Development Discussion for Dead Lands

A deft solution. Nicely said.

We cannot guarantee we’ll be making the perfect book(s), but our goal is to give you all something you can enjoy using.


Pulling over my comment from the other thread…

Yeah, I saw this whole conversation over in the other thread. A shame they didn’t respond here.
Can we close old threads somehow?

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Yes, I can close or archive topics. Let me know what you need

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TL:DR The Dead Lands are not larger than the Kreen Empire.

There have been multiple maps for the southern continent floating around recently, depicting the Dead Lands as covering roughly half the continent containing the Tablelands.

The team that is working on finishing the Dead Lands (Secrets of the Dead Lands, Faces, and the adventures-incl The Emissary) has decided to make some adjustments to the continental map in advance of their releases.

This is being done to accomplish at least these two goals:
-stop everyone from unnecessarily speculating about the size/whereabouts of the Dead Lands (according to the official project specs from and provides the project team with stability / time to finish the project.

-provide everyone with a rough landscape beyond the official Dead Lands setting expansion (and Sundered Lands work) to fill up all you like.

With this we hope to accommodate the community with much needed clarity around the Dead Lands.

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Right, as @johndoe heralded, I’m going to drop a Dead Lands teaser.

We’ve been working on the Dead Lands book for a while now, and all the locations are pretty much settled down at last. But that left the issue as to how this was going to interface with the rest of the world. The old map had the major disadvantage of being an isolated form without any thought to the surroundings, and the Athasian Cartographer’s Guild’s wonderful planetary creation had the problem of making the Dead Lands larger than the Kreen Empire!

To further fuel the fire, the old test map Jhonny and I came up with for the expanded Dead Lands has been making the rounds.

So, I’ve updated the entire southern continent map now for everyone’s benefit.

A few comments:
1.) I know it ain’t that pretty. Yet.
2.) The main purpose of this map is to constrain the Obsidian, so there is a defined limit to it in every single direction, and I’ve set some plausible scale. (The red square is exactly the same size as the 4e Tablelands map, using the same scale).
3.) The square in read is the area we’ll be detailing in Secrets of the Dead Lands releases.
4.) Yes, surrounding it are several selected features from the “Dead Lands of Athas” netbook. We’ll be coming back to that at a later date…
5.) I’ve intentionally left a lot of the areas surrounding the Dead Lands without any specific descriptions on purpose, so you guys have areas to play with.

Here you go, in zoomable vector .PDF form!

Have a look, let me know your feedback, and enjoy!


Whelp time to redraw Green Age Ulyan on my own map :cold_sweat:


Do post/share that map somewhere. Would love to see that or read about how you are using Ulyan / the Green Age.

Posted the very, very wip in the world maps thread, I believe I used nuejack’s dead lands revised map from the link there as the basis for Ulyan. I had to add in a lot of locations from SoTDL manually as best guesses such as Sagramog, this new map is much better lol

Perhaps one of the most confusing things is how exactly Ulyan fits in with the Sunrise Sea to the east- presumably the sea was level with the tablelands, but the tablelands are ‘1000 ft’ above Ulyan, and Neowar’s Ladder apparently 'rises to the coastal cliffs" so eastern Ulyan rises 1000 feet in a series of cliffs, but the tops of those cliffs are…coastal? How does the sunrise sea not spill down into the basin? As neat as the concept of a high-elevation sea spilling down into Sagramog is, its pretty silly. Add a ‘coastal city’ like Biga Fy Te in and it gets even more confusing.

In this newer version are the Deadlands still growing? If so, is it still a slow rate?

Hey @Killer_DM:

No, they’re not growing. The boiling ruin/obsidian flow was a one time event. They would grow though if the gate is unblocked.

That runs contradictory to the original SotDL text. I can look up the exact line later.

I’m sorry for the confusion.

That old map that’s suddenly gained popularity was an alpha test for a map I was working on with Jhonny based on my own conversion of Dead Lands from the old 2e material and the DLoA netbook. The problem was, I’d done a lot of work on that without knowing that the Dead Lands book had already been mostly finished for 3e elsewhere. So when I finally gained access to the 3e conversion, I had to start again on the map.

The .pdf you see now above in this latest version is my effort to set things right with that confusion. This map is now correct to the Secrets of the Dead Lands manuscript we’re working with, and also the surrounding lands finally resolve the question as to how big this obsidian really is.

As for the depth measures— only where the main lands touch the dead lands does it have that deep cliff. on the eastern, western, and southwestern frontiers the heights vary. By the time you get to biga-fe-tye, the land slope has gone up so that the obsidian is only just above “sea/silt level”. Similarly, most of the Zagath homeland is close to silt level. This is the way a large but thin amount of blackglass spilled into the silt sea.

Now this latest map here is meant to stir discussion. If I’ve missed anything let’s talk about it now, so I can get a finalised version and then try to politely ask Jhonny to help me one more time…

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I just ran a check on the current manuscript, the closest you get is page 7:

The larger mysteries of the region are seeds for a longer, protracted series of adventures. While this zone is a slowly expanding evil, seeking to encroach ever farther into the surrounding wastelands,

Thing is, this could be interpreted in many ways. I take it as influence, not the literal obsidian. Besides, there is a 1000’ shelf blocking it from the Endless Dunes, and the obsidian has been cold for nearly 2200 years (stable enough to build very big cities on it).

Bear in mind this is not the 2e document. A LOT has been added and tweaked since then, by two different teams before our current team ever got a hold of it. Plus, we’ve been making small adjustments to harmonise it with the Faces and Adventures books, and fix issues they never thought through with the geography.

That’s a shame, because it was in the opening paragraphs of the 2E text. It felt as if part of the mission statement.

The reality, however, is that the Dead Lands are genuine and growing, sluggishly but certainly, with all the patience of the immortals who inhabit them.

Yeah. I had to get used to a lot of things changing about the Dead Lands when I switched to the 3e manuscript, and started working from here. (For one thing, there are a LOT more factions and sub-factions…)

But in the end, I found the changes are a net gain. Having it be more stable makes for good exploration and intrigue-based campaigns, rather than existential threat “it must be stopped” types of games.

This section of the 2E text is also very open to interpretation. Is it the geographical Dead Lands or the ‘influence’ that is growing? And even if it’s the geographical Dead Lands, sure that could happen but only in the sense that there will be more undead moving about the borders which eventually move out of the Obsidian Plains.

I haven’t read anything definitively or conclusively non-ambiguous about growth or expansion, not in the original 2E text, not in the 3/3.5E texts that previous teams worked on, nor in the one our team is working to finish. The same can be said from one popular other source, which is Gerald Arthur Lewis’s DLoA Netbook

What I have read over and over again is that a hold came to the obsidian flowing through the gate from the para-elemental plane of magma due to the interference of the Seventh Tree (a giant-ass Tree of Life). It literally says in the text that its roots block the gate and the cooled down magma 500 feet below the City of a 1,000 Dead.

There is also a section on ‘what if the gate would be opened again’ which describes with a counting daily projection what would happen to the Ulyan basin, the sections in it, and following that the Tablelands. This section is literally given as cataclysmic event, a campaign killer, or at least total game changer depending on the actions of a high-level party.

All the things that are there lead me at least to interpret that line of text from the 2E version not in the geographically expanding obsidian plain sense, but in the political / undead ambition / motivation sense of the inhabitants of the Dead Lands.

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And that is precisely it. Thank you.

This gate could be opened, and then all hell would break loose again. But for now it’s plugged up, and the lands themselves have settled themselves geologically, with all sorts of interesting geographical and even geopolitical consequences.

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Hello everyone!

I wanted to give some updates on the Dead Lands Project as it stands today (27 Sept 2021).

Secrets of the Dead Lands: We finally finished the main map. There were a few details/contradictions we needed to work out, but that’s been done. Now all that’s left is making sure the images we want are in the book, and our final checks when the other books are done.

Faces of the Dead Lands: All the character stats have been finished, and we’re on our second pass now to ensure quality control, descriptions, items, spell lists, skills, etc. are all hunky dory. But that’s still continuing apace.

The Emissary: We’ve decided to leave it a completely separate document from Adventures in the Dead Lands for IP reasons. But beyond that, the 3.5e update is nearly finished, including rebalancing the encounters’ ELs so it works as a challenge for a 14th level party in this edition (as was the original intent). All that’s left are a couple of details, a couple of maps, and the same final checks we’ll apply to the others.

Adventures in the Dead Lands: We figured if we want you guys to playtest this properly, we needed to give you some ways to do so. And so we’re aiming to develop 5-6 more adventures at various levels which will bring your party into the Black Basin, and give them special things to do while they’re here. (You know: come for the obsidian, stay because…well…you’ve been eaten by a giant zombie…) We’ve just selected the adventures we’ll be using from a long list of candidate ideas, so development is focusing on them now

Either way, we’re still aiming to have this handed over to the Templars for release by the end of the year. Cross your fingers/antennae/bones/tentacles/etc. that this may become the perfect gift for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day!