April 04, 2012

The Scabrous Waste

North beyond the peaks of the Dark Mountains stretches a miserable waste of jumbled stone. In this blighted and terrible place the sun shines only dimly over the high crags to the south, and the stars glimmer sharply in the thin air even during the day. Under this light exposed skin blisters and burns. It is for this reason the terrible land is called the Scabrous Waste. The Waste is a heap of broken rock and deep canyons that stretch out for leagues in all directions, growing more broken and blighted the farther one travels. A full month's journey north through this hellish terrain terminates at the White Wall, the uttermost end of this land. Not made by human hands, the Wall gleams like polished glass. Beyond the wall strange stars wheel impossibly bright. Staring too long into this void leads inevitably to blindness. It is impossibly thick, impossibly high, and impervious to any mortal attempt to scar it. But scarred it is, at its peak a thousand feet it ends suddenly in a ragged line. Whatever mind-boggling force broke the White Wall scattered huge shards from the titanic edifice across the entire Scabrous Waste. They glimmer even in the weak light and are one of the only points of reference when the ceaseless wind strengthens, kicking up dust storms that roll unstoppably through the dry land.

Despite being a horrible place to live, the Scabrous Waste is still home to a small number of humanoids, both civilized and not. They live within the few small towns that dot the land. Some are built into cracks and fissures that provide some respite from the endless wind, others are walled shanty towns, erecting barriers in mimicry of the fallen White Wall. All wear voluminous robes and hoods to protect themselves from the baleful light. Only the mad live outside or go uncovered, wandering in nomadic and cannibalistic bands.

The people of Ig know little about the wastes. They tell old stories tell about terrible realms of alien skies and pain beyond the mountains. Most go there in pursuit of riches. Lost cities, forgotten mines, and abandoned tombs all lie undiscovered among the heaped stone and shattered rock. Few who make the journey to the Scabrous Wastes ever return. The merchant families of Hamanda Jakla send a caravan every few years but lean profits keep them from more regular service. There are only three paths over the mountains so crossing into the land is difficult. To the east the Jute and Fiddleback passes, to the west only the Moroke defile.

Anyone moving across the Scabrous Waste takes 1d4 points of damage for each day of travel caused by the unnatural light of the area. A character wearing concealing robes doesn't take this damage.

Encounters (1d12)
  1. The ground gives a way! A hidden sinkhole opens up at the party's feet, threatening to drop them into a 1d4x10' deep pit, taking damage accordingly. Ref save DC 15 to avoid toppling into the pit and taking damage. There is a 10% chance that the pit opens up into a larger underground complex and a 30% chance it's the home of some terrible desert creature.
  2. Giant Scorpions clamber out from under rock outcroppings or shake themselves free of the surrounding dunes and go for the meatiest organs of the party.
  3. A sandstorm kicks up, lasting for 1d12 hours. Visibility is reduced to a few feet. Anyone not wearing protective clothes takes 1d6 damage an hour, otherwise they only take 1d4 points. Shelter such as a lean-to, camel, or tent protects against any damage.
  4. Giant Taratulas, ever hungry, creep out of their hidden nests and attack.
  5. Quicksand! What appeared to be a stretch of sand and dust is a stretch of dry quicksand. Anyone leading the party will sink over 1d6 rounds, after which they will quickly suffocate.
  6. Cannibal nomads, their uncovered flesh blistered and raw, attempt to ambush the party. Treat as Berzerkers.
  7. A rock slide or dune collapses onto the party. Ref save DC 10 to avoid taking the fall or take 1d10 damage.
  8. Them! A line of giant ants winds its way across the waste. They will not attack unless threatened. 25% of the time the party has stumbled onto a nest.
  9. The party encounters a trade caravan. 10% of the time the caravan is under attack from bandits.
  10. A spring supports a tiny oasis here. 75% of the time a predator is waiting to ambush anyone coming for a drink.
  11. A band of desiccated zombies tear themselves free from their graves. They wear the tattered finery of their extinct culture and carry rusty weapons.
  12. Attracted by the sound of footsteps, grey worms explode out of the ground and attack.


  1. The more I read of your setting, the more I like it.

    1. And I haven't even made a map yet! Thanks Simon. I'm glad my special blend of funky fantasy is appealing to beings outside of my skull.