I’m sure this thought / topic comes up in a lot of our minds at different times, so I was hoping to do a little brainstorming.
The basic question is “If Rajaat were so powerful as implied and explicitly shown in the novels/source material, why did he even bother with champions? Why not just cause a magical apocalypse that accomplished what he wanted, and wipe out all rebirth races directly, re-establishing the Blue Age as he desired?”
Now I’ve added some of my own thoughts on this topic in the past (such as using the Champions as proxies in a massive behind-the-scenes death magic ritual, in essence using them via their Champion transformations to farm magical power), but I would really like to solicit ideas from various people here as to why would he bother with disciples/champions instead of just doing the deed directly himself.
“Because he was crazy,” while a semi-valid (if incomplete) answer, is NOT what I’m looking for. If you wanna go that route, fine: but please at least explain the WWWWWH of his crazy. (who/what/where/when/why/how)
Possibly because he couldn’t - at least without endangering the remaining halflings.
Returning Athas to the Blue Age isn’t simply a matter of killing off its sentient humanoid races, but destroying all the non Blue Age life - plant and animal. Rajaat was just one man. To get this done he needed a major war in which the “fuel” for the war was plant and animal life. Only when Athas was left almost entirely barren could Rajaat bring back the blue seas and blue sun.
There’s also no doubt that Rajaat is a weird guy. And we only have part of the story from the perspective of the champions. We know that Rajaat kept the champions that completed their cleansings around. Likely he had plans for them in the New Blue Age. Here is my hypothesis: Rajaat would not have simply restored the former halfling civilization to what it was previously because in doing so the halflings could make the same mistakes that brought down their ancient civilization. The champions would serve as a check on halfling excesses, guiding the halfings in a eusocial direction.
To became himself a god and seal off true gods out of Athas. His Champions were ment to attract the champions of the divinities (That’s why so many cleansings failed)
After Rajaat discovered the basis of magic he returned to the Pristine Tower to refine the process and learn the secrets of the tower. While doing this he learned many secrets, including the way to turn back the sun and restore the blue Age. To do so he had to make certain changes, which included intertwining his own life force with the tower itself. He could not use the power gained from the Pristine Tower to kill, but he could use it to alter.
He altered the tower into a gigantic collector, gathering magic power from the sun itself. He further altered Champions who could go into the world, destroy the Rebirth races, and feed their life energies back into the tower. With the life force of the Rebirth races and the power gathered from the sun, Rajaat would have the power to finally undo the Rebrith and return the world to the Blue Age, it was just a matter of time, and Rajaat had plenty of that.
One big trap I see people fall into when it comes to Rajaat is they assume the Rajaat we see in the books is the Rajaat that waged the cleansing wars. Keep in mind during the cleansing wars Rajaat was likely growing in magical and psionic power as he attuned himself further to the pristine tower and was likely honing his abilities so he could properly plunge Athas back into the Blue Age.
Additionally Rajaat was stuck in the Black for millennia. Keep in mind how powerful shadow giants are and those were just his halfling loyalists. Obviously their imprisonment in the black fundamentally changed them and allowed them to become far more powerful entities. It is clear this happened to Rajaat as well since in the books the guy does not even resemble a physical entity a lot of the time.
So if we keep these safe assumptions in mind then we can also assume that Rajaat was not powerful enough to solo the entirety of Athas with his magic and psionics and he only became a godlike being after he further attuned himself to the pristine tower and later spent millennia in the Black. Also a lot of Rajaat’s nonsense he pulled before the Cleansing Wars kicked off were through the use of the Pristine Tower and the Dark Lens. Both are pretty big achilles heels for a mad wizard that is wanting to genocide the world.
Lets remember that multiple SKs died during the Cleansing Wars and the conflict lasted centuries. Clearly the Green Age civilisations were not pushovers and achieving Rajaat’s goals was not a sure thing, but a long drawn out affair to slowly erode the civilised world until only halflings, err I mean humans remained
Interesting that you mention Rajaat’s change as a result of his imprisonment, Star-Sage. You could say that Rajaat is an Elder Evil now.
That’s kind of how I always saw it. It makes the Cleansing Wars make a lot more sense while justifying Rajaat as a godlike threat in the present day.
Sure he was without a doubt stronger than any of the Champions back in the day, but I suspect he could’ve been killed if he participated in the Cleansing Wars and the Green Age civilizations were at their height with the full knowledge of Rajaat as the primary threat.
Would he have died? Probably not. But the idea of it being a realistic possibility could’ve been enough to stop him from engaging in the war personally.
Engaging the war directly would impose an opportunity cost on Rajaat. Just because he wanted to restore Athas to the Blue Age doesn’t necessarily mean that he immediately had the means to do it. While the champions were fighting his war, he may have been researching the means to restore the Blue Age.
At the same time we have to consider that Rajaat was literally so powerful that a dozen+ champions were LITERALLY unable to kill him. The best they could do was bushwhack him and keep him imprisoned in an impossible dimension of nothingness, fueled by the yearly sacrifice of thousands of people over the course of millennia.
Although you could also make the argument that in making the champions he also linked their lives to his own, and they worried that killing him would kill themselves as well.
But that flies in the face of the established story that they DID try to kill him and FAILED.
I suspect Rajaat’s essence was linked to the pristine tower since he spent so much time attuning himself to it. It makes sense the champions would be terrified at the idea of destroying the pristine tower, if they were capable of such a feat. So any death of Rajaat’s body would’ve been temporary and thus they had to seal his soul away using the Dark Lens.
After Borys, they might not have wanted to mess with it much more? They’d be witnessing the birth of the Athasian demi-humans they had been trying to exterminate and countless other horrors… and of course what happened to Borys after his run in with the lens/tower. Rajaat might be as much a manifestation of the Tower as it is enraptured by the essence poured into it.
I still think that is what Nibenay was studying all that time. If I recall correctly, he seemed to know the most about it, and even he wasn’t keen on tinkering with it for fear of what might happen next. “That is why we made Borys and paid the levies” and all of that.
From Rajaat’s perspective, having a number of champions with so much blood on their hands and his inverted pyramid laboratory… Whole species floating in the Grey… They might have been built up as currency for what he wanted to do. I’m still dubious if it was to take things back to the Blue Age as he professed, too. He never really told the truth at any point in the saga and was 3 steps ahead of everyone, so it might have been a thing he let slip to set other events in motion.