The lands of the Shakkad, or desert people, are made up of two distinctly different cultures. The cities and urban areas are inhabited by law abiding city folk, while the surrounding deserts are populated by hardy nomadic tribes. The lands range from arid plains to vast desert wastelands. There are many Oasis throughout the large desert, A few are large, bordering on small cities themselves. The kingdom of Shakkad is made up of six city semi-autonomous city states. Each city’s ruler is decided by royal bloodline. While each city-state is nearly a kingdom unto itself, all cities pay tribute to the god-king Numa. Outside of the metropolitan centers, the desert becomes hard and ungoverned, with nomadic desert tribes thriving there. Although there are many desert tribes that live within the borders of each city state, they do not acknowledge outside rule. The Shakkad have an uneasy alliance with the lizard folk, which is constantly being put in jeopardy by the indiscriminately raiding of the desert nomads.
There are many ancient temples, tombs, cities and remnants of lost civilizations that have been reclaimed by the sands of time. This is why Shakkad is known as the land of hidden treasures. The bleached bones of many a tomb raider and treasure hunter can be find beneath the shifting sands of the relentless desert.
Shakkadian Waterways and Travel:
There are several large rivers that connect the six major Shakkadian cities like arteries; although you may have to ferry through one city to get to another. These waterways are the major means of travel and commerce. There are small heavily fortified outposts and trading centers along these rivers, though these are few and far between. The tolls to these rivers are expensive, and the taxes for moving goods is exorbitant. There are also merchant roads between the cities, but these are not well kept, and are frequently targeted by bandits and slavers.
Many travelers, who cannot afford the tolls of the waterways or the time to take the long but lightly taxed roads find Kuyuk guides. They are essential for finding life sustaining oasis during the trek, or avoiding bandits, although the danger of the guides themselves being bandits are real.
The values of the more urban desert dwellers differ vastly from the nomadic country men. The more urban Shakkadians favor civilization, commerce and order. They tend to worship the gods of order and prosperity, unlike their Kuyuk country man; who show devotion to the more chaotic aspects of the Shakkadian pantheon. Each sprawling city is enclosed by large nearly impenetrable walls. There are smaller towns outside of the city walls, but these all but disappear the further from the city you get. The cities are both wondrous and decadent, merchant guilds and temples and arcanist guilds abound. Shakkadians are renowned for their mastery of fire magic.
There is a zigurrat like pyramid at the center of each city used for worship and large ceremonies. The god-king lives in a particularly large pyramind within the city of Talgash, which is considered its own government apart from the city proper.
Slavery is a large part of Shakkadian life. Even moderately wealthy families have several slaves. slaves are rarely abused, and there are fines and penalties for such behavior. Slavery is a major area of contention with the Chulkay Baronies, who have outlawed the practices.
Shakkadians favor looses clothing and robes. City dwellers also favor well oiled beards and hair as a sign of prosperity and fashion. Wrestling is popular throughout Shakkadia, and there are several major tournaments a year. Winning such tournaments allows for much coveted bragging rights for the winning city. Successful wrestlers can be exceedingly rich and famous.
Laws are strict and often brutal, with public executions and torture being the norm. In war Shakkadia has a well armed and organized military. Its swift horse and powerful elephant chariots make its armies quite formidable.
Shakkadian City States of Note
- Talgash-Largest City and home of the god king’s zigurrat.
- Alruz-Renowned for its great museums, it’s known as the city of 1000 wonders.
- Kadia-The smallest of the city states, but perhaps the wealthiest.
The Kuyuk (Desert Nomads)
The free spirited desert nomads respect the unwritten laws of tradition, where each man’s word is his bond. They favor the oral tradition, and good storytellers are an important part of their society. The nomads are prone to bartering, with nothing having a set price. Generosity is a virtue, and gift giving is also a sign of respect for nomads. They worship the more wild and chaotic of the Shakkadian gods, and this is exemplified by their free spirited and sometimes ruthless natures. The brutality of the desert seldom makes allowances for the niceties of civilization.
The nomadic tribes of the desert survive by banditry, smuggling and slave trading. They also act as guides for those who wish to quickly travel across the desert without paying the exorbitant taxes of the waterways. Kuyuk nomads are the only ones who know the locations of the many oases that dot the desert landscape. They use horses, camels and other more exotic animals, when traveling since journey by foot is rarely sensible. Pack and riding animals are essential for nomadic life. As extensive as their knowledge of the Shakkadian desert is, much of it is still uncharted and there are certain stretches of its vastness which the Kuyuk dare not venture.
The exact number of Kuyuk tribes inhabiting the vast desert is nearly impossible to calculate. The tribes come in various sizes depending on their success and nearly all are nomadic, with the exception of the established settlements surrounding the larger Oasis. There are a few relatively large and powerful tribes which are of particular bother to the Shakkadian kingdoms and Chulkay Baronies; the Horse Lords of the eastern deserts being one of them. There are literally thousands of smaller oasis, but using those can be exceedingly dangerous.
Kuyuk are masters of the long dagger and re-curved bow. There are frequently conflicts between tribes competing for resources. Duels of honor are often fought with the Kuyuk curved daggers, and are almost always to the death. In battle Kuyuks are lightning fast raiders and skirmishers, rarely choosing to stand and fight.
Favored Classes: Warrior, Rogue