Thursday, November 1, 2018

Dark Sun Terrain: Salt Flats

Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, USA
Huge expanses of salt encrusted ground as far as the eye and see. Salt Flats are nearly barren lands that become incredibly hot during the day. Here, more so than anywhere else on Athas, moisture is pulled from a traveler's mouth and skin. Any amount of water that pools quickly becomes salty and undrinkable. Yet, even here, life finds a way to survive.
Although it is not common, some salt grasses and hardy cacti break through the dry crust of the salt. Not nearly enough water to support a thriving ecosystem, salt flats are for the most part, devoid of life. Most creatures are only passing over the salt flats, looking to get off of them before the sun reaches its peak and the shining white salt raises to unbearable temperatures.

Makgadikgadi Pan, Botswana
Nearly nothing calls the salt flats home. Grass and some stout cacti grow here, but even those are very uncommon. Insects are the most common creatures to run into that actually live there. Most creature encounters are going to be from creatures passing through, or over, the salt flats. Scorpions, Id fiends, Thri-Kreen, B'rohg, Kes'trekels, rock cacti, and hunting cacti are some of the living things that may be encountered on the salt flats. There are quite a few unliving things that may be encountered as well. Undead roam the salt flats as easily as any traveler. Dwarven banshees and salt zombies are just a small sample of the undead that will seek to slay a traveler.
Traveling over the salt flats is blessedly easy. The surface is flat and dry. However, because food and water is incredibly difficult to find, a traveler must carry all the food and water they will need. In addition, any mounts they have will not be able to scavenge or hunt for food, so the traveler must carry their mounts food and water as well. There is no natural sources of shade, so travelers can get dehydrated faster than normal.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
The Salt Flats of the Tablelands are inhospitable to the extreme. Water, food, and shade are nearly unavailable. Shelter is unavailable as well. Travelers are in great danger from the terrain itself, lack of water and food, and the heat of the day. However, it is easy to travel of the salt flats and enemies can generally be seen coming from a great distance away.

Official rules: All creatures move at their full movement speed over salt flats.

House rules: All creatures move at their full movement speed over salt flats. Those in salt flats using the water find or hunting non-weapon proficiencies are awarded a -4 terrain penalty to their proficiency check. In addition, the survival (salt flats) proficiency costs one more non-weapon proficiency point than normal. Salt flats require an extra amount of water per day, to avoid constitution loss, equal to one and half times the normal amount. So, a medium sized human requires one and a half gallons per day, while a half giant requires six!

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