Burning Over the Undersky
A temperate but dry land, Seft is not only shifting sand dunes, but exposed rock plains, occasional savannas, oases, and a mountain range of wind-scarred sandstone. Where it abuts the Ocean is mostly rocky beaches and outcroppings, with some muddy sandbar bays towards the south and east.
Seft is divided into dozens of sultanates and kingdoms, each with an independent ruler who may or may not have alliances with neighbors. The closest thing to a central governing body is the Viziers’ Chamber, which is simply a message-sending network amongst the advisors to the various rulers. Over time, it has become easier to arrange for similarities in approach to politics and lawmaking, so the various kingdoms and sultanates have remarkably homogenous rules and rights.
Humans are the most populous race throughout Seft, living in the few major cities built on the rock plains or surrounding an oasis.
Halflings live either in the cities or are part of a caravan culture, using camels and mules to carry their howdahs. There exists at least one caravan that turned to barbarianism years ago; they now ride hyenas and giant scorpions, and do a brisk business hunting and guarding caravans for other halflings, while warring with the orcs and elves on the dunes.
Orcs ride camels or rhinoceroses and have a viking culture, trading at one city, robbing another. Half-orcs are not common in these groups, but are not unheard of. The groups, called hashin-tess in the local tongue (meaning “the fanged wind”), erect tent cities during their non-viking periods. They have a strict view on hospitality during these times: a visitor is feted and fed, and allowed a day to recover or conduct business, but only two suns may look on an orc who hosts an enemy: the next sun must gaze on blood.
Elves ride horses or giant lizards and are strictly nomadic, never staying in one place more than two days. They roam from sacred area to sacred area, making dire pronouncements about what locals must do to tend them, then leaving as swiftly as they came. They will sometimes pace a halfling caravan for a few days but make no effort to interact, and sometimes will follow orcish viking journeys, apparently to ensure the orcs don’t steal some particular thing, although they have never offered any indication of what.
The dangers of Seft keep everyone wary, from hyenas, giant scorpions, axebeaks, lions, and jackals, to manticores, death dogs, lamia, and mummies, not to mention the rare sightings of the blue dragons who live deep in the center of the mountains.
The gods of Seft are distant and bureaucratic, concerned mostly with making sure their duties are carried out. They communicate with their worshipers through their priests, who spend many long years learning the elaborate rituals and protocols required by the gods. The pantheon is dual-fold: the gods of the daytime are humanoid, with each major race of Seft represented. They oversee daily life and regular rituals and are attended in the Blue Heaven of Eia by the spirits of their deceased priests. The gods of the nighttime are animals, and they oversee the abstract life of their worshipers: all transitional times are theirs as well as the practice of magic in its various forms. They roam the White Heaven of Iao, attended by the spirits of the deceased sultans and shahs.