Shem is divided into broad regions: the western coastal areas are barely fertile and provide some meager agriculture, and the vast eastern expanse of desert, teeming to where the border is meaningless. To the north are the mountain ranges that separate it from Argos, and its southern border is made of the mighty Styx river, separating it from Stygia.
The center of Shem is largely grassy plains, and here are vast herds of sheep, goats, and as one goes to the east the land grows scarcer and less overgrown, until it is eventually nothing but desert as far as one rides, an immense expanse upon which are dotted independent cities and ancient ruins, still and empty, cloaked in mystery and horror.
The Shemitish people are largely divided into two groups: “meadow” and “desert” Shemites, with the meadow people on the more fertile western and central reaches and river coasts and the desert folk inhabiting the eastern desert teeming to where the border is meaningless.
Most Shemites — desert and meadow — are tribal in nature, with strong ties to family and dynastic rule of the few cities within the country. Though they are no more or less honest as a people than any other, they are famed for covetousness and duplicity, called liars and merciless killers by others. One of the most famous weapons of their people is the Shemite composite bow, with which they can kill at a range of five hundred yards. Shemite mercenaries are famed throughout the Hyborian lands, and command a high price for their services.
The desert Shemites are primarily nomadic, and travel in groups rather than constructing cities. In the deserts and plains of Shem, oases tend to be just as important as towns. However, as a major crossroads of landward trade, even the deserts of Shem boast several population centers to cater to merchants and caravans. Shem has been both empire and subject, once a vassal state to Stygia but no longer,
One of Shem’s most notable cities is Akbitana, southwest of Khoraja in the mountain ranges. This city’s famous smiths use volcanic ore to create the finest steel and weapons in all the Hyborian kingdoms.