The Burnt World of Athas

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Draji Religion

Another ancient unofficial article found in the web archives:

According to the Draji religion, a faith propagated by centuries of state sponsorship, King Tectuktitlay is the supreme temporal and spiritual authority of the cosmos, a kind of perfect incarnation of the spiritual forces of Athas. The Draji are taught that their King is the creator of all life and is responsible for investing the world with order and purpose. Unlike their neighbours in Raam, the people of Draj largely believe what the Moon Priests have taught them and they look upon Athas as world with their own King as its necessary centre. In Draj, as in Gulg, it is the state religion which dominates Draji identity and outlook, making it one of the more stable cities of the region, and certainly the most arrogant.

Draji Religion

By:Nicolas Holzapfel

Tectuktitlay courtesy of WotC

According to the Draji religion, a faith propagated by centuries of state sponsorship, King Tectuktitlay is the supreme temporal and spiritual authority of the cosmos, a kind of perfect incarnation of the spiritual forces of Athas. The Draji are taught that their King is the creator of all life and is responsible for investing the world with order and purpose. Unlike their neighbours in Raam, the people of Draj largely believe what the Moon Priests have taught them and they look upon Athas as world with their own King as its necessary centre. In Draj, as in Gulg, it is the state religion which dominates Draji identity and outlook, making it one of the more stable cities of the region, and certainly the most arrogant.


According to the Draji, the world before time was an endless void in which nothing existed. It only began when, Tectuktitlay emerged from the void and used the power of the four eternal elements to set a vast lightning bolt into darkness, which exploded into a magical dust which soon spread across all infinite, creating the Grey. Having accomplished, Tectuktitlay again used the elements to create a vast rock at the centre of the Grey, which he called Athas. Plucking them from the elemental planes, he set wind spirits to race across the land and keep away the dust and buried water spirits under the earth to provide life. After feeling the King's breath, the rock itself came to life and soon teemed with spirits of the land. With these spirits, the King had many children who then became the innumerable races of ancient Athas. A just and benevolent God, he gave his many children knowledge of using the land and forging tools so that they might prosper and spread.

But the people were weak and began to turn away from the worship of their creator, arrogantly believing they could rule without him and disobeying his edicts. Separated from the wisdom of the King they turned to the foul practices of wizardry and sin, gradually turning into the monster-slaves of dark forces. The chaos of magic had unleashed terrible anarchic forces which twisted and distorted everything they came in contact with, fusing man with beast and turning spirits of the land against their natural allegiance. Growing ever more ambitious and heretical, the magic-users created demons and twisted many of the spirits of the land against their Lord. The King realised he had been wrong to allow his people freedom and came down from the heavens to take command of those who had remained loyal to him and lead them against the magic-users. Thus began the Time of Battles when the people were divided between the forces of the True Order and those of what came to be known as the Abberation. Draji history of this time is full of legends of heroism, struggle and great battles, all of which serve to emphasise Draji virtues of hierarchy, warfare and ritual and denounce the opposing heresies of chaos, usurpation and transformation. The Battles raged for seemingly endless eons and slowly the verdant world turned into a desert. But eventually the forces of the True Order triumphed and the monstrosities of wizardry and twisted spirits were banished to the dark caverns on the underside of Athas.

The God-King then led the victorious armies across the blasted world to the holy lands where life on Athas had begun. They found that the holiest site of all, the mudflats of Draj, had been defiled by the forces of the Abberation, but after a great sacrifice Tectuktitlay restored the dust to its former infinite fertility. Here, protecting by the sacred mudflats, he created the city of Draj as a home for the greatest of his followers and as a temple in which to perform the many sacrificial rituals necessary to maintain the True Order. Knowing now the weakness of mortals, the King appointed ten great beings to rule eternally over the different city-oases, each pledged to maintain the True Order and fight the heresy of wizardry. These lieutenants rule independently as (lesser) kings in their own right, but they are spiritually subject to the Almighty God-King of the Supreme City of Draj.

Structure of Athas

Vital to the Draji understanding of the world is their belief that the supremacy of their King extends not just to the temporal realm of mortals, but to the realm of nature too. This is demonstrated by the Draji word for the sun, which means "Divine Eye". In the Draji religion, the sun and the king are one and the same, both are simply the manifestation of divine perfection, vital for the sustenance of order and natural life.

As the sun, the king must divide his time between giving life to Athas and ensuring the true order Prevails, and ensuring the monstrosities imprisoned in the underworld remain so. If the Divine Eye were to be perpetually shining above Athas then life would be bounteous but the magical creatures of the underworld would free themselves and begin the Battles anew. If he were to spend all his time in the Underworld not only would Athas be plunged into lifeless darkness, but the people would themselves fall foul to heretical ways, recreating the Battles. To minimise the problems caused by the absence of the Divine Eye, the King fathered two children, Ral and Guthay, to circle Athas and watch over the world in his absence. Incidentally this is how the Moon Priests acquired their name, since the relationship between the templars and the King parallels that of the sun and moons.

The Dragon

In Draji mythology, the Dragon occupies a similar position to that of the sorcerer-kings, an immortal independent ruler spiritually subject to Tectuktitlay. Just as the sorcerer-kings are the appointed rulers of foreign cities, so the Dragon was long ago appointed as prince of the beasts, free to wonder the wastes and pursue his unknowable aims.


Death casts a very big shadow over Draji society and life is seen to a great extent as a preparation for the afterlife. The reason for this is the vivid picture of a luxurious afterlife which the Moon Priests take to impress on the mind of every citizen. They believe that within yet beyond the endless dust that surround Athas, reside the illusive psychic realms of the dead. There are number of these heavens, each a distinct sphere separated by huge distances of dust. The Draji have their very own specially-assigned heaven called Azeylon, a mysterious land of plenty and unimaginable spiritual ecstasies.

Life on Azeylon depends on the social class the deceased person occupied on Athas. The nobles still rule supreme and enjoy the freedom to leave and re-enter Azeylon whenever they choose. However there is no need for work in Azeylon so even the common people get to live in freedom and enjoy in the luxurious life there. The Moon Priests time as living templars on Athas is considered merely the first stage of their enlightenment and testing. Those templars who have pleased their king sufficiently will enter one of Azeylon's colleges, where they will be trained and elevated to perform their final purpose - serving their King as celestial bodies in the administration of the Cosmos. The slaves are not considered true Draji and so do not get automatic entitlement to Azeylon. However as the property of Draji citizens, nobles and freemen are at liberty to take favoured slaves to Azeylon to continue serving them after death.

Preparation for the Afterlife

The life of a Draji is considered mainly as a preparation for Death. He begins with the formless infant soul, and only through purification and adherence to the true order can he expect to achieve the worthiness necessary to ascend to Azeylon. A Draji achieves ascension firstly through having his child soul given form by his elders, and then in adulthood through unbending obedience to the Draji hierarchy and by proving himself in the purifying process of suffering and war. Finally, the deceased Draji must pass through the correct funeral rites.


When a child is born, its soul is considered to be formless and amoral. The Draji childhood is therefore considered to consist of moulding the soul, giving the child self-knowledge and an awareness of Draji ethics and place in the world. When the child is considered to have a fully formed soul (usually around his early teens), the occasion is marked by an elaborate ceremony presided over by a Priest, in which the new adulthood swears loyalty to the God-King and the True Order.

Athasian Armor courtesy of WotC


The Draji are particularly obsessed with the war part of their purification. This is not wholly due to religion however. For a variety of reasons the Draji are in constant need for slaves which can only be fulfilled with war. Firstly, the Draji believe the fertility of the uniquely bountiful Draji mud flats is due to the contiual supply of sacrifices to their god to sent walking up the great pyramid to have their hearts ripped out by Tectuktitlay himself. It is said that the blood of the sacrifices is what feeds the mud flats and give it its fertility. Secondly, the mud flats themselves are notoriously deadly and cause many slave fatalities in the sinking muds. Thirdly, as mentioned already, many slaves meet untimely deaths when their masters require them to accompany them to Azeylon. So for this reason, Drajan war parties scour all over the Tablelands and even send expeditions beyond it in their continual search for slaves, slave fetch a far higher price than in all the other cities, all except for the most well-hidden villages in the north-east of the Tyr region send a regular tithe of human sacrifices to King Tectuktitlay and Elven tribes pay a tax of slaves rather than money as the cost of visiting the city.

Unusually for the Tablelands, the Draji armies are commanded not by the king's templars, but by his nobles. The nobility of Draj, unacustomed to physical suffering like the poverty-stricken freemen but extremely mindful of the demands of the the Draji ethic and entryship into Azeylon, consider it their time-honoured duty and honour to lead Tectuktitlay's bloodthirsty minions in their raids across the Tablelands. They spend much of their lives in military training and often a front-line role in leading their troops. Defence of course is not an issue for Draj, for with the magical protection of its king combined with the natural defence of the mud flats, Draj is effectively unassailable. In any case, since their king is also the supreme lord of athas, the Draji have no doubt their city is invulnerable anyway.

The True Order

Adherence to the True Order essentially means absolute obedience of the law and to the established hierarchy. It also means following one's duties to one's profession according to tradition. This is not to say any slight transgression of temporal law will result in this hideous transformation. Most crimes can be made up for with suffering and confinement, until the soul is purged of the deed. Even with serious crimes, a family can acquire forgiveness for a forsaken family member through sacrifices and suffering. Such allowances are especially easy for nobles to aquire, since they are considered spiritually superior beings. The Moon Priests are mostly considered beyond such accusations and sins of course, although on the whole they are considerably less corrupt then their equivalents in most of the other cities and are expected to live in relatively austere conditions.

The epitome of those who have abandoned the natural ways are the wizards, who sinfully ignore both a cardinal law of the king's temporal law and the usurp the natural world with their twisted magic. The Time of Battles was thought to have been caused mainly by the corruption of those who became wizards and acted as the generals of the armies of Aberration.

Alternatives to Azeylon

Whether or not a soul goes straight to Azeylon is dependent on the actions the Draji has taken in his life and the choices he makes after death. If a Draji arrives at gates of Azeylon without having been purified by life on Athas one of two fates will befall him. If the Draji was not aware of his failure than he will simply be cast back down to Athas and sown back into the life as a newborn Draji of the same family in the same manner as dead Draji children. If however, the Draji believes himself great and worthy even when he has not been purified, then he will be consumed by Tectuktitlay and regurgitated as feces upon the underworld. A spirit who does not believe himself worthy of entry ship intro Azeylon and does not want to risk the punishment of trying, stays on Athas to haunt his tomb.

Even more horrific in the eyes of the Draji is the fate of those twisted few who entirely abandon the ways of Draj and the laws, both natural and temporal, of King Tectuktitlay (particularly wizards). They are said to be unable to achieve death and instead slowly rot and twist into monsters, compelled to the underworld.

A Draji does not always have to follow these paths. A Draji who has achieved form and purity may choose not to immediately Azeylon and instead wander Athas. The purified soul of a wandering Draji will not go to Azeylon but be reborn as a Draji once again. Exceptionally bright or talented children are thought to be the result of this reincarnations where the soul is formed pure even before birth.

New Souls

Traffic to Azeylon is not one-way however. The Draji believe that when the souls of Azeylon procreate, their issue forms the substance of a newborn soul on Athas. When a Draji woman is pregnant, the foetus inside her is said to be spiritually existent in both Azeylon and Athas, the link only being broken when the child is born. Hence while Draj stays more or less constant in numbers, Azeylon grows perpetually in souls. This is said to be in preparation for a possible second Time of Battle when the forces of the underworld will grow strong enough to break up onto Athas's surface.

The nature of this idea of the Draji as Athas' chosen people, with the Draji king believed to be the creator and ruler of all life on Athas has meant the Draji have acquired a well-earned reputation for unrivalled arrogance. Tectuktitlay's shameless propagation of his own supremacy and his claim that the kings are merely appointees has been a subject of intense irritation amongst his fellow sorcerer-kings, the templars of whom occasionally have to publically refute all such ideas to their own populace, thanks to the actions of bards and Draji mercenaries.

Outlander Souls

As for the rest of Athas, The Draji believe that their king has assigned each of the cities a lesser spirit-realm far blander than Azeylon. Any citizens of these cities who prove themselves of exceptional (i.e.Draji) worth are granted entry into Azeylon. Each temporal king also has spiritual dominion over their assigned realms.

Beings outside the cities are considered unassimilated into the spiritual order of Tectuktitlay's administration on Athas. The cities of Athas are the only gateways to Tectuktitlay's heavens beyond the infinite dust cloud. This does not mean they are considered heretical or impure however, merely outside the administration's scope. When they die, their spirits will not be able to find a way to the heavens and will be forced to wander Athas until they find a new body to inhabit (through reincarnation), usually one of their descendants. Eventually a wandering spirit will be reborn as a city-dweller and a find a way to the heavens. If a person displeases their sorcerer king or if they are for some reason unwilling to leave their mortal remains they may find themselves in a state of tormented undeath, desperately clinging on to their lifeless bodies.


Racially, the Draji religion is not exclusive. Tectuktitlay is said to have employed all the natural races of Athas in his armies and many of them contained the greatness that defines the Draji soul, meaning they could settle in Draj. This is not to say the Draji believe all races are equally blessed. The evidence of numbers suggests to some that humanity is self-evidently the greatest of Tectuktitlay's minions while others suggest it was merely the circumstances of the Time of Battles, where the demihumans were one-by-one devastated and humanity would have been next were it not for the heroic final stand in which the surviving demihumans flocked to humanity and united with them to turn the tide of the battle. Each race is viewed somewhat differently based on their role in the historical legends of the battles and their current behavior on Athas. Elves for instance, are one of the few races completely excluded from the Draji soul. Elves are considered far too frivolous and spiritually weak to achieve the ascension to Azeylon while dwarves are admired for their commitment and single-mindedness. There is a stable community of dwarves in Draj and they are promised a special place in Azeylon.

If a Draji has children with a non-Draji it does not always mean that the children are non-Draji. The non-Draji must be examined in a special ceremony by the Moon Priests to see whether he or she is so inferior the he will have negated the possibility of a Draji soul or whether he is worthy enough to have created Draji children.


All this lore and legend is passed on through the festivals, rituals and folklore which completely dominated the life of Draj. The legends of Tectuktitlay's ancient battles are regularly retold by the templars in vast twilight gatherings and used to exemplify aspects of the king's law and Draji beliefs. The calendar of Draj is scattered with important festival days celebrating various aspects of Tectuktitlay's natural law or the victories and legends of the pasts, as well as society-orientated days for contemplating the dead and other such religious aspects of the culture. Perhaps most vital however is the popularity of retelling and hearing the stories amongst the people, both noble and freeman, passing on the culture from generation to generation and providing strong competition for the fantastical tales of visiting bards. All this provides a wealth of oral culture disseminated amongst the entire populace and forming the basis for the entire Draji outlook.

Considering all this is it is not hard to see why Draj is the second most orderly (Gulg being the most so) of the seven cities and a place where acceptance of the social structure and general predicament is taken for granted.

Attitude to Recent Events

The popular Draji opinion on the events of the last 10 years are perhaps the most hostile in the Tablelands (the opinions of Draj's short-lived slaves notwithstanding). They saw the death of King Kalak as a horror perpetuated by a band of corrupted usurpers led by a demon-witch, and was interpreted by many as the beginning of the second time of battle. The Draji mourned with the Urikites when King Hamanu failed to crush the slave insurrection of Tyr. Despite this hostility, Draj is fundamentally an insular society and so long as Tyr didn't overtly affect Draji life it may as well have been on the other side of the world. The Draji felt sure the God-King and his lieutenants would restore order eventually.

Events a decade later would prove them hopelessly wrong: At about the same time that the Moon Priests heard that the Queen of Raam had been killed at the hands of Sadira of Raam, the Priests found their requests for magic were no longer being granted. In the immediate aftermath the Priests were left only with the bizarre, unprecedented events immediately before the catastrophe where they lost their spells: They knew the Draji army, and the armies of the other city-states, had been sent to stop the Tyrian Legion from reaching the silt sea, but had received no information as to what the legion was hoping to achieve. Meanwhile Tectuktitlay had left the city on some equally mysterious mission of which he revealed nothing. Beyond that all they knew was that the crimson sun, the most potent symbol of the god-king, had briefly turned blue, which was when the priests' lost their powers, before turning to red again, and being followed by a tremor.

Draji Priests courtesy of WotC

It did not take long for the priesthood to realise that the God-King of Athas was dead, or at least cut off from them in some unfathomable way. Aware of the bloody anarchy that immediately swept over Raam when the Grand Vizier's death became apparent to the general populace, the high priests ordered the priesthood not to reveal their lack of spells under pain of death, and refused to answer any questions on the cause. Instead, they quickly realised that to prevent catastrophe that to find a replacement for the king and somehow maintain the illusion of a god distributing divine spells. The only other group in the city which could possibly provide this was the king's House of the Mind. The priesthood revealed the situation and after striking a temporary agreement immediately began placing templars across the city with priests' garbs, in an attempt to fool the populace into believing their king's magic was alive and well. After a series of top-secret meetings with the House of the Mind the templars struck a deal in which rulership would be passed to a council made of the leaders of the priesthood and the psionicists, with the balance of power being in favour of the psionicists, since they held the magical power.

Fearful of announcements from other city-states of the death of Tectuktitlay, the council then arranged the second stage of the illusion and began inventing the version of events which they would sell to the people. According to the new leadership, Tectuktitlay led his lieutenants, the kings and queens of the cities and the prince of the beasts (the dragon) to do battle with the gathering forces of Abberation where they were rising from the underside via a fiery pit at the centre of the silt sea, opened by the evil witch-queen of Tyr who was sending the Tyrian legion to be transformed into monsters in the underworld. The Queen of Raam and the King of Balic both died fighting this evil, but most heroic was the death of the Supreme Lord and Father of Athas who realised that to save Athas he had to give his life in the battle, which he willingly did. This was what caused the sun to flash blue, as the king himself temporarily became a spirit of the dead, and the earth cried out in pain. However, the king is immortal and undying and the evil could not destroy his almighty soul, which has been miraculously reborn in his son, God-King Atzetuk.

The belief of Draji psionicists that their powers were imbued in them because of their special ability to cope with it by the god himself has been distorted slightly to make the psionicists believe they are the new priests. The priesthood has been told that the King's energies have been much sapped in his battle, death and rebirth and will take some time to recover. Simultaneously the templarate have scoured the city convincing (with the help of psionics) elemental clerics that they are in fact worshipping aspects of King Tectuktitlay and drawing them in to the priesthood within special sects, and executing those that prove resistant. Meanwhile, the leadership desperately ransacked the previously forbidden parts of the royal chambers and library in search of some way of acquiring a real source of power to match that of the sorcerer-kings and Sadira's fire-magic, that will secure Draj's independence. In doing say they have conclusively discovered conclusively that King Tectuktitlay not a god. The discovered has rocked them but has failed to outweigh the leadership's determination to preserve order and continuity in their city, a task in which so far they have proved enormously successful. As the king's artifacts are methodically analysed it is only a matter of time before they come to understand their king's true nature and the dragon metamorphosis spell.