The Roughlands
A vast land of packed earth, loose stone, red, and brown, where a rider can gaze out from under his broad hat for miles across scattered nothingness, and see another rider far distant upon a great slithering reptile, hazed by the heat of afternoon. These are The Roughlands. A vast, rocky plain in the shadow of the mountains is home to the few, those who seek new lives and opportunity, or those who have need to leave more civilized lands. Little settlements in shallow gulches lie scattered amongst the flat, bare plains, and the legendary roughriders roam between.

Tech Code: 5
Governments: Monarchy under the King of Highdunn.
Religions: Eastern Dissident Church of the Dioune, Order of the Black Sarith.
Industries and Trades: Quarrying, Herding, Gold Panning, Goblyn Mining (Tin, Lead, Iron), Fishery
Major Terrain: Mountain
Primary Languages: Talthakee, Trade Tongue.
Major Settlements: Dead Lizard Gulch, Nashby, Sonalburrough, Sonalport, Ya'Derro, Yar Pavak.


Physical Geography

The Roughlands is a huge region of barren, rocky desert occupying the eastern end of Ahlonia. The land of the Roughlands is rolling hills leading into a region of largely barren, hard, rocky plateaus. The Roughlands are elevated higher than the rest of the lands of Ahlonia, and are made of rock and dust with little soil or plant life, so while rainfall is common water drains away into the sea or the fenns of the northern heartlands. As a result the Roughlands are dry, dusty, rocky and unwelcoming. On the southern sides of hills sometimes there will be a low gully in which flax grows, and sometimes the dust has collected into soil. Here Samsuns and other large predators make their homes, and the ground, layered with their prey and their dung, is fertile, but these gullies are seldom unoccupied.

The desert is hot during the day and extremely cold at night, and prone to high winds which bring with them dust storms or worse. Hurricanes are not unknown in the Roughlands, as thunder storms, which are common too, bring with them lightening strikes that leave homesteads aflame and what few hardy trees grow here scorched and black. But in fine weather a traveller can see for miles across the empty expanses of dust and rock.

Further east the hills rise up into broad, low mountains often with flat tops, broken by dark passes filled with straggly plants that trap water as it flows past, and can sometimes survive parched months. The mountains in the south have formed Lake Sone, where the roughlands are less severe, and hardy grasses replace the barren rock of the north, but crops are still a wasted season here, and only the hardiest of animals can be raised here. Lake Nash in the north is different, the lake is salty and deep and while it can support life it is as barren of plant life as the lands around it, and only where its promontories flow into the fens does the marsh-grass begin to encroach upriver.

In the far north towards the mists the mountains become taller and more jagged, and the plateaus between them are less flat and more rugged. Daytime weather is colder, and occasional snowfall towards the centre of the range is not uncommon in the winter months. As a result plants lie dormant just below the earth, until those few months over winter when the plateaus and mountainsides are alive with vegetation, and the goats herded by the giants here fill their bellies for the lean months to come. Men have not seen fit to name the mountains or flats here, thinking of it all simply as the roughlands, but the goblyns call the Southern Mountains the Marju Kush and the mountains leading from the Maethian Arm to the north the Dabai Kush or Middle Mountains. Roughriders, most of whom have at least a passing familiarity with Talthakee, have begun to use these names for want of better.

In the north of the Roughlands the mists envelop the mountains and vales. Hardy evergreen forests with rich ferns and deep still ponds spill out of the mist, and the mountains grow taller and more majestic. Travellers who don't stray into the mists can stay in these groves, or in the flooded grottos where luminous plants cling to the walls and minute fish swarm, without much fear. But inevitably the mists will one day roll in, and when they recede those who have stayed too long are usually gone.

Political Geography

The Roughlands is a single Barony under the banner of the Kingdom of Highdunn, mainly because there aren't enough people living there to warrant splitting it between more nobles than Odo and his Margraves. Still, people come o this no man's land, be they vagrants in search of freedom or freemen hungry for wealth. Officially Odo rules all of the Roughlands under the governance of Sonalburrough, however really only the three cities of Sonalburrough, Sonalport and Nashby are within his power. The townships, mainly prospector communities, in the vast expanses of nothing that is the Roughlands are totally independent, asking for nothing from the King of Highdunn and receiving nothing.

Conversely, if the landsmen of the roughlands have little power or organization the various goblyn and giant tribes of the Roughlands are both organized and powerful. The large goblyn settlements of Ya'Derro and Yar Pavak mean that it is the goblyn tribes of the Wyrm Bone and Giant Maw. And no less than six major tribes of nomadic giants, the most dominant and feared of which is the Ibai led by the fearsome Ozok the Maw. None of these groups has any central authority however, and the goblyns and giants often make war on one another as well as with men.

Social Geography

Were it not for the mineral wealth, particularly in gold, of the surface of the Roughlands the region would most likely be entirely left to the goblyns and giants. Men live in small towns where the wealthiest can bring in the goods and trade them with the prospectors, generally for whatever they want. Trade connections make power here, there is no law you cannot enforce, and only buying a Roughrider will get you justice. The three cities of the region and their surrounding settlements are run as a barony of Highdunn, with the usual Margraves and Marquises estates ringing them and the Kings Law prevailing.

The goblyns and giants are similar, living in tribal societies. The goblyns either have a permanent settlement in the case of Ya'Derro and Yar Pavak, but the nomadic tribes move their sprawling tent-towns seasonally. The giants meanwhile move every month, with their enormous goat herds. Both live in a tribal structure with a single leader who rules for life, generally by virtue of being the strongest, most cunning and most savage in his tribe. Goblyns will not hesitate to take what they want, but only if they can't trade for it. They trade with other tribes, men, and even giants, though often the manner in which goods were obtained is dubious. Because goblyns are so mobile and so at home in the Roughlands they are some of the most mobile individuals in the Roughlands, and their services for obtaining things are in huge demand. Conversely the giants think of other races as cattle, and feel entitled to simply take what they want when they want it. Thankfully men and goblyns seldom have anything a gaint wants, except their flesh, and so aside from a few every year eaten by giants contact between these races remains rare if the giants are left alone.


Races and Nationalities

The Roughlands are populated by four distinct groups, the landsmen of the Roughlands are Highdunners, and aside from the fact that the majority of them are vagrant fortune-hunters, be they prospectors or brigands or part of the structure that supports the two, or the Roughriders who exist in between. They do not differ from their kin to the west at all except that their lifestyle makes their skin a little ruddier and they tend to be dirtier.

The goblyns of the Roughlands are slightly browner than their forest-dwelling cousins, and are also less militant. The most combat they see is banditry and occasionally trying to drive off another raiding tribe, some landsmen bandits, or a solitary giant (because more than one giant and goblyns just flee). They are a simple community, and more self-supporting than the forest goblyns. They can produce what they need, and only take things by force if they are either in need or unable to obtain it, preferring to trade for what they want. After all, their mines produce mineral wealth men and giants alike simply can't obtain. Still, most goblyns are dishonest, and don't like to part with their best goods.

The giants live as solitary herders, sometimes with a mate and children or adolescents, coming together in small family groups that constitute their tribes. As a result there are no more than a couple of thousand of the creatures in all the Roughlands, in fact in all of Ahlonia. They are brutish creatures, standing roughly eight feet in height, with stumpy bowed legs, and long brawny arms they knuckle walk on. They have enormous tusks extending from jutting lower jaws. However unlike the ogiere of north-eastern Allornus the giants of Ahlonia consider fatness a sign of prosperity and power, and since there are not many creatures that can avoid being eaten by a giant they are all exceptionally fat, with immense bellies that reach below their knees, and jowls that totally obscure their necks.

Beneath the mountains, legend says, the deep-goblyns dwell. Nasty, brutish, short creatures that cannot stand the touch of the sun, they occupy tunnels running all through the Dabai Kush. It is said that the creatures love the taste of warm living flesh, and have all kinds of poisons that keep their victims sleeping while they consume them. It is said that even giants need fear this fate, but these legends seem unlikely, and even the existence of such creatures is doubtful.

Flora and Fauna

The Roughlands' most domesticated animals are the horse-sized goats herded by the giants, and samsuns. Samsuns are easily the most famous residents of the roughlands, and are also their primary predator. Enormous brown lizards, resembling a monitor lizard at a huge scale, they can grow up to fifteen feet long, but most are around ten. Their heads and necks are blunt, and more muscular than those of a monitor, but they are capable of enormous bursts of speed, and have utterly foul tempers. If they are raised from the egg samsuns can be trained to take a rider, but they can be extremely wilful and difficult to control, especially when faced with natural prey like goblyns or goats. The small Roughland scorpions that survive in the desert are venomous, but their sting rarely kills a healthy adult. Monitor lizards, sand snakes, foxes, hyrax and the occasional ostrich can still be found in the region, as can the Roughlands bobcat, but they are very cautious animals that flee from human presence.

Birds that can be seen flying the Roughlands skies are the black-throated firefinch and the silverbill among other species. Other animal lives in the Sahara include wild mountain goats, jackals, badgers and rats the size of domestic cats, as well as hares and desert hedgehogs. The desert eagle owls, large brown and white birds camouflage themselves under the sand and boulders while searching for rodents and lizards, while the Horx pick their scraps. Ever present where larger predators feed is the dung beetle, probably the most successful and numerous species of all the Roughlands. Many desert animals search for food at night because of the cooler temperature. It is more convenient for them to hunt without constant exposure to the desert sun.

Dates, corn and fruits grow in the region around Lake Sone, and to the south between there and the sea. These few fertile regions are nourished by underground rivers and basins which can be found in depressions and ponds formed by artesian wells. Aside from this only hardy desert grasses and flax grow in clumps where they can find shelter, around the dens of large predators such as samsuns.

Notable Individuals

The Black Sarith, Willem Cole
The Black Sarith is a name seldom spoken by the people of the Isle. They say that even the utterance of this legend’s name brings down the wrath of the divh upon you, and, perhaps more vile, that he can hear the voice of anyone who speaks his name no matter how far away they are.Upon the wall of the Basilica at Thairon there is a single, poorly maintained mosaic in one of the forgotten prayer rooms. It depicts a figure standing naked with a sword in one hand and an axe in the other staring defiantly into the faces of the divh and bathed in wrathful fire that seems to leave him unmarked. This is the Black Sarith.

Lady Rowenna Soeromel
No one is quite sure of what exactly Rowenna Soeromel is Lady, but everyone uses this title rather than risk raising her ire. When men feel safe from her presence they also call her the scarlet witch, though her habit of arriving in unexpected places at odd times makes even this practice dangerous. She is a common feature at all of the great courts of the Isle, especially in Daultin, Thairon and the Tresser Veldt, and she seems on tenuous but neutral terms with all of her fellow students, perhaps even Cole, though none can confirm this with any surety. Her ability to cover any distance within a few hours is legend and she seems always to be in the right place at the right time. However for the most part Rowena spends her time in the Roughlands at the court of Baron Odo, Rowenna keeps a rambling, lavish mansion at Nashby overlooking Lake Nash and surrounded by sweeping opulent gardens.

His Lordship; Baron of the Roughlands, Odo Landen
Possibly the largest single dominion in all Ahlonia is the Roughlands, and Odo is its current Baron. While the domain is immense Odo is also the poorest of Highdunn’s landed nobility, and probably the least powerful, seemingly existing only to keep the giant and goblyn population in this region under control. Still, Odo is the current patriarch of a famous, storied family who have ruled this place since Martel Baldardun first claimed the roughlands as his own, and Odo is proud of demeanour and noble of bearing. A few years into the second decade of his reign, Odo has concentrated his rule on Sonalburrough and Sonalport, building these lands to the equal of those of the Heartlands. He has a keen intellect, and is a fine administrator and ruler, leaving matters military largely in the hands of his capable commanders.

The most legendary of the roughriders in the roughlands at the moment is the man they call Raun, his ferocious Samsun mount Kush and his mule-mounted midget sidekick Ory. Raun is villain or hero depending upon where in the roughlands one hears his name. He has ridden into towns alone and fought off entire bands of enemy roughriders, but he has also ridden onto claims and robbed prospectors of months of gold. Raun is generally described as tall and spare, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a scarf around the bottom half of his face at all times. They say his eyes are intense, and a shocking green, and one has a vertical scar running over it. His walk is awkward from living and sometimes sleeping in the saddle, and his arms which he has on a banner on his mount are the symbol of a skull impaled on a spear. Tales of his astounding accuracy with javelin and bow abound, and those that call him savior hold him in the highest regard of any man in Ahlonia.

Ramgorn Sagtar
The most prominent warlord of the Roughlands is Ramgorn Sagtar, though he is more prominent as a merchant than a bandit. He holds his position not through ruthless cruelty or strength at arms but through his sheer rate of success. No goblyn would dare turn on one who had brought them success and prosperity that they haven’t seen in generations. Sagtar’s true brilliance is in his ability to keep his operation on a scale that never makes itself so much of a threat as to provoke any real reprisal from the armies of Highdunn, a mistake that either drove many of his predecessors to the Forest, or, more commonly, cost them their lives. Sagtar is intelligent enough to curb his cruelty and ambition in favour of running a sustainable operation, and thus far has done a good job, his caravan is known and welcomed in all but the most orthodox settlements.

Ozok the Maw
Ozok the Maw is easily the most powerful giant on all of Ahlonia, and perhaps not coincidentally one of the largest. Ozok the Maw exists to indulge his love of eating, and because he has the largest portions, and the most expansive gut his followers think of him as something close to divine. While his kind from other lands might look upon Ozok as easy prey, here his immense girth and near immobility are what make him great, and he does temper these with titanic physical strength despite the fact he cannot maintain physical activity for very long at all. Ozok's tribe the Ibai, and the other neighbouring tribes have nothing but respect for the enormous giant, and he in turn tells them that he dreams of a day not too far away when the giants will once again rule Ahlonia, and that their admiration will be rewarded when he ascends to the throne of master of this land and all within it. Then, Ozok promises, the feasting will truly be great.



Buildings in the Roughlands tend to be made out of bits of older buildings with whatever else is needed cobbled together out of local resources. Wood is a popular material despite its rarity in the Roughlands themselves as it is easier to move to settlements and a wooden building comes together quicker and cheaper, as well as coming to pieces relatively cleanly should it need to be repurposed. Frequent oxen-trains drag lumber into the roughlands. Homes are usually one or two rooms with an attic space used as a store, they are bare timber affairs with few windows and rags stuffed into the worst of the gaps.

Settlements are walled where they can be, usually by a high palisade, to dissuade samsuns and giants who might otherwise wander into town. But the centre of every township is its tavern. A town is not a town until a wealthy freeman arrives to open a tavern, and these are the steaders or margraves of the roughlands. As a result the tavern will always be the finest building in town, and is usually where all business is done. These are often simple structures with decorative façades, but in larger settlements the tavern will be a two or even three story structure with shuttered windows and stone foundations.

Goblyn and giant settlements tend to be based around large, round yurts made of skin clad in wood lattices. The goblyns are fond of elaborate decoration on their yurts, and often have chimes and fine chains adorning them, as well as being brightly coloured, and hung with flags or banners. The interiors filled with plush cushions, ornately woven rugs and colourful patterned tapestries. However the giants have no such love of appearance, and their yurts are enormous and simple, with a pile of furs for sleeping on and somewhere to cook the meat.


Preserved meats are popular in the Roughlands, simply due to their longevity. There is little that will grow anywhere far from the banks of Lake Sone, so for the most part food has to be imported. and dairy plus whatever can be grown, the soil is poor and supply trains rare so everything has a very long shelf-life. Hare meat and giant goat milk, as well as the meat of the older goats, is still a staple here, and lizard and snake meat provides variation for those surviving in the wild, as well as removing potential threats to a resting man. Nearly everyone in the small towns of the Roughlands loves to drink, and often drink themselves to unconsciousness on nights when they have the credit at the tap.

The goblyn diet is similar, though giants tend to supplement meals of goat milk and goat meat with the odd wandering goblyn or landsman. Mythology would have the locals believe that the giants can't hold their drink, and there are countless legends of clever men out drinking a giant and escaping its clutches, but whether or not this is true no one seems to be able to say, with any evidence in any case.

Fashion and Dress

Highdunn's sumptory laws largely ignored in the Roughlands, and practicality and durability are held in greater regard than appearance. As a result the landsmen of the Roughlands tend towards the heavy ponchos similar to those worn by downsmen in the west. Under this sturdy leather boots and heavy pants, either covered in leather or patched at the knees for durability. Laced cotton tunics sometimes with undershirts for colder weather are also common. Women are not expected to wear a dress in such conditions, but generally the cut of their tunic will be more suitable shaped to their upper bodies, with a laced bodice and waistline. All Roughlanders wear broad brimmed floppy hats for protection from the harsh sun and thick dust, and travellers wear scarves wrapped around the lower part of their faces.

In the towns, the publicans will often make an effort to appear more prosperous, and as such they dress like Highdunn nobility, with the men in doublet and hose, but still with heavy leather boots, often wearing expensive fabrics and bright colours. The women, especially serving girls, in an effort to contrast with the drab, hardy women of the Roughlands, wear close fitting gowns with low necklines, tightly laced about the waist, and often wear their hair unadorned but for a simple cap and comb. Visitors often find this unseemly, but the local population love it.

Goblyns here wear a coat-like garment, called a sherwani, which is tight and close to the body. It is usually knee-length or longer and opens in front with the help of square pegs. Below this men wear a garment, which is baggy and wide at the top but tight around the legs and ankles. It is considered as a very elegant by the men of the Roughlands. Lovers of colour, goblyns often combine vibrant shades of red, blue, yellow, green and white but never black as to wear black invites doom. Goblyn women wear loose trousers like pants drawn tightly to the waist and the ankles called a salwar. Over the salwar, they wear long and loose clothing known as a kameez. Occasionally women wear churidar instead of a salwar. A churidar is like the salwar but is tight fitting at the hips, thighs and ankles. Women also wear a head scarf and often have ornate jewellery worked in copper or bronze.


Ahlonian, or trade tongue, are common to the Roughlands, and even the goblyns will usually be at least passable in the language. Literacy is even rarer here than in the rest of the Isle, but with little written material around this is not usually an obstacle. However here Talthakee is an important language for trade, in fact in some places it is the language of trade, and so many people have a smattering of Talthakee, and may negotiations will take place in a bizarre combination of the two as both parties use what they know.


Legal System and Enforcement

Odo tries to enforce some semblance of law, but this only extends to the larger settlements, with the smaller relying on local levies and hired Roughriders for protection. The Kings law reigns where it is enforceable, but outside of the Lake Sone region might makes right. Publicans protect their investments with hired Roughrider mercenaries, or occasionally even goblyns, and the common man is all too often the victim of strong bullies. The goblyns have tribal law, that varies based on the whims of their leaders, but essentially anyone robbing from or harming another member of the tribe is ostracised, and sometimes killed, while anything done to an individual outside of the tribe is fair game. That doesn't mean that the tribe won't gladly hand one of their number over to the offended party however. Whatever the case the tribe's leader make the laws and he and his cronies prosecute and punish as they see fit. Surprisingly the system still works rather well, goblyn leaders already have everything, and there is really no incentive for them to be corrupt in any way.



Medicine here is very poor, and even simple wounds can be deadly. Few towns have a priest or barber of their own, and there is no tradition of wise women or ancestral lore. As a result the closest skilled medical aid for an injury can be hours or even days from a given settlement. Many more independent individuals such as Roughriders or gold panners gather a little bit of lore where they can, and can treat fractures or breaks or minor wounds, and deal with exposure to the perils of the land, but the victim of a serious injury will more likely die than receive treatment.

Goblyns all know the lay of the land, and their warriors are also skilled at dealing with those injuries as might be sustained in battle, but when it comes to illness they have no remedy save for confining the sick to their yurts, and burning their dead with all their possessions to stop disease spreading. It is not uncommon for human settlements close to goblyn ones to trade for the services of goblyn warriors in healing badly wounded locals, but more often than not this help will take time to negotiate, and arrive too late.

Transportation and Communication

While samsuns handle the terrain here best, horses, mules and oxen are serviceable so long as a traveller follows a known route so as to find water every day. Most mapped routes run between natural springs and ponds - the uncharted Roughlands are hardly a barren arid desert, but they can be low on drinkable water for beasts of burden. Of course samsuns are rare, and dangerous, so the majority of travel happens on foot with mules carrying goods, and usually ample and water skins. Goblyns keep their horses, though only the men of a tribe are mounted. Their fast, fierce steeds are efficient grazers, and goblyn tribes usually settle the best grazing land in a region and defend it fiercely. Usually a mounted goblyn can be hired in the northern settlements to carry urgent messages, but in the south a person may just as well convey a message himself as pay good coin to someone else.


Major Export and Import

The Roughlands have a busy market in raw materials including quarried stone and precious metals, gold panning in rivers is exceptionally lucrative for a lucky few, but ultimately it is the tavern owners who trade for the gold, and not the men who find it, who really earn from this valuable trade. Copper and silver can also be sourced here with relative ease, and regular trade with local goblyn tribes means that mined materials, especially iron, also find their way out of the towns of the Roughlands. Without a doubt this area has a great wealth in raw material, but much of this wealth leaves with the goods, and so there is seldom enough left to establish any real industry.

Meanwhile the Roughlands are hungry for a lot of things, especially timber and food, from the heartlands of Highdunn. Oxen are surprisingly valuable too, goods need to be moved in large quantity, and while they live happily in the roughlands, they need to graze and there is simply no grazing land to keep a herd for breeding. However the biggest import in the Roughlands is drink, and ale and spirits from all over Highdunn, usually the surplus of the low grade product of the local breweries, roll into the Roughlands every day.


Like the Tresser Veldt to the west, money in the Roughlands is a rarity, and raw materials are far more valuable than money. As a result coin is only really used in the taverns, usually by travellers, tavern owners will use coin to buy goods from outsiders and then barter with their local patrons. However though coin is rare in the Roughlands gold is not, and powder or nuggets of raw gold are often traded by weight here as coin would be by value. What coinage there is is nearly entirely the Highdunn gold and silver crowns.

Today in The Roughlands…

Perhaps a month ago Odo granted his guard captain Damian Corl permission to lead a small exploratory force to the boarders to Maethas to probe the extent of their defences. Corl had been pleading with Odo for some time to spare some forces for such a venture, and it seemed like the warrior's patriotic zeal had overtaken him. However some weeks later his force returned without their commander. They reported that he had left them early in the evening on the third day of skirting the boarder and headed east, promising to return in a few hours, but he never returned. To make matters stranger, when his men went looking for him his tabard was found abandoned on a rock, but the scouts found no sign of any kind of struggle. Now there is speculation that perhaps Corl has deserted, and if this were the case then surely he has information that would prove valuable to Anduin Derrowmere, or even Kessel himself.

On the Whitehale-Nashby road a group of Roughrider bandits have been attacking caravans heading into the Roughlands, however what is strange about this group is that they are exclusively targeting the flow of salt into the Nashby, almost crippling the traffic of this valuable preservative into the northern roughlands. Even stranger the Roughriders seem intent on pinning their attacks on local unaligned goblyns, going so far as to leave goblyn bodies at the sites of their attacks, and using goblyn weapons. However a number of survivors have clearly reported that the culprits for these attacks are men. Are these bandits trying to blame their actions on goblyns? And if so why? Whatever their motivations it is clear that Leigh Nash, Margreave of Nashby has to do something to stop these attacks.

Even stranger, in Nashby itself the people have begun to report strange noises at night. Investigations in certain districts have indeed established that there are strange scrapings and rumblings from around the streets in the old town of Nashby. However unusually most of those who have heard them swear that these sounds don't come from within the city, but rather from underneath it. Religious fanatics are already starting to preach in the streets that the true giants are arising to punish the wicked of Nashby.

Finally there is one question amongst the goblyn tribes of the north. Are Jalded Esh and the Death Mist tribe going to pledge themselves to the Black Sarith? For years now outcasts from the Death Mist have joined with the Nork in the service of the Black Sarith, but now Jalded has moved his camp into the shadow of the tower and seems to be holding one of the main passes to the camp that constantly surrounds its base. If he has truly fallen into the service of that charismatic, evil man then it proves that even goblyns can be corrupted, and the tribes of the roughlands fear that Esh has made such a powerful ally because he seeks to become their king, by force if necessary.

The Southern Isle of Ahlonia
The Earldoms, The Storm Sea Coast, Southaven, The Tresser Veldt, The Heartlands, The Roughlands, The Maethian Arm, The Vale of Mists, The Forest Kingdom
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