They come in the night, once or twice a year, often when the ripening corn begins to wave slow and sluggish in the winds from the sea. Black ships with black sails - so say those alert enough to awake at their coming, craven enough to attempt flight, and spry enough to succeed. Black ships and black figures, dragging loved ones and friends through the whispering surf and into the ocean's night. Those who are taken never return. Only the black ships ever return, year upon year.
They come to coastal villages, where fishers and farmers toil on land and sea to make it through another winter, where petty lords and struggling guilds lack the power and funds to raise a standing army or shelter their populace behind high curtain walls. Even in territories of greater standing and cohesion, there are always those too poor or rooted to move into the walled towns, and always those fog-shrouded autumn nights where sea and sky meld into swirling darkness broken suddenly and quietly by black ships and black sails.
The slave markets of Syr-Marad and of the Inner Six continue their grinding trade in dispossessed and broken persons, but those taken by the black ships do not pass through those marts. It is as if they were taken not by ships and men in black, but by the brooding sea itself, never to wash ashore from its hungry depths.
[For these adventure hook / lore posts, I have two questions for the reader:
1) how, as a player, would you react to the above adventure hook?
2) how, as a GM, would you incorporate the above lore into your gameworld?
I'd love to see your answers to one or both questions.]