My take on Athas (First part)

I decided to rework Athas to fit my ideas;
First of all, it will be a regular material plane in the sense it will be relatively easily reached throught the deep Ethereal and spelljamming.
Second, while the city states (15) will still have a central role I shall concentrate on the other regions, too.
Third, there are no gods on Athas simply because since the green age, there are no astral links for the deities of the Great Wheel to reach this material plane; The Internal Planes and powers have no such restriction, and are officially the source of divine power on Athas together with Rajaat and the Sorcerer-Kings, and Oronis and his Avangions. Sorcerers Kings and avangions are demigods which can grant divine powers throught the ethereal planes, but they are effectively bound on the Material Plane. Recently, after the liberation and new defeat of Rajaat, things have started to change.
Those are the more important points of my changing; In this section I will describe the geo-polthics of my new Athas. Feedback will be appreciated.

It would be helpful to know your reasoning behind these changes.

Change by change:

  1. I am a big fan of crossworld campaigns, so, the idea of a somewhat rogue material plane bothered me. Athas is still kinda roguish, butnow it suits more my fancy.

  2. 5, or 9 city states were too few for me; Plus, I like big worlds with many different playable regions.

3)The “There are no gods on Athas” thing has always struck me as preposterous; in my mind faith has power of its own; In an absolute void of deities, mortal with great powers should have reached apotheosis since centuries (and they kinda have, after all). There is no lack of clerical power in Athas, so, I simply decided to give it a proper source; Archomentals and Elemental Deities live in the internal planes, and should have no problem at all to reach Athas; plus, the Astral Plane it’s only the most quick way to reach a material plane, not the only one; stand to reason that, expecially after the catastrophic events of the the Prism Penthalogy (wich I assume as canonical only in the parts which suit me) the deities of the multiverse have taken an interest on that brown sphere.

OK, but you realize that having spelljamming means that the whole idea of Athas being a world where metal is extremely rare will have to be jettisoned, right?

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I won’t have fleets of Spelljammers roaming the sky of Athas allowing free import, The rarity of metal shall still be an issue;

Not necessarily. Ships could be made out of other materials, such as organic materials (Kreen psijammers and lifeshaped Rhulisti craft could fit easily). After all, being able to travel through space and being able to visit other solar systems are two entirely different things. Athasian craft might simply be incapable of traveling faster than light, and thus would be limited to the Athasian system, and would not be able to benefit from metal supplies in other systems.

the “there are no gods on athas” concept I always found to be a matter of definition. If you define a god as an immortal being with immense power and the ability to grant spellcasting to their followers, than their are plenty of gods on the surface of athas itself (sorcerer kings), and whatever powers grant elemental magic to elemental priests would have to be considered gods as well. As for beings classically considered gods on other worlds… it’s often thought that the way the planes of athas interact make it very difficult for those being to influence the world. However, in Dregoth Ascending, it was revealed that a powerful spellcaster (such as Dregoth) could fundamentally alter the rules of athas to allow for gods, and if it can work one way, it’s possible it went the other way. Perhaps athas was at one point sealed off from conventional deities. There is certainly evidence that some sorts of divine powers used to be worshiped on athas and had some power (meorties and such).

There are areas largely unexplored in athas. the Crimson Savannah, for one. Also, there is a large expanse of land in the south. In one of my other posts on this forum, I even wrote up some non-canon concepts for those regions.

Athas is not divorced from the other worlds. The Zik-Chil were in the spelljammer setting, and they are also on athas. Further, a portion of athas was sucked into the Dread Realm as well (AKA Ravenloft). However, athas is REALLY hard to get to and even HARDER to leave. It really involves being in the right place at the right time (like the crimson monolith) or having access to a powerful unique artifact (the portal that dregoth has which has a name but I forget it). This helps keep the people of athas desperate and miserable, as fits the setting. Also consider: why would anyone from another world want to visit athas, and if people could leave athas on a whim, why would any sane person stay? I mean, aside from dregoth. Because dregoth is kinda crazy.

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Desperate and miserable people is a contingent reality, not necessarily a setting feature; Kreen thives, for example.

Certainly, but it is definitely more pronounced in Athas. Metal is rare, farmland is rare, drinkable water is rare, disease is common, slavery is rampant, gladitory fights are the most common source of entertainment, ect. Even Kreen have trouble finding enough food to survive, even though they are perfectly adapted to their landscape and lifestyle. Athas is a harsh world, more harsh than most I can think of.

For example, on eberron, magic is used almost like technology. Droughts, disease, transportation, and many other things are taken care of by magic. Slavery, while it exists, mostly stays in Droamm and the demon wastes. Even the impoverished peoples of godsgate get enough to eat. In faerun and Oerth, you walk a block and there’s probably someone powerful enough to heal you, and the majority of the people in their cities are happy, even if they lack most modern conveniences and are periodically threatened by monsters. Rokugan has Fu Leng to worry about, but most people have what they need to live, so long as they are not in the shadow lands.

Athas, on the other hand, is characterized by scarcity. If you are not a sorcerer king and you don’t live in Kurn, chances are your worried about something. For slaves, it’s obvious. Free men worry about hunger. Nobles worry about being executed at random. Templars worry about each other. Wizards worry about angry mobs, druids about dwindling wildlife, priests about their element disappearing entirely, trade lords about bandits, and the list goes on.

Part of this has to do with the fact that most cities are either ruled by an evil dictator-god, or insane mentalists, or some other thing. Or it has to do with the effect of defiling on farmland and the warms that stripped the metal from the land.

The only world in D&D I can think of that is full of desperation as Athas is the Dread Realms, which is is literally composed of a patchwork of misery-inducing locations ripped from multiple worlds.

At this point, athas is a perfect example of a world that just died, and as such most of the people on it are miserable to an extent that is much different than other worlds. For me, it’s part of what makes the setting so interesting. Every time someone tries to improve athas, the world just gets more wrecked.

In my take Athas is not so desperate; most people worry about what real people in real historic Ur worried about; Plus there is parts of the world where things are better; After Kalak was deposed, Tyr is a better place (in my Athas even more, since my Thithian is a good guy). A setting needs to have its own peculiarity ( scarcity of resources is a good idea, and Psionic powers and the risk of defiling are too) but, in my opinion you need to be able to tell different kind of stories in it, and this is the reason I’m reworking it.

I agree at least that not everywhere is that desperate. Tyr, as you pointed out, is now a free city. Kurn is REALLY nice, and has a truly democratic government. Even some of the worse areas have their good points. In gulg, anyone can appeal to the Oba for justice and twice a year there is an opportunity for anyone to become a noble by proving their combat capabilities. Urik is as safe as a city can be, at least from roving monsters, even though their king is pretty aweful to his people a lot of the time. Balic has a democracy, even if it’s a complete sham. Saragar and the surrounding towns may be ruled by insane immortal mentalists who periodically mind-wipe random people, but their people are safe from attack and have all the food and water they could need, and even have certain conveniences only seen on Eberron. The jagged cliffs even have advanced medicine and other things, and are mostly safe from attack. The Forest Ridge has a moderately well-off population of halflings, even if they are cannibals.

However, even though these benefits exist, some aspects of the world (not the game, but the actual planet) are fundamentally broken. You can certainly tell more upbeat stories on it, but those stories would probably be best introduced where things are less screwed up. Kurn, Gulg, Tyr, Saragar, the Forest Ridge, and the Jagged Cliffs would be good starting points for a quest to revitalize the land, for example, and if those places were to pool their resources they might even be able to succeed, especially if we assume that Kalak, Borys, Andropinis, and the king of Draj (can’t remember the spelling) are assumed to be dead. Another idea is that an astral god manages to force his way through Dregoth’s portal and starts changing things. If he is not restricted to the astral plane, he should be able to draw strength from mortals, and perhaps athas will go into a new age that is actually better than the preceding one. Having a campaign devoted to fixing an entire planet would be a very exciting prospect, and likely a very rewarding one if it meets with success for the players.

Andropinis is not dead, but Balic now is relatively more free than before.
(And Urik is at least ruled by law, albeit an unwielding and draconian law, but a law not by whim.)
That said Extraplanar attention on Athas will be a part of my reworking of it, indeed; alongside with the fact that to me it is a wounded world, not a dead world and not even a dying world; Athas is only wounded and it will heal, soon or later.

You are technically more correct than me about athas being more wounded than dead, and yes, I seem to have forgotten that Andropinis is sealed off in the Black. My mistake.

You are the dungeon master, and thus how you decide to work with the setting is entirely up to your discretion. I was giving ideas for how what you were looking for could be found in the existing setting.

On the other hand, time travel does exist in Athas, as with Krynn, and Krynn has alternate realities. If you go that rout, I would be very interested in what you do, as this would be new territory for Athas. Of course, you don’t have to do that either, but I think it would be interesting.

I really appreciate your feedback and your suggestions;

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Attempting to restore the planet without mass murder, and properly reconnect it to the rest of the planes would be quite interesting indeed. Considering that Athas is the Mad Max of fantasy worlds, being full blown post-apocalyptic and all… indeed, interesting to hear how you proceed. Do keep us updated.

In my opinion Athas is a wounded world, which wound has been infected; Rajat was the infection; Once Rajat was phisically defeated after the Pentalogy, the healing process sped up.
In my head canon, Rajat was killed in the final battle of the Pentralogy, but, in death he achieved his objective; he managed to ascend to full fledged godhood; in this way however he repaired partially those astral pathways he himself destroyed in the past; thus he attracted attention on the world he wanted to claim as exclusive property; this mean that those forces are now trying to claim Athas;
Now, the way of godhood is opened and powerfull Athasian might already have a foot on it; The elemental forces which until now never felt the need to manifest theyr will, but contented themself in empowering elemental clerics are now more personally involved since there is a growing competition.

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Sorry for the thread necromancy, but it was about time for me to relive it;

Let’s start from the beginning:
During Blue Age Halflings and Pyreens dominated the world; Back than, there were only two deities in the world: The Blue Goddess, of the Pyreen, and Badna, the All Father of the Halflings. Than the two coupled, generating all the other gods, and turning the world of Athas to his Green Age.
During the Green Age Rajaat was born; Ugly, deformed, but blessed with umprecended talents he discovered a way to harness magic without the consent of the gods.
Resenfull with the gods for putting an end to the blue age he developed an evil plan; He started to teach the arts of magic (defiling magic) to a selected group of 28 humans, brainwashing them to believe they would be the first of a new human master-race; Those Champions he charged each with cleansing a race; But the peoples of Athas were not ready to desappear peacefully in the night, and they fought back; exactly according to Rajaat plans.

Pray, continue. I am interested to hear what comes next.


I thought Pyreens were the result of the Pristine Tower? Also, wasn’t Badna a false god made up by Abalach-Re? I might be wrong, or might be going off non-canon material.

Well, I have read that Pyreens were, along with Halflings the original inhabitants of Athas; And yes, canonically Badna was exactly that; I decided to make it a god which really esixted in the past, usurped by Abalach-Re for her foul pupose.