The Athasian cosmology


My explanation for a lot of Athas’ problems gets into some VERY non canon territory but I figured I’d throw in my two cents regarding the Gray’s origins.

I subscribe by the notion that Athas used to have gods, but that they came in the dawn years of the green age and that the other races aren’t descended from haflings but brought by their respective gods or migrated to Athas through planar or spelljamming means. To make a long story short the gods ended up dying or abandoning Athas. The sun didn’t end up the way it did due the pristine tower drawing THAT much of the sun’s essence, but because the chief of the Athasian pantheon, coincidentally the sun god, died. This is the same reason the sea of silt is the way it is, because the god of the seas perished. The gray exists because there is no god of death ferrying souls to the afterlife. Normal arcane magic doesn’t exist in Athas because there is no deity preserving the balance of magic. This cataclysm, which I called the Iconoclasm is the reason Athas is cut off from other planes, the death of so many deities in so little time caused a lot of unexpected consequences, some obvious, some no one could have predicted.

I’m not intending to take away too much of Athas’ problems from the Cleansing Wars, just offering an explanation for some of the feature of Athas that make no sense to attribute to defiling. Instead it hints at a greater history and that the genocides of the sorcerer kings are but one piece of a greater puzzle.

(Felix Gonzalez) #23

I like your idea about the ‘gods’.

What do you think would happen if you removed the gray? Would it affect undead?


If the Gray was gone I imagine it would screw with undead something fierce. The Gray has shown signs of empowering undead as well as causing a great deal of strife for departed souls, encouraging more restless dead to form. And I don’t mean skellingtans or zombehs, I mean bone a fide sentient undead that eat cleric-less parties for breakfast. If you get rid of the grey then the population of interesting sentient undead with a variety of neat unpredictable powers would be as common as on any other campaign world. Obviously existing ones are still hung up over their death and would be an issue. If you want to keep the Athasian undead especially dangerous and nasty as they’ve always been you’d need a new reason (perhaps a returned god of death or his church are taking advantage of the existing situation).

Now whether or not the loss of the Gray screws with the powers of undead is tricky to say, I honestly could go either way here since the negative energy plane’s connection to Athas would strengthen, potentially compensating for the loss of the Gray. After all even though the inner planes were connected to Athas, Defilers and Preservers made it clear even the inner planes have only a partial connection to Athas so removing the Gray would strengthen ALL of the inner planes connections to Athas.


Athasian Cosmology as it relates to Living Vortices and Divine Conduits. The gods of the Outer Planes CAN provide spells and power to clerics on Athas, but the reason why they do not is clear in the explanation below.


Not sure if someone mentioned this, but clerics from other worlds CAN cast spells on Athas, so long as the spell is 1st or 2nd level (fire giant shaman trapped in Kragmorta, under Giustenal).


I remember that.

What I am doing here is giving a more general explanation of why this might be so. So in the case of the fire giant shaman his god has restricted the higher levels of spellcasting because it was costing the god too much. Over time the shaman’s god will probably deny divine power to the fire giant shaman altogether.

(Stuart Lynch) #28

In 2nd Ed 1st and 2nd level cleric spells were a result of your belief - believe strongly enough in the Flying Spaghetti Monster and you can cast Augury or Cure Light Wounds. 3rd level spells and above had to be granted by an extraplanar being. Hence the Fire Giant shaman in CbtSS having only limited spellcasting.

Now that doesn’t really fit Athas as otherwise we’d have lots of charlatans and insane people being able to cast cleric spells. Personally I went with the shaman having an attavhment to the Plane of Fire which gave him the 1st and 2nd level spells, but nothing more until he consummated a Pact with the element of Fire.


I remember that. There was also something in 2nd Ed about getting spells all the way up to 7th level by belief in a concept or universal principle, although thankfully not in DS.

(Sébastien Gamache) #30

Here is a file I have on my web site, if you wish to have more things to think about.

(Rasmus Aaen) #31

In the end having Elminister show up in Tyr, sounds just as stupid to me, as having him show up in my living room.
I believe that’s why the original crew wanted to set Athas apart from everywhere else.
In my opinion Athas had no god’s.
If it once had, it doesn’t really have any concern for PC now.
It’s a primitive apocplipctic world where such questions matter little.
More pressing thoughts like, how am I going to survive to sundown, fill up their day.
Don’t get me wrong, the discussion interesting, but I believe essence of a darksun game was never about, god’s and planar travel. More about survival and how mortals wrecked a world all on their own, threw hunger for power and prejudice.