The Burnt World of Athas

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Erifyks spread his cloak over a small clump of Xarah grass, and prepared to sit in meditation in the blazing noon sun.The wind began to howl and Erifyks remained seated, calm and composed. The Plane of Burning Water began to churn, and waves started to ripple across its usually bubbling surface. Erifyks prepared himself with a cleansing of mind and spirit, and carefully slipped himself into the tumultous waters.

He had been drawn to Nibenay by an unknown whistle on the wind, a inaudible whisper of helplessness. He had quickly gathered his travel pack and left the animals in charge of his guarded lands, and a few minutes later he was descending the High Peaks on his way to the Shadow City, Nibenay. When he arrived he was processed just as were the rest of the people passing through the Shadow Gate that day, without incident. He had proceeded to the Sleeping Giant, where within minutes, he was face to face with a member of the veil. A lanky, but hearty Elf, directed him to leave the city at once, explaining that he was in great danger. Hesitant Erifyks had complied, but upon leaving the city and passing the Plane of Burning Water, he had felt a strange pull at his very being, and a gentle whisper, as he had in the mountains. So he stopped at the water’s edge.

At once he found himself struggling to fight back wave after wave of mental assaults, directed maliciously at any who were strong enough and dared enter the deadly waters. As the attacks subsided, Erifyks felt himself at ease with whatever presence was jointly occupying his mind. He lay back and found himself floating in an ancient world with lush trees and grasses that bordered the lake of still blue waters. He was here, yet there. A peacful coexistance of both places, maintained by the merging of his mind with a presence of unknown origins that brought him to this place. He paddled to the center of the lake and looked up at his reveared sky. The sun was bright yellow in color, and the sky was a pristine blue, laced with grey-white clouds, that was nearly a reflection of the motionless water. Suddenly he felt something tug at his ankles. Again, it did. Then, he felt something grab him. Down he went. Deeper into the abyss of water. He found himself unable to draw breath, unable to swim. An unlikely fate for anyone on Athas, Erifyks was slowly drowning. With a final, futile attempt to push himself to the surface, Erifyks had expended all of his remaining oxygen, and his life. Except, he was still linked to whatever force was below, pulling him deeper. Erifyks felt his eyes flash open, and was stunned at what he was seeing. Below, in the depths, was a small vaporous whirlpool of airy faces. Thousands of personages spun in the endless cyclone of air and water,but Erifyks recognized none of them. Suddenly, they all spoke, but only one was heard, a melodious chorus of whispered truths.

“We are the Zwuun”, it exhaled. “We have brought you here, so that our power, yours and ours, may be strengthened, so that the one may be found, and so that Life may be preserved”.

“Who are you”, Erifyks demanded?

“Let us tell you the story of our creation long ago at the hands of the great Betrayer…

Game Content

Although the Zwuun could appear to anyone who approaches the Plane of Burning Water, only a devout Air Cleric, Preserver or Psionicist, or combinatinion thereof, with a non-evil alignment, may receive the special meta-magical powers granted by the Zwuun. The Zwuun is a unique manifestation of preservers long since dead and now contains thousands of such spirits within its continum. Some are powerful mages without compare, and others are wisened sages, but all are preservers, save two. There is a rumor that when a wizard of some power dies on Athas, near or in a substantial source of water, that wizard is summoned before the Zwuun and given a chance to live again, provided it passes a test. What this test is no one can say, and probably varies from personality to personality. However, one can be sure that the test is never easy.

In years preceeding the Cleansing Wars, Rajaat chose his champions from the most versitile race with the most magical apptitude; humans. Though he originally selected hundreds of humans for his proposed champions, he eventually reduced this number to 13. And, though the original 13 champions of Rajaat are well known, as well as the few replacement champions that were needed along the way, the remaining human sorcerers who apprenticed Rajaat go unknown. Most were killed by Rajaat through magical experiments or torture, but there were a few who escaped, fleeing to the west with their vast knowledge. Among these were:

  • Lord Fendylin of Abelon Fled to the West and was later slain while returning east near the Pristine Tower by Rajaat himself by drowning.
  • Lady Ariol Berdahn fled West and has never been heard from again, took up the art of Preserving after the Cleansing Wars.
  • Neuaxis of Orel She was rumored to have cast a spell that permanently melded her with a mountain, actually she became an Earth Cleric, and continued the fight against Rajaat. She still resides in the Tyr region, perhaps you have seen her.
  • Entiblos of Argol & Marigos of Vinuel Entiblos and Marigos fled far to the west where they found a race of people that resembled birds(kenku, perhaps) of prey. They permanently polymorphed themselves into similar birdman and bird woman respectively, and jointly rule the sky-city of Spire, far above the mountains to the East, known as the Grey Peaks.
  • Oshentine of Gurne Still seeks to learn the Dragon Metamorphosis process and has traveled in and out of the Tyr region several times from the South in attempts to do so. She usually assumes the form of a beatiful Bard with a unique talent for drawing men to their death by singing to them. She uses their life force to sustain her youth perpetuelly.
  • Lord Nikovos Raj Began the use of the Way and has become quite adept at Kinetic powers. He usually does not roam outside his tower, far to the north among Athas’s small North polar region.

There may be others that survived, but it is hard to say. Part of the reason that the cleansing Wars probably failed was because Rajaat champions were forced to hunt these rogue wizards down. Regardless, the betrayal of Rajaat by his champions only prooved these rogues right.

Lord Fendylin was the creator of the Zwuun, combined with the Clerical Air Magic of the great Druid Lurias . Fendylin was a great foreseer of events, including his own death at the hands of Rajaat and began preparing for it early on. He prepared a small lake west of the Pristine Tower to be the vessel for his life after death, and sought out several enchantments throughout the years. The Druid Lurias, who was one of the original Keepers of Life and entrusted by the Pyreen, learned of Fendilyns plan and quietly and subtlely altered the young defilers intended spells. Since Fendylin had chosen a feature of nature as his magical focus , The Plane of Burning Water, then a small leke of no note, it was easy for Lurias to pervert his corupt magic. In giving up his own life, Lurias bound Fendylin, as well as himself, to the lake in a unique way. Fendylin will live forever, as he intended, but can never gain knowledge or practice magic again. In addition to this, any mage who dies in a body of water on Athas, shall come before the Zwuun and be judged by the two primary personalities, Fendylin and Lurias. Most defilers are forever destroyed, while most preservers are added to the continum, but there are exceptions. Some pass a test of the Zwuun and are reborn, and others fail and become water spirits or undead beings. With each addition of a preserver to the continum, Fendylins presence and personality manifests less, and good wins out. Lurias has waited many ages for a champion to come, and though he has bestowed the Zwuun magic on a select few, he knows that soon another will come.

The Zwuun imbues its wielder with the following unique powers:

The wielder’s skin becomes an airy blue color, and she enjoys a natural AC of 8 instead of 10, or 1 point better if AC is naturally lower than 8, against melee and ranged attacks alike. Against ranged attacks, the bonus is more substantial. At short range, attackers are at -1 to hit, -3 at medium, and -5 at long, due to the wind’s influence.

Lightning Strike: The lightning strike can be used in two ways. First, it can be used to strike in a fan-shaped arc of 60 degrees at a length of 120 feet for 8d6 points of damage. Creatures caught in the arc may save for half. Second, it may be summoned downward from a clear sky with 1 round of prep time. This form creates a vertical column of lightning which strikes a specific target for 8d8 points of damage, no save, those within 10 feet of the target for 4d8 + 2d4 points of heat damage, and those within 20 feet of the target suffer just 2d4 points of heat damage, but, with a percentage chance that the lightning arcs to them. The chance that the lightning arcs is, % chance = 8d8 primary dmg(8-64%) - 5% for each time the lightning arcs. The new target is allowed a save to avoid the affect.

Example: The primary target is struck taking 41 points of damage.The lightning has a 36% chance arc to a nearby warrior. The wielder rolls a 19 on percentile dice, so the lightning will arc. The warrior rolls a 16 to save, and is successful, so the lightning arcs harmlessly into the ground. Had he failed, he would have been the new primary target, and the lightning might have arced again.

In addition, The Zwuun also confers the following powers:

  • The wielder gains all of the special benefits of a Cleric of Air from Earth, Air, Fire and Water. If already an Air Cleric, the effects are doubled. In addition, he receives a +2 bonus to saves vs. fire, and a save vs. water/ice is for half or none.
  • A Preserver gains knowledge of any and all spells that contain the words “air, water, wind, wave”, or other such words determined by the DM, as knowledge gained from the Zwuun continum of thousands of sages.
  • A Cleric gains a bonus of two full levels while embued with the Zwuun powers. Also, a cleric gains minor access to Water magic, and major access to Air magic. But, an Air Cleric gains the added bonus of Lurias’ knowledge of many years (up to DM).
  • A Psionicist gains a bonus of +1 to each of the powers in his primary Discipline, all Sciences and all Devotions. Any powers that attempt to affect air or water get a bonus of +2 instead.

In years past the Zwuun has chosen many different beings to wield its awesome power, but all conformed to the list above. Of note are: Zehrn, a young Mul Air Cleric from Kalidnay who attempted to slay the Sorcerer-King long ago forcing him to find a faster method of metamorphosis and leading to the fall of the great city, Melodi, a Human Bard of note who was so adept at magic that she dualed, trained by, and was eventually added to the continum, and Scirrocco, a Half-Elven Cleric of Air/Preserver/Psionicist, who gained all of the powers above, and was one of the strongest champions of Life. Only one being may every possess the Zwuun magic and live, and the Zwuun never chooses this being incorrectly.