Welcome to Athas!
Dark Sun takes place on a godless planet where the thirst for hope is as powerful as its thirst for water. This dying land is Athas, and what it needs are heroes who are willing to make a stand. What is left of Athas today has been turned desert and ash by wizards who draw arcane energy from the plant and life around them.
It was not always so. Athas, and its people, have been on a sad, gradual decline for the past few thousand years. Once Halflings ruled the planet, and oceans covered the land. This blue age was covered with oceans and islands, knew the wonders of a power called life shaping, and was witness to the emergence of elemental clerics. It was here that the first real war took place, and Athas began her losing fight against the greedy, and those drunk on power. A brown tide was born, and in an effort to save the planet, the power of the sun was harnessed changing the sun from blue to yellow, thus marking the start of the green age.
In the green age forests, plants, and a variety of species were spawned and prospered. It was during this green age that psionics was born. Natural selection took over, and psionics became a prevailing trait amongst species desperate to survive. The green age also witnessed the birth of arcane magic. Rajaat, the first sorcerer, discovered magic when trying to understand why he was born deformed and disfigured. In time, he found his scarring was one of happenstance. Unable to accept the truth he fell into the warm embrace of madness. Finding that he could significantly boost his power by draining all the life of the world around him, Rajaat saught to remake the world in an image he saw fit.
In Rajjat’s new world, Athas had to return to a time of the blue age, where halflings were once again were the only race. He started the Cleansing Wars. This was a time of rampant genocide, marked as being the most horrifying that Athas had ever seen. Appointed disciples of Rajaat killed entire species on the whims of their lord. These disciples, imbued with the power of the sun, became the sorcerer-kings that the land knows today. Sadly, this imbuing bled more energy from the dying star, and turned it into the red, dark sun the creatures of Athas take shelter from today. Realizing that Rajaat had slipped into insanity, and ultimately was going to kill every species except for the Halflings, Rajaat’s disciples, who were largely human, rebelled. His defeat, locking him away in an endless plane of shadow, was temporary. In doing so, a disciple was sacrificed and turn into an insane beast, the Dragon of Tyr, that destroyed all that it saw.
The Brown Age was born under the Dragon’s wrath, and saw people cling together for survival. The disciples became sorcerer-kings and used the cities as bases to consolidate their power and hide from the wrath of Borys, the Dragon of Tyr. Borys, meanwhile, kept Rajaat locked away with humanoid sacrifices provided by each city-state. It was during this age that the sorcerer-kings tried to eliminate the spirits that gave life to Athas itself, and with these spirits, the druids. This attempt ultimately failed, although the druids never fully recovered. Psionics, on the other hand, found a teacher that brought it to the masses. This teacher one day mysteriously vanished, however the schools of Tarandas the Grey still live on. Slavery, murder, war, strife, hunger, and thirst dominated the Brown Age. Trade houses, often as powerful as the sorcerer-kings themselves, were established and provided food and trade goods that kept the age from degrading into total chaos. Gladiator matches were held for the amusement of the people, and it was from a small uprising at a gladiator match that this age came to an end. In a coordinated attack, a gladiator and his friends killed a sorcerer-king. The once immortal kings, were mortals once again. In a jumble of chaos, two more kings were killed, and two were imprisoned. The implications and backlash have led to the emergence of a new age. This age of action, of risk and rewards is the Age of Heroes.
For the first time, Athas has seen the birth of a free city-state. While questionable if this city-state would survive, a few decisive battles and a solid government has proven that Tyr is a force to be reckoned with. Raam’s king was killed in the chaos of the last age, and the city is still reeling in confusion. Draj, also lost its leader, however quickly put its king’s son in place to fill the gap. Balic, the third city to lose a king quickly had the power base grabbed by the local trading houses. While the three have agreed to work together for now, the peace is uneasy. It is at these uncertain times where the players come into play. Who will you support? Who do you have the courage to defy? What will your place be in the world of the Dark Sun?
Athas truly would have been a dead world without the work of those at http://www.athas.org where much of this information is from. They really have done a commendable job.