Shifty Sands of Athas (Dust in the Win)
A Quick History of Athas
Excerpts from The Indisputable History
By Agmar Illustone (Minister of Historical Interpretation for the Duly-Elected Sorcerer-King Dictator Andropinis)
Introduction: Why question the obvious…
- “Many of the more…How should I put it…”colorful" characters in our society (Certainly no one I am familiar with) have wild theories about the origins of the world and many of the mysteries of our universe. Needless to say, most of these theories are complete rubbish. When I point this out to conspiracy theorists, especially those who who tarnish the good name of our Dictator and the great Merchant houses, they usually babble about a struggle for “freedoms” and “rights.” True Balicans are aware, however, that real freedom is the freedom to rely. The FREEDOM to rely on the democratic process of Balic to guide use to a benevolent, ELECTED, dictator (Yes, even if that dictator has served for several hundreds years. Even more so BECAUSE of that fact, I say!). The FREEDOM to rely on his laws and his templar to keep me safe and deal with scoundrels, villains, and rogue wizards(and maybe a conspiracy theorist or two, teehee) that defile our lands. It also means having the RIGHT to serve this city when it is in need. It is in this spirit that I dedicate this book. To right the misheld preconceptions of a vast majority of the populace, I am going to tell you EXACTLY how we got to be here based on the historical record and the artifacts that are at the disposal of the Great Dictator…as he told it to me."
The Blue Age: A Long, Long Time Ago
- “Most tales claims that during this age water covered most of Athas and a sapphire-colored sun filled the sky.”
- “Experienced (Yet obviously deranged)adventurers sometimes claim the ruins of this era suggest a highly-advanced Halfing society once ruled Athas. Most reputable scholars refute such claims.”
- “All the legends concerning the end of this age are variations on the same theme, “A great brown tide contaminates the water and the sea starts to die.”
The Green Age: A Long Time Ago
- “Tales of this age vary greatly, but most agree that a great “pristine” tower was built that reached up to the sun. This tower channeled the wild energies of the sun to expel the brown tide. This forever altered the magical energies of the sun, turning the azure-sun yellow, and transforming Athas into a verdant paradise."
- “The Ancients thought to have been destroyed sometime during the transition to this time period.”
- “Archaeological evidence seems to indicate that most of the other races of Athas originated in this age.”
- “Psionic powers reached their peek at this time. Great civilizations thrived during this age creating great psionic machinations and amazing sprawling cities. It is rumored that Tyr, Balic, and several other cities originated from these urban wonders.”
- “During this age arcane magic is gifted to the world by a great and power wizard who tapped into its power and learned its secrets. Humans were particularly adept with the new art and quick went about learning and creating new, more powerful, magics.”
- “Wielding powerful arcane magics, 13 immortal Human champions rose up from 13 different great cities and eradicated many wicked races of fabled creatures. The races that were hunted into extinction include: The supremely evil Gnomes, Drow, Kobolds, several species of giants, Trolls, Lizardmen, Pixies, and countless other.”
- “At some point during this period defiling magic came into being…”
- “The end of this age was brought about when the 13 champions were defeated by an army of evil defilers. Many of the champions were slain. Great defilers rediscovered and used the pristine tower to summon great evil dragon (A beast that had never been seen before, and rarely seen since) which came forth and ravaged the land.”
Age of the Sorcerer-Kings The past several thousand years
- “The generally held theory is that the war with the Defilers scarred Athas and darkened the yellow sun. The landscape was scorched and the oceans receded. The world was left broken, much like it continues to be today.”
- “After their defeat, the remaining Champions retreated to their city states and went about protecting themselves against the Dragon that had been loosed in the world. The Champions became kings and quickly went about imposing rules to prevent another disaster from destroying the world completely. All magic-use had to be sanctioned by the Templars, the ordained enforcers of the Champions. What many dissidents forget is that The Templar are blessed with a portion of the Champions’ own powers and are to act as the eyes, ears and hands of the Champions (and now the Sorcerer-Kings).”
- “After a century of preparation, the Champions (or their descendants, variations on this story abound and the record is in dispute)sealed away the dragon till the next age. This victory was not without cost however. Great armies, totaling in the hundreds of thousands never returned. Many of the cities of the past ages lie in ruins. The landscape was in ruins.”
- “Still things went on. The champions disappeared, but not before bestowing their power, and therefore a safe source of magic, on to their patron states. Seven of the city states still exist today, and are ruled by their immortal descendants (either by blood or, as in out case, in spirit) known as the Sorcerer-Kings. These cities often provide the only sense of safety (however misplace that sense may sometimes be) in the their regions and are beacons of modern civilization. We should remember, none of this would be possible if not for the efforts of those like Andropinis, who bestow a piece of themselves on every Templar and arcane protector in our realm”.
- “Magic is strictly regulated because, as almost every Athasian KNOWS, ANY magic that is cast without the consent of a Soceror-King will defile and drain the essence of any living thing nearby. Only by having a Soceror-King grant you a part of his power can you safely conjure spells and those who cast without permission are often hunted and killed, not just by the Kings, but by the frightened populace themselves. Tales of unsanctioned mages leaving behind only dust and bones as they fuel their dark rituals with the souls of little boys and girls have left the populace somewhat paranoid, but for good cause.”
The Age of Fools The last decade or so…
- “So it has gone for a few thousand years or so. New Sorceror-Kings have fallen and arose, yet still the city states have been protected and our thoughtful stewards have successfully regulated magic, keeping us all safe. Recently however, something unprecedented (And quite scary) happened. Over a decade ago the peasantry and slaves of Tyr revolted against their King, Kalak. The King was skewered on the spear of a halfling (…A HALFLING! How embarrassing.) in a dishonorable surprise attack during a gladiatorial show. A government was quickly (and reports indicate shoddily) assembled, mainly staffed by traitorous Fallen Templar who have lost the arcan abilities Kalak granted them. Attempts to rebuild Tyr to its former glory has only had mixed success. The new king of Tyr outlawed slavery, thus putting a hurt on the Tyrian economy. The lack of magic has hurt Tyr’s once-impressive military might, though intelligence seems to indicate that they successfully repelled an attempt by the city-state of Urik to take control of their iron mines (which is itself a rare occurrence, and one that Urik is sure to respond to in kind). It is still apparent that they are lagging far behind the economic might of states such as our own and must adapt or be another victim of the wastes…”
- “Kalak, and the Tyr region, have always been close allies with Balic and the Directorate so it came as a shock to our poor leader and the citizenry of our fine state. This has caused much concern (not least of which is the Tyrians’ increased reluctance to honor past agreements with the Great Balic Merchant Houses) and left many in our kingdom with questions. For instance, How was the immortal King Kalak killed by the spear of a lowly halfling gladiator? Will a new Sorcerer-King arise to take Kalak’s place, or is the safe use of arcane magic that he granted gone forever? Could something like this happen to our own Dictator? Perish the thought!”
- “While the foolish Tyrians call the last decade the beginning of the Age of Heroes and speak of “freedom” and “rights” (There are those pesky words again. I thought I dealt with you earlier.) the more clever among us will enjoy the comfort and safety that has served us well for a long long time. In response to the Tyrians, I declare this the Age of Fools, and I have the assurance of a reputable source (wink wink) that history will agree with me."