The Diamond Desert
It is a place that glitters and glows, as the harsh sunlight reflects from the quartzes, amythests,jadite and hundreds of rocks and crystals, including the very rare diamonds that give it it's name. Some who have entered it's trackless wastes have become rich beyond their wildest dreams, but many have become food for the vultures and Sand Wyrms.Despite it's vast wealth, it is not a place to linger in...
The Diamond Desert is in fact a place with very few diamonds indeed, but every imaginable semi-precious stone that can be imagined upon it's surface. In the summer, the heat can be bad enougth to threaten life-in the winter, it is best to wear small pieces of Helspar within your clothing. There is water to be found but it is limited.The Silver River provides water, but there is the risk of being attacked by crocodiles and other dangerous river fauna whilst collecting it, or of being poisoned by parasitic worms if it is not boiled first.
The tall multi-coloured cacti that grow along the river banks, have spines that can leave septic wounds from the smallest scratch, and even if one can get the water from it, the cacti has made it poisonous, so within an hour of drinking it, it leads to sickness. There are tiny desert plants that have water within them that can be drunk without any problems, but they look just like semi-precious stones so they are very hard for most humans to find.
There are a few water-holes and fertile regions but they are guarded by the Akulu, the tribal people of the region, who live here mainly because most other places have been settled by others,and distrust all desert travelers. The worst crime possible amongst the Akulu is to deliberatly poison a water-hole, and water can be spent like money, although there is little to buy with it.Along the coast there is dew at dawn which can, be those who know how to catch it, be trapped and drunk.
The myth of how it was created was that a thousand years ago the court wizard of King Amalric cast a spell to bring the diamonds of the region to the surface, but the spell went dreadfully wrong and tore up the whole area, making it unliveable in by most people, and destroying the cities and towns of the region, and that the wizard's ghost still haunts the region.
Apart from the small and scattered groups of Akulu people, only a few diamond searchers and explorers normally enter this place of heat and cold. Criminals are sometimes sent into it as well, with enougth water for one day. If they can somehow survive and bring back a certain number of diamonds, their crimes are forgiven and they are readmitted back into society.
For a place so barren, there is a surprising amount of life. There are insects which seek out and pollinate the desert plants of the region, although such plants are normally hidden to human eyes.There are small prarie rats which come out at night to graze on the desert plants, and scorpians which spend the night preying on the prarie rats.
And the most dreaded desert predator is the Sand Wyrm, a massive worm that can either burrow underneath the jewel sands, or move along the surface.It looks rather like a giant Moray Eel.Whilst it's favourite food is gemstones, it will attack anyone who comes too close,and it has a very liberal interpitation of what 'too close' means.Visitors to the region are wise to stay at least fifty feet away from this beast.
There are Earth elementials as well,the weaker members of their kind who have fled the Elemential planes to avoid being canabilized,and have been unable to become the god or goddess of a city-state.Whilst they rarely attack humans, they hate the Wyrms for seriously damaging their homes.When an Earth Elemential and a Sand Wyrm meet, the former being will take a roughly human shape of gemstones, tand try and kill the Wyrm with powerful punches. Such a combat is a true wonder to behold.A defeated Elemential will be banished to the plane from which it came, and will probebly end up devoured by a stronger one of it's own kind.
Recently many of the tribespeople have grown rich through trading diamonds to the Crystal City and the other cities in the fertile areas beyond the mountains that stop most of the rain reaching the desert.Such tribespeople now have silken tents and luxury items such as large pots of water, and metal tools and weapons. The cities compete for the diamonds and cannot co-operate enough to form a price cartel.
Several cities are said to be putting together armies with the intention of taking the diamonds by force, but such is the heat in the summer that they would need to carry huge amounts of water. In the winter, they would risk frostbite unless they were very well clothed. And very few people want to fight in the desert conditions.For now at least it makes more sense to pay a fair price rather then the expense and potential danger in sending armies into the desert.
There are rumours that the ghost of the wizard, a glowing many-coloured wraith,haunts certain areas of the desert,longing to live again,and there is said to be a secret and banned cult in one of the cities that is trying to reanimate him.
Horse with no Name-The PCs are washed up on the coast and must struggle against the elements to reach safety.
Who you gonna call? The cult has almost succeeded in raising the wizard's spirit,and the PC's have been sent to banish him before he can regain his true powers and become an uber-threat to the entire region.
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? Responses (6)
I like this setting. It reminds me of the salt-rich home of a African dessert people that go by the name of the Afar,with their dessert being a lucrative source of wealth,despite being nigh inhospitable for living.
Just imagine all the horror stories that would be bandied about the savage Akulu and their penchant for torturing and killing any trespassers in their domain. Or the Sand Wryms that battle with the elemental 'godlings' of the dessert. I can imagine the deeply religious people of that region seeing these encounters as being representitive of the greater cosmic struggle between good and evil.
Good solid idea. And speaking of Africa, there is a place in said continent that the shore is covered in diamonds. Needless to say the gov't/private industries have limited access to this beach to keep diamonds in a relative scarctiy so that they don't devalue. (It's not really COVERED but has a large amount and I'm sure you got the idea)
Added/fixed a link.
Not sure if it wasn't mentioned elsewhere, but there could be a punishment for serious crimes bound to this desert: a convict is released into the desert with a minimum of water. If he manages to collect gems in a certain worth (the sum price be set by the court), he can return. Otherwise, sorry.
Otherwise, a good location.
An interesting location, with enough riches to encourage the PC's to visit it at least once.
A nice touch referencing the helspar, although it took me a minute to get the reason. (never read the helspar sub before.)
All in all a worthy desert area for nearly any setting out there, which I always like to see.
This is a great sub, with lots of vivid imagery and a very believable ecosystem! The only gripe I have is that you included "sand-worms", which by this point are so overdone that they actually detract from a setting (in my opinion). Still, I love to imagine the shifting "sands" of semi-precious stones, glittering in a kaleidoscope of color under the sweltering sun.
This is an interesting locale with lots of ideas.
On presentation - there are quite a number of typos - prarie, interpitation, etc, and there is a lack of spaces after punctuation such as commas and periods. There is debate about whether you should have one space or two, but you need at least one :)