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The Athasian Survey Project 10 - Small Water and Kurn

Join the Traveller as he visits Trade Nest and the village of Ral. A reimagining of the original series (posted on the Dark Sun Facebook group) with rewritten entries and more locations, all still with the intention of highlighting rarely visited areas on the Revised 2nd edition map.

Greetings Friends. In the name of the Athasian Survey Project, I wish to share my progress with this clairvoyant missive.

We have made good progress in our journey. My ssuran escort and their kanks headed south out of Ral, hewing close to the cliffs of the silt bay and working around the coast. We cut south by southeast directly across the rocky badlands, taking great pains to avoid Small Water.

As I was still not fully up to strength, and we were travelling light and fast, it was a small miracle that we were able to avoid drawing attention from the notoriously active and unfriendly Small Water Raiders. This was undoubtedly due to my escort’s choice to travel during the hottest part of the day. While the ssuran had fewer problems than most with such extreme temperatures, it took all the efforts of their cleric and my diminished self could muster for the kanks not to die of exposure.

Eventually by one late afternoon we were greeted by the cool breeze coming down from the northern tip of the White Mountains. Seeing snow-capped peaks will never cease to be an astonishing sight, even though I had seen these mountains once before as a much younger man.

My ssurran escort and I both knew there was no point in even trying to approach Fort Protector, as they remain as inaccessible and unwelcoming as ever. So we pressed on until we reached Kurn just as the sun had fully set.

I still recall making my pilgrimage journey north along the Kurnish coast in my youth when I had been called to join the Nexus. I remember well the lush meadowlands in the shadow of the White Mountains, and the ancient city state which has been half-empty for as long as anyone can remember.

Of course, simply because I had previously known the city quite well (and had even had the pleasure of visiting New Kurn once), it did not mean the Kurnans were any more friendly to perceived foreigners than they had ever been. The guards with their white-robes and blue sashes eyed us suspiciously as we rode into the city proper, muttering something about “drylanders”.

Oronis, the “benevolent” sorcerer monarch, had built this city-state as a way to protect both his people and this corner of the world. It is a fascinating contradiction to see this land so lovingly cared for by such an authoritarian regime. He and his templars of course know of my presence in the city, but even with my connections in the Consortium my presence is beneath his interest.

I guided the ssurran caravan through the Trade Quarter to meet with old contacts from the Weavers’ Clave (the clave is Kurn’s primary social unit - they are a combination of a trade guild, family, and company village). This new trade connection was the payment I had agreed in exchange for my passage from the north.

The image I am sending you is one of the farms we had seen on the way into the city. While such a verdant image might seem out of place compared to almost any other area of the Tablelands, it is easy to see how most anyone from the rest of Athas could sympathise with those who are happy to tolerate any type of governance and society that granted them access to lands such as these. From what I can remember of my singular visit to New Kurn, the lands there are even more lush.

My stay here in Kurn will be unfortunately brief as tomorrow I will part company from the caravan, and make my way to Silt Side. From those fortified wharves my journey will continue by silt skimmer. But for tonight, the Kurnan traders are welcoming myself and the ssurran caravan, and this meeting of worlds and hospitalities should prove an unforgettable experience.

Until next time, may the moons guide you.

Kurnish Farms
Kurnish Farms by Neujack

(For whoever can guess the source of this image on earth, I have a sample of this night’s dining– a Kurnish delicacy involving frying sliced root vegetables in oil with salt…)


Been playing Dungeons & Dragons and other RPGs since 1987. Been playing Dark Sun since it was released. Returned to Athas in 2020 for its expanded timeline and geography.