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Skiffs of Kalazar

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I don't know what it is.  I can't get the idea of a sand sea out of my mind.  Saliors of the DryLands...

By the way, Kalazar in one of the most cosmopolitan city states in The Dry Lands (Insert name later).  

The Sun in unmerciful in its heat and relentless shining.

This could be a geologically ancient and stable world, where the mountains are mostly worn down, the land is flat, and the seas are shallow.

You might have a couple of moons, and when they both full together, the tides are extra high and come rushing across the flats. The hurricanes in this place could be truly awesome, and they'd bring storm surge with them, which covers the shore with (plant-killing) sea water (if we go with the salt options).

The Drylands recieve preciously little rain every year.  The sparse populations (when compared to other water rich environments) huddle around water sources.  

Cities and Villages are built into Hills and Great Mesas, where the deep rock can keep things cool.  

Between the cities is the vast wastes of the Dryland.  There are two ways I see them.
1) As a vast uneven salt surface.  Some of it will be pancake salt, in other places it will be more granual salt. Sometimes it will be a shallow supersaturated salty sea. Skiffs would have both wheels and skis/ with a boat like feel to make this work.  It would make skiffing tougher and more challanging.

2) Sand, with black bits.  These black sands have magnetic properties.  Between the Wind and Lightning Storms, the sand dunes would shift and roll, yet not blow up as much as real sand.  Skiffs would have energized ski's with their sails to skim in and over the sand.  

There could be an odd alien ecology on the surface and beneith the surface of the Drylands.  The undersurface would be a vaguely marine analog.  Allowing us for monsters of the deep.  The surface monsters would be a cross between swamp and desert creatures.  Dark Sand allows us for more interesting monster life and more metals here.  

I forsee magic as a ritual affair requiring a magical laboratory/ sanctum.  Many magic users will hide their laboratories, so people will not know they are mages.  Most spells will be of the scrying and weather effects sort. However, summoning demons might be a secret past time.  (The Black Sand could be used in spell casting, allowing for sand form/ phantasmal forms.).  

Alchemy is probably the prefered form of magic here.  Magic using Adventurers are probably unheard of, as they need all their stuff to do magic.  

I see combat as a ritual thing as well, with lots of whirling and martial arts moves.  Jumping and Leaping would be important here, as it will let you get out of the way of "breaching" Drylands life.  Perhaps the social rank determines how long a reach your weapon can have.  Those with spears are nobles, those with knives are commoners...

--human and animal life will tend toward the nocturnal or subterranean. Both to get out of the sun, and to conserve water (cooler night air doesn't absorb moisture as fast). Human architecture will be massive (insulating the heat out) and include lots of covered walkways, porches, etc. for shade.

--life is all about water in this place. Animals can smell it for miles. Plants (such as they are) will defend it, with toxic sap, spines, , deep storage roots, tough bark, etc.

--if some rain comes on a regular cycle, you'll get lots of adaptations to respond to this. Wildflowers that germinate, bloom and go to seed in days. Animals that stay dormant for months, maybe years, then come rushing out when the rains fall. If the rains don't come regularly, then the life will be highly mobile, always wandering in search of where the rains fell. Probably lots of flying animals, and floating seeds.

--Compared to what we're used to, this could be a very lonely, empty place. Small populations huddled here and there, surrounded by vast open, lifeless flats. What does this mean for the culture? Also, water is really really precious. You might have "Dune"-esque water recycling (a man's body fluids are worth keeping)

--This ecology probably wouldn't support much in the way of your traditional big monster type things (unless you want it too. Then maybe add a bunch of inedible sea life). They can eat you, you can't eat them...).

--What do these people do for organic materials: rope, fabric, paper, oil? Import it from far away? Grow it in precious, carefully cultivated gardens? That would make it really valuable. Maybe you need the inedible sea life for skin and oils? Or maybe there are a few places where the rains do come regularly, if only for short time, and there are elaborate systems of catchments and cisterns for storage. This would change warfare too: water might be so precious that only the most desperate or depraved will smash structures. No wall-smashing, dam-bursting, well-poisoning. Much more emphasis on lighter, faster actions and raids (for that matter no heavy armor: too hot).

Your Thoughts...

Rain...when it comes it would most likely be flash floods all over the place. The sand/salt probably wouldn't be able to absorb it rapidly enough to protect from flooding.

The culture then, while living in mostly desert, would have to come up with something to either survive the flood like building off the ground on cliffs or stilts or come up with water diversion/storage.

Like the idea of moons bringing in the sea...the sea being shallow is an interesting concept too. Perhaps there are paths across the sea that people can actually walk across. Imagine going from the vast wasteland of the desert to the vast wasteland of the sea. Both are almost unliveable without preperation. Shallow sea would also dictate shallow draft boats as well, probably more online with kind of boats used on the sand.

Magnetic sands....when blown freely the tend to line up north to south? Directions in a vast wasteland in nothingness perhaps?

Sand + lightning = pockets of natural glass?

Egyptian Nile river flooding type thing for some seasonal farming aside from the flash floods?

Organic materials. Perhaps parts of the desert have chemical make ups that when you put flesh/fur/skin out in the sun and sand, over time they turn it into a very durable leather type material that can be turned into any number of things.

I love it!
Of course, travelling between places would be horrendously difficult...

Dune-esque ideas....
The dead are recycled into water
Special suits for water conservation
Et cetera...

Dune.  That would an interesting application to the world.  Still-suits require technology to create.  A primitive version might still be possible, if there is some animal that has a polyphrene like skin.  

Still suits would make wet salt oceans more palitable, as they would function as a wet suit.  So they would conserve water and allow you to survive contact with the hyper saline sea.  

I am still split between magnetic sands or hypersaline salt oceans (which might be 5 feet deep at best....).  I am learning towards the magnetic sands.

The magnetic sands allows us a more fantasy feel (while still having the versimilitude building psuedoscience explanation for floating boats/ skiffs).  magnetics could also be used as a function of magic... (thus there would be spells based on attracting and repelling metals).  

Magnetic sands also allow for more of a desert feel.  Also there could be a water table so oasis and deep wells would be possible.  Considering mining is a important thing here (to get metal), digging in the rocky soil under the rocks OR magnetic sand.  

The water provides odd issues...
If water exists, but is hyper saline, all it would take is a still like arrangement to purify water.  Thus there could be enough water for everyone, given sun and effort.  

Maybe I could have a few "oceans" of hypersaline water, no more than five feet deep in most places.  The rest of the world is filled with magnetic sands and rocky outcroppings.  There might be soil areas as well.  


Luke Lavin:
Maybe ley line magic, the sand could be unstable enough in certain areas people could only live in the rocky crags till mages figured out for to use ley lines that run across the world.  You could have huge floating cities no maybe more than a couple of feet off the ground but epic in size.  The ley lines could be a certain grid like system running across the planet.  Very difficult to find places and ley line mages and pilots could become like an elite class.


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