(Homebrew) An Idea of What the Cerulean Storm Could Do

Hi everyone. I’ve been following Dark Sun for a few years now ever since 4e. Even though I was never interested in it’s 2e counterpart one thing that always stood out to me from that time was the Cerulean Storm created at the end of the PP books. Though the means behind it have changed, I figured I’d want to share with you a map a friend & I created and how it impacts the world of Athas for feedback and perhaps to influence other DMs!

The Cerulean Storm in this case was not created via the PP. Rather, a fool-hearty attempt to breach the Elemental Chaos and bring forth water into Athas (perhaps by Keltis/Oronis). It succeeded, though birthed a violent and furious storm which not even the Dragon of Tyr can cease. This has however, proven some benefit, as the storm, and it’s lesser Tyr-Storms are mobile and occasionally moves over The Tablelands, bringing torrential downpours and raging thunderstorms of lightning and hail with them. This has resulted in formerly shallow basins of water along the Tablelands becoming filled with water whenever the storms pass through. But permanent habitation in the area is ill-advised due to the storms that sustain the water generally killing most residents who are there when they pass overhead.

Likewise, the main storm itself, being a force of raw, unrestrained Elemental power has breathed some life back into the Sea of Silt, hammering it with water so frequently and viciously that .neither Ul-Athra, or the Silt Tide spell of Keltis (depending on which story you want to use) can get rid of it. This has caused a resurgence of life in the former Sunrise Sea. However, at the cost of inviting in monsters of the Elemental Chaos such as Aboleths and feral Sahuagin more animalistic than their Toril counterparts.

The storm’s impacts have not all been negative however. One of the inland basins of water filled by the Storm’s power is north of the city-state of Draj. This has shifted the balance of power in The Tablelands, as suddenly Tectuktitlay, Sorcerer-King of Draj has more legitimacy for his religious cult in the eyes of the common people. Additionally the Temple of Elemental Rain in Draj has surged in popularity with the storms and the basins they’ve brought with them, becoming dominant among the Paraelemental Priests to rival Sun & Silt, and now leaving Magma the “weakest.” All this together has led to the “Great Water Wars” between Draj and it’s fellow city-states of Raam and Urik. Sorcerer-Kings Hamanu and Abalach-Re trying to destroy Tectuktitlay for his assertions of dominance, as he is the “weakest” Sorcerer-King. Tectuktitlay however learned at this point the power of “Cerulean Magic” - Defiling/Preserving the Tyr-Storms themselves and thus manipulating them when they pass overhead. The revelation of this magic having led him to victory against Urik and Raam’s armies where a grand sacrifice was held. A tenuous “truce” has been held since.

That’s not to say that Drajian politics and power within The Tablelands are the only things to be effected by this and I am quite open and eager to hearing suggestions! The map here unfortunately shows Ur-Draxa. Though as stated earlier, the Cerulean Storm in this homebrew is mobile over the general Sunrise Sea area. One can simply assume where it might be.

The immediate thought that comes to mind is based on a snippet in City by the Silt Sea: namely, that the bay/inlet that Giustenal is on the shore of, is specifically noted to be shallow and rocky to the point that it is particularly possible/likely that a powerful enough elemental cleric could conceivably gate enough water to recreate a little bit of the Sunrise Sea. So going by that, and the general idea of your post, I think it’s a prime candidate for pooling water. Ditto the area of the Silt Sea surrounding the Vanishing Lake (that big mud flat in the south, just north of the archipelago), the Ivory Triangle (the salt flats south of Nibenay/Gulg, which once was a small inland sea), the Dragon’s Bowl (that depression with the lake near Urik), and tbh the entire Estuary of the Forked Tongue.

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Also a quick shout-out to Tectuktitlay: he’s ALWAYS gotten the short end of the stick in that people mock him for being a (relatively) weak pretender, even in the original 2E wanderer’s journal. However, RAW when the levels of the original Sorcerer-Monarchs were revealed in 2E, he was actually the second-most powerful out of them all, second only to Nibenay (Tec was 22nd level to Nibenay’s 23rd. Everyone else was 21st). Unfortunately, I think most everyone tends to forget that, and the designers that followed bought into the whole “Hahaha he’s a weak loser!” idea and went with it. When, in fact, i feel it was an amazing example of how “knowledge” in Athas is very subjective without literacy and proper histories, and while everyone believed he was the weakest of the Sorcerer-Monarchs based on scuttlebutt and rumor, he was actually more powerful than most.

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I’m not too concerned with the 2e stuff. Though any suggestions or ways to compliment or add to this idea would be quite appreciated. Personally, I prefer a lot of the 4e DS material, especially with the World Axis cosmology and how it opens Athas up to more fantastic shenanigans (Hence the use of “Elemental Chaos” over the “Elemental/Paraelemental Planes”)…

Regardless of whether it’s “2e stuff” or not, the whole point of sharing what I did WAS to specifically point out suggestions to complement your ideas. You wanna turn the Cerulean Storm into this cool elemental chaos manifestation? Cool! Here are some suggestions to better allocate your new water collection points. You want to focus a campaign on the northern Tablelands and Draj? Cool! Here’s an oft-overlooked bit of history and thematic points that you could incorporate.

Frankly, when you look at the direction Dark Sun initially seemed to be going (resource scarcity and a focus on mirroring elemental politics) versus what it eventually did (cleansing wars and the Rajaat metaplot), your interest in “4e stuff” and elemental chaos things is actually quite in line with the original stuff. Look through Tim Brown’s Dragon Kings kickstarter for more ideas, even. Look at the dragon king pretenders and their ransacking of Khitus and just try to tell me that you can’t see Psurlons as extra dimensional invaders plotting to literally drain Athas’ natural resources, throwing the elemental balance all out of whack.

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Ah, I didn’t know that. I apologize if I seemed dismissive or anything, it was just difficult to see the context in what you were saying earlier. But I didn’t know that Dark Sun was originally more about the Elements than Defilers and all that. Which after reading about that whole arc for the umpteenth time, I kind of wanted to gloss over there. You did however mention the sea off Giustental and restoring a part of the Sunrise Sea which perked my interest.

With the whole Cerulean Storm idea, how would you propose recreating the entire ocean possibly? The storm itself, while it brought water, didn’t remake the entire ocean and is just violently raging across the silt. So, any thoughts on a more permanent and less temperamental solution to the Sunrise Sea’s restoration?

Some immediate thoughts are that it really depends on two things: one, what the Sea of Silt IS, and how big the basin/sea floor is. For the former, there are arguments for the Sea of Silt just being that: a super fine particulate matter collected in the empty seabed. But there are also arguments for it being a magical transmutation of the actual sea (the 3e team went that route, arguing it is the result of an epic spell gone haywire cast by Keltis/Oronis), the result of mass defiling on the dormant optimized “water” of the world ocean due to Borys’ century-long rampage as a mindless dragon (I think Troy Denning was going that route: there was a scene in Amber Enchantress that reinforced that idea), the actual physical body of a semi-slain primordial (the 4e explanation), or even just a prime material reflection of the out-of-balance inner planes in Athas’ vicinity. As to how big the sea basin is . . . The most commonly accepted fanon maps show the Sea of Silt being part of a larger world ocean, which . . . ok. My thoughts about that are two- or three-fold.

One, it’s very clear that the jagged cliffs are meant to evoke the edge of a continental shelf exposed by the removal of an ocean. The implication being that the Kreen Empire is actually on an exposed ocean floor. Granted that relative elevation and topography on Athas is very haphazard with tons of guesswork, but it seems to me that the Sunrise Sea was always meant to be a relatively shallow and possibly inland sea. Based on the relative lack of an exposed continental shelf and the original origin of the name “the Ringing Mountains.” I think the current accepted explanation (which I think started in 4e) is that the RM are so high that O2 levels get low and peoples’ ears begin ringing at the higher elevations. Originally, the explanation was that the mountain range literally surrounded the Sea of Silt like a ring. If you look at the old maps (the boxed set and valley of dust and fire ones), you can see more of that.

tl;dr I don’t think the Sea of Silt is particularly large, and the published works support the idea that enough water could conceivably pool and collect in the basin. Depending on HOW large the Sea of Silt is, and assuming the Cerulean Storm is an extraplanar gate of some sort, there’s no way the Sea of Silt ISN’T slowly filling up and gradually becoming a water sea, again. It will go bottom-up, starting with silt-submerged mud flats that gradually become larger and larger bodies of water, a la Vanishing Lake. Which, I don’t think Vanishing Lake gets much love or coverage in 4e: basically a huge mud flat surrounding the last surviving bit of the Sunrise Sea, tended to by an extremely powerful druid: as the seasons change, the water gradually recedes and resurges.

Anyway, the Cerulean Storm might just be violently raging across the silt, but it IS dumping a constant amount of water. It may not be immediately apparent, but it IS slowly going to fill the sea basin, even if it’s not immediately apparent. Like I said, it will start with mud flats beneath the silt until the water table rises enough, again.

While it didn’t involve moving the Cerulean Storm, in it’s current location would eventually fill the Sunrise Sea and potentially the rest of the world. The Valley of Dust and Dire specifically always looked to be “lower” than the surrounding silt in the maps I’ve seen. A much larger area is now covered by the Cerulean Storm, but the silt is deep. I envision that in a few hundred/thousand years we’d see some open water, especially near the VoDaF but at the moment a good deal of the rain is being turned into steam, which makes the storm itself larger as more water is added into the clouds and more and more Tyr storms are being created. Take a look at the maps, look for depressions, and think about how much water it would really take to fill them. Without somebody specifically directing the storms, there’s not really a ton of water that the Tyr storms bring that will fill anything large enough to make a difference to a map. As the Cerulean storm itself grows however, we may very well be looking at a flooded world and a return to the Blue Age, it’ll just take longer then anyone but the Sorcerer-Kings and Rajaat have time to see.

The Cerulean Storm is roughly 100 miles across according to the maps. If we figure with the connection to the plane of water that it grows by even 1 mile a year, it would take about 350 years just to reach Giustenal and about 700 years to cover Tyr. If you figure 6 inches of rainfall an hour (heavy tropical storm) and an average depth for the Sea of Silt to be 12,000 feet (Average for Earth) it would take 2.7 years to fill any specific part of the old ocean. If we say the old Sunrise Sea is equivalent in depth to the most shallow ocean on earth (just over 4000 feet), has an area of roughly 540k miles, we’d still have 62 years to return the sea. Obviously this doesn’t take into account any water evaporation, absorption, or silt being compacted into a new ocean floor, north the growth of the storm. Figure a King’s Age to refill the Sunrise Sea assuming whatever originally caused the sea to turn to silt has burned out (I make that assumption and that the neck connecting the Sunrise Sea to the greater world’s silt oceans can be blocked off).

Per Beyond the Prism Pentad no Tyr storm lasts longer than an hour, most die in 20 minutes, you would typically see 2 inches for a normal storm and 6 inches for the slowest moving storms. The fastest hurricane moved at just under 70 miles per hour so from Cerulean Storm to Tyr you would get about 5-15 hours of storm as it crossed the Tyr region (based on 20 minutes to 1 hour comment). My Tyr Storms typically have a diameter of 80 miles (Hurricane Celia), never last longer then 24 hours (average hurricane) and roughly 8 a month get spun off but only one to the East capable of hitting the Tyr region. Additional Tyr Storms can be called by various parties.

If you plan to untether the Cerulean Storm from the VoDaF, I’d suggest making it much smaller so it doesn’t consume the entirely of the tablelands, a lot less destructive, and a lot less rainfall. Maybe it’s actually the size of a Tyr Storm but never burns out and just bounces around the tablelands as though confined to the area?

In my own campaign, I use a larger scale for the world so it takes a bit longer.

Tithian is inhabiting the body of a halfling and exerts a decent amount of control over the Tyr storms being spun off (at least some of them, when he concentrates) and he’s been hurling them and calling them down on his enemies as he builds his cult.

In the mean time, Dregoth has returned to life, moved to the surface with the Dray, and is busily recruiting humans to turn into Dray, has pushed the silt back from Giustenal’s walls and started calling more and more Tyr storms to the city, and is slowly trying to fill parts of the basin with water.

Draj is getting hit with more of the Tyr storms then even, causing some conflict but even with a growing cult of rain worshippers Atzetuk doesn’t have the power to turn away the wayward storms or really upset Dregoth. Atzetuk knows this, but with the warrior culture of Draj his inaction is starting to cost him some of his popularity and the constant repairs are starting to cut into the treasury. Even the proto-Tectuktitlay personality slowly trying to take him over knows he can’t really do anything more without stronger allies.

–edited for math