The Burnt World of Athas

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What Your Father Told You: A Fire Priest to his young initiate.

written by Gabriel Cormier

A mul fire cleric known only as Twinflame, to his initiate Kargath.

What is the world like?

Being an initiate, you have seen some of the world already. It is a barren sand-covered world. Some parts still contain vegetation, stuff that burns, but mostly it’s simply mud bricks in the cities. Nothing much interesting there.

The world didn’t use to be like this. Don’t believe anything anyone says otherwise. There used to be gigantic forests of trees, huge plains of grass, even a big body of water, although I can’t see why that would be important. Seems to me like the only water we need is the one we drink, and that comes from under the ground.

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What people are there?

There are different people in the world. But mostly we don’t care.Their flesh burns no matter what. Except for those stupid bugs from up north. The ‘kreen, they are called. Their weird sort of skeletons are a bit more resistant to fire, but they can still burn!

I’m a mul, of course. A cross-breed of human and dwarf, and I get the best of both races. Most of the people in cities are humans, although there are some elves, and human-elf cross-breeds, half-elves. Half-giants too. You’ve probably seen some. They often serve as guards because of their size. There are some other races too: halflings, smallpeople, many are savages who live in the mountains; I’ve seen once an Aarakocra, bird-people, and I’ve heard stories of reptiles called Pterrans, though I’ve never seen one.

Clerics? What are we?

Depends on whom you ask. Some think us charlatans, but we know better. There are not too many of us, and we all serve different elements. We are here to preserve and rebuild Athas to its former glory, forests and plains, so we may burn them once again in huge fires!

Elements? What elements are there?

There are 4 elements, Earth, Air, Water, and of course Fire. I serve Fire, but you know that. You know what power I wield. There are also clerics who serve para-elements. Those you can’t trust. They only look after themselves.

Fire. Tell me about fire. Why Fire and not another?

Be careful what you ask, Initiate. Fire is what we serve. We work with Earth and Air mostly, but sometimes we work with Water and Rain. Remember that Earth gives us plants to burn, and Air feeds the flames of our fires. Water and Rain make our fuel grow, I suppose, although on the plains plants don’t need much water to grow. Fire cooks the food you eat, it keeps you warm at night, and it kills. It is unpredictable,chaotic, yet beautiful. That is why we serve it. It is both life and death. Like the sun that burns your skull.

Fire is the ultimate element. Earth clerics are too stubborn to act sometimes, but they are dependable. Air clerics are too unpredictable,even for us. They sometimes seem lost, and are often lost in daydream claiming to be “divining”.


They don’t have a clue what’s going on. Their heads are too far up in the clouds to understand what is happening down here. And Water clerics? They’re just too damn depressing. They complain, and complain; not good travelling companions. Though they do have a very good healing touch. It’s nice to know where you can find one, just don’t listen to him, he’ll drive you mad with all his ramblings.

I warn you again: keep clear of those who worship para-elements. Don’t trust them. Respect the sun cleric, Initiate. They are powerful during the day, but weak at night. Use that to your advantage. Steer clear of the Sea of Silt. Nothing to burn there, anyway.

Who are the Sorcerer-Kings?

Keep clear of them too. They wield powerful magic, though it doesn’t come from the Elements. They are masters of The Way. They are the reason Athas is the way it is. They are immortal beings, but they are not gods. We serve gods. The Sorcerer-Kings can die. Try to upset their plans, but be wary. Use caution when dealing with them. Best to avoid them at all costs though.

The Way?

Are you dumb? The Way? Mindbenders? Psionics? You know what that is. Don’t ask stupid questions.

Templars, who are they?

They’re the ones who do the SK’s dirty work. Claim they are clerics. They are granted spells by their SK. They’re obsessed with power. Never trust them. They’ll do anything to rise up a rank. They have spells, same as us. Remember that fire will give you what you need, or help you get it. Try to help those that worship Earth, Air and Water.