The Barkar Desert is home to semi-nomadic tribes that dwell under the scortching sun, each one fiercer than the next. Here’s an account of the better known clans, scattered around a few oasis.
1. Oasis of the Wind
A small settlement off the route between Tarantis and Felista, this community is home to free-spirited people living away from the business and intrigue of the bustling city. Like most oasis settlements, they offer shelter to well-meaning merchants and caravans travelling between the desert cities and receive supplies, equipment and news in return.
Life at the edge of the savannah is harsh and unforgiving, and city dwellers would consider it downright barbaric. It however forges its inhabitants into steel-willed individuals and resourceful, survivalist warriors. They live by a strong warrior code of honor, but try to remain neutral and not get pulled in the affairs of neighboring powers. If roused, they will fight with stunning ferocity for their freedoms.
Most male members of this specific tribe are hunters, and while gender roles are not locked in per se, girls are the favored trainees as fearless defenders of the tribe, the Dervishes. Nir, leader of the tribe, her wind priestess, an elderly blacksmith and a healer make up the most notable figures of this community. According to the last travelling merchant that rested there, counting children, they number around 35.
1.1 Commune with the elements
Marun, the Zephyr, is one of the few members of the tribe that can speak Auran, and as such communes with the wind spirits that inhabit the surroundings of the oasis. She is married to Nir, and leads the oasis tribe alongside her.
Her voice soothes her warrior wife, and keeps the western winds blowing, allowing the oasis to stay cool and habitable year-long. She regularly offers tribute to the spirits and meditates by the water, and they in turn whisper to her of visitors, events they witnessed around the desert and threats on the wind.
1.2 Notable People
The community is supplied in tools and weapons by Bronn the Blacksmith, a gruff, hirsute man that left behind the city of Felista after his forge was destroyed by agents of the Felista South Seas Trading Company when he refused to take part in their cartel to hike metal prices up in the city. Bronn might seem like a rude old man, but under this façade lies a heart of gold.
Nora, the tribe healer, is native to the compound. She treats the wounded hunters and injured caravan merchants passing through, serves as midwife, and is a trusted advisor in leading the tribe.
1.3 The Dervishes
Whirlwinds of steel, the Dervishes are the protectors of the tribe against enemy incursion. They fight savagely yet gracefully with two long-bladed scimitars, delivering a flurry of swirling blows before their target can even retaliate. The Dervishes numbered 6, and their leader was Nir.
4 of them classify as Fighters with the Two-Weapon Fighting style, and 2 as Barbarians.
Three were killed during the raid that captured Nir and many others, and the three others have since then been missing in action.
Active Dervishes before attack: Nir, Iteh, Sili, Niva, Eoun, Enia.
2. Scarlet Oasis
Located in the dunes between Kalaz and Felista, the Scarlet Oasis gets its name from the copper deposit runoffs that tint its waters. Due to its proximity, Felista has more influence here than most other oasis long the desert trade routes. The small copper mine exploited by the local tribe next to the oasis sees workers from the neighboring city come and go as the seasons pass.
This tribe is less peaceful than most, and sometimes raids the surrounding settlements other than Felista for supplies. In recent months, The Felista South Seas Trading Company’s agents have struck a deal with the tribe leader, Boros the Bloody, to supply him with troops and a deal: power and money in exchange for delivering slaves to the Company. He has taken to raiding other desert tribes, slaying those who resist and capturing the others to sell them into bondage.
Rumor has it that having to raid further and further from his turf is taking its toll on Boros’ patience, and that he has taken to selling members of his own tribe to meet his quotas to the Company.
2.1 Boros the Bloody
A hulking, towering giant amongst man, Boros the Bloody leads the Scarlet Oasis tribe. One can gather at first glance from his stature, demeanor and perpetual snarl that he didn’t earn this moniker by being diplomatic or considerate to others.
His quest for power has led him to strike unsavory deals with the equally shadowy Felista South Seas Trading Company, which have since bolstered his strength and made him more and more reckless in pursuit of said power.
He now considers his greatest victories the capture of other oasis, as they are the lifeblood of the region, and the humiliation of its current inhabitants and leaders. Under the cover of night, he recently assaulted the Oasis of the Winds, far to the west. With the help of his Felistan mercenaries, he defeated the defending Dervishes by sheer force of numbers. Not content in this victory, he further humiliated their leader, the Barbarian Nir, by denying her an honorable warrior’s death, selling her as a slave instead.
To top it off, she was offered to the Palace of Felista as an exotic dancer, to entertain the pasha and his entourage. This paid off big in prestige for Boros, but ultimately backfired as Nir killed two palace guards bare-handed and threatened the pasha.
Amused, he sent her to the fighting pits, hoping to get a spectacle out of her execution.
This also turned out a poor decision, as the desert warrior conquered opponent after opponent, cutting them down in a whirlwind of steel. She rapidly became a favorite of the crowd, whom named her the Black Dervish for the strips of dark fabric torn off her dancing robes, trailing from her weapons as she swirled from blow to blow, glaring down Boros and the pasha in the rafters the entire time.
She soon after escaped on her way to the holding cells, and hasn’t been spotted since. Interested parties are still on alert, as she seems to hold a grudge. Boros has since lost a lot of his prestige, taking out his anger on his tribesmen.
3. Oasis of the Shifting Sands
Few can say exactly where the Oasis of the Shifting Sands is located, the usual descripton being “somewhere north of Kalaz”. Surrounded by mirages dubious nature and quicksands, pinpointing its location is made even more difficult by the elusiveness of its occupants.
Merchant caravans stumbling on the oasis sometimes find it devoid of civilization, despite accounts of a tribe settled there.
It is said that this oasis is the training grounds of a caste of desert assassins, whose presence is as fleeting as a gust of sand and wind. They are reported as able to glide along the sand dunes and striking during sandstorms, seemingly unaffected by them.
They are however never openly involved in regional affairs, only lending their services when their price is met. Hence the mystery surrounding this place.
4. Great Husk Oasis
East of Kalaz, as the desert slopes up towards Barûn-kor, the Great Husk Oasis offers travelers a bit of respite. Nestled in the middle of a gigantic purple worm husk, it is a ghastly reminder of the hidden threats of the desert.
Many caravan traders bypass this location, as many whom have spent the night there have reported being woken up by a feeling of great unease. This is not helped by the fact that the waters of the oasis glow with an eerie green hue at night.
The small tribe settled near the oasis draws on people’s fear of the place to keep unwanted visitors at bay. When accepting of travelers, they will trade bone carvings and samples of the glowing plankton that gives the water its color for supplies and information.
The tribe leader, a gaunt, elderly woman, is never named in front of outsiders, and goes by the Old Bones.
Oasis of the sand
Writers : Guillaume Lupien