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Death Among the Dunes: Desert Monsters (The Savage Sands)

Death Among the Dunes: Desert Monsters (The Savage Sands)

DunesWith 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 Savage Sands

Sandstorms are some of the most dangerous weather phenomena desert expeditions can encounter. Severe sandstorms can flay unsheltered travelers alive, and even minor storms can halt an expedition’s progress for days, stranding its members in a hostile environment.

One type of sandstorm, called the savage sands, is particularly feared by desert travelers. According to legend, it’s an intelligent sandstorm that preys on desert expeditions, enveloping their campsites and leaving not even its victims’ bones behind.

All legends have some truth to them, and the savage sands are no exception. A predatory intelligence does guide this type of storm. The intelligence lies not within the storm itself, but within a terrifying beast at its center—a 10-ft.-tall spider with eight red eyes and a body as black as night. It walks on eight spear-like legs, each of which can impale a human. The beast’s deadliest weapon is its caustic venom, deliverable through both its mandibles and its legs. A single dose can reduce a human to a pile of organic sludge, which the spider then drinks for sustenance—the true reason the savage sands leave behind nothing of their victims.

Savage Sands                        CR 12

XP 19,200
N Large Vermin (Earth)
Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +5

AC 23, touch 15, flat-footed 17 (+5 Dex, –1 size, +8 natural, +1 dodge)
HP 161 (17d8 + 85)
Fort +14, Ref +12, Will +8
Immune fire, poison

Speed 40 ft.
Melee bite +16 (1d8 + 4 plus poison), 4 leg stings +16 (1d6 + 4 plus poison)

Str 18, Dex 20, Con 18, Int 1, Wis 16, Cha 1
Base Attack +12; CMB +17; CMD 32 (44 against being tripped)
Feats Acrobatic Steps, Dodge, Fleet, Lightning Reflexes, Lunge, Mobility, Nimble Moves, Step Up, Toughness
Skills Climb +9, Perception +5, Survival +13
SQ vermin traits

Environment hot deserts
Organization solitary
Treasure none

Poison (Ex) Bite or leg sting—injury; save Fort DC 23; frequency 1/round; effect 1d6 Con damage (targets reduced to 0 Con dissolve into sludge); cure 3 consecutive saves

Sandstorm (Su) Cyclone 30 ft. wide at base, 90 ft. wide at top, and 90 ft. tall; Fort save DC 24 (4d6 damage on failure) for everyone in contact with effect

Web (Ex) +17 ranged (eight times per day; maximum range 50 ft., range increment 10 ft.; escape/break DC 23, 17 hp, DR 5/-)


Savage sands always attack under the cover of a sandstorm. They attempt to quickly eliminate every target with poison attacks, using web to incapacitate distant targets until they can reach them.

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