Nestled amongst the sandy crags of the Xanaxi desert is the Derenha Oasis. The lowest point in the desert, at least two natural aquifers meet here where the groundwater breaches the surface. The pool of freshwater is just under 100m long by 25m wide and is occasionally refreshed by storm runoff from the distant Blue Mountains but it never rains here.The terrain around the oasis is mostly rocky with a steep escarpment to the west. Large acacia trees grow around the water, a few dozen metres back from it and up along the little valley that eventually leads to mountains. Their broad canopies are the only natural shelter from the sun. As a source of freshwater amongst the bone dry rocks, a dozen different trade routes and desert crossings converge here, despite the approach from the south being a winding track of bends and steep slopes. There are always many caravans and carts parked around the oasis with their owners camping nearby but these are transitory people, here for the water. These are the few permanent residents that have made this little bit of green their home.
The Orsaar Family
The largest permanent house here is a long thin bungalow with stone walls and an ornate wooden roof. Here lives Sarann Orsaar, her daughter Bemaas, and her 3 granddaughters, Eldaak, Memsaan, and Felmaah. The family have lived at the oasis their entire lives as Sarann moved here when she was a teenager. She was passing through on a caravan and the beauty of the oasis and its contrast with the desert spoke to her wandering soul. The Orsaar’s are the self appointed custodians of the Derenha oasis. They tend to the waters, the trees, help arrange the camps, and introduce newcomers to oasis etiquette. Sarann is beginning to struggle with mobility as she is ageing, so she has taken to sitting on the deck around her house whilst her kin do the work. Bemaas travelled a lot around the desert with the traders when she was younger before coming back to the oasis to raise her daughters. On her travels she picked up quite the taste for cooking and enjoys seeing what she can concoct from the ingredients brought by the travellers. Eldaak, Memsaan, and Felmaah are fraternal triplets in their early teens and are very different from each other, differences enhanced by magical gifts. Eldaak is attuned to plants, using her spells to commune with the trees and the plants in the family’s small garden. Air and wind are Memsaan’s gifts. She delights in dancing with her feet off the ground. Her powers have also proven useful in sweeping out the sand after dust storms. Felmaah came to her affinity last and is still learning how to control her fire magics so she doesn’t burn herself quite so often. For now she’s happy lighting fires and torching blood sucking insects. The family also maintains a small farm just downstream of the oasis where they grow fruit trees, grains and keep a few goats.
- The triplets need guidance and training with how to use their magic. They’re attentive students but Eldaak is a little quiet, Memsaan prefers experimentation to practise, and Felmaah is a little bit scared of hurting someone.
- Sarann and Bemaas have quite a lot of stories from their travels and will happily trade tall tales around an evening meal.
- It’s the solstice full moon and all the residents of the oasis are gathered in the desert a little way from the oasis. They’ve built a small fire and are making offerings to the gods. The party is welcome to join them.
Be Ga the Tavern Master
The Moonlight Sands tavern is carved into the escarpment. A set of passageways lead tens of metres through the rock into a low ceiling cellar. Lit with dim oil lanterns and smelling strongly of spices and cooking meats, the tavern is well stocked with food, liquors, and spirits. Small tables are surrounded by deep cushions and thick rugs and there’s a large hearth at the back for warmth and cooking. Be Ga is thin and tall and always seems to be stooped over when standing. He is rarely behind the bar, preferring instead to mingle with his customers. Be Ga has been at the oasis for ten years now. He was travelling on one of the caravans when he noticed the old storage cellar in the escarpment wasn’t being used for anything. Seeing a chance for business and a different life, he settled in and set up the tavern. Most of the customers are the passing merchants but some of the desert tribesmen will also stop in if they’re passing by. It doesn’t seem to matter from how far away a customer has come from, Be Ga knows enough of their language to take their orders, make small talk, and ask about the weather where they’re from. Be Ga says it from all his time as a mercenary with a signals company. Be Ga is rarely seen outside of the tavern during the day but always comes out to watch the sunset. Be Ga’s private rooms are mostly a jumbled and cluttered office filled with old language books and dominated by a large pin board. The pin board has many notes in as many languages and quite a few nearly finished word puzzles and partially translated codes.
- Be Ga would like some help with a translation. Could you find this old monument in the desert and check which of these three texts are the proper translations? It turns out that none of the translations have the complete picture and it’s a combination of the three. The inscription gives clues to a mystery about a party member’s family.
- An old mercenary friend of Be Ga’s is bringing him a codebook for his collection but he’s running late. Go south up the hill and rendezvous with him. The sign/countersign is bathwater/baby.
- At the urging of one of the regular visitors, Be Ga has pulled out a rack of strange and exotic spirits and is inviting customers to taste and interpret flavours, ingredients, and origin.
Mejot Nar the Desert Druid
The smallest home at the oasis belongs to Mejot. It is barely 3 m by 3m by 3m of acacia wood panels with a flat roof. Inside is a bedroll, blankets, a small chest of flowing blue cloths, and a bookshelf filled with old poetry books. This tiny abode suits the diminutive gnome who barely spends any time there. For the few days of a month when they are at the oasis, Mejotis mostly in the tavern, reading or reciting poetry to whoever might be interested in listening. The rest of the time, Mejotis out in the desert amongst the sand and the rocks. Carelessly old, she doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t live this way. If you wish to know something about the desert, its ecology or natural history, then Mejotis the person to ask. If you can find her, that is, as she is rarely in gnomic form when travelling, preferring instead to shapeshift into a creature more suited for the terrain and weather. Only twice a year will she spend longer than 3 days at the oasis, when the Froni-Tek birds stop during their long migration to drink the waters. A flock in its thousands makes quite the mess and fills the oasis. Mejot cleans up after the birds and purifies the waters once they’re gone. She makes quite a bit of coin selling the guana for fertiliser. Mejot will always be at the oasis if one of the desert’s great creatures visits, particularly the sphinxes or dragons. They’re always good for a chat, cup of tea and some poetry.
- Mejot’s put out her back. Could you go and make sure that Clive gets his tea leaves delivered? He lives in a cave that’s 30 miles away into the desert.She’s unfortunately vague when asked for details about Clive, not revealing that he’s an adult metallic dragon.
- There’s a flying monster that is preying on the migrating. It’s not a native species and isn’t part of the desert ecosystem. Kill it.
- Mejot needs a set of players for a poetry reading. Follow her out to non-descript rock at night and perform to the empty sky. But there’s definitely something out there in the dark listening, judging by the noises of appreciation. Once they’ve finished, Mejot leads everyone home.
Peridot’s Fey Spa
When Peridot comes striding out of her spa to gather more of the oasis’ waters, newcomers often either flee or stare in confusion. She is a stunningly beautiful fey who’s grace and clothes are never bothered by the heat and dust. Those who stare are puzzled by the juxtaposition between her serenity and the harsh reality of the desert. Those who flee recognise Peridot as a leanan sidhe fey and wish to be as far as possible from such a dangerous creature as they can. Fortunately for all, Peridot is not currently seeking to be anyone’s muse. A few years ago she was accompanying a young bard when she came to Derenha. When she took to the waters to refresh herself, she found herself surprisingly rejuvenated and empowered. For mortals Derenha Oasis is a welcome piece of hospitality amongst the dry rocks but for the fey it is a leyline focus. The water here rapidly heals maladies of body, mind, and spirit. Leaving the bard to her travels, Peridot built herself an acacia wood three story home against the escarpment. Next to this she’s built a cosy little spa into the escarpment rock with three guest bedrooms, a sauna, a plunge pool, and treatment room. When not tending to her fey clients, Peridot likes to talk with visitors and play with the children.
- One of the spa’s guests has become errant and unruly. Peridot requests the party’s help in diplomatically sending them in their way.
- To treat a fairy’s badly burnt wings, a particular desert plant is needed for the healing poultice but Peridot can’t leave the patient’s side.
- Peridot has significant non-magical expertise in long term health care. She’s willing to teach some of her techniques for a two stay as an assistant to help with the three couples she has booked in.
Irmand the Merchant
A fresh and almost always anxious face at the oasis is Irmand Tel-Na-Pri and his shop. The fifth son of a prosperous merchant family from Bactalava, he’s set up shop here at Derenha Oasis as their latest business idea. He doesn’t have a proper shop and house, instead operating out of a set of wagons arranged in a semi-circle with fabric and wood built up between them. The business idea is that he would act as a halfway point on the trade routes by buying and selling between caravans so the traders wouldn’t need to travel the full route. This hasn’t worked out for him so far as the cross desert traders don’t want to pay his markups and much prefer their own trading networks. Irmand has been getting by on buying up excess goods that have little demand and by selling supplies the caravans need themselves. This isn’t earning him much and he’s ended up with a lot of surplus inventory that even with his contacts back in Bactalava he’s not able to leverage. What long term survival his business has is reliant on his plentiful supply of salt as he’s discovered a small vein of rock salt an hour’s walk upstream from the oasis. Irmand is gregarious and friendly around potential customers but his anxiety can make him come across as obsequious when he becomes desperate to make a sale. He’s also taken to moving his wagons to different places around the oasis every few weeks, trying to find the “best” location to enhance his business. Irmand prefers his own cooking but will happily join others by an evening fire if they’ll let him use his own pots and ingredients.
- Three days in that direction are the remains and ruins of a caravan that got lost. It’s mostly been stripped of value but there’s still things there that Irmand can sell and he’ll pay you for them.
- Irmand has ground up some of his rock salt into some fancy bottles to attract an upmarket client. Would you be so kind as to take a sample set on your way and see if there’s any interest?
- Irmand’s latest idea on how to improve his business is to repaint his wagons but he’s lacking for artistic ideas. Could the party give him some help?
Payton Smit, Retiree
It’s a curious sight to see one of Payton’s little model boats cruise across the waters of the oasis. Crewed by tiny little stick figures animated by magic the little boats can catch the smallest of breezes. There are at least a dozen models in Payton’s workshop, a space that’s three times the size of the rest of his stone and wood house. Unlike the other dwellings at the Derenha Oasis, Payton’s house is built right up to the water’s edge on a little slab of rock that protrudes out into the oasis like a pier. Payton likes to sit here in a fabric chair with a fishing pool and let time pass in the cool of the evenings. Many people have pointed out to him that there aren’t any fish in the oasis but Payton just shrugs and says it’s the act itself that has the purpose. A slight and elderly man, he is often asked what he’s doing out in the desert. He replies that after a lifetime of living and working in busy cities all across Trasnverne, he wants somewhere that is always quiet. What he’s actually doing there is acting as a sentry. Payton belongs to a network of magic users that have been studying the offset boundaries and manifest curves of reality for centuries. Sometimes they need a continuous set of readings from distant places and so he offered to take his retirement at the Derenha Oasis so he could both relax and still be of service. It’s not your usual fishing hook he uses, but instead a complex magical sensor that measures a dozen and sixteen different things about the oasis. This Payton all sends back to his colleagues, along with the weather reports of course.
- Payton needs you to gather some materials for one of his fishing hooks. He says he needs some meteoric iron and there should be some in a crater about 40 miles west of here. He only needs a half kilo and the party can keep whatever else they find.
- He has an obscure minor magical item in his collection that the party needs. He’s happy to trade it for some company. He shrinks everyone down so they can crew one of his model boats and sail it around the oasis. The residents aren’t keen on sailing or shrinking, so he’s not had enough hands to do this for a while.
- An experienced wizard, Payton knows a down little tricks and minor meta magics he’s willing to teach a worthy young mage.
Image Credit : Oasis! by lensnmatter CC-BY-NC-ND-3.0