Religions of Athas Part 1 Elemental Cults

Athas has no Gods in the Current age, that is a fact, there is no heavenly pantheon ruling Athas from the outer planes; that was maybe not always true, but it is so in the current age of the world. However religion do not need gods in that sense to exist. Faith alone is a great source of power, and while Athas is harsh and brutal there is still a need for absolute in the soul of sentient beings.
The cult of the ancient gods of the green age were forgotten, not because those deities ceased to empower their priests, as faith alone is enought for that, but because the Sorcerer Monarchs and Rajaat erased their memory. However some trace of them remain, but I shall talk about them later; (In my Athas Rajaat used the energy of the devotion of the people of Athas, which normally would have turned the objects of such devotion in gods, to keep himself alive in his prison; after his body was destroyed, he ascended to true divinity in a new prison, and he does not syphon devotion energy anymore)

The most common religions in the current age of Athas are the Elemental Cults. They are diverse in dogma and scope, but here I shall detail the ones I put in my campaign:

Popular in mountainous region and in the Slit Sea region, the cults of Air tends to Chaotic Alignment.
The most notorious Air Cults are:

The Mother-Wind
It is the primarly religion of the Araakokra clans. The Mother- Wind is a Chaotic Good cult which enphatize the freedom of the act of flying, and teach the value of working together mindfull of distances and personal space. (In My Athas after the destruction of Rajaat body Mother-Wind is starting to become something more then a simple object of faith). The Windspeakers are usually Aarakokra’s ruling class. They use a feather-shaped red leaf as their holy symbol.

Unusual as they are a L/N organization, Windmasters form the core of a guild which oversees navigation in the Sea of Silt. They are not cheap, but they do a good job providing safe and fast traveling, and they are not exclusively motivated by greed, as they genuinly believe that commerce is the key for the region prosperity. They can be hard on concurrence, however. They have an understanding with the Balican Governement which allows the cult in the city. Their holy symbol is a wheel of Nibenay (A compass)

Howling Furies
An infamous C/E reaver cult they raid villages and merchants for the glory of the Howling Wind of Fury to which they sacrifice prisoners, leaving them hanged by their wirsts at the mercy of the roaring winds in a canyon. The sharp rocks do the rest. Their unholy symbol is a gust of wing beetwen two sharp blades.

Cults of Cloud are tied to the very rare and vital phenomemon of rain. They are usually Lawfull as the brief cyclical rain season is regular enought to base the whole calendar on it.
The most notorious Cloud cults are:

An order of L/N bureaucrats, they are tolerated by Nibenay as their main job is recording weather phenomenon, trying to use it to divine the near future They are a precious source of information as they travel the Tablelands regularly.They are not spies by any stretch but allow non secret but valuable news to travel faster and arrive to the Shadow King ears. Their holy symbol is a perchant with a cloud on it.

This unusual but well known Chaotic Neutral cult believe that truth is revealed by mighty storms of wind and thunder, and venerate storms as harbinger of change.Their holy symbol is an eye watching cloud with a thunderbolt.

A Lawfull Good cult of travelling clerics which believe healing the people to heal the land; The Cloudherders wanders, like the clouds they can summon to bring a bit of hope to the hopeless people of Athas. They have been persecuted by the Sorcerer Monarchs with only a few notable exception. Balic tolerates them and Kurn actively supports them. After Kalak’s falling the Chloudherders have opened a temple in Tyr. Their holy symbol depicts a group of clouds in a precint.(In my Athas after Rajaat’s body distruction the Cloudherders have started to talk about a presence, the Shepard of the Clouds)

Dust is everywhere in Athas, in the sands of the desert, in the surface of the Sea of Silt. Cults of Dust either tends to exorcize the danfers dust poses or to weaponize them; Dust Cults are often evil. The three most relevant Dust Cults are:

Church of the Conquering Desert
This L/E Dust cult is trying to unify the nomads to carve out a kingdom, ruled by them, of course. They are building alliances with the Merchant Houses offering them safer ways and lower fees. They portray the sands of the desert as a powerfull army made up of very tiny and weak soldiers. The followers are the Trooopers of the Conquering Sands while the priests are called the Sandspears Strenght can be found in numbers and patience will see them prevail. Theyr unholy symbol is a spear point half hidden in the sand.

Disciples of the Gray Death
This N/E cult believe the horrifyng hazard which force people to close themselves up or dying painfully is a divine maniifesatation; only way to placate the Gray Death is throught sacrifices, leaving victims to die by it. Their unholy symbol is a skull made up of dust. (After Rajaat’s Ascension, some of the most powerfull Gray Disciple have seen the Gray Death talking to them in dreams)

Dust Wardens
A rare exception for cults of Dust, Dust Wardens are N/G. Knowing how the sands and the dust from the Sea of Silt works they teach everyone how survive them and even how to thrive in spite of them; they also protect patches of green and source of waters from the desert clutches. They are wellcomed by oasis, villafes and even the outskirts of many cities…Their holy symbol is an hand warding a palm-tree in a sandstorm.

The cults of Earth are tied to the soil, its fertility and its solidity. Earth cults tend to the Lawfull side.
The following Cults are particularly active

The Cult of the All-Mother
Kreen main religion, it embodies the main tenants of Kreen society, self reliance, cohoperation and survival. It is A Lawful Neutral religion and its priests are called Drekkra, roughtly traslated in Earth-Speakers, the main advisors of Kreen Khans. Kreen depicts the Earth-Mother as a Gargantuan earth-Elementhal shaped as a Three-Kreen. It’s holy symbol is a stone kreen egg. ( After the destruction of Rajaat Body Earth Elementals shaped as Kreens have begun to appear in the Khanate lands)

Brotherood of the Shakers
This unusual Chaotic Evil sect reveres the destructive power of Earth and use it to bring chaos and satisfy their appetites. Earthquakes, rockslides and similar disasters are holy to Shakers which usually sacrifice their victims by having rocks falling on them. Those few who miracolusly survive are offered to join the sect. If they refuse are stoned to death. They operate in the canyons and near the mountains, in small numbers, riding villages and merchants outposts but sometime a particularly daring members attack a City State. Recently the west walls of Urik were attacked by one daring Shaker, killing hundreds of guards and bystanders and the Lion King have sworn to destroy the sect. His templars are having troubles to find them thought. Their unholy symbol is a rock dripping blood.

The Hope of Stone
This Lawfull Good sect, made up of Human, Dwarves, Gnomes (For me who reintroduced them) and Half Giants venerates the bountfull soil but balance its ideal of community cohesion and hope peacefull restoration of Athasian martyred soil against the harsh reality of the world. So they armor up their golden hearts in hard stone plating, and they easily converts their tools in weapons. They have an understanding with Balic and Gulg and they have a small temple in Tyr since Kalak’s fall. The priests are called Stone Pilgrims, and their holy symbol is a stone shield with a plough on it.

Nights in the deserts are freezing cold without fire and a flame can save your life warding off predators and cooked food is tastier and easier to digest . While Metal is rare, you still need to cook clay to make briks Fire Cults as usually Good.
The following are three samples of important Fire Cults.

The Keepers of the Flame
This L/G sect is popular in nomad tribes, even a minority of Elven Tribes and Halfling Clans have recently converted to their faith. They transport the community bonefire during travel and keep it alight, telling stories to educate the young and using fire power for the goof of the community. When they are accepted in stantial communities like village or cities, they teach them safer and more effective ways to use fire.Their holy symbol is a bonfire. They have opened a temple in Tyr after the fall of Kalak.

The Followship of the Hidden Ember
This C/G cult is branded as terrorist in all City-States, except Kurn and Tyr; In Balic and Gulg they close an eye and the Followers keep a low-profile. To the Followers of the Hidden Embers the only way to keep the flame of hope alive under the tyranny of the Sorcerer Monarchs is cultivating the spark of joy in secret. The fire is both metaphor and tool for the Followers to fight darkness and coldness, inside rooms and hearts. Followers lit a spark of change, hope, progress and sometime outright rebellion. They keep them discreet unti the sparks can became a roaring inferno of joy and change. The Followship is gnomic most popular religion. Its holy symbol is a piece of ember with a lock.

The Cleansing Fire
This Neutral Evil cult revere a very specific flame, a blue fire which appeared in the place where the Dragon was presumibly killed, in a valley near Ur-Draxa. It is a very racist religion accepting only human as followeres; The Purefires sacrifices into that fire non human and people who, in their hopinion, have muddled their blood. (After Rajaat body’s destuction, it seem that the Cleansing Fire has started to talk with its priests). The unholy symbol of the cult is a blue flame.

Magma represents the destuctive powers of volcanoes but vulcanic ashes are also an excellent fertilizer. In light of this duplicity Magma cults usually are Chaotic. The following are samples of relevant cults of Magma.

This C/G cult of Magma teach how to rebuilt once disater strike. They are appreciated by farmers, less so by Merchant Houses, as they condone the act of rebelling against unfair trade. They have a temple in Tyr and a smaller one in Kurn.Their holy symbol is a Magma Poppy, a red flower which can survive lava.

Volcano’s Children
This Chaotic Neutral Sect devoted to Magma is made up of Half Giants and Humans. They hold every volcano as an holy place and honour them with an unpredictable behaviour and a loud, larger then life attitude. They honour the Smoking Crown, biggest Athasian volcano, as the father of all volcanoes and their presebce is a nuisance for Urik. (After Rajaat Ascension, they have started to depict it with humanoid traits)

Church of Lava Harvester
This rare Lawfull Neutral sect of magma worshippers believe Magma can be used to power technology and futher technologicall progress. They are sponsored indirectly by Hamanu, but they are housed in Balic. Their hoy symbol is an obsidian watermill wheel.

Treacherous yet full of opportunity Silt is what remains of the majority of Athasian body waters. Silt cults on average tend to Neutrality.

Cult of the Siltwave Music
Headed by the Siltwave Listeners, this neutral cult the main religion of the nomads who navigate the Sea of ilt and dwells on the islands which dot it. They believe the waves of Silt are singing for them unveiling secrets and wisdom to those who can listen. (In My Athas dwellers of the Sea of Silt are mainly survived Orcs and Siltwave Listeners are their Priesthood, called Parrak-kress ). Their holy symbol is an ear with a wave.

Cult of the Prowler of the Deep
This N/E cult of Silt is popular beetwen pirates and raiders. They revere the powerfull predators which live beneath the silt, the mightiest of them all being a Gargantuan Kraken-like Silt Para-Elemental called the Prowler of the Deep. The Prowlerspawns, lead by their priests, the Prowler’s Tentacles, hunt and raid the coasts of the Sea of Silt. Their unholy symbole is a tentacle. (After Rajaat 's Ascension, the Prowler of the Deep has started to emerge and talk with its followers) Prowlers and Winsmasters hate each other with a passion.

Sisterhood of Siltsingers
This Neutral/Good religion is headed by an almost all-female priesthood, who believe that the Music of the waves can heal the wounds of the world and its inhabitantants. They protect travelers and help the victims of the Gray Death. Their main temple is in Balic. Their holy symbol is an opened mouth.

Steam, mist, fog, is the form water takes primarily on Athas thanks to its very hot climate. Both an hazard and a resource Steam cults tend to be neutral. The following are three signifyant examples.

Confraternity of the Breathing Water
This Neutral sect worship geysers and believe that steam hold the truth of life. They are popular in the Charvass Penunsula where the Brothers teach their way of contemplation mediate by decisive action, but recently have started to proselitize outside those borders. Their holy symbol is a column of steam. (After Rajaat ascension, Steam Paraelementals started to appear to collaborate with the Confraternity)

The Believers of the Unrelent Source
They are a Lawfull Neutral sect popular in Dwarven lands, in Balic, in Kurn and in Tyr, who see Steam as an impersonal force which powers the world, and can be harnessed with discipline, constance and hard work. Most Believers are Human, Dwarves and Muls. Their holy symbol is an infinity knot made up of steam.

Cult of the Venting Rage
This Chaotic neutral cult, popular in the desert nomad tribes use steam as a tool and as a metaphor for the rage boiling up in every person who struggles to survive under the cruel red sun. The Rageventers priests teach their followers to bottle their rage to vent it against their enemies and to overcame any hobstacle. Their holy symbol is a cracked jar.

The red Sun of Athas is the looming threat against the survival of its people. Cults of Sun are usually Evil. Three relevant cults of the Sun are:

Disciples of the Red Revenge
This Chaotic Evil Cult of the Sun is wanted in every City state, with the sole grudgingly exception of Tyr after Kalak’s fall. They see every city state as an insult for the true master of Athas, the Red Sun and they will see all of them burned to the ground. They sacrifice theyr victims exposing them to their master’s cruel eye. Their unholy symbol is a red sun disk with an eye. (After Rajaat’s Ascension the Revengers have been enboldened by a series of visions they attributes to their master)

Cult of the Light of the Red Master
This Lawfull Evil sect is at least tolerated in every city state as they use the mercyless red sun as a symbol of inevitability of ierarchy. As the Red Sun rule in the sky so the monarchs rule on the land, and the merchant houses rule their trade, and masters rule their slaves. They are forbidden in Tyr. Their unholy symbol is a red sun with whips for rays.

Way of the Yellow Return
This Neutral Good Sect was born in Kurn; they preaches that before the Sorcerer Monarchs, and before the desertification, the sun shone yellow and joyfull in the sky; they hope that throught virtuos behaviour they can bring back the Yellow sun. Their holy symbol is a yellow sun disk. ( In my Athas, after Rajaat’s ascension, the sun started to turn yellow one hour every day, and the Yellow Way’s followers are swelling)

Water is the source of life and the most precious resource on the majority of Athas. It is always associated with healing and wellness and thus water cults are often of Good alignement. The followers are three relevant cults of water I use on my Athas

Cult of the Wellwatchers
This Lawfull Good cult protect and mantain source of water. They are respected by the majority of desert dweller and wellcomes people of any race,. They patrol water reseves and fight off threat, wastes and attempts to hoard it down, Their holy symbol is a mace on a well.

Cult of the Waterbringers
This small yet persistent prevalently human neutral good cult believe that water is the way to save the world. A drop at a time. They heal the sicks, get water to thirsty and food to the hungry, and are beloved by vilahers and nomads.They are usually not wellcomed but somehow tolerated in the outskirts of the city states, with the exception of Balic, Gulg, Tyr and Kurn, which welcome them wholeheartedly. Their holy symbol is a drop of water (After Rajaat ascension, a being called Lifewater has started to talk with the Waterbringers priests in visions)

This Neutral Evil cult, made up of human and elves, mainly, is the right opposite of the Waterbringers, as they aim to control water to empower themselves. water is too precious to be wasted with unessential peoples, after all. Water is a privilege, it must be earned. They sponsor marauders to take hold of oasis, because who control the oasis control the trade routes and that put them at odds with the merchant houses.Their unholy symbol is a locked barrel.


Grear stuff.

So, does this mean you don’t use (para)elemental lords as cleric patrons?

Why the extra 2 “elements”?


Well, elemental and para elemental lords are fundamentally alien and distanced. Elemental deities fuelled by devotion and shaped by beliefs, on the other side are more closely involved. The paraelements are 6 because each element in this vision interacts with the other three, including its opposition. So Earth and Air makes Dust and Fire and Water makes Steam. Sun ( properly, Light) is Air and Fire, Magma Earth and Fire, Silt is Earth and Water and Cloud is Water and Air. This solution also allows the DM to have endless elemental cults, without involving directly a patron.