The Wild Coast
Nyr Dyv (Lake of Unknown Depths)
This body of water is the largest fresh water lake known to us, although legends and tales report a veritable sea far to the west, if such stories can he believed. Much commerce plies the waters of the lake, for Nyr Dyv has many navigable inlets (Artonsamay, Veng, and Velverdyva Rivers) and outlets (the broad Nesser River, and the Selintan to a lesser extent). Its central position combines with these river routes to make it the busiest body of water in around the Flanaess. The cities of Admundfort, Radigast, Leukish, Dyvers, and even Greyhawk rely heavily upon this mercantile shipping. Squadrons of warships move continually about its surface to keep raiders to a minimum and combat occasional predatory water creatures as well.
One of the most unusual features of the Lake of Unknown Depths is the people who make their home upon great barges. These folk travel about trading, fishing, and generally earning their entire livelihood upon the bounty of Nyr Dyv; for unlike Lake Quag which sometimes freezes over much of its surface, and Whyestil which is cold and unwholesome in winter, Nyr Dyv’s southern shores remain relatively pleasant year long, and there these barges winter. Being both clever at barter and trade and able fighters as well, these folk are seldom molested. They are said to be skillful thieves and pirates by some, but such charges are unproven, although quite possible, and are ardently denied by the barges. Calling themselves the Rhennee, the lake folk can be found in all waters rivers and lakes, which connect, to Nyr Dyv – navigable by their barges, but always returning to Nyr Dyv in winter.
A typical barge is about 12 to 18 feet wide and 30 to 45 feet long. Each has a lug sail, and the larger usually have an aft rigged gaff sail as well. They also can be propelled by sweeps and poles. Although these craft have a relatively shallow draft, the hull is deep enough to be decked over, and a small cabin usually is built just abaft of the beam. Rails are planked over for protection, and many heavy crossbow mounts are stationed along them. Some barges carry scorpions at bow and stern. Each is crewed by a “lord” who dwells with his family in the cabin, and “cousins,” servitors who may or may not be related, who find living space on or below deck. A typical barge is thus home to 15 to 20 souls. All adults and able youngsters work and are trained in defense. When “camped,” the bargefolk chain their vessels together; this device also is used in defense. Most barges carry a small boat for use in communications, fishing, or shuttle. It is said that the bargees have developed a sophisticated communication system, which uses flags in daylight, colored lanterns at night, and sometimes even smoke. Similarly, it is reported that they use a special speech whose cant is understood only by others of the Rhennee. If the bargees are as rich in gold, jewelry, and prized fresh water pearls as stories tell, it cannot be determined from their dwellings, dress, or habits.
Nyr Dyv also is well known for the monsters, which inhabit its waters. Deep beneath the surface lurk huge creatures, which prey upon unwary sailors or anyone so unlucky as to fall into the water. Warcraft, and occasionally merchants or bargees will bring back such monsters as trophies, as constant warfare upon these creatures is necessary to make the lake useful and usable.