The Moons of Athas

So one little tidbit I enjoyed from 4e was the concept of travelling to the moons of Athas. It really adds a nice extra layer of planetary romance to Dark Sun. So the big questions I had for you all was how do you depict the Moon Gates of Athas if they exist at all? Were they psionic artifacts of the Green Age? Unknowable relics of the Blue Age? Or crafted by lunar visitors?

The other question I had was how do you depict Ral and Guthay? Are the moons more hospitable than Athas? What creatures live there? What level of technological advancement are they at? Do they rely on psionics, magic, or something else entirely?

I personally saw this as an excuse to depict the races that perished in the cleansing wars on these moons, keeping a few of the core qualities that makes an orc an orc, while also throwing plenty of curve balls. Also it gives a really easy excuse to have a bunch of eldritch aliens haunt the fringe myths of Athas.

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great topic! can’t wait to hear people’s thoughts on this.

just earlier today I was reviewing http://arena.athas.org/t/expedition-to-the-barrier-peaks-dark-sun-adaptation/616

@ProfessorZik-Chil identified the following races from each moon:

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Failed life-shaped creations banished to one or both moons by the rhulisti. Have since evolved over the centuries and formed their own society.

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As I’m fond of the theory that the Thri-kreen were the actual original natives of Athas, and the Rhulisti were actually star travelers who arrived on Athas, I lean toward science-based portals for said Moon Gates.

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Guthay is where the Silk Wyrms come from. So says Uncle Tantor.

Since hearing that story (and no doubt influenced by Nijineko’s cystalsinger idea) I’ve been thinking about them dropping from the sky like Pern Thread.

Inspired by this, in my last session the players ran into a storm with greenish thunderheads that rained burrowing insects wrapped in a comet tail of acidic filaments.

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Are there any maps of the moons?

I am very interested in adding these into my campaign when the characters get to higher level, Spelljammer-esque. We know for certain that the Gith came from the Astral Plane and could not find a way back, so the moons most definitely would have been reachable by the Gith, and possibly the Gith on the Moons are far more technologic and civilized than their Athas counterparts. Perhaps they even have Spelljammers that have since broken down, because they can’t make the new parts… or perhaps the metal and ice on the moons are so vast that they are busy rebuilding and refueling a crashed Spelljammer… Also, we know the Phaerimm, and the Mindflayers were insidious parasitic space faring races that expanded through the Astal Plane very early in their existence and ended up on many worlds.

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I favor largely dead, unlivable moons.

With respect to the 4e’s moons jungles and seas, I thought it always took away from the desperate situation of Athas.

I like the idea that the whole solar system is all but dead. With a single spot that is Athas that has a bit of life it supports. And that life on Athas is struggling and failing, soon on its way out.

The dragon (or his replacement) will continue to take his levy. The population will continue to dwindle until Rajaat can no longer be imprisoned and is released. Rajaat will then wreck havoc on all remaining life. Magic will continue to defile the land. And the only thing left on Athas’ lifeless surface will be the sun scorched earth amidst windblown dust and silt. While elementals and undead roam the landscape eternally mocking the paradise that Athas once was.

There is no escape from Athas. There is no refuge found by traveling to one of its moons.

Just don’t tell your players any of this. :wink: let them think they are going to “win” Dark Sun.

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The moons of Athas were never fleshed out, 4e gave a bit of speculation and mythology, but that’s as far as it ever got. It’s up to the DM otherwise if the moons hold their own civilisations, are dead and empty, or hold bizzare lovecraftian horrors. Personally if my PCs were to encounter life from Ral/Guthay I would leave them with the implications that the moons are no better off than Athas itself, perhaps even worse off in their own way. I would also have these other worlds be radically different, with defiling/preserving being completely unheard of and instead focus on psionics, lifeshaping, or technological growth.

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Agreed. 4e never fleshed the moons out. But here are the bones they provided.

“Athas as has two moons, Ral and Guthay. Ral, a mottled green in color, is the closer ofthe two. Sages who have scried Ral report that it is covered in great green seas and mountain-islands of dizzying heights. Guthay, the smaller and more distant moon, is a golden orb mantled in steaming mists beneath which lie scarlet jungles and marshy seas. Stories tell of ancient moon gates on Athas that lead to both Ral and Guthay, but they function only at unpredictable intervals.”

Green seas, steaming mists, scarlet jungles, and marshy seas. Ahoy! Matey!

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I mean Titan and Venus has seas here in our solar system but neither of them are habitable… steamy seas and mountains really don’t mean much. Golden Orb sounds to me more like Jupiter’s moon IO, that is a completely irradiated volcanic sulfur ball, due to it being in the radiation zone of Jupiter.

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Of course they could be seas of ammonia. I like that. 4e’s descriptions for the moon implies a lot of water in my mind. But I’m sure some people find that appealing.

Here’s another thing to consider, and not that this is a huge deal in a fantasy setting, a close reading of 4e vs 2e moons has the order of the moons reversed. 2e Ral is closer and appears smaller. I would go with that.

You may want to also establish day length on the two. Nothing in canon is mentioned for that. However. If you decide that both are tidally locked to Athas a day on either technically would be the same as the period of their phases. I’d use 33 days for the closer one, Ral, and 125 days for Guthay. But you can use whatever and have them not tidally locked. I’ve done a lot of work establishing data for that so you may find that info useful.

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I can never remember which moon is the bigger one and which is the smaller, and what their colors are…
Can someone please, for the love of badna, help me make sense of it, i feel as if different sources give different answers for these questions, and im very confused…

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Honestly, they can be whatever color you want it to be. Look how Earth’s moon changes color due to atmospheric dust. (screams for some spellcaster variant based on this).

That said, they would have a base color.

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This will help you make sense of the colors.

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Of i can choose whatever color, but i was interested in the “canon” ones

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This is just what i was looking for, may you never run out of plants to defile

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This is going off 4e lore, but I also don’t recall any earlier content discussing the moons. Ral is the larger of the two moons and is closer to Athas, it has a mottled green color. Guthay is smaller and further away, with a steamy golden color.

If you go by 4e speculation Ral is covered in great seas with vast islands made from collossal mountains, while Guthay is a steamy crimson jungle with marshy seas. I personally don’t go with either interpretation.

Personally I envisioned Guthay as a world akin to Barsoom from John Carter with a blend of black powder era technology and psionics, populated by many races now regarded as extinct on Athas. The world was still dying, but more from a combination of hungry empires at war and the transformation of the sun into a red giant.

Ral I saw being more akin to a haunted world of abberations that is the source of many strange horrors visiting Athas and Guthay alike.

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Although I personally don’t care to have much life going on with the moons, save perhaps small pockets where silk wyrms are rumored to reside, I do like the idea that if there is life on the moons, it has evolved in such a way that traveling to one or the other and vice versa is detrimental.

Inhabitants of Athas, Ral, or Guthay all in a desperate state thinking they can perhaps find reprieve by leaving their home world. Upon arrival to the new world, each individual would find conditions radically different and so unwelcoming and inhospitable relative to what they are used to, they would long to return to their original home. Whether due to their evolutionary biology making it difficult to breathe the ammonia filled atmosphere, etc. or the way magic or psionics works differently. Each ultimately finds the idea of staying long term not viable. Legends telling of oases of paradise or attempts at scrying revealing jungles and seas ultimately result in a false sense of hope if the think they can escape the horrors of daily life by going off world.

“Oops! This moon is all spiders!” - Rovewin’s players :wink:

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Though I like the idea of the jungle/archipelago moons of Athas (very pulp/sword and planet), I also like the idea of running an adventure in the desolate future Athas you describe.

We have talked about running adventures in Blue or Green Age Athas and (seemingly most popular) Pre-Prism Pentad - has anyone run campaigns in an Athas of the far future ?