Explore environments that can challenge even the most experienced desert dweller in Sandstorm, the latest supplement in the environmental series of D&D books. Information for both players and Dungeon Masters includes new races, spells, feats, magic items, prestige classes, and monsters associated with deserts and other wastelands. Also, as with Frostburn, read about specific types of terrain (such as supernatural wastes) plus the hazards associated with them. Our sneak peek includes a look at the formation of waste environments, races and feats, prestige classes, spells, and a new creature.
Races and Feats of the Waste
The waste forces adjustment in the lives of any people who dare settle its forbidding climes. Every race is affected by social changes brought on by life in the waste, even if only for the duration of a short stay. The bodies of waste-dwellers also change. Most of the time this change is physiological, as with the badlands dwarves and the painted elves, but sometimes it's magical, as with the half-orcs of the scablands, or "scab-orcs." The races of the waste fall into two broad groups: native races and settler races.
Native races include subraces of some of the common races of the D&D game. These subraces have adapted to the arid environment -- in this case, the badlands dwarves, painted elves, and scab-orcs. In addition, two new races, the asheratis and the bhukas, have their own cultural and ecological niches in the wastes.
Settler races include all the common races described in the Player's Handbook, as well as some of the more common evil humanoids, such as hobgoblins, bugbears, and gnolls. While they lack the special adaptations of native races, these people either have overcome their disadvantages (whether through magic or ingenuity) or are simply too stubborn to leave. What keeps them around might be the promise of easy prey among the subsistence communities of native races, some special resource that they particularly prize, or merely the protection provided by the remoteness of the locale, but the settler races have come to stay, and they aren't likely to be dissuaded by an occasional setback.
An asherati might be mistaken for a thin human under some circumstances -- at least until the asherati's rust-red skin begins to glow with a light all its own, or until he dives headlong into the nearest sand dune, disappearing without a trace.
Asheratis are a geographically established people who live below the sands and dusts of suitable wastelands, rising to the surface to hunt for food, socialize and trade with other races, and make war upon their enemies. As merfolk are to the sea, asheratis are to the sands.
The bhukas are an offshoot of the goblinoid people and claim to be descended from the first inhabitants of the world. They are consummate survivors of the waste, having a talent for finding water and many physical adaptations that allow them to function in a harsh environment. Their culture celebrates and preserves ancestral ways of living.
Scablands Half-Orcs ("Scab-Orcs")
Half-orcs are found in nearly every terrain the waste has to offer, and they are particularly common in the mountains and deserts. Indeed, many bands of mountain raiders are composed of half-orcs, and half-orc nomads are the most eager of all nomads in the waste to raid other camps for supplies.
Because of their reputation among the more civilized folk of the waste, half-orcs are often barred from trading, which forces them to make do with whatever tools and weapons they can construct for themselves. This draws many half-orcs to the scablands, where the razor rocks make for excellent axe blades and armor spikes. These half-orcs have come to be known as scab-orcs.
Scab-orcs are identical to the half-orcs detailed in the Player's Handbook, except as noted below.
Scab-orcs have low-light vision rather than darkvision.
A scab-orc can go without water for two days (48 hours), plus a number of hours equal to his Constitution score, before beginning to experience the ill effects of thirst (see Dehydration).
Heat Endurance: Scab-orcs gain Heat Endurance (see New Feats) as a bonus feat.
Although these new feats are generally the most useful in the waste, many of them retain their utility in other terrains. Here are a few sample feats from the book:
When you enter your rage, your body becomes infused with fire.
Prerequisite: Ability to rage.
Benefit: As long as you are under the effects of a rage, you gain the fire subtype. You gain immunity to fire, but have vulnerability to cold, which means you take +50% damage from cold, regardless of whether a saving throw is allowed, or if the save is a success or failure.
Either as a result of growing up in the waste, or by training your body and mind to ignore the effects of searing heat, you can exist with ease in high-temperature environments.
Prerequisite: Base Fortitude save +2.
Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus on saving throws against fire effects. You can exist comfortably in temperatures up to 120° F without having to make Fortitude saves (see Heat Dangers). Your protection against heat is level 1 (see Protection against Heat).
Light of Aurifar
Undead that you turn or rebuke immolate.
Prerequisites: Ability to turn or rebuke undead, access to either the Fire or Sun domain.
Benefit: Any undead that you successfully turn or rebuke take 2d6 points of fire damage in addition to the normal turning or rebuking effect.
Having observed the ways of a desert viper, you have learned to use ki in a fashion similar to poison.
Prerequisites: Wis 15, Improved Initiative, Improved Unarmed Strike, Stunning Fist.
Benefit: You must declare that you are using this feat before you make your attack roll (thus, a failed attack roll ruins the attempt). By expending one of your Stunning Fist uses for the day, you imbue your next unarmed attack with disruptive ki that mimics the effects of mild viper venom.
If that attack hits, it deals normal damage and forces the target to make a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + 1/2 your character level + your Wis modifier). A creature that fails the saving throw takes 1d3 points of Constitution damage and must make a similar saving throw 1 minute later or take another 1d3 points of Constitution damage. This feat can be used only once per round.
Special: A fighter may select Rattlesnake Strike as one of his fighter bonus feats.
You are able to project your ki to strike foes as though you had extended reach.
Prerequisite: Wis 15, Improved Unarmed Strike, Stunning Fist.
Benefit: You must declare that you are using this feat before you make your attack roll (thus, a failed attack roll ruins the attempt). By expending one Stunning Fist use for the day, you can project your ki to strike an opponent that is 5 feet beyond your normal unarmed reach. If the blow hits, it deals normal unarmed damage. This feat can be used only once per round.
Special: Monks can use special monk weapons when using this feat, dealing damage according to the weapon.