The Badlands is the name given to a desolate region of barren rock, arid plains and searing desert that stretches between the towering Worlds Edge Mountains and the shores of the Black Gulf located in the southernmost tip of the Old World. It is a land notorious for harbouring the largest concentration of Greenskin tribes outside of the Darklands, as well as containing many degenerate remnants of fallen civilisations. To venture into the Badlands is to take your life in your own hands, for safe travel is impossible, even to those accompanied by a large and heavily armoured army. Even without the inhospitable nature of its inhabitants, the Badlands are a harsh and unforgiving landscape.
Within the lands themselves, there lie many strange rock formations that rise in twisted shapes from the barren earth, and crumbling, haunted ruins from the time of the ancient Mourkain Empire which once claimed ownership of the land in every direction. All manner of predators both living and dead prowl the wasteland. Ghouls stalk the craggy bluffs, black feathered carrion birds circle overhead, and packs of ravening Chaos Hounds constantly stalk for easy prey under the light of the green-lit moon. In the southern reaches of the Badlands dwell a great number of Ogre tribes, and they will suffer no trespassers to enter their territory.
Countless tribes of Greenskins have called the Badlands home over the centuries; indeed, it is said that there are enough Orcs and Goblins in the Badlands to form an army big enough to invade the Old World many times over, if they could only stop fighting between themselves and reliably unite for a common cause. Unlikely as it sounds, Dwarfs have come to the Badlands in search of the precious blue crystal Brynduraz, also called Brightstone. They are looking for a rumoured Mourkain tunnel which links the Badlands to the mines of Mount Gunbad, the only source of Brynduraz in the entire Old World.
The history of the Badlands is an extensive, going back for many thousands of years. Long before Greenskin tribes stalked the lands or even when the Empire was formed by King Sigmar, the territories of the Badlands were claimed by many different races in its existence. Humans, Dwarfs, Undead and Greenskin have once carved their own Empires into this harsh landscape.
The Doom of Dragonback (-1500 to -1020 IC)
Long before even the rise of both Human, Undead or Greenskin, it was the Dwarfs who were the first to truly colonise and claim a part of the Badlands as their own. Their territories is confined within the towering peaks of the Dragonback Mountains in the West and the foothills of the Worlds Edge Mountains to the East. The Mines of Ekrund were later founded by the Angbok Clan, and in time became a proper Dwarfen stronghold in its own right, claiming the territory of all Dragonback as their own. To the eastern edge of the Badlands, the towering strongholds of Karak Drazh and Karak Eight Peaks were formed from the side of the mountain range as well. The port-city of Barak Varr were also formed at the mouth of the Blood River and Skull River, located within the northern borders of the Badlands. The innermost territories of the Badlands were never claimed by the Dwarfs due to the harsh climate and a lack of mineral wealth to be found, and as such, remained mostly as an untamed wilderness.
This territorial domination all came to an end in -1449 IC when great earthquakes shook the lands of the Old World. The Dwarfs, once at the height of their power, have now become victims to the marauding hordes of Greenskins and the onset of the Goblin Wars. With their fortresses cracked open, the Greenskins flooded through the Worlds Edge Mountains and began to steadily conquer all the territories of the Badlands in a matter of decades. By -1498 IC, the mines of Ekrund were the first to be conquered by the Greenskins after much prolong fighting, renaming the conquered settlement now as Bloodhorn. With Ekrund conquered and the Holds of Karak Drazh and Karak Eight Peaks besieged, the Badlands were steadily populated by the arrival of more Greenskin tribes migrating from the East.
The Kingdom of Strygos (-1020 to -950 IC)
Although the Greenskins have conquered much of the northern and eastern Badlands as their own, they are still competing with the Human tribes that still held sway to the territories to the south. In the very distant past, the territories that would comprise much of the southern Badlands was originally dominated by many Human tribes who were subjects to the Kings of Nehekhara following the conquest of King Setep of Khemri some 1,200 years before the birth of Sigmar and the founding of the Empire. However, following the destruction of Nehekhara at the hands of Nagash, the tribes of Humans living around the Badlands were united under the charismatic and powerful leadership of a local Shaman named Kadon.
As a young man, Kadon was a Shaman, and also the young leader of the Lodringen Tribe. The rise of power and popularity of Kadon came about when the Shaman found the deceased and bloated remains of Alcadizaar the Conqueror, the last King of Nehekhara upon the banks of the Blind River. From his hand lay an ominous crown of Iron known in history as the Crown of Sorcery. Filled with the corrupting influence of the crown, Kadon commanded his people to build a magnificent tomb for Alcadizaar and around that tomb, their settlement evolved into a city that came to be called Mourkain. As both he and his people began to grow powerful, Kadon began a campaign of conquest against the Greenskin tribes of the northern Badlands, pushing the Greenskins out of their territories and claiming all the land from Mourkain to the Black Gulf as his own.
With the covert assistance of Ushoran, first of the Strigoi bloodline of Vampires, Kadon saw the city grow over the years into an empire which, at its height, stretched from the Marshes of Madness all the way to the Black Gulf. Kadon developed and refined the art of necromancy to further Nagash's work, and he created several powerful magical artefacts dedicated to the raising and controlling of the Undead. After some time, Kadon was replaced by Ushoran as the new leader of Styrgos. The rapid expansion of the Strygos civilisation drove many Greenskins out of their settlements in the Badlands and into the World's Edge Mountains.
The bellicose Orcs could not ignore this encroachment onto their territory forever. Eventually, the Orc tribes united in a massive Waaagh! under a mighty Orcish Warlord named Dork Redeye and marched upon the city of Mourkain with a huge and imposing army. Despite being well-schooled in the Necromantic arts, both the Strigany people and the Strigoi Vampire were no match for the amassed might of the fearsome Greenskins and were slaughtered wholesale, their cities and villages burned to the ground. A massive battle was fought outside the gates of Mourkain itself, during which Ushoran was slain by the Orc warboss, although his crown was taken by his chief acolyte and spirited away before Ushoran's army was defeated. The Strygos Empire was destroyed entirely, so much so that the only indication of it ever existing are the eerie cursed ruins that haunt the Marsh of Madness. With their homelands lost, the Strigany people headed north into the Old World, living a nomadic existence amongst the Human kingdoms that have been established there.
Modern Day (2525 IC)
With the fall of Strygos, the Greenskin tribes soon reign supreme over the lands. Never again shall either Human, Dwarf or Undead ever reclaim these lands as their own ever again, for the Greenskins have become simply too numerous to dislodge. Human armies, Dwarf expeditions, or even Undead Hordes of the Strigoi bloodline have vied time and again to reclaim some of these lands from the Greenskin threat, and time and again they've been thrown back. Without any serious external threat to unite the Greenskin tribes, they soon fell prey to animosity and infighting, breaking into smaller Tribes spread across the arid landscape.
Without any proper leadership, the tribes of the Badlands are scattered and divided, and until the time comes when a Warlord of great strength and cunning can unite them, the Badlands will only be a region of constant and bloody warfare, with bones of the dead littering the landscape for miles upon miles around.
- Barak Varr - whilst the Badlands are devoid of any civilisations, there remains one bastion of Order located in the northern borders. This ancient bastion is the Dwarf Sea Fortress of Barak Varr. Wrought into the sides of the massive cliffs where the lands meets the sea of the Black Gulf, Barak Varr is the home to the Dwarfen fleet of invincible ironships.
- Border Princes - separated from the Empire by the Black Mountains, the Border Princes are a loose confederation of fiefdoms and robber barons that have built themselves into their own independent nations. Those who are unhappy with the status quo of the Empire or other such lands often leave for a "better life" in the Border Princes. But what they find is a land even more dangerous than their previous homes, where petty princelings war on each other, farmsteads are raided by marauding Greenskins and pirates from Sartosa will come looking for plunder and slaves.
- Warhammer: Blood within the Badlands (Campaign) -- pg. 6.