The Burnt World of Athas

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Secrets of the Dead Lands

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Product Description

Far to the south of the cities of the Tyr Region, beyond the ken of common men, there lies a void, a vacant wasteland of purest black. There is no life there, none at all, but there is a yearning and a pounding of withered hearts in the husks of truly ancient undead. Vibrant civilizations of t’liz and zombies, meorty and skeletons, throwbacks to a cataclysm unleashed during the Cleansing Wars that scarred the face of Athas with a vast plain of elemental obsidian.

All that saves the city states from their wrath and hatred is that they are convinced their world ends at the edge of the black glass. Woe to the living if they ever find out the truth.

Secrets of the Dead Lands explores this vast obsidian plain and the undead civilizations that thrive there. Their rulers, ancient dead despots and champions, viziers and duchesses, vie for power and territory, animating, destroying, then reanimating the pieces of their armies in endless struggle. From a time before the Cleansing Wars had rid the world of so many races, there are undead trolls, gnomes, pixies, and more, creatures with no living counterparts anywhere on Athas. The humanoids gather for only one apparent purpose: to keep the unpredictable undead insects, the “bugdead”, from swarming the world.

Whoever said the most terrifying fables can’t be true?

The Dead Lands cover quite a large area, easily as big as the entire Tablelands. Secrets of the Dead Lands is part of a 4 part series of books meant to describe in detail not only the unique undead of Athas, but the ancient nations of countless undead lurking on the Obsidian Plains just to the south of the Endless Dunes. The four books in the series are divided by content:

  1. Secrets of the Dead Lands (this book) provides a sourcebook and history of the entire setting. This is where you’ll find most of the descriptions and explanations for the current state of the Dead Lands and its inhabitants.
  2. Faces of the Dead Lands (Available now) provides the game rules, stats, and histories of all the NPCs mentioned in the other books. This also includes unique magic items and other major rules that might affect play.
  3. Terrors of the Dead Lands (Available now) provides the rules for monsters and NPCs as they appear in the setting. Since this was released years before the rest of these books, there is an addendum section to this book which has been added to Faces of the Dead Lands at the end.
  4. The Emissary (Available now) is the first introductory adventure set in the Dead Lands. Within you will find descriptions and stats for relevant NPCs relisted in their shortened form for efficiency.


Official Release V1 (February 2022)


Original Design and Development Team 1999



ADVICE AND ASSISTANCE Bruce Nesmith, Bill Slavicsek

3.5e Conversion Teams 2007, 2013, 2020

ORIGINAL CONTENT DESIGN Daniel Bandera, Brax, Austin Butcher, Will Kendrick

DEVELOPMENT AND EDITING Austin Butcher, Adam Cieszlak, Gabriel Cormier, Mark Hope, Will Kendrick, John Machielsen, Jack Meyer, Chris Simpson

PROJECT COORDINATORS Daniel Bandera, Brax, Austin Butcher, Jack Meyer

LAYOUT Eric Anondson, Austin Butcher, Jack Meyer

COVER ARTIST Thiago De Souza

INTERIOR ARTISTS Toren Atkinson, Steven Bell, Jane Bradley, Raven Daegmorgan, Mike Fleming, Scott Harshbarger, Izhar Ben Yosef, Jack Meyer

CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS Jørgen Bech Pedersen, June Soler

CARTOGRAPHERS Gaberil Gayn, Yanick Moreau, Charles Simpson

ADVICE AND ASSISTANCE Robert Adducci, Chris Flipse, Sébastien Gamache, Stuart Lynch