Disciple Emshander earned the bloody name of Ember, as he led combined human and desert followers of Galanus to victory after victory. The followers of Galanus used strike-and-fade tactics in the harsh wilderness lands of the deserts, and powers that the Disciple could bring to bear far out-stripped those of the other nomads. With most of the Inquisition's forces committed to the First Crusades, Galanus' followers achieved an easy dominance of the Gintala Desert.
Resistance held out in the Simien Hills for another generation or so, but the hills were eventually integrated into the overall theocracy.
Disciple Emshander established a permanent residence in the fertile valley of the Al'harin River mouth, residing as a theocrat leader. The human populace, however, was reluctant to follow the lead of an elven priest, or an elven god, despite their conversions. The conversions were based on principles of the desert, stealth, and a close relationship with death. Essentially, the Destanae nomads of Galanus were unafraid to die, because of Galanus' former status as the God of the Dead. The intense heat of the inner desert, coupled with a fierce will to survive, also made the Destanae nomads formidable.
Emshander helped the nomads to organize behind their senior Sultan, a clan chief by the name of Shul'fahim al Emen. Sultan Shul'fahim went about consolidating his hold on his own clan in the valley, and then -- with Disciple Emshander's aid -- began consolidating his hold over all the clans in a relatively peacable fashion. Realizing the need to keep the First Crusaders and the Inquisition out of a unified land, Shul'fahim created Al Fahim -- a nation named for him. Though named for a mortal man, Shul'fahim passed the sultancy on in a bid for immortality through his own blood line, which has reined well since that time.
Shul'fahim only united Al Fahim in name only, as the desert nomads really only follow the theocracy of Disciple Emshander. Emshander eventually left for the deep desert of his own accord, leaving the theocracy under the control of one of the human priests, a man by the name of Seyel ser Sushel. High Priest Seyel created the title of Sheik for himself, and his own line has since ruled Shir Galanus -- the Fortress of Galanus -- the only permanent temple to the God of Stealth in Al Fahim.
The descendants of Shul'fahim and the descendants of Seyel have historically had an easy-going, and sometimes even friendly, relationship. Currently, the Sultan and the Sheik tolerate one another, and work together grudgingly for the good of Al Fahim -- both having worked well together during the War of the Undead.
Use: Several oases dot the desert, and a fair amount of irrigated land near the mouth of the Al'harin River sustains Aboris proper. Several river valleys to the south also support Al Fahim, and provide nearly forty percent of the food and taxes alone. These lands are known as the Hundred Cities, and are really about seventy separate town-sized elements. In the sparse desert, goats and sheep are the rule, moving from bush to bush as the shepherds dictate.
Water: Fresh drinking water is one of the most valuable commodities -- because there is so very little of it. The few river valleys supply but a trickle of water, and are mainly fed by underground aquifers and rivers. During the rare rains, the flash floods quickly scour out deeper river beds, slowing only closer to their mouths.
Weather: Dry and arid, for the most part, Al Fahim has little weather. In the summers, the temperatures soar to near one-hundred fifty degrees during the day, and then plunge in the night to near ninety at night. During the winters, the days might reach one-hundred thirty, and then plunge to well below zero at night. The vast differences in temperature can sometimes generate fierce windstorms and sandstorms. The northern Simien Hills are somewhat wetter, and because of their height, the dew point and weather is significantly more sane.
Animals: Most of the desert animals have developed considerable coping mechanisms for the extreme heat and temperature differences. Small, hopping rats, jack-rabbits, larger camels, and a variety of beetles and insects exist in the brushier desert. The desert predators tend to be smaller, poisonous, and quite aggressive. The most dangerous animals are the camel spiders and the sand sharks (also known as bulettes).
Keynotes: The Tul'brikar Rise is the remains of a single, ancient volcano. Within its heart, volcanic magma still seethes -- especially with Maroth once more returned. Lave tubes and catacombs have turned the rise into a labyrinthine set of corridors and pits, with deadly gases, intense heat, and incinerating lava awaiting the unwary.
Nomad Warriors: male Destanae humans; War1; CR 1; Size M (5 ft., 10 in. tall); HD 1d8+3; hp 11; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (+1 Dex); Attack +4 melee (scimitar, 1d6+3, crit18-20x2), or +2 ranged (dagger, 1d4+3, crit19-20x2, RI 10ft); SV Fort +5, Ref +1, Will +0; AL NG; Str 16, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 11, Cha 11. Languages Spoken: Al Fahim. Skills and feats: Handle animal +4, Hide +1, Intimidate +4, Listen +2, Move silently +1, Spot +2, Wilderness Lore +1; Alertness, Weapon focus (scimitar).
Cavalry: Camel-riders capable of traveling great distances in a short period of time, the desert elves of the Gintala Desert can be fearsome strike-and-fade warriors. The desert elves usually travel in bands or extended family groups of nearly a dozen per grouping.
Desert Elves: male desert elves; Rgr1; CR 1; Size M (6 ft., 8 in. tall); HD 1d10; hp 10; Init +7 (+3 Dex, +4 Improved Init); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+3 Dex); Attack +2 melee (shortspear, 1d8+1, crit20x3), or +4 ranged (shortspear, 1d8, crit20x3, RI 20ft); SV Fort +2, Ref +3, Will +3; AL NG; Str 13, Dex 16, Con 11, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 11. Languages Spoken: Common, Elven, Al Fahiman. Skills and feats: Climb +3, Handle animal +4, Hide +3, Intuit direction +7, Listen +5, Move silently +3, Ride (camels) +7, Search +5, Spot +5, Wilderness lore +7; Improved Initiative, [Track].
Artillery: Because of the lack of timber available for ballistae, catapults, and trebuchets, the Al Fahimans have no experience with crew-served weapons of any kind.
Navy: They only sailing vessels available to Al Fahim tend to be half-reed, half-wood affairs, because of the scarcity of wood. The Sultan and the Sheik have purchased whole vessels from other lands, but their numbers are small. Masters of stealth, however, they can be quite effective.
Elite: Cleric-trained and desert-born, the Shuzel'esethir are guardians of the faith, dispersed throughout the deserts by the will of the Sheik. Powerful rangers with close ties to Galanus, their name translates as 'Invisible Destroyers'. The Shuzel'esethir are 4th-level priests of Galanus, and 7th-level rangers or rogues, often armed with twin scimitars or shortspears.
Royal Guard: The Sultan's personal guard, the Hyer'kullan, must be powerful fighters before they even dare to enter the elite training of the Royal Guard. The Hyer'kullan are 5th-level fighters when they begin their training, and 5th-level barbarians when they complete it. Afraid of nothing, they are willing to die for their Sultan, to protect their Sultan. Cocky and arrogant, they know that even the Shuzel'esethir fear their falchions.
Assignments: The regular military -- the Hyer'kullan and the Shuzel'esethir -- can be found wherever the Sultan or the Sheik need them, but most often in Aboris and Aboris'shifa.
Classes: The Al Fahimans cherish family, and their nomadic way of life. The only true lower-class is that of the city-folk who are too poor or too foolish to survive in the desert. Rank can be achieved through skillful maneuvering, and political skill is a highly-prized art.
Languages: The Al Fahiman tongue is a distant descendant of Sholin, mixed with Elven, and several local dialects. Highly resistant to change, thanks in part to the elves that make up a strong part of the community, Al Fahiman rarely changes. It is a language that is very good when discussing weather or natural phenomena, and also works well with politics and family. It has few sea-based concepts, and is very resistant to even simple machines or advanced techniques. Elven is also spoken in Al Fahim, and some few speak the common tongue.
Taboos: They do not speak to outsiders without good cause, be it coin, barter, or something else. Children are not to be seen in public (so as to teach them stealth at an early age).
Commonlaws: Any individual may seek food or water from a clan, and the clan is expected to provide for one day and one night. If the food or water is bad, then a duel may be declared, but most clans give freely of what they have -- for one day and one night. After the allotted time has expired, that individual must move on. Foreigners, of course, do not count, and are often ignored. If they cannot be ignored, then they can forcibly be turned back -- the law always sides against foreigners.
From noon until three marks past noon is a 'no business' part of the day. Trade may take place well after dark, but inns and establishments are expected to have considerable chairs or divans for napping visitors. With no trade taking place during that time because of the heat, it often goes on into the night, and so Al Fahiman shop owners rarely stop just because the sun has set.
Foreigners are often the last to know about Komedan -- the Right of Challenge. Should a dispute arise, usually of a family matter, then one or the other side can call Komedan. The Right of Challenge is a Kiman-controlled fight until defeat, basically with either side betting the dispute on the matter. Blood Komedans can result in banishment, though neither side can bet murder. Common challenges include banishment, forfeiture of goods, branding, payments of varying amounts, and even land. The Kimans have the right to declare a Komedan unjust, and dismiss the Komedan. Right of appeal takes the Komedan to the Shifa, but a Shifa's word is absolute in the ruling of a Komedan. Most Shifa's keep the Komedan somewhat honorable, and the only general rule is that no armor is allowed.
Mannerisms: Al Fahimans tend to have husky or raspy voices, depending on station and gender. Enclosed areas tend to make them uncomfortable, unless there are plenty of windows or lots of overhead space.
Holidays: Trivor the 27th is one of the most serious of holidays in Al Fahim. That summer's day -- the first of the Freeze for the month -- is spent dressed as ghosts and the dead, to celebrate Galanus' change from the God of the Dead, to the God of Stealth. The War of the Undead only emphasized the holiday, because on that day, Galanus' archons protect the large gatherings of nomads and elves against any real undead. If undead walk among the living on the 27th of Trivor, they can do no harm in Al Fahim.
Appearance: When in the desert, men tend to wear robes of earth-tone colors, designed and intended to keep out the arid heat. Aifads (head coverings), sashes, sandals, and scimitars complete the appearance for males. Sometimes, the men will go only in loose-fitting trousers with smaller vests, especially in the more humid (and shaded) city areas. Women tend to wear burnooses -- full-body coverings the colors of desert sand and sandstone. The burnooses are not mandated, but women who do not wear them are considered less in touch with the desert -- and the camouflaging will of Galanus -- than those who do not wear them. Without the burnooses, the women tend to dress as the men, though there is no nudity taboo in Al Fahim.
Foods: Al Fahiman food tends to be either very chewy, very crunchy, or very mushy -- and is generally heavily spiced. Mutton and goat's milk are quite common, and a fermented type of camel's milk is known as kyum. Kyum has been known to turn foreigner's guts inside-out, and the alcohol-content is considerable.
Barter: Platinum jadats make up the more lucrative end of the market, although coins of any country are acceptable if they pass the Teeth Test -- that is, if they're pure enough to be bitten into a certain amount. Away from the Hundred Cities and the capital, barter is the norm, with good steel being a fairly rare product.
Exports: Al Fahim has one of the largest sources of jade on Gaeleth. The mines in the Tul'brikar Rise produce some of the most beautiful rubies in all the west, and the shores of the Hundred Cities produce enormous pearls. Lemons, oranges, and other citrus fruits are also produced in abundance in the Hundred Cities, for export through Aboris'shifa.
Imports: Aboris'shifa takes in a considerable amount of wood, lumber, dyes, and odd luxury goods. Books and scrolls flow into the temple of Lul in Tanel, though they often have to take a circumspect route through the interior from Aboris'shifa.
Customs: Because of the Al Fahiman isolationism, customs is very thorough and very strict. Quarantines for incoming animals, random smelt-checks of metals, and more thoroughly dissuade random traders. Only dedicated, high-income traders ever dare to try Aboris'shifa.
Contraband: Just about anything goes, in Aboris'shifa -- but beyond that, there are a number of things that are not tolerated. Drugs, body parts, and holy items not of the Neutral Good gods are strictly forbidden -- save paladins.
Noteable: Aboris'shifa, under the leadership of the Shifas, is the money-maker of Al Fahim. The Hundred Cities are the bread-basket of the nation, supplying dried and salted fish, wines, fruits, and more for the nation.
Aboris'shifa Guards: male Destanae human
Ftr1: CR 1; Size M (5 ft., 4 in. tall); HD 1d10+1; hp 11; Init +5 (+1 Dex, +4
Improved Initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+1 Dex, +1 buckler); Attack +4 melee
(scimitar, 1d6+3, crit18-20x2), or +2 ranged; SV Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +0; AL
LN; Str 16, Dex 13, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 12. Languages Spoken: Common,
Al Fahiman. Skills and feats: Hide +1, Jump +7, Listen +2, Move silently +1,
Spot +2, Wilderness lore +2; Alertness, Improved Initiative, Weapon Focus
Minaret Guards: male Destanae human Ftr1:
CR 1; Size M (5 ft., 4 in. tall); HD 1d10+1; hp 11; Init +5 (+1 Dex, +4
Improved Initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+1 Dex, +1 buckler); Attack +4 melee
(scimitar, 1d6+3, crit18-20x2), or +2 ranged (composite shortbow, 1d6+3,
crit20x3, range incr 70ft); SV Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +0; AL LN; Str 16, Dex
13, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 12. Languages Spoken: Common, Al Fahiman.
Skills and feats: Hide +1, Jump +7, Listen +2, Move silently +1, Spot +2,
Wilderness lore +2; Alertness, Improved Initiative, Weapon Focus (shortbow).
Gate Kiman: male Destanae human Ftr4: CR 4;
Size M (5 ft., 7 in. tall); HD 4d10+12; hp 39; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.;
AC 11 (+1 Dex); Attack +9 melee (scimitar, 1d6+4, crit18-20x2), or +5 ranged;
SV Fort +7, Ref +2, Will +1; AL LN; Str 18, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 11,
Cha 14. Languages Spoken: Abyssal, Celestial, Common. Skills and feats: Climb
+11, Disable device +2.5, Handle animal +9, Hide +1, Intuit direction +2, Jump
+8, Listen +2, Move silently +1, Pick pocket +2, Profession +2, Ride +8, Spot
+2; Alertness, Blind-fight, Endurance, Improved unarmed strike, Mounted
combat, Weapon Focus (Scimitar).
Gate Shifa: male Destanae human Ftr7: CR 7;
Size M (6 ft., 1 in. tall); HD 7d10+7; hp 52; Init +5 (+1 Dex, +4 Improved
initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (+1 Dex); Attack +9/+4 melee (scimitar, 1d6+2,
crit18-20x2), or +8/+3 ranged (composite shortbow, 1d6+2, crit20x3); SV Fort
+6, Ref +3, Will +4; AL LN; Str 15, Dex 12, Con 13, Int 11, Wis 15, Cha 12.
Languages Spoken: Al Fahiman. Skills and feats: Climb +11, Concentration +2,
Handle animal +10, Hide +1, Listen +2, Move silently +1, Ride +11, Spot +2;
Blind-fight, Improved initiative, Mounted combat, Point blank shot, Precise
shot, Toughness, Trample, Weapon focus (scimitar).
The Hundred Cities: Spread out over a set of river valleys with as many names as there are cities, the Hundred Cities is a loose collection of town-sized elements, each with its own Clan Chief, guard, and more. Devoted mainly to farming and peasantry, the Hundred Cities is somewhat looked down on by the rest of Al Fahim, but it houses close to seventy-thousand people spread out among them.
Cities: Tanel is the only other city, than the Hundred Cities, and the capital of Aboris. Tanel itself is a small city, dedicated only to the monastery of Lul, and the loose aggregation of other temples. Walled in atop the Ul'thruthel Escarpment, Tanel is considered an impregnable fortress.
Temples: Shir Galanus is the main temple to Galanus, but there are smaller, scattered temples among the Hundred Cities. As well, Tanel supports one temple for each of the Neutral Good gods, based around a monastery to Lul. Va'anon's Forge is a series of rain-swept canyons that are dedicated to Brigain, the God of Destinies.
Fortresses: Shir Tanel (or more often, just Tanel) is the only real, permanent fortress in all Al Fahim. Preferring strike-and-fade tactics, the locals see no need for permanent facilities.
Rumors of a land shark, or bulette, big enough to swallow an entire caravan circulate among the nomads of the deep desert. If anyone could kill a bulette so large, the stones to be found in its crop and digestive track would be extremely valuable, indeed.
Sheik Hu'siyem al Yikir al Kirel: Thickly built with a thick belly, the Sheik can be a formidable man. Bedecked in wealth such as rings of gold and diamond brooches, the Sheik tempts thieves whenever possible. He perhaps asks for too much glory for Shir Galanus and the Church of Galanus in Al Fahim, but his wisdom and his wily cunning have kept him in charge of the Al Fahiman religious structure for nearly fifty years. The Sheik is a 4th-level Fighter, 12th-level Cleric.
Regional feats for the Al Fahiman people include: Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Diligent, Great Fortitude, Self Sufficient, Skill Focus (any), Stealthy, and Quick Draw.