The M’Qaran deserts cover the equatorial continent that lies at the heart of the vestige mainland. The countries of M’Qara are a collection of loosely organized city states and small affiliated regions. Though its people drift across the land, their resolve can be seen at each of its corners. Many know M’Qara for its involvement in the Obari War, its status as the “birthplace of the arlam”, and the everpresent bands of Coronan Monks. Travelling to Ren promises to challenge your ability to thrive as you traverse undeveloped land.
The continent of M’Qara straddles the equator and is flanked by Lussia in the south and Ezego in the north. It is surrounded by montane regions on its northern, western, and southern borders, and to the east, M’Qara meets the sea. At the foot of the southern mountains, a region of dry forests and savannahs stretches across the width of the continent. Farther north, the forests give way to pockets of shrub lands and arid deserts that make up most of the central continent. This central area is the most sparsely inhabited.
In the northeast, there is a concentration of monsoon and tropical rain forests, particularly along the coast. In the north and northwest, however, there is a region of temperate steppes and montane forests, and on the westernmost edges of the continent, dry steppes take over.
The people of M’Qara have never been people for large, sprawling governance in the same way that Lussia established. Rather than countries, M’Qara is mostly composed of loosely affiliated regions of city states and settlements. The one exception is the southwestern country of Hajan, whose borders are defined solely by an ancient Lussian claim to the land many years ago.
Each city state of M’Qara is under an individually tailored system of governance that has emerged out of the tradition of the people who settled the lands. For many, this means that there is small group of rulers. Sometimes these rulers are chosen by blood. Other times they are chosen through a demonstration of their abilities to lead or conquer. In many cities, the M’Qaran people rely on the wisdom of elders for guidance as well.
The people of M’Qara are, for the most part a peaceful people, but some organizations, including bandits and mercenaries, exploit the absence of organized military forces among the M’Qaran people. Regularly, such forces will force whole settlements into indentured servitude, and though they keep these villages fed and healthy, they often will not treat dissent kindly.
The exploitation is not always through violence, though. The city of Verune was a grand port city state and the home of international free trade in the vestige. Its classes were not divided by lineage or by might, but instead they were divided by wealth. A division of social classes quickly emerged as the means to harvest resources and produce goods were purchased by the wealthy. The slums, the merchant’s quarter, and the high district emerged to isolate each of the classes as a result. Though Verune ceased to be years ago, the remnants of Verune’s oppressive class division remain in the wealthier cities that survived the fall.
M’Qaran development of culture and customs relies heavily upon the reach and practice of the nomadic Coronan Monks. These monks worship the sun god Corona who, in the creation of the vestige, shaped the land and the people with the sand itself. His light must be brought to every dark corner of the vestige to illuminate the darkness and seek the truth. By these principles, the Coronan Monks travel the deserts and the rest of the Vestige seeking to reveal the mysteries of the universe through research, exploration, and discovery. For that reason, acts of deception are considered incredibly despicable acts, while revealing oneself physically through unclothing, and emotionally through honesty, are common, expected, and occasionally worthy of commendment.
Though some of the monks depart to foreign lands, documenting other cultures and climates, many choose to stay in the deserts, spreading the light of Corona among the unenlightened and developing new creations by the inspiration of Corona himself. It’s through that practice that the arlam—a portable, learning archival unit— was born. What was unanticipated was the extent to which the arlam could develop sapience. Soon, the Coronan monks were credited as the inventors of a species.
The arlams significantly impacted and oftentimes frightened the other M’Qarans who saw these synthetic humanoids come to life, but over time they began to solidify themselves as members of M’Qaran culture. Some still think of the arlam undeserving of being treated like a person, while others welcome their curiosity and sociability with open arms. A few arlam have even integrated themselves into M’Qaran settlements among the cultural leaders. Though it has been just under two decades since the arlam emerged as sapient beings, they have managed to travel great distances and exert a strong autonomy despite the forces that attempt to keep them in check.
These campsites are the temporary residences of the Eyes of Corona. The Eyes are religious leaders who oversee the activity of the Coronan Monks, approving and encouraging research and discovery. Because the Coronan monks are a nomadic religious group, these camps tend to shift two times a year to adjust to the seasonal changes in the climate and to focus the attention of the sect on a new region for investigation.
This large walled city in the north of M’Qara is home to the Claywall mercenaries, who conquered the founding town and expanded it into a permanent, functioning city, and furthermore, spreading its system of governance to the surrounding regions. Though the city was built on the back of slaves, the government now resembles communism. Ishan and the surrounding cities all ensure the equal distribution of resources with its citizens.
The southern site of the Lussian-M’Qaran summit which served as the final attempt at peace before the outbreak of the Obari War. This small town hosts a grand hall and frequently celebrates with parlor games and competitions in its well known arena.
This midwestern emerging city is known as the “City of Arlam” due to its majority arlam population. It was the site at which the first arlam was made, and gradually arlam began to make pilgrimages to the site to observe the place of their creation. Though the city appears like many other M’Qaran cities, with adobe architecture and cobblestone roads, spending time in Nabbi will reveal that it is merely an imitation of a city missing many integral elements like effective road planning and functioning plumbing. Despite its shortcomings, it has become an important cultural centre and is home to a well known amphitheatre.
The Verune Crater
The wasteland that remained after the fall of the great port city state, Verune, in the far northeast. Not long ago, the city sprawled over a mountainside on a peninsula and served as the hub for international trade. The radiation of a massive underground energy well prompted a quarantine as people began to spontaneously become misshapen and ill, though many were skeptical and attributed it to a strange plague. After weeks of turmoil, riots, murder, and unrest, the city began to tremble and its people rushed to evacuate. Within moments, the well imploded, disintegrating the ground around it, and plunging the entire city into the depths of the vestige. Only a few thousand citizens survived. Today, the crater still seeps remnants of energy and the site is considered incredibly dangerous to approach.