Planetary Geology of Athas

Yeah, SOMETIMES “a wizard did it” is a legitimate reason for an event, i feel it just shouldn’t get overused. Especially if you can reasonably have another explanation.

But Wizards do Wizard stuff…


I don’t think we are dealing with a change in orbit of Athas being closer to the sun. Or a change in the masses.

The orbit of Athas around the sun is fixed at 375 days and has been so since the calendar’s inception FY -14578. The sun change from blue to yellow happened in FY -14027. No change in days to the year.

Again the when the champions were created in FY -3531 and the sun turned red the calendar of 375 days stayed consistent.

I don’t think the size of the sun is changing or the distance between it and Athas. But the color change is just a magical coloring side effect.

The heat on Athas could be more due to atmospheric conditions, lack of water, and the fact that it isn’t as tilted as Earth.

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The mass does not change, it still has the same mass (although it is consistently burning mass and will eventually die out unless significantly more mass is added to it), only the volume of the star changes in a red giant…

In our own solar system, Earths star will eventually become a red giant and probably will expand to the point that Mercury and Venus will be engulfed and possibly even Earth, which could reignite the star… no one really knows, but if the star expands enough it’s possible. Jupiter could also expand and ignite at that time, becoming a brown dwarf, and then siphon off energy from the red giant to become a star itself, at which point the solar system will become a binary system, and the stars would orbit each other, Mars might actually become more livable in that situation, but there is a real possibility of Mars getting thrown out of the solar system due to the gravity between the two…

I find Mars to be much like Athas, although much colder. If at some point Mars could heat up and the core be reinvigorated by the gravity pull of a closer star it’s very possible it could be turned into an Athas like world.


Since you’re working on imagery for the project, you currently have access to the Secrets of the Dead Lands manuscript. Read up on the early chapters what led to the Boiling Ruin. You’ll find you’re very close to spot on.

Officially, the Dead Lands was created when a magical research lab founded by Qwith called The Navel made a mistake when trying to increase access to elemental energy, and a gate to the plane of magma ruptured with a crack allowing Grey energy to contaminate it as it blasted out.

It flooded until it ran out of space to flood, and a (spoiler alert) stopped it. Needless to say, everyone dies.

I like @Jason_Goff’s idea about there being a lot of silica in the crust and mantle of the planet, but isn’t most magma on an earth type planet silica-based anyway?

But it does bring up an interesting question-- how do you get silt from water? Where did all the silt come from? Is it simply the ashes of all that was green blown into the giant holes left when the seas went dry? (ooh that’s grim), or is there another cause?

I always thought that the silt is what is left fo the Brown Tide, which was some kind of plancton/algae.

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Could be. Maybe it’s all of that from land as well as sea. The ashes of countless flora taken by defiling…

@Otello - I think the Silt came from the Para-elemental plane of Silt (the dried out Ooze plane) as the planar imbalance on the elemental planes continued to skew, that plane grew and overtook the Plane of Water. On Athas, as the water disappeared it was replaced by silt. The Brown Tide lowered the ocean water and allowed the islands to become larger land masses.


I’ve been studying geology a little, but have been more of an astrophysicist when it comes to science… From what I understand, most magma on Earth is not silica based, magma is usually mineral based dependent on what type of minerals are flowing up the magma chamber, usually it is metallic rock of some kind. The super volcanos that are active and have been active in the past usually spew out massive amounts of ash, enough to cover the entire continent with several feet of ash in the geologic record, that could explain why there is so much silt. It could be an ash that had been used by plants in the prior ages and turned into fertile silt during that time.

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Officially, the silt came from Keltis casting an epic spell to kill off the Lizardfolk, but it somehow kicked off extra hard and destroyed the whole Sunrise Sea, turning it to silt - i think the general idea floated (maybe officially, i don’t recall) around that the spell interacted with the remains of the Brown Tide…

It feels a bit gimmicky to me, but whatever, it is what it is…

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Product and page number? I thought this was homebrew.

DS3_r7, pg 278, bottom left corner.

An early instance that proved particularly destructive was a spell cast by Keltis to obliterate a lizardmen settlement in the Sunrise Sea. After months of preparations, the spell was complete and the water started to turn to silt, polluting the settlement and killing many. The spell was more powerful than anticipated. The silt continued to grow until it became the Silt Sea that exists today.

(Certainly SOUNDS like homebrew…)

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The Brown Tide part was probably the unofficial part…

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Yeah. I remember that particular reference and I don’t hold it in particularly high regard. Any reference from canon is what I am talking about. There is stuff like this all over the DS3 document, including on the same page that you referenced.

umm, i don’t think a person can reasonably call the 3.5 core DS rules “non-canon”.

But this might be better:

Any reference from 2e is what I am talking about.

Anyway, like it or not, it’s a printed ‘official’ reference, no matter how stupid you or I think it sounds.

It’s surely more canon than Pennarin: “Centaur Crusher”.

Most people do. I am more open to it than most people.

You can use your common sense to figure it out. Its not supported by anything in the original documentation (2E) so this particular reference about Keltis being the reason for the existence of the sea of silt was someone’s hobby horse. Fraternity of Shadows, the Ravenloft fansite has different levels of canon described so people can figure out what is what. Under the levels of canon system, Keltis being responsible for the sea of silt would be considered netbook canon. The same system also considers work by the Kargatane, the official Ravenloft site, to be netbook canon as well. I don’t think you can reasonably hold up the officially licensed work here as canon on a level equal to the first party published products. People distinguish the difference.

The very next page is jam packed with controversial netbook canon, including sequence of when the Dark Lens was stolen, Dregoth teaching Borys the metamorphosis spell, the champions casting the metamorphosis spell on themselves (managing to contradict both the Prism Pentad AND the Revised Campaign Setting, which arguably contradict each other), and then the creation of Borys the dragon (without the Dark Lens).

Pennarin is easy to include or ignore. He wasn’t turned into something relevant to the central narrative, unlike this other stuff. Pennarin’s inclusion was understandable and necessary from an author’s point of view. At least one champion had to bite the dust during the rebellion. So Pennarin was created to be killed.

What other folks do on their websites (as fantastic an idea as they may be) do not bind our actions or views here.

“Netbook canon” is literally a level of canonicity, and therefor ise canon, if the cut is “canon or not canon”. Its just lesser canon. Star Wars did the same thing before Disney.

I’m actually pro the Lynn Abby stuff, she did a great job with a bad situation.

I’m getting the feeling you’re leaning more towards “There’s some sketchy parts of the 3e DS rules book, and that’s one of them.” and less towards “Eff the 3e DS rules, the whole thing is garbage.” (My words, clearly not yours) which i can totally agree with. But maybe not, IDK, its late here.


Of course. And I agree. But the stuff in DS3 isn’t a suicide pact either. It can be revised, edited, elaborated, or pruned accordingly.

Yes, it is a level of canoncity. The difference is that someone can’t be held to netbook canon, especially if they have a different take on something. Lynn Abbey did a good job in identifying the massive plot holes and inconsistencies and attempted to reconcile them. Some her fixes I was not fond of (Kalak not a champion), some were pure gold that had never occurred to me (Sacha and/or Wyan could have provided spells to templars for Tithian). Sadly, the chaos at TSR at the time meant that Abbey’s queries were never answer. Had she got answers, a lot of the controversies that continue to this day may have been resolved.

I don’t have a problem with DS3 and think it is an overall good work. I don’t see myself as held it, however. It can still be revised and should be, and not just the lore, but the base classes and prestige classes.

You guys are basically ignoring the fact that these things in the canon books could just be myths, rumors, or even propaganda from a lack of or even twisting of the information available. In a world where information is controlled by evil despots, you cannot always trust what the history books say. History is written by the victors, as they say.


@jason_goff I’ve seen that work well for small inconsistencies, or Wanderer’s Journal accounts. But for big stuff we start to run into retcon issues and outright contradictions.

Redking has a point about the silly things they did to the setting in the final days of TSR, but I’m convinced that could be easily fixed with one more canon story restoring the Sorcerer Monarchs.

But more fundamentally, we’re drifting off topic guys. If we want to talk about historical canon arguments, there are loads of other threads here on the site.


To start the topic up again, what do you guys think is the main composition of the bedrock on Athas? Sandstone has probably formed in many places, due to pressure in the Silt Sea. But I’m talking about the original bed rock before the calamities. Are we dealing with granite? I doubt it. I would think Basalt would be the most likely, which is a pretty hard rock too though, but rather easy to break.

I ask because as you know from my other post, my players may be going to a limited Underdark area, (more of a large cavern under the silt sea that may have connecting tunnels dug by the residents.) and if at any time they will need to mine rock, I would like to know what kind of rock I will be dealing with.