The Empire of the Tuzsani is a vast empire that covers all the known desert lands in southern Traykon. The Tuzsani tribesmen are extremely territorial and few outsiders are able to travel far into the desert without risking their wrath. Tuzsani are human but occasionally elves will be captured in raids and half elves are not unknown amongst the desert folk. A typical Tuzsani human has reddish brown skin and black hair with dark eyes. Tuzsani born from captured outsiders tend to have the have the skin and hair of their desert parent but can have different color eyes. The average Tuzsani also tends to be shorter than the northern humans averaging between 5'2 and 5'8 for men and women averaging about 4 to 6 inches shorter than the men.
There are seven "known" tribes of the desert folk. Each tribe is ruled by a "shaw" who acts as the king of his tribe. Any single tribe can actually be made up of individual clan type units that range far from their shaw. All members of a tribe owe fealty to the headsman of their tribe and the shaw. A headsman is normally chosen by the elders in a tribe and is responsible for moderating disputes and reporting to the shaw in the name of his clan.
Little is actually known about the inner workings of the Tuzsani culture. Rumors exist of more tribes than just the seven that have been encountered. There are even rumors that there is a "padisaw", or "Grand King", somewhere in the desert. Six of the known tribes of Tuzsani are nomads, the seventh has supposedly become stable and left the nomadic lifestyle behind. Some Tuzsani have accepted the worship of "outland" deities but most hold firm to ancestor worship. Tuzsani speak Vaslier, a perverted form of old Common. Those who trade regularly with outlanders can learn common.
Seven "Known" Tribes of Tuzsani
Bu'otho (Boo-ah-thó): The most "stable" of the Tuzsani tribes. They have settled the area around the Bu'otho Oasis and seem to have forsaken their nomadic heritage. this tribe also trades extensively with "outlanders" and produces mass amounts of silk fabrics for trade. They are known to dress in silk clothes of all types and colors. This is also the most tolerant tribe of both outlanders and magic. Some of their members ride with caravans across the desert, for a fee, to provide protection.
Ruata (Roo-ah-tah): "The Raiders," this tribe survives in the desert by raiding other tribes and outland caravans. They also are known to occasionally travel out of the desert borders to raid nearby towns and settlements. Raids on other Tuzsani are controlded with very little loss of life. Outlanders are not that lucky, the few who survive often compair the savagery of these warriors to that of barbaric orcs. The Ruata seldom ever stay two nights at the same location. Ruata wear a hodgepodge of clothing and armor, all salvaged from raids. Occasionally, a caravan can bribe raiding Ruata to leave them alone, those who offer too small of a bribe receive the Ruata wrath.
Vanata (Vahn-ah-tah): This tribe has made it's mark upon the desert by hunting and slaying the wild creatures of the land. The Vanata hunt creatures for meat, skin, and other animal products that they then trade to the other tribes. Children, pregnant women, and the sick or infirm normally establish a "base camp" in an area while the able bodied members of the tribe fan out in search of animals. A Vanata camp normally consists of 10-20 non-combatants with up to 20 warriors who are resting or reequipping between hunts. A new camp that has just set up or is breaking down has the full group of 100-150 warriors. Once an animal has been slain, it is either brought back to the camp or a rider will return to the camp to bring a group out to gather the products of the animal. Tribe members tend to wear a mixture of leather, animal hides, and silks. Accomplished warriors tend to be equipped with dragon scale shields, trophies from their more difficult hunts.
Bothrain (Bah-th-rân): The mystics of the Tuzsani, little is known about this tribe. They are always encountered either singly or in groups of no more than 4. The Bothrain are divided into two groups, the warriors and the preservers. The preservers travel around the desert using natural magic to try and restore nature it a balanced state. The warriors search out magical abominations and expedite their extinction. The Bothrain are thought to have a home oasis deep in the desert but none have visited it and lived to tell of its location.
Gorza (Gor-zah): Few groups are as vicious or as secretive as the Gorza. The Gorza are rarely encountered due to the fact that their main territory is further south than most caravans and adventuring groups travel. Those few who have encountered them and escaped describe them as "living statues." Gorza are known to find an area to await prey and often will lie still, under the sands like scorpions, and spring out with viciously precise attacks. The structure of this tribe is not known to outsiders but they seem to be loosely organized and show respect to other tribe leaders by not attacking them.
Se'ethe (S-eth): The Se'ethe maintain a arcane magical presence in the desert. They practice runeweaving like the nobility of Valislad before them. However, these desert nomads use it as a tool of protection and survival and keep strict watch over practitioners. Sages wonder how these humans have apparently circumvented the effects of the Veil. The Se'ethe do not share their magic with outlanders and those they find practicing arcane magic often find themselves beset by several tribesmen attempting to "neutralize" their magic.
"Retrievers": The true name of this clan is not known and until recently, nobody even knew this tribe of Tuzsani existed. An intrepid group of adventurers penetrated deep into the desert and emerged carrying great wealth and an extremely powerful magical sword called "Maiden's Lament." Soon after they emerged and begun recovering from the perilous journey, a group of 20 "retrievers" from the desert emerged. This tribe was dressed in dark armor and wielded pale green swords. They attacked the adventure group and killed them all, then turned their attention to the townsfolk, slaying hundreds before their mission was complete. They halted their attack when the merchant who had financed the mission, and bought the sword, emerged and offered it to the raiders. Wordlessly, and as swiftly as they arrived, the desert folk disappeared into the sands. Tuzsani who are questioned about this tribe refuse to comment on their existence other than to articulate the dangers of removing things from the desert.
Bu'otho Oasis: Not really a city but this is the heart of the Bu'otho tribe, the only known non-nomadic tribe. The Oasis is actually a large lake fed by an underground stream. A large population of Liener Moths, whose cocoons are used to create silk, reside at the lake. The Bu'otho guard these moths and have become very skilled at spinning the delicate cocoons into silk threads. Due to their stable location, the Bu'otho act as emissaries for the Tuzsani and trade caravans are common at the oasis. This oasis is a days travel into the rocky wastes of the desert so there are many merchants who risk getting attacked by raiders to trade for the fine Tuzsani silk.
The Tuzsani desert actually has a nearly featureless rocky waste in the north and steadily turns into sandy dunes as you travel south. The southern reaches of the desert are a mystery to most people. Since the Great Cataclysm, the Tuzsani are the only people who are thought to live in the blasted wastes that were once Valislad. Historical accounts of cities and features are unreliable due to the destructive nature of the energy that was released during the cataclysm. Few landmarks remained and whole cities were destroyed. Intrepid adventurers have formed expeditions to skirt between the Dragonspine Mountains and the great desert in an attempt to penetrate deep into the desert, risking Tuzsani and Dragon wrath for the promise of ancient magic treasures. Only one expedition returned and the survivors told tells of magically warped races and giant desert monsters.
Vegetation is scarce in the desert making agriculture all but impossible. There are a few permanent oasis of all sizes, and temporary oasis have been known to form from infrequent rainstorms, underground springs, or other natural phenomenon. Also, several different types of cactus grow wild in the desert and many of them store up vast reserves of water.
Heat in the desert can be just as lethal as any of the desert predators. Unless a character stays in a cool area or takes other measures to cool down, a character must make a Fortitude save once every 10 minutes (DC 15, +1 for each previous check) or sustain 1d4 points of subdual damage. Characters wearing heavy clothing or armor of any sort have a –4 penalty to their saving throws. A character with the Wilderness Lore skill may receive a bonus to this saving throw and may be able to apply this bonus to other characters as well. Characters reduced to unconsciousness begin taking normal damage (1d4 points per each 10-minute period).
A character who sustains any subdual damage from heat exposure now suffers from heatstroke and is fatigued. These penalties end when the character recovers the subdual damage she took from the heat. Characters who are fatigued cannot run or charge and suffer an effective penalty of -2 to Strength and Dexterity. A fatigued character becomes exhausted by doing something else that would normally cause fatigue. After 8 hours of complete rest, fatigued characters are no longer fatigued. Characters who are exhausted move at half normal speed and suffer an effective penalty of -6 to Strength and Dexterity. A fatigued character becomes exhausted by doing something else that would normally cause fatigue. After 1 hour of complete rest, exhausted characters become fatigued.