"...never one single drop of rain, in the burning sands of endless Baen..."
from Dreams of the Sky by Allard Sereng, court poet of House Inbador
|Proper Name||The Independent State of Baen|
|Ruler||No central ruler. (See below).|
|Demographics||Baenite 99.5%, Other 0.5%|
|Currency||Trade and barter|
|Natural Resources||Desert fauna and flora, sandstone, saltpeter, semi precious stones|
|Manufactured Goods and Major Exports||Glass products, pottery, jewelry, leather goods. Due to baenite culture, virtually nothing is exported.|
|Government Stability||Stable - no central government and no provincial conflicts|
|Technology Level||Dark Ages|
|Approximate Land Area||2,360,000 square kilometers
The trackless dunes of the Baen desert are home to the mysterious and reclusive race of the Baenites. Baen is not a unified nation. Rather it is an area of hundreds of small desert communities. Only culture and race binds these villages. Baen has little of value and is a dangerous realm to traverse. For these reasons, few dare to venture within.
The unique geography of Baen only serves to magnify Baenite isolation. Central Baen is an endless sea of dunes which the Baenites call "deep desert". The outer desert is often broken up by oases, badlands and rocky, barren hills. Vegetation and animal life are sparse throughout the region. The entire nation, desert and all, is ringed completely by the Sentinel Mountains which maintain the desert ecosystem and also form Baenite's political and cultural boundaries. It is this geographic setup, with the mountains standing protectively around the desert, that gives the mountains their name. Frequent sandstorms, high temperature and a lack of water makes this a very harsh environment to survive.
Within the desert of Baen, magic is adversely affected by the potent energies of the Focusing/Sunderingwhich still taint this region. Mages from outside Baen will find their magic weakened and unpredictable while in the desert. This affect gets worse the deeper into the desert one ventures. The baenites are unaffected. Their magic works in and out of the desert.
The vast windswept dunes of Baen are home to many desert creatures the desert strider is a tall bipedal lizard used as a steed by the baenites. The dreaded sand worm occasionally makes off with a small baenite child. The sand crawler, a desert spider, is considered a delicacy by the baenites. The most common threat to baenite villages that are situated near the edge of the desert is the sentinel scorpion. These huge scorpions will often come down from the Sentinel Mountains and venture out into the desert. Finally, there is the desert draconis (small winged lizards) which the baenites call "cloud dancers". The Inkrest tree is an important tree to the baenite as it provides live giving water even in the deep desert. The shadebloom also grows here, but the baenites do not use it as it potent juices blind their sensitive eyes. The baenites consider the shadebloom taboo and will not even look at it.
The Alliance Mage Lords built their greatest spell, the Focusing, in a town called North Aden. This town was situated in foothills where the Baen Desert now exists. When the star was sundered, the Focusing unraveled in an explosion that leveled the town and engulfed the valley in a firestorm. The whole region became possessed of great energies and inhospitable to plant and animal life. The region slowly transformed into a desert and remained a dangerous area where all feared to tread throughout the Great War.
A large number of soldiers in the Thullian Empire were modified through life magic and were given the ability to adapt to any environment or condition. These warriors became known as adaptors. In the environmental chaos that followed the Sundering, these chameleon warriors proved very useful.
One group of adaptors was sent into the chaotic Baen desert to retrieve artifacts and relics from the ruins of North Aden. The mission took many years and was successful - many artifacts were unearthed. Eventually, the Baen adaptors rebelled against the empire when called to return and remained in the desert. There, where nothing else could survive, they thrived. The descendents of the adaptors became the baenites. While retaining the characteristics of their predecessors in form and thought, the baenites have lost the ability to adapt over the centuries.
During the Age of Rebirth, a powerful wizard named Morlokk created an enormous oasis near the center of the great desert and built a tower of grey stone within. At first, the baenite villages closest to the wizard's oasis made war with him. Rather than destroy the baenites, the wizard pacified them with defensive spells only. He appealed to their reasonable nature and eventually won peace with them. Since then, the baenites have been on good terms with Morlokk and even defend the oasis from any who would cross the desert in an attempt to reach the wizard.
Each village is ruled by various function-specific councils made up of elders. The Legal Council, the Trade Council, the Social Council and the High Council are some examples. These councils are small, usually between three and eight members. There is a great deal of overlap. One elder may serve on two or three councils, depending on his areas of expertise. These councils are held together by tradition more than law and protocol. After a long life of serving the community, a baenite may be asked to join one or more councils. He or she may serve as council member for a month, a year or for their all of their remaining days. Decisions of the councils are final and never challenged.
The Legal Council of each village makes, refines and interprets the laws. This council also passes down judgement and sees that punishment is carried out. Baenite law is very harsh by the standards of other cultures. Punishment varies depending on the crime. Minor offenses such as theft or assault may simply be answered with a flogging or seizing and redistribution of the convicted persons belongings. More serious crimes may result in torture, death or banishment. Banishment is a common form of punishment and involves branding the victim with the symbol of the village. Any baenite branded in such a way is an outcast and will be shunned by every baenite village. Sometimes, the victim simply perishes alone in the dunes. Others live as hermits. On occasion, a baenite branded in this way will leave the desert for the outside world.
Each community can muster a small militia of approximately 1/10 its total size. If ever there was a great need, dozens of these groups could unite into a formidable army. However, no hostile force has ever attempted to penetrate the Baen desert. Baenite militias combine magic and steel, utilizing both foot soldiers and mounted soldiers (riding desert striders). Some villages are fortunate enough to have a cloud dancer upon which their most elite warrior rides.
The economy of the Baenite people is self-contained. All products necessary for the normal, healthy day to day life of a nation are produced, traded between villages and consumed. However, very little international trade is conducted.
Baenites enjoy intellectual pursuits, reading, writing, riddles, puzzles, philosophy, etc. Some also enjoy brawling, dueling, contests of magic and tavern revelry. Baenites deal cruelly with foolhardy travelers who venture into the desert and often make games of it. For some Baenites, torture is a form of recreation. Pit fights are common, whether it be between baenite warriors, slaves or animals.
Baenites considered magic the ultimate intellectual pursuit and there are many who dabble in the craft. There are no great schools of wizardry among the baenites. Rather, magic is taught from master to apprentice. Likewise, there are no laws restricting the study or use of magic here.
There are no major baenite cities. Instead, the desert is dotted with several hundred tiny communities. This is, no doubt, a side effect from the baenite tendency to isolation and independence. These communities vary in size from individual hermits leading solitary lives to larger communities of about 800 individuals.Average community size is about 400.
The nation of Baen lies entirely within the vast Baen desert which is itself within the Sentinal Mountains. The Baen desert is a region of ever shifting sand dunes that measure hundreds of feet tall. Travel through the mountains is difficult, but travel across the sand is even more so. Wagons and carts are uselss in the desert. Horses and foot travel are both slowed greatly by the sand.
A journey from any point of civilization on the outside to any of the points of interest in the center of the desert would require traveling 350 to 400 kilometers through the Sentinel Mountains and then an additional 300 to 400 kilometers through desert. Such a journey would typically take about 60 days. This assumes travel on foot with very hardy pack animals and an abundance of water carried through the desert portion. Dangerous animals in the mountains and desert combined with extreme heat, sandstorms and a lack of fresh water sources make this an extremely difficult journey which has often resulted in the deaths of entire groups of travelers. It is not a journey for the faint hearted.
For more information, see the Travel and Distance page.
This website was last updated October 5, 2021. Copyright 1990-2021 David M. Roomes.