15 posts / 0 new
Last post
I saw an Altaruk custom map on the web, I believe Raddu saw it too, and the guy included a lot of data when he made it...but I have no idea where he took it.

What data is there on the town besides Dark Sun Campaign Setting, Bloodsand Arena, and Forest Maker, if anybody has stumbled on any? 2e DS included of course.

maybe this will help ya?  I will scour my 2e stuff and see if there is anything there
"Five million Cybermen, easy. One Doctor? NOW you're scared!" - Rose Tyler
The ones that Agonar posted are the only ones i know of.
There's a little more info in Veiled Alliance (p88) - some basic info on Altaruk with details on the local VA.
My players recently spent about four months (real-time) in Altaruk, and I found the info on Altaruk in canon pubs spotty and even contradictory in places. It seems to be a little town, but the first map on the wiki Agonar posted depicts it as basically a fort with like 3 shops. The Ashes of Athas campaign information was really helpful for fleshing it out, and I also added a bunch of my own stuff.

I also detailed a bunch of Dragon's Altar stuff in the nearby Altaruk mountain range (as my players were in town investigating a secret payment of the Dragon's Levy).

Did Ashes of Athas contain Altaruk material? I would pay good money to have all the modules, apparently one thing that green grease cannot buy! 

In the above wiki the sources are quoted as ... 


Adventures: Bloodsand Arena and Sand Raiders.

Supplement: Dark Sun Campaign Setting.

Anyone know what Sand Raiders is? 

Large chunks of AoA is set in a nicely detailed Altaruk! I have the second volume and have a burning desire for the first (and 3-6 if the damn WOTC fight clears up!)
I think Sand Raiders is the small adventure in the back of the DS Campaign Setting? Don't have my books with me, sadly.
I'll be damned. It is the included adventure. The only new Altaruk info it provides is the name of the head of the Wavir trade post within Altaruk, and that his autorithy appears to be only second to Arisphistaneles (we conclude the same of the other two houses' trading posts and their heads).
as for AD&D material.

Slave Tribes includes a little here and there about which tribes operate in and around Altaruk, etc.

Dune Trader includes info on which Merchant houses operate around Altaruk

Veiled Alliance details alliance members in Altaruk, including Arisphistanales, Altaruk's leader who is a VA member.

 City State of Tyr has a few mentions, again, mostly about trade houses and such around Altaruk.

I haven't gone through all of the material yet, but mostly I can just find minor mentions.. nothing actually detailing the city yet. 
"Five million Cybermen, easy. One Doctor? NOW you're scared!" - Rose Tyler
I found the info on Altaruk in canon pubs spotty and even contradictory in places. It seems to be a little town, but the first map on the wiki Agonar posted depicts it as basically a fort with like 3 shops. The Ashes of Athas campaign information was really helpful for fleshing it out, and I also added a bunch of my own stuff.

Thanks for the Ashes of Athas mention. We spent a lot of time reviewing Altaruk canon. I read every book ever printed and a few notes found in novels. The information is indeed contradictory. Such basic questions as whether it is in mountains, how close to the Sea of Silt, who runs it, what people know about its Veiled Alliance support, etc. are all contradicted. One thing that is clear: the height and width of the walls.

Also clear to me is that the one official map from the adventure isn't likely to be correct under any other source. It is just too small and simple. Oh, and there is also some confusion in canon as to exactly how the three merchant houses share their power.

In creating an Altaruk for Ashes of Athas we pulled from the various sources with an attempt to not directly contradict anything (other than the map) and to highlight the best parts offered by the various sources. Please do post on the thread over here, as we would love to be able to distribute these adventures. We think the Altaruk information we pulled together would be really helpful for many home campaigns, as well as the details we provide on Kalak's Ziggurat, Urik, Gulg, Nibenay, and other locations.

Edit: One of the latest sources is the free RPG day adventure Bloodsand Arena. You can get it here.

Also, I found my notes for AoA, so I am sharing them here. This is summary info I pulled together from sources prior to our detailing Altaruk for the campaign.
Altaruk source notes for AoA campaign:

Altaruk – Canon Setting Details

The following information has been gathered from published AD&D or 4E sources. When possible it is preferable to follow canon. If there is a conflict between 4E and older canon, 4E should be followed. It is possible to depart from canon but this should be noted and discussed with Ashes of Athas admins.



2,000 people. (1)

“Located at the head of the Big Fork of the Forked Tongue Estuary, Altaruk is a client village of the merchant houses of Wavir, Rees, and Tomblador (based in Balic). As villages go, Altaruk is heavily fortified; it is surrounded by a fifteen-foot wall and defended by five hundred free mercenaries armed with mekillot-hide shields, wooden lances, and daggers of sharpened bone.

Despite its formidable defenses, Altaruk is destroyed on a regular basis by giants from the islands of the Forked Tongue Estuary. The sponsors always rebuild the village promptly, for its garrison is a key deterrent to the raiders that would otherwise prey on the heavy caravan traffic at this critical junction. This protection is extended to caravans of other houses in return for payment of a heavy toll as they pass through Altaruk.” (2)

“A caravan stops over in Altaruk every three weeks or so. Those that serve the Balican merchant houses of Wavir, Rees, and Tomblador (the village’s sponsors) stay for two or three nights.

Between caravans, residents endure a tedious life of bad meals, boring guard duty, and routine maintenance, punctuated by episodes of stark terror during the occaisional giant attacks. In this, village life resembles that in an army camp or fortress. Citizens pass the time gambling, competing in wrestling or knife throwing contests, or, remarkably, learning to read. Altaruk’s leader permits all citizens to read. He also has introduced other radical ideas that have made the preservers. hard lives almost pleasant.” (3)


Veiled Alliance

Veiled Alliance is strong and have done much for Altaruk. (4)

“Only in this small village does the general populous realize the distinction between preserving and defiling magic. This has made life much easier for the Alliance.” (3)


Physical Layout

See map in Forest Maker, though for Ashes of Athas we assume it is larger and more complex.

Fortified town astride route that connects Balic with Tyr.  15’ walls. (1) 2 gates, one North and one South. Doors are of granite and metal, exteriors carved with reliefs of merchants doing business. Gates are opened at dawn, close at dusk. 2 guards at each gate around the clock. Walls are 10’ thick, solid granite, capped with parapets and a 6’ wide catwalk. Guards constantly patrol and can make a complete circuit of the city atop the walls. Guards wield lances (longspears?). Four 25’ high tow-story towers with a ballista on each roof. Each tower has 2 sentries in each.  (4)

Pyracantha thorn bushes grow at base of walls – to test wizards seeking entry. Defilers are not allowed in the city. (4) Guards know the “Green Test” and ask anyone that looks like a wizard to cast a minor spell. Only if the pyracantha survive are they allowed entrance.

All who enter must pay toll of 1gp (and also for each beast of burden). (1)

Elven market is ramshackle, found on outskirts of merchant quarter near town gates. (5)

Arena of Altaruk is called Bloodsand Arena. There is a tunnel leading between the staging area for the arena and the arena barracks. “Barracks quarter of town” is used as a term in the adventure. (5)

Adventure discusses there being a raised slave trading auction block. Not clear if it is in use. (5)

Small keep is governor’s home. (4)

Barracks holds 500 mercenary guards. Zul Akframar is the mul leader (fighter) for the mercenaries. Wears bone scale mail and shield, wields steel longsword.  “Law and order, by the book commander”. A wanderer, he finally settled and is loyal to the governor. (4)

Well is watched by 3 guards. Narrow but deep, ringed with stones. (4)

Homes are built into the walls or stand-alone. 1,200 permanent Altaruk dwellers. (4)

Stables have 100 kanks – mounts for fortress cavalry. Visitors can store a mount  for 2 ceramic pieces per night. 2 guards are always on duty. (4)

Tavern is called The Four Bits. Stone tablet fastened by doors shows 4 bits of a ceramic piece grouped together in a semi – circular arc. 2-story inn, run by Gelrade Osnabryk (female human preserver with the wild talent of Heightened Senses). Costs 5 ceramic/night, including 2 meals and 6 drinks. Meals cost 1 ceramic. Most drinks are 4 bits. Only inn in Altaruk but of high quality. Rooms upstairs have secure locks, 2 wooden beds, lamp and oil, basin, gallon pitcher of fresh water, dresser. Drinking room/common area bustling with off-duty guards, visiting caravan members, citizens. (4)

Warehouses for caravans. PCs can store items for 1sp/day/10’ square. 2 guards patrol at all time. (4)

Trader’s Row: booths and small shops run by Altaruk citizens. Impressive selection due to frequent caravans. Melee weapons, perfume, leather goods, tattoos, arrows/bolts, pottery, herbs, books/paper/scrolls/ink, metalsmith (?), wine and spirits, footwear/clothes. (4)

Large courtyard, people of Altaruk gather here to socialize. (4)

Businesses stay open late intot he night. Booths lit by lanterns to extend business hours. (4)



Arisphistaneles: Governer of Altaruk (died in AOA1-2). Stern but fair ruler, secretly led a cell of the Veiled Alliance. (1) Arisphistaneles encouraged Altaruk residents to learn to read/write. (5)

Birk Suntouched: Dwarf wanderer and beggar, mumbles nonsense about Kalak’s “secret prophecy”. Actually a Veiled Alliance member that Arisphistaneles tasked with luring out any secret members of the True that might reach Altaruk. (1) Statistics are provided (level 2 brute). (5)

Tellemon: was the captain of the guard, secretly a member of the True. In the Bloodsand Arena adventure Birk Suntouched uncovered Tellemon’s plan to kill Arisphistaneles and had the captain murdered.  (5)

Selonious: Scribe for governor of Altaruk. (5)

Kaldras: Elf trader and opportunistic slaver, leads small Moonrunner tribe. Once accused of trying to enslave free men and sell them in Altaruk. Lost a match in the Bloodsand Arena and thus forced to repay the men for the transgression. Periodically trades in Altaruk’s elven market. (5)

Amphiucus, a mul trader for the House of Rees, dislikes how Altaruk is tolerant of magic. Has raised the issue with Cecrops Rees, grandson of the patriarch of the House of Rees. Cecrops supports taking action to subvert the tolerance of magic. (3)


Merchant Houses and Trade

Altaruk is known for raising and training beasts of burden and livestock. Primary trade in Crodlu, Inix, and fine cloth. They import wheat. (6)

“Relations with other trade houses are a bit more complex. While Wavir cooperates with Houses Tromblador and Rees of Balic in the maintenance of the vital trade fortress of Altaruk, the three are anything but allies. House Tromblador maintains a grudge since Wavir outcompeted it over a century ago, and today it seeks to foil its now-larger rival at any turn. It is understood, however, that this conflict can never be allowed to explode into open warfare, for all know that this would be bad for business.” (6)


House Wavir

Rhotan Var: Head of the Wavir trade post in Altaruk, a Balican dwarf. (1)

Arisphistaneles was a member of House Wavir. (3)


House M’Ke

Raam’s primary merchant house. Trades metals, food, weapons, and obsidian with Altaruk. (6)


House Stel

Urikite merchant house, maintains a single small office in Altaruk and only a few caravans per year. (6)


House Mareneth

Small merchant house trading in Tyr, Altaruk, and Balik. House Mareneth is based in the ruins of Celik. An ambitious middle-aged human trader called Korsun controls the house from Celik. (1)


House Ardian

Small house based in village of Walis. Trades gold with Altaruk. (6)


House Ianto

Small Tyrian-based trading house trading steel, silks, and fabrics. Has a few small outposts sprinkled between Tyr and Altaruk. (6)

Forts and Trading Posts Dealing with Altaruk

The following are mentioned as being along trade routes to and from Altaruk: Fort Adros (Inika), Fort Skonz (Inika), Fort Kalvis (trading and storage point between Gulg and Altaruk, Tsalaxa), Ablath (oasis near Silver Spring, frequent stop-over for caravans, Tsalaxa), Fort Amber (storage point between Tyr and Altaruk, Vordon). (6)



Giants plague Altaruk, wading in periodically from the sea of silt.

Raiders usually are not much trouble due to Altaruk’s defenses and patrols.

Zeburon and his Black Sand Raiders despise Altaruk but the village’s defenses have deterred any direct attacks. (7)

Sortar’s Army is a slave tribe that opposes the city-states. They live in the mountains near Altaruk. It has an uneasy truce with Altaruk due to it’s friendly stance toward the Veiled Alliance. Despite not attacking Altaruk itself the tribe does prey on caravans coming and going from the village. (7)



1. Baker, Richard, Schwalb, Robert J. and Thompson, Rodney. Dark Sun Campaign Setting. Renton, WA : Wizards of the Coast, 2010.

2. Denning, Troy and Brown, Timothy B. Dark Sun Boxed Set - Rules Book. Lake Geneva, WI : TSR Inc., 1991.

3. Varney, Allen. Veiled Alliance. Lake Geneva, WI : TSR Inc., 1992.

4. Terra, John J. Forest Maker. Lake Geneva, WI : TSR Inc., 1994. ISBN 1-56076-841-X.

5. Tulach, Chris. Bloodsand Arena - Free RPG Day adventure. Renton, WA : Wizrds of the Coast, 2010.

6. Pryor, Anthony. Dune Trader. Lake Geneva, WI : TSR Inc., 1992. ISBN 1-56076-545-3.

7. Slavicsek, Bill. Slave Tribes. Lake Geneva, WI : TSR Inc., 1992.

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

Thank you Teos for this, it will be a great help for other adventure designers.
Glad to help!

I sadly didn't document our work when I researched for Gulg and Nibenay, in part because the authors were doing the bulk of the work. Also, the 4E book really covers those pretty well and does a good job of bringing lore together. However, I did bring in a few nice bits from various pre-4E sources. If you can attend Winter Fantasy next January you can play the adventures (or DM them and get a copy!).

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

Really outstanding, thank you. Hats off to you for deviating from the published material where it served the story, too--a lot of stuff seems to have been written (not just for Altaruk, but other Dark Sun things) that wasn't really fully thought through, and I don't think we ought to be beholden to it until the end of time just because at some point someone published, say, a map of Altaruk that shows it as a 50 feet by 50 feet fort.
Especially when there are contradictions! I wouldn't have a problem with that one map if multiple sources didn't deviate from that. When we've found conflicts we've gone for either whichever seemed the most true, or whichever was most fun (hopefully both). With Altaruk, the map just doesn't work.

Sometimes we've kept it nebulous or tried to mix both. For example, what do houses look like in Gulg? In the official art we can see tree dwellings, grass huts, and 'normal' houses, depending on the book. I tend to go with a mix of the first two, and in a home campaign I would probably lean toward trees being just the domain of those close to the Oba (probably enough people that who is or isn't a nganga is never clear).

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

Sign In to post comments