Southern Desert

Hazards of the Southern Desert

Black Sand

Black sand is infused with shadowstuff and negative energy. A region of black sand literally swallows light; magical darkness rises to a height of 20 feet over the surface. Nothing short of a sunburst spell can disperse this darkness, and even then only for a period of 1 hour per caster level. In addition, creatures that come in contact with the sand take 1d4 points of damage per round from negative energy. Upon reaching 0 hit points, they crumble and join the black sand.

Devil Dunes

Devil Dunes are a strange form of aberration that look like sand dunes. They move at a rate of 60 feet a round and kill by enveloping and suffocating their prey.

Fey Oasis

A fey oasis always appears at dusk and disappears at dawn—taking with it anyone foolish enough to remain in the camp that long.


In certain locations in the waste, magical fi re falls from the sky like rain—a phenomenon that waste-dwellers call a flamestorm. Flamestorms occur somewhat more frequently than rainfall does in the desert, though they are hardly an everyday occurrence.


The terrible flaywind is feared throughout the planes. It propels sand with such velocity that it reduces a living creature to bare bones within hours, and exposed bone to fine powder in a matter of days.

Furnace Wind

In the unearthly heat of the Southern Desert, the wind is hot enough to ignite any flammable materials and dry up all water, even dessicate or cook living creatures.

Leech Salt Flats

A leech salt flat appears like any other salt flats, though it radiates a faint necromancy aura. Living creatures that travel across a leech salt flat require five times the usual daily allotment of fluids.

Mirror Sand

When ordinary sand mixes with deposits of tin or silver, and the resulting granules are polished by windblown dust to a mirror finish, the sand itself can reflect light—and heat. Travelers in the waste dread mirror sand, because it is extremely unsafe to cross in the daylight. In addition to raising the temperature by 20%, mirror sand effectively blinds anyone who gazes at it—sometimes permanently.


This dust is so fine that it can penetrate almost any fabric, clog machinery, and suffocate those that breath it.

Phantom Cities

Most mirages vanish when a viewer approaches them closely, but certain mirages persist even after the viewer has fully entered them. The most common of these are phantom cities—cities that appear completely real, but vanish as soon as the viewer departs the city’s border.

Phantom Voices

When the winds blow in the desert, it is easy to imagine that one can hear voices calling across the sands. This is a natural phenomenon. However, when the voices carry on conversations with a traveler, magic is at work.

Plains of Glass

Very high temperatures melt sand into glass. Lightning strokes from thunderstorms might produce a number of small glassy areas, and a volcano’s eruption can eject “bombs” of glass.

Red Seas

Mundane salt lakes can acquire a red hue from a combination of the dissolved minerals and microscopic creatures that thrive in this unlikely environment. However, a red sea is a far more exotic hazard. It is pure salt—not salt water—kept liquid through supernatural or magical power and given a bloodred color by the corrosion of metal in the rock it touches Immersion is deadly.


This substance, if encountered in the daytime, appears to be ordinary sand, albeit slightly darker than normal and cool to the touch. Even in subtropical and tropical climates, the temperature in an area covered by shadowsand rises only to about 70º F during the hottest part of the day. At night, the true nature of shadowsand becomes apparent. The temperature of the sand plunges to below 0º F, catching many desert dwellers unprepared for such severe cold.


Tiny nodules of glass can form in the splash of a meteorite impact or as the result of a supernatural collision. Such particles have extraordinarily smooth, slippery surfaces. For this reason, a field of slipsand is far more deadly than quicksand. The surface gives way readily under the slightest weight, swallowing up anything unfortunate enough to step on it. It is impossible to swim through or tread water in slipsand; a creature caught in it sinks to the bottom and begins to suffocate when it can no longer hold its breath

Slumber Sand

Appearing in patches up to 1d3×100 feet across, slumber sand is deceptively ordinary-looking sand. However, when characters walk or ride over it for 2d4 rounds, the passage of their feet (or their mounts’ feet) kicks up a soporific dust. Those who inhale this dust are affected as though by a sleep spell.


Though actual quicksand cannot exist in dry environments, softsand can provide a similar effect in completely dry terrain. Not nearly so deadly as slipsand, softsand is not actual sand, but extremely light, powdery dust. Generally scattered harmlessly about by desert winds, it can sometimes collect in pits shielded from the wind, where it looks like ordinary sand.

Wailing Waste

Where the winds blow constantly across the dunes, thin streams of sand pour from the dune tops with an eerie hum. Sometimes these singing sands are infused with a malevolent presence. Some claim that the spirits resent the presence of the living in their waste.

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