Dark Sun: Fading Embers
Beneath a Dark Sun
Under a dark red, dying sun is a world of searing deserts, dried-out oceans and scattered settlements known as Athas. On Athas life is a struggle; nothing comes easy. Water is scarce, life is brutal, metal is rare, gods answer no prayers, and magic defiles the land.
The Blue Age
To most Athasians, the current age of the world is the only one they’ve ever known. To them, the endless deserts, the crimson sun and the Sorcerer-Kings are immemorial. Some know that the world was not always this way, in tales passed down for generations or found carved on ancient ruins there are tales of a world that was.
These tales say that once Athas was world of crystal waters beneath an azure sun, a peaceful time called the Blue Age by some. Its people mastered life itself and could bend nature to their will. Yet their mastery of the world somehow went awry and they were forced to use their power to harness the sun itself to undo what they had done and save the world, at the cost of their seemingly endless oceans.
The Green Age
As the Blue Age ended, the sun above turned yellow and the world became lush and green as the great oceans receded and life flourished. The nature-masters of the Blue Age divided themselves into other races for fear their ways would endanger the world. So were humans, elves and other races born. From one of these races, rose a being twisted and disfigured compared to the rest of his people, a creature known as Rajaat. Shunned by his own, Rajaat traveled the world and discovered many of its secrets. The greatest being that of arcane magic, which had not existed in the age before.
Rajaat learned to master this power and the price that came with it, and in time sought out others to teach arcane secrets to. Of all the races, Rajaat chose humans to teach for their potential seemed as limitless as his own. Under his guidance they became powerful spellcasters, unrivaled by any other force the world knew.
While his students mastered their power, Rajaat began to study the ways of the Blue Age and came to believe the world had to be returned to the nature-masters. Rajaat believed the other races were impure and had to be destroyed, and so he sent for his students to cleans the world of all other races, claiming that humans were to rise above and become the world’s champions.
So these champions of Rajaat went forth and began the Cleansing War to eradicate the races unfit for the world. This horrible genocide went on for many years as countless races were wiped out. However during the war many of the champions began to question Rajaat’s decisions and while this was necessary, this doubt lead them to discover that Rajaat had gone mad and wanted to restore the world to the nature-masters so the world could return to the Blue Age.
Turning against their master, Rajaat’s champions used their powerful magics to attack the mad sorcerer and using the great power of the sun bound Rajaat that he may not return. The binding however came a terrible cost as the yellow sun turned red and this verdant age, called the Green Age, came to an end.
Under this red sun, the lush forests and jungles began to recede and the oceans dwindled even further. Using their great power Rajaat’s champions established powerful nations and became the immortal tyrants known as the Sorcerer-Kings ending the second age of Athas.
Note: The victors write their own history
Most Athasians know nothing about the Cleansing Wars or that the Sorcerer-Kings were Rajaat’s champions. In fact, most people, even learned nobles, know little about the true nature of the Sorcerer-Kings. These god-like beings have done well to cover up the truth of the past and teach lies that, after several generations, have become history as any would know it.
As far as most historians of Athas are taught, Athas was ruined by a terrible war; a war of unprecedented magics that exacted a terrible price on the world itself. The reasons for the war vary from region to region, and source to source, and often play into the tales told of each Sorcerer-King as a way of reinforcing that they brought salvation and ended the war.
Such stories and legends paint the Sorcerer-Kings as they wish to be seen: god-like, all-powerful and necessary for life as most know it. That they alone stand between sanctuary and desolation. That without them war would break out once more and all would be lost. That without them, nothing could stand against the Dragon, defiling mages, desert-dwelling aberrations, and other such perils. Truthfully, that much is not deception. The Sorcerer-Kings are in many ways a necessary evil as without them the people of their lands would be defenseless against many threats beyond their understanding, but they hide their own sins behind lies and falsehoods. They are as evil as anything they serve as a bulwark against and the blood on their hands will never come clean.Most would never even think to question their might and their wisdom, had it not been for the slaying of Kalak and the liberation of Tyr. This shake up has shown the world that the Sorcerer-Kings not only can be killed but that a city-state can survive without one. This of course has only made the Sorcerer-Kings more paranoid and forced them to crush any talk of uprising or rebellion while equally ensuring that word of their benevolence and divine nature is spread further and with more fervor.
The Current Age
For countless centuries the Sorcerer-Kings have ruled over a dying world. The one lush and wilderness of the Green Age faded away bit by bit until nothing but dry barren wastes and seas of silt remained. Civilization gave way to savagery in most corners of the world, as scare resources forced those who wanted to survive to seek the protection and benefaction of the Sorcerer-Kings and their city-states or be driven in to small settlements fighting for every drop of water.
In time the cities of the Sorcerer-Kings became the last true bastions found among the scorching sands. The acceptance of their rule meant survival and safety, defiance was tantamount to a death sentence. Such has been the way of the world for some two thousand years. As far as most Athasians know this is the way their world has always been. Some tell mad tales of lush forests and expansive seas of water but to your common person these are just the hopeful tales of those left too long in the blistering heat.
The most well known event to occur in recent history was the death of the Sorcerer-King Kalak and the liberation of Tyr which followed his demise.