An asherati might be mistaken for a thin human under some circumstances - at least until the asherati's rust-red skin begins to glow with a light all its own, or until he dives headlong into the nearest sand dune, disappearing without a trace.

Asheratis are a geographically established people who live below the sands and dusts of suitable wastelands, rising to the surface to hunt for food, socialize and trade with other races, and make war upon their enemies. As merfolk are to the sea, asheratis are to the sands.

Personality: Asheratis are a quiet people, given to reflection and long retreats from the presence of their fellows. However, every asherati acknowledges the value of community and fellowship, and each retreat is followed by a return to a sand-shrouded village where friendships are renewed and the needs of the community are met.

Physical Description: An asherati appears as a humanoid with smooth skin the color of rust. An asherati can make its skin glow as if with an inner fire, giving off a piercing illumination that suffuses through sand. An asherati has no body hair and eyes the color of ivory. The lithe asherati is a graceful swimmer of the dunes, and thus eschews excessive clothing or equipment, wearing only minimal, skin-hugging garments for modesty's sake. Some asheratis wear tight leather armor, streamlined so as not to hinder their progress through the sands. A typical asherati stands between 5 and 6 feet tall and weighs about 170 pounds.

Relations: Asheratis delight when nomads, caravans, or travelers of almost any race appear in the sands above their homes - by day, asherati merchants trade their wares, while at night, asherati rogues silently ascend and try their hands at pilfering. Trade continues despite this behavior, because no one can come close to replicating the delicate asherati sand sculptures, which can fetch large prices in cities far from the desert. Asheratis tolerate other established races of the wastes, grudgingly admitting that each has found a niche. The asheratis live below the sand and the other races above. Still, sometimes conflict erupts or potential feuds smolder just below the surface. It is not unknown for caravans moving through the desert to hire an asherati or two to act as guides and scouts. Especially adventurous asheratis have left the wastes entirely, seeking their fortunes in completely alien lands.

Alignment: Asheratis share a common concern for one another's welfare and are, therefore, good. Observing no specific rules when it comes to behavior, and having a proclivity toward thievery, asheratis are usually chaotic.

Asherati Lands: The trackless, changing waste seems an inhospitable location to claim, with the burning sun by day and frigid cold at night. That's why asheratis claim the lands below, living beneath the sand as if it were water. Under the cover of sand are their homes, communities, and even a few great cities of striking architecture. The interior of every buried building is hollow; the air is clear, and asheratis live in a way not unlike that of common humans. Cleverly constructed "sandlocks" in the floors of their homes allow asheratis to move into and out of buried buildings without disrupting the equilibrium between sand and open space.

In asherati cities, families hold the power. Powerful, wealthy, and well-respected families are responsible for the outlook of the local populace, and are referred to as the First Families. The First Families share power in a council, and truly great families are sometimes important in more than one village. Since family is such an important aspect of asherati social life, bad behavior on the part of a single family is often tolerated for far longer than in most other civilizations.

Far-flung asherati towns are usually made up of just two or three families, all working together to build their community. Usually such colonies are built to expand trade. Others are secretly established in sandy areas that abut more temperate regions to serve as a base for larceny.

Religion: Many asheratis give homage to Solanil, whom they view as responsible for building the first sand city to shelter the asheratis when they arrived in the wasteland. Particularly zealous asherati worshipers see themselves as the "seeds" that the deity has planted, just as she encourages the planting of seeds so there will be more food in the waste.

Language: Asheratis speak their own language and Common.

Names: Asheratis have given names and family names.

Male Names: Amhapar, Het, Iputhut, Iu-same, Khankhe, Menefer, M'ut, Nament, Tauah.

Female Names: Abesukh, Aned, Ankheru, Djede, Kher-ra, Nemenmo, Reht, Shis.

Family Names: Ambera, Atinani, Faihayl, Habah, Huridah, Imtimah, Manah, Nadeeha, Najeema, Nazihar, Nimah, Rawthay, Reedayl.

Adventurers: Every asherati has some measure of adventurous spirit, no matter how deeply hidden. It would be hard to name an asherati who did not try his hand at a minor bit of thievery for the fun and excitement such behavior promises. It is not unheard of to find full-time asherati adventurers, though such folk usually leave the sands of their birth far behind, finding noble quests in the far corners of the world.

  • Medium: As Medium creatures, asheratis have no special bonuses or penalties due to size.

  • Asherati base land speed is 30 feet.

  • +1 Natural Armor: An asherati's skin is thick, so it can stand up to the scrape of sand.

  • Natural Dryness (Ex): Asheratis drink water, but they are very dry creatures. To survive, they need to drink only one-quarter the amount of water per day that humanoids of their size normally require.

  • Sandswim (Su): As a merfolk is to the sea, an asherati is to sand, ash, dust, and even softsand (but not slipsand, packed dirt, or rock). An asherati can sandswim through such materials at his land speed while wearing light armor or carrying a light load. His speed drops to 5 feet if an asherati wears heavier armor or carries a medium load. An asherati cannot make any headway through the sand while carrying a heavy load.

    An asherati breathes normally while under the sands. This supernatural ability doesn't allow an asherati to breath in mediums other than sand, dust, or ash, nor does it allow an asherati to hold its breath longer than normal in water or dangerous gases.

  • Body Lamp (Su): An asherati can make his skin glow at will, providing bright light out to 60 feet and shadowy illumination out to 120 feet. In a medium of loose soil, such as sand, dust, or ash, a peculiar quality of the light allows an asherati to make out solid objects up to 60 feet away. Under the sand, this light is sufficient for navigation and general identification of objects, but not for reading, recognizing individuals, or other similar feats of finer perception. This ability does not allow an asherati to see invisible creatures or creatures with concealment more easily than normal. Other creatures in the sand with an asherati do not gain this special sight, but they can see the sand take on a warm, orange glow.

    Once per day, as a free action, an asherati can bring his skin up to full brilliance so rapidly that it can dazzle all creatures within 30 feet for 1 minute. Creatures can avoid this effect with a successful Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 the asherati's character level + his Cha modifier).

  • Heat Endurance: Asheratis gain Heat Endurance as a bonus feat.

  • Weapon Familiarity: Asheratis treat the eagle's claw as a martial weapon rather than an exotic weapon.

  • +2 racial bonus on Move Silently and Hide checks (an asherati cannot Hide while his skin glows). If in a sandy area, an asherati receives an additional +2 racial bonus on Hide checks.

  • Water Vulnerability: Asheratis hate being too wet, and their dry bodies absorb water rapidly when they are submerged. If completely wet, an asherati takes a -1 penalty on all attack rolls, ability checks, and skill checks. If an asherati is immersed in water, he cannot hold his breath and must immediately begin making Constitution checks to avoid drowning.

  • Automatic Languages: Asherati, Common. Bonus Languages: Bhuka, Goblin, Giant.

  • Favored Class: Rogue. A multiclass asherati's rogue class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.


The bhukas are an offshoot of the goblinoid people and claim to be descended from the first inhabitants of the world. They are consummate survivors of the waste, having a talent for finding water and many physical adaptations that allow them to function in a harsh environment. Their culture celebrates and preserves ancestral ways of living.

Personality: Although theirs is not a technologically advanced society, bhukas are a sophisticated people with highly developed art and social organization. They are not warlike, so they have learned to avoid conflict by the simple method of not being seen. A bhuka never approaches strangers but observes from hiding as long as possible while gauging the newcomers' intent. Even if she does make contact, a bhuka reveals nothing of her kin or settlement and is very cautious in her dealings. Within their own society, bhukas form strong bonds in extended families and cement the community as a whole through rituals and storytelling.

Physical Description: Bhukas are slightly built, with sand-colored skin and brick-red, tightly curled hair. They have little facial or body hair. Their large ears, networked with veins, fold flat against the head to retain heat in the cold desert night and keep out blowing sand. A frill of skin about the neck contains numerous spines that can lift the frill and raise it for cooling. The face of a bhuka is flat, with slitlike nostrils protected by flaps of skin. A bhuka's eyes have long lashes to keep out sand and dust, and the skin surrounding them is darker than the rest of the face, giving a bhuka the appearance of wearing a mask. Bhukas have wide, splayed feet that help them move easily over sand, and they do not wear shoes. Body paint is used to signify social position and ranges from a simple stripe on a low-ranking youth's neck frill to an elaborate pattern of spots, stripes, and whorls covering the arms and upper body of a matriarch. Clothing is flowing and light, woven from desert grasses using ancient techniques that make the garb excellent protection from heat. A typical bhuka stands between 4 and 5 feet tall and rarely weighs more than 90 pounds.

Relations: From the beginning of their history, bhukas have been a gentle people of whom others have taken advantage. When the first people emerged from the Lower World, bhukas were the last to choose their home and thus had to adapt to the harsh waste. The cruder goblinoid races deride them as weak, while the traditional enemies of goblins (such as badland dwarves and painted elves) are more likely to engage a bhuka on friendly terms. Warlike people of the waste have driven bhukas away from fertile regions, forcing them into an ever-smaller and less hospitable territory. Yet this form of exile is a source of strength for the bhukas, who take pride in their ability to flourish even under such conditions. Bhukas are not cowards - push too hard, and they reveal a toughness bred of burning sun and baked earth. The bhuka people have a longstanding trade relationship with the crucians, exchanging food, art objects, and dyes for tools and other worked items. Asheratis are unnerving to bhukas. The asheratis' presence below the sand is disturbing to a bhuka's perception of reality and challenges his standing in the hierarchy of the waste.

Alignment: A complex system of community relationships holds a bhuka village together. Respect for superiors and the need to contribute to the common good is drilled into every member of the society, and those who do not adhere become outcasts. Bhuka society is lawful, with most individuals tending toward good.

Bhuka Lands: Bhukas form extended family groups, called phratries, consisting of several clans related by origin. Each phratry claims ancestry from one couple who emerged from the Lower World at the beginning of history and is responsible for maintaining a particular tradition of the people. Young adults of a given phratry cannot marry within any of its clans, which means they must wed someone from another village; the new family may settle with either parent clan. Bhukas inhabit adobe or sandstone dwellings built into and against cliffs or dug into the upper levels of desert canyons. Each family has its own home, with a terrace built under it to allow drying of food, space for sitting and talking, and access to other houses. The entrance to a house is well above ground level as a defense against invaders - access is by ladders or rope lifts. A central spring provides water to the community.

Farms surround each village. The arid climate and hard earth of the waste makes agriculture a challenge, but bhukas use traditional dry-farming techniques to grow their staple foods of beans, sunf lowers, desert grasses, and corn. The fields are not plowed. Instead, tough native vegetation holds the soil in place, with the crops planted in rows of deep holes. Sometimes, the village spring irrigates a terrace built below the house entrances for growing small, tough melons that furnish both food and containers. Bhukas supplement their diet with wild plants such as cactus pads, fruits, and the meat of small animals.

Religion: Religion is the glue that holds a bhuka community together. Each phratry is responsible for protecting a relic of the Emergence, the time when the first people came out from under the earth. For example, members of the Wokuhoo (Moon Owl) phratry are the caretakers of the Talon, a relic of the bird that led their ancestors into the Upper World. They lead ceremonies commemorating that event and control imagery that appears in sacred art relating to it.

Bhuka society is matriarchal, each village headed by a Grandmother who presides over a council of male and female elders. The Lower World from which the people surfaced is known as the Second Womb, where the mother deity, Kikanuti, nurtured them and taught them until they were ready to emerge. (The more savage goblinoids, they believe, are not yet mature and must stay beneath the earth.) The Grandmother is the village's link to Kikanuti and presides over important ceremonies.

Each bhuka village has a ceremonial pit, dug into a courtyard or sacred cave and covered with a lid of painted hides. The walls are carved with traditional symbols that depict the Emergence and subsequent migrations of the people, as well as images of friendly spirits, important landmarks, and food animals and plants. The most solemn rituals take place in these pits, which recall the dark world beneath the ground from which the bhukas emerged. Outsiders are strictly forbidden from entering sacred pits, and only adult members of the community participate in the rites. The village pit is also where coming-of-age rituals are held. Village festivals celebrating the harvest, weddings, and changes of season take place in the common area rather than the pit, and are occasions for feasting, song, and dance.

The bhukas believe that Kikanuti still guides them in the Upper World by sending them her spirit children to dwell among the villages. These spirits are embodied in ritual masks, which clan elders don for festival dances at specified times of the year. A mask's spirit possesses the dancer wearing it and is honored by the villagers with feasting and prayers.

Bhukas acknowledge the existence of hostile deities of the waste and take care not to offend them, even holding an annual appeasement ceremony at the winter solstice. Unfortunately for the bhukas, this practice does not usually deter the warlike followers of antagonistic deities.

Language: The bhukas do not have a literate society. All their lore is oral, supplemented by a rich library of symbols that adorn both artistic and everyday objects. Their language is distantly related to Goblin, but the two tongues diverged so long ago that most other goblinoids cannot understand Bhuka. The isolated bhuka society offers little reason for its members to learn Common, but many bhukas speak Draconic due to their trading relationship with the crucians.

Names: Bhuka names are long and carry much meaning, but they retain the harsh syllables of the Goblin tongue. A typical bhuka has a given name, followed by the name of the mother's clan (preceded by kha, or "born of"), and the clan into which he or she has married (preceded by gi). Children receive a pet name until they come of age and choose a name that describes their personality.

Male Given Names: Aghila'ak (Runs Like Lizard), Cochik'ukan (Eyes of Sunhawk), Gistik'uwa (High-Kick Dancer), Kotigana (Ears of Hare), Niskigan (Snake Fang), Piklit'akit (Jumping Mouse Grace), Takigini (Speaks with Force), Wikitagan (Flight of Swallow).

Female Given Names: Chinkichu (Basket of Corn), Hintak'inai (Painted Frill), Kekkoti (Little Ear), Lakinigo (Slow Smile), Namatagi'na (Sings with Paint), Stikuchi (Dancing Mother), Takihoti (Speaks with Wisdom), Yukaki'na (Leader of Songs).

Clan Names: Clans carry the name of a totem spirit or relic of the Emergence. Examples: Chikuk (Sunhawk), Kekkinna (Ear of Corn), Kichu (Basket), Niski (Rattlesnake), Pitlitak (Jumping Mouse), Wiki'i (Swallow), Wokuhoo (Moon Owl).

Adventurers: The tight-knit, agrarian community of the bhukas does not often produce wanderers, but their ancient migrations are still a part of the race's memory. Some individuals are born with the wind in their souls, as the bhukas say, and are thought to be the incarnations of spirit children. These bhukas become ambassadors, traveling between the scattered villages with messages and gifts, and lead the trade expeditions to the lands of the crucians. Those in whom the wind blows more strongly embark on solitary travels, perhaps to see where the other children of Kikanuti have gone, or simply to follow their hearts. Such individuals might join with other travelers who earn their trust.

Outcast bhukas also rove the waste. These are usually bitter, selfish beings who do not form groups. Sometimes a wanderer yearns to belong, though, and might find a sense of community among other races.

  • -2 Strength, +2 Dexterity. Bhukas have a delicate build, but they are agile.

  • Medium: As Medium creatures, bhukas have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.

  • Bhuka base land speed is 30 feet.

  • Sure Feet (Ex): Bhukas have broad feat and splayed toes that help them travel easily over sand and similar loose surfaces. They treat shallow sand as normal terrain and deep sand as shallow sand. See Sand Travel for descriptions of shallow and deep sand.

  • Glare Resistance (Ex): Dark skin and long lashes around the eyes protect bhukas from sun glare, so these creatures are never dazzled by bright sun.

  • Water Sense (Ex): Bhukas have the innate ability to detect a source of drinkable water within a distance of 100 feet. Doing this requires a Survival check; the DC depends on the depth below ground of the water source, according to the following table.

    Water Depth Survival DC
    0 feet (on the surface) 10
    10 feet or less 12
    11-20 feet 15
    21-40 feet 20
    41-70 feet 25
    71-100 feet 30
  • +2 racial bonus on Constitution checks or Fortitude saves to resist harmful effects from heat and dehydration. Bhukas are toughened to the rigors of waste life.

  • +2 racial bonus on Knowledge (nature) checks. Knowledge (nature) is always a class skill for bhukas.

  • Heat Endurance: Bhukas gain Heat Endurance as a bonus feat.

  • Automatic Languages: Bhuka and Common. Bonus Languages: Draconic and Goblin.

  • Favored Class: Druid. A multiclass bhuka's druid class does not count when determining whether she takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.


Some dwarves have made their homes in the badlands of the wastes, where they dig for an entirely different type of treasure - water. Because badlands are usually formed by water erosion, deposits of water sometimes form deep below the surface in quantities that can sustain a settlement for years. In some rare cases, badlands dwarves tap into subterranean rivers, making their communities attractive stops for merchant caravans and nomad tribes alike.

Badlands dwarves are identical to dwarves, except as noted below.

  • Waterwise: Badlands dwarves gain a +2 racial bonus on Survival checks to find water, and a +2 racial bonus on Search checks to locate architectural and natural features that involve water. This ability works on pipes and sluices, traps that use water or other liquids, and natural or supernatural hazards involving water. A badlands dwarf who merely comes within 10 feet of an unusual water-related construction or hazard can make a Search check as if he were actively searching, and a badlands dwarf can use Search to find water-based traps as a rogue can. This racial trait replaces the standard dwarf's stonecunning ability.

  • A badlands dwarf can go without water for two days (48 hours), plus a number of hours equal to his Constitution score, before beginning to experience the ill effects of thirst (see Dehydration).

  • Badlands dwarves do not gain the standard dwarf's +2 racial bonus on Appraise and Craft checks that are related to stone or metal.

  • Heat Endurance: Badlands dwarves gain Heat Endurance as a bonus feat.


More closely related to wild elves than high elves, painted elves commonly dwell in petrified forests - which in ages past, they claim, were their ancestral homes. The painted elves take their name from the nature of the wastes in which they dwell, but also from their habit of camouflaging themselves with pigments derived from the mineral deposits found in such places. Though they rarely see visitors - since painted deserts and petrified forests offer little in the way of treasure - painted elves are extremely distrustful of outsiders, and can turn on guests at the slightest provocation.

Painted elves are in most regards identical to wild elves. The exceptions to the standard elf are summarized below:

  • +2 Dexterity, -2 Intelligence: Painted elves are every bit as graceful and agile as high elves, but they are a bit more limited in their understanding of the world around them, having experience with little more than their own petrified domains.

  • Favored Class: Druid. A multiclass painted elf's druid class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.


Because of their reputation among the more civilized folk of the waste, half-orcs are often barred from trading, which forces them to make do with whatever tools and weapons they can construct for themselves. This draws many half-orcs to the scablands, where the razor rocks make for excellent axe blades and armor spikes. These half-orcs have come to be known as scab-orcs.

Scab-orcs are identical to half-orcs, except as noted below.

  • Scab-orcs have low-light vision rather than darkvision.

  • A scab-orc can go without water for two days (48 hours), plus a number of hours equal to his Constitution score, before beginning to experience the ill effects of thirst (see Dehydration).

  • Heat Endurance: Scab-orcs gain Heat Endurance as a bonus feat.


Comfortable in the brutal heat of the desert, battle-hardened crucians rely on their natural shell armor to protect them in all situations. Crucians are humanoids that sport broad, flat shells, like desert crabs, encompassing their upper bodies in natural protection. Not content with just their shells, they often wear additional leather chaps and armlets to protect the rest of their bodies. They decorate their shells with brightly colored painted sigils, as well as deeply etched tallies of their personal triumphs on the sandy field of conflict. Most crucians prefer to wield enormous warhammers, weighted to crack even the hardest enemy shells.

Crucians are highly territorial, and they organize into small bands, each group protecting a prized water source. Crucian bands regularly raid one another's oases, which accounts for their warlike demeanor. Every twenty years or so, a leader rises among the crucians and forges the various bands into a mighty force. This crucian army strikes out into cooler lands for booty and conquest, only to fall back into the desert once the creatures have wreaked their fill of misery.

In negotiations, crucians are known to be cunning. They often employ verbal feints to draw others out and get a better read on them, and they are keenly interested in figuring out how both friends and enemies think. When they can, crucians prefer to attack as a solid line to prevent enemies from getting at their flanks.

  • +4 Strength, -2 Dexterity, +6 Constitution, -2 Charisma.

  • Medium-size.

  • Crucian base land speed is 20 feet.

  • Low-light vision.

  • Racial Hit Dice: A crucian begins with three levels of humanoid, which provide 3d8 Hit Dice; a base attack bonus of +3; and base saving throw bonuses of Fort +3, Ref +1, and Will +1.

  • Racial Skills: A crucian's humanoid levels give him skill points equal to 6 × (2 + Int modifier). His class skills are Diplomacy, Sense Motive, and Spot.

  • Racial Feats: A crucian's humanoid levels give him two feats.

  • +8 natural armor. A crucian's crablike shell gives it remarkable protection.

  • Automatic Languages: Common and Draconic. Bonus Language: Sphinx.

  • Favored Class: Druid.

  • Level adjustment +2.