Black Whale

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Established in 4693 AR, the Black Whale is a prison on the western part of the Flotsam Graveyard intended for the most notorious or politically sensitive prisoners too dangerous to be kept in the Brine in Puddles.1

The prison consists of six beached ships, bolted to it with long chains and each lashed together. The guards and other staff stay on the northernmost of the ships, which holds their quarters, all the rowboats, the armory, and the storerooms. An adjacent ship is home to the galley and processing rooms where prisoners are fed and readied for the other ships. A series of pulleys connects ropes and anchors to all six ships, and during rough seas, the prisoners push a pulley axle on each ship to tow supply ships in.1

Due to the nature of these criminals, only the Grand Council holds a complete list of who resides within the prison, and few survive long in the squalid conditions aboard (although death typically occurs only due to natural causes). The Lord Warden of the Black Whale is the Fourth Lord of Laws, Guirden of House Gixx. Due to the importance of these prisoners, guards are ever watchful of prisoners breaking out, or outsiders breaking in.12

Acting Primarch Wynsal Starborn has proposed overhauling the Black Whale and replacing its leadership due to reports of corruption within the prison; corruption he witnessed firsthand when he was wrongly imprisoned there.3


The security of the prison is impressive to say the least. Most obviously, the area sits under the watchful eyes of Fort Tempest (and its formidable siege weapons) and the prison has no shipwrecks near it to aid in any escape. Furthermore, food scraps from the prison and Pilot House are dumped around the razor-sharp reef, ensuring that sharks and rays are always in the area seeking food. Gillmen have recently been hired to patrol the area under the ship to ensure no escapees make it to shore, at the request of the Lord Warden.1 A family of luscas has also been lured to patrol the waters around the prison. The most powerful jailers of all are a trio of sea witches that have magically overlaid the prison with Stormholt, a demiplane of storms and shipwrecks that they rule, so that beings within the prison only perceive the eternally storm-tossed waters of the demiplane around them, making escape back to Absalom and the Material Plane impossible without magical assistance.4

In secret, however, the witches are a coven of hags who have used their position of power to feed on the dreams of the prison's inmates. Warden Guirden is aware of and allows this behavior, although he prevents the witches from feeding on prisoners who are in danger of dying. Unknown to him, however, the hags have been secretly weakening his own resolve and morals, intending to use him as a way to take control of the prison.4

While not strictly part of security, the prison keeps a white cat named Mouse as a mascot. Mouse spends his time roaming the prison, and has a habit of stealing the guards' keyrings.5


The six ships that compose the Black Whale have been hollowed out and extensively restructured to serve as a prison complex. Their upper decks contain open-air stretches, in addition to slate-roofed cabins housing guards and staff. Common prisoners are kept in galley holds, where they are chained in large numbers to rows of benches. More dangerous prisoners are kept in cell holds, decks of the ships that contain large numbers of individual cells arranged around a central area. Each cell has an iron door with a single viewing window, and binding circles are used to contain prisoners with magical abilities. Warden Guirden keeps his guards busy by having them constantly demolish and rebuild the cells, which has resulted in the formation of a complex system of irregularly sized and positioned rooms. Some of the cells are extremely small and cramped, and are used by the guards to imprison the inmates they most dislike.4

The ships are connected by a number of plank bridges provided with rope railings. Many of the ships' lowers levels touch raised sections of the reefs a few inches below the water, which have been fitted with metal poles and ropes to provide railings and allow them to be used as additional walkways.4


Many of the Black Whale's prisoners are individuals whose political connections or innate power would make them impossible to detain under normal circumstances.6

  • Amata is a Chelaxian cambion who was arrested alongside three accomplices following her role in inciting the Devil's Night riots, during which displaced Chelaxian nobility attempted to burn down Absalom's temple of Asmodeus. Her phistophilus ancestor has promised to transport her to a position of prominence in Hell if she can convince her cellmates to agree to accompany her, which she has so far been unable to do.6
  • Atla is a mute spellcaster who communicates using inscribed bones. She has no wish to escape, and has a good relationship with the guards.6
  • Marato Alonso was a successful swordfighter who engaged in an affair with a married noblewoman of House Damaq. His lover's husband, after learning of this, had Marato imprisoned in a forgotten shell and imprisoned in the Black Whale.6
  • Mimnurath is a blue dragon who schemed against Absalom. He was imprisoned instead of being killed on the orders of Primarch Gyr, who visited him for political insight and advice. Mimnurath is imprisoned within a warding circle, and appears in the form of a middle-aged human.6
  • Sly Smitter was the guard of a noble who was convicted of crimes against Absalom and was imprisoned alongside his employer. While the noble perished, Sly has become an influential figure in the Black Whale due to his skill in obtaining or creating useful items to sell to other prisoners and for his contacts among the guards that he uses to smuggle contraband into the prison.5


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Owen K.C. Stephens. “Places” in Guide to Absalom, 26. Paizo Inc., 2008
  2. Erik Mona, et al. Absalom” in Pathfinder Society Field Guide, 7. Paizo Inc., 2011
  3. Benjamin U. Fields, et al. “Player Rules” in Ruins of the Radiant Siege, 73. Paizo Inc., 2020
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Cole Kronewitter. “Belly of the Black Whale” in Belly of the Black Whale, 28–30. Paizo Inc., 2020
  5. 5.0 5.1 Cole Kronewitter. “Belly of the Black Whale” in Belly of the Black Whale, 31. Paizo Inc., 2020
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Cole Kronewitter. “Belly of the Black Whale” in Belly of the Black Whale, 30. Paizo Inc., 2020