The Burnt World of Athas

The official Dark Sun website

Greetings friends: From my travels across Athas, I am sending you now another clairvoyant missive in the name of the Athasian Survey Project.

My new friends from Spoil and I made a detour to Foul Puddle after departing the Buried City. With enough campfires and appropriate protections, the oasis made for as reasonable a stopping place as anywhere in this area. That evening I made known my desire to head further north in the direction of the Somber Woods. Densis at first laughed and accused me of having a death wish, but knew better of it having seen my performance these past few days, and gave me advice in navigating the Scorpion Plains and recommended I steer completely clear of the Lava Gorge. He also suggested I approach the Bandit State of Pillage directly, before travelling through their land unannounced. I gratefully accepted his advice.

After negotiating the Barrier Wastes, I daresay the approach to Pillage proved a comparatively subdued affair. Avoiding packs of large desert predators was rather less strenuous than neverending screaming winds.

Pillage itself was remarkable for the sheer diversity of its inhabitants. While I cannot say they lived in harmony, they did seem to coexist constructively under the strong-armed rule of their intractable tarek leader.

Having dealt with tareks before in Balic, I knew what to expect. While their leader was not particularly friendly, we were able to come to an agreement of safe passage in return for a favour.

Said favour involved acquiring a lost object from the Troll Grave chasm. The image I have included is what I saw looking down into the monstrous canyon. The narrow and treacherous trails leading down proved to be the easy part of the journey. Inside the chasm itself, I discovered some undead of a species I had never seen before - they were psionically active and quite aggressive. Fortunately, I did not have to journey very deep into the ruins, and the creatures did not seem not interested in pursuing me too far back up the trail.

If anyone knows more of these mysterious and extinct creatures (once called “trolls”), I would love to hear your tales. Until our next correspondence, may the moons guide you.

Pillage by Artist Unknown

(For those who can guess this location’s match on Earth, I offer this discovery from the body of what appeared to be a sun cleric. It was a piece of green parchment with a pyramid and an eye and the words “e pluribus unum”…)

(EDIT: One person did guess the site, but did so by email: Anasazi ruin at Mesa Verde, Colorado.)


Been playing Dungeons & Dragons and other RPGs since 1987. Been playing Dark Sun since it was released. Returned to Athas in 2020 for its expanded timeline and geography.