This is a guest post written by my patron & friend Saevrick, as part of his fantastic “The Wanderer’s Journal” series. He is a huge fan of DarkSun and Planescape, and there will be more from him about these subjects in the future. Enjoy folks! You can find Saevrick on twitter by clicking his name. If you have questions about Athas he is the man to ask.
I spoke sparingly in my previous entry about the history of Athas. Before I can continue further, I feel it is necessary to flesh out the annals of time regarding the world of Dark Sun. This segway will follow into the Champions of Rajaat, and hopefully give you some understanding to why the world of Athas became the post-apocalyptic icon of Dungeons and Dragons.
The Blue Age
Before the world of Athas was devastated and mutated into a baked, barren landscape, there was the Blue Age. The majority of the world was a vast sea under a cerulean sun, wild and constant. On the land that remained untouched by the vast world ocean, the original inhabitants, the halflings, built wondrous and sprawling civilizations. They were creatures of the land, nature masters, able to manifest their desires from the world itself in harmony.
Unfortunately, some also tried to manipulate the world to bend to their whim instead of in concert with it. In the city of Tyr’agi, nature masters tried to increase the bounty of the sea and it’s fruits. In their attempts to push nature beyond its capacity, they instead released a terrible toxin into the sea. This contagion, known as the brown tide, swallowed up life as it spread, killing anything that inhabited the same waters.
The halflings saw their harvest falling before them, and desperate to save their people, they created what was called the Pristine Tower. These masters drew power from the blue sun, empowering the tower, and while it was successful in burning away the brown tide, it also warmed the world. The ocean began to recede, exposing more land mass. The sun’s once brilliant blue rays faded to yellow, cutting its very life in the process.
Those nature masters that remained were in turn transformed by the power of the Pristine Tower, mutated into what would be known as the races of Athas today. These races would go forth and populate the new green world, and usurp the halflings from their once prosperous civilization. Those that remained retreated to the mountains—eventually falling into savagery.
The tower would continue to produce new creatures into this new world, and a rebirth took place on the stage of Athas.
The Green Age
The new races began to thrive on Athas, as humans, dwarves, elves, gnomes and countless other species spread out onto the continent. Tyr’agi’s empty streets would be reclaimed, and renamed Tyr. Numerous other cities and civilizations would spring up near the ocean’s edge, and for a time, prospered.
The Pristine Tower had also imbued these races with a powerful, inner focus. Psionics would manifest in every creature. While no gods ruled over the world, not for lack of trying by religious sects who begged for understanding and communion, the Way of the Mind would fill a niche needed in many individual’s lives. The methods were mastered and taught freely, and wonders of achievement blossomed in the cities as the Way brought a higher level of understanding and meaning.
Of the races born of the rebirth, perhaps the most reclusive and mysterious were the Pyreen, and among their ranks was a particularly gifted student of the Way named Rajaat. Rajaat would take to wandering the world, experiencing and learning everything he could. He became obsessed and manic, his own self-loathing laying foundation to his views on the world before him. It was unnatural—imperfect. Taking possession of the Pristine Tower, Rajaat would lock himself away and begin to create the arcane ways of magic.
The First Sorcerer
Rajaat would learn to perfect the art of magic, and eventually learned that magic could be drawn in one of two ways: by a slow, controlled method of harnessing the energy of the world and shaping it thoughtfully and carefully, or by a greedy torrent, sapping the energy recklessly and defiling the very ground and world around him. Of the two, Rajaat would openly teach the ways of the preserver, seeking students that were gifted and ones he could twist to his ways.
He would find fifteen students in his trials of teaching sorcery, and to them, he taught the ways of the defiler. Rajaat would send off the remaining pupils, and focused on these fifteen to mold and forge into the greatest threat Athas would know. These would be his champions, his arm and sword into the world. Once again, the Pristine Tower’s power would be harnessed, and with the dulling of the sun from yellow to swollen red, he imbued his Champions with immortality and the ability to draw energy from life itself using obsidian orbs as their focus.
The Warbringer and the Cleansing Wars
Rajaat would send his Champions into the world with one purpose: to exterminate the races of the Rebirth. He deemed his own existence an abomination on the coming of the Green Age, and in secret, wished to return the world to that of the Blue Age. But first, he would wage bloody war on the world. The Champions set forth and laid waste to Athas. The verdant fields would turn to ash and desolation, leaving only a ravaged, withered husk in their wake.
The 15 Champions
- 1st Sacha of Arla “Curse of the Kobolds”
- 2nd Kalak “Ogre Doom”
- 3rd Dregoth “Ravager of Giants”
- 4th Myron of Yorum “Troll Scorcher” replaced by Manu of Deche “Troll Scorcher” (Hamanu)
- 5th Uyness of Waverly “Orc Plague” (Abalach-Re)
- 6th Gallard “Bane of Gnomes” (Nibenay)
- 7th Sielba “Destroyer of Pterrans”
- 8th Albeorn “Slayer of Elves” (Andropinis)
- 9th Tectuktitlay “Wemic Annihilator”
- 10th Keltis “Lizard Man Executioner” (Oronis)
- 11th Inenek “Aarakocra Scourge” (Lalali-Puy “The Oba”)
- 12th Wyan of Bodach “Pixie Blight”
- 13th Egendo “Butcher of Dwarves” replaced by Borys of Ebe “Butcher of Dwarves”
- 14th Daskinor “Goblin Death”
- 15th Kalid-Ma “Tari Killer”
The Champions Revolt
While the cleansing wars raged on (and some were successful in their purging), Rajaat’s plot would slowly be found out by his Champions. Rajaat had no intention in leaving his students in this world after the wars had reached their conclusion, and fearing their end would come at his hands, they staged a revolt against the sorcerer. Led by Borys of Ebe, they used an artifact known as the Dark Lens to trap Rajaat in a demi-plane known as the Black.
The Champions would begin to carve up the spoils of the Tyr region, and placed themselves on seats of power. They would become the sorcerer-kings and –queens, and held almost godlike reverence. In the wake of their own victory, however, the prison in which Rajaat resided became weakened, and threatened to spill the sorcerer back into existence.
Fearing their annihilation, the Champions would turn to Borys of Ebe to be the sole protector of the Rajaat’s prison. But the magic required to keep the magical binds strong would be too much, even for the powerful sorcerer-king. Their only choice was to use the Pristine Tower as their master once had, to transform Borys into something of greater power, a being capable of keeping the wards in place.
The Dragon of Tyr
Those Champions that rebelled against Rajaat harnessed the Pristine Tower one last time. The magics they unleashed upon Borys were complex and intricate, and the long process scorched the sun further. But at the end of the rituals, Borys would emerge in the form of a powerful Dragon—a creature unlike the world would ever see. The metamorphosis sent Borys into madness, and he began to rampage across Athas. His unbridled rage would be the final tipping point for the world, and it would become the truly barren wasteland that it is now.
The others retreated to their cities and barricaded themselves behind large city walls and countless troops, fearing the rage of the Dragon. It is unknown how long before Borys would finally regain some semblance of sanity, but by the time he had, the wards around Rajaat’s prison had weakened to near breaking point.
Borys would go forth into the Tyr region, and require a boon for the spells that would fuel the ritual. The spells required the life force of living souls to empower. The Dragon would demand 1,000 lives from those city-states, and those who refused to pay would be annihilated from the world. An age of slavery would erupt in the world, as countless creatures would live under the whip until the time the Dragon returned for his bounty.
While being the greatest threat the world would know, The Dragon was also its protector from the onslaught of Rajaat. Borys would be the Athas’ greatest threat and only hope. That is, until a group of adventurers who started in the thriving city-state of Tyr would go forth and turn the world on its head…
But that too, is a story for another time.
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Next time, we’ll take a peek into who is perhaps my favorite Champion of Rajaat, the dreaded Dregoth of Giustenal. Join me for “Darkness Ascending: The Dread King Dregoth”
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning some of the history behind Athas and its terrible beginnings. If you’ve any suggestions for future writings, feel free to lurk in the comments below. Thanks for reading, you son of a kank!