Sand Wraith Species in Hoist the Colors | World Anvil

Sand Wraith

Never bargain with a sand wraith. If you play their game, you’re betting with your life…
- Lysander Riverwind, Navigator and cartographer for the Royal Institute of Otherworld Studies
The sinister sand wraith is another type of wraith that plagues the world. Sand wraiths are an uncommon undead, encountered far less than their soot or salt kin. Of all the wraiths, these are far more insidious, intelligent, and diabolical than their brutal cousins. A quality that has attracted more than one Engineer or Wavebinder to track down a sand wraith just to strike a deadly deal.
Sand wraiths are born from tortured souls that died in arid places like desolate islands or the deep deserts of the world. On the brink of death, the merciless sand claims those poor, unfortunate souls. Swallowed whole, the victims are mummified and molded with corrupted earth. After a full day and night, they rise a scheming creature of rage and unliving sand. No one knows why this happens, only that it does and the shifting sands refuse to say anything on the matter.

Death Dealers

They’re motivated by revenge and even pain, but aren’t controlled by either. Instead, sand wraiths follow a different path. Methodical, consummate planners, sand wraiths avoid the violent, often unpredictable, outbursts of their deadly cousins. Not that sand wraiths aren’t bound to their vengeance like any other wraith. In fact, they are.
This type of wraith follows close to the saying that revenge is a dish best served cold, or in their case, it would be ‘cold and dry’. Sand wraiths are patient predators, willing to make any bargain that helps them reach their goals. Bargains that are often more deadly for anyone other than the wraith.
Even though they are solitary spirits of revenge, their lairs are often in or near towns. They use their natural instincts for planning and scheming to their advantage, posing as local merchants or advisers. They go to great lengths to conceal themselves, using their aura and disguise, they wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that is shades of earth tones. Nothing that would stand out too quickly in a person’s memory. In addition, sand wraiths often build alliances through bargains, building up a protective ‘disguise’ of living associates that helps hide the wraith’s true nature.

A Dry and Desolate View

In their natural form, these are dry and withered creatures. Like a mummy that’s mystically merged with shifting, living sand. A sand wraith’s skin occasionally ripples as the sand moves on its own. Multicolored bands of soil drift along their skin like wandering tattoos. But this sand isn’t just for looks or simply a connection to the darker side of the Etherwave Arcana. It does much more.
Sand Wraith by CB Ash *
Alternate Names
  • wail walker
  • grave stalker
  • sand winder
Unknown. Considered immortal as they are a corrupt melding of undead and elemental
Average Height
Varies by original victim in life
Average Weight
Varies by original victim in life

This enchanted sand allows them to withstand more punishment than any other wraith. It acts like a natural armor, proof against weapons, enchantments, and most threats. But it's not indestructible. This natural protection can be broken down, which means the wraith can and will bleed.
Each wound chips away at their living sand ‘armor’, which makes them bleed a gravedust-like sand. Sand wraiths can heal any of these wounds, given time and rest. If they have any sand nearby, such as from a desert, beach, or similar, they can regenerate in minutes or seconds. It all depends on how badly they are hurt. It’s for this reason that sand wraiths keep a supply of sand in their lairs for such a healing emergency.

Deadly with a Dire Blade

They are as quick as the shifting sands they’re made from…
- Lysander Riverwind, Navigator and cartographer for the Royal Institute of Otherworld Studies
These creatures are known for their movement and agility in a fight. Nimble and quick, they prefer weapons that complement their natural agility. Most sand wraiths prefer a saber, katana, or even a weighted chain where one end comes to a sharp spear point. These weapons look as if made from a dark iron with flecks of gold scattered through the metal. But that precious gold is fake, nothing more than “fool’s gold” since anyone that steals it is transformed into a sand wraith after seven days and nights.
When used, a sand-like dust hovers around the weapon at all times. A persistent, lightly enchanted cloud that carries the wraith’s undead chill. Each hit or cut from this weapon sends a crippling stab of icy cold through the victim. As the cold subsides, the wound, and the surrounding skin, are consumed by a dark, mummified rot. It’s a deadly infection, but it can be cured through skill with the Etherwave Arcana or a mixture of fresh water, clove oil, and honey.
Once the wraith is destroyed, their weapon will survive. This wraith-bound relic will withstand almost any punishment to break it. Once recovered, it may be destroyed by submerging the weapon in a mixture of honey and wine under a full moon, leaving it undisturbed for seven hours. After that, it will have melted into a sand-like sludge. But, if not broken, anyone who claims it will be condemned to the unliving sands as a new sand wraith.

Withering Fate

But that cursed weapon isn’t the only tool in their arsenal. A sand wraith also has a toxic touch. These formidable fiends can, at will, can mummify any part of a living creature they touch, creating a brittle, agonizing wound. It slowly drains the victim of energy, eventually taking their life. But these painful wounds aren’t permanent. They can be healed through power from Etherwave Arcana or using a sticky mixture of honey, wine, and water applied to the wound. No matter how this healing is done, the wounded victim must rest a full day before they can completely recover.
They’ve got cursed weapons and an even worse touch, but it isn’t the nastiest trick up their withered sleeve. It’s just the obvious ones…
- Lysander Riverwind, Navigator and cartographer for the Royal Institute of Otherworld Studies

A Cutting Wit

It isn’t unheard of for a sand wraith to challenge an opponent to a game of chance, such as cards and dice, or a game of skill such as chess. A duel of wits instead of one with bloodshed and swords. Only here, a loser doesn’t always lose their life but instead owes a favor. Sand wraiths always pay their debt, and if the winner, they always collect one way or the other, often leaving a trail of victims in their wake.
These scheming masterminds are infamous for keeping to the letter, if not creative interpretation, of an agreement. A trait that has led many to wonder if sand wraiths have some connection to the legendary djinn. So far, no sand wraith has ever confirmed or denied this rumor.

Standing out from the Undead Crowd

Sand wraiths are like other wraiths in many ways, such as a shared weakness to sunlight. But even with those common traits, they stand out from the rest of their undead kin. In particular, if caught out in the sun, sand wraiths aren’t destroyed. Instead, they temporarily lose their enchanted aura, abilities and the connection to the necrotic powers that fuel them. But they aren’t helpless, since they still have their diabolical minds and cursed weaponry.
Destroying a sand wraith is a tricky affair. They can be broken apart using physical attacks such as swords or the like. Spells channeled from the Etherwave Arcana are especially effective. But the most efficient way to destroy a sand wraith is to use a special mixture of fresh water, clove oil, and enchanted honey.
This elixir is like acid to a sand wraith, burning into their undead hide while turning whatever the potion touches into a harmless, dust-like powder. It’s a sand wraith’s greatest vulnerability that strikes fear into their shriveled heart. They can smell it from yards away, and often attack, or at least confront, anyone carrying it.
But these aren’t the only way a sand wraith differs from its undead kind. Wraiths are hunters, predators of the living. But as mentioned before, sand wraiths are schemers, planners, and masterminds. This is reflected in what they treasure most. Where some wraiths collect weapons, items and more, a sand wraith collects knowledge. For a sand wraith, it’s more precious than delicious revenge against the person who first condemned them to their undead existence.
This could be books on how to manipulate the Etherwave Arcana. But it also extends to other topics, from lost maps, puzzles, and other esoteric lore. It isn’t unheard of for a desperate academic or scholar to employ Privateers to track down a sand wraith. All for the chance to ask questions and learn what the fiend knows and collected. Provided they can survive the bargain or price the sand wraith requires.
A sand wraith’s lair is both a death trap and a grand library. It’s the legendary dragon’s hoard, provided the treasure you’re looking for is books, scrolls, or lost maps. Just be sure you can pay the price to see them…
- Lysander Riverwind, Navigator and cartographer for the Royal Institute of Otherworld Studies

Game Notes

Sand Wraith
Threat: 3
Suggested Complications   Sandy Reception. The dust and sand cloud from around the wraith’s weapon billows up to blind the victim for a moment, putting them in a desperate position where they are vulnerable.   Wraith-Cursed. Even a small cut or simple wound from the sand wraith’s weapon cuts too deep. This infects a victim with a portion of the wraith-curse into the target. If the wraith or weapon isn't destroyed, or the victim cured during downtime, the victim will die on the seventh day, wither to dust, then rise as a sand wraith.   Relative Relations. Where there was one wraith, there are two! Using its unliving sand, the wraith has made a duplicate of itself. This is a near-perfect duplicate. While it lacks the wraith-bound weapon or toxic touch, it has a rock hard punch and can take as much damage as the original wraith.   If in combat, it will haunt the wraith’s chosen target until they are unconscious. But if someone makes a deal, this talkative undead doppelganger is bound to that person, haunting them until they satisfy the bargain with the sand wraith. The doppelganger will help, or not, the person as necessary, provided the wraith-bound person is trying to fulfill the bargain.

Cover image: Midnight Oil by CB Ash using Krita and MidJourney


Author's Notes

All wraith images are credited as follows:

  • Base synthography by CB Ash using Midjourney for background and material textures. Digital painting of fog and lens flare with oil painting affect with previous assets done by CB Ash using Krita.

  • Please Login in order to comment!
    May 17, 2024 09:33

    Meeting a Sand Wraith will mostlikely make you a Sand Wraith... what an unpleaseant thought!
    But you shoudn't call Chess a "Game of Chance", it has no randomizers so far (except maybe when both players are blindfolded und druged).

    But it's really a nice (and quite chilling) article!

    Have a look at my entries for:
  • moonflower-writing's Food, Glorious FOOD! Unofficial Challenge: Lende a la Terascoa
  • BasicDragons's Unofficial Dragon Challenge 2024: Parg-nél'rush, der Walddrache
  • DaniAdventures Romance-Ception! Challenge Ballade von der Silberelfe
  • My Adventure April short story Einer dieser Tage
  • May 17, 2024 12:14 by C. B. Ash

    Thank you! And you have a really good point about the chess reference, I overlooked that. I'll adjust that a bit, which works. Sand wraiths are less about the physical duels and much more about a battle of wits.