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Easily found by traveling north by northeast, the Wastelands is the largest desert region in Terrenus, and when combined with the Badlands make up one-sixth of the continent's surface area. The borders of the Wastelands are made up of a fringe of semiarid savanna and are peppered by a sporadic distribution of salt flats, dry lakes, desert valleys, and gravel plains.
No natural formations of water exist in the Wastelands, with the exception of certain locations where the Wastelands meet the border of the Shawnee Glacier, and the two extreme opposites form first steam and then purified running water that freezers nearer the Glacier, and evaporates nearer the Wastelands.
Oases are not unheard of occurrences in the Wasteland, but unlike in other arid biomes, the Oases here are temporary, appearing over the course of days or sometimes hours and disappearing over the same span of time, and transient, meaning they do not remain in the same location.
The central region of the Wastelands is considered hyperarid – arid enough to wick moisture out of unprotected or uncovered skin. There is little vegetation. There is some vegetation so well evolved to retain water and so is very hydrating, each bite the equivalent to a cup of water, but causes the person ingesting the plant to hallucinate.
Geology (statistical/scientific information)
The Wastelands is a harsh environment with extreme conditions. It is classified as a subtropical desert climate that suffers prolonged and hot to scorching summers. Winters in the Wasteland are short, and also suffer brutal temperatures.
Climate is characterized by a perpetually clear sky; very rarely the clouds provide a very little shade from the devastating and persistent sunshine. Precipitation is low or nonexistent, and sporadic. The presence of slow but constant winds exacerbate the dryness and aridity, enabling even greater degrees of evaporation, and nearly wicking moisture from exposed skin.
The Wastelands are extremely sunny, experiencing five hours of night-time during the winter and just two hours during the summer. Strong winds populate the Wastelands with dune hills and dune fields.
Precipitation and Temperature
The Wastelands have the lowest recorded amounts of rainfall per year on Valucre. Decades may pass without seeing rainfall at all. It might rain during this period but the rain evaporates before reaching the ground and so it cannot be collected or measured.
Intense, furious and dangerous define the Wastelands. Average high temperatures range between 115 °F and 150 °F for multiple months, and average low temperatures range from 80 °F to 90 °F.
Flora and Fauna
Suujali: The Suujali are ranked among the most dangerous predators in all of Terrenus, and are part of the reason that the Wastelands is off-limits to any civilians and its border closely patrolled. The Suujali are quadrupeds, weigh between two and four metric tons, are nine meters long, and have a carapace that is immune to all magic (including psionics) but not magical effects (like rocks from a rock storm). Click on the link for more information on the Suujali.
Nova-Burst Cacti: The hyperarid conditions of the central Wastelands have provided the brutal circumstances under which plant life has learned to be extraordinarily hygroscopic. The nova-burst cactus has no spines whatsoever, the entirety of its leaf and fruit being edible. It retains water so readily that even during a decade-long drought, a bite of the nova-burst is equivalent to a full cup of water. The nova-burst is unfortunately extremely poisonous and will cause vomiting and intense hallucinations.
The Wastelands were once completely covered by the glaciers of the Shawnee, and for some time now Shawnee has been receding. It is an ancient, and still superstitiously accepted, explanation that this recession is the symbolic death of magic made manifest. It is also commonly accepted that circumstances have not yet reached the tipping point and can be reversed, that magic is clearly still accessible to the people and that the truth and final death of magic might not occur for a hundred, or a thousand, or a hundred-thousand years from now but the message is clear for the fatalists that believe conflict pushes earth towards a state of entropy.
Currently the Wastelands Border Patrol, an arm of the Terrenus military, actively patrol the borders of the Wastelands, arresting any civilian or citizen trespassers going from the mainland in to the Wastelands, processing or turning away any immigrants from the Wastelands into the mainland, and domesticating the Wastelands by culling the more dangerous predators with Vakar weaponry.
- How I learned to love the calm: The Wastelands has lost its millenias long battle against the Shawnee loci and is overtaken. Shawnee covers every inch of the wastelands in frost and neutralizes out the Dead Peaks magical dead zone.
- To erect an empire: The aspiring Emperor Koji and his small gathering party of misfits traverse the wastelands after leaving Blaurg mountain, headed towards the east. They search for the perfect location to erect their Dynasty/Empire while assimilating interested persons into their company.
- Brains and Brawn: High Inquisitor Noel Grey hires Raja, Savage of the Wastelands, and ventures out with her to find the Combustion artifact. They're attacked by Suujali but survive, do battle against orcs, then press on to claim the relic from the lizard guarding it.
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The Badlands are connected to the Wastelands, but separated from that inhospitable stretch of desert land by the western tip of the Shawnee glacier. Though temperatures in the badlands have reached extremes not felt in the rest of Terrenus, conditions there are at least marginally hospitable and a number of smaller tribes and chiefdoms take full advantage of the sprawling terrain.
These gypsies, or the Mahrjan according to PETAL, are semi-nomadic. They set up moderately sized, sustainable encampments within or around permanent oasis, some reaching as far west and north as the shoreline while others as far east as the base of the Glacier and as far south as Blaurg mountain. They stay in these encampments during the hottest parts of the year, move during the colder parts when travel is more feasible, and encampments are interchangeable among any of the dispersed Mahrjan tribe.
A widely quoted Mahrjan saying is: "I against my brother, my brothers and me against my cousins, then my cousins and I against strangers". According to Petal this signifies a hierarchy of loyalty based on kinship originating with the self, then branching on to the nuclear family, then extended family, and then strangers.
The Mahrjan have shown all too human tenacity and adaptability in responding to their oppressive climate. They wear clothing that provides maximum breathability and quickly evaporates sweat to cool the body down, with a pouch in the back for a waterskin with a flexible stem leading to their sand masks. Even the children show an exceptional knowledge of plant and animal life and the adults have Vakar weaponry as well as Suujali shields.
The Badlands are home to some of the most exotic, and dangerous, animals on the face of Terrenus. There are trap-ants, what look like giant lobster that burrow underground and lay traps the size of manhole covers to capture prey; high-noon wasps, hornets a foot and a half in length with a stinger five inches long that appear only when the sun is highest and carry a poison that can paralyze a grown man for half a day; and an as yet unidentified sentient cactus that eats people exclusively.
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The whole of the wastelands is, for the most part, fairly inhospitable. And yet there can be found signs of life, if one knows where to look. Cacti and shrubs and other forms of tenacious plant life pepper the landscape. Reptiles and coyote and Suujali find their shelter in the shade of outcroppings or in underground coves.
But in the high desert, life is a fiction. The high desert is roughly twenty miles square of visibly elevated land, its sands a richer brown, and its epicenter is sketched out by a neat ring five miles in diameter, where the silica has given up its identity as particulate and fused to form a large, flat disc of highly reflective crystal. At high 9 in the morning and at 3 in the afternoon the sun strikes this disc at such an angle that the resulting light can be seen from orbit. Its light has been known to blind on sight and, for nearly an hour before and after those times, raises the desert to temperatures forbidding of life.
Travel across the glass disc is feasibly only at night, and curious effects can be observed at this time of night. When the moon washes over the crystal disc instead of the sun it refracts at odd angles that illuminate the desert and wash it in silvery beauty. The moon's pull is greatly amplified during its Full phase, somehow generating a denser atmosphere so that one feels as if one is moving underwater. The moon's amplified presence also has the notable side-effect of vastly increasing divination abilities.
During the autumnal equinox, the interplay between the aurora valucreaus and the quartz crystal of the glass plate make the skies lurid with color.
The Dead Peaks are the most appropriately titled landmark in Terrenus, as the mountain range represents the physical limits of a magical dead zone. There is no clear presence of conventional abjurative or disjunctive magic, but rather some natural influence suppresses magic and the supernatural of all kind and variety.
Near the base of the mountain the effect is weak. Near the peaks themselves it'll mute the powerful hum of legendary artifacts and completely dispel those creatures whose biology is based in the supernatural. The Desolator himself was unable to even set foot on the Dead Peaks. There is an invisible portal somewhere in this range that leads to the
The Dead Peaks and the origin of their mysterious influence is the subject of much speculation. One school of thought holds that the Dead Peaks is the literal and figurative 'peak' of the Shawnee Glacier recession, which some magical theorists purport will be the end of all magic. Another school of thought postulates that there is a genius loci present, one with very specific and limited parameters of operation and function.
Yet another school of thought holds that while weakened magic and the effects of the dead zone are similar they are not related, and the cause of the phenomenon is the fact that the Dead Peaks were the birthplace of Zengi the witch-king. Zengiis a necromancer of lore, written about in Terran history and arguably one of the strongest necromancers of all time, born to a harlot and a psychopath on the brightest day of summer. The Dead Peaks are sometimes visited in secret by the murderous Desecrators that worship him.
- The movers and shakers: A group of three adventurers (Harlow, Kalco, Donovan) journey to unlock the mystery of a hidden ship amidst the Terran landscape while being pursued by a soul-eater known as The Black Mantis. After journeying from Blairville and through the High Desert, they find themselves at The Dead Peaks, where they defeat the opposition of one Mr.Silver and The Black Mantis, and acquire the ship known as Cloudstrider. During the battle, however they lose one of their own, Kalco, to The Black Mantis.
Edited by supernal