Raurin, known as the Dust Desert and the Desert of Desolation, was once the center of the ancient empire of Imaskar, but it was transformed into a wasteland in -2488 DR by the battles between the Imaskari and the avatars of the Mulhorandi pantheon and Untheric pantheon.
The great Raurin Desert covers a large area from the Raurin Alta, sometimes called the Raurinshield Mountains to the Plains of Purple Dust and all the way west to Fuirgar and the Giant's Belt mountains.
The Raurin Desert, is an entirely different type of desert than the Plains of Purple Dust or the Quoya Desert . Sand, blown into towering dunes, is common, along with areas of eroded, round hills. These are cut with gullies and terraced with bands of strata of pinks, reds, and browns. Salt crystallizes on the surface, leaving the impression of snow-capped hills and plains. There are occasional patches of ancient lava, now weirdly weathered into bizarre shapes. Sinkholes and circular pans of rock-hard clay only add to the variety of the land.
Rivers are nonexistent in this area. Only dry gullies for occasional run-off exist. Most of these disappear beneath the surface. What few pools of open water can be found are ringed by white crust-a sign the water is too rich with salts and minerals to drink.
Although the temperatures do not swing to extremes between summer and winter, the Raurin stays more consistently hot and, if at all possible, has less rain than the Quoya desert. Another notable feature of the Raurin is the garmsil, a powerful windstorm that sometimes strikes during the summer months. The garmsil blows generally to the southeast. It’s a very dry and hot wind, normally raising temperatures to 120 degrees or slightly more. The wind speed is normally 20 to 25 miles per hour. As a result, the garmsil is a scorching sandstorm. It normally lasts for no more than a few hours to a day, but on rare occasions the garmsil will blow for three, four, or even seven days without stopping. Only a few hours of this wind is sufficient to strip the leaves off scrub trees and ruin the cotton and fruit of oases.
Along the southern edge of the Raurin Desert is a broken series of mountains called the Dustwall by those who live to the south of the range. Along the western tail of the Dustwall is an area of blasted landscape that is rumored to be haunted by remnants of the old gods. Called the desert of curses by the wandering nomads of the Raurin Desert.
The nomads in the southern regions of the Raurin use the phrase "Khamsa's Folly" as a parable to chastise excessive pride, for though little is remembered of his rule, the very mention of his name humbles the most boastful of men. According to legend, Khamsa's conceit soared so excessively that he descended into madness, rejecting the known gods as false, abolishing their worship, and proclaiming his own divinity. This brought the gods' ire upon him, for nothing is more likely to stir the anger of the gods than a claim of superiority over them. Hallstatt and Semphar profited from Khamsa's example, for they built great armies of warriors and wizards in anticipation of this revenge. Khamsa Anura, instead, sapped the vitality of his people for his own personal glorification. His fall is remembered still many hundreds of years later although not for the reasons that Khamsa wished to be remembered for.
After the fall of Imaskar, the ancient city of Solon sought to carve itself a new empire from the desert wastes. It succeeded for a time, gaining control of most of the land south of the Raurin Alta. It traded with Ra-Khati and Durpar. Slowly, however, as the desert spread further and as Shou invaders cut Solon's ties with the lands to the north, Solon lost its grip on its territories. After a succession of weak kings over a period of centuries, Solon was only left with the city itself.
Since that time, many other desert kingdoms have risen in Raurin; the most recent and perhaps greatest of these was Bakar, although even Bakar is a pale shadow of the Imaskar Empire before it.
In approximately 357 DR, the wizard Martek, called "The Greatest of Mages," served as Bakar's grand vizier. He imprisoned an efreeti of great power and, knowing it would one day escape, he set up a magical quest allowing heroes to resurrect him when the time was right.
At this time, the River Athis flowed through the Dust Desert from a magical fountain in Terbakar, the capital of the kingdom of Bakar. The River Athis ran generally northward, creating a fertile corridor that ran by the garden city of Pazar, the Oasis of the White Palm, and Carthag. Then the nation's last pharoah, Amun-Re, called down a curse on his people that caused the River Athis to dry up, the river valley subsequently becoming barren. The trade routes once used by the people of Durpar to travel to Mulhorand and Semphar were covered by sand.
Eventually, though, the demand for trade grew great enough for caravans to attempt to make the crossing from Durpar to the northern cities of Mulhorand and Semphar once again. The journey to the dry valley of Athis was deadly, but it could be made, and subsequently the Sandvoyager Guild has made it their business to run caravans through the desert.
Raurin is a waste of sand, which blows into great dunes, and round hills. The hills and dunes are cut with gullies terraced with strata of pinks, reds, and browns. Salt crystallizes on the surface, giving northerners the impression of snow. What few pools of water exist are too salty to drink. It is consistently hot, and there is very little rain.
Inhabitants of Raurin include two-humped, shaggy camels, centipedes, gophers, desert jackasses, lizards, rats, mice, sheep (near oases), falcons, hawks, Raurin horses, vipers, sand cats, foxes, vultures, jackals, scorpions, and tortises. More fantastic creatures include cockatrices, brass dragons, brown dragons, blue dragons, copper dragons, dragonnes, dustdiggers, firenewts, hill giants, jackalweres, lamias, pyrolisks, rocs, sand boas, sandlings, giant tarantulas, thri-kreen, giant striders, giant bats, fire toads, ogres, purple worms, manticores, thunderherders, skriaxits, desert wraiths, hieracosphinxes, dracosphinxes, dao, and a handful of djinn, jann, and rogue efreet.