Raurin (pronounced: /ˈrɔːrɛn/ ROAR-en), 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.
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.
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 made it their business to run caravans through the desert.
Raurin was a waste of sand, which blew into great dunes, and round hills. The hills and dunes were cut with gullies terraced with strata of pinks, reds, and browns. Salt crystallized on the surface, giving northerners the impression of snow. What few pools of water existed were too salty to drink. It was consistently hot and there was very little rain.
The Raurin was extremely quiet, with almost no life visible during the day through its shimmering air. There were a few broken hills in the heart of the Raurin, scoured by the sandstorms. Travel in the Raurin was easiest along the edge of those stony hills, which provided for respite against the morning sun and the wind, and a clear sense of direction. However, travel inside the area of those hills was extremely difficult. At noon, those rocks would grow hot enough to fry eggs on their darker areas.
The sand was finer in places, though it was always coated with coarse sand because of the wind. Those finer sands were exhausting to wade through, even for mounts. In some places the sand had been blown into partly filled valleys and crevasses, creating sinkholes; those were extremely hazardous, leading to death in a matter of minutes.
Frost in the Desert of Desolation was a possibility during especially harsh nights. On nights where the sand was frosted over, flowers blanketed the land during the morning after. The same flowers would have wilted and dried within an hour of the sunrise due to the harsh heat.
Meteorfalls and shooting stars may have been visible in the Desert of Desolation at some point during the middle 14th century DR.
Inhabitants of Raurin included 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 tortoises. 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.
The southern edge of Raurin was host to camels, giant tarantulas, desert jackasses, packrats, kites, tortoises and gophers. Monsters travelers could meet included thunderherders, dustdiggers, or purple worms. In extreme cases, sandmen could be encountered too.
- Al Qahara: An elven town hidden in a cavern in the south of the desert
- Mulhorandi Portal: An obscure portal to the east of the Giant's Belt Mountains
- Terbakar: The ruined capital of Bakar, where the Pyramid of Amun-Re was located.
- Pazar: Another ruined city that once belonged to the kingdom of Bakar.
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- Tracy Hickman, Laura Hickman, Philip Meyers, Peter Rice, William John Wheeler (May 1987). Desert of Desolation. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-0880383974.
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- Tracy Hickman, Laura Hickman, Philip Meyers, Peter Rice, William John Wheeler (May 1987). Desert of Desolation. (TSR, Inc.), p. 24. ISBN 978-0880383974.
- Tracy Hickman, Laura Hickman, Philip Meyers, Peter Rice, William John Wheeler (May 1987). Desert of Desolation. (TSR, Inc.), p. 25. ISBN 978-0880383974.