The Burnt World of Athas

The official Dark Sun website

Greetings, my friends. In the name of the Athasian Survey Project I have a clairvoyant missive to share with you, and a story of a vision to share:

We followed the disused Gold Road south for several days, passing through Fort Adros (Merchant House Inika’s tiny fortified compound on the edge of the badlands), and Fort Melidor (an elven trading post near the Lost Oasis). In these badlands in the shadows of the Ringing Mountains, it is hard to imagine this was once a major trade road between Celik and the northern Tablelands. Now only enterprising and impatient merchant caravans, and gith raiders venture through this territory. There is very little for most to see here. Unless, of course, you count Kalidnay…

Despite the best efforts of the Consortium’s scholars, the true fate of Kalidnay remains a mystery. We do know that before the death of the city, Kalid-Ma was attempting a powerful dragon transformation spell not unlike the one Kalak later attempted. But details leading up to the event are scarce, as it seems no one within the city or nearby survived to tell the tale.

I wished to see the city for myself, so I decided to explore the outskirts of Kalidnay during the day and retreat to the protection of Fort Melidor before nightfall. The first impression was as I expected – few buildings remained intact save for the ziggurat in the middle of the city, a solitary monument to a sorcerer-monarch’s arrogance. The image I have sent you is what I could see of the city from a lookout point on the cliffs to the northeast above the Lost Oasis. The city has remained persistently uninhabited ever since the tragedy which wiped out the city centuries ago. Nevertheless, in spite of all the scouting forays demonstrating otherwise, reports of movement among the ruins at night continue.

That night after my visit to the edges of the city, as I laid in my tent falling asleep, one of the caravan guides came and bid me to come with him. I followed him to one of the crodlu wagons which we then rode down the hill to the nearby village of Artan-Ak. The roads were in good condition and it was a clear night, so the journey was quick. Upon reaching the village, I meet with the village chief, an old and emaciated Water cleric. He spoke to me of how the land starved to feed the selfish sorcerer monarch and his cruel head templar Thakok-An. He showed how his own citizens were wasting away in this dirty farm village while the broken ziggurat and city gleamed with life.

This was the point where I became quite confused and disoriented. I stepped out of the village chief’s hovel, and looked in the direction of Kalidnay. The walls and buildings were pristine and alive with the lights of evening. The ziggurat itself was still cracked, but it gleamed with gold even in the night time. As my head swam with confusion and feelings of being out of place and time, an unknown voice whispered in my ear.

“There…is your answer. The folly of man…forever locked in shadow…This must not happen…again…”

I shouted “Who are you? Why are you showing me this?”

The voice responded: “We know…who you are…and whom…you serve…both now and later…”

“You…will be useful…not ready yet, but…we will…see you soon…”

This was when I awoke with a start.

The voice in my head was not quite the same one from the Mountains of the Sun, but it had the same unnatural feel. I had always been taught that the undead did not have minds capable of the Way, but it seems there were still many lessons I have still not yet learned.

I send you this message as I puzzle over the meaning of these words and their cryptic intentions. It is a foregone conclusion I will not be sleeping tonight, or perhaps the next night.

Tomorrow we will travel south again, choosing to pass by both Kalidnay and Celik during the day time. Until next time, may the moons guide you.

For anyone who can guess the source of this image from Earth, I have for you a lightly used dream catcher…

Ruins of Kalidnay
Kalidnay Ruins by Neujack

* Merchant House of Amketch
* Dune Trader
* Ravenloft Domains of Dread


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.