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The Desert Wastes of Stygia

Lay of the Land
  • Cradle of Civilization: The Stygian Empire, the first true human kingdom, was built here by the evil Necromancer-Kings and their slaves. The Stygian people overthrew them, and now gather in a confederacy of Sultanates and nomadic groups in the north of the old Empire.
  • Sea of Sands: There is sand as far as the eye can see, and the heat and distance make travel here a deadly affair. Becoming lost is a death sentence.
  • The River Sur: Perhaps the longest in the world, this lazy waterway feeds a fertile delta, along which most of Stygia’s exotic crops are grown: dates, barley, papyrus, flax, etc. Most of the desert’s cities are located along the river.
  • Faith of the Keeper: In a land once-tarnished by the blood and grave-dirt of the Necromancer-Kings, the Keeper has become the most important god within the Stygian culture. He is venerated as the protector of the dead and guardian of ancient history.
Dangers to Dare
  • The Desert of Bones: Upper Stygia is home to the prosperous Ruby Sultanates, but the south, Lower Stygia, is a perilous wasteland. Brave desert-nomads must contend with the hungry dead, eternally in service to the former Necromancer-Kings. Their flesh long melted away by the sun, armies of bleached skeletons, bones eerily clean, wander the dunes, seeking meaningless conquest in the name of defunct lords.
  • Gnolls: The hyena-faced marauders raid isolated Stygian caravans and worship demons. Barely more than animals, they cannot be reasoned with. They are of particular danger to those heading from Upper Stygia to the City of Brass (see below).
  • Sandstorms: The wind blows from the south towards the north, down from the Peaks of Amun-Khett, which is why Stygia is so dry. But the desert-winds seem to have a mind of their own. Some say traveling with a native Stygian protects you from the wrath of the desert. But that's racist.
  • Herestephes: This blue dragon, although rather young, is clever and eager to learn the secrets of necromancy from the Lich-Kings and transform herself into a dracolich. Some of her schemes might include kidnapping powerful wizards, raiding tombs, or stealing artifacts of necromantic power.
  • The Jungle of Snakes: In the far south of Stygia, at the base of the Peaks of Amun-Khett (named for the khopesh-wielding warlord who once claimed them), lies the mysterious Jungle of Snakes. And while Stygian miners will plum the Peaks for ore, they will scarcely descend the eastern slope into the dense jungle. It is huge and uncharted, said to be the home of the foul snake-men and their ziggurat-temples of Sseth, the Serpent King of the Night.
Folk & Friendship
  • The Whirling Swordsmen: The Stygians have perfected a deadly type of swordplay with the scimitar, as much for meditation as it is for battle, utilizing spinning techniques and requiring great dexterity. They have been known to teach their secrets to outsiders that they deem worthy.
  • Krinn Tribes: These nomadic mantis-men poise themselves against the gnolls, their sworn enemies. Although they are skilled warriors, with a strange propensity for psychic abilities, they are severely outnumbered, and face potential extinction.
  • Genies:Genies are spirits born of raw elemental energy, capable of granting wishes -- but be warned, they are capricious beasts with no love of humanity.
  • The City of Brass: The de-facto "capital" of Lower Stygia, where noble genies command human slaves to walk them around the city-streets. The City was built in the caldera of a dormant volcano by an ifrit (fire-genie) who was bound to the volcano originally. Known as the Lord of Ash, he built the city atop the backs of human slaves, attracting more genies and their slaves, until the caldera was filled with bustling activity. Only genies bound to objects can live here, for obvious reasons.
Dungeons to Delve
  • Pyramids of the Lich-Kings: The almighty Lich-Kings have been interred in these great stone tombs dotting the landscape. They hold cunning traps and house the Lich-Kings' undying minions, but are full of fabulous treasures, older than any other.
  • The Lost City of Andok-Sur: Andok-Sur was formerly the capital of the Stygian Empire, but its ruins now sit along the Sur Delta after being flooded as part of a macabre human sacrifice. The place is a battleground between undead, cultists of Sseth, and Herestephes the dragon.
Genies
  • Genies were originally the rulers of the Roiling Chaos. But in ages past, human elementalists made pacts with the genies to combat the forces of the Stygian Empire, enslaved them, and bound them to specific objects and natural places (desert oases, magical lamps, etc.).
  • Genies cannot stray from their lairs, so they often require ordinary folk to perform services for them, tantalizing them with the ability to grant wishes in exchange for periods of servitude.
  • Genies are extremely social creatures, perhaps even more so than humans, but they have been forced into a solitary lifestyle; they crave attention and interaction, and enslave people not for labor, but so that they may be surrounded by friends, sycophants, and interlocutors.
  • All genies wish to travel to the City of Brass, where they can be among their own kind and surrounded by intelligent creatures. To that end, they seek out objects to be bound to, and slaves to take them there.
Alternative Name(s)
Stygia, the Wastes
Type
Desert
Legends & Lore: The Magic of the Lich-Kings: It was the elves that first introduced arcane magic to the Free Kingdoms and its people, but the Necromancer-Kings reigned over Stygia for centuries before the Wise Folk ever arrived. Many wonder what exactly provided them with their dark magic, if it was some unknown god, powerful artifacts, or maybe some undiscovered wellspring of evil magic born of the land.

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