civilization (and, by extension, goodness and law), though The Free Nations belives that such a forceful imposition by The Sea Bulls places important checks on the power of The Empire. The Sea Bulls are currently led by Grand Mariner Bronze Eye, succeeding Grand Mariner Flynn following her death in 498.
The Primordial Isle
Discovered in 250, The Primordial Isle (officially, The Primordial Island of Law and Chaos, colloquially, Mordia) is the headquarters of all Sea Bulls operations and the seat of their power.
Sea Bull Society
The Sea Bulls claim complete dominion over every ocean, sea, and bay on Otep. In addition, their land holdings include the islands of Murkeye Harbor, The Primordial Isle, and several permanent seaborne settlements formed out of hundreds of smaller, decomissioned ships, lashed together and anchored to the sea floor. Many of these raft communities (colloquially referred to as planks, collectively, the planks) are built above the wreckage of the original planks created by the survivors of the Devastation. Below these floating communities, centuries of sunken detritus have created massive artificial reefs teeming with marine life. Arguably the most important plank is Bull's Convene, anchored just over a hundred miles out from Whiteport and just barely visible from the summit of Mt. Manrig. In contrast to Sea Bull High Command on the ever-transient Primordial Isle, Bull's Convene serves as a staging ground for military operations in the western ocean, a platform for diplomatic relations with Whiteport, an essential trade hub, and a beacon of Sea Bull culture.
While there is no official or observed caste system, all citizens of the Sea Bulls are categorized according to their profession and relationship with Sea Bull high command. Class boundaries are not rigid or hierarchical and are never a cause for discrimination; they represent a conscious choice made by a free-thinking individual. There are three levels of Sea Bull society, and throughout their lives most Sea Bulls will belong to two; many will belong to all three.
The eponymous Bulls are the hardy sailors and marines enlisted in The Sea Bull Grand Fleet, leading lives of wild adventure as they roam the seas enforcing Sea Bull authority. This level itself is divided into enlisted sailors and officers, which are themselves subdivided into several ranks.
Little Bull: A young sailor, fresh from the planks. They carry out minor tasks aboard a ship, such as cleaning, cooking, and, most importantly, watching the experienced sailors and learning the rigors of life on the sea. All Bulls begin their careers here, and most advance quickly.
Bull: The bulk of the sailors serving in The Grand Fleet, there are more Bulls than there are sailors of every other rank combined. These are the standard fighters and seamen that serve as the muscle behind Sea Bull authority.
Big Bull: An exemplary Bull on track to becoming an officer, a Big Bull is charged with policing the behavior of his peers and setting an example that all Sea Bulls can hope to achieve, extolling such qualities as bravery, resilience, and, at times, drunken revelry and sexual promiscuity.
Lieutenant: The lowest officer rank, a lieutenant is charged with leading small sqadrons of Bulls in combat.
Commander: These well-trained officers are tasked with commanding and coordinating the actions of Lieutenants and occasionally leading larger platoons of Bulls in combat.
Captain: Every ship in The Grand Fleet has a Captain who has the authority and the obligation to take any action she sees fit in order to carry out the commands of her superiors. In addition to determining the course and serving as prime decision-maker aboard a ship, the Captain commands two or more Commanders, several Lieutenants, and numerous Bulls. Captains are individuals of extraordinary strength and exemplary ability, and many Sea Bull children dream of one day captaining their own ship.
Commodore: As a Lieutenant is charged with leading several Bulls into battle, Commodores are charged with leading squadrons of ships into battle and may lead whole regiments of Bulls on land.
Admiral: There are four Sea Bull Fleets, each of which is headed by an Admiral. Every ship in The Grand Fleet belongs to one of these smaller fleets, though any Admiral may commandeer any ship in his jurisdiction, including even independent ships (see Raiders, below) and ships not belonging to The Sea Bulls at all. When the Grand Admiral of The Sea Bulls dies, one of the four Admirals is chosen as the new Grand Admiral. Like a Raider Captain (see below), the crew of an Admiral's personal ship is hand-picked and is usually comprised almost entirely of Big Bulls from ships within his fleet, though Admirals have also been known to select from more exotic sources, such as seafaring mercenaries and tribes of beastmen.
Grand Admiral: The most prestigious position any Sea Bull may obtain, the Grand Admiral of The Sea Bulls is not just the chief commander of The Grand Fleet, but also the effective head of the entire Sea Bull nation. See Sea Bull High Command, above.
Upon attaining the rank of Commodore, an exemplary Captain may instead opt to retire from The Grand Fleet and receive free reign to roam the seas, unimpeded by rank or protocol. This new Raider Captain is granted a custom-built ship, with which she may do as she pleases. In exchange, the Raider Captain is responsible for acquiring her own crew, though considering the prestige of serving under a famous Captain, there is never a shortage of applicants. While active-duty personnel are off-limits to recruitment, exceptional Bulls, Lieutenants, and Commanders whose tours of duty have expired may be asked to join. Regardless of their background, all sailors serving under a Raider Captain are considered Raiders. However, a Captain who declines the position of Commodore in favor of becoming a Raider Captain may never advance to the position of Commodore, Admiral, or Grand Admiral within The Grand Fleet. Raider Bulls, Lieutenants, and Commanders are not subject to this restriction, and may rejoin The Grand Fleet at their previous rank as soon as their contract with the Raider Captain has expired. Additionally, an Admiral in The Grand Fleet has the authority to requisition any Raider Captain and her ship should the need arise.
As opposed to the (relatively) rigid lifestyle enforced by The Grand Fleet, life as a Raider is marked by the sort of freedom and independence idealized in pirate lore. Raiders travel the world, leading expeditions into uncharted lands, protecting towns from marauding invaders, exploring uncharted waters, and battling terrors of the deep. As a consequence, life as a Raider is profoundly more dangerous than life as a Bull, though, for many Sea Bulls, serving as a Raider is the opportunity of a lifetime.
While Bulls and Raiders are the most visible and outspoken members of Sea Bull society, only slightly over half of all Sea Bulls spend their lives aboard ships in The Grand Fleet or aboard a Raider vessel. The backbone of the Sea Bulls in composed of men and women who abstain from high adventure and live their lives on the planks, performing the tasks that allow Bulls and Raiders to live as freely as they do. These jobs include fishing, whaling, shipbuilding, shipmending, bartending, and raising the children that will become the next generation of hearty sailors. As children, all Sea Bulls begin as Anglers, learning universal skills that will serve them in their lives at sea no matter which class of society they eventually call home. Even land-born refugees who spend their lives in exile on the planks are considered anglers, and though many may lack the formal training required to live life at sea they may offer services befitting their own unique skills.
It should be noted that there are precious few elderly among the Sea Bulls, as lives of danger and hedonism in difficult environments rarely allow one to reach such an age. Those few Sea Bulls who do, by luck or skill, manage to reach old age are usually shipped off to the continent, where they are allowed to spend their final years as privileged citizens of the coastal town of Rum, near Far Plains, where there exist many of the finest breweries on the continent.
Attitude and Disposition
While hardly pirates in the true sense of the word, Sea Bulls are notoriously the most rowdy peoples on the planet, and though their behavior has tempered over hundreds of years they are as prone to reckless and uncivilized behavior as ever. Even before the Devastation, the men and women of the sea were often those who were outcast from civilization forcefully or who shunned it voluntarily. This has fostered not only a deep-seated sense of independence, but also an empathy for outcasts and misfits. The Sea Bulls are therefore renowned for fostering one of the most tolerant cultures on the planet, with minimal discrimination regarding race, sex, or species (see Enemies below). Even blatantly evil individuals, while perhaps not openly embraced by the people, are at least tolerated as long as they keep to themselves. An exception to this rule concerns the practitioners of demon worship, an act which is not tolerated in the least by any civilized nation on Otep, nor even by Sea Bulls.
While accepting of most, regardless of background, all Sea Bulls foster an eternal hatred for the Sol, a strange race of traders from the continent to the west. Despite this animosity, few Sea Bulls have ever encounted a Sol firsthand, lending these adversaries an air of mystery. Even those that have journeyed to the western continent—and returned alive—refuse to speak more of these enigmatic traders, hinting only at things too dark and terrible to behold. Regardless, the few Sol present in the world at large seem remarkably unperturbed and often disconcertingly amused by The Sea Bulls' seemingly unfounded hatred of their kind.
In addition, The Sea Bulls are as unforgiving towards demons as The Empire, though perhaps not quite as zealous. Even though The Mobb lack the organization to raise an adequate Navy, pockets of seaborne resistance are occasionally encountered. Lacking adequate tools and competent sailors, however, the Mobb mariners are always dispatched with pitiful ease. More problematic, though, are the hulking underwater horrors that often escort these ragtag fleets, and many a brave sailor has been lost in battle against terrifying, enormous winged krakenoids from beyond space and time, sheathed in no less than six layers of impossibility and eighty-one layers of madness.
However, throughout the entire history of The Sea Bulls no adversary has posed such a constant and looming threat as Drowning Simon, a lieutenant of Demogorgon and the last remaining worshipper of Dagon. Prior to the Devastation, Simon was the only survivor of the purge of Ashenport carried out by the Six Saviors. Granted power by Demogorgon, Drowning Simon plagued the fledgling Sea Bulls until the intervention of Bill the Bullfish, the first to destroy him. In the centuries hence, Simon has returned to life time and again, becoming more and more monstrous with each incarnation. Realizing that only the destruction of Demogorgon could ensure Simon's demise, The Sea Bulls recognized the threat posed by the demon lord and began opposing The Mobb in earnest during the reign of Grand Mariner Snuggles in 255.