The Burning Sands, also known in the Rokugani tongue as the Yakeru yoni Atsui, was the name given to the great arid area to the north and west of the Empire of Rokugan. The Unicorn Clan, called the Ki-Rin Clan before it left its homeland behind, originally set out from Rokugan soon after its founding to explore this region of the Mortal Realm and determine if its inhabitants presented any danger to the people of the Emerald Empire. The Burning Sands was a merciless and lethal place, unlike any environment known in the Empire. The Scorpion Clan, too, would eventually be banished from Rokugan, its members forced to eke out existences for themselves in this difficult region of the world. The destinies of the Burning Sands and Rokugan have always been intertwined, though this reality has only become clear in recent years.
The Burning Sands were said to have once been a lush and fertile land, until the region was cursed by Shilah, the Lady Sun, during the Day of Wrath. In that cataclysmic event, only the Nahr'umar river survived. The sands of the region still surged with residual energies that originated on that day.  Even part of the desert was previously an ocean. 
There were many factions, cultures, and other groups of interest within the Burning Sands, such as the Senpet, Yodotai, Khadi, Ashalan, Qabal, Ra'Shari, Assassins, Jackals, Ebonites, Qolat, and the Caliphate of Medinaat Al-Salaam.
Medinat al-Salaam Edit
The largest city in the Burning Sands was Medinaat al-Salaam, the City of Peace. It was controlled for centuries by an extremely powerful Caliph named Hanan Talibah, who possessed great magical powers and near immortality. Her will was enforced by heartless sorcerers called the Khadi. Medinat al-Salaam was a centre of intrigue and warfare, and a cultural crossroads. With the death of Hanan Talibah, political rule once again returned to a balance that the city had not known in centuries - a Sultan that wrote the laws, and a Caliph that enforced them.
The Qolat Edit
The Qolat in particular were very powerful in the Burning Sands, mostly through the merchant Houses of Dahab.
The Qabal Edit
The Qabal was a society of sorcerers that existed in Medinaat al-Salaam since before the rise of the Immortal Caliph, Hanan Talibah. The Qabal opposed Hanan Talibah and tried to lift sanctions imposed on the practice of magic, as well as leading the only substantial rebellion to her power. During this rebellion the Qabal suffered substantial defeat, driving the organization underground for hundreds of years. Since the death of the Caliph Hanan, The Qabal once again opened their doors to any who would wished to learn the magic of the sahir. The Qabal was suffering from internal division; The traditionalists who still wished to operate secretly (having experienced the dangers of operating openly under the Immortal Caliph), and those who wished to operate openly in the new climate of Medinaat al-Salaam. 
The Senpet Edit
The Senpet were a powerful and rigidly organised empire, with strong trade and political links with Medinat al-Salaam. The Senpet army was remarkably well-trained, and utilized powerful War Chariots. Another such powerful empire, and a newcomer to the region, was the Yodotai empire, which crushed the Senpet in a lengthy and bloody 20 years war, from 1130 to 1150. The Senpet was absorbed by the Yodotai Empire, but about half of its most elite forces went into hiding and led a guerrilla war against the Yodotai. In the Medinaat Al-Salaam, surviving Senpet leaders such as Kesseth, plotted against the invaders, hiding within the local Senpet population, a mixed of refugees, Yodotai collaborators and families settled from the time of Caliph Hanan.
The Moto Edit
A Moto Clan, whose ancestors were a group similar to the original Unicorn Clan Moto family known as the Ujik-hai, also roamed the Burning Sands. Recent contact between the two Moto groups following the release of Lady Shinjo from her imprisonment led to the Moto taking leadership of the Unicorn Clan.
The Yodotai Edit
The Yodotai had been busy digesting their conquest of the Senpet, but they were fascinated by Medinaat Al-Salaam. They had an embassy in the city, which was the most impressive building after the palace of the Sultan and the Caliph. They also took over the Senpet garrison buildings in the city and had a significant force of legionnaires stationed there. At the time, their forces were not ready to make a move towards taking control of the Burning Sands, but it was only a matter of time before they turned their attention to Medinaat Al-Salaam and ultimately to the Emerald Empire of Rokugan itself.
The Assassins Edit
A sect of killers dedicated to fighting Caliph Hanan's hated Khadis, the Assassins were led by the Old Man of the Mountain, the son of the murdered Sultan. He had been the lover of Hanan and was manipulated into killing his own father. The only witness was his father's mistress, the Ra'Shari often called the Grey Woman. She cursed him with immortality, condemning him to have healthy daughters and to survivie his sickly and short lived sons. The Old Man used the curse as incentive fighting his former lover and avenging his father. His daughters (and some of his least crippled sons) were trained as ruthless killers, dedicated to undermining the Caliphate. This vendetta ended in 1132 with the deaths of the Immortal Caliph and of the Old Man himself, assassinated by his eldest daughter Fatima. His adoptive daughter and heir Adira, became Caliph. This led to a split in the Assassins. A third followed Adira and became the master spies and executioners of the new dynasty. Another third remained with another sister and kept fighting the Caliphate. The last third, mainly males, followed the only sound son of the Old Man. That son became a Qolat master and used them as killers against other Qolats.
Religious groups and secret societies were also very active and independent, ranging from the necromancer Jackal cult to the Ebon Hand sect. Nomads other than the Moto included the Ra'Shari gypsies.
On occasion Rokugani have entered the Burning Sands. The first time was when the Ki-Rin set out to explore the lands around Rokugan. For almost eight hundred years they sojourned, returning later as the Unicorn Clan. In more recent times the Scorpion Clan were banished here by the Emerald Champion Kakita Toshimoko when it was believed that they had kidnapped Emperor Toturi I. Even though the exile was shortlived, many Scorpion lost their lives there.
- Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game, Third Edition, p. 307
- Legend of the Burning Sands Roleplaying Game Chapters 2-9
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