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Death Among the Dunes: Desert Monsters

Death Among the Dunes: Desert Monsters


With their punishing climate and near-total lack of precious water, deserts are one of the most hostile environments in existence. Those who spend enough time among the desert sands know that some monsters can thrive even in these hellish wastes. Such creatures are feared and respected by wise adventurers, for they are invariably predatory and deadly—a consequence of evolving in a place where the most reliable source of life-giving water is a fresh corpse.

The Ever-Thirsting

Thirst is a deadly and ever-present threat to desert travelers. Very little water can be found among the dunes, and some foolish souls fail to adequately supply themselves with it before beginning their journeys. Such travelers are never heard from again, and their personal effects and sand-flayed corpses often litter the desert sands for centuries before they’re discovered.

Not everyone who dies of thirst in the desert remains in a sandy grave, however. Some desert explorers, for reasons ranging from sheer greed to a desire to see their loved ones again, possess a will to live so strong that a spark of it remains in their desiccated corpses. This remnant of the primal survival instinct eventually causes the corpse to rise from the sands, shambling across the desert in an endless search for water that can no longer sustain it—water sucked from the bodies of other desert travelers. The terrified survivors of such attacks call these beings the ever-thirsting.

Ever-thirsting attack in packs, despite the fact that individual ever-thirsting often rise from different graves, sometimes separated by many miles. How these mindless beings find each other among hundreds of miles of desert is not known. Their main attack is a vicious bite, instinctively aimed wherever it will cause the most blood loss. Their own desiccated nature also serves as a weapon, for their sand-like blood sprays from their wounds with enough force to flay a man’s skin off. Once they’ve killed their prey, ever-thirsting sate their unnatural thirsts by meticulously sucking the corpse dry of water through its open wounds.

The Ever-Thirsting     CR 1
XP 400
N Medium undead
Init –1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0

AC 10, touch 9, flat-footed 9 (–1 Dex, +1 natural)
hp 16 (2d8 + 7)
Fort +2, Ref –1, Will +2
Immune undead traits

Speed 20 ft.
Melee bite +3 (1d6 + 3)
Special Attacks sandblast

Str 14, Dex 8, Con —, Int —, Wis 10, Cha 14
Base Attack +1; CMB +3; CMD 12
Feats Toughness

Environment hot deserts
Organization packs (3–20 members)
Treasure none

Sandblast (Su) As an immediate action after taking damage, an ever-thirsting can cause a sandblast to erupt from its body. The sandblast functions as a breath weapon (10-ft. cone; 1d10 damage; Reflex DC 13). The save DC is Constitution-based.

Simple pack attacks are as complicated as ever-thirsting tactics get, with several ever-thirsting targeting individual party members and biting them en masse. While they have enough of a survival instinct to hunt for water, they are heedless of pain or danger, and they will fight to the death.

Blood Snake Stats

Blood Snake     CR 5
XP 1,600
N Medium animal (earth)
Init +1; Senses low-light vision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft.; Perception +7

AC 18, touch 11, flat-footed 17 (+1 Dex, +7 natural)
hp 52 (7d8 + 21)
Fort +7, Ref +5, Will +3
Resist fire 10

Speed 30 ft., burrow 30 ft.
Melee bite +8 (1d6 + 4 plus poison)

Str 16, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 1, Wis 14, Cha 1
Base Attack +5; CMB +8, CMD 19 (cannot be tripped)
Feats Alertness, Lightning Reflexes, Stealthy
Skills Escape Artist +4, Perception +7, Stealth +7

Environment hot deserts
Organization solitary or pair
Treasure none

Poison (Ex) Bite—injury; save Fort DC 16; frequency 1/round; effect helpless. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Sandswallow (Ex) A blood snake can use this power to burrow under the desert sand. It gains concealment (DC 20 Perception check to detect) and can make a Stealth check as an immediate action after using this power.

A blood snake always starts its attack while hidden by using sandswallow, relying on the element of surprise to deliver the first bite attack. After its victim is paralyzed, the snake delivers coup de grace bite attacks until it consumes the victim’s heart, which occurs with the attack that kills the victim.

3 thoughts on “Death Among the Dunes: Desert Monsters”

  1. Well done on this one Chris. I like the ecology, I like the sand blasting ability, I like that its a CR1 zombie pack with a major twist. This is allot better then your first offering which suffers in part from a lack luster name.

  2. I was actually enjoying the 4E support in the first article. Any chance you’d consider the stats in both 4E and Pathfinder in future posts? Either way, as a DM of an Al-Qadim campaign, I’m loving the desert monsters!

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