so, forgive me if this rambles, ill probably end up rambling, and im still forming the theory as i write it, so.....
this is a possible answer to a question i have seen posed a few times, but never seen answeres that quite satisfied me, and that is; why athas has been blocked off by the grey. from the few lines in D&D source material i have found, athas was, for an unexplained reason, an un-winnable battlefield in the Dawn war between the primordials, and the gods. in regular D&D universe, the gods won, and ither trapped, or killed the primordials. this allowed a general theme of progress from chaos to order in most D&D universes. while the occassional setback may occur, a band of heroes always will rise to the occassion and, with the aid of dieties, conquer evil and chaos. this pattern, however, seems absent in athas. no matter what happens, no matter what band of heroes rises, things always get worse in the athasian universe. it seems logical to me, then, that this effect is a direct result of the failures of the dawn war in the athasian areas. that begs the question, why did the war fail there? does some beyond-comprehension primordial reside on athas, that could not be defeated, or imprisoned, and so the gods sequestered the entire plane? or is athas, the planet itself, a terrible primordial power, like Allabar, opener of the way, but on steroids? and, if ither are true, what does that mean for the future of athas, and my poor, doomed PC's?! even if a group were to kill the dragon, free Rajaat and kill him, what then? nothing would be saved. nothing would get better. the green age would never return, much less the blue age. now, i may be guilty of torturing my PC's with a sadistic glee on occasion (i.e. tricking them into returning a long dead sorcerer king to life under the pretenses that she was a powerful warrior that the PC's would need to aid there quest), but i just cant bring myself to doom them to a future of utter despair like that. after all, whats to motivate a party, other than seeing there world turned to a better place by there actions? so, its decided, this problem must be solved. for starters, the problem must be identified. since the whole "athas IS a primordial" theory, would mean the only thing to make it better would destroy the whole planet, and that sounds like a whole lotta no-fun, so im gonna go with the "there is a terrible primordial that resides on athas" theory. and while my PC's are pretty awesome, and will be even more awesome after killing the dragon, and rajaat, not to mention any sorcerer-king that stands in there way, i cant even imagine how a fight with a power so great that the gods themselves coulnt handle it, would go! at that level of power, "level" isnt even worth describing. the force would be into the lvl 40-50 range, and thats just something that a conventional fight couldnt encompass. i suppose i could turn it into a 3-4 session long seriese of fight, skill challenges, rituals, etc.... bringing in outside forces would be helpful, and, considering 2 of my PC's are from off-athas, extra-planar travel will be part of my game, what with them wanting to go home at some point, and all. and, hey, why just 2 PC's, why not open athas to the whole of the verse? this means removing the Grey. now, its to my understanding, (reaching back to something i read in 2e here) psionics work on athas because the spiritual energys from various life forms on athas "eat up" the grey, and turn it into there Mindscapes. im still kinda wrapping my head around, and working thru this concept, but it would seem to me, that if a psionic character was to enlarge his mindscape to massive proportions, or a group, for that matter, the grey would be all eaten up by these mental constructions, leaving the way open to ingress from the astral plane we all know and love (possibly psionically oriented travel, as opposed to arcane/spelljammer/dimension door/etc..)! this idea seems uber-awesome to me. just the idea of a massive city built from the minds of the athasian residents is just the sort of epic stuff i like in my games. i have never been accused of being a sublte DM after all.
ok, so thats all i got for now. ill be revisiting after i let this stew for a bit and do some more homework on the planar natures of athas, and hopefully get a few responses to my absurd game ideas!iFrame RemovediFrame Removed
For me personally, I prefer to think of Dark Sun as a completely different fictional universe from the rest of the D&D worlds. This allows ambiguity about whether there are gods in the universe. If Dark Sun were part of the standard D&D universe then there are definitely gods but they are just kept at bay from Athas. I realize that this is somewhat contrary to the "official" Dark Sun story but I like to think it's compatible with the original spirit of the world.
For your situation, I like the idea of Athas being protected by a primordial such that the gods left it alone after the Dawn Wars. However, this primordial need not be the ultimate cause for the poor condition of Athas and therefore need not be defeated to ultimately save the world. Instead, the super-primordial would merely have protected Athas from the gods while its defiling inhabitants (the SKs, etc.) were the ones responsible for wrecking the environment.
In this scenario, this leaves you without a protagonist beyond the Dragon, the SKs, etc. since there would be no need to defeat this primordial. Or perhaps the PCs would need to confront the primordial to have it release its hold on Athas to allow outside powers (the gods, etc.) to bring the power needed to restore the planet. Obviously, I'm just brainstorming out loud along with you...
hmmmmmm this idea interests me....... possibly base the primordial as some sort of father-of-all pyreens? (they are the original race right?) very prideful and unable to accept his victory in the dawn war has allowed athas to fail as a price of his pride. so, i guess that brings up the nature of the grey, how it was created, and some of its properties. oooooh...... how about the grey is the ashes of the dead gods that the primal killed, and it wards the powers of the living gods. would also kinda tie into the undead themed nature of the grey. so, aside from my "psionic powered absortion" of the grey and turning it into a psionicly constructed metropolis, does anyone have any cool ideas on how to remove the ashes of dead gods? lol, i love the creative process of dm'ing......iFrame RemovediFrame Removed
so its official, i am a terrible human being, an evil dm, and i only wish to see my PC's an unhappy existence. i think i have found the perfect endgame and alternate timeline scenario to truly and poetically resemble the harsh and brutal nature of athas. ok here it goes; -athas is a prison for a terrible primal force that took the life's of many gods just to subdue during the dawn wars. the souls of the fallen were used to build the prison. -the Pyreen were left to be the stewards of this prison. at this point, the gods still had access to athas, as the grey had not been formed -after some time, the pyreens grew corrupted by the power by simple proximity. they forgot there charge, and began experimenting with life shaping -the energy that they used to fuel there life shaping was, unbeknownst to them, fueled by the very energies of the prison they were supposed to be guarding. -after a time, a soft spot grew in the prison, allowing a minute amount of the primal's force to leak out. this was the brown tide, and it swept across the blue planet, warping and twisting every poor soul caught in its wake. -the pyreen constructed the pristine tower with the aide of the gods, and channeled the suns rays into the prison of athas, re-securing the crack in the prison, and burning out the brown tide, or so they thought. unbeknownst to them, the brown tide was simply driven out of the prime material, creating the grey. -this gives birth to the green age. -the grey, still being a part of the primordial's essence, works its chaotic nature on the prison, slowly and subversively eroding the prison and creating more grey. im still grinding the details, but somehow the grey and the prison are somehow connected to water. the prison is at its strongest when water covers the land, and as the grey erodes the prison, less water is on athas. -rajaat is born with the coming of The Messenger, and is infuriated by his brethren's failure in there charge. (im not really sure how to flush out the messenger and its relation to the pyreen, but i see potential there, and ill work it out later). -this is where normal dark sun history resumes. the champions, the cleansing wars, the red age, the dragon, all that jazz.... -in the time rajaat has spent in the hollow, and in communication with the shadow people, he has learned of the true nature of the grey, and where he erred in his mission. -my plan, is for the PC's to kill the dragon, and free rajaat. as of now, while all my players know rajaats true intention, none of the characters do, and my gamers are very good at keeping player knowledge out of character knowledge. not to mention none of them know of my ideas with the primordial. -i can paint rajaat as a hero and ally easily, as i am still unsure as to if hes really a bad guy in regular ole dnd dark sun. -he will aid the pcs in returning athas to the green age (there overarching heroic inspiration and main driving force of my game) thru the use of the pristine tower channeling the sun thing again, and multiple rituals to be placed in the deep grey at its outermost edges. also planning in somehow working in the mud palace as another power source somehow. -this ritual to return the green age once begun will take many months, if not years, to complete. something like geysers of water erupting from the pristine tower in addition to the mud palace, as the grey slowly begins to shrink. -this will give my PC's a sense of accomplishment and pride, as they see the planet flush with verdant life, bees buzzin, birds chirpin, all that fun jazz, all to be yanked away from them when.... -the ritual never stops. water keeps pouring. entire cities become flooded. and the pristine tower is slowly killing the sun as it channels its power thru the grey and pulls it back into the prison in the form of water. -at some point in this whole process, possibly thru the use of vignettes, rajaat being totally honest with them, other pyreens reenforcing the story, or maybe working in the messenger again, they come to understand there true choice; -keep the universe safe from this terrible primordial, reseal the prison once and for all, and condemn all the life on athas to a slow, freezing watery death, possibly sparing a few lifes by taking them to on ral and guthay, or possibly arrange extra planar travel for some, now that the grey is gone... or -stop the ritual, save athas, trying to keep it in the green age, but risk sacrificing all life in the universe, and a new dawn war, if the process ever starts again.
i want to leave the PC's with no good choice. no matter what, things are gonna suck, but a decision MUST be made. and i just love the idea of athas floating in dead space, one big ice ball....
but this still needs some ironing out. the messenger is the biggest one. also need to work on the connection between water and the grey. possibly would answer the true nature of defiling as being a destruction of water, and creation of the grey process. whenever a spell is cast, even while preserving, water is destroyed to fuel it, and a little bit more of the prison is sucked out into the grey. i dunno, this all was the brainchild of 4 caffeine addled minds at 3 am after 5 hours of playing magic, so it very well may have glaring holes in it. any help would be greatly appreciated!
ps, sorry if my last posts were riddled with spelling errors, i didnt know how to turn the dammed spell check on!iFrame RemovediFrame Removed