The Kurtulmak Desert is a vast expanse of life-choking sand dotted with sun-bleached bones, withered desert trees, and cryptic monuments to lost deities. Few are brave or foolhardy enough to cross the its blistering sands to travel between Grandévere and Scythia. Should a detour through the Republic of Tanais not be possible, the best way for a traveling party or caravan to cross the Kurtulmak is to travel light and hire a mage or a cleric to accompany them, no matter the cost. There are some small cities and oases in the desert, but the desert’s wildlife is so hostile and the environment is so caustic that few survive outside these bastions of life.
Tales of the Ancient Du’un suggest that the desert was once a rich, beautiful jungle landscape. It harbored animals and magical beasts of all varieties and was home to countless native kinds, but Cult of Kurtulmak is said to have disrupted the natural order and destroyed the mighty forests that they called their home. The cardinals of the Cult lusted so strongly for ever-greater power that their homeland was reduced to a barren wasteland by their avarice. The dark forces that they worshiped demanded living sacrifices of such magnitude that soon no life existed in their once-great home. So were the people of Kurtulmak reduced to a pathetic tribe of half-mad wanderers, cursed by the gods to forever wander the dunes in penance for their crimes.
Many dragonborn fled the Kurtulmak decades before the rise of the Du’un Empire to avoid enslavement at the hands of Rephaim, the devious leader of the Kurtulmak Cult. Some were tricked by the promises of wealth and power that the true dragons were tempted by under the reign of Sheol IV, but most escaped to the Muspelheim range in the north and the Scythian mountains in the southwest. Today, some dragonborn have returned to the warm sands of the desert and either prey on helpless travelers or help guide them across the desert. Though the dragonborn, like the true dragons, are not reptiles, they luxuriate in the sun’s searing rays as if they were enjoying a warm bath. Some dragonborn druids are close friends with the desert reptiles and join them in sunbathing on the wide, flat rocks near the desert’s rolling dunes.