The Dying Sands of Athas
Journeying Across Athas
Traversing the desert of Athas is no joking matter; the bleached bones of those who underestimated the heat of the sun, the causticity of the winds, and the dryness of sand.
top-right: Inix; middle-left: Kank; bottom: Crodlu.
Mounts are the primary method of travel across Athas. There are three primary animals that are used as mounted transport: crodlus, inixes, and kanks. Beyond that are more unusual animals used for transport: erdlus and mekillots.
|Crodlu, riding||30 cp||420 lbs||50 feet|
|Crodlu, warmount||60 cp||480 lbs||50 feet|
|Inix, packmount||40 cp||2,000 lbs||40 feet|
|Inix, warmount||100 cp||2,100 lbs||40 feet|
|Kank, riding||40 cp||400 lbs||45 feet|
|Kank, warmount||100 cp||400 lbs||45 feet|
|Baazrag||30 cp||500 lbs||40 feet|
|Erdlu||25 cp||500 lbs||40 feet|
|Mekillot||200 cp||8,000 lbs||25 feet|
Baazrag: Baazrags are stubborn herd animals that are often used as pack animals and guards. A Baazrag, properly trained, will treat its owner or other animals as part of its herd, and will defend them against predators until death. Baazrags are easy to keep, as they require little to eat and scavenge what they do need off the desert floor, whether it is scrub grass, small mice, bits of bone, leather, or anything else; the baazrag stomach is truly nature’s garbage disposal.
Crodlu: Crodlus are bipedal lizards standing 7 feet tall with long, graceful necks and sharp claws on foot and hand. They have a thin whip-like tail and tiny needle-like teeth. Crodlus are the most frequent type of mounts on Athas, used for both warfare and personal transport.
Inix: Measuring 16 feet long, the Inix is a long, vicious lizard. They have a cantankerous attitude and are difficult to train, but their benefits are worth it. A war inix can carry four warriors on their back, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with bows drawn or swords at the ready. These inixes are trained for combat, trained to use their sharp teeth, claws, and strong tail to lash out at enemies. Packmount inixes, by comparison, are skittish around combat and tend to run, but are bred and trained to carry large amounts of cargo. Unable to roll a wagon due to their long tail, packmount inixes have a high weight tolerance, making them useful mounts for two medium-size creatures at a time, or one half-giant.
Kank: These smelly beasts are eight-foot-long insects, looking like a spider with six legs and giant pincers for a mouth. Kanks are used for a numerous reasons on Athas, as they are easy to train and breed, given their fixture on certain pheromones. Some kanks are kept in large herds so that their honey can be milked and fermented. The most common mounted kank is used as a riding animal, its large size and putrid smell scaring off some more cowardly predators. Although the riding kank has no natural weapons, they are not skittish in battle. The warmount Kank, however, has been bread to deliver a particularly caustic spit that can eat through tough hides and burn to the bone. Due to their delicate nature, however, they cannot carry too much.
Erdlu: These small flightless birds are used as herd beasts, their eggs harvested for food. Instead of feathers, they are covered by chitinous scales that must be trimmed back or can cut the owner when unhooking their harnesses. They are used as riderless pack animals by small caravans, and as mounts by halfling warbands. They are too small to be used as mounts for medium-sized characters.
Mekillot: These massive lizards weigh 6,000 pounds and are the ultimate in transit on Athas. These beasts are so large that it is rare that anything but humanoid predators attack them, but require a psionisist to truly control. Frequently Mekillots are used to pull the massive wheelhouses that transport truly large amounts of cargo. They may also be outfitted with a strong howdah and used as troop transports. Their massive size allows them to pull nearly infinite weights, but move no faster than a normal walking pace.
You’ll need all manner of supplies on your journey through Athas. Below are items that you may find useful for outfitting your mount.
|inix||2 Passengers plus cargo||10 cp|
|inix war platform||4 Passengers||40 cp|
|mekillot||10 passengers plus cargo||20 cp|
|mekillot war house||30 passengers||100 cp|
Howdah: A tent-like enclosure that provides relief from the harsh sun. Staying inside a howdah gives you advantage on Constitution saves made to stave off Sun Sickness. Furthermore, War Platforms, with their wooden sides, provide half cover for combatants staying in them.
|Saddlebags (2)||3 cp||1 cubic foot / 30 lbs per bag|
|Crodlu chariot||100 cp||One rider|
|Kank chariot||100 cp||One rider|
|Kank chariot, large||250 cp||Three riders|
|Cart||15 cp||12 sqft / 400 lbs|
|Small Wagon||35 cp||18 sqft / 500 lbs|
|Large Wagon||60 cp||32 sqft / 1,000 lbs|
|Carriage||100 cp||24 sqft / 800 lbs or four riders|
|Wheelhouse||1,000 cp||600 sqft / 10,000 lbs, 40 passengers|
Mounts are not the only way to travel on Athas. many prefer to travel in style in a Skimmer. Skimmers look like small boats or rafts with large, thick wooden wheels attached, and a large sale on the front. Often skimmers also are equipped with large kites that the user can send up to where the air speed is higher. There are advantages and disadvantages to skimmer travel:
- No extra mouths to feed or water
- Faster than most animal travel
- Will not get stuck in silt or dunes
- On breeze-less days they are immobile
- Can break down and leave you stranded
- Their kite is a signal-flare to marauders that someone with coin is passing through
|Dune Skimmer, small||50 cp||2 persons, 700 lbs||45 ft|
|Dune Skimmer, large||300 cp||8 persons, 1,400 lbs||40 ft|
|Silt Skimmer, small 1||75 cp||2 persons, 1,400 lbs||30 ft|
|Silt Skimmer, large 1||400 cp||8 persons, 4,000 lbs||30 ft|
|Salt Skimmer||600 cp||8 persons, 10,000 lbs||45 ft|
1. The Silt Skimmers are the only skimmers that can reliably traverse the Silt Sea; Salt Skimmers are too heavy and Dune Skimmers will get tossed about in the silt waves.
Dangers of the Environment
The most common danger in Athas is exhaustion. Exhaustion generally occurs when you do not get your allotted water for the day, or when you do not get your food for the day and do anything other than sit still, or if you did not get a long rest after a day’s work. Each time one of these conditions are not met, you increase your exhaustion by 1. Refer to Appendix A of the Player’s Handbook to determine what exactly the effects of exhaustion are.
Another issue one must be sure to avoid is Sun Sickness. If you are under the sun during the middle of the day (the four hours surrounding high noon sun), you are in danger of contracting sun sickness. To determine whether or not you are suffering from the adverse effects of the sun, roll a Constitution save (DC 6), keeping the following things in mind:
|Resting under shade||no need to roll|
|Resistant to fire damage||no need to roll|
|Traveling under shade||advantage|
|Desert clothing||+1 to roll|
|Exhausted||-1 to the roll for every level of exhaustion|
|Just ended a combat||disadvantage|
Sun SIckness is serious, but treatable. One days rest under shade with proper water will cure Sun SIckness of Level 3 and below. Anything that has the same affect as Cure Disease will also cure Sun Sickness of any stage. If you reach level 5 of sun sickness and manage to return to the world of the sane, roll another 1d100. Your mind has touched True Maddness, and although you suffer no more ill effects, you can only be truly cured by death.
Whenever you finish a long rest, roll a Constitution check, DC 10. If the long rest occurred in the shade or at night, you have Advantage. If you succeed, you decrease your Sun Sickness by 1. If you fail, nothing changes.
Anytime after combat has ended, you gain a point of exhaustion, or you are told to roll another Sun Sickness check, roll a Constitution check, DC 10. If you succeed, nothing changes. If you fail, you increase your symptoms by one stage.
|1||You gain 1 level of exhaustion. This level cannot be removed until the SIckness is gone.|
|2||You are unable to think straight. You have disadvantage on all INT, WIS, and CHA saving throws.|
|3||Your body becomes weak; you gain only half as much healing from natural and magical healing sources.|
|4||Your mind begins to slip; Roll a 1d100 at the start of each day.|
|5||You lose touch with reality; Roll another 1d100.|
|6||You sever all ties with reality, no longer able to determine friend from foe; you do not even know who you are anymore. With a last cackle as sanity loses its hold, you become a Zombie of the Wastes, and are, for all intents and purposes, dead.|