The Vastness Geographic Location in Orichalca | World Anvil
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The Vastness

The sheer scale of this desert cannot be overstated. It bounds the Central Safe Zone to the west, and the area of the former Southern Safe Zone to the north. The far western edge touches a large mountain range deep in Terra Hostili. It is believed to have been created by a magical calamity some time before records began, as that is the only reasonable explanation for some of the highly unnatural features it has.   It has been successfully traversed exactly twice. The Great Expedition crossed it in 2AF, then returned starting in 5AF. Each time it took two years to cross. The Expedition was sent to investigate why the Southern Safe Zone has stopped sending messages to the rest of the world, and discovered that the entire Zone had been over-run by monsters. Preparing for the return journey took over a year.  


The Vastness is no ordinary desert. It has a complete lack of any water, either as rain from oases. Attempts to sink wells have never found a water table. Nothing lives in the central desert; even birds never cross it. Survival is entirely reliant on spells to provide food and clean water. The desert's flat and featureless nature means that there is nowhere to find shade, and no landmarks to plot your course by. At night, it is possible to navigate by the stars but by day one must rely on either magic or dead reckoning.   Matters are complicated still further by the wild magic in the winds of the desert. It can interfere with spellcasting for weeks at a time, meaning that any explorers are forced to maintain a large supply of food and water on hand while they wait for conditions to improve so spells can summong some more. Similarly, magical navigation is greatly impeded.


A distinctive feature of the Vastness is how flat it is. The sand dunes create their own rolling terrain, but the underlying rock appears to be completely flat. On occasions when the wind has scoured gulleys between dunes deep enough to exposed that rock, it has been found to be smooth and flat, as if a great force simply slices away everything above a certain height.

Fauna & Flora

The incident that created the Vastness also eliminated all living things, animals, plants and insects, across its entire area. In the many centuries since then, life has crept back into its border areas. The process has been slow because there was no naturally-occurring desert before, and the plants and animals in the surrounding area are not adapted to desert conditions. The bulk of the desert, away from those borders, remains completely lifeless.
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