No two deserts are alike, but the folk lost in them are all the same. What do they see? Deprivation. A challenge. A problem.
Deserts are not deprived. They’re not a problem. They’re a place, a home. Life has adapted to the offerings of the sands, but few accept this lesson willingly. They seek to scrounge up every drop of wealth and water, leaving those content with less to make do with nothing. So long as this truth remains? Deserts remain dangerous to us all.
The Gilded Saint
Amado Ahrizani was once like most desert folk. Raised alone in a city of scroungers, hoarders, and exploiters, he learned that the only way to live was by taking. And so he took—scraps of bread, then pocketfuls of gold, and finally, blood.
Soon, Amado’s Gilded Gang was formidable, raiding mineral convoys for their wealth. However, greed knows no satiation. In time, Ahrizani found himself betrayed by false friends, face-first in the sands, and miles from any place where his wealth mattered.
Then a curious hand reached out to Amado Ahrizani. She nursed his fever and fed his eager throat and belly. When his sense returned, she spoke to him about many things. She showed him wonders she had cultivated, and for the first time, Amado understood true wealth.
Ahrizani turned his skills and wicked fortune to cultivating the domain that his lady left him. He now teaches those lost in the desert, especially those whose hungers he must stop with gilded steel. He still gleams, from his weapons to the weave of his clothing, but now his smile is genuine and kind.
Use bandit captain stats for Ahrizani.
The Beggar’s Bounty
Rumors abound of Amado Ahrizani and his wondrous oasis, where not only sweet water, but a wealth of bloody gold can be plundered. There’s a degree of truth in this, as with all legends. There is an oasis with enough water to sustain his small community of followers and farmers. Ahrizani does keep his remaining gold there.
But his true treasures are the traveler’s palms, one of the druidic creations left by his Green Maiden. While Ahrizani’s gifts with nature are limited, he has invested in others to nurture these creations, in hopes that one day the desert will have no owners or masters, as his Maiden wished.
However, old enemies and younger bandits would plunder the oasis and sell all to the highest bidder. Would a traveling band of adventurers capitalize on the plunder or try to prevent it?
The oasis is protected by Ahrizani and other former bandits, as well as by its own plant residents, succulent saviors. As a last line of defense, brambles of carefully cultivated tumbleweeds litter any approach to the oasis but for one secret path. One explosive surprise is usually enough to painfully suppress careless invaders.
Succulent saviors are awakened cacti adorned with beautiful flowers that bloom with water-laten bulbs. These plants are so named because they bond with those who drink their waters, often people lost in the desert. The saviors guide lost travelers to safety, and sometimes choose to continue traveling with them if treated well.
Medium Plant, Typically Neutral Good
Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
Hit Points 30 (4d10 + 8)
Speed 20 ft.
|16 (+3)||8 (−1)||14 (+2)||10 (+0)||13 (+1)||7 (−2)|
Skills Athletics +5, Survival +3
Condition Immunities blinded
Senses blindsight 60ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Understands Common and Sylvan
Challenge 1/2 (100 XP) Proficiency Bonus +2
Spines. When a creature within 5 feet of the succulent savior hits it with a melee attack, it suffers 2 (1d4) piercing damage.
Gift of Water (1/day). The succulent savior gives water to a willing creature within 5 feet. Upon drinking, the creature regains 1d6 + 1 hp and also gains that many temporary hit points. While these temporary hit points persist, the creature benefits from the effects of the speak with plants spell and has advantage on Wisdom checks except for Wisdom (Perception), where it has disadvantage due to vivid hallucinations.
Needle Shot (Recharge 6). Creatures within a 15-foot cone must make a DC 11 Dexterity saving throw. On a failure, a creature takes 4d4 piercing damage. On a success, a creature takes half the damage. Until this action recharges, the succulent savior loses the effect of its Spines trait.
Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) bludgeoning damage and 2 (1d4) piercing damage.
The traveler’s gourd is prized by guards in desert lands who need to stay healthy and keep an edge on the unexpected dangers.
TRAVELER’S PALM GOURD
Wondrous Item, Uncommon
Each gourd holds 3 doses of nourishing liquid. Each dose provides enough water to satisfy a creature for 1 day. You gain additional benefits based on how many doses you’ve consumed in the last 24 hours. For effects with a limited duration, additional doses cannot produce the effect again until 24 hours have passed.
- At 1 dose, you gain the benefits of heroism at the start of your next turn in combat. These benefits last for 1 minute.
- At 2 doses, you also gain the benefits of enhance ability for Constitution. These benefits last for 1 hour.
- At 3 doses, you also gain the benefits of speak with plants for 24 hours.
Underground plant hazards include molds and fungus. In the desert, plant hazards can be more kinetic.
Bombardier tumbleweeds wander without need for a breeze, and a few have been known to escape the oasis. The tumbleweed moves up to 30 feet per round in a random direction on initiative count 20. Should one pass within 5 feet of a creature, the tumbleweed rams it and releases a burst of seed pods within a 20-foot radius. Each creature within the radius must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw. On a failure, a creature takes 10 (4d4) piercing damage and is incapacitated by terrible pain. On a success, a creature takes half damage and isn’t incapacitated. At the end of each of the creature’s turns, it may make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw. If it succeeds, the pain ends.
Find more strange desert monsters to round out this challenge in Tome of Beasts 3. Look for it on sale at Barnes & Noble booksellers in the U.S.!