under the purest of suns

Setting: The scrubland desert. Xerophytes and hard wind over desert pavement and the coldest of nights and the purest of sun. Roll d10.

1: There’s a cairn of piled stones. Around it are four desiccated corpses, head-in toward the cairn and feet pointing in each compass direction.

2: There’s a small copse of trees out there in the scrub, but they’re all made of iron rods and the leaves are all differently colored glass bottles.

3: A long section of mesa is on fire. No brush, no wood, just perpetually alight. Something is seeping out of the hillside to keep it going.

4: Every time someone takes a step, a parallel footprint forms a yard to the left.

5: On the flatland, beneath a grove of scrubby trees, are the no-longer-smoking remains of a few huts. A litter of emaciated gnoll pups emerge and follow you.

6: Every once in a while a huge shadow sails over the party, despite the hard cloudless sky.

7: At a trailcross is a sun-blackened elf, barely breathing, staked out spread-eagle on the hardpan.

8: Down the trail wobble three mules. Someone has tied their tails together.

9: The top of a hill is crowned with an outcropping of granite, with well-worn metates hollowed into the slab. Each is filled with warm blood.

10: The hushing wind, just for a moment, carries with it the jarring sounds of battle.

what the desert wind blows in

Setting: The scrubland desert. Gravel and sagebrush and box canyons. Hardpan and painted mesas. Roll d10.

1: Skinny coyotes scamper through camp, running straight for any available foodstuffs or scraps, trying to carry them away. The coyotes will dodge the PCs, but if left unmolested will tear into bags and rucksacks to get at anything within.

2: A night wind blows, pregnant with dust and static electricity. Everyone is irritated and edgestrong but can’t place why.

3: Somewhere in the foothills a sullen black storm has broken, and snake-fast water rolls down the arroyos toward camp, impossibly fast and ugly.

4: As the party moves through a narrow slot canyon, black handprints line the rock walls. Each has a thumb and four fingers.

5: The party stumbles upon a cache of supplies. Well, contraband. Something with high bulk relative to value: tobacco leaves or liquor or bales of unrefined spices. If the party is still around in 1d2 days, a group of horsemen and a muleskinner leading pack mules will arrive to recover the cache and take it where it was going.

6: A set of fresh tracks–deep and clear and barefooted–suddenly appear, carry on for several hundred yards, then disappear again.

7: There’s a campsite ahead, with a brushwood lean-to and an old fire-ring, bedding and campstools. Sitting on the stools are three mannequins made of sticks and burlap sacks stuffed with dry grass. They sit facing exactly away from each other.

8: Someone has dug foot-wide trenches down through the light-colored dirt to the darker earth beneath. If they were for irrigation, they might lead somewhere, but they don’t. Careful mapping or a high promontory will reveal that they make up enormous sigils of no recognizable design.

9: Thousands of tarantulas, the size of a man’s hand, are migrating like a black woolen blanket along the hardpan across the party’s path.

10: Up in one of the box canyons there’s an old scrub oak draped with women’s undergarments.