The Twin Moon Circus was inspired by a visit to the British Museum in London with Jon the Oracle & by a clip of the Cirque du Soleil show 'KA'.
The Twin Moon Circus is a group of travelling artistes who perform colourful and mysterious shows against the backdrop of the Athasian nightsky. The group travels with an array of beasts, but the one that is the most important in their show is a gigantic mekillot. For the performances, the mekillot transforms from a mere beast of burden into a dramatically moving stage whose movements, according to a fixed script, are directed by Jhair, the animal trainer. In the past, the circus has also been known to use driks, especially retired war driks.
The Twin Moon Circus is a very unique group on Athas. They entertain with non-violent, acrobatic shows which feature music and lots of 'alchemical' (non-magical - at least they say so...) effects such as spark rains or coloured smoke. The troupe is both revered and feared. Revered for their spell-binding performances, and feared, because the artistes are so supernaturally good that the superstitious Athasians believe that something must be 'not quite right' about them. Nevertheless, their shows always attract a large audience, especially from the upper castes.
The troupe is directed by a half-elf known as Mareyis. Mareyis takes on anybody as long as the person is a brilliant performer - or has the potential to become one. Gender, race and origin are irrelevant - with one exception: no defilers. While Mareyis personally does not care about defilers, they have tended to get the troupe into trouble with authorities, audiences and druids, because, according to Mareyis's experiences, they cannot control their drive for destruction and follow it in the most inappropriate moments. Mareyis knows this best from his own experience - he is an ex-defiler (and bard) who is now taking a neutral path.
Mareyis has two artistic directors, the half-elf Zaritha and the mul Kel. Zaritha is responsible for the stories and the costume and stage design, while Kel, an ex-jaszt, directs the physical movements of the artistes. The rest of the troupe consists of musicians, arcobats and a few special effects people from a variety of origins. Many of the performers started out as street children, slaves, thieves, or arena performers. Even the animals are 'outcasts' - either from herds or from the military. The animals are fiercely loyal to the troupe as they are well looked after (one could even say: spoiled rotten) by the performers.
The cities tend to tolerate the Twin Moon Circus. Over time, it has built up a reputation for outstanding performances and none of the leaders of performers have shown tendencies to support controversial causes. In fact, the circus often performs for the regents themselves. The circus also hardly sees any attacks outside the cities. Despite having no visible defences, the members of the circus have been known to be quite capable fighters. This is not surprising considering the ex-gladiator, ex-street kid or bardic origin. These guys don't only have physical dexterity, but ropes, hooks, strange chemicals and poisons to hurl at you! And one mustn't forget the beasts!
What is behind the circus? You decide:
The Jilin was an order of druid-wizards that existed before the Great War. Allies of the druids, they were destroyed alongside
them. One could call the Jilin totemic mages: each of them practised magic according to their totem. Each totem had a 'school'. The
most prominent schools were:
The Scarab School
The Scarab Mages were the most influential school. They were abjurers and enchanters. They were considered healers, and were often approached for the same services that earth clerics would be approached for.
The Spider School
The Spider-wizards were the mystics of the Jilin. They were interested in divination, and sometimes in benevolent necromancy. They lived a very withdrawn life and were very feared, although when one actually met one, they turned out to be rather kind, ordinary people.
The Snake School
The Snake Wizards specialised in transmutation magic. They were known for their eccentricity and had a fondness for altering their own bodies, e.g. the colour of their hair or eyes, or the patterning of their skin.
The Dragon Fly School
The Dragon Flies were illusionists and evokers. They were sought after by the nobility as entertainers, and, more importantly, as providers of illusions that would protect valuable goods. The money would then be invested in the Dragon Flies' research.
The Jilin loved looking after plants and animals, especially exotic ones,so wherever they resided, you could find astonishing specimens from flora & fauna. The Jilin were rumoured to know the whereabouts of animals and plants long considered extinct. Despite their druidic side, many Jilin lived in rather ostentatious buildings (from a druid's point of view). Their ruins can still be found in remote locations, some giving shelter to mysterious plants and animals.
Once there was an allegiance of psionicists that were known as 'The Brotherhood'. Who they
were and where they have gone is a mystery. Lor'Enar, a talented mutant psionicist, found
records of this mysterious allegiance and tried to track them down. First he found nothing. But then
he realized that there was a fortress where there was nothing. But he could not enter. After a long quest for
the key to the fortress he managed to enter. It was just the right time - the Order was after him. They could not
allow a mutant, a renegade in their ranks.
Lor'Enar started to explore the fortress, but there was not much he could explore. Things had been taken, destroyed, hidden. But he had a space, a refuge.
Alone in the fortress, Lor'Enar was getting old - and starved for knowledge. He wanted a disciple to inherit his knowledge and the secret of the fortress. A druid appeared. He had watched him all these years. He, too, wanted a disciple. He was going on a quest to look for one and he would think of Lor'Enar, too.
After years had passed, the ancient druid brought him a little girl, Djarya. Like Lor'Enar, Djarya was a mutant. Lor'Enar was shocked at her young age. But the druid promised: she would be a disciple for both of them. And this is what she became...
A few decades later...
Lor'Enar is dead, the druid still lives. Djarya, white hair and purple eyes, has gathered people around her. She gives everyone a chance who does not fit. Mutants, half-breeds, wild talents, chaos-bringers. If they want to leave, they can go - but they cannot pass on the knowledge of the fortress...
Djarya (Humanoid female)
Djarya is the leader of a refuge of mostly mutant psionicists which she dubbed 'The Brotherhood' after the previous inhabitants of the fortress.
The Voluca are a prostitute ring working with illusions to satisfy their
customers' needs. Countless scandals adorn the long history of this association.
The Voluca offer their abilities exclusively in the city states. For each city there is an administrator. These administrators, who recruit new men and women and who see to their employees needs, meet once a year in a different city. The volucas' common method is to probe their customers' minds to look for an image of the person or type of person they desire most. This is done in a special reception chamber. When the customers enter the actual room, the voluca has already taken on an illusion of their desire.
There are rumours that the Voluca are controlled by a sorcerermonarch or the Order or another Athasian power to gain information about influential people.
Voluca could be of any race (since they work with illusions). Most of them seem to be human and half-elf, however.
In reality, the Voluca are controlled by the Shadow elves who have been known to use the information they gain from their customers for other purposes than just finding the right stimulant. That danger does not deter people from using them. The promise is too great...
In our campaign, the Shadows are a bit more secretive and sinister than elaborated
in the Dune Trader supplement. They have a history as an assassin guild/espionage ring in the
Green Age and are the only elf tribe who has managed to carry their function, structure and
influence through to the Age today. This worked as they had already been a guild/tribe
in the Green Age and did not need re-structuring. Also, they had more ways to survive than any other
part of elven society. On Athas today, the Shadows have more influence than even the most imaginary
mind of an elven chief can imagine. To cover up their real power they maintain the image that the
Night Runners are a competition or even a threat to them.
The Voluca is just one of their covert operations. On the outside the people who run the Voluca seem to be humans or half-elves. In reality, they are puppets of the Shadows.
Miseki (elven psionicist)
Miseki is the Shadow elf in charge of the smooth running and the operations of the Voluca. He is quite old and has a dangerously sharp mind.
|DEX||17 (due to age, used to be higher)|
|CON||12 (due to age, used to be higher)|
|WEAPONS||Miseki is proficient with most weapons.|
|WEAPONS||specialised in at least one weapon|
|NOTES||Most Voluca representatives have no
idea who controls the Voluca.
If they do, it is concealed in their mind with
The Songweavers and Fireshapers are two relatively small elfclans which both
are the guardians of a peculiar kind of Athasian "magic". Those few who have dared to
analyse the clan members' ablities which are genetically passed down from generation to
generation have not yet come to a conclusion if this "magic" is a form of psionics
or elementary magic - or something entirely different.
The Songweavers are the smallest of the two clans. There are currently only nine Songweavers on Athas, four of which are children. Songweavers have the unique ability to manipulate sound. Their senses are extremely highly developed and the power they are able to wield is enormous.
Luckily, the Songweavers are neither an aggressive nor an irresponsible clan. They rather focus on the study and of their inherent abilities than on the exploration of their destructive potential.
Songweavers are confident, yet at the same time very sensitive people.
Techniques: Songweavers are, amongst other things, capable of sonic attacks, the manipulation of speech and sound, and teleport at the velocity of sound.
Commerce: Songweavers have a tradition of earning their living with the construction of muscial instruments. Some examples are the windchime, different kinds of flutes, subtle percussion instruments or ampliphication devices.
Ayala Songweaver became head of the Songweaver clan after her eccentric father, Khoran Songweaver left the hierarchy of the clan for a life as a Brown Elf. Calm and charismatic, Ayala is a respected advisor to other elf clans as well as to individuals of other races.
Khoran Songweaver has had enough of elven tribe and clan politics and especially his own family which he sees as doomed. Instead he prefers to travel Athas and visit his "friends", for example the rhul-thaun "Birdmaster", the shaman Akaa of the Innik or many beautiful women from his turbulent past... Khoran is no typical Songweaver. That is probably why he gets on so well with Hakaar Fireshaper...
Tayo Songweaver is a true Songweaver hermit who prefers to spend his time meditating and contemplating the decline of Athas. His most striking physical feature are his deep blue eyes.
Shani Songweaver does not quite know yet where her place in Athasian society is going to be. She is committed to her studies and appears very positive and carefree, but inside she is very unhappy. This unhappiness is also a result of the pressure she feels from her family to save the Songweaver clan from extinction by producing an "heir".
Arijan Songweaver, song of Ayala, also feels the pressure of his clan, but for slightly different reasons. Unlike Shani, he has turned his back on his clan and has become a healer. He has an uneasy relationship with his grandfather Khoran. One reason is that that his father was a human Nibenese noble and therefore his gift is not as strong as that of a "pure" Songweaver. The other reason is his presence for male lovers (which he shares with Tayo) which Khoran sees as a curse of Songweavers. Despite only being a half-elf, Arijan is a fully accepted member of the clan, which is probably due to the clan's paranoia of becoming extinct and to the efforts of his mother who truly loved his (now deceased) father.
The Fireshapers are the most know of the two clans. They are more numerous than the Songweavers and have a stronger public presence due to their manufacture of excellent weapons and armour. Fireshapers, as their name already implies, are capable of shaping and "weaving" light. Their close relationship with the element of fire and the rays of the Athasian sun gives them the fire temper of an elemental fire cleric. Fireshapers are notorious for being stubborn, blunt, vengeful and fiercely proud of their clan. But their are also known for being honourable, charming and hospitable.
Fireshapers are more generous with the use of their abilities, but refrain from openly displaying too much power, especially among "the superstitious humans".
Techniques: Fireshapers can create fireballs or bundeled light rays, similar to laser rays, which they can direct at opponents. They can also weave light into a solid protective shield or use it to teleport at light speed. Some fireshapers even deal in lightning and radiance.
Commerce: Fireshapers produce rare and expensive weapons. The most famous ones are the Sunblade, the Firedagger, and a type of heat-resistant armour.
Haakar Fireshaper is the eldest of the Fireshapers. He is the official head of the clan, but shares his responsibility with his twin brother Kassio. Haakaar is the archetypal Fireshaper and enjoys to deliberately enact every cliché of Fireformer behaviour. Hakaar is never seen without his fluttering red robe and his personalised golden scimitar.
Kassio Fireshaper is a little bit more relaxed than his brother. His humour is not quite as shrewd and he is seen in other clothing than the typical Fireformer garb. Kassio and his brother compete with each other in a playful manner, especially when it comes to women and Fireformer tricks.
Tamana Fireshaper is the daughter of Kiraya Fireshaper, the sister of Hakaar and Kassio who died while fighting a magical disease in a village in the Ringing Mountains. Tamana can be spotted at long distance by her wild, flame-red hair and her Fireshaper robe. Like a fire cleric she has coal black eyes and a strong presence. Her uncles absolutely adore and respect her and are proud of her immense talent. Despite her flamboyant appearance, Tamana is a great deal quieter and more rational than the rest of the clan, but otherwise is a true Fireshaper in every respect.
Iniko Fireshaper Tamana's extremely charismatic son. He has earned himself a reputation for being the most prolific lady-killer the clan has ever seen and even Hakaar is worrying about him and the numerous off-spring he randomly produces.
Ajani Fireshaper is Iniko's younger sister. She has inherited the appearance of her mother and the spirit of Hakaar. The two get on extremely well and love to play a game similar to poker together. Hakaar likes to take his grand-niece to the markets to drive poor traders insane with their combined haggling skills...
Experimental intermarriages of the two clans have proven extremely fatal for the offspring of the couple. They usually resulted in the insanity of the Songweaver-Fireshaper. In some cases the consequences of the insanity were so severe that the children of such a unity had to be executed by the clans.
The Sand Dancers (sometimes called 'Sand Shapers' or 'Earth Dancers') and the Cloudmakers are two near extinct
elf clans who also make use of a strange kind of magic.
The Sand Dancers
The Sand Dancers currently are a clan of one. This may sound illogical as there is so much sand on Athas. The reason for this is that the clan was once made extinct by the Champions when they joined forces with the druids during the Great War. The current only member of the clan, Jarid Sand Dancer was only recently discovered by psionically gifted Fireshaper who managed to free the young Sand Dancer after centuries of being trapped in the shape of a sandstorm.
After coming to his senses after spending half an eternity as a sandstorm, Jarid now has to come to terms with the current state of Athas, and with the fact that he is the only remaining one of his kind.
Techniques: Sand Dancers, formerly called 'Earth Dancers', have their name because they shape sand/earth and manipulate gravity and other forces. They can also shapeshift into their element and teleport through it. In the past, Sand Dancers were feared for their ability to create unnaturally fierce sandstorms and deadly quicksands.
Commerce: Sand Dancer deal with precious things such as glass and jewels. In the past, they used to trade these with the Fireshapers against metal.
Jarid Sand Dancer
Jarid is slowly getting used to the new Athas. While he enjoys the abundance of sand, he also deplores that there is little variety of it. He is also mourning the destruction defilers have brought upon the land. After enjoying the hospitality of the Fireshaper clan, he is currenlty travelling through Athas to find a place for himself.
Quite small for an elf, Jarid has shaggy sand-coloured hair, eyes and clothes. The Fireshapers have outfitted him with a symbol of his clan.
The Cloudmakers are a clan of two, a young brother and sister. They are currently trapped in the
Snow Crown Mountains (Snow Crowns) of Athas.
The Cloudmakers are said to be the counter-pole to the Fireshapers, but they are not really. In this moment in time, the Cloudmakers see themselves as 'Ice Shapers'. They nearly exclusively focus on the utilisation of cold. In former times, they were a great deal more flexible in their powers - they focused on the manipulation of temperature and the weather. Now they are but a shadow of what the clan once was, as much knowledge is lost in the winds of time.
The current Cloudmakers don't live as elves. They live as part of an aarakocra tribe in the Snow Crowns. The aarakocra shield them from the outside world as they fear that harm would be done to them (they remember well what happened to Naru's and Atami's mother). Also, should the cloudmakers leave the tribe, the aarakocra would lose their revered ice wizards.
Techniques: Currently, Cloudmakers can only do a few things to do with cold, e.g. summoning snow clouds, cooling things or granting immunity to cold. They have only very limited power over storms or the weather in general.
Commerce: Cloudmakers once produced artefacts such as everlasting ice, thermometers or rain bringers. They also hired out their services for court banquets where the nobles wanted to serve frozen delicacies. Traditionally they were good friends and trade partners with a number of aarakocra tribes. This has resulted in the current co-habitation.
Naru is a very studious person. Despite his young age he appears quite wise and serious. Naru's main occupation is to teach himself and his sister their magic. But he also takes part in the tribal life, especially as he has taken over the council seat of his mother.
Atami thinks of herself as an aarakocra. She is deeply saddened by her lack of a beak and wings, and is trying to make up for this by wearing a masked cape that makes her resemble an aarakocra. She also hopes to one day tap into unknown powers that will enable her to fly and have a look at the exciting places her tribespeople go to. She is very talented. This is another reason why her brother is very worried about her.
Kenos Unarik (male templar/fighter or ranger) AL: lawful neutral
Character: calm, introverted, conscientious. See stats below.
Ayra Unarik (male fighter or ranger) AL: chaotic good
Character: easy-going on the outside, suspicious on the inside; ladykiller.
Liyan Unarik (male artist) AL: neutral good
Character: calm, brooding/ sensitive, nervous (depending on mood).
Kenos, an ex-templar of Balic, is the first Captain of a silt (trailer) that belongs to the Veiled Alliance. Kenos comes from a family of templars. While he and his elder brother Ayra fought among the templars their younger brother Liyan fought to be a sculpturer. However, the careers of both Ayra and Kenos did not last long. The lively and temperamental Ayra was soon in trouble because of his affairs and heavy excesses. When slaves broke out while he was next door with a girl (and inebriated) he was arrested and made a slave himself. However, he also managed to break out and escape to the Sea of Silt where he joined a slave tribe. One day the tribe raided a silt skimmer of which Kenos was the captain. Meanwhile Liyan had confessed to Kenos that he was a member of the Veiled Alliance. First Kenos was shocked but after a while he understood his brother's motives and kept his confession a secret.
When the silt skimmer was raided and Ayra's tribe threatened to kill Kenos, his elder brother suggested that he should join - otherwise they would really have to kill him and he could most possibly not prevent it.
Standing between his loyalty to Balic and his family and his wish to stay alive he chose the latter and went with the tribe, hoping to escape at a later point.
But then there was the ship. While the tribe wanted to destroy it and take some components or use it as housing material, Kenos proposed to keep it as a means of transport so that the tribe could trade with people who did not care where the ship came from. Ayra liked the idea and offered to contact the undead preserver Haakar who had helped them before. What he had in mind was an invisible pirate ship with a magical engine that did not need man power - which was of course not what Kenos had had in mind.
What has now become of the ship is indeed a camouflaged "slave freer". However, the tribe also uses the ship to explore and cartograph the Sea of Silt and it takes orders from Haakar and Sadira of Tyr.
|WEAPONS||obsidian long sword, knife|
|ARMOUR||magic bracelets +4|
|NOTES||Wild Talent: Navigation|
|WEAPONS||magic scimitar, dagger|
|NOTES||Works as a sculptor|
If we are honest we are glad that all these "fairy-tale" races like kobolds, pixies etc. do not play a part in the Dark Sun game world and that even "formerly annoying" races like dwarves or elves have been adapted and made "bearable". So, if we ever suggested that there are survivors, they would have to undergo an Athasian "makeover". There are numerous possibilities of how the races could have survived. Here are a few examples:
The Athasian Wemic
Description: A wemic looks like a cross between a halfling and a lion. That means from the waist down their body is that of a lion and from the waist up they can easily be confused with halflings because of their thick wild mane.
Once wemic nomads used to roam the Athasian desert in tribes of about 50. Yet not all wemics lived as nomads - at least not all their life. Since wemics were known for their artistic skills they were often hired as painters, sculpturers or even architects. This way quite a number of wemics became permanent residents of cities and even made their way into politics.
Unfortunately the wemics were the first to die in the War. They were more emotional than rational, too disorganised and too predictable to have a chance against Rajaat and his ambitious 9th Champion Tectuktitlay. Today only few things remind of the extinguished wemic culture. Wemic architecure is said to have been a model for the city of Urik and certain strong alcoholic brews were certainly invented by the leonine creatures.
How wemics could have survived:
Description: A half-wemic is the result of a union of a human and a wemic. Half-wemics are almost human in appearance: apart from a leonine face and a tail, and sometimes a mane, claws or fur covered skin their body looks entirely human.
Surviving trolls could either be the offspring of rebels or of pacifists who preferred to hide rather than to fight the Troll Scourger's army. Windreaver, the last troll knew about both of them, but successfully hid it from Hamanu. His bitterness could not conceal his sarcasm that Hamanu did not kill the last of the trolls.
Athasian trolls are very different from their relatives on Krynn. They are far from being as uncivilised as these instinct-driven flesh-eaters. Imagine them more like the "Earthdawn" trolls (if we may suggest so...).
Most trolls have gone back to their original life-style. They have forgotten the threats of the past and live a peaceful life outside the reach of the Champions. Almost all Trolls have never even heard of the War.
However, there could be a group who have not forgotten history and who want revenge. These trolls will try to ally with other survivors to eliminate the Champions.
A gnome looks like a slightly undernorished dwarf with pointed ears and a sharp nose (but don't tell them!). They are smaller and of a lighter build.
Unlike the Athasian dwarf the Athasian gnome possesses facial hair. Gnomes are very proud of their hair, especially of their artistically shaven beards. It is not only vanity that drives them but the acquisition of a rather martial look. This impression is further increased by their choice of clothing. Gnomes love dark clothing, and especially dark armour, be they a fighter or not.
Athasian gnomes, like their peers, are proud of their numerous inventions which have helped them to survive the War and the cruel land. The style and history of many inventions can be traced back to the art and philosophy of the life-shapers.
An area where the gnomes are likely to have hidden are the Spitting Holes or any volcanic terrain. Since they are creative inventors they could have developed a method to use the volcanos steam and heat to power engines to help them build their homes on and inside the rocky surface. If a settlement was located in the centre of the mudwells, the wells would function as wards.
(Please see Rhaltivar - Dragon hold (Places) for more information on Athasian gnomes.)
This strange race seems to be most unlikely to have
survived. At least if you keep to the original Monstruous Compendium
entry where the creatures are describes as thoroughly plump stupid
and evil creatures.
But then there are the ogre mages! Imagine an Athasian Ogre more like an ogre mage who maybe even had access to the planes or was so clever that he managed to trick their pursuiters...
Ogre mages would not have rallied together to fight against the Champions, but they would each have thought of a separate way to get themselves out of trouble.
Since they were so powerful, the other races loathe these creatures for only thinking of themselves and not helping anybody else.
Pixies: Mischievous, malicious, fun-(at innocent travellers' expense)-loving
creatures with a strange taste in fashion. One could almost thank Rajaat
for successfully getting rid of them. (sorry for not being very p.c. ...)
But what would an Athasian Pixie be like?
A good suggestion can be found on the net in form of the "Dead Lands of Athas" project by Gerald A. Lewis (see Dead Lands supplement:The Cities and City-States of the Dead Lands:Small Home) which can be found and downloaded somewhere on the following site: http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Vault/2549/dsindex.html
Here is what we have come up with:
The Athasian Pixies were protected by nature and by the Pyreen. Since that time the life-style of the Pixies has changed:
Most of them live in oases protecting their environment from defilers, "invading" caravans and disrepectful travellers.
Kobolds will most likely have smuggled themselves in when another species was projected my somebody else. Being underground-dwelling creatures, they might even have hidden in the Rhulisti caverns. Either the Champions did not dare following them or the kobolds discovered powerful magical wards which protected them or distracted the spell.
Athasian Orcs could flee to another country. They have been living as nomads since. Athasian Orcs have adapted a lot of customs from other nomad-tribes and city-dwellers.
One day they might roam across the Athasian desert again...
The Orcs are asked by the Trolls to unite with them against the Sorcererkings for revenge.
The goblins changed themselves through extreme rituals that took their remaining 'humanity' from them. When Athasians encounter a changed goblin they mistake it for an undead creature.
During the time of the Great War, Halea was the ruler of the city of An-pat that was threatened by Rajaat and his Champions. When the resistance failed, Halea decided to take a drastic step, in consultation with the city's inhabitants. She moved the entire city onto the boundary between the elemental planes of earth and air. The only thing left of the city is a tiny hidden earth temple that Halea uses as as a gateway to Athas. She periodically appears on Athas or sends 'scouts' to check on the current situation. While she does not want to return the city to Athas - the city's inhabitants have started to feel at home in the planes and have taken on genasi traits - she likes to keep informed about potential threats to the city or to the elemental planes from Athas. Also, she is still willing to support a budding resistance.
Halea appears as a middle-aged dark-skinned woman with a bald head. She likes wearing simple, but beautifully woven cleric robes. Halea is very wise and charismatic. In contrast with many earth clerics, she enjoys conversation, perhaps, because she is also still a politician, although most of the city's affairs are dealt with by an elected council. She has a number of students across all levels, and also makes sure to develop her own skills. She particularly enjoys forming new primes, which she sometimes leaves to further develop on their own, or sometimes as new homes for refugees.
You can use the Vanished City the following way:
Many moons ago, a tribe of fierce halflings lived in the oasis of Maharduk who prided themselves in being the best hunters. To become part of the circle of great hunters, an aspiring halfling had to kill a particularly large and fierce beast that he would carve out and preserve as a home for his family. Thus, the oasis of Maharduk became populated with numerous 'leviathan huts' ranging from mekillots to sandworms.
You can use this oasis the following way:
The Black Swamps
(blatantly stolen from 'The Neverending Story')
The site of an ancient battle between druids and defilers, the Black Swamps are one of the spookiest places on Athas.
No one in their right mind would venture into their fogs if it wasn't for the rumour that an ancient oracle resides
there, protected by a herd of giant drik. It is said that visitors to the swamps will be tested, so that only the pure in
spirit can reach the oracle.
The swamps radiate and aura of darkness and sadness. PCs must make regular, increasingly more difficult saving throws or be affected by it.
Characters entering the swamp must also make constitution rolls (the place stinks) and saves against Fear. The area is very difficult to navigate.
Much of the ground is extremely sticky and unstable, but it is possible to travel by stepping on or clinging to the tree stumps and roots that are sticking out of the morass. There are also occasional patches of hardy moss or other vegetation. An additional danger comes from the nature of the plants in the swamp. Many of the are dead or... undead.
Magic is also negatively effected as an after-effect of the ancient battle. Spell energy gets absorbed by the swamp, and immediately, the caster will be attacked by seemingly dead vegetation.
Any characters who manage to find the oracle will find out that she is actually a drik. An ancient drik who once was a druid/psionicist.
You can use the Black Swamp the following way:
Landscape-wise, the Ancestor Lands resemble the Grand Canyon (or the Bad Lands).
Unlike the rest of Athas this place has a rather cool climate.
The wind howls around the huge stone shapes that cover everything with their shade.
Everything looks to bland and quiet that the ignorant adventurer would assume that
hardly anything grows or lives there - at least nothing intelligent.
But, just as in the desert, there is plenty of "hidden" life.
A particular characteristic of this region are the Birdmen
or "Innik": they are a race of humanoids with feathers clinging to their skulls instead of
Birdmen can transform themselves into a small type of birds. This way they can scout out the area for game or visitors. The Birdmen dwell in caves or clay-and-stone-buildings integrated into the rock. They have a tribal society led by a chief and a shaman. Most Birdmen are latent mages (preservers/druids) rather than psionicists.
On special occasions Birdmen celebrate or have rituals on top of the rocks they live in (see races).
Other "monsters" (suggestion): In our campaign we make use of the Shadowrun-Compendium "Paranormal Animals of Europe", especially for this area. One of the dominant creatures is the "Wild Minotaur".
In the mountains near the Last Sea lies a gigantic ruined city.
The majority of buildings are actually inside the rock. Huge entrances lead visitors
into halls of enormous size. Artistically sculptured stone pillars are more decoration
than a support. From the stone furniture in these "rooms" it is obvious that
the people who lived there must have been at least 20-25 feet
The most elaborate building is a temple dedicated to the element of Earth. Other temples can be found which are all dedicated to one element.
Nobody has lived here for centuries, but still intelligent beings can be found within these ruins. There are raaigs, krags and guardian spirits, for example. Also, various kinds of animals have made their homes within the ancient city.
Sites of interest: Inside the water temple a magical well can be found. It is protected by Lyena, a raaig. Although she used to be a water cleric she was transformed into this strange being after her death. She will let friendly and peaceful people drink from the well which also has some healing abilities (judgement of the DM). Lyena knows all about the city which was called Urgath. The city was deserted by the giants during the War in order to fight the armies of Rajaat. Only few stayed who later had to flee to the Last Sea.
A great mystery remain the
Rhulisti caverns underneath Athas. Do they
really only cover the Jagged Cliffs region or do they expand to all of
Our suggestion: The caverns are an ancient underground/subway system. They might have worked like psionic portals or there have been life-shaped vehicles which transported the ancient halflings around Athas. Most of the entrances (or station) lie hidden under tons of sand.
Maybe a party once discovers a strange entrance in a ruin and takes the irresistible invitation to follow the channel (or staircase or pit...) and ends up in a new hidden part of Athas?
It is not known if anybody in the table lands area of Athas has ever
heard of the last elven city of Tar Honak. It was the first non-rhulisti city to be built
and the last to remain. Its history can be traced back until the 8th World
Age over 14,000 years ago.
How the city survived the Cleansing Wars and elven wars:
Here are some possibilities. Feel free to use any which are suitable for your campaign if you like this city.
The current council consists of
Rhaltivar is a city constructed by Athasian gnomes. It is more like a
mighty fortress than a city. Its massive obsidian walls form a pentagon with
three sides melting into the stone.
Rhaltivar is a masterpiece of organised chaos. Completely illogically constructed to strangers and enemies - at first sight - it embodies protection for thousands of inhabitants.
From its peculiar functions it is obvious that the architects of the city knew of the Dragon, but misinterpreted its existence: Rhaltivar can entirely seal itself from the outside world. Should an ordinary dragon ever attempt to fly an attack on the city it will encounter a rather annoying surprise: The Guardians of the City will initiate a mechanism to bring out thick sheets of obsidian or simple stone. These sheets will cover up the entire city. Normally they are hidden within house walls or gangway-like connections between important buildings. Unfortunately Dragons are not ordinary reptiles...
The Sealing is not the only security measure. Rhaltivar was mainly built for war and hides countless functions from repeating canon-like weapons to underground tunnels and emergency supply halls. Even inside the buildings the inventions of the paranoid gnomes does not stop. If enemies managed to enter the city they would probably be driven insane by mazes, traps, illusions etc.
The Spitting Mouths are hot mud wells located near the Valley of
Dust and Fire. The are continuously bubbling with a greyish
strange-smelling substance that is spat out every couple of minutes. If a
person is covered by the slime the he/she suffers damage not only from the
heat but also from its aggressive acid.
This area is not only dangerous because of its geographical peculiarities, but also because it is the site of a war between a magma cleric and a powerful defiler. The wells originally result from a dormant volcano, but were modified as deadly traps.
The river of the Dead is a black oily "stream". It really
only appears as a river, because of its shape and its shiniy surface. But it does not move.
The phenomenon of the River occured after a life-shaper vs. defiler duel.
A rumour that it is "semi-intelligent animated EVIL matter" has never be proven right.
It could literally be anything from harmless life-shaping waste to a strange evil
intelligent life form which requires huge amounts of positive energy to neutralise.
One thing is certain: Occasionally smaller life-forms separate itself from the river and return to it...after they have consumed a person's magic powers...