This is the first post in what will hopefully be an on-going series of Debauchery and Dragons Forgotten Realms Expanded World Details. Pulling from the adventures of our favorite Dungeons and Dragons 5e Adventuring Party, I’ll be uploading some world creation details to share with the fans.
So, without further delay, I give you…
The Copper Desert
Location and Size
The Copper Desert is a rain-shadow desert located within the greater Endless Wastes. It is loosely surrounded by the Great Amber Steppes on its northern and eastern edges. To the south lies the Mountains of Copper and to its west runs the Clearflow River.
The Copper Desert is certainly not the largest desert in the world, taking about three days to walk across going from north to south and about six days from east to west, at its widest points. According to explorers and historians, it is estimated that the Copper Desert is approximately 15,000 total square miles in size. However, it is also believed that its size fluctuates over time due to natural and unnatural influences, including the movements and influence of desert dwelling dragons.
The Copper Desert receives less than 2 inches (51 mm) of rain a year and is generally between 1,000 and 3,000 feet (610 and 1,520 m) in elevation. The elevation tends to drop as the desert is traveled from south to north. In addition, the desert contains a number of fissures and narrow valleys. Some of these fissures are known to continue downward, far into the underdark below the desert floor.
The Copper Desert is a desert of temperature extremes and two distinct seasons. Winter months bring comfortable daytime temperatures, which occasionally drop to around 25 °F (−4 °C) on valley floors, and below 0 °F (−18 °C) at the highest elevations. Rare storms moving across the northern Great Amber Steppes can bring rain and in some places even snow.
Summer weather is dominated by heat. Temperatures on valley floors can soar above 120 °F (49 °C) and above 130 °F (54 °C) at the lowest elevations. Low humidity, high temperatures, and low pressure, draw in moisture from the Lake of Mists and Raum lake, to the north, creating thunderstorms across the region known as Amber Monsoons. While the Copper Desert does not get nearly the amount of rainfall the Great Amber Steppes receive, monsoonal moisture will create thunderstorms as far south as the Mountains of Copper.
After temperature, wind is the most significant weather phenomenon in the Copper Desert. Across the region windy days are common. Wind-Jammer nomadic tribes are known for their ability to use these winds to “surf” across the desert floor as they travel throughout the region, trading with the horse-lord tribes, small villages, and farmers along the edges of the Copper Desert.
The Copper Desert is defined by the Mountains of Copper to the south and Great Amber Steppes to the north and east. The rocky floor extends out from the Mountains of Copper, resulting in numerous small valleys, endorheic basins, salt pans, and seasonal saline lakes when precipitation is high enough.
In addition, the Copper Desert has various geologic areas of crustal thinning and thickening which pulls open and closes fissures over the course of days and weeks. It is unknown whether these fissures are the result of some natural phenomenon or unnatural working within the Underdark below. The movement of these fissures seems especially prevalent immediately before and after rainfalls, leading some adventurers and historians to suspect that creatures within the Underdark create the fissures in order to either drain water from the desert floor above or cause prey, drawn to water pools on the desert floor above, to fall into the Underdark below.
Creatures and Monsters
The flora of the Copper Desert helps define what is called the Copper Desert in that the desert itself is generally considered to be outlined by the extent of growth of one of its plants, the Tiefling tree (Tiefling brevifolia). While the exact process and methods are kept secret, it is known that Tiefling trees are a critical component of the Wind-Jammer tribe surf boards and other vessels.
Copper Desert flora is not specific vegetation type, although plants in the area have evolved in isolation because of physical barriers. The flora are adapted to extremely hot and dry conditions. This has resulted in some odd adaptations allowing for some flora to prey upon fauna that comes into close proximity to it.
The fauna of the Copper Desert tends to consist of a wide range of native and migratory animals. In addition to these, a number of significant creatures and monsters have been known to make their homes within the desert at various times. These include, among others, various type of desert-dwelling dragons, air and earth elementals, Djinn, giant scorpions, jacklwere and lamia masters, mummies and mummy lords, and tribes of thri-kreen.
Cities and Civilization
At present time, it is not believed that any permanent settlements exist within the Copper Desert. Over past eons however, a wide range of civilizations and cities have risen up and then crumbled to dust both on top of and below the floor of the Copper Desert. Numerous remains of cities, temples, pyramids, and other ancient structures can be found throughout the region.
As with all such structures, ancient treasures and works of wonders can often be found in such places. Adventurers should be wary however, as these long-forgotten structures are frequently the home to either ancient evils long ago forgotten or new horrors which have only recently taken up residency within.