Green Age Civilization & Religion


#1

Forgive me if this has been covered exhaustively elsewhere. Additionally, I no longer have any of my Dark Sun books and can’t really reference them with regards to my inquiry.

I seem to recall the Wanderer from the 1st edition boxed set waxing poetic about the Green Age being such an era of prosperity that warriors could afford to encase themselves entirely in metal and undertake violence for the sake of mere honour. That, and a few references to castles and the like in the rpg books, as well as a few in a Kevin J. Anderson short story I read once (featuring a minotaur merchant seafarer from the lost age, no less!) lead me to think the Green Age was analogous to the idealized medieval Europe of most fantasy rpgs.

That said, Mind Lords of the Last Sea, if I remember correctly, purportedly centered around the intact Green Age city of Saragar, which seemed to have a Bronze/Iron Age Aegean look and feel.

I realize talking Dark Sun canon is a bit like trying to talk Traveller canon (the gulf between Megatraveller and the New Era alone…), but I’m curious what everyone’s impressions are, even if they’re merely preferences and interpretations.

With regard to religion, I remember a passage from the first Dark Sun novel (the one with Fabio wearing a leopard skin on it… Agis of Asticles, perhaps?) in which the characters encounter a forgotten temple in under-Tyr. The temple springs to life in the their presence, suggesting at least a residual divine power. Is Athas similar to Krynn in that the gods abandoned it, or are we meant to believe there never were any gods? If the latter, can anyone think of any references to the religions of the Green Age, be they merely the mention of lost temples and the like?


#2

Couple of different things here. There have been a lot of different interpretations to gods and the lack thereof, and then reconciling that with the Temple from Under-Tyr (or the planar gate in Giustenal for that matter).
This is not helped by the ambiguity that Dark Sun thrived in. So in 2nd edition speak, each Prime Material plane has its own rules, and for Athas that includes that divine magic can only come from the Elemental planes, Spirit of the Lands, or the Sorceror Kings. So how can a forgotten temple come alive, and what was going on there.
Explanation 1: the forgotten god was simply a powerful Elemental Prince
Explanation 2: its all faked by psionics. The “god” has no power, but the temple itself is psionically active. Essentially a lingering enchantment.
In my campaigns I have no interest in bringing gods to Athas, but I could understand wanting to. Bringing the God’s back might be fun. Perhaps that temple is like a crack in the wall the keeps the gods out of Athas, and if worship spread that wall could be broken.


(Jonathan Gomez) #3

If really depends of the take on you want to take for your Dark Sun. In the 4e version, gods did existed in Dark Sun, but were either killed or driven away to other worlds in the Dawn War (a conflict in the dawn of the multiverse that pitted gods against primordials—elemental beings with power to rival the gods). So, the 4e version explain those temples as places dedicated to those forgotten gods.

There is no divine power in the 4e version, though. The shamans and clerics got their powers from elemental (primal) sources, while the powers granted by the Sorcerer-Kings are arcane in nature.

So, taking the 4e approach, a god could have returned. Yet, as Phil said, I also don’t want to bring back gods to Athas (I feel it loses its essence). So, a demon or elemental prince can help here. Or perhaps the remaining divine power of a dead god.


(Mr Eco) #4

Both the Original and the Revised settings state that there were never any true gods. People developed religions at some point, but no true cleric existed. Instead, elementals empowered them for their spells and their abilities. So one may find ancient temples dedicated to gods and goddesses with names long gone, but they give no powers. On the other hand, sorcerer-kings often masqueraded as gods, granting spells to their believers.

As for civilization, Saragar to me looks more akin to Roman Republic, if not a utopia set in the Mediterranean during 2nd and 1st centuries BC. The technology, the clothing, the arms and equipment, all point towards that age, dubbed Hellenistic period.


#5

Well except for the surfer druids. Those don’t come from the Roman Republic.


(Mr Eco) #6

Well, Greeks had the surfer hoplites, Romans had the pipeline centurions, and outback druids were among the best surfing Celts. Germans (Anglo-Saxons, Franks, Goths, etc.) were notorious for being bad at surfing, hence the ban on everything surf-related when they conquered Europe.


#7

On the Green Age, it lasted a long time.

-14,000 FY Beginning of the Green Age
-9,500 FY the mind lords come to power
-5,000 FY the time of magic
-3,500 FY the Cleansing Wars Began.

Saragar could have been from a bronze/ iron age. 2,000 years later in the Green Age, could easily have developed into an idealized medieval Europe age, with knights minotaur merchants and all the rest like other fantasy rpgs.


(Jaan) #8

I’ve taken the approach that there were gods on Athas (in the Blue Age) but they were young, relatively weak, lacked a large base of followers and were locked in conflict with the primordals. As such, the side effect of the brown tide - the killing of so much life at one time and throwing its life-force into the astral plain - was to kick off the creation of the grey (there are references in 2e material that some mages think the grey is getting thicker over time).

Over time, this made the connection between the outer plains and gods harder and less reliable (think interference / reduced bandwidth). In turn, this weakened the connection between clerics and their gods.

The result of this is that over time, the gods slowly were cut off from Athas, lost interest or were defeated. This does not mean clerics are not playable in the blue age or th early green age, but by the time of the late green age / brown age it would require certain magical devices that create a permanent conduit to the outer plains (a clear connection) to enable a cleric to function, or perhaps there are certain locations (e.g. the temple in under Tyr) where the grey is very thin, allowing clerics to commune with their gods there; i.e. they would be very rare and very limited in their playability as PCs.

I’ve run campaigns focused on long-lost (and now very weak) gods being re-awakend, then enlisting the PCs to try and steal the ‘spark’ from a Dragon King (I used the 3.5e rules re: Divine rank, gave the SK’s Divine rank 0).


#9

There might not be a conflict between the apparent reference to knight’s and chivalry on the one hand and the Greek/Roman feel of Saragar on the other. In rl, the Greek hoplites wore heavy bronze armor, and the Roman’s wore quite a bit of metal armor as well. They both had notions of honor and fought over insults and slights. It was definitely not chivalry. But I can totally imagine an Athasian, used to fighting for water and survival, being astounded by Achilles’ pursuit of everlasting glory at the cost of his own life. And maybe even describing it as fighting for “honor.”

Personally, I like to imagine the Green Age as having a bit of a sci-fi feel. Maybe like Stargate (the movie), but with a Greek feel instead of an Egyptian one. They were rich, advanced, and possessed of fantastic psionic “technology.” The game designers definitely wanted Dark Sun to have a bit of a sci-fi flair, and I think this way of thinking about the Green Age is consistent with that original intent.