Grand History of Athas

Originally posted by Zardnaar:

Heres some notes I’ve got out of my personal project for my version of Dark Sun about Athas history. I’ve tried not to contradict anything and have tried to fill in the back grounds of the past. The following is from my 4th ed reboot which is currently a work in progress. I’m stil working on the age of the Sorcerer Kings and on some addtional information for between years FY13 (Dregoth Ascending) and FY1015 (my campaign date).

31 Pages of random crap in my 4th ed update document on word. At this rate 5th ed will be out

Originally posted by Zardnaar:

Eons ago the gods and primordials went to war for the fate of the universe. After their defeat most surviving primordials fled to the elemental chaos. One however named Athak-Kor had a different idea. Athak-Kor had in his possession an artifact of great power perhaps predating creation itself. Known as the Dark Lens it was likely a tool created by the gods or the greatest of the primordial lords to aid in creation. His goal was to find a hidden refuge form the gods and set it beyond their power. Athak-Kor created his own pocket reality and siphoned material away from planar chaos and created his own elemental planes. He isolated an expanse of the Astral Sea and erected a planar barrier known as the Gray to keep out the vengeful gods. He created a gate capable of piercing the planar barrier and summoned a handful of primordial followers to join him in his exile and appointed them as elemental lords. Finally using the Dark lens and planar gate he engorged his body on elemental matter and took on the shape of a world. Coating himself in a layer of water he used the Dark Lens to separate his essence from his body and then split his essence up into aspects that would later become known as spirits of the land. His body would become known as Athas.

Athas was covered in water and had no sentient native races. One of his aspects millennia later used the planar gate to reach beyond Athas and found some primitive Halflings to populate the islands scattered across the face of Athas. On Athas however a barely sentient race of insects which would later become known as the Kreen had evolved. Eventually the Halflings would create their own civilization and the Kreen reached full sentience as a side effect of an event that would later become known as The Rebirth. Thousands of years would pass and the events on the Kings Age calendar would unfold. Eventually a being known as Dregoth would attempt a ritual that would change the nature of Athas forever.

Dregoth had recovered the ancient gate used by Athak-Kor. Over hundreds of years he used it to visit other worlds. Over the millennia the planar barriers surrounding Athas weakened and a trickle of planar travelers managed to reach Athas and its cosmology. Such travel however was dangerous and often travel to and from Athas was one way. While visiting other worlds Dregoth became obsessed with becoming a true god, not quite realizing that it was impossible on Athas. While his attempt at godhood failed it did dissolve the ancient planar boundaries and return Athas to the material world. However the ancient rituals of binding used to keep out the gods are still intac

Originally posted by Zardnaar:

Blue Age
The Blue Age
Millennia ago the world of Athas was covered in water. The masters of this ancient age were the Halflings. It is unknown how long they lived in this age or how long the age actually lasted or if any age came before it. In retrospect the term age was an invention of those races which need to quantify their existence. Athas was covered with a world spanning ocean with numerous islands and shallow seas. On these islands primitive halfling settled. The Halflings were very skilled sailors and colonised numerous islands through out the world. The Halflings believed strongly in the sanctity of life and lived in harmony with nature. Explorers would set forth to discover new islands to settle rather than deplete the existing resources. Primitive Clerics and Druids used their powers to bless such voyages while powerful members could use their magic to discover or even travel to new lands.

Eventually the Halflings discovered a process they called lifeshaping. The population of the Halflings grew and they constructed cities such Tyr’agi. The halfling civilization flourished under the azure sun. Tyr’agi was a beautiful city made out of a living stone the Halflings harvested from the sea. The world was alive and the Halfling invented living weapons, armor, tools, and virtually anything that they would need. The ocean was the Halflings garden and the land supported fields of crops. The Halflings weren’t quite alone as primitive barely sentient winged Kreen lived in this time but there is no evidence the Halflings interacted with them or even knew of their existence, It is likely the few Halflings who encountered them at the edge of their territory regarded them as a large avian predator similar to various birds they were familiar with.

Centuries passed before a sect of heretical Nature Masters emerged. The Nature Masters sought to bend nature in unnatural ways and the other Halfling Started to refer to them as Nature Benders. The difference was largely philosophical as the techniques used in Nature Bending were essentially the same as lifeshaping. An axe is a tool used to cut wood but if used to kill someone it is a weapon. After a few years of mishaps and debate the Nature Masters declared the techniques used in Nature Bending illegal. The practitioners were punished to the full extent of the Halflings law and were often stripped of their resources and sent to labour in the fields or assist Nature Masters with their work. A sect of Nature Benders however had a different opinion and sent themselves into a self imposed exile where they could practice their art without the supervision of the Nature Masters.

By this time the Halfling mastery of lifeshaping had progressed to the point where they could construct floating living cities since arable land was in short supply. The renegade Nature Benders fled to one of these cities far to the north east of Tyr’agi. The city was known as Mith’lantis and here the nature benders decided to make their stand. They spent several years mastering their techniques and creating life bent creatures to serve them. The Lifebenders mutated the forms of various predators adapting them to serve their needs. When they were ready they struck at their fellow Halflings with a large force of life bent creatures.

The ancient Halflings had never been at war before in their history with the closest thing a series of small raids between competing clans early in their pre history before they discovered the secret of life shaping. They had no army and were ill equipped for the sudden onslaught unleashed by the Nature Benders foul creations. The early battles were more slaughter than a real war with a few Halfling Hunters trying to fight off the hordes of the Nature Benders forces. However the Nature benders were severely out numbered and their offensive wasn’t large enough to cripple the civilization of the Nature Masters. After 5 years of conflict a large force of nature masters and allied hunters and lifeshaped creatures adapted for war inflicted the first defeat on the nature benders.
For the next 20 odd years the war swung back and forth between the Nature Masters and Benders. At the height of their power the Nature Benders controlled perhaps 30% of the Halflings civilization but they were unable to effectively incorporate the conquered cities into their war effort. Most of the captured Halflings and Nature Masters couldn’t bring themselves to support the war unleashed by the Nature Benders.

The war vs the Nature Benders lasted for 31 years. In the final years of the war the tide turned against the life benders and they were reduced to the floating city of Mith’lantis. Construction on a new weapon was started but wasn’t completed before the wars end. The tower was constructed to the east of Tyr’agi on a shelf in a shallow section of the ocean. Meanwhile a large fleet of lifeshaped ships full of Halfling Warriors with new forms of weapons and armor assaulted the life benders and Mith’lantis sank beneath the waves. While defeated several of their lifebent horrors survived the war. Some of them and their descendents have even survived until the modern day is various corners of Athas. It is likely the Squark in the Last Sea is a surviving example of one of the Lifebenders bio weapons.

After the war the Halflings had a population explosion. Even before the war resources were growing scarce as population growth caused all the arable land to be used and the Halflings had to supplement their diet with food resource from the ocean. However even the stocks of the ocean were being depleted. Construction on what would later be known as the Pristine Tower continued. After 50 odd years had passed, reports started to filter in of hunger in outlying areas. The Nature Masters at the apex of their civilization realised that they could no longer feed the masses worked on a solution.

The Halflings had tried numerous solutions to their problems and had even created massive lifeshaped creatures capable of boring through solid rock. Tunnels were constructed and underground farms were even set up to little avail. Construction continued at a slower pace on the Pristine Tower. As things continued to get worse some halfling used the tunnels as a refuge from the problems outside or constructed lifeshaped workshops in them as attempts to farm underground were less than successful in most cases.

The Pristine Tower originally envisioned as a weapon of war was completed. The Nature Masters tried to coax the sea to increase its yield. . While the Halfling Nature Masters knowledge was great they didn’t know everything and the attempt backfired. The brown tide was created and started spreading throughout the ocean. Fish couldn’t breathe in the brown tide while it was poisonous to shellfish and marine mammals. In desperation the Nature Masters attempted to use the Pristine Tower to burn the brown tide away. The tower changed the color of the sun form an azure blue to a less intense yellow and the ocean started to recede. The Blue Age was coming to an end due to an accident and the Nature Masters own hubris.

Originally posted by Zardnaar:

The Rebirth
Thousands of years ago the Halfling nature masters initiated the event later called “The Rebirth. Such an innocent sounding name although this was the name the new races called it. For the surviving Halflings of the Blue Age driven by desperation it would probably be more accurate to call it the Apocalypse, Cataclysm Holocaust etc. The Rebirth essentially destroyed the ancient Halfling civilization and caused massive disruption across Athas. Once the ancient Halflings unleashed the power of the Pristine Tower to destroy the brown tide sea levels dropped dramatically over the following year or two revealing true landmass instead of small islands. At first it would have been more accurate to call the Green Age the Gray Age for most of the world was still covered by the oceans and seas of Athas with the newly emerged land covered in mud with islands of greenery scattered about. Thousands of Halflings died due to starvation as the food sources for the Halfling Civilization collapsed.

Surviving Halflings sought refuge in the forested mountains or fled underground into caverns carved out decades and centuries before. The surviving Nature Masters in the region of the Pristine Tower initiated the Rebirth as they knew they Halflings weren’t prepared for the coming age. Using their knowledge of life shaping they mutated into the races that would later inherit Athas. While the Rebirth itself is generally assumed to have only lasted a century or so but some speculate that it has never truly ended. Even in modern Athas there is always some new race crawling out of the desert but such creatures tend to be individuals and rarely are any two alike and they die out within a generation.

Sometime during the early Green Age the Thri-Kreen encountered the other sentient races of Athas. While the ancient Nature Masters regarded themselves as the only intelligent race on Athas the primitive Kreen were sentient although their racial memories don’t reach this far back or have deteriorated to extent they can’t remember except as vague racial tales of a blue sun. It is likely the Kreen were headed towards extinction as they were adapted for the islands of the Blue Age and had wings to fly from island to island. Most likely some of the winged Kreen flew to close to the Pristine Tower and slowly mutated into the modern Kreen you see on Athas today. The winged Kreen probably all died out but perhaps some survived in a remote corner of Athas.

It is hard to say what races were created first but it is likely the Pyreen were the last created combining features from numerous races that came before them. The Yuan Ti also date from the rebirth as some early human bloodlines were contaminated by snake blood as the Nature Masters may not have had complete control over the energy radiating from the tower. Once the Rebirth was complete the few surviving Nature Masters left the tower although a few stayed behind in the vicinity of the tower to learn its secrets. These Halflings would later become the Shadow Giants until they were eliminated for the tower by Dregoth.

Originally posted by Zardnaar:

Green Age
The Green Age
After a couple of centuries or so, after the rebirth things started to settle down. The climate stabilised and life spread from the islands to the newly exposed lands. Rain along with Druids and Pyreen cleansed the land and great cities like Tyr and Bodach were founded. A new power known as psionics was apparent as a side effect of the rebirth. Centuries passed and the new races covered the face of Athas. Nations and empires formed and were over run or destroyed while various wars happened every now and then. The ancients raised psionics to a level never before or since seen on Athas.

Academies were founded all over Athas to teach those with talent “The Way”. Psionic marvels were constructed and the most advanced cities and nations had psionic transport systems and had running water and street lights. Experts of the Way specialised in various psionic forms and often even the least powerful members of society had hidden talents. Psionic tools made labour intensive jobs that much easier and cities were even founded beyond the Jagged cliffs with massive psionic elevators connecting them to the Tyr region. Tunnels connected the Tyr region to what is now the hinterlands and psionic powered ivory platforms travelled down them.

The Halflings survivors of the rebirth descended towards barbarianism in the Forest Ridge although they weren’t yet the ferocious Halfings familiar to modern Athasians. A few resided in cities of other aces and retained some knowledge of the past but lost their knowledge of lifeshaping as the Nature Masters were long gone. A significant portion of civilized Halflings resided in the port city of Giustenal.

During the Green Age a being known as Rajaat was born. A mutated Pyreen of hideous appearance he spent most of the Green Age exploring Athas. He encountered the last pockets of the Halflings and spoke to the few remaining Nature Masters left from the Blue Age even though they barely retained any knowledge of what they once had. A powerful Psion himself he used the ivory platforms of the masters of the way and examined the works of the new races. While not exactly shunned he preferred his own existence to the stares and whispers of the population.

Like most Pyreen Rajaat was immortal but unlike them he couldn’t manifest Druidic powers much to his frustration. Pyreen die of old age but it is more of a personal choice than their bodies failing them. Rajaat endured for several thousand years of the Green Age. Over the centuries great marvels were constructed and the way reached even greater heights. During his travels Rajaat inadvertently discovered magic and was the catalyst for a new age- the age of magic.

Originally posted by Zardnaar:

The Age of Magic
Technically the Age of Magic is really the second half of the Green Age. However the changes to society due to its discovery had some rather long ranging effects. In any event the victors get to write the history books. While the populace at large didn’t really think in terms of the Green Age, Rajaat considered it was a new time. While at first only able to accomplish small feats Rajaat had centuries to study his new discovery and in his travels he found a place of great power.

At the base of a massive cliff Rajaat a spot rich in life energy to power his spells. An idyllic glen intersected with a river Rajaat had found a powerful nexus of energy. For almost 200 years Rajaat laboured to perfect his power only briefly interrupted by Halflings from Thamasku who startled at his power fled back to the cliffs. From a pyramid of iron Rajaat managed to turn his lush forest into a foul swamp and almost killed himself in the process of drawing power from the world itself. Exhausting the lands capability to support his magic and having recovered enough Rajaat left to find the last remnant of the Nature Masters power- the Pristine Tower.

Taking possession of the abandoned tower he plundered its secrets and made them his own. He also managed to imbue the tower with the essence of his magic which would enable it to be used as a powerful tool of sorcery and aid him in casting his most powerful spells. Experimenting Rajaat managed to refine his sorcery into two spheres- preserving and defiling magic. While Rajaat was the first sorcerer and defiler his will was strong enough to resist the temptation of defiling and he is able to preserve of defile as he sees fit.

Deciding to share his knowledge with the world he went forth and in public taught the secrets of preserving magic. He only took on human students as they had the most potential to fit his goals. In secret he taught select individuals defiling magic and kept an eye out for those powerful in the way. Rajaat had plans for them that would involve becoming beings of dark power. The age of magic lasted around 4500 years and the effects of magic spread throughout the world and some preservers took on non human apprentices some fo which later became defilers.

While most people in the age of magic had some psionic potential only a relative few became psions and even fewer became masters of the way. It seemed that anyone could learn magic with enough practice and hard work. Its impact on society was drastic as more people started to learn magic than psionics. Enrolment at psionic academies dropped and eventually the psionic marvels of the Green Age were mostly abandoned as they fell into disrepair. The cities beyond the Jagged Cliffs were cut off from the rest of Athas and eventually fell to the advancing Kreen empire.

Sometime during the Age of magic seeing the detrimental effects of magic on the land the beings who would eventually become the Mind Lords of Saragar looked ahead to the future and proceeded with their plans. They constructed the Border of Guardians to keep the rest of Athas at bay. Contact with the outside world dwindled and eventually Saragar became a lost city assumed destroyed what would be known as the Preserver Jihad.

In the last half of the age of magic society was starting to fall apart at the seams. The cities of the Tyr region were in decline as students of magic competed with psionics. The new masters of the way paled in comparison to the counterparts in the Green Age. The effects of defiling magic were also starting to become apparent as fertile fields were reduced to ash. The defilers secretly led by Rajaat unleashed what would become known as the Preserver Jihad or The Purge. Blaming all of societies problems and ecological woes on the preservers the defilers loyal to Rajaat started killing all wizards they could.

Some cities however didn’t go along with Rajaats plans or the populace knew better. Bodach was razed to the ground as an example by Irikos. While not killing all preservers they were driven underground. While brutal the Jihad was just a taste of what was to become. Rajaat kept an eye on his forces and selected 15 champions he perceived as most powerful or useful to his cause. Retreating back to the Pristine Tower, Rajaat drew upon the suns power and imbued his champions with vast power. He promised them they could become gods by combining sorcery and psionics. He also promised a return to the wonders of the Green Age but powered by a combination of sorcery and psionics. Athas was about to be plunged into the Cleansing Wars

Originally posted by Zardnaar:

Cleansing Wars
The Cleansing Wars
Around 3500 years ago the Athas sun changed colour, from yellow to the burning red it is today. This was a side effect of Rajaat drawing upon the sun to empower his new Champions. Once the process was complete he withdrew to the Pristine Tower to continue his research. In fact he had little tolerance for his Champions and viewed them as mere tools. By now Rajaats sanity was slipping due to his advanced aged and self loathing. While effectively immortal time takes its passage on all things and few beings can survive the eons mentally unscathed.

The start of the wars was the end of the green age of Athas. Athas at this time was a paradise compared to what would come later. However war wasn’t unknown. Few nations existed in the blue age as most of the population lived in city states scattered through out the world. The Tyr region was basically the Garden of Eden for life on Athas as the rebirth happened here and the Pristine Tower continued to make new races. Part of Rajaats studies were to reverse the rebirth- to return all the new races to their original Halfling forms. Rajaats decision to unleash the Cleansing Wars indicated his lack of progress in this goal and in his mental condition he concluded it is easier to destroy than create.

Most Halflings wanted nothing to do with Rajaat and weren’t interested in sorcery so Rajaat decided to imbue human champions with the power he needed to use. He kept a small honor guard of Halflings who were loyal to him. Rajaat had decided on the extinction of all other races apart from the Halflings and presumably the Kreen. While the full extent of his plans will never be known it is likely Rajaat believed he could wipe out all other races and use his sorcery and the Pristine Tower to restore the planet from the damage unleashed by the Cleansing Wars and return it to the Blue Age. Rajaat ultimate fate may have been suicide from self loathing if he managed his goals or perhaps some sort of immortal protector for the Halflings for all eternity.

More like had the wars succeeded the remaining Halflings would have inherited a more or less lifeless world with Rajaat discovering the damage unleashed was to great even for him to repair. Another question is why didn’t Rajaat eliminate the other races himself instead of using his champions? Most likely it was because even Rajaat wasn’t powerful enough to do so by himself. The Pyreen united may have been able to stop their wayward son. Also without the Cleansing Wars and Preserver Jihad before it there were powerful wizards and psions who if combined may have been able to stop him not to mention the various races likely to object to their extinction each with powerful magic and psionics themselves.

The red sun was a harbinger of things to come. In the first few years of the war little happened. Any non human was murdered here and there or a demi human settlement was raided by brigands. However Athas started to get warmer and due to climate change crops failed and people started to go hungry. Drought spread through out the land. In addition to several defilers destroying the land wildfires in the summer months made things worse. Some of the more charismatic champions preached words of hate to ears all to eager to receive them. Everything going wrong with Athas was the fault of the non humans. Early battles were little more than lynch mobs murdering non humans in remote area- starving farmers seizing crops or resources. The non humans sometimes retaliated but this, only fuelled stories of humans being massacred and several races marked for cleansing sometimes ate anyone they killed.

One problem the Champions of Rajaat had initially was the lack of forces at their command. Rajaat had chosen them but hadn’t conjured up any armies for them. They had to find their own solutions to the tasks Rajaat had set them. Dregoth had a novel solution. He set himself up as a mercenary leader and captured Guistenal and massacred its population. It would seem the Dregoth saw himself as more than human and cloaked himself in illusions to appear as a human/dragon hybrid. Perhaps as a harbinger of things to come but one possibility is that Dregoth as one of the more advanced champions was already in the early stages of Dragon metamorphosis. If true this would predate Borys use of the dark lens to transform the champions by around 1500 years. Dregoth’s failure to eliminate the Giants could also be due to the fact that Dregoth in the final stages of transformation was enraged in the closing years of the Cleansing Wars. If not Dregoth managed to complete the first nine stages of Dragon metamorphosis and managed to rule Guistenal in under 100 years before the remaining Sorcerer Kings of the Tyr region eliminated his city after Borys used the Dark Lens. It is possible Dregoth was Rajaats favored champion and he shared the secrets of Dragon transformation with him as some sort of test. Later the other champions wanted power like Dregoths and transformed themselves into dragons as well.

Sacha of Arala was the first champion to complete his task. Destroying the Kobolds was made somewhat easier as they weren’t a physically powerful race and were confined to a narrow area of Athas- an area that would later become the Dead Lands. Sacha wanting to prove himself in Rajaats eyes spent the rest of the Cleansing Wars undermining the remaining Champions work. Rajaat secluded in the Pristine Tower either didn’t notice or didn’t care. Co-operation was never a strong point between the Champions and explained why the wars lasted for over 1500 years.

For most of the Cleansing Wars each Champion was usually happy to employ non humans in their army as long as they weren’t their assigned race to destroy. Daskinor Goblin Death for example was known to employ several elite units of Dwarves in his army. Several non humans also managed to survive by serving various champions preferring to die of old age rather than taking their chances at fighting back or running or hiding. Most champions were also dedicated to their task and refused to help other champions if asked. All were competing for Rajaats favour and often turned a blind eye to another races armies in their territory viewing it as a waste of resources to engage a force when it was another Champions job to do so. Why did some races survive and other not though?

As the Cleansing Wars raged tactics often changed. In the early years armies would often engage each other and if the non humans lost the Champions armies would cleanse any settlements they found nearby. Towards the end most battles were smaller affairs as major non human population centres were early targets at the start of the war. Also Rajaats Champions didn’t win every engagement and were often routed and several times the Champions would find themselves under siege at some point. It seems imminent extermination is a great motivator to fight- you’ve literally got nothing to lose by dying.

The Elves for example learnt to run in this period and used their mobility to avoid forces sent to exterminate them. Elves that weren’t fast enough usually got caught by Albeorn. Coraanu was actually an Elven General of the Cleansing Wars whose name is still remembered by the Elves although his legend has changed a bit. Other Champions had some difficulties. Dregoth for example often had difficulty assaulting Giant strongholds in the Sunrise Sea, having to resort to costly amphibious campaigns against heavily fortified redoubts. Some sieges also lasted for generations if supplies were able to be smuggled in. As powerful as the Champions were most races had powerful Psionists in their ranks and certain fortresses would only fall once a particular Psionist died of old age. Other races like the Tari scattered and went into hiding from pursuing forces. Even the Kobolds before they were wiped out set devious traps for Sachas forces. At the end even Borys was wounded badly by a Dwarven King.

Another interesting aspect of the wars were the warlords. Each champion had a vast tasks to complete and often delegated tasks to warlords- elite generals serving the champions. Most warlords fell during the war assisting the champions in tasks they considered worthless devoting time to. Also several warlords were sent to the far corners of Athas as the champions were often reluctant to travel to far from the Tyr region as Rajaat was secluded in the Pristine Tower. All power derived from Rajaat and they didn’t trust each other enough to give their rivals a chance to influence Rajaat. Warlords carried the war across the Sunrise Sea and may have even discovered other continents over the ocean. In any event most champions fell in battle vs non humans or lost contact with their sponsors as the years turned to decades and centuries. The most famous warlord was Irikos who sacked Bodach but most have been lost to the sands of time. Some warlords were powerful defilers well versed in necromancy and could steal life energy from their victims or could become undead. It is conceivable some may have survived to the current era in some far of corner of Athas although it is unknown if they are still fighting the Cleansing War or are still loyal to Rajaat.

Finally while never proven towards the end Myron started to suspect Rajaat himself sometimes aided the enemy via messages and information on troop movements. It would seem that Rajaat was in no particular hurry to complete the Cleansing Wars. The longer they dragged on the more humans died as well. Myron was in no hurry either and paid the ultimate price for his suspicions. His death was also a catalyst for the other Champions who in the final decades of the war decided that Rajaat is insane. Myron’s death also showed them that Rajaat was willing to eliminate them as well. The wars ceased when the Champions betrayed Rajaat and confined him. Several champion distanced themselves from their deeds during the wars. Albeorn changed his name to Andropinis and managed to get himself elected as leader of Balic- ironically promising to protect the city from the raging Dragon- actually Borys driven insane.

Originally posted by terminus_vortexa:

Excellent stuff, Zardnaar!

Originally posted by Zardnaar:

Thanx its a compilation of notes form over the last few years.

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