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The Roum Barrens

The Roum continent lies far east of the central continent of Terrile and the known civilized world. It is a mystical land where few mortal souls have set foot because of the massive Cliffs of Roum. Almost the entire western coast of the continent consists of massive vertical cliffs, ranging from 600 to 900 feet. A small island has broken off from the main continent and hosts the only port on this side of the Barrier Ridge. This town of explorers and merchants is called Port Cobalt. To the east, across the Bay of Cobalt, lies the famous Climb: a long staircase that is the only entrance into the Barrens proper.   The continent of Roum is divided into two parts, the desert and barrens in the west and the drenched marches on the east coast. The Barrier Ridge separating these two halves has proven time and again to be insurmountable, preventing anyone from setting foot in the eastern part of Roum. The western barrens are hardly more hospitable than the mountains, home to ever-shifting dunes of sand in the north, scorching rocks in the badlands around the Ash Mountains and endless plains of grass to the south.   Most explorers do not make it past the massive northern desert. Filled with sand-scarred ruins the desert hints at the once-great civilization of the Som-bu. The shifting sands continuously expose different parts of the ancient ruins. Those areas that are not quickly retaken by the sands are soon withered down to crumbling heaps by the scorching sun and strong desert winds.  
 

Civilization

Long ago, these lands were inhabited by an industrious race known as the Som-Bu. Centuries ago, they erected magical pillars to make their life easier. Their kingdom grew and expanded over the entire Roum continent, but in their hubris the Som-bu angered the gods. A divine reckoning followed. Their empire was destroyed and most of the Som-bu perished. The few that still remain try to make a living in the inhospitable terrain, merely a shadow of their former glory.  

Port Cobalt

On Cobalt Isle lies the only port of the Roum Barrens, Port Cobalt. The port is built on a part of the Cliffs of Roum that has broken off millennia ago. This small island is where adventurers, scholars and merchants gather in the hopes of finding riches and untold lore in the Roum Barrens.   The port lies close to the Climb, where part of the cliff has broken off creating an entry point into the Barrens. The wooden stairs of the Climb have been constructed by the first people to call Port Cobalt home. They are only accessible during high tide and go up 330 feet to the top of the Cliffs. For many, this is the first obstacle they have to overcome in their travels as the stairs are poorly maintained and repairs are made sporadically.  

Azurelight

Azurelight lies far to the north, presided over by an ancient pillar. It is one of the few villages remaining of the Som-Bu. Its pillar is made out of a single azurite rock and provides the village with everything it needs. The villagers devote their lives to the gods and pray with desperate belief, fearing what would happen if they fail their gods again.   The Som-bu are very protective of their village and stuck in their beliefs. Interactions with the Som-Bu have been sparse and uneasy, due to cultural differences. Only a few explorers have had the honor of visiting Azurelight.  

Pillars

The only permanent landmarks in the Barrens are the strange monolithic pillars inscribed with runes that rise from the ground, standing defiantly against the elements. The runes on some of the pillars are still active, a testament to what the Som-bu were once capable of. Many explorers who head into these lands use the pillars to guide them and several pillars have sprouted semi-permanent camps around their base.  

Porridge Pillar

Porridge Pillar is the first pillar the Terrian explorers reached on their expeditions into the Barrens. Named after the brown edible sludge it produces, Porridge Pillar is often used as the staging ground for further expeditions into the Barrens. The porridge gathers into a great stone basin at the foot of the pillar. While it is tasteless, it can sustain a traveler in the desert for quite some time.   Many scholars have flocked to Porridge Pillar, trying to figure out how it works. So far they have discovered that the arcane runes on the pillar hold the spell for Create Food and Drink. In the basin runes have been found for the spell Purify Food and Drink.   When the explorers found the pillar they also discovered several relatively new buildings around it, suggesting that the place was occupied only a few decades ago.  

Rust

The pillar of Rust was technically the first pillar to be discovered as it can be seen by boats that make their way to Roum, although it took some years before the first expedition actually reached the pillar.   Rust is an iron pillar completely covered in rust. There are hints that the pillar was once capable of producing metals and other resources. In the ruins around the pillar, ancient forges and metalworking shops have been discovered.  

Salt Obelisk

This salt-crusted pillar stands on the edge of the northern Cliffs of Roum. The thick layer of salt on the pillar makes it impossible to read its inscriptions, if any remain, and decipher its purpose. Also, the lack of ruins around the pillar suggests that this area wasn't regularly used. Only one expedition ever made it back from this remote pillar, sadly without meaningful findings as to the pilars use.  

Verdant Pillar

Far to the south, within the Expanse of Grass, stands a pillar covered in moss and vines. The pillar is inscribed with a plant growth spell, which pulses with a faint green light every 15 minutes. The surrounding plant life seems to resonate, growing lush and wild around the pillar.   A group of vegepygmies has claimed this place as their home and are quite wary of outsiders.

Geography

The sands of the Barrens are rumored to be rich with gold dust, and the mountains and rocks that peek from the sands are packed with gems and precious metals. However, the unforgiving terrain makes it very difficult to access this wealth.  
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by Todor Hristov
 

The Cliffs of Roum

The Cliffs of Roum consist of limestone and basalt rock formations and are, on average, 900 feet high. The cliffs span almost the entire west coast. From the northern ocean, where the Barrier Ridge meets the ocean, to the south, 200 miles below Cobalt Isle. The cliffs make excellent homes to many sea birds far away from predators.  

Barrier Ridge

To the east lies the impassable Barrier Ridge, its snow-capped peaks blocking any moisture coming over the mountains. The streams and rivers running west from the mountains quickly disappear in the desert. Most of the life-bringing water runs into the sodden lands on the other side of the Barrier Ridge. Several expeditions have been attempted to cross the Barrier Ridge. So far, none have returned and are all thought to be lost.  

Ash Mountains

These peaks in the middle of the Roum desert are home to giant Salt Rays that ride the hot air of the desert. The mountains are named for the thick layer of ash that covers its peak. A huge blue dragon named Endeemarux makes it lair here, but he is quite complacent and does not cause trouble unless disturbed.  

Golden Plateau

The Golden Plateau lies 200 feet higher than the rest of the Barrens and gets its name from the pristine golden desert that fills it. Even at night, this desert glows with a golden hue in the starlight. This soft sand makes the plateau very difficult to navigate and even large creatures could sink deep into the sand at some places.  

Brair Tableland

This tableland south of the Cacti Dunes is covered with thorny bushes and trees. All kinds of plant-like creatures make their home in these briars, claiming it as the territory of 'the Briar Queen', an Alraune. Legends tell that at the center of the tableland a pillar used to stand that was able to give sentience to plants.  

The Sodden Lands

On the other side of the Barrier Ridge lies the putrid swamps and marches of Roum, known as the Sodden Lands. The many rivers flowing from the mountains make the land lush with vegetation. These lands are the natural habitat of boggards, lizardfolk and giant leeches. The biggest river running through the Sodden Lands is called Aurelium River, known for the gold that flows within its currents.  

The Expanse of Grass

Around the Verdant Pillar stretches a strange plain of grass as high as a two-story building. The white, brown grasses make navigating these lands difficult and the many creatures that live in the grass provide additional dangers.  

Cacti Dunes

A rare sight within the dessert, the Cati Dunes host abundant, if prickly, plantlife. The cacti growing there are either mildly hallucinogenic or dangerously poisonous.
Alternative Name(s)
The Lands of Reckoning
Type
Desert

Native Creatures

 

Native Plant life

  • Purple Bud Cactus
  • Ash Bush
  • Som Tree

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Comments

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25 Mar, 2020 03:11

Okay, I LIKE this. Very much.   The whole thought of giant pillar inscribed with runes fascinates me.   ....and your map? Beautifully done.   Colorful, detailed--and I'm a stickler for pretty looking things. Your map is lovely.   So you have my vote.

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Master Dwaallicht
Martijn Donker
26 Mar, 2020 13:59

Thank you very much. I liked writing still as well gave me some good leads for follow-up writings as well.

Martijn Donker
Imarand: The Twin Worlds
2 Apr, 2020 13:14

This was a very nice read!   I love your map and how it blends well with the theme, header and choice of images. Overall your presentation is quite solid :3   good work!!

Grandmaster EVcrush
Karen Kingman
7 Apr, 2020 20:30

I agree with the other readers. I also liked the map and concept of your magical pillars. I also liked the images you used that also set the scene. Cheers!