10 Things to Happen in a Sandstorm

The desert has many hazards; perhaps the most terrifying is the sandstorm—a frenzied, scouring rush of burning hot sand that covers everything in its path.


Use the table below, to add depth and flavour to a sandstorm battering the PCs:

  1. The howling wind increases in tempo hurling yet more sand into your faces with breath-taking savagery and force. Sand cakes your eyes, fills your nose and even forces its way into your mouth.
  2. The wind screeches about you like the dying screams of some vast, mythical beast of gargantuan proportions. The howling comes from all about you, as if you were trapped in the dying beast’s belly.
  3. Visibility is essentially zero—all you can see are driving curtains of sand and the shadowy, indistinct forms of a few of your companions.
  4. The howling wind and storm-tossed sand fill your ears, nostrils and eyes deadening your senses. Above it all, however, the shrieking wind sings its devil song—nothing of this world could block out its abominable screech so loud is the storm’s fury.
  5. The wind buffets the party, driving sand into you in seemingly inexhaustible waves. Travel—slow at the best of times in a sandstorm—slows to a crawl in the face of nature’s primal savagery.
  6. For a moment, through the seemingly unending sheets of wind-flung sand, the vague hulking outline of a humanoid comes into view. A sudden deluge of sand erases the figure from your sight. When the wind slightly abates a few minutes later there is no sign of the figure (and—obviously—tracking is impossible).
  7. The wind is like a living thing, plucking, pulling and tearing at the party. As the storm progresses, it reaches new maddening heights. Dust devils—greater and more vicious than anyone has experienced before—dance about the party in a macabre, twisting dance. It is almost enough to ask if the devils are creatures dwelling amid the storm’s fury or if the storm possesses some modicum of sentience…
  8. The party are not the only travellers caught amid the storm’s fury. As they stagger onwards, they come across the partially buried figure of another traveller curled up tightly in the shelter of a small dune. Unfortunately, the storm is so savage the dune is shifting and slowly burying the unconscious unfortunate.
  9. Suddenly, a torrent of sand engulfs the party—the crest of a nearby dune has collapsed under the wind’s savage assault. An avalanche of sand cascades down over the party, burying those who lose their footing.
  10. The wind’s howl slowly abates, and over the course of a few minutes the driving sand settles to the ground in deep drifts of fine, unpacked sand. Unfortunately, this fine sand fills several nearby deep depressions which now lurk ready to catch the unwary traveller. Those blundering into such “sand traps” rapidly sink from sight.

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This article appears in 20 Things #24: Sun-scorched Desert.

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