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THE SEA OF DUST: natural desert

 
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NorkerMedic
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 6:34 pm    Post subject: THE SEA OF DUST: natural desert Reply with quote

Look at the Oerik map in the 1983 boxed set.

The Sea of Dust is almost completely ringed by mountains, and the ranges of the west rise a long distance from the (off the map) west coast.

This means the Sea of Dust is likely a natural desert, formed by the rain shadow of the ranges that encircle it. It was always arid or semiarid.

My interpretation is that the Rain of Fire boiled, broke, and buried the irrigation canals along with the cities, and also burned up all the desert vegetation.
It did not turn a wet country dry. It turned an irrigated and settled country into a wasteland.
And it added a great deal more particulate matter to the land and air:ashes and dry topsoil.


The old Suloise must have had a huge canal network, now all ruined , choked and buried in Dust. Some muddy water collected in the old canals may create things like straight lines of grass in certain areas.
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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 2:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Different interpretation to be sure, as quite a bit of what makes up the Sea of Dust is ash. For this to be possible there must have been a whole lot of burnable stuff to leave such a large amount of ash behind, which desert scrub will just not do. That means lots of lush vegetation, and it is a fitting (to me at least) to imagine that the Baklunis went with the option to reduce such a paradise to a bleak ash wasteland. For your interpretation though, one just needs to tweak the contents of the dust to account for less ash, and then you have a Sea of Dust recipe more suited to it once having been a coastal area which gradually becomes a low desert region taking up much of its interior. It helps if there are one or more lines of hills/low mountains separating the coastal region form the interior low desert, as they block coastal breezes from moving inland, therefore making it much hotter inland.

Incidentally, I live in an area similar to your vision of the Suel Basin called the Cucamonga Valley, in Southern California. A view of the Cucamonga Valley from the southwest:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/21/Pomona_Valley.jpg

That pic if from a point about 30 miles inland northeast of Huntington Beach. Within the Cucamonga Valley are many areas typical of the low desert, but there are also large areas of more arable land. So, I guess I live in an area very close to your vision of the ancient Suel Basin. Laughing

Yearly fires scorch some of the grass/chaparral in the low hills and mountains, and sometimes we have really raging fires pass on through that torch much of what grows in those places, but it is no ash wasteland. Add a decade or more of drought and the area is now rather dry. Imagining a series of devastating fires one after another, followed by hundreds of years of drought, your Sea of Dust begins to take shape in my mind. Wink
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The ashen parts of the Sea of Dust are the result of volcanic ash from the Hellfurnaces, not remnants of burnt organic matter from the Suel Imperium. Greyhawk Adventures is clear about this.

Quote:
The Sea of Dust was first named for its appearance just west of the Hellfurnaces, where volcanic ash is spread in gray waves over a land surface now deeply buried. Each year the Hellfurnaces add new weight to the column of fine gray dust.


The central part of the Sea of Dust isn't merely arid land and it isn't ashen; it's an alien matter of magical origin, not like anything found elsewhere on Oerth.

Quote:
The central part of the Sea of Dust is the most forbidding of all, and certainly the most alien. There are dunes of a white, powdery, caustic material, and the air’s dryness will empty an unglazed jug in a day or two and cause those who do not cover their mouths with damp cloth to cough blood.


There's also the Ktosor-hep or dust-lakes, where the alien dust takes on the characteristics of water due to magical influence from the Suel ruins.

The southwestern Sea of Dust isn't ash or dust, but "extraordinarily productive" fertile dirt.

The northern Sea of Dust is more of a conventional arid climate like what you describe above, and might be what the whole of the basin might be like (save the southwestern portion) if not for the Hellfurnaces or the effects of the Baklunish curse (which is apparently sustained by Tovag Baragu).


Last edited by rasgon on Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:43 am; edited 1 time in total
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Vulcan
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember a map of the Suel Empire that had what is now the Forgotten City as a port town at the northernmost extension of a large bay or smallish sea. (Unfortunately I can't remember the source of the map, but it was a module of some sort involving traveling in the Sea of Dust and time travel back to just before the Rain of Colorless Fire.)

Apparently either the Rain of Colorless Fire boiled it off and it was then subsequently filled in with centuries of ash, or the cataclysm that caused the southern Crystalmist Mountains to erupt into the ongoing volcanic event that is the Hellfurnace mountains (and the main source of ash in the Sea of Dust) also uplifted the entire Suel basin and drained that sea entirely.

Or some of both, and there's still an extremely salty and alkaline mud underneath the ash in the south-central regions of the Sea of Dust.

The sea would have provided plenty of precipitation for the surrounding areas, much like the Great Lakes do for the American northeast. So it wouldn't have been a desert at all.

Of course, as GM you can re-write things however they make sense to you. That's the fun part about D&D.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vulcan wrote:
I remember a map of the Suel Empire that had what is now the Forgotten City as a port town at the northernmost extension of a large bay or smallish sea. (Unfortunately I can't remember the source of the map, but it was a module of some sort involving traveling in the Sea of Dust and time travel back to just before the Rain of Colorless Fire.)


You're thinking of Randy Richards' RR1 Suel Imperium - Age of Glory. You can download it here: Age of Glory.
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NorkerMedic
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I can see the possibility of shallow lakes and artificial reservoirs, a major inland sea or something like the Great Lakes does not fit my conception of the region in Suel Imperium times.

I think of the ancient Suel ports and seacoast region as being part of the southern coast of Oerik.

This would correspond with the Sunelan Coast of the Dragon Magazine world map.

As noted above, it's all ultimately decided by the DM. :)
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Note that on Richards' map it's a salt sea, which isn't incompatible with an arid climate. Something like the Dead Sea or Great Salt Lake.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Were the southern mountains and highlands present before the Rain of Colorless Fire?

Looking at the partial map of the basin in that module, I'm not sure that sea does not open to the ocean in the south.

If even hills were burned to ash, there might have been bigger geological changes.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know some people assume the 1996 Dragon Annual map represents Oerth as it was prior to the Rain of Colorless Fire/Invoked Devastation, since "Suel Empire" and "Baklunish Empire" are both labeled there and neither exists after the cataclysms.

So it's possible that those mountains existed then and don't now.

I would assume the Hellfurnaces (or Southern Crystalmists), at least, extended all the way across the Amedio Jungle, since Kahoatep had to build the Wind Walkers' Passages to cross them according to UK6.

Note that the Sunelan Coast was created by Tal Meta. The Dragon Annual map calls that region Zindia. I agree that the Suel probably had ports there, as well as in the Amedio.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rasgon wrote:
I know some people assume the 1996 Dragon Annual map represents Oerth as it was prior to the Rain of Colorless Fire/Invoked Devastation, since "Suel Empire" and "Baklunish Empire" are both labeled there and neither exists after the cataclysms.

So it's possible that those mountains existed then and don't now.

I would assume the Hellfurnaces (or Southern Crystalmists), at least, extended all the way across the Amedio Jungle, since Kahoatep had to build the Wind Walkers' Passages to cross them according to UK6.

Note that the Sunelan Coast was created by Tal Meta. The Dragon Annual map calls that region Zindia. I agree that the Suel probably had ports there, as well as in the Amedio.


Ah, right! I had thought Tal Meta just developed it, but I see he cerated it.

Zindia (likely the same place as Jahind in the Gord books, yes?) is there on the other map.
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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rasgon wrote:
The ashen parts of the Sea of Dust are the result of volcanic ash from the Hellfurnaces, not remnants of burnt organic matter from the Suel Imperium. Greyhawk Adventures is clear about this..

I do recall that, but the Hellfurnaces don't cover the whole area, and so I also like the idea of adding plenty of ashes of "what once was" to the rest of the area, which it surely is. I definitely forgot about the differences of some of the other areas though. The white powdery area sounds like it is covered in an extremely harsh alkali powder much like lye. I do recall the magical sand, which natives dive down into to retrieve lost treasures of old, or some such thing. And the annual map shows southern hills between the basin and the sea, so that is perfect.

As usual, you are a font of knowledge, and now I want to run an adventure set in the Sea of Dust even more! Such a ripe area for adventure. My players will have to survive the tender mercies of giant-controlled Geoff and the welcoming slavers of Ull before I can get them to the Sea of Dust though. Oh, the humanity. Evil Grin
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Admittedly I always liked to imagine that the mysterious white material was less like natural sand and more like powdered glass (to explain the need for wearing a wet cloth over one's mouth and nose), but I do recall hearing about the material being lye-like and being useful as a cement or other building material?
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NorkerMedic
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would cool to see PCs try to explore, clear, irrigate, and settle the " extraordinarily productive" dirt stretch of the Sea of Dust.
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