3. Key Statistics
- Population: Unknown (but all are believed undead, or mortal followers of Hela)
- Ruler: The Black Triumvirate
- Religion: Hela, Niht
- Imports: Corpses
- Exports: None
The Withered Lands is an accursed realm. Only clerics of Scaetha and brave adventurers seeking a name for themselves ever venture into its accursed depths, and of the latter few ever return.
The majority of undead created during Hela’s opening of the Abyss quickly made their way to the Winding Peaks (p. 70), where the Liche-Priest, the greatest undead ever to have unlived, had awakened. Once here, they served their dark master as the shadow of his bony hand stretched forth for hundreds of leagues into the lands of the living.
As the tide began to turn in favor of the living, three of his most powerful lieutenants, all liches of considerable power and cunning intelligence, were ordered to secrete themselves in lower Rassilon and place themselves into hibernation until they were needed. Each hid his physical remains in a secluded upland area known in those days as Meadow Heath, a lightly-settled highland region famed for its numerous springs and streams. Awakened by Hela’s command shortly after the Blizzard War (when it became evident the Liche-Priest was entombed beyond her grasp), the three liches quickly took the initiative, using fell magic to corrupt Meadow Heath into a cesspit of darkness, the ill-favored Black Heath.
By the time the followers of Scaetha learned of the vile corruption, the dark trio had called thousands of undead to their sides already. At first, the paladins waged open war alone, recruiting others to their cause only as time passed and the enormity of the task they had undertaken became apparent. This proved a costly mistake, for while the clerics were relentless in their prosecution of the war, their numbers were too few to have any great impact on the undead menace luring on the moors.
When the Golem Uprising drew away large numbers of their allied troops to protect their homelands, the paladins could only watch in horror as the Black Triumvirate extended their reach into neighboring Darkwood. After several costly campaigns the paladins finally managed to contain the undead, but they lacked the numbers to destroy them. Fortunately, such was their wrath that the liches’ armies were left shattered, unable to advance out of the Withered Lands.
These days the paladins opt for containment and covert raids, having encircled the region with a string of motte-and-bailey forts and temples, as well as the castle at Deathwatch. Unfortunately, paladins and priests for garrison duty are in short supply, and the majority of garrisoning is carried out by mercenaries. Though skilled warriors, they lack the dedication of Scaetha’s followers and are prone to panic when undead emerge from the mists. Wages and maintenance costs are placing a huge burden on the temples of Scaetha.