Plunder Valley: Shrines of an ancient Civilization

The world of Sea of Thieves is filled with details. The artists took a long time to design each island and give it some history. Remains of buildings, shrines and other important religious places are only a part of the vast, yet hidden lore. Sadly most players don’t take the time to notice all of those little hints, so we are going to start a series that goes a bit more in-depth on the lore of each island. This series will be using lots of images to show the hidden gems of each island, with a bit of lore, speculation, and story-telling in between.

A picture of shrines in Sea of Thieves inspired us to start with Plunder Valley, which is one of the most interesting islands in the world. Usually, we will also talk a bit about the more recent history of a place, examining the camps and skeletons there, but for this one, we wanted to focus on the ancient civilization. Therefore, we will be leaving some other parts out for this one. If there’s any specific island you would want us to take a look at or if you have some questions about the world then feel free to message us or join our Discord to get in touch!

Island history

To start this off, you will need to know a few things

  • Islands generally have 2 kinds of lore. First, the ancient civilizations, which can be identified through paintings or monumental structures. Plunder valley is a good example of an island that is full of this kind of lore. The second type is the more recent history of an island. Those are the campfires and other structures built by the pirates that inhabited them recently. Smugglers Bay is a good example of an island filled with this kind of lore.
  • Even if you own both the lore and the artbook like we do, you will know relatively little about the first part of the lore. barely anything is known about the ancient civilization. Therefore the stuff we can find in the ingame world is very much relevant
  • All lore things that we don’t base on the Lore or Artbooks are purely speculative, keep in mind however that we spend a ton of time doing research on this game, so our speculation tends to be reasonable and justified
  • Colors are important in all of the paintings. Usually black is the color used for normal stuff, while red indicates a special rank or emphasizes something

Structures

As soon as you step foot on Plunder valley, you will notice how big the island actually is. Exploring all of it took us quite some time, but it was well worth it. If you sail towards it from the right angle you might be able to see the first enormous rock carving, hinting towards the main theme of the island: Birds!

If you already explored some other big islands you will know that most of them follow a certain theme in all of their landmarks. The ancient civilization on Plunder Valley focused on birds and seems to have worked with them and even worshipped them.

There are multiple bird statues all over the island
Paintings do also reference birds. There’s also a Banjo Kazooie easter egg on Plunder Valley
Overgrown buildings suggest that the island was once inhabited by humans
Plunder Valley features one of the biggest cave systems in the game. Slowly exploring the caves with your lantern out is quite a cinematic experience that we can only recommend.
There are cages next to the top of the island. Were birds captured and domesticated back then?

Shrines

The island is filled with shrines that are clearly devoted to birds. Multiple islands have shrines devoted to animals (snake island comes to mind), so it is likely that the overall civilization saw them as gods. It is important to note that this traditional culture wasn’t all peaceful and human sacrifices were part of it. Multiple bones around all of the shrines support that.

This shrine by itself doesn’t tell us too much
Fire seems to have an important role
This bird shrine has steps leading up to it and is overall very ceremonial. There are sacrifices like bones and jugs in front of it.

This one is very interesting. It shows a painting of multiple people that seem to worship the person in the middle. That person seems to hold some kind of staff or spear and has a bird on their shoulder. This suggests that the people were not only worshipping the birds but also using them or working with them. Whether all of them had that ability or just the one guy in the middle is unknown. There’s currently no way to use birds in game, but we have heard that a parrot will be one of the pet options, so players will get to have their own bird at some point!

More Lore

There are a few paintings like this one on the island. The red guys with the trumpets are interesting, but it is hard to tell whether the other people n the painting are excited or running in fear. The trumpets do have a connection to the birds, as in every painting there#s a bird flying at them. Is the bird attacking? Or is this the technique used to capture birds?

This shrine in the caves displays a different image from the others. This time there’s one red person that is worshipped by the normal people. Also interesting is the fact that there’s a skeleton sitting on the shrine as if it was a throne. Does this skeleton belong to the red person? Was he the leader of the bird-tribe?
This painting in the same cave shows multiple persons cheering for a guy that is about to throw his spear. The exact situation remains unknown. Is he trying to fight an enemy, or is he fighting a bird?

What’s your story?

Those are most of the shrines that can be found on the island. As you can see there’s a ton of details and the developers do not put the paintings in to only serve as riddle locations. There’s an actual story behind them and while we do not know what the true history is, making one up yourself is one of the big gifts that this game has to offer. As you can see, Plunder valley itself has such a rich history if you take the time to look at it and draw the lines in your mind. It doesn’t have to be correct, but it will make each island unique and memorable to you.

I personally have a vivid image of a long forgotten tribe on Plunder Valley in mind. They have been both worshipping and working with the birds and used mysterious trumpets to catch them. What history did you come up with? Please tell us in our Discord or wherever you found this article!

Future Content?

Now, we did, of course, save the most exciting bit for the end. Ricardo Robles from the Sea of Thieves Art team has updated his ArtStation with a few pictures recently. One of them touched upon shrines and was the reason we set out to explore the island.

This shrine looks different from those currently in the game – source:https://www.artstation.com/artwork/ky1x6

This looks pretty cool, right? You can see a lot of details and it does look more special than the current landmarks. But there’s more to it.

source: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/ky1x6

It seems to have some mechanism attached to it that makes it glow this way. While we know of similar effects from riddles, this one looks a lot more special. What this shrine is going to do exactly is completely unknown, as we have no more information than these two pictures, but we are certain that is will be something new that isn’t in the game right now because…

This shrine is currently in the same spot! We took the picture from a bit of a different angle, but you can notice the painting with the two persons and the torch next to the lantern liens up with the top shrine picture. More clear however are the rock shapes surrounding the shrine itself, those line up perfectly in both versions, although the bottom one is a bit less ornate. The fact that the glowing shrine is going to replace the bottom rock statue suggests that there will also be a completely new mechanic attached to it.

There are some human-sized bird skulls in the cave. What species could they belong to!

What do you think?

We still have a lot of open questions after finishing this article. Everyone is going to have a bit of a different view on the topic, so tells us yours! What details did we miss? What explanation did you make up for the island lore and more importantly, what do you think is the shrine going to do? We are always excited to hear your thoughts!

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