Desert Survival

Think not of the desert as a wasteland, but as a new bride. Listen to her wishes and her whims, and receive the glorious bounty she promises. Listen not and you risk the wrath of a scorned woman.
— Yerbiran proverb

The nature of deserts makes them especially hard to travel and characters trying to brave the sandy wastes will find additional challenges in their way. Additionally, while in the deep desert (and away from more elementally balanced areas, such as river sides, cities, or an oasis), fire magic is easier to use while water-based spells seem to fizzle often.

• Create Water becomes a level 1 spell
• Spells and spell-like abilities that use or create water require a DC 15 + spell level concentration check or are lost
• Spells and spell-like abilities with the fire descriptor or that use, manipulate, or create fire, are cast with caster level +1
• DCs of Acrobatics check in sandy terrain are increased by 2
• Perception distance is 6d6 x 20 feet or in the presence of dunes 6d6 x 10 feet
• The scarcity of undergrowth or other elements that offer concealment or cover makes using Stealth more difficult
• Endure elements only lasts half as long as the spell's energy is drained more quickly
• Hexploration: Crossing 1 hex takes 8-12 hours, full exploration takes 2-3 days


HEAT DANGERS
Heat deals nonlethal damage that cannot be recovered from until the character gets cooled off (reaches shade, survives until nightfall, gets doused in water, is targeted by endure elements, and so forth). Once a character has taken an amount of nonlethal damage equal to her total hit points, any further damage from a hot environment is lethal damage. A character who takes any nonlethal damage from heat exposure now suffers from heatstroke and is fatigued. These penalties end when the character recovers from the nonlethal damage she took from the heat.

Very Hot
A character in very hot conditions (above 32° C) must make a Fortitude saving throw each hour (DC 15, +1 for each previous check) or take 1d4 points of nonlethal damage. Characters wearing heavy clothing or armor of any sort take a –4 penalty on their saves.
• Hexploration: Characters roll twice a day (DC 20 Fortitude) to resist 5d4 nonlethal damage

Severe Heat
In severe heat (above 43° C), a character must make a Fortitude save once every 10 minutes (DC 15, +1 for each previous check) or take 1d4 points of nonlethal damage. Characters wearing heavy clothing or armor of any sort take a –4 penalty on their saves.
• Hexploration: Characters roll twice a day (DC 25 Fortitude) to resist 5d4 nonlethal damage

Extreme Heat
Extreme heat (air temperature over 60° C, fire, boiling water, lava) deals lethal damage. Breathing air in these temperatures deals 1d6 points of fire damage per minute (no save). In addition, a character must make a Fortitude save every 5 minutes (DC 15, +1 per previous check) or take 1d4 points of nonlethal damage. Those wearing heavy clothing or any sort of armor take a –4 penalty on their saves.
• Hexploration: No. Just no.

STARVATION & THIRST
Characters might find themselves without food or water and with no means to obtain them. In normal climates, Medium characters need at least a gallon of fluids and about a pound of decent food per day to avoid starvation. (Small characters need half as much.) In very hot climates, characters need two or or in sevenre heat three times as much water to avoid dehydration.

Starvation
A character can go without food for 3 days, in growing discomfort. After this time, the character must make a Constitution check each day (DC 10, +1 for each previous check) or take 1d6 points of nonlethal damage. Characters that take an amount of nonlethal damage equal to their total hit points begin to take lethal damage instead.
Characters who have taken nonlethal damage from lack of food are fatigued. Nonlethal damage from starvation cannot be recovered until the character gets food, as needed—not even magic that restores hit points heals this damage.

Thirst
A character can go without water for 1 day plus a number of hours equal to his Constitution score. After this time, the character must make a Constitution check each hour (DC 10, +1 for each previous check) or take 1d6 points of nonlethal damage. A character in hot environments can go without water for 12 + Con hours, in severe heat for 6 + Con hours, and in extreme heat for 3 + Con hours. Characters that take an amount of nonlethal damage equal to their total hit points begin to take lethal damage instead.
Characters who have taken nonlethal damage from lack of water are fatigued and dehydrated. If a dehydrated character would take nonlethal damage from hot conditions that damage instead becomes lethal damage. Nonlethal damage from thirst cannot be recovered until the character gets water, as needed—not even magic that restores hit points heals this damage.
Lethal Damage from thirst, cannot be recovered until the character has been treated (see below); not even magic that restores hit points heals this damage.

Treating Dehydration
A character who has taken lethal damage from lack of water must be treated with long-term care (see the Heal skill description) to recover. This treatment requires 24 hours of care and double the normal amount of water required per day for the conditions (for instance, 2 gallons of water in normal conditions). If the character has also taken lethal damage from a hot environment, add 5 to the Heal DC and double the time required to recover (to 48 hours). Once this Heal check has succeeded, the damage taken by the character can be restored through the normal means.
Alternatively, certain spells can be used to rehydrate a character in place of the recovery time, water, and Heal check.

SUFFOCATION
A character who has no air to breathe can hold her breath for 2 rounds per point of Constitution. If a character takes a standard or full-round action, the remaining duration that the character can hold her breath is reduced by 1 round. After this period of time, the character must make a DC 10 Constitution check in order to continue holding her breath. The check must be repeated each round, with the DC increasing by +1 for each previous success.
When the character fails one of these Constitution checks, she begins to suffocate. In the first round, she falls unconscious (0 hit points). In the following round, she drops to –1 hit points and is dying. In the third round, she suffocates.

Sandstorms and similar
Exposed characters might begin to choke if their noses and mouths are not covered. A sufficiently large cloth expertly worn (Survival DC 15) or a filter mask negates the effects of suffocation from dust and sand. An inexpertly worn cloth across the nose and mouth protects a character from the potential of suffocation for a number of rounds equal to 10 × her Constitution score. An unprotected character faces potential suffocation after a number rounds equal to twice her Constitution score.

SUN DANGERS
In the clear, dry air of the waste, nothing blocks the sun’s rays, which can pose dangers of their own.

Sun Glare and Desert Blindness
The sun can be extremely dangerous to unprotected eyes, drying and irritating the tissue. Areas of white sand, salt, gypsum, or similarly light-colored material reflct the sun’s glare into the eyes even when not looked at directly. Sun glare is doubly dangerous during winter months, when the sun is low on the horizon and thus difficult to avoid looking at.
Characters traveling in such conditions must cover their eyes with a veil, dark lenses, or a similar eye covering. Those whose eyes are unprotected in such conditions are automatically dazzled. The condition's penalties are doubled for creatures with light sensitivity. Characters who take the precaution of covering or shielding their eyes automatically eliminate the risk of being dazzled by sun glare and take no penalties.
A character that remains in desert environments with unprotected eyes for a number of days equal to 3 + their Constitution modifier must also succeed at a DC 10 + 1 per day Fortitude save each day to avoid permanent blindness.
Glare-induced blindness lasts as long as characters remain in an area of sun glare and for 1d4 hours thereafter, or for 1 hour thereafter if the character enters a shadowed or enclosed area. The dazzling or blindness effect of sun glare can be negated by a remove blindness spell, but an unprotected character still in an area of sun glare immediately becomes dazzled again when the spell’s duration expires.

Sunburn
Sunburn is a serious hazard when traveling in the waste. A mild sunburn is merely distracting, but more severe burns can be life-threatening. Avoiding sunburn requires covering up exposed skin, wearing hats or robes, or carrying a parasol. Protective lotions also keep the skin safe, and beings native to torrid climates have developed dark skin pigmentation to protect against the sun. Of course, wearing heavy clothing carries its own risks (increasing the likelihood of succumbing to heatstroke), and sunlight reflected from light-colored surfaces can still reach beneath a hat or shade.
Characters who take even minimal care to protect their skin from direct sunlight (a hat, a cloak, or other body-covering garment will do) are not subject to sunburn.
If a character is caught out in the sun and completely unprotected, serious consequences can result. After 3 hours of such exposure, the character is mildly sunburned and takes 1 point of nonlethal damage. After 3 hours more exposure, the character develops severe sunburn and immediately takes 2d6 points of nonlethal damage and a –2 penalty on Fortitude saves to avoid damage or fatigue from heat dangers until the nonlethal damage is healed.
Characters or creatures with naturally dark (or tanned) skin pigmentation are naturally resistant to sunburn. Such individuals can remain in the sun unprotected for 6 hours before becoming mildly sunburned, and for 12 hours before becoming severely sunburned.

Desert Survival

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