A maelstrom is a powerful, and typically permanent, whirlpool. The most famous one is the Moskstraumen, located off the rocky shores of Lofoten, Norway. Several others exist, notably Corryvreckan on the Scottish coast and Old Sow along the border of New Brunswick and Maine. They arise naturally where tidal forces and the particulars of geography generate fast-moving circular currents. Rapid vertical movement of water, such as at the bottom of a waterfall or the opening of a fissure on the sea floor, may also cause maelstroms, although those caused by the latter are only temporary. In either case, they are loud: their roaring waters can be heard over long distances.
Game and Story Use
- The Moskstraumen is said to be the home of the kraken. Charybdis, a huge monster mentioned in the Odyssey, is described as a living whirlpool. In a fantasy or historical setting, this or another maelstrom may be the abode of a legendary creature.
- Both Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe describe the Moskstraumen as able to swallow a ship entirely. While this may not be the case, a larger or magical maelstrom – or a black hole in a sci-fi setting – may have the capability to do that much harm.
- The bottom of a maelstrom may hide a passageway. Temporary whirlpools may sit atop giant undersea caverns (kept airtight with magic, perhaps). Permanent ones may provide an entrance to a hollow earth, or other dimensions, like the Elemental Plane of Water or an alternate universe.