Erdrique (Level 16 Monk) is currently trying to finish up one of my more favorite wilderness zones, the Sands of Menechtarun. The Sands of Menechtarun, commonly known as the Desert, is large zone that is surprisingly beautiful even thought it situated along a mountain range and its respective rain shadow. I thought it was time to continue my series on exploring the factions that occur in the wilderness zones by looking more closely at the Desert. I have done similar comparisons to Cerulean Hills, Waterworks, Tangleroot Gorge, Three Barrel Cove (Heroic), Searing Heights, Sorrowdusk Isle, Red Fens, Restless Isles, and Ataraxia’s Haven.
Even though the Desert is one of the largest explorer zones in Eberron, it doesn’t have a wide variety of factions. We primarily have four different factions that we will encounter while adventuring in this dangerous area:
1). Windlasher Gnolls and their hyenas
2). Firebrand Gnolls and their hyenas
3). King Raiyum’s undead and summoned creatures
4). The Scorrow
Even though the factions maybe limited, their interactions and relationships to each other is interesting.
The Windlasher Gnolls are the first set of enemies you will encounter as you enter the Desert from Zawabi’s Refuge. Their village of simple huts is basically at the quest entrance. They tend to be led by Den Mother Fheena who is a pretty voracious and ferocious enemy and who can be found at the back of the village. Two other notable enemies also occur in the village, Yurrugh the Swift, a very capable and deadly sniper, and Stinkpelt, a very dangerous and powerful wild hyena. Windlasher gnolls occupy a very defined portion of the Desert landscape that is distinct and separate and that does not overlap with their Firebrand brethren. They do inhabit the outskirts of the barren desert where the great pyramids lie and act as initial sentries to those great structures. In fact, the tombs themselves also have Windlasher guardians. This suggests that lich King Raiyum has made some type of alliance with the Windlasher gnolls. King Raiyum is rumored to be the greatest summoner their ever was and I’m wondering if he taught the Windlasher spellcasters how to summon air elementals to do their bidding, as we will come across those in the Windlasher territory. I’m sure other deals were also brokered, but it is apparent that the Windlashers are indeed helping and augmenting King Raiyum’s Forces.
Speaking of the great lich, King Raiyum’s undead minions are probably the next set of enemies you will encounter in your travelers in the Desert. They are spread throughout the Valley of the False Tombs, with the skeleton forces typically hiding underground, the mummies and zombies stumbling along the landscape, and the mephits flying from one side to the other. These particular enemies do not stray any further than the Valley of the Lost Tombs (well they spawn in any other location, I’m sure they chase you all over the place). While wondering through the Valley you will encounter several powerful enemies including Palumak the Scourer (a sand mephit), Thumok the Mad (mummy guardian), General Tanakh (mummy avenger), Whirling Ozann (air elemental), and The Thirsty One (skeleton). It is no doubt that these creatures serve at the call of the king and they only listen to him. It is also clear that the mephits and air elementals are a testament to the king’s ability to summon creatures from other planes to do his bidding. However, it is also clear that these enemies stay to themselves only allowing the Windlashers to come to the edges of their domain. However, with that said, there are some natural scorpions that are worshipped by the scorrow that will also inhabit the very fringes of the landscape, but not many. I guess the undead just tolerate these being there.
The next faction perhaps covers the larges portion of the land area for the Desert, the Firebrand gnolls. The Firebrand gnolls have a strong affinity for the Demon Queen herself and will routinely make a call out in her defense. These powerful gnolls occupy a portion of the mountainous region of the Desert and control the Burning City. These gnolls, along with their hyena pets and summoned fire mephits and fire elementals, guard this area voraciously. To solidify the pact between the Demon Queen and the Firebrand she has given some the taste of demon blood with a few turning into fiendish gnolls. The Firebrand are led by Commander Errulf, Lieutenant Ayurro, Haraja the Firedancer, and Vorvand Darkfur. These gnolls are extremely powerful and it is clear that they will not tolerate others in their region. The relationship between the Firebrands and the Windlashers doesn’t appear to be outright antagonistic but you get the feeling that neither group will willingly cross over into the others territory.
The last faction is perhaps the most intriguing. The scorrow are located in the southeaster portion of the area and don’t really inhabit any true villages. Instead they inhabit the caves and crevices of the mountain range that forms the border to the Desert. They are composed of drow that worship the scorpion god Vulkoor. Among their include several extremely dangerous enemies: Utach Sandcrawl, Wokran-kull, Volrune the Curate, and Mendexethazz. The majority of these powerful enemies are drow scorpions and it is these that probably lead the band that is present in the wilderness zone. One thing that is clear, is that the scorrow are very territorial and have very potent religious traditions, which at times means that they will take and sacrifice members from other factions, as we see in the quest An Offering of Blood where a fiendish Firebrand gnoll has been slain as a tribute to Vulkoor. We also see in Raid the Vulkoorim that the Windlasher gnolls also have some disagreements with them as they are caught destroying some of the sacred nesting scorrow grounds by our adventures. These activities suggest that the drow are highly territorial and extremely war like and probably have been manipulated by the Demon Queen to server her own purposes.
The Desert is definitely an intriguing place. By exploring the various areas and completing the various quests we can see how some of these factions are tied to each other while others are more conjecture. Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting out in the Desert!!