The Dead Lands of Athas
The Dead Lands
The Endless Sand Dunes eventually give way to a steep drop in the land. At the bottom of sheer, jagged cliffs, a vast plain of blackest obsidian stretches beyond the limits of the known territory. Most of the plain is smooth, flat, black glass, though in places the plain is shattered and great jagged chunks of glass jut into the sky. Other areas appear to be flat and smooth, but are actually covered with sharp grooves and rivulets that can slice even the toughest boots to shreds.
No living creatures inhabit this desolate area. There’s nothing to eat on the obsidian plain, little to drink, and few places to find shelter from the wind and sun. There are no breaks in the glass where vegetation can thrive. No fresh sources of water bubble up among the cracks and fissures. Some water does collect in depressions when a rare rainstorm explodes over the plain, but the water quickly stagnates and turns bad before the heat of the day causes it to evaporate completely. A few clumps of bushes and groves of trees rise out of breaks in the obsidian, but whatever foul magic formed the plain has also turned these once-living plants into black stone.
An ancient, terrible battle of the Cleansing Wars was fought at this site. In the battle, the land was slain and hundreds of thousands of beings were killed. Now undead creatures of all descriptions roam the plains and canyons of ebon glass. Most of these undead creatures are the remains of the slaughtered races, beings that no longer exist on Athas—at least not as living creatures. Strange beings with stranger names haunt the plains, wailing over the injustices they suffered and calling for revenge against the Warbringer and his infernal Champions. In life they were called kobolds and ogres, orcs, lizard men, and trolls. They had names like gnomes and pixies and goblins. Now they’re spirits, skeletons, and other forms of corporeal and incorporeal undead. The hatred they hold for all living things sustains them, keeping them tied to the physical world long after their bodies have died.
In some places, mindless undead continue to reenact the desperate battles they fought in life against the armies of the Champions. If living travelers come across one of these battle sites, the undead will attack them as though they were their ancient foes. In other places, solitary spirits moan for a world that has long since faded from view. There are intelligent undead on the plains as well, usually acting as leaders for the hordes of mindless zombies and skeletons that have lost their way. In all cases, when a being with the spark of life is detected, the undead flock to that spark for the warmth and sustenance it can provide. Such life sparks are as water is to a living man, and the undead of the haunted plains are very, very thirsty.
Somewhere in the center of this haunted plain, an Obsidian Citadel rises over the fields of glass. From this bleak fortress, a powerful undead creature gathers the lost spirits and troubled souls into a massive army. The thing plans to eventually lead its army out of the Dead Land and into the realms where the living creatures of Athas still hold sway. On that day, this undead lord hopes to gain revenge against the Warbringer and all others who still draw breath beneath the crimson sun.