In the Red Land of Ascalor, only the hardiest of plants can survive the sun. Its people are a zealous group devoted to their religion of the One, in opposition to the Many. A tiny minority practice faith in the gods in secret but, if found out, are killed.
Malkat-Ur was the largest city and capital until 1092 Y.E., when fallout from a volcanic eruption destroyed it and buried it in ash. Many Ascalorians died, but the city Jezrat-Ur has survived and become the capital, led by the priestess Devora. Though the volcano destroyed the flameweed (Haroon spice) crop, the fields have since recovered and grown more productive than ever. Plans have been made to resettle Malkat-Ur.
Ascalor is covered in low, red-colored mountains. Rainfall is extremely rare and is greeted with great celebration. A high volcano outside Malkat-Ur is called the Red Mountain. The extreme dryness and heat provide the perfect climate for flameweed.
Several animal species inhabit the Red Land, including lizards, basilisks (near the Colored Pools outside Nabat-Ur), and many varieties of snakes.
According to legend the Red Land was settled by the prophet Jezer and his people sometime shortly after the creation of the world. It is said the Red Land first discovered the flameweed plant and the refining of it into Haroon spice. The legendary city of Ur was supposedly home to 100,000 souls, before the first eruption of the Red Mountain buried it.
Since the death of their prophet Joffa in the early years of the kingdom, the nation has been led by a high priestess, two judges, and a minor governing assembly of the pious. Besides selling raw flameweed and refined spice, the Red Land also became known as a center for sword smithing, with distinctive abstract artwork running the length of its sabers.
Thanks to its isolation, few wars have taken place within the Red Land. One exception is the Spice War from 825 Y.E. to 828 Y.E., fought against the Sea Raider States when Ascalor tried to increase the price of flameweed. The Red Land successfully fought them off, thanks in part to the hellish climate the Ascalorians had grown accustomed to. A feast in honor of the victory was announced on the fifteenth of the month of Ebul-Jezer (in winter.)
Another war from 1091 to 1092 Y.E. took place between the priestess Lidda and the priestess Sheva, both claiming supremacy. It ended in Lidda’s victory and a unified Red Land.
Most unique to the Red Land are its religious restrictions against all wine and alcohol, all music and dancing, and certain types of meats. They believe the gods to be evil, and serve a deity they call the One.
Very few ships go to Ascalor. Your best chance of finding one is in Janshi, capital of Sur, or in the cities of the Sea Raiders (where you might be sold into slavery). From there the journey of many weeks crosses lonely seas until at last the Red Land appears on the horizon.
Roads connect Ascalor’s cities, which are often build underneath mountains. Fharese currency is accepted. Beware: if you bring wine or intoxicating beverages, you may be killed on sight. Blasphemy against the region’s religion of the One also ends in a death sentence.