Desert of Dust

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The Desert of Dust is very different from your typical desert. In that, there's very little sand. Actually, it's name is quite literal. The area known as the Desert of Dust is a hot place, made up mostly of cracked, dry earth and rock. Very little vegetation survives out in these barren wastes except for those rare few that have adapted to it's harsh climate. Few creatures call this place home other than a few nomadic tribes of Humans, orcs, and even Mooidjeen. There are no known villages or cities in the Desert of Dust for few would travel to such a desolate place.

Dust Tribes[edit]

Most human tribes reside in the northern part of the Desert, nearer to the rivers and seas that border the north. To the south, you may see more of the Mooidjeen tribes, cast out form the northern reaches of Darrok. Everything in between seems to be infected with orc tribes and even a few creatures who have learned to adapt to this harsh environment.

The Following bullets points are representative of the attitude of a typical resident of the Desert of Dust.

Human and Mooidjeen Tribes[edit]

  • We will survive this place of death.
  • We do not waste what can be reused.
  • We do not use more than we need.
  • We avoid conflict for it wastes water.
  • We value the strength of our tribe.

Paragons[edit]

The following aspects represent people revered in this culture and who represent the ideals of the culture. These are roles that can be attained within the culture. They, or variations of them, can be used to help define an NPC aspects.

  • Honorable Tribal Chief , Shaman of the Earth, Hardened Desert Scout, Devote Tribal Warrior

Cultural Values[edit]

The following one-word descriptive adjectives or nouns can be used to describe what things this culture values. Use them to help fill out aspects for NPCs and to help provide a deeper sense of who the people of this culture are.

  • Efficient
  • Organized
  • Loyal
  • Tribal
  • Hardened
  • Stubborn
  • Vengeful
  • Spiritual
  • Focused
  • Resilient

Cultural History[edit]

Tribes of humans lived to the north of the Desert of Dust, enjoying fertile lands and rivers of plenty. However, as time passed the desert's effects grew until suddenly the lands were no longer green and the rivers dried wet. These human tribes learned to survive and make this place of death, a home. Seeming to thrive on what the desert does have to offer, these tribes life day to day, Moving from Place to Place looking for pockets of water and vegetation. Some days they are lucky to find a Norsa Naur (Giant Fire Scorpion), or a Litse Liante (Sand Spider). These creatures are fierce and dangerous, but usually cannot withstand the attacks of a well organized tribe. For a tribe such a catch is considered a blessing for these bounties can sustain a tribe for months. To the south, one finds the ranges of the Darrok Mountains. Many Mooidjeen try living in the world of their former dwarf brothers, but because of there past and a lot of mistrust, they tend to be accused of crimes, or labeled troublemakers and cast out into the barren Desert of Dust. These Mooidjeen have learned from their northern neighbors how to survive in these harsh lands and have created tribes of their own. For many of them they prefer this harsh life to that of their former ancestry since here their deeds determine their trustworthiness and there seems to be no prejudices in the dirt. In many ways, the Mooidjeen have adapted better to this harsh world than many.

Before the time of the Shattering, deep in the earth north of the old imperial province of Ganth, an ancient Black Dragon slept and hoarded magnificent treasures from a century's worth of plunder and savagery. Content to spend a few more centuries beneath the earth, it was instead awakened by the trembling in the rock and sudden destruction of it's home during the Shattering of the World. It seemed like the death of all things was night. Clinging to it's hoard, it found death just a pathway to more power. But then, the world was healed. And just as it found a comfort in the living death, it was lost and the dragon was no more. But how could something so powerful ever be truly dead? The remains of the great beast, still clinging to it's hoarded treasures, was buried in the earth of this new world. The power and malignancy of the great wyrm infected the lands surrounding it. Taking all life from the earth, death followed and the Barren Wastes Spread until finally the Desert of Dust was born.

This is of course just one of the versions you may hear from a native telling of the Desert's origin. In all tales, one thing stays the same. Somewhere in the Desert lies a great treasure. One that would give enough wealth to give rise to a new king (or queen), or enough wealth to destroy one. Treasure hunters and adventurers have looked in the past, but the tribes of the Desert seem uninterested in such things. After all, are they not just stories?

Tribes usually contain anywhere from thirty to sixty Individuals. Because of the mobility of a tribe, at times they run into each other. As long as the other tribe is not a Bone Clan (Orcs), they tend to be hospitable, and rely on a code to keep the peace. This code has been taught from parent to child and helps with survival in this desert of death. This is one of the few times you may see trade, or the telling of stories to help keep everyone informed of new dangers. At times you may see individuals leave one tribe to join another, but this is rare except in the case of marriage.

The structure of a tribe is simple. The chief leads the tribe, the shaman guides the tribe, the warriors, protect the tribe, and the scouts look over the tribe. In most cases you will only ever see just one or two shamans in a tribe. All other members help by fighting or scouting. Every individual learns to fight and protect, so if you're not a chief, shaman, or scout, then you are a warrior. Everyone has a purpose and a role to keep the tribe safe and fed.

The Great Cleansing is a celebration all non-orc tribes partake in at the start of spring. Treating it like the start of the new year, all able tribes venture to the Weeping Rocks of the Northern Black Mountains. There the tribes are welcomed by an enormous cave that contains a great waterfall and pool. This place is considered sacred by all and magically hidden by Shamans given the honor to come protect it. Only the Chief and the Shaman know of it's location. The Great Cleansing is a celebration of life and allows the various tribes to relax and party with each other for it is this time only that all tribes are considered one. Various games are played, such as "The Chief's Honor" where all the tribal chiefs compete in tests of strength and speed. The winner is considered the Desert's Champion for that year. Food and water are shared since it is plentiful in this sacred place. There are many fruit trees, much vegetation, and mountain animals seem plentiful in this area. There is also a time for the tribes to learn of each other and tell tales of great deeds and victories over the harshness of their desert life. This sacred place is only accessible during the Great Cleansing. Any who try and partake of it's gift on any other day are cursed by the Shaman Guardians.

Orc Clans[edit]

  • We worship the bones of power.
  • We take what we need to survive.
  • We are the rulers of the Desert.
  • We follow the strongest, and cast out the weak.
  • We Honor the Ways of the Bone Clans.

Paragons[edit]

The following aspects represent people revered in this culture and who represent the ideals of the culture. These are roles that can be attained within the culture. They, or variations of them, can be used to help define an NPC aspects.

  • Mighty Orc Chieftain, Sadistic Bone Witch, Relentless Orc Tracker, Patient Orc Ambusher

Cultural Values[edit]

The following one-word descriptive adjectives or nouns can be used to describe what things this culture values. Use them to help fill out aspects for NPCs and to help provide a deeper sense of who the people of this culture are.

  • Efficient
  • Cannibalistic
  • Angry
  • Tribal
  • Murderous
  • Brutal
  • Vengeful
  • Fanatical
  • Relentless
  • Superstitious

Cultural History[edit]

Decay always seems to attract the worst company. In the heart of the Desert lives the numerous clans of orcs the locals refer to as the Bone Clans. These clans range anywhere from fifty to a few hundred. Roaming around seeking food and just struggling to survive, these orcs live to please the Bone Spirits. If they live to eat that day then the bone spirit has smiled on them. If one of the clan dies then it is said they made the bone spirits angry.

On occasion, one orc Chieftain will rise and become powerful enough to attract a number of clans. Called a horde, this large band of orcs will use it's number to rampage to the north or south. Tribes call this the "Swarm of Bones" and do all they can to hide or outrun it. However, like a passing storm the hordes eventually die down as some ill fate tends to fall upon the mighty chieftain who started it all.

Every full moon the clans come together, Like the Great Cleansing for the northern and southern tribes. This gathering is called the night of the Bone Moon. In this gathering all the clans give penance to the Bone spirits by sacrificing their weakest warrior to the Cave of Bones. The caves themselves are located somewhere in the heart of the desert. These caves, which have been carved to resemble the open mouth of a dragon, are said to lead one to the Bone Spirits themselves. The sacrifice is forced into the mouth of the cave and told if they can survive for three days they may return as the new chief of their clan. If they do not survive, they return but not as themselves, but as a creature of horrific features and savagery. The bone tribes refer to them as the "Cursed Ones", or the "Gorgorath". Wide birth is given to these lifeless, beasts as they plague the desert with their hunger and rage. They have even been known to kill their own kind. No orc has ever made it out of the Cave of Bones unchanged.

Cultural Skills[edit]

The culture’s skill pyramid has Investigate at it’s peak with Fight and Physique below it, and NPCs from this culture will tend have these at a higher than normal rank for an NPC of that type. You can also look at the Blood Hill Orcs or the Mooidjeen of Darrok for usable skill pyramids depending on your characters time in the Desert of Dust. These Cultural Skills apply to either tribe or clan.

Cultural Stunts[edit]

With the skills are stunts. Each skill has a rebel and a paragon stunt. Rebels reject the cultural norm while paragons represent this aspect of the culture.

Investigate

  • (Paragon) Survival. When looking for a safe place to camp, hide, or lie low, you can place the situation aspect "Safe Spot" on the zone you are in with a successful create an advantage action. To find you, searchers must succeed at a Good (+3) overcome roll to remove the aspect (instead of the usual +2 difficulty). The aspect also will disappear if you leave the zone.
  • (Rebel) Lead Astray. You can use Investigate in place of Deceit to fool others into thinking you are leading them to safety.

Fight

  • (Paragon) Fight as One When you're leading your tribe or clan, you gain the ability to effect a giant scale in combat. Note this requires numerous individuals and you do not get a bonus to a roll. You act for your unit.
  • (Rebel) Last One Standing. The desert has heightened your survival instincts. Gain a +2 to your first Fight attack roll in a scene where you first used Investigate, Stealth, or Lore.

Physique

  • (Paragon) Nomad. Capable of long days searching for food and shelter, you have an unusually high motivation to keep your tribe or clan alive. You gain +2 to Physique rolls to overcome effects and aspects related to exhaustion.
  • (Rebel) Scare upon Scare. Desert life has forced you to learn that pain is just a thing. With this stunt gain an additional physical stress box, for a maximum of 5 stress boxes. This stunt does not stack with any other stunt that might provide stress boxes. (Something like that would be a powerful extra that costs more than a single point of Refresh.)