Sunday, May 5, 2024

TROIKA! Background: Psammomancer of the Singing Dunes

Your people exist at the whims of the sand.

Sure, you do all that you can to resist the desert. You plant rows of saxaul trees to root the soil every year. You build windmills to spite the sandstorms and focus valuable labor elsewhere. Water conservation is built bone-deep into the beliefs of your culture. You survive the desert.

Some even dare to claim that you are taming it. Those people are fools.

Every year the dunes encroach a little closer. Your cough gets a little bit worse. Some of the saxaul grows, but most of it dies. When the herders come to market they tut and say you are planting next year's firewood, then do their business and retreat to greener parts. The inland sea your grandmother swam in as a girl has vanished, and the dust blowing from its salt-encrusted bed tastes like ash and death. You warn the children not to breathe it in.

You hold no illusions. You know you live because the desert has decided not to do anything about it. Yet.

That is why you go to the dunes for answers- you, and anyone else who realizes that the desert will betray its thoughts, feelings, and even the future through its endless, mindless mumbling. You need only listen.

Well, not only listen. Anyone can listen to the sand. How it sings, howls, moans, drums, and even barks as it slides and strikes against itself. No other sand in the world does it quite like this. Long ago, you're told, travelers even came from far and wide to hear the sand. A bygone epoch when the desert couldn't reach them fast enough.

But you are not some awestruck tourist. You have trained for years to listen, watch, and understand.

From the patterns of the sand particles drifting through the air off the edge of a dune, to the cadence and tamber of their call, you know that omens and portents abound. Sometimes the wind alone gifts them to you; other times you have to bribe a camel or a youth to run across the dunes and coax out the secrets of the sand. Always, you cut through the idle chatter for the truth of the dunes.

Maybe someday it will share some good news with you.


  • Extra-Large Waterskin.
  • Saxaul Divining Rod (Damage as Small Beast).
  • Beautifully Beaded Headdress and Long, Billowing Robes (doubles as 10' rope).
  • Pocket Sand! (the stuff just gets everywhere).
  • Mild Silicosis.

Advanced Skills

5 Language - Sand
3 Second Sight
2 Awareness
2 Deserticulture
1 Survival


You may Test your Luck to study the sights or sounds of blowing sand for hints of the future. Test Luck normally to divine a pertinent event that is currently destined to happen in the next week. Test Luck -1 for an event destined to happen sometime in the next month. Test Luck -2 for an event destined to happen sometime in the next year.

Additionally, your hearing and vision are not reduced by sandstorms and similar phenomena.

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