Stalker Of The Sands

Among the peoples of the desert kingdoms, many speak in whispers of the legendary (and some say mythical) Mata-Hawaal. The Stalkers of the Sands, or Sandmen, as they are known, are reputed to be beings of the Province of Sand instead of living creatures.

Sandmen are employed by many sheikhs, emirs, and pashas as assassins and bounty hunters because of their ability to get into almost any stronghold unnoticed. They walk among their brethren unsuspected, rising from the ground to strike unseen, then collapsing back into a pile of sand and vanishing once more. They are fairly rare, though there are rumors of an entire guild of Stalkers of the Sands. In reality, though, no more than two or three Stalkers are be found in a typical assassin’s guild, and most operate alone.

In order to become a Stalker of the Sands, a prospective assassin must go out into the desert, alone, with three days' worth of food. He can take a single weapon and clothing to protect himself, as well as a waterskin. His goal is to survive for three weeks on his own, gathering his own food and water and avoiding contact with other people. Someone undergoing such a trial must always wear a special headdress, a simple red and white scarf, so as to be easily identifiable to others.

If the character is found worthy he will receive some sort of vision around the second week, guiding him along his future path as a Stalker of the Sands. Some say they are given by the spirits of the desert, others contend that it is merely a hallucination brought on by lack of food and water and the pounding sun. In any case, Stalkers are close-mouthed about what they see out in the wastes.

In rare cases, the visions come to someone who is merely lost in the desert and has been on his own for the requisite period of time and fulfills the prerequisites of the class. When they finally return to civilization (such as it is in the desert), they are changed people, with the newfound abilities of a Stalker of the Sands.

Rangers, fighters, rogues, and monks (in that order) are by far the most common classes to become Stalkers of the Sands. Some take levels in other assassin-based classes as well, so as to broaden their abilities and be able to work in other environments.

Hit Die: d6.

Requirements

In order to qualify to become a Stalker of the Sands (SoS), the character must fulfill the following criteria.

Alignment: Any non-good

Skills: Stealth 7 ranks, Survival 8 ranks

Special: Must be from a nomadic desert tribe, either by birth or adoption. Must have survived three weeks in the desert alone.

Class Skills

The Stalker of the Sands' class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (geography, nature) (Int), Perception (Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Stealth (Dex), and Survival (Wis).

Skill Points Per Level: 6 + Int modifier



Table 1: The Stalker of the Sands
Level Base
Attack Bonus
Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Special
1st +0 +2 +2 +0 Spirit of the sands, desert dweller
2nd +1 +3 +3 +0 Sands of sleep
3rd +2 +3 +3 +1 Mirage, death attack
4th +3 +4 +4 +1 Sands of death
5th +3 +4 +4 +2 Sand wraith, sandswim
6th +4 +5 +5 +2 Sands of time
7th +5 +5 +5 +2 Sandstorm
8th +6 +6 +6 +3 Dust to dust
9th +6 +6 +6 +3 Dust devil
10th +7 +7 +7 +4 Sandswallow


Class Features

All the following are class features of the Stalker of the Sands.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Stalkers of the Sands gain no additional weapon or armor proficiencies.

Spirit of the Sands (Ex): A Stalker of the Sands can move through or on sand at normal speed without penalty, no matter how loose it is. He also leaves no trace of his passage, as if he were under the effects of a trackless step spell, but only when walking on sand. He cannot walk on quicksand, however.

Desert Dweller (Ex): Stalkers of the Sands are inured to the exteme conditions of the desert in which they live. At 1st level, they gain a +4 bonus to Survival checks and Fort saves to avoid damage from extreme heat or thirst in desert conditions. At 5th level, they do not suffer nonlethal damage from heat or dehydration, and at 10th, they gain another +4 bonus to Survival checks in desert conditions.

Sands of Sleep (Su): A Stalker of the Sands can put his enemies to sleep by sprinkling sand or dust over them. He accomplishes this by flinging the sand over the beings he wishes to put to sleep – up to one creature per level whose ECL is no greater than the Stalker's class level and who must be within 20 feet. If the victims fail a Will save (DC 10 + Stalker's class level + Int modifier), they fall asleep for 1d10 minutes. They can be awakened by slapping or dousing in water, but otherwise remain asleep until the duration ends. Sands of Sleep is a mind-affecting ability that is usable three times per day as a standard action.

Mirage (Sp): At 3rd level, the Stalker can create minor illusions, just like a mirage in the desert. This is the same as the spell silent image and lasts as long as he concentrates on it (up to 1 minute per class level). This ability can be employed up to three times per day as a standard action. The caster level is equal to the Stalker's class level.

Death Attack: This is exactly like the Assassin ability of the same name.

Sands of Death (Su): A Stalker of the Sands can take a small amount of sand or dust and turn it into one dose of a deadly poison that can be ingested or inhaled. This requires a standard action; a pinch of this poison has a save DC of (10 + Stalker's class level + Int modifier), and is considered a strong neurotoxin (onset 1d4 rounds, check 1d6 minutes, initial and secondary effect 1d8 Con damage). A Stalker is immune to his own poison, but not that created by other Stalkers. Sands of Death can be used once per day.

Sand Wraith (Su): Three times per day, a Stalker of the Sands can create wraith-like creatures from sand or dust as a standard action. The dust swirls up into whatever form he desires and moves as he directs. He must maintain concentration on the construct, which can be up to one size category larger than he is. It cannot be mistaken for a living creature under any but the most extreme circumstances (such as in the middle of a sandstorm), and it does no damage with its attacks - it is merely a distraction, nothing more. The sandwraith is not affected by weapons, though a wind of 20+ miles per hour will dissipate it, as will the blast from a fireball or similar spell, or dousing it with a large quantity of water.

Sandswim (Ex): A Stalker of the Sands can move through loose sand at 20 feet speed (for Medium characters) or 10 feet (for Small). There is no limit to how long he can move like this, but he must hold his breath while submerged.

Sands of Time (Su): Once per day as a standard action, a Stalker of the Sands can temporarily slow time in a small area. He accomplishes this by flinging a handful of dust or sand into the air; at that point, time is slowed to one-half normal speed in a 40-foot radius for 1 round per class level; all creatures except the Stalker in the area are effectively slowed. There is no save to avoid this effect.

Sandstorm (Su): Once per day as a full-round action, a Stalker of the Sands can summon forth winds that swirl the dust and sand around him into a storm. It has most of the same properties as obscuring mist (concealment, vision range, etc), but beings within the sandstorm must make a Fort save (DC 15) each round or suffer a -2 circumstance penalty to all actions (attacks, skills checks, and saves) due to inhaling choking sand and dust. Spellcasters must also make DC 20 Concentration checks to cast spells with a verbal component while within the cloud; these penalties can be negated by tying a cloth over one's nose and mouth. The Stalker is not affected in any case.

The sandstorm is 30 feet in diameter, 20 feet high, lasts for 1 minute per class level (or until the Stalker dismisses it), and is centered on the Stalker, who can move after the sandstorm is summoned (the cloud, however, does not). It can be blown away with a sufficiently powerful gust of wind spell. This ability can only be used where there are large amounts of sand or grit (a desert, dusty street, scrub plain, etc.).

Dust to Dust (Su): Legends say that the Stalkers of the Sand are creatures made of sand. While this may not be totally true, they can collapse into an inert pile of sand. The sand looks totally normal to all outward appearances and does not radiate magic, though spells designed to reveal polymorphed creatures will reveal a Stalker in sand form. The pile weighs about one-tenth the Stalker's original weight and occupies a relatively small amount of volume (i.e., it will fill a small sack). The sand is strangely cohesive - it can be swept up, poured out, etc, but all the grains somehow end up together, as if they were a liquid instead of a bunch of loose grains of sand. It can be separated, though this is difficult; as long as all of it is together when the Stalker chooses to reform, he suffers no ill effects. If he is forced back into living form and not all of his "body" is there, he is killed (or, at the DM's discretion, he could be missing one or more body parts, which can be restored by again going to sand form and being reunited with the missing sand).

While in sand form, the Stalker cannot take any actions or move of his own volition, though he can certainly be transported by others. If he is on the ground, he gains tremorsense in a 20-foot radius, though he cannot otherwise sense things around him. The Stalker can remain in sand form for up to 1 day per class level - he need not eat or drink during this time, and does not suffer the effects of heat or cold. He is immune to all weapons and most forms of magic, except for fire, which does normal damage, and disintegrate, which has normal effects.

Collapsing into a pile of sand is a free action, while reforming is a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity. While reforming, the Stalker is considered flat-footed. This ability is usable once per day.

Dust Devil (Su): Once per day, as a standard action, the Stalker of the Sands can transform himself into a swirling cyclone of sand two sizes larger than his own. His movement rate becomes 40 feet (he can't fly, but takes no damage from falling), and he gains DR 5/magic. He can envelop creatures smaller than he is (this is accompished simply by moving over them), blinding them for as long as they remain in the cloud and for 1d4 rounds afterward. He can remain in this form for 1 round per class level.

Sandswallow (Su): The Stalker of the Sands' deadliest and most feared ability, Sandswallow is reserved for the most hated enemies of the guild, or for special requests. As a full-round action, the Stalker can cause the ground in a 15-foot radius, centered on the victim (who must be within 50 feet), to become a sand trap, just like that of an antlion's - the ground shifts under the target's feet, sucking him down, until he is totally submerged. The target can make a Reflex save (DC 10 + Stalker's class level + Int modifier) to avoid this effect when it first manifests; if it fails, the victim has sunk to his knees and is trapped - he loses all Dex bonuses to AC. Once the process has started, it cannot be stopped until the victim is either dead or pulled free – it takes 5 rounds for a Medium creature to sink to its waist (it is considered helpless at that point), and another 5 to become totally submerged. After that, he suffers the effects of suffocation. Others can pull the victim free with a rope or pole if they make opposed Strength checks against the same DC as noted above; each person pulling on a rope adds a +2 circumstance bonus to the roll.

Creatures that are larger than the pit are, obviously, not affected.

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