The Burnt World of Athas

The official Dark Sun website

Greetings friends:

As I set sail around the Dim Lands, I send you my latest clairvoyant missive in the name of the Athasian Survey Project.

Travelling the Silt Sea can seem like a suicidal trade at times. The chance of attack by giants or silt horrors and the dangerous and unreliable weather all paint a rather bleak picture of the life expectancy of silt sailors. This perhaps explains why even when given the opportunity, travel via silt tends to be reserved for only essential journeys.

The long expanse between Eldaarich and Azeth’s Rest is referred to by some scholars as the Trembling Plains. Since this is quite a large distance to cover without land escort, I’ve decided to attempt to cover the distance more quickly via silt skimmer.

The small Kurnish client village of Silt Side regularly fields quite a significant fleet thanks to the activities of the Merchant House Azeth. From here they have been known to stage quite ambitious maritime journeys in every direction from time to time, with varying amounts of success. Ships have successfully made it as far south as the Silt Archipelago and the edges of the Cerulean Storm, and have even discovered a new continent to the east. There have even been silt ships which have claimed to make it far enough north to where they claimed they had encountered large bodies of freezing cold water, but these claims are heavily disputed. For my purpose, all I needed was passage down to Break Shore, from which I could make my way back into the central Tablelands to rendezvous with the Consortium.

As we set sail around the islands locally referred to as the Dim Lands, I observed the notorious Prison-state of Eldaarich from a distance.

Oddly enough, if I had wanted to enter into Eldaarich proper, I wouldn’t have had much trouble, the Eldaarich templars are far less oppressive of foreigners than they are of their own people. But given the mind games the paranoid Sorcerer Monarch Daskinor plays on his own citizens and templarate, it makes for a rather inhospitable place to visit. What few traders I have known who spend time in Eldaarich don’t stay any longer than they must.

As we passed around the islands, I could see each of the island forts with their sequential bridges and gates. First was Fort Protector, then came the larger Fort Holtz, as can be seen in the image I am sending. The fort itself had clearly seen the wages of regular giant attacks, but the curious surrounding geography and clever positioning had served it well, and it remains one of the smallest silt-side fortifications to stand fast in its same position many kings’ ages (a claim places like Altaruk could never match).

As we turned our silt skimmer around the bend of the easternmost peninsula of the main island, the walls of Eldaarich itself finally started coming into view in the distance, surrounded by its many satellite shanty villages. I am aware the seven templar orders have forbad any foreigners visiting these villages, but the squalor and hard labour of the inhabitants is plain to see from even this distance.

As we came around the south of the island following the coast, I could feel the eyes of the island garrisons upon us, especially as we passed the coastal farming communities of South Guard. Perhaps it was the unusual placement of so much agriculture so close to the silt that called for such aggressive fortifications, but nevertheless I cannot say I’ve ever felt so unwelcome even sailing at a safe distance from a town.

According to the captain of this skimmer (a rather outspoken Kurnish human woman), we should be seeing good weather on our journey south.

Until next time, may the moons guide you.

Eldaarich Island by Neujack
(For whoever can guess the source of this image on Earth would win the prize of a handful of the local silt from this region. It’s very silty…)


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.