The Darkness Before the Dawn Dark Sun novel

So I did a quick skim of this novel, trying to refresh my memory of a book that I read more than 20 years ago. I remember liking the novel back then - but I’m not so sure I like it that much now. But my point lies elsewhere.

The novels present crystals that are world spaces in which wealthy and powerful ancient Athasians would enter thier souls into before death. Inside the crystal world there are no limitations on space or environment, even though the crystals themselves can fit in the palm of your hand in the real world. The ancients had their crystals linked up so they could meet each other across their crystal worlds. Over thousands of years this system broke down and they became isolated and alone within their crystals.

This brings up an interesting notion. If you accept this part of the novel as canon, then the ancients must have had a good understanding of the Gray, and that there was no reward in the afterlife, only slowly having their souls drain away before oblivion.

This must have been a terrifying thought. With no afterlife, the ancients came up with a psionic means of providing themselves with a man made afterlife, inside an artificial crystal virtual reality.



It’s pretty canon, assuming you agree that Mind Lords of the Last Sea is canon.

If you think that you can “live” forever in an idyllic world as opposed to nothingness that seems pretty great. I’m all for it once we can figure out persistent VR worlds and figure out who to upload our consciousness digitally.


When you say the Ancient, do you mean the Rhulisti or the Green age’s first generations of the new races?

Also this would mean that those crystals are still on Athas somewhere. What would happen if one would find such a thing. (don’t have the novel)

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No. I mean ancient Green Age humans and humanoids. Yes, according to the novel these crystals still exist, and the people inside them are quite possibly insane from loneliness.

Implanting the mind in crystals is pretty well established. An argument could easily be made that obsidian orbs allowed interaction with the outside world while standard crystals did not. Psionic travel was a thing, so there’s no reason the green age psions wouldn’t know about the Grey.

There was a stigma attached to being implanted in the orbs, that was for criminals and other unwanted folk. That stigma could be more associated with the mind wipe and being turned into a slave than the ability to live forever. The reason only the rich and powerful used it is because it wasn’t easy (or cheap) to implant yourself in something small enough to hold in the palm of your hand but doing so required you to lose the ability to interact with the real world.

As the Mind Lords have discovered, physical beings without a body eventually go insane. The crystals from the novel show the same thing happening. A mind can be removed from the crystal and placed in a new body, much like mindswaps are done normally and we see in City by the Sea of Silt that obsidian spheres can be used to hold the mind of a being that’s been killed (lost their body) until resurrection (a new body is found).


Got a page number for City by the Sea of Silt?

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Adventure Book, pg 62. Check the encounters section and it talks about a rack of small obsidian spheres that are to be used to bring back some of Dregoth’s followers. One’s already been brought back (and presumably awaiting a body or to be left in the sphere forever ad used as needed), there’s another 6 that can be used to bring back anyone stuck in the Caller of Darkness.Once retrieved they can be rezzed.