Excerpts 03/04/2005

Sandstorm Excerpt
By Bruce R. Cordell, Jennifer Clarke-Wilkes, JD Wiker

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.

An ashworm dragoon

Large Magical Beast
Hit Dice: 3d10+9 (25 hp)
Initiative: +0
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares), burrow 30 ft., climb 5 ft.
Armor Class: 14 (-1 size, +5 natural), touch 9, flat-footed 14
Base Attack/Grapple: +3/+12
Attack: Sting +7 melee (1d6+7 plus poison)
Full Attack: Sting +7 melee (1d6+7 plus poison)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Poison
Special Qualities: Evasive diver, tremorsense 60 ft.
Saves: Fort +6, Ref +5, Will +2
Abilities: Str 21, Dex 10, Con 17, Int 1, Wis 13, Cha 6
Skills: Climb +16, Listen +6, Spot +3
Feats: Alertness, Lightning Reflexes
Environment: Warm deserts or plains
Organization: Solitary, cluster (2-4), or herd (6-30)
Challenge Rating: 2
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: 4-6 HD (Large); 7-9 HD (Huge)
Level Adjustment: --

This large, eyeless worm is as big as a horse. It is covered in a thin chitinous layer of pale purple plates. A nasty stinger quivers at the end of its tail.

Wild ashworms are distant cousins to the purple worm, but not nearly as large or aggressive (nor able to gulp down prey in a single mouthful). Traveling in vast herds both above and below the desert sands, the sound of a herd's approach is akin to thunder. As a result, ashworms are sometimes called thunder herders.

Ashworms are sometimes caught and trained as mounts, though a trainer clips off the dangerous stinger. Ashworms can be induced to travel on the sand's surface (or even packed earth or stone) exclusively by a skilled rider. However, the rider must succeed on a DC 15 Ride check once every 24 hours if in a sandy environment or be swept off the back of the ashworm as it dives below the surface for 1d4 rounds before returning to the surface. Expert riders who put up with this behavior are somewhat mollified by the ashworm's ability to secrete a substance that allows it to stick to vertical surfaces; a rider securely strapped to an ashworm's back can climb up walls or other impediments with his mount, albeit slowly. An ashworm is hard to control in combat (see Mounted Combat, page 157 of the Player's Handbook), unless it belongs to an ashworm dragoon (see page 66).

Carrying Capacity: A light load for an ashworm is up to 500 pounds; a medium load, up to 900 pounds; and a heavy load, up to 1,400 pounds. An ashworm can drag 6,900 pounds.


Ashworms hunt prey from beneath the sand, then rise to confront their targets. In battle, an ashworm forms into a coil, stinging anything in reach.

Poison (Ex): Injury, Fortitude DC 14, initial and secondary damage 2d6 Str. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Evasive Diver (Ex): In areas of sand (not packed earth or stone), the ashworm feels more secure because of its evasive diver ability. If the ashworm makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, the ashworm instead manages to instantly dive below the protective sand or earth and takes no damage.

An ashworm's rider might be swept from the ashworm's back unless it makes a DC 15 Reflex save when the ashworm dives below the sand. If the rider fails this save, it is swept from the ashworm's back. Particularly skilled riders, such as ashworm dragoons with the sand rider ability, go along for the dive and also take no damage from the effect that prompted the ashworm's Reflex save.

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