The Burnt World of Athas

The official Dark Sun website

by Dan Sharp and Robert Adducci

Tattooed mul slave fighter in studded inix leather harness.
Mul by Artist Unknown

What is the world like?

As long as you are winning, the world isn’t such a bad place. Massages with fragrant oil for the muscles still sore from the last glorious fight, maybe even a servant for yourself, for you are valuable indeed. A night of wine and women that make you forget for a while. No one dares lay a hand on you right after a fight, not even the pit overseer for fear of angering your master. When you lose, everything changes. If you are lucky enough to live through the experience, your first visit back to the pits erupts in a flurry of pain, expertly placed by men who enjoy the work, and are trained to bring you to the brink of death without quite pushing you over. Then it’s back to the training pits. Longer hours, less food, no time to even think about wine or women. No… not until you win again. You must win to survive just another day.

The world is a vast and diverse place, my son. As a slave gladiator, I have had the opportunity to travel to many different cities and arenas, each with their own unique culture and customs. The people are varied and interesting, and I have met many fellow gladiators who have become like family to me. Of course, as a slave, my freedom is limited, but even in our circumstances, there is a sense of camaraderie and community. I have seen the grandeur of the Colosseum in Balic and the fierce competition in the arenas of Urik. I have felt the heat of the sun on the sands of the arenas and the thrill of victory. It is a harsh life, but also a fulfilling one. I am proud to be a gladiator and to have the chance to entertain and inspire others through my skills and strength.

What peoples are there in the world?

My son, the world is full of many different races and peoples. There are humans, elves, dwarves, halflings, and many more. Each race has their own unique characteristics and cultures. Some live in cities, while others live in the wild. Some are fierce warriors, while others are peaceful farmers.

There are also the thri-kreen, who are insect-like creatures known for their agility and strength. They are respected for their hunting skills and their ability to survive in harsh environments. The half-giants, on the other hand, are known for their size and strength, often used as laborers and soldiers. The gith are a race of mutated creatures we often see in the arena in groups because of their cowardice. There are also the tareks, a race of desert warriors known to worship the earth and fight with great ferocity. Make friends with a tarek if you can and hope you never have to fight one. Each of these races has their own unique culture and way of life, and it’s important to respect and understand them.

What are the most valuable things in life?

The world can be a harsh and unforgiving place, especially for those of us who are enslaved. But despite the darkness, there is still hope to be found. The most valuable things in life, in my eyes, are freedom, family, and the strength of the spirit.

Freedom is something that is taken from us, but it is something that we must always strive to reclaim. It may not come easy, but it is worth fighting for. Family is also important, as they provide us with love and support in our darkest moments. Family is not always blood however, always be on the lookout for those worthy of your word. You were given to me after you were weaned and able to walk on your own. It’s my duty to raise you in our ways - the ways of the gladiator. But I will teach you more than just fighting because there is more to life than fighting. Though we’re enslaved, strength of spirit is something that cannot be taken away, we’re all born with it and even in the face of impossible odds, we must never give up hope.

But perhaps most importantly, we must never forget the value of our own lives. Despite the hardships we may face, we must always remember that our lives are worth something, and that we are capable of overcoming any obstacle. So never give up hope my son, for as long as we have our freedom, family, and the strength of our spirit, there is always a chance for a brighter future.

Who are the Templars?

The templars are the agents of the sorcerer-king, they have power over everyone in a city, no matter if they’re a slave or a freeman. Only the nobles have some recourse against a templar’s petty corruption. The templars, are ruthless enforcers of the law, and use their power to maintain the king’s corrupt government. My son, do not let their power defeat you, they die like anyone else in the arena without their magic. Remember, we may be enslaved now, but we will not always be. We will one day rise up and overthrow our oppressors. And when that day comes, we will truly be free.

What are the Cities like?

The city-states are controlled by the sorcerer-kings, evil tyrants who, through their templars, control powerful nobles and merchants, who then use their wealth and influence to keep the lower classes in check. They are places of oppression and exploitation, where the strong prey on the weak and the poor struggle to survive. But there is still hope. There are those who fight against the injustices of the city-states, who stand up against the templars and their masters. They are the ones who keep the flame of rebellion alive, who remind us that there is always hope for a better world. We may be enslaved, but we are not broken. We will continue to fight for our freedom, and one day we will be victorious.

Where else do people live?

My son, beyond the city-states, there are many other places where people make their homes. Some live in the great deserts, where they eke out a harsh existence under the scorching sun in tribes, towns, or villages. Others live in the mountains, where they hide from the agents of the sorcerer-kings. Still others live in forts and outposts of the merchant houses. But no matter where people live, they all must struggle to survive in a world that is often cruel and unforgiving. But there are always glimmers of hope, small moments of joy and beauty that remind us that life is worth living. And it is up to us to hold on to those moments, to treasure them, and to make the most of the time we have.

What is magic?

Magic, my son, is a dark and dangerous power. It is the magic of destruction, of draining the life from the land and the people around us. It is the magic of the sorcerer-kings, the templars, and their ilk. They use it to control and oppress us, to keep us in our place as slaves and gladiators. But it is not a power that we should ever seek to wield ourselves. It is a power that only brings death and destruction, and those who use it will be consumed by it in the end.

What is the Unseen Way?

The Unseen Way is a powerful and mysterious inner strength that allows those who possess it to manipulate the world around them using only their minds. It is said to be a way of tapping into the power of the mind and using it to achieve incredible feats, such as moving objects with a thought, of reading the minds of others, or of changing your body to do incredible feats.To those who have mastered it, it is a powerful tool that can never be taken away, a secret weapon that can be used to achieve great things, and a path to true freedom.

Who are the Priests?

The elemental priests are a powerful and awe-inspiring group of individuals who have the ability to harness the power of the elements. They are able to call upon the power of fire, earth, water, and air to achieve incredible feats and perform powerful magic. Many people are thankful for their abilities and often seek their guidance and protection. It is often an elemental priest who will heal a gladiator of their wounds after a battle in the arena.

Where do we come from? Why are we here?

We are born from mothers who often die during birth. Although our enslavers say we were made to fight, I believe we were made to survive. We are strong and resilient, and can find purpose in our struggles. We can fight for freedom, family, and a better life. We may never know our origins, but we press on and make the most of the life we have.

What happens after we die?

The world we live in is a savage one, life in the arena is often short and filled with blood and pain. But there is a glimmer of hope that shines even in the darkest of days, and that is the unknown mystery of what happens after we die. Some say that our souls return to the elemental planes, to be absorbed into the elements. Some say our souls just dissipate into nothingness. Others believe that we are granted a release from the cycle of life and death, and find peace in an eternal afterlife. Regardless of what truly happens, one thing is certain, it is a release from the cruel world we live in.


Original creator of The Burnt World of Athas back in 1995 or so… Join me @Raddu76 Play Dark Sun with me on Patreon.

Dan Sharp