The Drylands (Pathfinder)
The Scourged Plains are a no-man’s land of foul fog and psionic monstrosities deposited during the Second Collapse in AC 96. The Entobians of that time period didn’t realize the threat until the plains west of the desert were thoroughly saturated with alien life. When they realized the threat, they were barely able to hold the desert, and probably wouldn’t except for the freak accident that led to the rise of the Dromites.
Over the last roughly 600 years, the Dromites and Entobians have been involved in an on-again, off-again war with the Scourge. Countless Scourge warrens have been burnt by the Dromites and Entobians, but the insectoids can never feel safe with an enemy that can burrow into their homes unseen and begin converting their neighbors to form an army within their gates.
The Scourged Plains have no vegetation. Instead, crystals grow in all shapes and sizes. Flat clusters of them stretch across the ground. Tiny crystals form thin, twisted structures that stretch towards the sky. Single boulder-size crystals vibrate to the touch.
The thin rocky soil should offer no resistance to the dunes of the southern Entobian Desert, but the dunes stay in place due to a series of underground lakes (similar to the Badain Jaran Desert in northern China) and thus the plains tend to be rocky, with only a thin layer of sand in the areas closest to the desert.
While the Entobians and Dromites are more concerned with how to destroy the psionic incursion than understanding it, they do have a few theories. The most popular is that the crystals are the end result of competition between more typical plant life in some foreign world with prevalent psionics. Plants would develop crystalline psi-conductive features and eventually move into a full crystal form as their previous features because more and more irrelevant. Research into these crystals show they can gain power from sunlight, minerals, water, and flesh, depending on the crystal. Instead of converting it into sugars and bio-energy like plants, they convert it into psi-energy which can either be leeched from them by proximity or consumption by the various psionic denizens of the Scourged Plains. Various crystals have different resistances or defenses which make that energy harvest more difficult, suggesting an evolutionary arms race similar to that between plants and herbivores. In all cases, they emit an orange gas that can be thick enough to obscure vision and unpleasant enough to induce nausea.