Seeking information about Athas in Cleansing Wars

Hey guys! A couple of years ago I started an ambitious project. I am about to run 5e adventure (for 1-20 levels) which would allow players to participate in the Cleansing Wars and would show the key events of Dark Sun world: birth of Dead Lands, transforming sea into Sea of Silt, imprisonment of Rajaat and so on.
Of course I had to convert 5e to Dark Sun setting. I did not like any conversions which I found so I started doing it myself. Recently I finally finished it. I converted and rebalanced equipment options, 8 classes (ranger, barbarian, fighter, cleric, psion, wizard, bard, druid) and all spells. If you are interested, I will gladly share it with the community, but this is not the main thing.
The thing is, I can’t find much information about Athas before the Cleansing Wars. The most informative source is DS3.5 on this site and it is a real source of inspiration. But much is still covered in fog. I would be very grateful if anyone could help me find information on the following topics:

  • The races targeted by the Cleansing Wars. I found some information (including unofficial information) about gnomes, trolls, wemics, tari, pixies, lizardmen, but what about orcs, goblins, ogres, elves, kobolds and so on? Where they lived? What was their culture? How were they exterminated?
  • Tablelands and lands beyond in the Cleansing Wars. I found a short description in DS3.5 and some other resources, but a lot of things are still unclear. It looks like Tyr, Celik, Bodah and Giustenal were the main players here. But what is the difference between them? What was their political structure (I found this information about Bodach, but not about other cities)? Did merchant houses already exist? What psionic devices were in use at the time?
  • Tanysh empire and Ulyan mentioned in DS3.5. What were they exactly? Where did they located? How did they live in Rajaat Jihad?
  • Map of the Athas in the Green Age. I found one on The Athasian Cartographer’s Guild but a lot of imprortant things are missing: Tanysh empire, Ulyan, several city states (Carsys or Draxa for example), any mentions about non-human races. I am thinking to draw map myself but I need much more info.

And I would very appreciate for any suggestions, ideas or source on the topic. Thanks!

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There are some information, but you are in a vast open space for creation!

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All the information you are seeking is in the Prism Pentad series of Dark Sun novels by Troy Denning.

Those places cultures that you mentioned, like Tanysh, are not missing they are Athas dot org netbook canon, but not actually canonical to the original setting.

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redking, thanks for mentioning! I read these books but it was very long time ago. Looks like it’s time to reread them (despite the fact that I didn’t like them).

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The reason ur draxa doesn’t appear on the green age map is because it was established well after both the green age and the cleansing wars were over, when Hamanu presented borys with the spoils of Yaramuke to appease the dragon for slaying a fellow SM and destroying a source for the levy.

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You sure about that? Have a page reference?

Andropinus of Balic targeted the elves whilst mad Daskinor of Eldaarich successfully eliminated the goblins. The others I’d have to look up but I’m certain the orcs were exterminated.

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Timeline of athas
164 king age
Desert’s Vengeance (Free Year -2025)

Rkard, the last dwarven king of Kemalok, is slain by Borys of Ebe in mortal combat-though Borys himself is gravely injured. The Champion’s attendants spirit him from the battlefield leaving his sword, the Scourge, still buried in the dwarf’s chest. Before he can retrieve the sword, Hamanu tells Borys of Rajaat’s true plans for Athas
Becoming aware that Rajaat intends to wipe out all races except the halflings, Borys leads the Champions in a rebellion against their master-from which they emerged victorious. Rajaat’s halfling servants are banished to the Black as punishment for siding with the War-Bringer
Despite their power, the children of Rajaat cannot destroy his mortal remains. Instead, Gallard separates the First Sorcerer’s essence from his physical form, placing each in a separate location. Aided by the power of the Dark Lens, Gallard creates the Hollow, where he placed Rajaat’s essence. Gallard then creates a cyst of enchanted stone called the Black Sphere in which he places Rajaat’s substance. He then hides the Black Sphere in a location known only to him and Borys of Ebe.
Sacha and Wyan, who remained loyal to their master, attempted to breach the cyst before it is hidden away. Their plan is discovered and they are beheaded by Borys.
Through the use of the Dark Lens, Borys rewards the remaining Champions by beginning their transformations into sorcerer-kings. This process links each of them to living vortices, which allows them to grant their followers clerical spells.
The Champions realize that Rajaat’s prison will not hold. Even segmented, Rajaat’s power is supreme and he would one day be free. Hence, the Champions once again used the Dark Lens to transform Borys into the Dragon, whose power would keep Rajaat imprison ed for all time.
Borys’s transformation causes him to become temporarily insane, beginning a century of rampages across the land. In the confusion, two dwarven knights named Jor’orsh and Sa’ram steal the Dark Lens. The remaining sorcerer-kings each claim a city of Athas and barricade it from the rampaging Dragon.

The cleansing wars end with the imprisonment of Rajaat, fast forward in time and-

167th king age
Ral’s Agitation (Free Year -1741)

In an attempt to increase her power, Sielba, Queen of Yaramuke attacks Urik. Hamanu easily defeats her army and personally slays the sorcerer-queen. On the heels of victory, Urik’s army sacks Yaramuke and burns the city to the ground. To appease the Drago n’s wrath for killing a sorcerer-queen, Hamanu presents Borys with a levy of Yaramuke’s riches-which pleases the beast and spares Urik.

Silt’s Defiance (Free Year -1722)

Borys uses the booty gained from Yaramuke to build Ur Draxa, which becomes the greatest city on all of Athas. At the center of the city Borys places the Black Sphere for him and his city to protect.

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Not a page reference, but you’re right - I withdraw my objection.

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Athas.org has the full timline, its very accessible and a good place to start your research.

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Ye, I already read it and got some inspiration. But thanks for reminder - it’s worth to read it again.
I can not take it completely (I don’t believe that Cleansing Wars can last for thousands of years and I have to compress time to fit them into the adventure) but it would be nice to keep key events described in the timeline.

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I think one of the issues most people have with the idea of a Cleansing War taking thousands of years is how they view war. The longest war most folks recognize is the Hundred Years war, but if you review history, there are wears that have lasted over 500 years and covered Europe and a bit of Asia.

In a genocidal war, especially one that spans an entire planet, it could easily take thousands of years. At the start it may be big armies fighting each other, but once a side has been more or less defeated it turns into a hide and seek game. You only stand and fight when you believe you have overwhelming force, can’t hide, or can’t escape. You end up with hidden cities that once they are finally found see a big battle, small skirmishes, hunting parties that found small groups and massacred them, etc.

Hidden cities of hunted demi-humans would be built with an extended siege in mind. 1st defense is camouflage, 2nd is traps, 3rd is warriors who are actually just fighting to buy time for the residents to escape through a maze of escape tunnels. These cities could be deep underground, in extremely remote places, or even hidden in plain sight via psionics or magic.

Imagine pixies shapechanged into humans, living in human cities where they can blend in and not be noticed. Whole families that rarely meet, but pass on the secrets of their kind. Imagine the panic whenever a child is about to be born… can they hide them long enough from the hunters stationed in every city?

These are not wars in the typical sense, those ended within the first few hundred years. These are “police actions” and Vietnam’s, these are Wars on Terror and Wars on Drugs.

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It’s a good point. But I disagree that we can apply this logic to athassian Cleansing Wars. I’ll try to explain why.

Our history shows that very long wars can take the form of two types:

  1. Series of conflicts between two nearly equal subjects. (Like Hundred Years war which was between France and France actually).
  2. Guerrilla war. (Like Vietnam one)

First type of war requires both sides to be roughly equal. IMO this is not the case. Rajaat is super-psionic and nearly God of Magic which is able to cast world shaping spells. His champions are demigods of war and I can not imagine what demihuman races can oppose them in direct conflict.

Most likely, there could be a war of second type here. But this war is possible only if strongest side can not find or reach weakest side. But at first there is problem with magic of Rajaat again. High-level divination, teleportation and so on. At second any guerillas always depend on help of local population because they need a lot of resources: food, closes, weapons, tools. It’s not an option for demihuman races in this case, so they require some production (i.e. some settlement). But it takes a time to build it and it’s difficult to hide it without high magic or psionics.

So the only case IMO if demihuman race can live in some unreachable space or they can not be detected with magic or psionic abilities. Like aarakocra flying from one peak to another or lizardmen covered by Mind Lords in Last Sea. Others should fall rather soon than later, because they can not fight and can not hide.

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The two sides may have started off roughly equal in overall power, but I think they actually favored the demihumans. . Rajaat didn’t personally get involved much at all. He left the Champions to do it. Yes they were powerful, but there is no reason to believe the demihumans didn’t have power equal to them back then. The certainly would have had larger numbers then the relatively small armies of the Champions and the Champions couldn’t be everywhere at once.

Individually more powerful than any single demihuman I’d go with, but depending on what histories you read, the champions also lost battles. They could be out fought and out thunk. It’s as time went on the Champions really upped their power levels compared to everyone else. Immortality gave them time, thousands, millions of battles gave them the experience. As their enemy grew weaker, they grew stronger but put together enough folks, and they can counter a champion’s power. In the end, it was more the relentlessness of the Champions that seems to have won the war.

A Champion might be “killed” by 1k or 10k demihumans, but he’ll be back the next day, maybe not with an army, but with him/herself. There won’t be many of the demihumans left but the Champion is back to seemingly full power. How fast can you reproduce? Attrition takes it’s toll.

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Yes, it makes sense if we assume that demihuman races was stronger than champions at start. And this reading of history is possible for sure. Thanks for sharing your opinion!

But anyway since I want to tell my players history of Cleansing Wars from the beginning to the very end I have to fit them into dozens of years at maximum (or interrupt the narration for timeskips what is harder for me). Otherwise players would got same advantages as a champions - a lot of time and a lot of experience :slight_smile:

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Rajaat’s champions were not as strong at the time of the cleansing wars as they are now. Keep in mind that the champions earned most of those epic level experience points during the cleansing wars, so it stands to reason that when the wars began, they were of much lower level.

The champions were up against the greatest heroes of the Green Age of Athas and advanced civilizations. We have no information about racial demographics of the Green Age, but it is quite possible that humans were a relatively small minority compared to the other races, many of which are far more fecund.

At lower levels, the champions are far more vulnerable than they are today. Some champions even fell to the enemy. Starting as the underdog, and waging a genocidal war, the champions face an implacable enemy that refuses to surrender no matter the hardships. Such a war could easily last hundreds of years.

As for Rajaat himself, as is pointed out in RaFoaDK, Rajaat appears to not want to get his hands dirty by directly prosecuting the cleansing wars himself. Perhaps he had religious or spiritual reasons for that. Rajaat is a weird guy.

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I think Rajaat didn’t get involved as he liked to play both sides. The other races believed he was a good guy for a long time and given his power it was very plausible that the champions were reluctant to attack him. He taught preserving magic too at first, so they were disposed to trust him.

Also the champions had none of their dragon levels during the cleansing wars, so they didn’t have that aspect of their power.

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I never thought about the fact that Rajjat might pretend to be not involved into Cleansing Wars. It was obvious for me that this secrecy will exist only until someone capture a defiller. But indeed there are some methods to prevent this - contigency spell for example. It’s worth to think about it more carefully. Thanks for mentioning!

Another great note that champions’ power grows during Cleansing Wars. I assumed that champions started the war when they become fully prepaired - there is no reason to do differently. But during the crusade, they should face unexpected opposition and had to adapt to it(it’s unlikely that they can predict everything). And it definitely worth to show in the module!

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I would surmise that in D&D 3.5 terms the champions begin their war at 25th level or so. They face opponents as high as 40+ level (Dark Sun is an epic setting). That means epic psions, epic fighters, epic clerics, epic wizards, and so on. What they aren’t facing is other metamorphosed, advanced beings like themselves.

Even with the certain advantages the champions had as advanced beings, they were still vulnerable to assault by higher level adversaries. As the war went on, such adversaries became lesser in number. Still, some champions fell to the enemy.

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I agree that champions are 25th level or so at the beginning of the war (plus bonuses from tranformation into champion). But I absolutely don’t like the idea that champion can be defeated “as is”, like “party of high-level adventures meet champion and kill it”. The only one champion which fell not by hand of champions/rajaat before events of Prism Pentad is Egendo of Carsys killed by dwarves (if we assume that Myron was killed by Rajaat himself but not by Hamanu). So in my eyes they are in different league and to be able even to compete them it’s needed the power beyond character advancement.

I am planning the fight between players (somewhere near 15-17 lvl) and Egendo. But to do that party should complete a huge difficult quest. After its completion dwarves of Kemalok will be able to perform some ritual which weaks Egendo enough to the party can kill him. This ritual should be truly epic. To make it possible the party should travel into the Grey and ask for help of fallen greatest dwarven heroes. It must be performed by greatest dwarven clerics and psionics which will die in process and so on.

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