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The land of the Sand Folk

by Steven B. Wilson

Anyone remember the sand folk from DA3 City of the Gods? One of my PCs drew a picture (he's a rather good artist) of a four-armed humanoid and asked if he could make a character like that. We set down some basics for the race and where they came from. Then I was looking back through my old modules and came across the sand folk. I was amazed to find the similarities between what we had come up with and what was written (BTW: the PC had never heard of the sand folk before). So with DA3 as our background we developed the history of the sand folk from the time of the Blackmoor explosion to AC 1000. I haven't had time to work out how the WotI would affect them, but here is what we came up with.

Any comments would be appreciated. :)

Area Name: Adri Varma Plateau
Continent: Brun
Location: N of Sind; NW of Glantri; W of Wendar
Climate: Dry Desert
Terrain: Badlands
Inhabitants: Sand folk (Ungolwaith)
Population: 2,000 (10% civilised, 80% borderlands, 10% wilderness)
Technological Level: Advanced Stone Age
Cultural Type: Sedentary
Social Structure: Tribe
Government: Tribal Elders and War Chief
Language: The Talk and Elvish
Resources and Products: Minerals and abundant desert wildlife
Imports: Weapons
Exports: Salt and arts
Currency: None
Taxes: None

Social Customs: Tending to be cliff-dwelling folk, they are organised into tribes based on blood ties. All are warriors and are governed by a strict code of tribal honour that places a premium on martial conduct. They domesticate camarillas (a 12-foot long, six-legged, desert-dwelling lizard-like carnivore) and blink dogs. Bastard swords (made by the elves of Wendar) are their weapon of preference. They honour the Immortal Ixion.

Laws: Tribes are governed by a council of elders who administer justice and choose a war chief who serves for life. The only penalty the council recognises is decapitation. If an act doesn't deserve decapitation, it isn't a crime. The accused has the right to confront his accuser. If elders can't decide, a trial by combat (always to the death) may be called for.

History: They know little of their own history. They are the dwindling descendants of a pre-Blackmoor race. Back then, they were nomadic, and traded freely with (and freely stole from) the Blackmoor peoples, until they became nothing more than high-tech raiders. Although they weren't totally destroyed by the Great Rain of Fire, they lost their access to technology and reverted back to a stone age culture from which they never recovered.

Remnants of the race wandered the empty lands until they came across, and were befriended by, elves living in a stretch of high mountain forests. They stayed near the elves and began to live in a series of caves and tunnels nearby. The cold temperature of the area and the elven customs stabilised their biological changes (see my next post for more info on this), and they slowly forgot how it used to be - but they still felt the power of the sun's rays.

When the elves started dying from some strange disease (caused by the Great Rain of Fire), they join the sand folk, who didn't seem to be affected by the disease, in their caves. As more elves died, they went further and further underground. The sand folk declined to follow, for they didn't want to leave the sun - which had become an important symbol in their mysticism, although they did not remember why.

Eventually the elves completely disappeared - either dead or lost in the deep caverns. With their friends gone and increasing orc attacks from the south, the sand folk slowly dwindled in numbers. What was worse, births became very rare - their stagnant biology was finally having an effect, though they thought it had something to do with the strange elf disease.

In an attempt to flee the disease, they travelled en masse - west across the glacier-capped mountains. On the other side they found a barren, but snow-free land. Although it was still cold there, no clouds obscured the sun. They settled in the cliffs and rock formations. It was a harsh time. Survival was in doubt as they struggled to relearn their lost skills.

Then an amazing thing occurred. After many generations, the weather became warm enough to trigger their biological change. It caused much chaos, for the change was only a myth of the past. The myth, however, was also associated with a great legendary power (which _was_ a myth based on the memory of the Blackmoor technology they once had, and to which they no longer had access to). They began to believe they were returning to an age of strength.

Also at this time, an abundance of births occurred, which caused a problem of its own - overpopulation. They split into various tribes and spread out. That was nine generations ago. They have since come into contact with Wendar (who found it astounding that they had elven elements in their Talk, and who gave them the new name of "Ungolwaith" or "Spiderfolk" due to their four arms), Sind, and Glantri (who they keep far away from, lest they become the subjects of magical experiments).

Births are not as common as that first year after the Restoration of Life - as they like to call it - nor are they as rare as before then. Not every summer is hot enough to cause a Change, but it is an occasion for great ceremonies dedicated to the sun. They keep the Change as much of a secret as they can from other folk, as it is deeply personal and has great spiritual significance.

Despite the belief that they will become powerful soon, they seem to have a complete lack of ability to progress beyond their advanced stone age technology. This is due to the Immortal Ixion (their Sun-Prince) who keeps a very close eye on them and suppresses the racial memory of the Blackmoor technology they nearly destroyed the world.