The Dark Sun
The Physical World
Once a blue planet teeming with life, Athas has since been stripped of its fertility by the use of corrupting magic known as Defiling Magic, and the decay of its sun. It is a sun-burnt land forsaken by the gods, water, and hope. The natural resources have been depleted and a lack of metal has resulted in the use of wood, obsidian and bone for weapons, tools and common equipment. In such a harsh and unforgiving land, even the most mundane of creatures have developed psionic abilities in the constant struggle of survival of the fittest.
In such a world as Athas, a death by natural aging is considered to be a great achievement and an event worthy of celebrations.
Development and progress in the known lands of Athas rely heavily on the presence of water and food. Most oases can support no more than few hundred permanent residents, but in a handful of verdant areas or very large oases, bigger settlements can grow. Such is the case with the Seven Cities that still stand (the great city-states of Tyr, Balic, Draj, Gulg, Nibenay, Raam, and Urik), as well as others that have fallen into ruin. Reliable water supplies and wide tracts of arable land provide (or once provided) for a large population. Without water, life is a hardscrabble existence that requires moving from location to location in search of limited resources. Barbarity is all too common in the wastes; a stranger is likely to be an enemy willing to take what he or she needs at weapon’s edge.