The Age of Algol
“. . . the golden dunes of the West.”
Alignment: Lawful Neutral (Rule of nature)
Capital City: None
Ruler: None (Rumored dragons, a lich, an ancient magical order, nomad lords, etc.)
Languages: Gorampan dialects
Racial Mix (rough estimates by scholars)
- Human variants (60,000)
- Sand Dwarves (38,000)
- Khor Hesh Orc (35,000)
- Thra’im (15,000)
- Lime Dwarves (10,000)
- Other (Sand Elves, halflings, etc.) (4,000)
A vast, glittering desert dividing the northern and southern region of Eastern Theria, home to few but the reptiles, antlions, and fearsome “Sand Beasts” that thrive in the savage waste.
Generally a harsh place to live because of a lack of water or rainfall, extremely high temperatures, and hostile wildlife, Gorampa (or Go Ranpa, the Goldsea, as named by its native nomadic cultures), remains unclaimed by any kingdom. Trade routes led by Gorampan nomad convoys have been established across parts of the waste between Muri Kindi, Dendrum, and Derrey Theyhar, but even these are less utilized with the alternative of the sea trade. There are small oasis cities within the emptiness of the desert, all with varying dialects of Gorampan, made up of mixes of Humans, Sand Dwarves, Khor Hesh Orc, and Thra’im, the scaly folk. As of late, Muri Kindian rebel forces and the overthrown culture-in-exile have taken refuge at the south end of the desert and in the Kuresh Mountains to the West. There are many secrets in the dunes. There are many rumors about Gorampa. One myth is that a brood of Red Dragons rule from their cave lairs in the Northwestern Shalesh. There is another that a Slaver stronghold has developed over the past century in a network of oases in the Shaleshi cradle. One other tale tells of a powerful lich that has a sworn army of the living and dead, and continues to recruit forces to take Derrey Theyhar and its Elven magic artifacts. Even stranger, there is rumor of a great mirrored spire hidden in the dunes where an ancient circle of spellweavers sees the fabric of the world through the shifting of the sands at the axis of all worlds.
Life in Gorampa
People have been living in Gorampa’s deserts for millennia. Many, such as the Hyoti humans (said to be the origin of all men in Theria) various racial tribes (since emigrated south to Muri Kindi), were originally hunter-gatherers. They developed skills in the manufacture and use of weapons, animal tracking, finding water, foraging for edible plants and using the things they found in their natural environment to supply their everyday needs. Their self-sufficient skills and knowledge were passed down through the generations by word of mouth. Other cultures developed a nomadic way of life as herders of sheep, goats, Milkworms, camels, yaks, Ume (tall, flightless birds) or Kodu (a domesticated species of Giant Monitor Lizard). They travelled over large areas with their herds, moving to new pastures as seasonal and erratic rainfall encouraged new plant growth. They took with them their tents made of cloth or skins draped over poles and their diet included milk, blood and sometimes meat.
The desert nomads were also traders. Gorampa is a very large expanse of land stretching between the western Cerua Ocean across the Kureshi range, the Kenfhi Mountains to the north, the giant chain of Keduwe Mountains stretching upward to the east, and the fertile Nowte River to the south. Trade routes were developed linking Derrey Theyhar in the North with the fertile Muri Kindi region to the south and large numbers of herd animals were used to carry valuable goods across the desert interior. The Ren Para were traders and the goods transported traditionally included spices, fruit, silk and cotton, exotic wood and animals going northwards, gold, silver, and iron going southwards, and salt and minerals going outwards to both forested regions. Kulats (tribal nomads) with knowledge of the region were employed to guide the caravans between the various oases and wells. Traditional means of overland transport has declined with the advent of ships and sea freight, but caravans still travel along routes between Car Ren and Serempa and between Elkanzar and Farhaven carrying salt from the interior to desert-edge communities.
Round the rims of deserts, where more precipitation occurred and conditions were more suitable, some groups took to cultivating crops. This may have happened when drought caused the death of herd animals, forcing herdsmen to turn to cultivation. With few inputs, they were at the mercy of the weather and may have lived at bare subsistence level. The land they cultivated reduced the area available to nomadic herders, causing disputes over land. The semi-arid fringes of the desert have fragile soils which are at risk of erosion when exposed, as happened in the now eradicated Sherim Cradle in the M. E. 800s. The grasses that held the soil in place were ploughed under, and a series of dry years caused crop failures, while enormous dust storms blew the topsoil away. Thousands of Gorampan farmers were forced to leave their land in this catastrophe. Although overgrazing has historically been considered to be a cause of desertification, there is some evidence that wild and domesticated animals actually improve fertility and vegetation cover, and that their removal encourages erosive processes, a process which is seeing life in fringe cultures today.
Plants and animals living in the desert need special adaptations to survive in the harsh environment. Plants tend to be tough and wiry with small or no leaves, water-resistant cuticles and often spines to deter herbivory. Some plants germinate, bloom and die in the course of a few weeks after rainfall while other long-lived plants survive for years and have deep root systems able to tap underground moisture. Animals need to keep cool and find enough food and water to survive. Many are nocturnal and stay in the shade or underground during the heat of the day. They tend to be efficient at conserving water, extracting most of their needs from their food and concentrating their urine. Some animals remain in a state of dormancy for long periods, ready to become active again when the rare rains fall. They then reproduce rapidly while conditions are favorable before returning to dormancy.