Far Corners of the World09/21/2002

Sand and Sun: Magic Items of the Desert

Although the desert is a cruel and inhospitable place, magic makes exploration of its secret dunes and empty wastes not only possible, but in many cases, almost comfortable. Items like the robe of the burning lands, the cactus cloak, and the ring of sand are much sought after rarities for adventurers who find themselves with a need to delve deeply into the desert. Unfortunately for the traveler, the desert harbors just as many offensive magic creations that find their way into the hands of its inhabitants. Items like the sand of ruin, sand of the ages, scimitar of stonestriking, and the glass of entombing have often given the denizens of the desert just the edge they need to defeat unwanted intrusions of adventurers. Of course, if an adventurer can weather these magical attacks, he or she can often claim these mighty treasures as his or her own.

Although many of these items retain their usefulness outside of desert environs, they rarely should be encountered outside of the sandy wastes of the desert, for the secrets of their creation are jealously guarded by the denizens therein.

Cactus Cloak: Hundreds of tiny cactus needles cover the green cactus cloak. When worn, the cloak moves and flows so that its wearer never need fear being pricked by the needles. The cactus cloak acts as masterwork armor spikes, even if the wearer isn't wearing armor. When used as armor spikes, the wearer gains proficiency in their use. They do 1d6 points of piercing damage (x2 crit) on a successful grapple and count as a light weapon when used as a melee weapon (see Armor Descriptions in Chapter 7 of the Player's Handbook). Once per day, the wearer can whip the cloak in a chosen direction and fire a volley of needles. This volley of needles fills a 30-foot-long cone; all creatures in this area must make a Reflex save (DC 17) or suffer 9d6 points of piercing damage. This damage is physical and is subject to damage reduction. Those who succeed at the saving throw take half damage.

Also, by wrapping the cloak about the body, the wearer can assume the shape of a Medium-size cactus; doing so is a standard action. The wearer can remain in cactus form for up to 9 hours. Once deactivated, this power cannot be activated again for 24 hours. The closest inspection cannot reveal that the cactus is anything other than a normal cactus, unless magic such as detect magic or true seeing is used. While in cactus form, the wearer can observe all that transpires around him as if he were in his normal form. The wearer's hit points and saving throws are unaffected. A wearer gains a +10 natural armor bonus to AC but has an effective Dexterity score of 1. The wearer is also immune to critical hits while in cactus form, and all clothing and gear carried or worn changes with him. The wearer can dismiss the cactus form as a free action.

Caster Level: 9th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, spike growth, tree shape, creation must occur in a desert; Market Price: 24,700 gp; Weight: 2 lb.

Glass of Entombing: Only a few potent and terrible glass of entombing devices are rumored to exist; most of them belong to cruel despots of desert empires or powerful genies. A glass of entombing is a 1-foot-high crystalline hourglass set within a framework of wood and bone. The sands of the glass are golden and quite fine. It keeps perfect time; the sands take precisely an hour to drain from the upper container into the lower one. A glass of entombing must be attuned to an owner before it can be used; this requires the owner to meditate before the glass for 1 hour while she concentrates upon the sand flowing through the device. Once the glass is attuned, the owner gains the spell-like ability to cast a dune tomb spell (see Far Corners of the World: Spells of the Desert) once per day, as long as she remains on the same plane as her glass of entombing. Unlike the spell, she can target only one creature with each casting of the spell, but that creature need not be in contact with a sand dune. If the target succumbs to the spell, it is instead reduced in size and magically imprisoned in the sands of the glass of entombing. Once a creature is imprisoned, the glass flips over so the sand is in the upper receptacle, but the sand does not begin to drain into the lower receptacle. As long as the owner of the glass does not ask any questions of the imprisoned creature, the sand remains frozen in time and the victim remains trapped. While trapped, the victim is completely mobile and can wander the seemingly endless and lifeless dunes trapped in the glass. The victim does not age or suffer damage, and it cannot harm itself whatsoever. Nevertheless, the victim's thirst and hunger continue to grow in its mind (even though it cannot die of thirst or starvation), and the terrible loneliness of the eternal desert within the glass preys upon its mind and causes Wisdom damage as if it were under the effects of a dune tomb spell. (Each day that passes after the initial entombing, a victim must make a Will save (DC 21) or suffer 1 point of permanent Wisdom drain as its mind slowly begins to fall apart under the strain.)

As with the dune tomb spell, the caster can mentally communicate with the entombed victim (as with a sending spell). For the duration of this communication, the sand runs normally. Thus, the owner of the glass can communicate with her prisoner for up to an hour before the sand runs out. Once the sand runs out, or once the owner is slain, the imprisoned creature is immediately transported back to the location it was at just before it became entombed. A creature trapped in a glass of entombing is also released if the glass's owner traps a new creature in it, or if the glass itself is destroyed. Destroying a glass of entombing can be difficult, for it has hardness 25 and 150 hit points. As long as the item has hit points left, any damage done to a glass of entombing can be repaired by inverting the glass and allowing the sands to run out the hour; naturally, the glass cannot be so repaired if it is currently imprisoning a victim.

Caster Level: 15th; Prerequisites: Craft (glassblowing) 15 ranks, Craft Wondrous Item, dune tomb, sending; Market Price: 144,000 gp; Weight: 10 lb.

Ring of Sand: A ring of sand is a rough circlet of sandstone shot through with reds and yellows and oranges. This ring allows the wearer to pass over sand, gravel, or loose soil without leaving a trail. Tracking the subject is impossible by nonmagical means. The wearer of a ring of sand can also merge with any amount of gravel or sand large enough to hide his body completely, in a manner identical to that granted by a meld into stone spell. The wearer can maintain this condition for up to 2 hours, although he cannot move while melded with the sand. Finally, up to three times per day the wearer can use its dimension door effect, provided that the point of initiation and the destination are connected by a continuous reach of sand. When this power activates, the wearer of the ring appears to melt away into sand and then reform at the destination point.

Caster Level: 12th; Prerequisites: Forge Ring, dimension door, meld into stone, pass without trace; Market Price: 139,200 gp; Weight: --.

Robe of the Burning Lands: The robe of the burning lands is a thin robe that seems to be fashioned of opalescent silks and thin strands of gold wire, but nevertheless it is quite light. In fact, the robe of the burning lands is shockingly comfortable to wear. While worn, the robe protects the wearer from heat by granting her fire resistance 12. High temperatures hold no danger for someone wearing a robe of the burning lands. Additionally, the robe contains two deep pockets -- one on each hip. The left pocket can produce enough food for one person for one day, while the right is waterproof and can produce enough water for one person for three days (or for one day in hot climates such as a desert). Finally, a person wearing a robe of the burning lands always knows the direction of north from her current position. Determining the direction of north is a free action.

Caster Level: 5th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, create food and water, know direction, resist elements; Market Price: 29,500 gp; Weight: 1 lb.

Sand of the Ages: Sand of the ages shimmers and sparkles with a faint prismatic radiance. In truth, this sand consists of the pulverized fossils of ancient creatures. When a handful of this sand is poured upon the ground, it instantly transforms into an exceptionally strong and healthy dinosaur or dire animal. The creature immediately attacks any target indicated by its creator. If there are no targets to attack, it can be commanded to guard a particular area from intrusion. Once called up from the sand of the ages, the creature persists for 8 hours or until it is slain; once either of these conditions are met it crumbles into nonmagic sand.

There are three varieties of sand of the ages. Red sand of the ages summons a deinonychus or a dire ape. Golden sand of the ages summons a dire lion or a megaraptor. Black sand of the ages summons a dire tiger or a tyrannosaurus. Creatures summoned by sand of the ages gain a +4 enhancement bonus to their Strength and Constitution scores.

Caster Level: 5th (red), 9th (golden), 13th (black); Prerequisites:summon nature's ally III (red), summon nature's ally V (golden), summon nature's ally VII (black), Craft Wondrous Item; Market Price: 1,500 gp (red), 4,500 gp (golden), or 9,100 gp (black); Weight: --.

Sand of Ruin: The sand of ruin is a white sand with amazingly fine grains. It is carried in small pouches that can be thrown as grenade-like missiles with a range increment of 10 feet. Upon striking a solid surface, the pouch bursts and the sand within fills a 10-foot-radius spread. All living creatures caught within this spread must make a Fortitude save (DC 22) or turn to stone. All constructs caught in the spread must make a Reflex save (DC 22) or suffer 15d6 points of damage as they suffer the effects of accelerated erosion; this damage penetrates any damage reduction. Those who succeed at the saving throw take half damage.

Caster Level: 15th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, disintegrate, flesh to stone; Market Price: 12,000 gp; Weight: --.

Scimitar of Stonestriking: The powerful scimitar of stonestriking looks like it was carved entirely out of a single piece of granite. Despite this appearance, it is a dangerous weapon and functions as a +3 keen scimitar. The scimitar of stonestriking is particularly effective against creatures made of stone or earth (including stone golems, clay golems, and any creatures with the Earth subtype). Against such creatures, the scimitar does +2d6 points of additional damage on a successful hit and penetrates any damage reduction the creature may have. The scimitar's most terrible power, however, functions only against living creatures. If it scores a critical hit (which is a natural result of 15-20) on such a creature, the creature must make a Fortitude saving throw (DC 19) or turn to stone. If the creature resists, it still suffers the critical damage. If a petrified creature is struck with a scimitar of stonestriking, the creature shatters into a thousand pieces and is slain.

Caster Level: 11th; Prerequisites: Craft Magical Arms and Armor, flesh to stone, keen edge, shatter; Market Price: 138,315 gp; Weight: 4 lb.

Next month, we look at some interesting spells that can be found in the Underdark.

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