The Burnt World of Athas

The official Dark Sun website

Greetings friends.

Today I bring you a new clairvoyant missive in the name of the Athasian Survey Project.

Before leaving the Somber Woods, I contemplated my next move. I was very clearly in a land not meant for living things. The Scorched Plateau to the east was an inhospitable and painful journey for even the hardiest and well-prepared team of travellers, let alone an old man like myself. To the West lay the infamous Halfling village of Bav-Rem, wiped clean of all life by an unknown and unknowable horror. My only option lay to the north, hoping I could negotiate with the notoriously difficult halflings. Fortunately, my unique visit with the Somber Ghosts had left me with the one thing the halflings of Vir-Rath value the most.

After gaining permission to take some of the Somber Woods lake water (a generous trade in exchange for 3 years of my lifespan), I made my way north to the cliff-village of Vir-Rath. The Rhul-thaun named the village after the unusually shaped pinnacle upon which they built the three levels of their village.

As breathtaking as the village may be, its design suffers from one disastrous flaw– access to water. Every day the halflings go to tremendous effort to haul water up the tall cliffs with the help of a clever and powerful system of pulleys.

Happily, my skins of lake water were very well received, and I was able to negotiate passage on a halfling airship towards my next destination– Saragar. The halflings of course knew better than to send an airship anywhere near the guardians along Saragar’s border, but they could deliver me as far as Trade Nest and I could work my way north across the Burning Plains with the assistance of the Ssurans or Moon Runners.

And so the image you see here is what I saw when I looked down at the Scorched Plateau from a halfling airship as the sun was setting. It was a truly remarkable sight in the last rays of the sun, and I suspect I have found a place on Athas where the ground is hotter even than the crimson sun at its most unforgiving.

Looking down upon this endlessly melting and shifting land, I find myself in awe of the ssurans who would brave this landscape even temporarily, for surely this land is inhospitable to any creature native to the world.

If anyone knows the secret which protects the ssurans from a molten fiery death as they follow these shifting paths, I would love to know it. Otherwise, until our next correspondence, may the moons guide you.

Vir-Rath and the Scorched Plateau by
(To whomever can guess the matching location of this image from Earth, I have some meat wrapped in a rusk casing that’s cooked by the ambient heat outside of the halfling airship. I’ve been told by the halflings it is called a “weiner”, and that it’s better if I don’t ask the source of the meat…)


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.