Most branches of the great World Tree are noisy and full of powerful spirits: the battle cries of Valhalla, the shrieking of various hells and planes of torment, the fulsome chorus of celestial planes devoted to the harmonious celebration of the divine.
The Dry Lands: The Plane of Mot, Dark God of the Undead
By comparison, Evermaw, the plane of the dark god Mot (and the equally notorious Vardesain and Anu-Akma, fellow gods of the dead), is notable for its silence—a plane of enormous deserts of bones, dunes of dust, and rivers of blood and tears. These are the Dry Lands, the plane where life extends past its appointed span, where fate itself is thwarted with regularity, and where liches, vampires, and ghouls gather in enormous numbers to praise their patron and the font of vileness, to cheat death, to praise their protection against a certain voyage into the hells and the joy and strength of the god of the undead and his near-infinite legions.
Cheating Death and Praising Unlife
While most gods depend on the prayers and offerings of the living, Mot derives his power from the praise of the undead and the animated—from skeletons and zombies compelled to ape out thousands of near-meaningless (yet still efficacious) masses and sermons and from the much richer work of vampires in Morgau or the god-kings of Nuria-Natal in their deep and hidden crypts where their prayers and invocations echo year upon year through the centuries, offering praise to Mot and staving off true death for but a little longer.
Entering the Dry Lands
The plane of Mot itself is easy to reach for the undead; spells such as skull road open the pathway between any tomb and the Dry Lands. Gnolls and the priests of Anu-Akma are familiar with this path, said to be a ley line that was corrupted millennia ago, perhaps at the founding of Nuria itself, to lead not to other planes or to shadow but directly into the River of Tears and thus to the Eternal Palace.
The dry lands are home to several varieties of extremely strange terrain, rarely found elsewhere other than sometimes in particular hells. These are described below for the possible warning of future travelers.
Bone Deserts: The most common terrain within the Dry Place is bone desert; its sand is powdered bone and pebbles of bone not yet worn quite so small. Dunes, ramparts, and pebbled stretches of bone extend for miles. In some places, the bone itself is transformed by magic or the blood of the living into a cement-like material, suitable for building towers, castles, and walls. As undead require very little in the way of rest or nourishment, most buildings are built for reasons of status, display, or trade.
Caverns of Unmaking: Tunnels and passages within the Dry Lands are often filled with raw necrotic energy that pulses through narrow spaces in waves. These inflict a body-wracking 3d12 hp necrotic damage (DC 16 Constitution for half). Undead find these caverns welcoming and healing; the necrotic damage restores both their energy and their sense of purpose. So many such caverns are inhabited by intelligent undead.
Cliffs of Gathered Memory: Undead who have fallen into a state of minimal energy are often brought to this famous orange stone, carved to resemble a sort of honeycomb, miles wide and over 500 feet tall. Each small, hermetic chamber of the cliffs gathers memories from the undead and preserves their spirit, keeping it from advancing (or more to the point, descending) to other planes of being. The voices of millions can be heard within the cliffs. Distinguishing any particular voice or speaking with a particular undead spirit is impossible without speak with dead, ancient shade, or similar magic.
Living creatures that enter the small chambers suffer a powerful psychic attack that can both paralyze and weaken them. The white and orange walls within are soothing to undead, but living creatures find them stultifying, mind numbing, and oppressive. Unless a living creature makes a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw, they become immobile for 1 hour and take 2d12 hp psychic damage, their minds filled with visions of decay and death. Affected creatures must make another saving throw after 1 hour if still in the chamber or suffer the same effects again. Creatures that make a successful saving throw are permanently immune to the psychic attacks of that particular chamber.
Crackling Forests: The forests of the Dry Lands are not green but rather cartilaginous masses of splintered bones and dry, leathery leaves covered with fine black hair. These conglomerate into enormous, fernlike and treelike structures that the undead find impossibly beautiful and stirring and that living creatures find quite revolting or at least disturbing. Entering such a crackling forest requires a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw; those who succeed overcome their revulsion while those who fail must either be blindfolded or must take a long rest and try again—the place is simply hideously repellant.
When cut or broken, the trees themselves bleed a black milk that undead find nourishing and pleasant. Ghouls, vampires, and other corporeal undead delight in cracking open the hairy bark and gorging themselves on this thick syrup. For such creatures, devouring 1 pint of black milk is as restorative as devouring a living creature.
Eyes of Mot: While all gods have servants, those of Mot are especially obvious: flocks of undead vultures circle his realm at all times and are occasionally sent into the mortal world to see the success or failure of some plot or scheme that might further the dark god’s goals. These undead can be treated as hawks, though they rarely enter combat. Their ragged feathers keep them above the fray, and their keen vision allows them to see and report on events anywhere in the realms of Undeath.
Eternal Palace of Mot: The Eternal Palace is a maze within a tomb, boxed into a labyrinth and hidden under miles of bone and dust. The entrance is a rather plain cavern guarded by two enormous, hulking gnolls with skeletal grins and halos of dark green runes (treat as void giants from Creature Codex). The interior is made of various rich materials, all supposedly taken from tombs, including golden couches and rich carpets, ebony tables and a throne of pure silver chased with a smell of dust and decay and embossed with shadows and motes of pure necrotic fire. The rooms are all quite grim under their gilding, reminiscent of tombs and mausoleums. A few bedchambers and kitchens are provided for those guests who require food and sleep, but most of the halls are kept bone-chillingly cold at night, and the air itself is rank; undead do not trouble to heat the palace nor to ventilate it properly.
River of Blood: This peculiar river reeks of iron and decay, like old blood or a butcher’s abattoir. Undead are the only creatures able to enter its waters without risk; all other creatures suffer 2d6 necrotic damage for each round spent touching or immersed in it. The river itself is a muddy red tone, and undead often cluster along its banks. Small sections of congealed, scab-like material line the edges of the river. Undead from the plane of Evermaw call it Mother River or just the River. Its course meanders through hundreds of miles and ends in an enormous cataract said to lead directly to the Hell of Blood.
Some vampires and other blood drinkers find it very difficult to leave the River of Blood. They continue to feed over hours and days, growing to enormous, swollen sizes and attaining a distended appearance similar to an engorged tick. Their limbs and body often take on a bruised hue, and their hands, feet, and belly are often so round as to make mobility difficult. In some cases, these “deep drinkers” float along the river until reaching the planar cataract mentioned previously. Most undead believe that these undead are reborn as devils in the Hell of Blood…
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