I have heard (from an Afghan man that I know) that in Afghanistan, they will construct kites, and then tie or tape pieces of glass and shards of pottery to the kite-strings and have "kite-battles", where they try to use the sharp shards on their kite-strings to cut the opponent's strings.
The desert is a curse from the Water God upon the wicked people who live in the South.
Said people offended the Water God in some way, and so the Water God placed water-trappers, bizarre, water-sucking beings, in the soil, and within years, the wilderness became a desert.
Thus, the desert folk shamans have special powers that allow them to find water-trappers so that they can be dug up and their water harvested.
The Mad Pope is a wandering mercenary. He is very well deranged as he considers himself to be the pontiff of the dominant faith. His robes are tattered, his mitre has seen better days and there are surely lice in his long ratty beard. What sets him apart from most addle-pated would be holy men is that he has armor under his robes and carries a large crossbow and several one-handed swords. While many would discout him as just another lunatic, for some reason, he inspires others around him and has demonstrated the ability to lay on hands and heal the wounded.