The Blasted Lands bears that name for a reason: the area was twisted by the magic that brought the Dark Portal into being, spewing the rampaging Horde out onto Azeroth.
This wasted desert of red clay is home to the original Dark Portal. The portal still stands, and leads to Draenor (used to lead to Outland). Nethergarde Keep, a Stormwind fortress of dour mages and paladins, keeps watch over the portal and the demons and ogres that would abuse its power.
Now, the wretched land hosts few inhabitants and no significant settlements. Magic that leaked through the Dark Portal warped the Blasted Lands, leaving an infertile desert landscape. Hardy desert species like Basilisks, Scorpions and Hyenas have since colonized the area. The red rocks of the region do not come by their color naturally. The original tan color was transmuted into the unearthly crimson by searing heat and chaotic energies when the Dark Portal was destroyed.
There is but one usable road in the Blasted Lands, guarded at the north by Nethergarde Keep’s grim mages. They have the unenviable task of watching the Dark Portal, guarding the rest of the continent from the demons in the south and protecting themselves from the ogre tribes that roam the desert. The weather here is dry and hot during the day and bitterly cold at night. Mountains block any moisture that may come from the Swamp of Sorrows to the north, and no rivers grace this land. The eastern coast will occasionally get storms from the sea, but these downpours come so quickly the water merely runs off the packed earth and back into the sea.
The keepers of Nethergarde have an uptight and uncheerful disposition that seems appropriate in light of the danger they face daily. The warriors and mages fight every day with the ogre magi and demons that threaten either to destroy the keep or take over the Dark Portal. This tightly knit community experiences little crime, however. Those found breaking the agreements they take on when accepting a post at the Keep are sent for a time to the Stockade in Stormwind.
This foul desert was once a dark fen of marshlands called the Black Morass; a sort of sub-region of the Swamp of Sorrows. This is the area where the orcish Horde first entered Azeroth through the Dark Portal, followed soon by their attack on the human lands to the northwest. The lands around the former Dark Portal are burnt and dead, forever warped by the powers that followed its destruction. Lightning strikes are constant, and the inhospitable land is home to groups of especially vicious and powerful creatures. A sizable remnant of the Burning Legion has taken refuge within the Tainted Scar. It is still watched over by the wizards of Dalaran within the Fortress of Nethergarde, established by the Archmage Khadgar after the second war. The unique and dangerous opportunities presented in such a harsh landscape has also attracted the notice of the Blood Elves and the Horde.
As if the Horde weren’t enough, Dreadmaul ogres also came through the Dark Portal. Unlike the orcs, they remained in the Blasted Lands. Nethergarde’s mages tell that the ogres serve Lord Kazzak. Whoever their master is, he orders them to attack the Alliance’s keep on an uncomfortably regular basis.
The Blasted Lands were once littered with gold mines, and heavily populated with centaur.
This desolate and barren land has very little in the way of flora and fauna, barring the demons which now wander the plains.
There are no instanced dungeons or battlegrounds in this zone.
Alliance: From Duskwood, head east through Deadwind Pass, be sure to stay to the northern edge of the zone where there are no mobs. Once through the pass and into the Swamp of Sorrows, make for the center of the southern border. A pass through the mountains there should take you into the Blasted Lands.
Horde: From Stonard in the Swamp of Sorrows, head southwest. The pass into the Blasted Lands should be very close to the Horde outpost.