Clerics and the Sorcerer Kings

If Jihad is “unfortunate” (which is dumb, IMO, but whatever), then flip the script and call it a Crusade.


IMO the reasons it’s unfortunate is because it’s not a jihad…or a crusade.

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Umm, its completely a jihad, given my previous (outsider’s) research into the word - unless the pitch is only a religion (let’s say Islam) can declare one.

A religious leader gets a bug up their butt about something and declares that thing is awful and that everyone should also hate that thing. Then, those who follow that leader’s sect and bother to listen to him decide to get on the bandwagon to varying degrees.

The concept clearly and easily applies (if broadened, as we do when adopting new words into languages) to Rajaat convincing everyone to hate on Preservers or for that matter, the fervor against “Pink Slime” meat or BPA in plastics here in the US.

If its an issue about “jihads are only applicable to Islam”, i guess… but then a similar argument should apply to surfing, sushi, scotch whisky, tequila, champagne, Legos, etc… Words start out specific and become broad as other people realize their value. (I do grasp that some of those terms are currently managing to hold on to their specificity)

Unless there’s some other linguistic issue, i which case i apologize that off-topic rant. :grin:


A jihad is specifically a war against the enemies of Islam. A crusade often references “The Crusades”, which were Christian wars against Muslims. Sometimes used as a more generic term.

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Yeah, and people (maybe juat Americans?) say Kleenex when they mean facial tissue. Standard linguistic practice.

I have trouble imaging that a majority of people who hear/read Preserver Jihad think that Rajaat was a Muslim, especially after actually read about it. Its conceptual leveraging, IMO, like teeth on gears. :man_shrugging:


Personally I feel like the relationship of the SKs to druids has to be more complex than simple animosity or disinterest unless a direct threat. The SK’s don’t want the world to fall further into ruin anymore than anyone else does really, even though they may be one of the huge causes of it. Where exactly did the trees of life that are in the City States come from? I don’t think it makes any sense for a defiler to even be capable of creating something like that, perhaps an Avangion could, but it seems more the realm of Druids. I could totally see a few sad but dutiful druids tending to the trees of life in the SKs gardens to prevent the worse destruction of the land that would occur without them. The fact that the SKs have most defilers hunted down and destroyed helps as well for there to be an awkward and very limited collaboration between druids and the SKs as it helps to limit the continued devastation of defiling. The areas around most of the City-States are extremely verdant in comparison to most of the tablelands, I find it hard to square this idea as coincidence with so much strain on the land in those place from the urban populations who are ruled be defilers and employ them without some form of nature/life magic helping to maintain fertility. Of course it clerics could also help and be a part of that, and that’s much less fraught, then the idea of Druid collaborators, but again I ask where do those Trees of Life come from? who maintains them and how? And what is really in the best interest of preserving the life and vitality of Athas?

I would seriously consider having some twisted form of Spirits of the Land present around all the City-States which have some form of druid serving them in the employ of the SKs. There would be some very awkward and disturbing dynamics there, but that’s really what the setting is like in a lot of ways.


The (3.5e, take it as you will) creation requirements for a Tree of Life from Terrors of Athas:


Its neither a crusade nor a jihad. In terms of canon, there is literally nothing to describe how the war was conducted, but there is no evidence there was a religious dimension to it. Don’t get me wrong - I am the last person to do the political correctness thing. In this case it just isn’t apposite. If it was religious, I’d probably stick to my guns and say it was a “jihad” or use some other religious term (probably “holy war”, because there is no reason to use Arabic or any foreign language).

The Sorcerer Monarchs have elemental cleric and druid collaborators.

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I agree that it was not in fact a religiously based event, but Rajaat’s followers definitely were fanatics and had a ‘cult of personality’ feel to the whole thing - i’ve always thought the word jihad lent a proper feel to the thing. Rajaat may not have had a religion, but he had a cult.


It depends on which version of canon you accept. Originally, Rajaat was basically unknown to the ordinary participants of the cleansing wars. Rajaat took a step back after creating the champions, and was basically uninvolved. This changed in the unpublished Secrets of the Dreadlands, with Rajaat taking a direct role. See this critique here.

  1. The official timeline also radically distorts the Wanderers’ and Prism Pentad’s presentation of the Cleansing Wars. In the PP-Wanderer version, the Champions are the crucial part and Rajaat preferred to stay in the Pristine Tower rather than directly intervene. Yet according to the timeline, Rajaat is an active participant. He not only personally orchestrates the afore-mentioned “jihad” against the preservers but organises research into the elemental planes. In the PP, Rajaat shows himself powerful enough to turn back time and cause an apocalyptic flood (quite apart from being invincable). Clearly if Rajaat wanted to take an active part he wouldn’t need to bother creating the Champions. The timeline also acknowledges a poor creation of the Psionic Artifacts of Athas in introducing the warlord Irikos, the “left hand of Rajaat”. Arn’t the Champions supposed to be Rajaat’s warlords? It would have been much more useful if the official timeline has adapted Irikos and made him either a lieutenant of one of the Champions or a Champion who was replaced by one of the SKs.

The problem with the “cult of Rajaat” is that he is an obscure figure in current day Athas. What does the Wanderer’s Chronicle say?

'From Rajaat’s place atop the Pristine Tower, bathed in the light of the crimson sun, an immeausrably older Warbinger waited for victory. Weeks turned to years, years to centuries, until one day Rajaat saw his Champions return. He stood before them with his long shocks of gray hair and white, burning eyes, eagerly anticipating the news they brought him. “Have all the abominations been destroyed?” Rajaat asked his Champions. “Can the Blue Age start anew?” ’

Doesn’t sound like someone that is directly leading anything.

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I neither implied or required Rajaat to be all powerful or overly personally involved with the Preserver Jihad or the Cleansing Wars - all of that is completely beside the point.

Rajaat’s cult-like following would clearly only have had an effect while he was a known personage, like in the Time of Magic when he was the greatest superstar Athas had ever known, not in the thousands of years since his imprisonment.

His role only need have been as as simple as declaring Preservers and then the non-human Rebirth Races ‘bad’, and letting his/the Warlords and/or Champions go to it.

“Rajaat said they gotta die” can be his whole role and nothing in canon history changes (as he did train and equip the Champions).


Personally, I don’t have a problem with the “preserver jihad” term, but that may be the result of me being used to the term as it has been in use for so long.

Since the war on preservers was a prelude to the cleansing wars, I suggest the “scouring” or “the preservers scouring” as an alternative name for those of who don’t think jihad is the right term.

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In all honesty when I first saw the term I thought it was created by someone’s fan fiction and had been somewhat popularized among some players so I mostly ignored it. I had never seen it in any 2e material And I had never looked that close into the 3e timeline to see it was called out there. In released 3e material the term is found in at least seven products. AE, DS3, FotDL, FotFN, LoA, SotDL, and CoB.

But to me, just the term alone felt out of place and confusing for DS. I wasn’t sure if it was a jihad perpetuated by them or a jihad perpetuated against them by someone else. My initial reaction was the former based on my understanding of jihad.

I’d love to see the original Kevin Melka reference from the mail list if anyone has it. Or knows the time frame he made the reference.

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Doing a little deep diving on this one to see if I could further determine the source of the “jihad” and see if it could be found the original DS mailing list. (it’s only 25,000 pages long if dumped into Word :slight_smile: )
There are a few references to jihad there. The earliest mention regarding a preserver jihad was in Feb 2001 of someone (Lumpkin) complaining about not liking the new timeline and “Rajaat’s pointless jihad against the preservers” so the timeline goes that far back.

To me it is apparent that the reference was written into the timeline first and then propagated into at least one athas dot org product. FotDL (It was not created the other way around - i.e. created in a product first and then written into the timeline.)

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That’s my assessment too. The Kevin Melka timeline is somewhere on the list, and if the timeline has not been manipulated in this post (it says it’s Melka’s post), then you can see it here..

By the way, while Rajaat’s jihad against preservers doesn’t seem religious from my reading of the timeline, the Sorcerer Monarch jihad against druids definitely give off those vibes.

The sorcerer-kings call for a jihad against the druids of Athas. For the next three centuries the blood of druids across the land stains the sands red in what would be known as the Eradication.

Sounds like the Sorcerer Monarchs got their templars into a religious frenzy and set them on the druids.

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Going back to 1999 it looks like there was some discussion to have a “Timelines of Athas” accessory to reconcile all the history and something was eventually created.

I cannot find the timeline on mailing list by itself.

However, WoTC did have a link to the timeline from their webpage back in 2000
it doesn’t say who the author is, but from what I gather is it attributed to Melka.

There is also an archived webpage that references the timeline in the mailing list for a webpage containing the same info.
(the Sands of Eternity -- Timeline of Athas)
was this Flip’s?
Snapshot is from May 14, 2001 but is referenced in the mailing list in Dec 4, 1999

“Rajaat begins a jihad against the preservers of Athas for the next thousand years.”
“The sorcerer-kings call for a jihad against the druids of Athas.”

There the jihad language is used twice there and copied to athas dot org timeline.

However, the athas dot org timeline looks to have slightly different dates, but the language is the same.
It is never given a name perse, like “the Preverver Jihad” or “the Druid Jihad” it just says that there was a jihad against them.

From the timeline “jihad” was carried on into the discussion on the mailing list and forums. I just as easily could have been called anything else… a purging, extermination, a cleansing, etc.
Plus, I also think post Sept 2001 “jihad” took on a more defined (and more accurate) meaning than in 1999-2000.

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It would make sense to elaborate a bit to make these two incidents plausible. For example, the so-called preserver jihad -

Rajaat initially insisted that his students be careful not to damage the land when drawing power for magic, known as defiling. After centuries of encouraging preserving magic, Rajaat suddenly encouraged a new batch of students to excessively draw life energy from plants. Preservers around Athas reacted negatively towards this, and Rajaat ordered his new students to destroy the dissenters wherever possible. This lead to conflict between preservers and Rajaat following defilers in the time before the cleansing wars.

And the druid jihad -

Druids started to lead a movement against the Sorcerer Monarchs, blaming the Sorcerer Monarchs for the destruction of Athas. As the druids gathered allies and armies to destroy the Sorcerer Monarchs, the Sorcerer Monarchs in turn stirred their templars into a religious frenzy, calling for a holy war against the druids. The druids came close to defeating the Sorcerer Monarchs and may have even toppled some of them. In the end however the Sorcerer Monarchs were victorious and put an end to political druidism forever. This holy war against the druids is known as the Eradication.

This makes the setting a bit more dynamic, as Rajaat of the Sorcerer Monarchs are not simply initiating everything but rather also having to react to matters beyond their control.


Seriously. The current timeline sort of makes it seem like no one else is a fully active participant in the world

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Agreed, I’ve also elaborated on the timeline a good deal for this reason. Though I also made the controversial move of shortening the time between the cleansing wars and today to centuries rather than millennia

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