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Deserts are dry areas that get little rain, whether sandy deserts in hot lands, frozen tundra in cold lands, or cursed wastelands ruined by magic. Life is harsh in the desert. The creatures that live there are tough survivors, and typically much more dangerous than native creatures of other terrains.


Dunes are hills that move up to 5d10 feet per hour with the wind. They have a gentle slope in the direction of the wind and a steep slope in the other direction (see Mountain Terrain).


In hot deserts, natural springs or wells provide water for animals and people—and are popular hunting grounds for monsters and other predators. A typical oasis is surrounded by light undergrowth and sparse forest for 10–30 feet. In cold deserts, hot springs fill the ecological role of the oasis, providing water and a reprieve from the cold. A hot spring may be drinkable water, or just mud (treat as a shallow or deep bog, drinkable if you set some aside to let the mud settle out).


The occasional tree or cactus isn’t out of place in the cold wastes, and some regions have areas of hardy shrubs that count as light undergrowth (see Forest Terrain). Rocky deserts have wind-carved towers and mesas consisting of flat ground surrounded on all sides by cliffs and steep slopes (see Mountain Terrain). Sandy deserts sometimes have quicksand (see Swamp Terrain). Deserts are often crisscrossed with dry streambeds that flood when it rains. Dry streambeds and lakebeds have light rubble (see Mountain Terrain). Cold deserts may have ice sheets (see Mountain Terrain), which thaw in spring and become shallow bogs (see Swamp Terrain). Sandstorms reduce visibility and deal 1d3 damage per hour to exposed creatures.


In general, the maximum distance at which you can spot someone in the desert with a Perception check is 6d6 × 20 feet. Sand dunes reduce this distance by half. In warm deserts, elevation changes and heat distortion sometimes make sight-based Perception impossible.