Fireborn: Dark Phoenix
Sladava is a micro-nation, made up of an alliance of small islands who’ve banded together for protection against larger nations; the trouble is, there is little on the islands worth taking, which has been a far bigger factor in their independence. Invasions have occasionally been attempted in the past; but no occupation of any island has lasted more than half a century before being abandoned again.
Sladava is deeply corrupt; government changes and uprisings occur every few decades at most, with autocratic rulers in between struggling to impose their ‘new way’ on the loose and disparate collection of islands, none of which are more than 20 miles across. Justice and protection are provided by organised crime and private cartels, and people need as much protection from the government’s bribe-seeking enforcers as from common criminals.
As such, Sladava is a haven for criminals, rebels and radicals of all kinds, with little to worry from police or government interference. Despite this, piracy remains an unwelcome scourge in the area; the core islands are the leading edge of the Slader Archipelago, a long westward trail of shallow reefs, rocky outcroppings, and island atolls that stretch a hundred miles to the west and are fifty miles wide; the mazelike corridors of deeper water in between are often tidal, and too shallow for larger steam-powered warships to enter. This has long permitted the region to be a perfect hideaway for smugglers and pirates of all varieties, as long as they use sailing vessels and bear good maps showing how to get to their chosen bases and stashes.
The failure of Arkalia, and the way its (wooden) navy has turned to privateering to pay their troops rather than aiding their ‘government’ back home, has reinvigorated the piratical traditions; but Sladava’s powerful criminal gangs (many of whom specialise in smuggling and also frequent the same reefs) are loath to cooperate with other nations by sharing maps and reporting pirate bases; and Sladava itself is far too weak to even control its own territories, let alone take command of some of the world’s most infamously treacherous waterways.
Sladavan laws technically permit full equality to Dragonborn – but laws are rarely enforced even for Uruk, and kidnappings and enslavements are common.