The Ocadian Desert is a desolate place. The spirit of the land has been crushed, changing the region from a series of islands with evergreen forests and animals in a shallow inland sea to one of the most inhospitable places on the Sphere.
The most distinctive feature is the ochre sands. There are many areas of just sand in this unique color, but mostly the desert is sandy soil. It is a mix of sand, clay, and strange loam. This sandy soil comes in a range of ochre colors. There is no soil like it anywhere in the world. Things stained by the soil seldom come completely clean. It will make a strong adobe, though few would want to work with it in this way as it will stain their bodies forever.
Unlike most deserts, this one is cold. If rain would fall from the sky, it would fall as snow most of the year. In the time before, this was a land of deep green evergreens. Now, it is a place of cold whipping wind scouring the lands.
There is still life here. The Change wrought by the broken spirit effected the creatures too. The animals found here are the same as those you would find in a deep evergreen forest, just few of them. The animals here have been changed to match their new lands. (See the links below for examples).
It is not just the creatures of the land that were changed. It was the creatures of the shallow seas. There are animals that are like the Fish of the seas, but live on the grounds.
There are a number of peoples that live at the edges of the Ocadian Desert]. Most are nomadic, living life following their herds. Others scrape out a farming life at the edges around the desert in that belt of transitional lands called The Ocadian Ring. While they will venture in the Ochre Lands as they call them to hunt and forage. Nobody lives in them. It is because of The Sick Spirit that they wont. According to them, The Land itself is sick and to live there would be to invite the sickness into you. However, the land itself grants magic to those that would respect it.
Now the terrain is rolling hills with the wind whipping through. When there is rain, it is channeled between the hills creating rivers and streams that last for two days or so. There are many buttes here, with flat tops. They are quite small as these things go, 50-150 feet (18m-43m), to reach their plateus. Plant life is scattered througout, usually in the low points where the water had rushed at one time.
The land is generally a featureless track, except for two regions.
The Stone Forrest, an area of the desert that has hundreds of standing pilars (tiny narrow buttes), is in the north western part of the Orcadian Desert.
In the South central is the Deep Scar, a deep gorge that runs north south as far as the eye can see. It is as if the earth simply opened up and one could reach its center. Some legends say, this is where the sea went. The sea was emptied because the Sick Sprit needed the water for its tears.
Additional Ideas (16)
They are everywhere in this land. It is one of the reasons the land is called the Land of Pestilance (even though no disease has ever risen up from here). There are hundreds of kinds in a wide variety of sizes and shapes (some of which are not fly-like at all). Nobody knows why they are here in such numbers. Perhaps it is the scat of the special animals here. Perhaps it is the number of decaying bodies in the desert. Perhaps it is just the flies are created by the broken spirit of the land. No one knows. The only thing anyone does know, they are bothersome to any traveller.
The Ocadians do have a repellent ointment (and related products) that will stop most of the insects. It will also stop a dragon at five paces... it is that awful smelling. Even after years of exposure, the Ocadians still notice the pungent smell. The Ocadians will only use the ointment in the worst cases, as the smell will bring other curious creatures to them.
These plants echo Kelp. Anchored to a rocky spot, they grow to a dozen feet or so (3 meters). The long sticky frond collects insects blown by the wind. The nomads collect them for their glue and if boiled long enough the suprisingly sweet fronds.
These small woody shrubs are everywhere in the Desert. They are patches of brownish greens across the landscape. They grow slowly over time. They bloom but once a year, right after the rain. Their blooms tiny flowers that are bright and every color of the rainbow. After they bloom, they fall away... turning ochre... to join the bland soil.
This is a low ground cover that is comprised of vines and tiny leaves. Each patch creates a net of sorts across the ground. The net has a mild stinging effect to the touch. Protected from the larger animals, here the insects, especially the tiny desert ants live.
These wild dogs are smaller, thinner, and shaggy in comparison to their forest cousins. They are wolves through, they have the same traits. One difference is their paws are massive to give them strong grip in the odd soil. They do hunt in mixed gender packs.
The Desert Yak:
It is a large creature with a wild coat of thick hairs. They have a massive set of sprial curled horns. These creature waunder the Desert and The Ocadian Ring casually grazing for food.
These small and lithe animals run across the open spaces of the desert. Unlike other animals which are furred to keep warm, the deer have developed a carpace much like an armadillos across their back and flank (and along their snouts). This provides warmth and protection. The carpace is black and tan (think Guinness Black and Tan). The Deer of both genders have horns, though males have larger racks of horns.
The Clay Bear is one of the few things that can give OchreMaws pause. It appears to be a massive mop of brown, gold, and colors inbetwen, fur. Occasionally razor sharp claws will pop out. The Bear is huge, 600 lbs (300 kgs) . Seemingly a hundred pounds of thick wool like fur protects it from the elements and all comers. The creature digs out dens where it and its family unit lives. Though they will hunt, they tend to ignore things around them... unless those things come near the den.
This is one of the oddest creatures in the Ochre Desert. It is this one animal that leads most of the credance to the broken spirit and The Change. It appears to be a trout with a birdlike beak that flies on wings that seem to be expanded fins. It has a main wing pair and a secondary wing pair. They have four small stumpy legs as well. These creatures normally hunt flies that they capture in mid air.
These small birds are the fastest creatures in the Desert and maybe the world. They do not fly (though they can hop and glide short distances -usually over ravines) but run at incredible speeds. Using their wings, they can turn at sharp angles without loosing any speed. This makes them near impossible to catch.
These have to be one of the most prevolent animals in the Ochre Desert. They appear to be one lb (.5kg) rats of a white to tan color. The teeth of a Clayrat are needlesharp and hard enough to crack the nuts of desert plants. They have powerful back legs and can leap great distances. This is how they catch Windrunners and avoid OchreMaws - the suprise leap. In fact, most of the time they hop rather than walk and run.
These eight legged creatures slide along the land. They have a small head with wide spaced eyes and long tenticle legs. Each tenticle has a few suction cups to hold tight to rocks or prey, so their beak can tear into it. They most important aspect is the are chameleons: able to look like soil, rock, and sometimes a flower. They normally hunt ClayRats from surprise.
Crawlers are most prized by the Ocadians for the dyes they keep in their body sacks and their meat (while tasty, is sooo chewy as to be nearly inedible).
A common quote from Guides through the area. It is known to many as Palchar's Book of Travels made the story of a poor yak being eaten by a PitFiend one of his main stories of the Ocadian Desert.
This is the band of territory that borders the Ocadian Desert and the rest of the world. It ranges from thirty miles (45k) to one hundred miles (150 kms) in width. It is fairly flat but leads off the Ocadian Plains down the steep mountains of the various bordering ranges. The soil is an odd color, but not the ochre of the Ocadian Desert. The odd soil explains the plants. While all of them are normal plants one would expect in a dry alpine zone, they tend to look odd in one way or another. The animals in the ring are a strange mix of normal animals and Ocadian creatures - mostly clay rats.
It is here the Ocadians live: riding their horses (who are often painted with ochre soil for magical properties), herding their yaks, and avoiding the outside world.
The giant subsand relatives to the undground mushshooms can grow to huge sizes, encompassing several acres underground. They are just under the heat level (where the sun's warmth no longer warms the sandy soil).
These tiny globby creatures creatures eat organics in the sand and air. They protect themselves from the elements and predators by creating small shells of silicon. These shells stick together creating a mass of sharp silicon bubbles. That makes the coral.
The coral creates a stable foundation for plants and animals in the Ochre Desert. Small flowers bloom on them, their roots protected by the coral. Bees here use the coral as their hives. Insects and slightly larger animals live in and around the coral, as its sharp edges keep bigger predators away.