Tier: Moderate Powers
Titles: Desert Wanderer (prefix, replacing surname - Desert Wanderer Saddaj)
Occupation: Traveller, Shaman
Weight: 167lbs - mostly muscle
Build: Medium (athletic)
Skin tone: Dark
Eye colour: Brown
Hair: Deep black, shaven almost completely
Details and Background Information
The Ashen Steppes
Saddaj lives and lives off the Ashen Steppes, a vast desert on the southern borders of the Ellorien Empire. It would have been conquered long ago, were it not for the desert's grim reputation. Whenever other armies have attempted to conquer it, mysterious sandstorms have struck them, usually within the first day, with the entire army missing when the storm has cleared. Wise travellers in the Steppes know to respect the desert, and make material sacrifices to it, for it is powerful, and those who take without giving will not survive their journey.
Aside from the harshness of any desert and the literal harshness of the Steppes, there is more for travellers there to be wary of. The desert is home to many dangerous creatures, both mundane and magical, that would have little difficulty killing those who fail to pay attention, think carefully or react quickly. Any of these would be easy in other circumstances, but at the end of a day spent walking through incredible heat, with a parched throat and blinded eyes? That is a true challenge.
The people of the Steppes are resourceful and independent, but have no trouble relying on others when necessary. Generations of time spent in one of the harshest climates in many worlds has taught them they will often rely on each other, but there will be times when there will be no one able to help them. Strangers to their lands suffer no mistrust - if they've made it this far, they mean the land no harm and they have the skills to be helpful. However, no stranger can expect simple charity. You do not get help from the people of the Steppes if you are unable or unwilling to work for it. Resources are scarce, and if can't earn your keep you don't get your keep. No questions, no discussions, that's it. There is no law and no central government in the Steppes. Law is not necessary, because anyone who would commit a crime finds themselves without food, water, or shelter. If someone ever does commit a crime (which is not clearly defined anywhere), there is only one method of trial - trial by ordeal. The criminal spends three days outside human settlements and caravans, with no help from anyone and a tattoo on his forehead to mark him. If he returns alive, the tattoo is removed through strange "desert magic" (more on this later). If he does not, the tattoo becomes permanent, or he is dead. Though it is rare, it is not entirely unknown for a criminal, consumed by guilt, not to return even if he can, as a self-inflicted punishment.
There are only a few permanent settlements in the Steppes, all of which are centered around Oases. These are the only reliable supplies of water in the Steppes, so they are the only places you can make a permanent settlement in the Steppes. One of these, Tal Djirad, is much larger than the rest and the only one you could really call a city. Though there is no capital of the Steppes, this is close enough for most people. Bands of nomadic traders also travel the Steppes and surrounding areas, surviving through the movement of goods. In "civilised" areas, including the border of the Ellorien, they pick up materials that cannot be easily gathered in the desert, primarily basic metals such as iron and copper, and trade it for exotic skins and artwork made in the Steppes. Monster hunters in particular can make a fortune from the Steppes, though they must be particularly generous with their sacrifices to get away with this.
Magic of the Steppes
There is an old, mysterious form of magic that comes from the Ashen Steppes. Certain Ellorien scholars suggest this has something to do with the desert's supposed consciousness, and the almost religious way its people treat it. Though the idea that a desert could be self-aware is dismissed by most, those few who agree are correct.
Every one of the nomadic groups that travel the Steppes have a Shaman, as do all the permanent settlements. Tal Djirad even has multiple. It is the Shaman's job to brand criminals, to predict sandstorms, and to protect against dangerous creatures. They wield a form of magic that is unclassified by the Ellorien (where definitions of the Books of Magic come from). Initially, Ellorien authorities even denied its existence, but there have been too many reports to maintain this any longer. The truth is, they are scared. The Ellorien's effectiveness is legendary, but no army has even gotten close to capturing the Steppes. If the Steppes decides it has a problem with the Ellorien, there'll be little to do but surrender, if the Steppes will accept even that.
Saddaj - Psychological Description
One of the most prominent features of Saddaj's personality is his devotion to the Ashen Steppes. Just as with most Desert Shamans, the Steppes are to him what a god is to his clerics. However, most Desert Shamans have a caravan or settlment both to protect and to rely on, Saddaj has neither. Saddaj's relationship with the Steppes is much more personal, as it is rare he speaks to anyone human, but he communes with the Steppes twice daily at least, more when in danger. He feels guilt for leaving his home, something the Steppes cannot understand.
Saddaj - Brief History
Saddaj had a strange connection to the desert ever since he was a child. He found little comfort around humans, and preferred solitude. He spent a lot of his spare time (which wasn't much - in the Steppes, you work or you leave) alone in the desert surrounding the settlement of Tal Sara, where he lived. While Shamans often displayed similar characteristics during their childhood, these were especially... severe. Many of the current Shamans expected actions of great significance to take place in Saddaj's life, though whether for better or for worse was not yet clear.
As Saddaj grew up, his Shamanic training began. Needless to say it went very well, his natural talent in the magic was truly unique. For these years of his life, Saddaj was happy, though it was doomed to end badly. On one of Saddaj's last days as a boy, a horrible sandstorm swept through Tal Sara. In truth, no one but the eldest Shamans in Tal Djirad had ever seen one like it, or would ever again. Saddaj, who had been going through his final training at the time, felt a voice speak to him, coming through the wind. It claimed to be the conciousness of the Ashen Steppes. It told him of how it had felt its enemies' hatred, as well as their strength, growing. Of how it had created him as a warrior to destroy them should they dare to challenge it once again. Of how it was now his turn to fight. It told him to kill his teacher to prove it could trust him. He did.
In doing so, Saddaj confined himself to a life wandering through the desert, speaking to no one living inside its borders. The desert sustained him, and made sure he would never give up. He even tried to end his own life once, the desert wouldn't allow it. So he walked. He walked until his feet were bleeding as the sun was setting over the cruel bright hills in the South.
Weapons and Gear
- Ancestral Spear-Stave - Saddaj's weapon is a spear-stave from the Dakoren familial tomb. Saddaj comes from a long line of great warriors, and is skilled at using the spear-stave in both short-hand (holding the stave close to the head, in one hand) and long-hand (holding it near the blunt end, with both hands) techniques, as well as being able to swiftly transition between the two. Saddaj prefers to use the stave as a defensive tool in long-hand, but attack with short-hand. It is enchanted so that it may release a strong gust of wind. This is enough to stagger, but not knock down, an approximately human-sized opponent. There is no limit to the number of times it can be used, but there is to how often. Ten to twenty seconds are usually required between each use.
- Desert Clothing - This is unarmoured, unenchanted mundane clothing. It has no particular use besides protection from sunburn and blindness. It can be used to hide Saddaj's face when necessary.
Skills and Special Abilities
- Desert Magic (Weather Control) - Using his Shamanic talents, Saddaj is able to change the weather to his liking, even regardless of the time of year or day (yes, he can make it blindingly sunny in the middle of the winter at midnight). While this rarely has a significant effect on a battle, he can use it to make a battlefield more like his home ground, and it could certainly have an effect against strange creatures such as vampires, or fire elementals, for whom particular forms of weather can be debilitating if not fatal.
- Desert Magic (Sandstorm) - This spell allows Saddaj to create powerful gusts of wind while summoning a cloud of dust, and maintain this so that in a wide radius it is very difficult to see, and creatures without protection may suffer from having sand get into their eyes mouth, or other orifices. While these happenings may seem trivial, a loss of focus in a battle can be devestating.
- Desert Magic (Transmution and Manipulation) - Some of Saddaj's most powerful magic, he is able to transmute any kind of stone or brick into sand. Besides the potential to remove structural integrity, causing landslides, Saddaj's other ability described here works remarkably with it. He is also able top telekinetically move up to several cubic metres of sand at once. The potential for this is varied, but when a smaller contact point means more pressure, how much damage could a fast-moving object deal, when it is the size of a grain of sand?