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.

The elven caravan and I have continued making our way north through the stony barrens. I can now appreciate why my patrons in the Consortium had introduced me to these gentlemen– these brave souls are willing and able to travel through territories few others would dare to enter!

Our next destination was the oasis village of Spoil, the southernmost Bandit State on the Glowing Desert. Upon seeing their friendly familiarity with the bandit leader Densis and his bandit tribe, I now understood why they had chosen to take this particular route.

Thanks to the access granted by my elven trader colleagues (and a spirited and informative exchange with Densis himself), I managed to ingratiate myself to their number, and was soon allowed to join in the evening’s festivities when that day’s raiding party returned from the south. By Ral, I can say they certainly are a spirited bunch! If I were 40 years younger it would have proven an effort to keep up with their revelries!

Whilst returning to our caravan camp after a particularly long stretch of entertainment and the imbibing of various noxious substances, I was granted a wonderful sight. All around me the sand glittered with an unearthly glow, extending in all directions! As pedestrians and pack animals disturbed the sand, I could easily follow their trails through the darkness back to my encampment.

Since leaving Urik, this may be the first time I can see why a Consortium of such unlikely allies would want to go to such lengths to study our world. Even after countless King’s Ages of scholarship, we have only barely reached the threshold of discovering so many wonders hidden upon this broken yet still living world. I have shared this beautiful image with you in order to ask you if you or your colleagues may be able to determine the origin of such a phenomenon. I’m afraid my gracious hosts have no answers, only seeming to appreciate the sand for the tactical advantage it brings in tracking enemies.

An image of the Glowing Desert at night
Twilight over the Glowing Desert by Neujack

(For those who can successfully guess the matching location of this wonderful image on Earth, notwithstanding the glowing sand being blue on Earth rather than yellow, I offer you a jug of the finest bandit broy. I’ve been told it can dissolve rocks…)


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.