People of the Shaar
The people native to the Shaar share one very prominent feature - an indomitable spirit that lets them survive against unfavorable odds. Though the various races and cultures of the grasslands differ in dress, traditions, and outlook toward one another, they have all learned to overcome the harshest weather, terrain, and enemies that Faerûn has to offer, and to persevere in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Races and Cultures
Of all the regions of the Shining South, the Shaar is perhaps the most complex in terms of its great variety of races and cultures. Some races - such as the gold dwarves, of the Great Rift, the sedentary humans in the trading centers, or the reclusive wild elves and ghostwise halflings of the various forests - are firmly entrenched in their ancestral homes. Many others - including humans, wemics, centaurs, and others - roam the grasslands as nomadic tribes, coexisting in a never-ending cycle of hunting and gathering. Still other races visit the Shaar only occasionally, yet their presence impacts every native creature's way of life in profound ways. Few outsiders fully understand the delicate balance that maintains the Shaar, but the grassy sea has been the same for many centuries, and all who are part of it accept it as an intrinsic element of their very existences.
While most centaurs in Faerûn inhabit the great forests, some tribes roam the Shaar alongside other nomads. Like the other natives of the Shaar, centaurs hunt the grasslands, taking only what they need from the great herds that graze there. They either ally or squabble with one another and with other nomads, just as the humans do, though they are less savage overall than either humans or wemics.
A typical centaur stands 7 to 8 feet tall from front hoof to crown and measures 6 to 8 feet long from chest to tail, and weighing in at nearly 1,000 pounds. The horse portion of a centaur's body resembles a zebra - a trait that distinguishes him from the centaurs elsewhere in Faerûn - and his face is decidedly fey in appearance, with swept-back, angular features and somewhat pointed ears. He has golden bronze skin, light brown or golden hair, and eyes in any of a wide variety of shades. Shaaryan centaurs prefer to wear their hair long, though they usually tie it back and weave decorative tokens into it. The number and kind of decorations a centaur wears indicate his rank in the tribe, though such distinctions are usually lost on outsiders.
Male centaurs generally do the hunting, While females tend to the camp and the young. During times of danger, both genders fight equally well. In general, centaurs keep to themselves, though they occasionally join the humans in ceremonies at Council Hills, and they sometimes trade in the towns on the fringes of civilization. The centaurs get along best with the wemics, and they respect the loxo, though they typically give the elephant folk a wide berth.
Not many dragons are native to the great plains of the Shaar, but many of the winged terrors from all over Faerûn visit the plains on occasion to feed on the great herds. Though a number of different wyrms live in isolated parts of the mountains, swamps, and forests in and around the Shaar, others visit from as far away as the Sword Coast. A feeding dragon might make two or three passes across a stretch of the plains, swooping low and scooping up wild horses, rothé, and other herd beasts, then flying off to feed in peace.
Most of the time, these dragon visits are isolated events, and the wyrms that frequently use the Shaar as a hunting ground arrive at specific times of day dictated by their own preferences. Some prefer to come in low from the east at dawn, and others like to dive down from overhead, as though falling, out of the noonday sky. Still others hunt only at night. Occasionally, two dragons cross paths while hunting, and a frightening battle above the grassy plains often results. The nomads' tales even speak of a handful of legendary sky-battles involving three, four, or even half a dozen huge wyrms at once. While such spectacles might be awesome to behold, the nomads know better than to stick around and wait to see which drake winds up the victor, since the winner is not likely to be in a good mood afterward.
Of all the savage humanoids that roam the Shaar, only the gnolls have the numbers to qualify as a formidable group. Though they have carved out traditional homes throughout the hills and on lower mountain slopes of every range across the Shaar, they are most common in the western half, especially along the various ridges north of the Channath Vale. The gnolls have historically preyed upon human settlements along the shores of Lake Lhespen and on the caravans that move through that region. The Lapaliiyans to the southwest have tried to eradicate the gnolls several times in the past. All those efforts were in vain, and the gnolls continue to plague the nomads in the western Shaar and the cities where they trade.
The Great Rift has been the traditional home of the gold dwarves for untold centuries. Since they first reclaimed the huge canyon and the tunnels and caverns beneath and around it from the drow after the fall of Telantiwar, they have proudly and unfalteringly stood their ground, never relinquishing control of their homeland. With the onset of Moradin's Thunder Blessing, the gold dwarves have actually begun to overfill their domain, and some have started to seek out other locales in which to found new colonies. They plan a great western migration to the caverns of Old Shanatar, with an army of crusaders to serve as its vanguard.
The average gold dwarf stands about 4 feet tall, but her stocky build gives her almost the same weight as an adult human. Her skin is a deep tan or brown color, and her eyes are usually brown or hazel. Hair color is usually black, gray, or brown. Both genders wear their hair long, and most males (as well as some females) also wear carefully groomed mustaches and beards.
The gold dwarves of the Great Rift share a proud but suspicious nature. They claim all the area that lies a full day's ride by pony in any direction from the canyon, and they do not suffer the presence of bandits or explorers lightly. Nondwarves are rarely permitted inside their homes. They have established the city of Eartheart (see Cities and Sites) for dealing with outsiders.
The loxo of the Shaar are nomadic hunter-gathers who live side-by-side with the other great tribal races of the plains. The other nomads tend to leave them alone because an angry loxo is fearsome to behold - or to battle. Though their numbers are small, the loxo roam vast tracts of land, sating their huge appetites with grass, vegetables, and occasionally fruits and nuts.
A loxo is an elephantine humanoid that stands about 7 or 8 feet tall and easily weighs 1,500 pounds or more. He has blue-gray, wrinkled skin covered with rough, sparse hair, and his stout body has elephantine appendages, including thick, round limbs, flat feet, and pudgy fingers. His ears are large and swept back, but his most striking features are his twin trunks, which protrude from his face just above the mouth and are flanked by long, curving tusks. Each trunk is about 2 feet long and ends in three small, fingerlike digits.
The loxo organize by clans, each of which is little more than an extended family. All the members of a particular clan wear similar rustic clothing, with special designs woven into the fabric. Two or more clans might travel together in a herd.
Occasionally, loxo come to the edges of human civilization, bringing rustic works of art crafted from animal bones, wood, or stone to trade for food and supplies. Though the Shaaryan humans are wary of the strange-looking loxo, the elephant folk are not adversarial unless threatened. The loxo do not interact with the other nomadic tribes of the grassland on a regular basis. Unlike the wemics and centaurs, the loxo do not make a habit of venturing to Council Hills for the human gatherings, though in extraordinary circumstances, they have been known to send a delegate.
The humans who roam the plains of the Shaar are known as Shaarans. They have wandered the grasslands as nomads since before the area's recorded history began, enduring the hardships of an inhospitable environment, dangerous enemy tribes, and a host of predators from both the plains and the surrounding areas. This constant struggle has honed them into a tough, proud people who are loath to give up their ways, even in the face of conquest.
The typical Shaaran is long-faced and yellow-skinned, but not very tall (about 5-1/2 feet, on average). Her hair and eyes are usually black or dark brown. On rare occasions, a Shaaran is born with bright green eyes - a sign of good luck among the nomads. Few Shaaran males wear facial hair, and both genders cut their hair short.
Nomads: A Shaaryan nomad's most prized possession is her horse - a magnificent animal that thrives on the grasses of the plains where the nomads roam. In fact, Shaarans refuse to take their horses out of the Shaar because the animals never seem to fare well elsewhere. Almost invariably, they grow weak and eventually die if denied the opportunity to feed on their native grasses. A Shaaran carries everything she owns on her own horse or, if she is wealthy, on a pack horse. Children are practically born in the saddle.
The dozen or so tribes of Shaarans share a common culture, but each also maintains separate elements of its own tradition. Outsiders have difficulty distinguishing among the different tribes, but the nomads can readily identify one another's tribal affiliation by the differences in dress, horse coloration, dwelling styles, weapon styles and decorations, and traditional roaming territories. Some tribes view women as equal to men, and a few have elected female chiefs.
No one has ever tried to unify the Shaarans. Some regions of the Shaar (particularly in the western half) have been conquered on occasion, but in each case, the Shaarans simply waited until the conqueror's power base vanished, then resumed their way of life as though nothing had happened. Occasionally, two tribes form a close bond, usually through a marriage between a powerful family from each tribe. Such a relationship allows the tribes to reap the benefits of mutual protection, share water, and avoid territorial disputes with one another for several generations. Over time, though, inter-tribal relationships always change, as new bonds form and old alliances fade away.
Townspeople: The humans who dwell in the communities scattered across the Shaar are most often Shaarans who preferred a settled way of life to the nomadic lifestyle of their ancestors. Most of these towns and cities arose as a result of trade meets between various tribes, usually in prime locations where natural resources were abundant. Others were founded when nations and empires attempted to conquer or settle certain regions of the Shaar. The most significant settlement effort occurred during the Shoon Imperium, when the Shoonach held all the territory from the Shining Sea to the Landrise. The settlements founded during that period still exist, though they no longer owe anyone allegiance. Regardless of how and why they formed, the various urban centers in the Shaar have always remained small by Faerûnian standards, and they subsist primarily on the trade that passes through their markets and the sale of the few meager resources (such as fish, salt, lumber, or worked goods made from animal parts) that they have available.
While the majority of the people in these towns and cities are Shaaran, other ethnicities are also represented. Most often, such individuals arrive via trade caravans that wind their way through the grassland on a regular basis and simply decide to stay. Some locals are descendants of traders who came from as far away as Durpar, Turmish, and Amn. Whatever their origin, the residents of these towns live together in relative harmony and share two common purposes: survival and prosperity.
Human Tribes of the Shaar
Although the tribes of the Shear share many features - including ethnic heritage, common enemies, and a nomadic lifestyle - they are as different in other ways as a merchant from Waterdeep is from an assassin in Thesk. Some tribes maintain good relations with others, and some allow bad blood that has passed down for many generations to divide them from other tribes.
Below are a few details about the largest and best-known. tribes that roam-the Shaar. Several smaller and more isolated tribes exist, but they are, less visible to outsiders visiting the plains than those detailed below.
Ankheg: The Ankheg Tribe roams the region of the Shaar that lies between the Firesteap Mountains and the Shaarwood, stretching from the Duskwood to the Landrise. The people of this tribe have adopted the ankheg as their animal symbol, and their raiders have adopted elements of its fighting style.
Cheetah: The Cheetah Tribe claims the territory between the Uthangol Mountains and the Great Rift, as far east as Council Hills. The raiders of this tribe have trained themselves to run like the cheetahs that roam the grasslands.
Eagle: The Eagle Tribe reveres the giant eagles that soar overhead, and its raiders take pride in the superior vision and leaping ability they have cultivated in imitation of the great birds. The tribesfolk wander the territory in the far western part of the Shaar, between the Shining Sea and Lake Lhespen.
Hyena: The Hyena Tribe controls all the land south of Council Hills between the Riftwood and the Sharawood. Like their namesake creature, the tribe's raiders employ hiding and tripping attacks in battle.
Lion: The members of the Lion Tribe roam the plains from Lake Lhespen to the Landrise, south of the River Shaar. Its raiders imitate the great lion when they attack, entering a slashing frenzy when they charge opponents.
Rhinoceros: The Rhinoceros Tribe wanders the area between the Great Rift and the Landrise, and from the Chondalwood to the Amtar. Like the horned beasts from which they take their name, Rhinoceros raiders have learned how to heighten damage when charging.
The strange, insect-like thri-kreen are perhaps the most bizarre of the hunter nomads native to the Shaar. The thri-kreen roam the plains just as the humans and other nomadic races do, following herd animals for sustenance. Unlike the humanoids that call the Shaar home, the thri-kreen are built for the hot, arid conditions of the grasslands, and they thrive in this environment. Because of their alien nature and their skill with camouflage and surprise attacks, many other inhabitants of the Shaar fear the thri-kreen and give them a wide berth.
A thri-kreen looks like a bipedal praying mantis with six limbs - two for standing and four more for manipulating tools and weapons. The carapace of a typical specimen might be any shade from sandy brown to pale green, whichever blends in best with the surroundings. Thri-kreen wear harness belts, to which they attach various tools and small weapons, but no other clothing.
The thri-kreen exist in. relatively small numbers, and their territory is limited to the lowlands and the hills just north of the Toadsquat Mountains. They make occasional forays farther north, though they try to avoid confrontations with the humans, so they usually stay clear of Council Hills. Wemics and centaurs dislike thri-kreen, but they rarely go out of their way to engage them. Loxo, perhaps because they too are considered alien by most inhabitants of the Shaar, accept the thri-kreen and sometimes trade with them.
Wemics might be the most skillful and savage hunters in the entire Shaar. Strongly tribal, they possess no writing skills and no interest in recorded history. Wemics have had to fight to maintain their traditional hunting grounds since they arrived in the Shaar - before the recorded history of any of the other races of the area - and they don't intend to let anyone take their territory away from them.
A wemic is a centaur-like creature with the body of a lion, the upper torso of a human, and a head with a mixture of human and leonine features. An average specimen stands about 6-1/2 to 7 feet tall from his forepaws to the top of his head and measures about 12 feet long from head to tail tip. An adult can weigh as much as 600 pounds. A wemic's body is covered with golden or golden-brown fur, and the tip of his tail is always darker in color than the rest of his body. He has ears that sit high on his head and eyes like a cat's, with golden irises and narrow, slitted pupils. All six of his limbs end in claws, though the ones on his humanoid hands and front paws are retractable. A mane the same color as his tail tip frames a male wemic's face.
Wemics are proud creatures and fierce nomadic hunters. They are not adversarial to other creatures that accept their ways and do not try to steal their territory. A wemic that feels threatened, however, fights tooth and claw to his dying breath to keep his way of life intact.
For the most part, the wemics get along well enough with the human tribes of the Shaar, sometimes joining them at Council Hills for the biannual gatherings. The feline hunters are not so tolerant of the settled humans who live in the small communities scattered throughout the Shaar, though they occasionally enter these towns to trade. The wemics get along best with the centaurs with whom they share the grasslands, and they have a healthy respect for the loxo, though these two races rarely interact. In times of trouble - particularly when dragons appear overhead for feasting - any wemics, centaurs, and loxo in the area come together in joint defense.
Wild Elves and Ghostwise Halflings
Both the wild elves (who live primarily in the Forest of Amtar on the south side of the Shaar and the Misty Vale along its southwestern border) and the ghostwise halflings (who live in the Channathwood and the area where the southeastern tip of the Chondalwood borders the Shaar) are strong isolationists. Neither race is interested in interacting with others, and both prefer to be left alone in their respective woodland domains. In fact, the wild elves of the Misty Vale are so xenophobic that they drive back any human incursions into their territory with fatal efficiency. Though the other races that roam the. grasslands know of the elves and the hin, they respect their privacy and give their woods a wide berth.
Life and Society
The inhabitants of the Shaar share several characteristics. Most notably, they have adapted to the harsh terrain and climate, established many centuries' worth of traditions, and developed a mutual - if sometimes grudging - respect for one another based on their shared experiences. In other ways, however, they are quite dissimilar. Tradition might be an important aspect of life for all who live in the endless grasslands, but specific traditions differ greatly from group to group, tribe to tribe, and race to race.
The economy throughout most of the Shaar is not based on money. No coins are minted here, and they are of little use in areas other than towns.
City Dwellers: The folk who live in the urban centers have a slightly more developed economy than the nomads. While city, dwellers are willing to barter with the tribesmen who come to their markets, they also accept coins, particularly from merchants passing through the Shaar from one nation to another. In fact, the trading communities of the Shaar have effectively become currency exchange centers, since caravans often trade not only in goods, but in coinage as well. A merchant from Durpar might arrive with goods to sell and be more than willing to accept currency from Chondath in exchange, since he intends to head there next. While in the Shaar, the same merchant might purchase some local crafts and pay in Durpari coin. The next merchant, perhaps from Calimshan, is happy to take the Durpari coin for her goods, since she can use it at her next stop in Estagund.
Gold Dwarves: The gold dwarves of the Great Rift simply mine their currency, digging precious metals and minerals out of the earth beneath their homeland and fashioning them into exquisite jewelry or ingots for trade with merchants. In exchange for their silver, gold, gemstones, and the magic items they sometimes craft, the gold dwarves acquire food (fruit, vegetables, and cheese), textiles, lamp oil, and other worked goods.
Nomads: For the most part, the tribes (human and otherwise) that roam the grasslands get everything they need from the land, using the animals they hunt for food, clothing, tools, and sometimes mounts. When they slay an animal, they use every part of it, wasting nothing. They have no commerce, and few have ever seen a coin, much less had any use for one. When the nomads wish to exchange goods, they simply barter with one another or with the merchants in the towns, who are used to this arrangement and don't mind trading goods for goods. The only items not needed for survival that the nomads consider valuable are pieces of jewelry (usually necklaces, bracelets, and hair adornments) made of animal bones or particularly beautiful rocks and crystals. They occasionally use such jewelry as a kind of currency, particularly when trading with other tribes that roam different regions and thus do not have access to the same materials.
Wild Elves and Ghostwise Halflings: The races that dwell in the forests of the Shaar rarely participate in trade of any sort. They are completely self-sufficient within their wooded homelands and for the most part, they have neither the need nor the desire to venture outside those domains - nor do they wish merchants to visit them. Only the ghostwise halflings of the Channathwood ever deign to trade with outsiders, and they leave their woodland homes to do so rather than allowing others to enter.
Law and Order
Those native to the Shaar have different approaches to law and order depending upon their races and lifestyles.
City Dwellers: In the cities and towns, law and order are much more structured than in the plains because the citizens face different dangers than the nomads. The constant presence of settled people with property and valuables is an irresistible draw for gnolls and other monsters, as well as bandits. Nomads frequent the towns, and occasionally members of adversarial tribes attempt to resolve their differences in the middle of the marketplace. Furthermore, the urban centers are natural targets for any enemy nations that wish to conquer tracts of the Shaar. Thus, every community elects a chief from a Council of Elders, just as the tribes do in the wild, and maintains a standing militia or defense force of some kind to protect the citizens. The chief, with the backing of the militia, deals with any and all trouble, from within or without.
Gold Dwarves: The laws and customs that govern gold dwarf society have been in place for millennia. Respect for clan elders is paramount, but beyond that, few outsiders know anything about their social traditions. Their laws pertaining to outsiders, however, are well publicized and quite strict. Gold dwarves see little value in the magic-lust of humans, the foolishness of elves, or even the tolerant nature of their cousins, the shield dwarves, so they regulate the activities of such folk quite rigorously. First and foremost, they strictly limit how far any other being can venture in to gold dwarf territory. Merchants must stick to the roads heading into and out of Eartheart, but they may not enter the city proper. They must conduct their business in the market town known as Hammer and Anvil, just outside Eartheart's walls. Those caught violating this rule of sanctity are usually never seen again. In addition, anywhere within the boundaries of the Great Rift (a one-day ride on ponyback in any direction from an edge of the canyon), all the traditional laws of peace and fairness apply (no violence except in self-defense, no theft, and so forth). These laws are enforced by the dwarf watchguards - about seventy stern and dour warriors who keep an eye on everything and suspect everyone of some kind of mischief.
Nomads: Shaarans have traditional laws that regulate their conduct on the open plains. Raiding is so common between tribes that it has become an accepted fact of life. A raiding party made up of fewer than twenty individuals is considered acceptable, and the targets of such a raid might return the favor in kind. However, any attack by a force greater than twenty is defined as an act of war, and other tribes quickly band together to defend themselves against the aggressor. Often, such events become topics of discussion at the spring and fall gatherings at Council Hills. Since that place is considered sacred ground and violence and bloodshed are prohibited' there, it is a logical place for warring tribes to meet and resolve their differences. Shaaran history is filled with instances of one tribe ambushing another to prevent just such an occurrence, hoping to prolong a war.
Within each tribe, traditional respect for the elders dictates how problems are resolved. The tribal elders may choose a chief, order penance for wrongdoings, or cast out an offending member of the tribe. The laws of any given tribe are somewhat fluid because the Shaarans believe it is more important to consider the tribe's current needs and values than to worry about what has occurred before. If a former enemy of the tribe is named a friend, then all members of the tribe must put aside any personal vendettas they have against that person and respect the new relationship.
Defense and Warcraft
The defensive needs of the Shaar's natives differ depending on their lifestyle.
Gold Dwarves: The gold dwarves defend the Great Rift staunchly and stubbornly, and they take great pains to deal with all potential threats, whether they arrive overland, by air, or via subterranean pathways. The rim of the canyon is surrounded by sixty structures known as riftedge towers. These stone towers are accessible only via tunnels from below, and each houses a deadly array of catapults and ballistae, as well as a unit of sixty gold dwarf warriors armed with heavy crossbows and dwarven axes. Any unauthorized being or vehicle approaching the Great Rift is greeted with a single warning shot. If the intruder fails to retreat, a deadly hail of missile fire follows.
In addition to the troops stationed inside the riftedge towers, a special unit called the Peacehammers - a collection of hippogriff-mounted dwarf skyriders armed with throwing axes and lances - patrols the skies overhead, above both the Great Rift itself and the plains beyond the edge of the canyon. Some of these skyriders carry magic lances that can fire bolts of flame or magic missiles upon command. Any dwarf sentry or lookout stationed anywhere within the gold dwarves' realm - on the canyon floor, in a niche set into one of the canyon walls, or on patrol out on the grasslands - can sound a horn and have a corps of Peacehammers flying her way in a matter of moments. (See the Great Rift Skyguard prestige class for more information on the Peacehammers.)
In addition to these specialized forces, the gold dwarves also maintain a police force known as the Steel Shields, which is stationed inside the religious temple-fortress of Eartheart on the surface. The Steel Shields are 14,000 strong, and their leader is elected annually by the Deep Lords of the Deep Realm. The current Lord Scepter is Mariochar Bladebeard (LG male gold dwarf cleric 10 of Clangeddin Silverbeard/dwarven defender 7), an insightful tactical genius who has held the position for the last thirty-five years. Mariochar has devoted his life to the defense of the Great Rift.
The main entryway into the subterranean tunnels beneath the Great Rift is a broad passage sealed by 70-foot-tall, solid-gold doors. Known simply as the Gates, these great valves are further protected by magical wards and nines to ensure their stability. The Gates bar entry into a large cavern designed to overawe any visitors - though such are exceedingly rare. Beyond this chamber is the great dwarven city of Underhome. The Gates are kept closed except in times of war, when they part to allow the armies of the gold dwarves to march forth to battle. Most traffic passes through the Gates by means of small sally doors set into the bases of the huge portals. One popular legend among the gold dwarves states that shortly after their construction, the Gates withstood a full-on attack from a great wyrm, which attempted to hurl itself against them at full flying speed. The Gates stood strong, and the dragon was no more.
The last defense of the gold dwarf nation is its standing army, which is commanded by a duke selected from among the Deep Lords. All told, the army can muster nearly 60,000 troops, broken down into an elite ducal bodyguard (600), axe wielders (29,000), light crossbow troops (16,000) heavy crossbow troops (6,000), and regulars (4,000 - 5,000). While this army might seem inordinately large, the Deep Lords know that a force of immense size is the only way to protect the vast amount of territory claimed by the gold dwarves and guard the many approaches from which enemies could close in.
Nomads: For those who roam the plains, the best defense is enough speed to escape any threat. The mobility that is so vital for following the herds serves the tribes in many other ways. Mounted combat with ranged weapons, which provides a means of damaging the enemy while remaining out of harm's way, is as much a part of the nomads' culture as sleeping inside tents. Raiding works as a combat style because battles are rapid and the raiders can be gone almost before their targets become aware of them.
In true combat, most of the tribes (whether human, wemic, centaur, thri-kreen, or otherwise) use the same tried-and-true technique, in which the males form a defensive line while the females move the children off to safety. Thereafter, the females and males join together to fight whatever threatens them. Almost- every race that roams the Shaar employs simple weapons such as slings and spears, which can be easily constructed out of animal parts and the scattered vegetation native to the plains. A chieftain or great warrior might have a bow of some sort, though such weapons are prized more as status symbols than as tools of war, since arrows are difficult to come by except in the trade centers.
The deities venerated in the Shaar are as varied as the nomads who roam there. Each race pays homage to a handful of deities, but no single religion holds sway everywhere.
Centaurs: As a group, the centaurs of the Shaar are not terribly devout. Those who do follow a deity most often venerate Solonor Thelandria of the Seldarine, though a few offer their devotion to Silvanus. Sages speculate that the veneration of this latter deity might be a carryover from ancestors who once dwelled in more verdant parts of Faerûn.
Gold Dwarves: The dwarves of the Great Rift honor the entire dwarven pantheon in much the same way as their northern kin, though Moradin and Clangeddin Silverbeard are venerated above all others. Moradin's popularity stems not just from his status as Father of the Dwarves, but also from the Thunder Blessing that he granted to all dwarves. This monumental event has allowed the gold dwarves to enjoy greater prosperity and advancement than they have seen in several centuries. Clangeddin holds a special place for those who defend the Great Rift and anyone else who ventures to the surface frequently.
In addition to those two deities, many gold dwarves of both genders are favorably disposed toward Haela Brightaxe. The Lady of the Fray's love of no-holds-barred, unadulterated battle appeals to many of the gold dwarves, who enjoy nothing more than a good battle against old enemies deep in the Underdark. Lastly, because they face relatively few challenges compared with their shield dwarf kin, some gold dwarves have the time to develop their creativity and their philosophical nature. These individuals, who often prefer to venerate Dugmaren Brightmantle, spend their days contemplating the deeper mysteries of dwarven life and applying what they've learned to crafting, shaping, and sculpting new and wondrous items.
Humans: Most Shaarans pay homage to Tempus, since his devotion to protection and strength reflects the values they have cultivated over the centuries to ensure their survival on the harsh plains. Others, who glory in the hunt rather than in war, choose to follow Malar. Those few nomadic tribes that serve Akadi make it a point to gather at the hallowed hill of Blaskaltar (see Cities and Sites) every midsummer to revere her.
In the cities of the Shaar, the influence of the deities is somewhat less obvious. A wide variety of cultures and faiths cross paths in these places, and none holds an appreciable upper hand. But in certain portions of the urban centers where thieves and worse are numerous, Shar and Mask hold sway. Since no strong, organized religious presence exists in the Shaar, these shadowy forces operate virtually unchecked.
Wemics: The vast majority of-the wemics follow their own deity, Nobanion, the patron of their druids and rangers. A few of the more savage individuals - particularly those who enjoy the thrill of the hunt - choose to follow the Beastlord instead.
Other Races: Neither loxo nor thri-kreen are religious by nature.
Most inhabitants of the Shaar could care less whether adventurers enter the plains or not. Since the nomads don't assign ownership of the land to any one group of people, they do not feel any territorial jealousy toward strangers - though this attitude does not mean that adventurers have nothing to fear from them. More than a few members of the various tribes - particularly the more bloodthirsty among the humans, wemics, and thri-kreen as well as the vast majority of the gnolls - don't hesitate to attack strangers on sight, just for the sake of killing. Certainly, such behavior is common among the wild elves of the Misty Vale. In other places, adventurers must be wary of more insidious evils, such as the yuan-ti that hide in the ruins of Lhesper, grabbing explorers to use in their searches (see Lhesper).
Within the cities, the merchants are happy to send adventurers off into the wilderness well equipped with supplies purchased from their carts and stores. The shopkeepers truly hope to see these intrepid heroes return with pouches full of newfound coin, which they might be willing to spend on more goods. On the outskirts of civilization, bandits also appreciate seeing adventurers, since their presence means more opportunities to take coin and equipment by force.