The Sands of Athas
This section will hold some key information about the world of Athas. It will be written from a perspective of knowledge of normal Athasian citizens.
The History of Athas
Common Athasians are forbidden to read or write. Almost none know the entire truth and history of their world. What is known is that Athas was once a lush and green world, rich with water and populated with many cities. Rivers and oceans were once common on Athas. This knowledge is no secret – the former world can be seen crumbling in the deserts. Ruins of great cities, bridges that span empty ravines, shrines to vanished gods, and many other relics of old dot the landscape. All these relics point to a time known as the Green Age.
No one knows when or why the Green Age ended. Some say it was wars or conflict, others say the Dragon of Tyr laid waste to the world. The following age – the Red Age – lasted for many centuries. The world was ravaged by chaos, suffering, and ravenous spellcasting – defiling. The Desert Age followed.
Some say the Desert Age began a few centuries ago. Others claim it to be two or three thousand years old. Some believe that the sorcerer-kings are the same immortal rulers who battled one another long ago. Others believe they are descendants of sorcerers who ended the Red Age and founded the known city-states in the few habitable spots left in the world.
Little is known about the worlds that exist outside Athas. Athas has two moons, Ral and Guthay. the Lands Within the Wind (home of the Eladrin) exists alongside the material world. Small pockets of this world still exist in hidden places in the world.
All the remaining city-states are ruled by a sorcerer-king or queen. Each is a formidable defiler and psionic despot who rule their lands with an iron will. Some cities, including Draj and Gulg, view the sorcerer-kings as divine beings. Each sorcerer-king has absolute authority in his realm.
Directly under the sorcerer-king are the templars. Disciples who are loyal to their ruler. Templars receive power and benefits from the sorcerer-kings, in return for managing the day-to-day affairs of the city-state. They are feared and hated by the common folk, able to exercise broad power to punish citizens, harass and detain whoever they wish, kill, and worse. Many are giften with powerful arcane and defiling powers through their patronage to their sorcerer-king.
Slaves make up a huge portion of the urban population. Slaves act as a show of prosperity, as well as a cheap source of labor. Few slaves ever earn lasting freedom and are viewed as dispoable.
Small villages exist in the desert in some regions. Nomads wander the deserts in search of resources. Some people are hermits who exclude themselves from society in some hidden area.
Reading and writing is restricted by the templars. Comman citizens and slaves can be executed for being literate. In Dark Sun, player characters are assumed to be literate in the languages they speak unless they choose not to be. A theme or a background may explain how they came to be literate. Literate characters who were not born into the nobility would do well to keep their literacy a secret from the templars.
City-States (See Map)
Tyr, Balic, Draj, Gulg, Nibenay, Raam, and Urik are the city-states that remain under the power of the sorcerer-kings.