I'm planning on making a desert-based setting. I have two different options. One is a fairly recent development, the other is one that I have been stewing over for a while.
Which one should I pick?
Preliminary name: A Mouthful of Dust
Primary inspiration: The funky underground hip-hop tunes of the Handsome Boy Modeling School and a late-night trip through northern Utah
Basic idea: Post-apocalyptic Gamma-World-ish strange society. The planet Earth (6000 years from now) has been changed by global warming, the decay of the ozone layer, and other factors, including nuclear warfare, human factors, and changes in rotation and distance from the Sun, have made most of the world a blazing desert of blowing white dust (hence A Mouthful of Dust). Oceans have shrunk and continents have changed shape due mostly to human factors. Below or above a certain latitude on the north and south poles of the planet, there are huge bands of tropical forest spanning the globe.
In the past (-4000 years or so), there was a huge Tribulation. Whether it was a war, a catastrophe, giant economic depression, or whatever, it destroyed the hypertech society of the Earth. The people of the new Earth refer to dead civilizations, especially those who ended in the Tribulation, as Babylon.
The world, sky, and surrounding space is littered with the remains of previous human civilizations, from hyper-technology to the ruins of relatively new barbarian kingdoms.
Almost all of the humans on this Earth are black-skinned, because of the insane levels of sunlight. Mutations and evolution have made human resistance to UV and such very high. There are no Caucasians as such; there are less-dark people who dwell deep in the jungle.
There are two splits of human civilization- the Elohim, hypertechnological people who dwell in domes in the tropical regions, and the Pagans, a blanket term meaning "everybody who isn't an Elohim".
Elohim dwell in quasi-religious, caste-based, techno-psychic societies in their dome-cities. They live in peace (mostly), but they keep a lot of weapons on hand, just in case Pagans decide to attack, or another Tribulation happens. They regard themselves as a "perfect society", and the reason that Babylon fell was that they were "less perfect".
Pagans are everbody else. They may dwell in the jungle, or in the desert (very few here).
Inevitably, some Elohim get fed up with "perfect society" and leave, generally to die in the forest, or die in the desert. But some thrive, carving out Pagan kingdoms.
That's all I have for that one.
(I started to make a website about this one long ago, but I abandoned it)
Prelimenary Name: the Ageless Desert
Primary Inspiration: Dark Sun D&D setting, Dune, hiking in the Boise foothills
Basic Idea: Desert world with no real set borders except for the huge mountain range in the east. Two flanges of mountains partially encircle or hem in a region of less dangerous desert and more readily-found water called the Inner Desert. Outside is the (apparently) endless Outer Desert. Long ago, Gugalmak, the Sun Chiszto (sun god; he is an evil god, not a good one) was born when Ptolkhi (the War Chiszto) raped Evertnoe (the Chisztoe of Air). When he was born, he rose up into the sky and burned the land, making it an eternal desert.
There are two classes of intelligent beings in the Desert- People, who were created by the great Chisztos, and Monsters, who were created by spirits and lesser Chisztos.
Umii- The humans of the desert, called the Umii, are the live in many clans and tribes who all speak a common language (with dialects) and worship the same gods, the Chisztos, as well as numerous spirits and little gods. Some are warriors, some are traders, some live in cities, some are nomads.
Mahjeszti- these are elf-like earthbeings who dwell in the foothills of the mountains in the Inner Desert. They are bizarre, rare beings who enjoy tricking Umii into their spells. They are ruled by the Hill Elders, who are their ancestors- when a Mahjeszti dies, it becomes a Hill Elder and turns into stone. They worship only one Chiszto, the Dawn Goddess, Evertnoe.
Thruuki- the Thruuki are the children of the dead Chiszto of Waters, Kamon. They are small frog-like beings who are all stricken with a sort of racial malaise, as well as numerous physical ailments. They are all mostly dying, because they are not suited to the desert climate.
Ukufutani- these are the children of the Chiszto, Ukufut, the Guardian of the Sacred Cenotes. Ukufutani are gnomish, mouse-like beings (right down to huge ears and snuffling nose) who live underground. They are great allies of the Umii.
(I have only one race of Monsters right now)
Razorbellies- The "orcs" of this setting. Razorbellies are the principal foes of the Umii. They are nasty warlike reptilian beings, with a row of razor-sharp crest-plates on their chests and bellies (the belly-scales on a normal lizard) which give them their name.
Insects are always called manylegs.
Behemoths are huge, incredibly dangerous desert-dwelling beasts who are seen in the Outer Desert.
Sand-grazers are herd animals (for their cows).
Sand-striders are running animals (for their horses).
There are a lot more details, but I'm cutting it short for now.
SO.... Which one should I do?