Deals with the Deep
The souls of two accursed pirates, and one crew of sailors, hang in the balance between two pacts with horrors long-imprisoned.
Will Cofax Delirium, the mad castaway, make his offering of souls to the Elder God beneath the sands of the Scorching Dunes? Or will the tragic captain Helbram snatch his crew away from oblivion?
And if he does - what will it cost him?
Deals with the Deep centers around two pirates whose destinies have become intertwined by dark dealings: Captain Helbram, a dreary and tormented ship captain, who holds the souls of his former crew bound to a tin flask, and Cofax Delirium, a mad former castaway who forged a pact with an elder sea god in return for rescue.
In its original iteration, Captain Helbram was a character in a grander adventure; for your uses, Captain Helbram can be encountered as an NPC, perhaps attempting to drown his miserable fate in a dockside bar.
As pirates, Delirium and Helbram crossed paths on the high seas. Delirium owed his patron payment; the old god, which took the form of an elderly man, thin, with long-drawn limbs and a ragged beard of seaweed, demanded the souls of a seafaring crew.
With the help of his warlock powers, Delirium was able to capture the crew and uphold his end of the bargain, leaving Helbram alone and half-mad. In his desparation, Helbram too reached out to the churning sea for power... and someone, or something heard his plea as well. Helbram had unknowingly already earned the attention of yet another banished god of the deep: Calypso, the Witch of Salt and Sand. By pure chance, he and his crew happened upon her prison: a desolate, miserable patch of sand, barely cresting above the waves. They took her in, thinking her to be a lost soul, shipwrecked and doomed by fate.
When Delirium executed Helbram's crew, it was she who bound their souls in his flask, keeping the Old Man from collecting them. It was she who answered Helbram's anguished cries.
And it is she whom he will serve, once he renders payment: Delirium's life, snatched away from the Old Man of the Sea.
And so the pacts became intertwined; Delirium's bargain is held unfulfilled, as Calypso intercepted the crew's souls, and Helbram's bargain remains unfulfilled so long as Delirium lives.
Bound by pacts with unknowable, ancient beings, the two much face each other as avatars of the Old Gods; one is destined to become a tribute. The other, a fully realized emissary of an abyssal power long forgotten.
Cofax Awaits Helbram at Eight Roads Market, a merchant's gathering place in the Searing Dunes. Helbram's crew are strewn about the Market as hollow vessels, awaiting the return of their souls.
The First Ocean
The Searing Dunes used to be a true ocean, eons ago. What little lore that does exist regarding the Old Man of the Sea makes reference to the Old One being bound and banished beneath the "dry bones of the first ocean".
Although known primarily to sailors and associated with the modern seas (although any knowledge of the Old One is truly rare), the veil between the maddening reality that forms the Old Man's prison and the Material world is thinnest in the Dunes.