Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Deep Desert Gazetteer Part I

This is a first pass. No doubt, it will mutate and expand before we get started with the game.


Map

 
12. Located at the northeastern base of the Hellhole, 12 is a Scorn settlement cluster, consisting of several large dome habitats and a number of underground complexes. The aliens represent the strongest military presence within the Black Smoke Sea, but they cannot be said to truly control the region. The Airlords trade with the Scorn, but neither the Herd nor the Trund do so.

Battlefield Reach:  The trackless, monster infested, radioactive wasteland known as Battlefield Reach sprawls across the ruins of what was once a great super-technological metropolis. Ranging from scrap metal to ancient coins to wondrous items of every possible description, the treasure yielded up by these ruins draws a steady stream of scavengers from across the length and breadth of Satan’s Spine.  Most of the scavenger bands meet up in and operate out of Great Stone Ship.


The Black Smoke Sea:  Comprised primarily of cursed noxious vapors, toxic volcanic gas and malignant spectral plasm, the Black Smoke Sea occupies a great basin situated between the Western Mountains and the Cracked Land. Hazards abound, above, within and beneath the sea’s deadly black clouds. In addition to the unwholesome atmosphere, mysterious tribes and savage, twisted monstrosities evolved to survive in the poisonous environment inhabit and hunt the basin’s floor; violent seismic activity is frequent; and angry spirits filter and prowl through the gaseous murk, jealous of the living and eager to feast upon them.

The Bleak Mountains: High Windy and cold, the Bleak Mountains, present a marked contrast to the heat and aridity of the desert lowlands, but represent an environment as harsh and hostile to life as any in the region.  During the first decades of their lives, before they depart for the stars, many rocs make their nests on some of the higher peaks.

The remoteness and inaccessibility of the chain makes it an ideal refuge. The Dark Mark (an assassins’ guild) the Cult of Gllorr’r (a vile religion centered around an ancient Martian fertility deity) and countless dark wizards are said to have strongholds, hidden away within the mountain fastness. The White Apes have a city, Krag, halfway up the slope of the Thorn, the highest peak in the chain. 

The Cracked Land:  Boulder fields, volcanic vents and uneven, fissured plains of obsidian make up most of the Cracked Land. Magma elementals live and war amongst themselves in the deeper fissures. Loosely knit Sasquatch motorcycle gangs compete with a savage confederation of Minotaur road warrior tribes for control of the area. Each group lives a nomadic lifestyle, growing food in special oversized trucks and drawing on geothermal heat to power their vehicles.  There are no known permanent settlements.

Demon’s Beach: Once the floor of a long forgotten sea, Demon’s Beach is now a vast and flat expanse of crusted salt. The sun pummels the plain with savage, unrelenting intensity. Little lives above ground. However, a vast network of linked natural and artificial caverns, known as the Etros, lies buried deep beneath most of the salt flat. Many dangerous creatures live here. In most of the rest of Satan’s Spine it is commonly believed that Etros is where the souls of the dead reside. Little is known about the nameless domes in the northeastern expanse of Deamon’s Beach.

Great Stone Ship: A titanic sea-going vessel of unknown origin and purpose, Great Stone Ship lies on the desert floor, marking out the northeast boundary of Battlefield Reach. At the base of the ship, in the shade on its northern side, crouches a lowdown settlement of scavengers and prospectors. It is here that the narcotic telouze is manufactured, distilled from a viscous black ooze that rises up from lesions in the earth, found in secret caverns either beneath or nearby the ship.  As with most aspects of life at Great Stone Ship, the Telouze trade is tightly controlled by the local chapter of the Rogue’s Knot.

Krag:  Halfway up the slopes of the mountain called Thorn, the White ape city of Krag resides at roughly 350 chains (23,000 feet/7010 meters) above sea level. Although considered somewhat reclusive, the yeti trade with both the Airlords and the Nuphal; however such is not the case regarding the Trund with whom the residents of Krag have an age long enmity. The city’s defenses are considered to be invulnerable, and the Snow Guard, Krag’s army, second to none; however, it is not military prowess for which the city is known, but for sorcery.  While the white apes remain aloof, and officially neutral in regards to politics, individual brothers of Thorn’s Shadow (the city’s fraternal order of sorcerers) are employed as viziers in nearly every court across the breadth of Satan’s Spine.

Port: What is left of the ancient city of Port can be found near the summit of a low mountain rising up from the bone white plain of Demon’s Beach. This lonely mountain was once a small island, but the land lifted and the sea receded, leaving the city marooned far inland.

Due to its altitude, Port has a milder climate than the desert below.  Life flourishes there. The city has two functioning ag-caverns and access to clean water.  Seeing a chance for sustained survival, if not endless wealth, several factions vie for control of the ancient ruins. The rat folk are probably the strongest group, but several individual monsters rival them in power. Port is one of the few places with easily found access to the Etros.

Rrouz: Famed for its smithies and their wares, Rrouz is also the home to many artisans, artificers and craftsmen of all sorts. The city is nominally under Shae control, but taxes are used to pay tribute to Skull and in reality the ruling council is little more than a puppet government; it is Coil who actually controls Rrouz.  Despite this affiliation, the city is far less oppressive than Skull itself. Many expatriates live in a small neighborhood called Skull-town. Everyone trades at R’Rouz.

Skull: Located deep within the Anvil of Sun and ruled over by the devious and gleefully malignant centipede creature known as Coil, Skull is a city built inside the final remaining relic of a long dead god. Despite Skull’s location at the center of the waste, cool air flows through its neighborhoods and lush tropical growth looms over its sparkling canals; further, the city boasts some of the most productive agricultural caverns (green shafts) on the continent.  This fecundity can be attributed in part to vast subterranean sea located far below Skull’s bustling streets, and on which the plants and people of Skull depend upon more than any other resource for their survival. It is perhaps the largest source of untainted water on the continent, maybe the world. Another contributing factor is the vast god skull itself; its osseus dome is semi translucent, blocking the worst effects of the sun, yet allowing sufficient light through to nourish the gardens below.

The Skrag:  A generally flat, but somewhat rolling expanse of sage steppe, the Skrag supports a surprising array of life forms. Beneficiaries of rainfall and runoff patterns, scrub and cactus grow in abundance sufficient to support large herbivores and their attendant predators. During lean times, hunters from all over the deep desert will cross over to the Skrag to look for game. This is a dangerous practice, however; the native predators are clever and bloodthirsty opportunists, who wont hesitate to turn a competitor into a meal.

Xolox:
For now, just an inked version of the picture from my last post. 

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