The lands around the Mos Shuuta mesa may, at first glance, just look like the rest of Tatooine… arid, featureless desert, but like the rest of the planet, looks can be very deceiving.
The Mos Shuuta mesa is a rocky outcropping, roughly 500m by 1000 metres in size, in a roughly kidney shaped formation, formed millennia ago when ancient glaciers scoured the softer rocks away from the ore bearing mesa stone. As the centuries have passed, earthquakes, and wind erosion have helped to level the mesa’s surface, and also make its cliff sides, that jut over 100 metres above the valley floor, into sheer, almost unscalable cliffs of jagged, knife edged rock, Anyone foolish enough to attempt to climb the vertical rock faces is exposed to the dangers of the Tatooine winds, where sudden gusts can slam you hard against the stone, and press you there, pushing the air from your lungs. Or the wind might whip up from beneath you, threatening to pull you away from the scant few hand holds, bringing sand with it to blind you.
In several places, weaker stones within the mesa’s mass have crumbled away, leaving isolated pillars, that are now linked by fragile rock archways, or by rickety and unreliable man-made bridges. At constant risk of further collapse, and thus with an ever present threat of being stranded, only the poorest of Mos Shuuta’s residents life in these slums.
Only one safe path leads up onto the mesa, a steep slope that winds its way around the south west corner of the bluff, leading up from the valley floor to the large electrogate and adobe walls that form the mesa’s secure entry point. Probably intentionally, Teemo the Hutt’s palace looms above the path as it hugs the cliff face, giving his guards the first view of all incoming and outgoing landspeeders. The path is just wide enough for the heavier models of landspeeders used by the remote moisture farms to transport their precious cargo.
Over the years, there have been many travellers left stranded outside the electrogate, and a few smaller settlements have grown around the base of the mesa, generally close to the ramp, where the can beg for a few credits from other travellers. Amid the rubble of adobe walls, metallic roofs scavenged from broken down vehicles, and canvas tents made from scraps of sailbarge fabric, there is a thriving community of vagrants and jawa traders. Unrestricted by the Hutt’s control of the items for sale, in this downtrodden blackmarket you’ll find less legal and more dangerous goods, but be careful, because flashing too many credits around will make you a target for the desperate individuals that call the tent city home.
Further afield from the mesa, towards the north, towards Mos Espa and Mos Eisley, is a vague path, it’s boundary obvious due to the clear ground, blown free of small rocks by landspeeder repulsor lifts. Alongside this path are a group of rocky upthrusts, veins of ore embedded into ancient rock, that haven’t weathered the centuries as well as the mesa. Amid these small rock formations, the shadows lengthen, and there is no telling what creatures hide amongst the jagged stone, waiting, lurking, for travellers to rest here in the shade at the height of the twin suns over head.
Looking out from the mesa to the west, you can see the heat shimmer off the Silt Sea, a vast bowl shaped depression in Tatooines surface, caused thousands of years ago by a meteor impact. As the centuries have passed, the resulting crater has filled in with wind wept sand. Up close, it looks much like the rest of the valley, flat and featureless, dunes giving way to a faint line of rocks, and then sand for as far as the eye can see. But step onto the sand, and you’ll soon learn of its danger. The finer, recent accumulations of sand swallow you quickly, dropping you waist deep, but then your feet touch the semi solid mass of silt, a mixture of ancient ground up rock and seeping moisture from the cool desert nights. As your body gets dragged into the thick mud, and you fight to escape, your actions are in fact your death sentence, the silt and sand mixing and setting as solid as blaststeel.
Head the other way, away from the mesa to the east, and you find a group of moisture farms, a conglomerate of families who call themselves the Free People of the Black Valley. Its unclear if they are truly a group unbeholden to any third parties for their equipment and food, but what is clear is that used to be more of them. Several empty farmsteads dot the landscape, their vaporators left running, controlled remotely, and piping the precious condensation to the occupied farms. Of the 5 families left, 3 life together in one set of underground caves, their landspeeders set in a defensive perimeter, and armed with heavy repeater blaster rifles, enough to discourage all but the most dedicated Tusken Raider attack.
South of Mos Shuuta are the plains of Magellenan, named after an infamous Mos Shuutan bantha herder and hunter. Even decades after his passing, crushed to death during a stampede, the gentle giants of the Tatooine sands – bantha, eopies, dewbacks and even ronto – roam the wide sandy plains, grazing on the native flora. The plains are a popular place to hunt animals for food, or to gather the otherwise sparse desert plant life such as cookies leaves, but doing so puts you at risk of encountering the sand people who now roam this area tending the creatures.