The gigantic pyramids of the Red Desert were raised in ages past, but they still persist as havens for the dwellers of the Oasis States. Within these tremendous structures whole cities labor to cultivate the vast hydroponic gardens of their ancestors, fields sustained by the unfathomably deep wells at the heart of each pyramid. Mirrored sunlight and troughs of carefully-channeled water are used to grow a spectacular array of drugs, dyestuffs, and staple foods for the pyramid-dwellers. Many of the most precious spices and extracts of the realm are grown within the red stone walls of an Oasian city-pyramid.
Each edifice is a self-contained community, except that their need for metals and other goods forces caravans to dare the perils of the Red Desert. These wayfarers must fear the “sand princes”, the ruthless bandit- kings who command grim ranks of exiled nobles, runaway slaves, escaped criminals, and natural malcontents. These reavers know all the secrets of the deep desert, and use them to snare caravans and make the occasional swift raid into poorly-guarded pyramids. Whether from the depredations of the sand princes or internal strife, some pyramids have become abandoned. Wise souls shun these places, for they are full of deadly traps, restless dead, and the hideous monsters bred by their former guardians.
The rulers of the Oasis States are obsessed with eugenic breeding programs. Incestuous marriages are common among the nobility, with loveless pairings made purely to cultivate some arcane aptitude or special quality. The results are impressive; their warrior families produce soldiers and guardians of superhuman prowess, and the Oasian magi are famous for their gifted fire magics and intricate flesh-shaping arts. Of course, many of these paragons also suffer from crippling mental or physical infirmities due to the extensive inbreeding, but their elders agree that some prices must be paid for their advantages.
The most notorious practitioners of this tradition are those of the royal family itself. Their lineage has been maintained through sibling marriage for more than seven hundred years, with the most magically- gifted children of each generation paired off for the next. The present God-Queen Tasherit and God-King Khayu are possessed of unearthly beauty, superlative theurgic powers, and spectacular mental instability. A layer of noble officials exists purely to ensure that the divine monarchs’ insanity does not harm the nation, but the occasional deranged demand must be satisfied to keep the rulers from inflicting terrible punishments on their people.
The people of the Oasis States were originally of a mixed Din and Akeh stock, but the centuries since have seen a vast array of different faces, shades, and shapes among them. The eugenic programs and the consequences of incestuous pairings have produced almost any conceivable configuration of humanity somewhere within the pyramids.
The dominant faith of the Oasis States is a form of ancestor worship combined with reverence for the God-Queen and God-King. Within the deeper passages of the pyramids, however, darker and stranger faiths can bloom. Some whisper that certain noble families seek to breed divinity itself from their lines, and that the unfortunate failures of their efforts are left to lair in the long-abandoned undertunnels.