People of the Bright Desert
Unaffected by the deviltry that wrought Sulm’s end, her subjugated peoples, enemies, and the hueleneaer returned to their itinerant ways.
Peoples of the Great Sand-Sea
The most numerous of the desert peoples are the nomads. Predominately of unblemished Flan lineage, the warrior-nomads who dwell in the Bright Lands are a surly, violent, honor-driven folk famed for their incessant inter-tribal warfare, superstitious beliefs, and disdain of outsiders. A strongly patriarchal society, among them strength—be it spiritual or temporal—is the only source of power. Speakers of Ancient Flan, few know any of the Common tongue, deeming it beneath them.
The stocky, bandy-legged Bright Desert Flan exhibit uniformly tanned skin, lanky straight hair ranging from brown to black, and dark eyes. Their dress typically consists of dark-colored lightweight flowing robes worn over simple buckskin garments. When going into battle or mourning, the desert folk daub sacred symbols on their faces with sacred ochre, which they believe imparts strength to the wearer. They prize ornamentation; bone or brass headbands decorated with brightly colored beads attract especial attention from them and are highly valued.
A simple folk who eschew most forms of magic, the desert folk worship the spirits of earth, air, and water. Chief amongst their pantheon are Beory, the Oerth Motherland her lord, Obad-Hai (the Shalm), known also to them as Lord of Wild Places. Above all they fear Nerull, for to them he is death incarnate; some even denounce Rary as the Reaper’s emissary. Some few venerate Pelor, invoking him as a protective power against the pervasive evil of Nerull, or seek to improve their lot through the worship of Vathris in his original guise as patron of ingenuity and progress.
Arcane ability among them is largely unknown and brutally suppressed when discovered. The larger tribes, however, maintain a handful of druids (or brajal, as they are known) who derive their powers from the Lord of the Wild. Almost exclusively female, brajals act as seers, healers, and advisors. It is a measure of status amongst the chieftains to maintain a large group of such women. They live apart from the rest of the tribe and their lives are sacrosanct. These women are the tribe’s spiritual link to the past and are believed to be able to commune with tribal ancestors.
Warriors garbed in sand-scarred leather armor bearing lance, scimitar, and short bow, frequently harass outlanders traveling through the desert. The Bright, unlike other deserts in the Far West, boasts no camels, so natives have domesticated a hardy breed of horse for locomotion (and, occasionally, milk and meat). Some of the greatest horsemen of the central Flanaess come from the Bright, where many children are literally born on the back of a sturdy pony.
A few tribes are of Suel descent and speak only the ancient language of the Imperium. A thousand years ago, several large bands of Suel, fleeing the destruction of their empire, forced a passage through the Abbor-Alz in a fruitless search for a bountiful land spoken of in Flan legends. By the time their folly was revealed they had not the strength to win free and were trapped by vengeful native tribes. Now dangerously inbred, they are reviled and distrusted by their Flan brethren and are slowly being hunted into extinction. Foremost amongst them are the Tareg who, from the ancient Suel fortress of Ghazal, control Hardby Pass, exacting a heavy toll on all who pass through. Led by the sorcerer Kekravil (LE Suel male Sorcerer L11/Cleric of Llerg L5) a swarthy, bald-headed, obnoxious man, these folk cling to fragments of their ancient heritage, worshipping Llerg above all others. In this harsh (but starkly beautiful) environment they have forgotten most other deities of note, although some few still revere Phyton.
Bright Desert Suel possess deeply tanned (sometimes burned) skin, which they protect with light cloth robes and hoods. Most have red or blond hair, which they wear closely cropped beneath leather coifs. Warriors proclaim their tribal allegiance by wearing cleverly crafted brass armbands inlaid with mottled blue or black ornamental stones. A Bright Desert Suel’s broach is his honor, and will never willingly be surrendered.