Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Metal Desert

Far to the southwest, where the influences of elemental metal from the west meet the the influences of fire from the south, is the Metal Desert.  It goes by many other names but this one is the most common.  Like all deserts it is hot, dry, and dangerous.  But the Metal Desert is dangerous in many more ways than an ordinary desert, because it is peculiarly suffused with the essence of the element of Metal.  This supernatural essence forces the land and its weather into forms unknown anywhere else--and it is good they are unknown elsewhere.

A Guide to the Terrains of the Metal Desert
Rust Desert
- Dunes of rust spread for miles, reddish brown and drier than you can imagine.  The rust is a fine powder which works its way into everything over time.  Travel is slow in the soft drifts.  Most of the liquid found here is pools of Red Acid (see below).  The water in any of the very rare oases is stained with rust and tastes bitterly of it.

Salt Desert
- Dunes and rolling plains of brilliant white salt stretch out in all directions

Salt Flats
- The brilliant white surface of dry, flat, cracked salt is hard underfoot.  Salt flats may be as small as a mile across or sprawl out over may miles.  Any water here will be saline, any other pool will be of a dire acid (see below).

Salt Pyramids
-Odd pyramidal or conical salt formations dot the landscape.  Their size varies but all the pyramids in a given area will be roughly the same size (height and base width of 1d20 x 10 feet).  Each is on its own island in a wide shallow lake (1d20 feet deep) of saline or one of the five acids.  Large pyramids in saline lakes are often hollowed out as dens or refuges.

Acid Swamp
- This region is mostly shallow pools of acid with frequent low-lying "land" consisting of marble banks, obsidian scree, or dense obsidian forest outcroppings.  The acid is most often White Acid or Red Acid (see below), but any of the five major types may occur here; dire acids are rarely found here.

Marble Ocean
- A vast sea or ocean of brightly colored marble spheres ripples and glints in the sunlight.  Some areas are primarily one color, others a polychrome riot.  As their name suggests the marble oceans move slowly as the sea does, with waves and currents.  These waves and currents often confuse travelers and subtly guide them in unexpected directions.  The waves and oddly timed tides can bury anything which remains stationary for more than an hour or so--or ebb to reveal things long buried.  Travel across the surface is a noisy affair which eventually attracts monsters.

- This appears to be a region of salt flats or rust flats.  But a layer of mud wet with saline or acid lies just under a dry surface crust here.  In places the crust is a foot thick and will support anything up to carts and large creatures, in others it is deceptively thin and a traveler will fall through in an unguarded moment.  The soft mud underneath may be a just few annoying inches thick or many life-threatening feet deep.  And then there is the threat of the acid to the unfortunates who become mired in it.

Obsidian Razors
- A vicious-looking landscape of shiny black blades glistens all around.  Blade-shaped protrusions of obsidian of all sizes sprout from the rust desert, some towering to 100 feet or more.  Travel is slow and dangerous due to the blades.  In addition, the large blades hinder navigation by restricting lines of sight and paths of movement.  Travelers are often forced off course and lose valuable time--or valuable lives.

Obsidian Plane
- Wide, flat, shiny planes of black obsidian stretch out in all directions.  The surface is as smooth as glass and often slippery.  The highly reflective surface adds to the effect of heat mirages and greatly increases glare when the sun is up.  Local tribes have sailboat-like craft which slide across the surface on runners.

Obsidian Scree Waste
- Vast quantities of obsidian shards lie in dunes, heaps, and hills all across this region.  The small scree shards are shiny and slippery, making movement difficult.  The shiny, multi-faceted surface enhances the effect of  heat mirages and hinders visual spotting of distant objects.  As with a Marble Ocean, travel across the surface is a noisy affair which eventually attracts monsters.

Obsidian Obelisk Henge
- Ranging in size from a small grouping a few tens of yards across to great arrays extending for many miles, obsidian obelisk henges are the closest thing to a forest you'll find in the Metal Desert.  The tall multi-sided henges appear in patterns drawn with some primeval principle.  In some places the obelisks are clustered tightly together, forming caves and covered passages.

Lightning Field
- This wide area (usually of salt desert but sometimes rust) crackles with threads of lightning.  They writhe and arc across the ground or sometime shoot up into clouds above.  The lightning is not as strong as a normal bolt of lighting from a storm but they are plenty dangerous and often quite numerous.

Magnetic Swamp
- Magnetic swamps are called swamps because of their effect on creatures and wagons traveling through them.  In these areas magnetic force pulls on all objects, slowing all movements and making all things heavier.  A person might as well be wading through a swamp from the way it feels. Ferrous objects which remain in a magnetic swamp for any length of time will slowly become permanently magnetized.

A Guide to the Acids of the Metal Desert
  • White Acid -  infused with the element of Metal, White Acid dissolves material as does any acid; it also sends electrical shocks into whatever it touches (1d4 acid + 1d4 electrical damage per round) [color: milky white with gold and silver flecks//temperature: hot//scent: acrid/metallic]
  • Red Acid - infused with the element of Fire, Red Acid dissolves material as does any acid; it also ignites easily flammable materials (wood, paper, etc.) on contact (1d4 acid + 1d4 fire damage per round) [color: bright red with orange and yellow swirls//temperature: very hot//scent: coal smoke & sulphur]
  • Green Acid - infused with the element of Wood, Green Acid dissolves material as does any acid; it also invades organic creatures as a poison (1d4 acid + 1d4 poison damage per round) [color: bright green with purple motes//temperature: warm//scent: roses]
  • Black Acid - infused with the element of Water, Black Acid dissolves material as does any acid; it also spreads frost where it touches (1d4 acid + 1d4 frost damage per round) [color: inky black with tiny white ice crystals//temperature: very cold//scent: peppermint]
  • Yellow Acid - infused with the element of Earth, Yellow Acid dissolves material as does any acid; it also transfers the properties of Earth to the material, causing it to partially petrify (1d4 acid + 1d4 flesh petrification damage per round) [color: dark yellow with bits of brown earth floating in it//temperature: neutral no matter what the surroundings//scent: sharp mustard]
  • Dire Acids - any of the above five acids formed of elemental weirding may occur in a Dire form; dire acids are fiercer (replace 1d4 damages with 1d6) and will flow towards any living creature within about 20 feet in order to consume it.

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