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Crater
Acolyte

United Kingdom
12 Posts

Posted - 12 Apr 2017 :  13:37:52  Show Profile Send Crater a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Hi,

I'd be grateful for some advice on placing a city within the realms...

This city is carved out of the inside of a mesa, it is surrounded by a barren desert-like wasteland. It is ruled by a Beholder who has forged trade links with other cultures in the region. It is populated by humans and demi humans who benefit from the 'protection' of the tyrant.

My first thought was broadly Anauroch, but I would love to hear some other suggestions....

http://i.imgur.com/2x6UJI8.jpg

Edited by - Crater on 12 Apr 2017 14:06:25

Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
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Posted - 12 Apr 2017 :  14:43:04  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
As far as terrain goes, any 'badlands' region could also work, like The High Moor. It would be redundant of me to mention every desert on Toril, but Calimshan does have a desert AND a history of cities ruled by Eye-Tyrants nearby (although truthfully, I'm just not seeing the rulers of Calimshan allowing that in Calimshan-proper).

If you just need a caldera, you have the Well of Dragons just north of the Sunset Mountains. Once again, though, I'd be worried about local powers (Cormyr) putting up with that for long (although in this case, you also have the Darkhold even closer, so if you have it have ties to the Zhents it might work, and they DO have a history of working with Beholders).

Theme-wise, somewhere more 'remote' would probably work best, like in The Shaar, or The Black Ash Plain (below Unther), somewhere along the Chultan peninsula, etc... someplace 'out of the way'.

The only place more 'centralized' might be the Shining Plains, over against the Osraun Mountains. Its the only area somewhere near the main campaign areas that might tolerate such a thing (and The Realms are HUGE - it can easily accommodate the terrain you describe in a more localized area, that simply does not appear on a 'world map'.

Maybe in the Serpent Hills as well, toward either the north or southern ends, because you'd have to ignore or work with the Scaleykind in those hills.

Perhaps the 'best' fit would be between Veldorn (already a 'monster kingdom') and the Raurin, in an arm of the Raurin that extends into the Giant's Belt Mountains. But thats pretty far-afield.


"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 12 Apr 2017 20:21:48
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Crater
Acolyte

United Kingdom
12 Posts

Posted - 12 Apr 2017 :  15:21:34  Show Profile Send Crater a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thats really helpful, thanks!

I need to research your suggestions some more....
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dazzlerdal
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Posted - 12 Apr 2017 :  16:23:06  Show Profile Send dazzlerdal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You could always stick it in the Shaar. Plenty of wilderness and dusty plains.

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Crater
Acolyte

United Kingdom
12 Posts

Posted - 12 Apr 2017 :  17:09:39  Show Profile Send Crater a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes, the Shaar seems to be a good option too.

Can anyone recommend sources, books or materials on The Shaar and on Veldorn & Raurin?

My preference would be for the most recent period in the Faerunian timeline, but I'd be interested to see whatever there is!

Edited by - Crater on 12 Apr 2017 17:11:47
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dazzlerdal
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Posted - 12 Apr 2017 :  18:12:13  Show Profile Send dazzlerdal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In the 1400s you can guarantee there is no information.

For the 1360s and 70s you will want to look at the Shining South sourcebooks for both 2e and 3e.

The rest of the information will be spread thinly through all the other sourcebooks

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Markustay
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Posted - 12 Apr 2017 :  20:34:57  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Actually, Veldorn may have gotten a bit more info in 4e than it ever got in 1e/2e/3e. I don't know the specific source, but I know it did get some coverage, which is probably more than you can scrape together in previous editions. All I recall was something About Dire Corbies... I think that was it... maybe. Is there another 'ebil bird race'? I know the Hordelands and eastern Realms have their own versions of them. A beholder kingdom would fit in there perfectly, and if you just picture the Giant's Run Mtns. more 'broken up' then solid (which is should be), you could easily plunk that city down somewhere in a 'hidden valley' that touches upon both the desert, and Veldorn.

There's also the Bandit Wastes - which is also in The Shaar - but I didn't mention it earlier because the nearness of Halruaa would probably negate any chance of something like that nearby, but its your game, so you can do whatever you want.

And come to think of it, maybe the Shadíar? Thats the 'open plains' just above the Lake of Steam. The terrain doesn't seem right, but because its juts a big open area without much canon, its sort-of works just for that reason (in other words, if you want to 'fudge' a small section of it, its not gonna be noticeable on canon). Not inside any nation-proper, and still near enough the beholder-run LoS cities to fit right in. There are some nomad tribes in that region, but that wouldn't really have any impact on what you suggest (might even play into it). maybe in the Vale of the Reaper, which lies between the Thornwood and the Winterwood (and still in this same region).

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 13 Apr 2017 00:51:22
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sleyvas
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Posted - 12 Apr 2017 :  20:48:07  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Markustay

Actually, Veldorn may have gotten a bit more info in 4e than it ever got in 1e/2e/3e. I don't know the specific source, but I know it did get some coverage, which is probably more than you can scrape together in previous editions. All I recall was something About Dire Corbies... I think that was it... maybe. Is there another 'ebil bird race'? I know the hordelands and eastern Realms have their own versions of them. A beholder kingdom would fit in there perfectly, and if you just picture theGiant's Run Mtns. moe 'broken up' then solid (which is shuld be), you could easilly plunk that city down somewhere in a 'hidden valley' that touches upon both the desert, and Veldorn.

There's also the Bandit Wastes - which is also in The Shaar - but I didn't mention it earlier because the nearness of Halruaa would probably negate any chance of something like that nearby, but its your game, so you can do whatever you want.

And come to think of it, maybe the Shadíar? Thats the 'open plains' just above the Lake of Steam. The terrain doesn't seem right, but because its juts a big open area without much canon, its sort-of works just for that reason (in other words, if you want to 'fudge' a small section of it, its not gonna be noticeable on canon). Not inside any nation-proper, and still near enough the beholder-run LoS cities to fit right in. There are some nomad tribes in that region, but that wouldn't really have any impact on what you suggest (might even play into it). maybe in the Vale of the Reaper, which lies between the Thornwood and the Winterwood (and still in this same region).



Kenku - but yeah, very much like dire corbies.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Crater
Acolyte

United Kingdom
12 Posts

Posted - 12 Apr 2017 :  22:03:54  Show Profile Send Crater a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I must say, the folks here are exceptionally helpful and well informed, thanks for all your input!

I just picked up Shining South (3.5), there were a few Veldorn references, just enough to give me a bit of inspiration and to keep the freedom I need. Maybe the 4e Forgotten Realms sourcebook will have more, I might still have that somewhere. Im interested to see what the spell plague might have meant for the area. Flavour-wise, Veldorn appeals to me much more than the Shaar, theres a nearby place nicknamed the Holy City, run by a Rakshasa!

I can see this city being populated more by monstrous races, yet the players will begin with a reason to get involved. The city features arena combat heavily, that should be fun with lots of monsters around.

The other one I liked was the Black Ash Plain, but that is mainly for the visuals. There could be a large proportion of refugees from the Mulhorand/Unther war who settled in the city for lack of a better option.
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

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Posted - 13 Apr 2017 :  00:56:25  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
No problem, glad to help. Talking about Realms geography (terrain, settlements, cultures, flora & fauna, climatology and geology, etc... and all other things related to 'geography') is what I live for these days.

If you do Veldorn, the nearby Golden waters region is also very interesting. You have some 'elder evils' stuff going on that area, if you like aberrations and the Far Realms (and Imaskari ruins all over the place, which is just a big plus).

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Kenku - but yeah, very much like dire corbies.
Thats it! Thanks!

I can always remember the one but not the other - my brain just won't input 'Kenku' for whatever reason.

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 13 Apr 2017 01:00:37
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Brimstone
Great Reader

USA
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Posted - 13 Apr 2017 :  14:26:04  Show Profile Send Brimstone a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Bandit Kingdoms from Power of Faerun. Close to The Shaar, Lapal States (from Serpent Kingdoms), and The Lake of Steam. Just an idea...

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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

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Posted - 13 Apr 2017 :  22:11:46  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I like the suggestions so far. To elaborate a bit on the Shaar possibility, the 4e Underchasm has supposedly been filled in but I don't think it has to be a nice flat surface now - there's plenty of room for mesas and canyons, even mountains, and it's easy to imagine a desert-ish climate taking hold given that it was a steppe (as opposed to a lush jungle) before. Nearer Veldorn, there's the Toadsquat Mountains, which logically offer plenty of nooks and crannies for a beholder to carve out a city-sized lair. Also note that circa 1360 DR there was a pair of beholder rulers within Veldorn itself.

Another idea, far away from the South but just to mention it, is the Tortured Land. A badlands is more workable than a straight-up desert, from the trade angle. If you want to have several other communities around, they're going to require somewhat easy access to a steady supply of drinkable water. You can find that in a rocky badlands more easily than the sands of a desert.

Just more thoughts. Sounds like a fun design exercise!
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Crater
Acolyte

United Kingdom
12 Posts

Posted - 14 Apr 2017 :  02:28:49  Show Profile Send Crater a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by xaeyruudh

Also note that circa 1360 DR there was a pair of beholder rulers within Veldorn itself.


Is that mentioned in a novel or a sourcebook somewhere? It would undoubtedly have some significance for the city.

Im imagining this has stood for a few centuries as a living city at least, so it would need to predate the spell plague.
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
4949 Posts

Posted - 14 Apr 2017 :  04:39:31  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
They are mentioned in the Shining South sourcebooks (1E and 3E). They have been around for a long time, well pre-dating the Spellplague.

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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Crater
Acolyte

United Kingdom
12 Posts

Posted - 14 Apr 2017 :  17:53:10  Show Profile Send Crater a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ah, I found them in the 1st ed. book...

"Xaoch and Veoyh, a pair of beholder twins who rule Xiltor, a city south of the Wood of Dark Trees."
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
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Posted - 14 Apr 2017 :  18:39:32  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I split the forest into two smaller sections, to help rectify some lore conundrums, on some older maps I did. i just reposted a couple on my DeviantART page, so you can see what I did there. Hope it provides some help to you (despte being out-of-date now - the terrain went back to 1e/2e, so ts no longer accurate).

Hordelands

Old Empires

EDIT:
I would consider the whole thing the Aerilpar Forest, and only the southern half would be considered the 'Wood of Dark Trees'.

I don't even remember where Neversfall is from, but everything on there is canon.

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 14 Apr 2017 18:42:49
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

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Posted - 14 Apr 2017 :  19:59:28  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Markustay

i just reposted a couple on my DeviantART page, so you can see what I did there.



I see what you did there.

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Crater
Acolyte

United Kingdom
12 Posts

Posted - 14 Apr 2017 :  21:11:16  Show Profile Send Crater a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Markustay

Hope it provides some help to you


Wow, yes that is very helpful!

What are the possibilities around this city actually being Xiltor, only one of the beholders now survives, and those 2 rivers have since dried up?
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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

USA
1810 Posts

Posted - 15 Apr 2017 :  08:44:03  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Sorry I didn't mention they were in FR16. Wasn't sure you'd want to use them; just thought the possibility was there that one or both has survived.

I would think the chances of desertifying the southeastern Shaar are fairly good in a 5e timeframe. Off the top of my head, I see a couple of ways to make it happen.

1. The Spellplague (specifically the Underchasm) would have changed the climate across the southern Realms, in addition to the topography in various places. Even if the Underchasm is now filled back in, it was there for a century or whatever -- the damage has already been done and it will take some time for it to be "undone."

2. There's no word yet (that I've seen) on the sarrukh under Azulduth, but we know that they were waking up circa 1375 or so... I can see them acquiring minions and excavating whatever buried ruins have collapsed over the millennia, and that could easily have lifted the ground level around Aerilpar Forest and the rivers so that artesian springs were diverted to subterranean paths and surface water flowed away from the area rather than into it.

3. It's also possible that the forces which created the Underchasm (or those which so dramatically widened the gap between the Dragonsword and the Giant's Belt at the dawn of 3e) also created a break in the mountains, which allowed the Raurin's desert-like conditions to spread out to the Eastern Shaar right near Xiltor. This may easily have destroyed the forest and/or dried up the rivers.

It's your campaign, and there are several *official* reasons to feel free playing with the geography, as well as whatever unofficial reasons you'd like to write into the adventure background.

For example, in *my* Old Empires campaign, I made up the final demonic ruler of the Imaskari empire, gave him an extraplanar nemesis, and declared that both have survived in some sense to the beginning of the campaign (1360 or so). I used the millennia-long struggle between them to create adventure hooks ranging from a kaorti cyst and a rampaging neh-thalggu to court intrigue in Skuld. Those two obscure NPCs opened a lot of doors for me, and it'll be easy for you to sneak whatever you need into Your Realms as well.

Edited by - xaeyruudh on 15 Apr 2017 08:47:30
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Crater
Acolyte

United Kingdom
12 Posts

Posted - 16 Apr 2017 :  02:02:44  Show Profile Send Crater a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Nice suggestions!

Also, conditions could have altered somewhat but not to the point where i'm redrawing maps. I found this on Wikipedia:
'ephemeral channels' that flow only for hours or days following rainfall. During unusually dry years, a normally perennial stream may cease flowing, becoming intermittent for days, weeks, or months depending on severity of the drought.

Which means that for much of the time there will be dry, cracked riverbeds around the city, which might be an interesting addition to the terrain.

Just as an aside, is there any known history behind the name of the Liontongue River?
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
14553 Posts

Posted - 16 Apr 2017 :  05:40:10  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think there is - I believe there was a town or some such around there where one of the Magisters trained or grew-up (or something). I'll check it tomorrow - its pretty late here. I never added the ruins of the place to the maps because the text that mentions it specifically states there is NOTHING left.

And the 'twisting' of the maps between editions really left that region and all the surrounding areas badly mangled, compared to the earlier (1e/2e) edition maps. Rivers, towns, and even some mountains got shoved around (and one road running across the north of Luiren wound up on the wrong side of the mountains completely). On the bright side, until they do something 'official' with that region (which they might never get to), you can draw from any edition, or create something entirely new for 5e.

The Raurin desert connecting to the barren area around Azulduth isn't such a stretch. There were several rivers (and I postulate at least one very large lake) within the Sea of Purple Dust during the time of Imaskar, and there could still be an on-going 'drying out' of the region (unless some of the waterways were restored, which was one thing that could have happened during the Desert of Desolation AP - a couple of the 'survivor states' had setup an decanter of endless water to try and stave-off the drought and growing desert). Thus, the mountains wind up 'IN' the desert, rather than just bordering it. Strangely, the DoD AP even says that trade across that part of the desert used to be fairly common, to reach 'parts north' (Murghôm, which is part of Mulhorand). It couldn't have been too bad at that time if they preferred it over the easier western route skirting the mountains (or it could just be that until the desert got very bad, Veldorn itself was considered the worse way to go because of all the monsters - you could even work your beholder-city into that, charging tariffs to use the roads going through it's territory).

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 16 Apr 2017 05:47:32
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Crater
Acolyte

United Kingdom
12 Posts

Posted - 16 Apr 2017 :  20:28:36  Show Profile Send Crater a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have a soft spot for the Plains of Purple Dust region, some of the imagery really appeals, as long as I can avoid the whole faux-Egyptian thing and bring out what makes it unique and Realmsian.

From the 5e Sword Coast Adventurer's Handbook:
Aided by the mighty wizard Nezram, known as the World-Walker,
the Mulhorandi overthrew the rulers of High Imaskar, who fled into the Plains of Purple Dust or to extraplanar safeholds.


If the city was in that region, this could result in a large contingent of High Imaskari refugees setting up there, a culture I would have to research a bit more, but it ties it more to canon.

Im trying to picture the trade route you described, could you be more specific?
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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

USA
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Posted - 17 Apr 2017 :  03:33:17  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I like the Purple Dust too. For myself, I decided it originated from a spell going awry -- I know it sounds cliche, but I don't actually use that trope very much at all so it shouldn't get "old" in the context of the campaign. Instead of a displaying a magnificent "spell engine" kind of development in a frontier village, to ease the crafting of greater magic and pave the way for the village to be expanded to a city, the Imaskari archwizard instead snuffed himself and everyone in the village. The winds which stir up the dark silt emanate from the point of this magic, so as long as you head directly into or out of the wind you can keep your bearings but if you stray then the residual magic (and probably ghosts) will leave you hopelessly disoriented. The purple dust itself is tainted; whatever it lands on slowly desiccates and becomes purple dust. It's in this way that the Plains have steadily grown. It's also a major hazard of becoming lost in the Plains; a tenday wandering around in the dust, without some sort of magical protection, will reduce pretty much any being (including constructs and corporeal undead, but not items of moderate or higher power) to dust.

The Plains as they look today have taken time to form and spread. Long enough that each generation is mostly unaware of the gradual expansion -- partly because people have noticed the necrotic effects of the dust and they stay away. So while nobody (no sane beings anyway) has built anything new within sight of the Plains, that doesn't mean there aren't any ruins or treasures to be found. In addition to the unknowable number of sorcerers, priests, and adventurers who have entered the Plains to discover their secrets, the desert has overtaken a few ancient villages and towers once inhabited by Archwizards and their apprentices.

Anyway, that's just been my take on it. Not remotely Egyptian, and it feels reasonably Realmsian to me. If you like any of that, you're of course welcome to use it, riff off it, or whatever. You could declare that over time the necromantic nature of the Plains has died down, and the center of the plains has been revealed to be a mesa where your city now stands, unharmed but protected by the legends about the Plains. There are a few official villages of Murghom in the general area, and there's plenty of room to pepper your map with more of them, along with a path/road for trade.
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Crater
Acolyte

United Kingdom
12 Posts

Posted - 17 Apr 2017 :  19:02:18  Show Profile Send Crater a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Interesting, so you have the dust as the very stuff of entropy. I like the idea that it began on a relatively small scale, one single village, minuscule in relation to what it has become. My tendency is to over-think things, so I would also look for some kind of powerful agent of entropy who interfered with the original ritual, or from whom the arch wizard learned the ritual unaware that he was actually being steered into a terrible act of destruction.

The Imaskari are renown for their extra-dimensional magic, the dust may have originally come from another world. The archwizard was confused however when after all the preparation, all the labour and research, after having invested every coin he could borrow into procuring components and rare materials, after following pages and pages of mind-bogglingly complex arcane procedures to the last detail, all that happened was a small pile of dust appeared. Penniless, he abandoned the work and left the laboratory for good.

The ritual was actually a complete success in a way that could not have been anticipated. The original intention may have been to create a trade portal from his village to places on the other side of the various mountain ranges around that region to help expansion. Thousands of years later the dust has spread its entropy across the entire region and now threatens to reduce the mountains ranges to nothing but dunes of purple dust.

Edited by - Crater on 17 Apr 2017 19:32:43
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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

USA
1810 Posts

Posted - 17 Apr 2017 :  19:48:45  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I should note, or someone else will, that this interpretation is at odds with the official Plains, from The Horde box, page 93. There it's described as a "broken wasteland of sandy dunes and craggy upthrust mounds." So officially, this area is simply composed of a soft purplish stone which has eroded more than the surrounding land -- the rocky bits are the harder remains of volcanic peaks, so they're columns of rock. Perhaps resembling the Devil's Postpile or Cape Stolbchaty: I found pics of those and some related landmarks on Earth on this page. (Edit: or Devil's Tower in Wyoming.)

I'd forgotten about this description, but looking at it again I recall thinking that (1) it was kinda boring considering the realm of possible explanations, and (2) it didn't mesh well with the also-official expansion of the Plains over time (under Somraggah on page 104 of the same book). Granted, it was just the dust blowing northward, but there are more interesting ideas to consider! That's where I was coming from, anyway.

Edited by - xaeyruudh on 17 Apr 2017 20:03:11
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moonbeast
Learned Scribe

USA
339 Posts

Posted - 17 Apr 2017 :  20:05:06  Show Profile Send moonbeast a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Has Zakhara's environs and maps ever been updated for the most recent (4th or 5th) editions? I mean….. it seems like Zakhara was the "original" Arabian-trope desertic region back in the classic D&D eras. It's unfortunate they don't make better use of it. :(

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