Wilderness Quicksand

See also: Forest Terrain, Bog/Marsh/Swamp Terrain

Patches of quicksand present a deceptively solid appearance (appearing as undergrowth or open land) that might trap careless characters. A character approaching a patch of quicksand at a normal pace is entitled to a DC 8 Survival check to spot the danger before stepping in, but charging or running characters don’t have a chance to detect a hidden patch before blundering into it. A typical patch of quicksand is 20 feet in diameter; the momentum of a charging or running character carries him 1d2 × 5 feet into the quicksand.

Effects of Quicksand: Characters in quicksand must make a DC 10 Swim check every round to simply tread water in place, or a DC 15 Swim check to move 5 feet in whatever direction is desired. If a trapped character fails this check by 5 or more, he sinks below the surface and begins to drown whenever he can no longer hold his breath (see the Swim skill description in Using Skills).

Characters below the surface of quicksand may Swim back to the surface with a successful Swim check (DC 15, +1 per consecutive round of being under the surface).

Rescue: Pulling out a character trapped in quicksand can be difficult. A rescuer needs a branch, spear haft, rope, or similar tool that enables him to reach the victim with one end of it. Then he must make a DC 15 Strength check to successfully pull the victim, and the victim must make a DC 10 Strength check to hold onto the branch, pole, or rope. If both checks succeed, the victim is pulled 5 feet closer to safety. If the victim fails to hold on, he must make a DC 15 Swim check immediately to stay above the surface.

Additional

Quicksand is nothing more than sand or loose soil that is supersaturated with water. This effect allows creatures to sink into the mixture much as if they’re settling into nothing more than silty water, but then requires them to fight the crushing weight of sand as if they had been buried alive to escape. The main dangers of quicksand are becoming trapped and unable to move or having one’s head submerged and suffocating. Even a trapped individual who manages to stay partway out of the quicksand is still at risk from the dangers of exposure and is easy pickings for the other denizens of the jungle.

Quicksand appears primarily along the banks of rivers and the beaches of lakes. However, it can also occur near springs and areas where runoff leaches into the ground, or anywhere in the jungle after a violent storm. All it takes for quicksand to form is an abundance of water and sand or loose soil, all of which are plentiful in the jungle. The water must be forced into the sand at a volume greater than the sand or soil would normally hold. Supersaturation can be caused by the force of a swiftly flowing river, tidal action on a lake, or water flowing from an underground spring (though it may also be created artificially via the effects of a control water spell).

A DC 15 Survival check tells a character in advance that something is not right with the patch of ground containing quicksand, but the character must actively be searching for such dangerous ground. This is especially tricky because ground that initially appears solid may begin to give after a few steps as the vibrations on the surface loosen the structure of the sand, allowing the compacted top layer to lose solidity. Thus, several people in a party may already be on the surface of the sand before it gives, trapping more than just the first individual to step on it. Running or charging characters have no chance to detect quicksand before falling prey to it.

Once a creature has set foot in quicksand, its natural tendency is to struggle to free itself. Any type of struggle will actually have the opposite effect. Moving any portion of the body that has been submerged causes the sand to shift from underneath the moved body part, thus sucking it deeper into the morass. The best way to escape quicksand is to simply lie still. Once a creature stops struggling, it will naturally float just as it would if it were in a pool of still water, albeit rising more slowly due to the weight of sand. Characters in quicksand must make a DC 10 Swim check every round to stay afloat, or a DC 15 Swim check to move 5 feet. Failing these checks by 5 or more results in sinking and the very real possibility of drowning. Note that anything a character is carrying that is submerged in quicksand has also been saturated with water just as if it had been dropped in a pool of standing water.

It is extremely difficult to pull something directly out of quicksand, as the pressure needed to move upward through the sand is roughly equivalent to having been buried alive. A trapped character may easily free himself with levitate, fly, or similar effects (note that only magical flight helps, as quicksand fouls wings).

Creatures with tremorsense can easily locate patches of quicksand due to the difference in vibrations and density of the pits of sand. Creatures with a burrow speed treat quicksand as difficult terrain, but they can still suffer the effects of suffocation if they are submerged in it and do not free themselves. Creatures that can breathe water also suffocate in quicksand, but they take twice as long to do so. Water Dangers The serpentine rivers and still ponds of the jungle both sustain life and take it. All creatures, be they animals, monsters, or humanoids, require water in one form or another, and the local watering hole is the common bond that both predator and prey share, albeit not peacefully. Slow-moving jungle rivers also make for easy ship and barge travel, and where their overgrown banks turn sandy the rivers can provide a welcome respite from underbrush for those traveling on foot. The biggest danger inherent in any jungle water supply is from the creatures that live within it or set ambushes near its banks, waiting for weaker creatures to approach and drink. Yet along with high-profile dangers like crocodiles, hippopotamuses, and carnivorous fish, the lakes and rivers of the Mwangi Expanse also hold many lesser dangers, some inherent to the water itself.