Sands of Destiny
A harsh, cruel world of sand, sun and lethal creatures.
Athas is a violent and brutal world compared to many standard settings. Death is around every corner and is much easier to encounter here, survival of the fittest to the fullest extent. The massive city-states are ruled by powerful Sorcerer-Kings, ancient powerful beings who hold such power that thousands bow to them. The people are downtrodden and oppressed, while those in power are cruel and abusive with their power. Those who choose to leave the cities and move out of the Sorcerer-Kings oppression must make do in the wastes and survive in the most brutal of environments, with danger all around from wild-life and nomadic bandits alike.
Magic has the effect of draining the life from the planet around the caster when used and even drains energy from the people nearby the caster has a mental connection to. Some magic users have learned to “preserve” the energy and reduce the damage done to the world and people, but many choose to “defile” as they cast making their magic easier and more potent at the cost of surrounding life energy.
Thousands of years of reckless spell-casting and wrecked havoc upon Athas. The world is now burnt and destroyed, with temperatures reaching 65C by high sun. Water is scarce throughout the world and especially in the harsh and barren wastest. Because of the damage it has wrought on the world magic is feared and hated by the common man, magic users not sanctioned by a Sorcerer-King must keep their knowledge of magic hidden or face violent retribution from fearful citizens, or righteous punishment from the Sorcerer-Kings Templars.
The Gods of Athas has long since died and been forgotten, there is no divine influence in the world. No priests, no clerics and no paladins, the Sorcerer-Kings demand they be worshiped as the living gods of this world and their arcane magic is their gift to their priests and followers. There are shamans and others spiritualists who are capable of tapping into the elemental planes for power and worship the element itself as a deity.
Metal is a rare thing on Athas, and many materials are used in it’s stead; money is made from ceramic in the city-states, though many wasteland tribes will only accept real gold and silver coins from strangers, weapons are created from wood, stone, bone and other materials, while armor is crafted from hides, scales, shells and carapaces. This lack of metal prevents industrial and economic development on Athas holding it in a perpetual dark age. Though many workshops and artisans have developed ways of working a creating the tools they need without metal. Magic weapons and armor are incredibly rare and powerful in Athas, they represent ancient artifacts of power from ages long past.
Psionics are very pervasive across the deserts of Athas, the magical radiation causing mutations in peoples minds allowing them access to this strange and wondrous power. Many individuals have latent Psionic abilities and all city-states offer training in Psionics, known as The Way. Some people choose to foster this abilities and become masters of The Way, while others teach themselves a simple use of their psionic talent and leave it at that.