Thursday, February 28, 2019

Dwarves of Athas Part 2: Dwarves Under a Dark Sun

Unlikely as it seems to the well traveled, some villages in the wastes have never laid eyes upon a Dwarf before. It is for these isolated villages that I will write a physical description of this proud race, I only hope they can read it.
Dwarves stand shorter than humans, but taller than Halflings. Dwarves are also extremely wide, with large hands and feet and broad shoulders. Dwarves are heavily muscled and generally completely hairless. I have only seen two Dwarves with some hair atop their heads. Most Dwarves live a life full of hard work, so they have calloused hands and deep tans.
In fact, I once met a Dwarf named Yorgos, who had smooth, almost soft hands. His family were nobles from Balic, but he had been cast out for an indiscretion he was unwilling to share. The Dwarves of South Ledopolous looked down on him for being "soft" and openly mocked him. Being inexperienced in hard work, he died of dehydration or starvation. I can't remember which.
I asked another Dwarf friend of mine, Arsenios from North Ledopolous, to tell me what Dwarves think of the Tablelands and their place in it. I only spent a few bits for drinks to loosen his tongue.

 We Dwarves are hard, because the world demands that we be hard. The hot winds that blow across the desert and the blazing sun that burns us make us stronger. Like the obsidian that comes from the unrelenting volcanoes. Other races deal with the heat and repressiveness of the world in different ways, but Dwarves, we just accept it and endure.
Dwarves are varied, almost as much as you humans. Except for a couple of things. We have a focus that we must complete, unlike the flightiness of Humans and Elves, and we all hate defilers. I've heard it said that Dwarves cannot learn to become defilers. I'm not too sure about that, it's just that we have too much sense to want to learn to become one. We are a practical people who enjoy the kind of work that everyone else seems to avoid.
We value work as an extension of ourselves. I've heard it said that humans try to find their place in this world. Well, we Dwarves work hard make a place for ourselves, not simply find one. We see our work as an extension of ourselves. We judge each other by their willingness to work and their accomplishments from that work. Work drives us, it's what makes Dwarves Dwarves.

It was here that Arsenios asked for another drink, which I paid for. I asked him about the famed Dwarven focus and it contributes to the Dwarves love of toil.

First, not all work is toil. Some can be, but work can also be done in the mind or psychologically. In fact, my cousin's focus was to get as rich as possible to provide for his family. Much of his work was planning how to invest his money, or where he would sell his goods for the best price. Work is not always labor, even for us.
One of the original Athasian Dwarves.
What? Oh yes, our focus. Our focus is difficult for non-Dwarves to understand, just like it's difficult for us to understand living our lives without one. I can't imagine going through live with no direction, it must be quite terrifying for you humans. The best way to explain our focus is that it is an inward momentum that pushes us to achieve. As I'm sure you're well aware, that if a Dwarf dies without completing their focus, they return. Wracked by the agony of their failure.
Close your mouth Karpos, I know what you're going to ask next. You want to know why all Dwarves don't return, if to be a Dwarf is to have a focus, therefore you cannot complete it right before the moment of death. Keep in mind, I'm only telling you this because you have aided me in completing my focus in the past. The determining factor of when a Dwarf returns is based upon the Dwarf and their particular focus.
I know you're confused, so let me explain. If a Dwarf has a lifelong goal, like my cousin, then it is impossible to accomplish. He would return only if he forsook or abandoned his focus. However, if a Dwarf has a focus that only takes a few weeks or months, then he would probably return if his work was left unfinished. I mean, it's only a few weeks or months, he should have been able to accomplish it.
And don't go around asking a Dwarf what their focus is! It's no one's business but their own. If a Dwarf wants to tell you, they will tell you. Only if you can help though, otherwise there's just no point.
Now, I'm done with my drinks and I have to get back to work. Stones won't dig themselves up for that bridge, now will they?

More coming in Part Three

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Yuan-Ti of Athas Part Two: Settlements

Yuan-ti by Tomis-JB
If you missed it, here's part one.

Currently, the yuan-ti have two major settlements. One is named Tavara Ssarpale, it is located in the Ringing Mountains north of the Smoking Crown Mountains. The second is named Pahada Sskati, it is located in the Kreegill Mountains, north of Raam.
Tavara Ssarpale is the original home of the yuan-ti. It is here the Ssassaka (great leader) commands his subjects. The city is built of the native stone and is designed to blend in with the mountains. The only exception stands in the middle of the city, a fifty foot tower named Ssarpale Ghara.
This tower is made of granite and has no windows. There is only a single door at the top. A ramp winds it's way around the outside, leading to the entrance at its peak. The ramp is carved to resemble a giant snake winding its way upward. There is a circle of twelve snakes adorning the top of the tower. The inside walls are carved with scenes glorifying the yuan-ti and serpents in general.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Yuan-Ti of Athas Part One: Origin and Roles

Yuan-ti warrior.
Yuan-ti are often called snake people by the residents of Athas. They are creatures that vary in appearance. Some yuan-ti are almost indistinguishable from humans, often only having a single snake-like feature, these yuan-ti are called purebloods by those who encounter them. Another type of yuan-ti is called a halfbreed by outsiders. These halfbreeds are part human and part snake and cannot pass for human. So-called abominations are the least human looking yuan-ti. They appear as a ten foot long snake and only some of them will have a single human feature. The last commonly encountered yuan-ti is the histachii, which are reptilian humanoids which only appear human at a great distance.
The history of the yuan-ti begins during the blue age, when corrupt nature benders created the ancestors of the yuan-ti from the serpents that swam through the endless oceans. These yuan-ti were only slightly smarter than the animals they were created from. The nature benders used these creatures as guards, thugs, and menial servants.
When the nature masters came and defeated the nature benders, these yuan-ti like creatures escaped into the oceans. The nature masters pursued and destroyed many of them, but the oceans were too vast to destroy them all. The yuan-ti like creatures lived and bred, but were no more dangerous than other sea serpents.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Session Fifteen: Gith Warriors and Elven Thieves

Note: For those unfamiliar with Dark Sun, psionics are called the Will for wild talents and the Way for trained psionicists.

Vulture in the early dawn.
Vashti and Kalino covered the dead bodies with their tattered canvas blankets. The vultures continued to circle though. An hour later, the vultures began diving toward the dead bodies in the back of the wagon and ripped the covers away. A few of the vultures tried to peck at the heroes, to keep them back, while the others feasted on the mummified bodies.
The group ran over to fight the vultures away from the bodies, but then a group of vultures flew to their unprotected water barrel and began to drink. Part of the group ran back to the water barrel to fight off those vultures. There was never any real threat to the group and they managed to kill three of the vultures and chase away the others.
Vashi and Alaxander re-covered the water barrel and bodies. The group continued down the road to Altaruk. The circling vultures retreated during high sun and the travelers rested in the shade. They ate and drank from their supplies, then continued on as the day began to cool.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Balic Weapons and Tactics

A common soldier would not use metal.
This article is a collection of notes I had written for myself. I did not plan on posting these, but then I realized that another dungeon master might find them useful. I hope that is case.

Balicans regard the sword as strictly an auxiliary weapon, one that would never supplant their battle-proven reliance on the spear. The spear enables the heavily armored infantrymen, or hoplites, to stand together and protect each other within the close formation of their phalanx wall of shields and spears.
Infantry foot-soldiers, the Balican hoplites (from the Balican word hoplon, or armor) forms the military backbone of the city state. Hoplites are recruited mainly from the nobles and free middle classes, and bare the financial responsibility to arm themselves. Leather armor, sword, spear and shield all have to be provided from solely private means. Hoplites are not full-time professional soldiers whose only life is war. They volunteer to serve their state only in times of war, and, if they survive, will return afterwards to their civilian roles. The hoplite is a true manifestation of the Balican ideal of shared civic responsibility.

Thursday, February 14, 2019


The Slave Tribes sourcebook mentions a bird-lizard called a kitzu being herded in Balic, but no stats are ever given for it. I will rectify the situation.

Domestic animal on Athas.
 The Kitsu is a small bird-lizard with sand-colored scales, tooth-filled beaks, and feathered wings for gliding. Kitsu's are raised for their meat and eggs. The meat of a kitsu is highly prized.
Kitsus are mainly domesticated and are rarely seen in the wild. Although, it is possible to run across a small herd that has escaped from their pens. Undomesticated herds would likely take refuge in the canyons of the rocky badlands.

Stats after the jump.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Session Fourteen: Safe Behind Walls

Note: For those unfamiliar with Dark Sun, psionics are called the Will for wild talents and the Way for trained psionicists.

Preserver and Defiler
 Jessel looked to the west and handed Asli's body to Shade. He said he needed to go. He opened a dimension door and stepped through. The rest of the group continued on.
The doors to Magosa were opened and Grak was standing outside. Julius spoke to him and found out that Grak liked being in Magosa. They had giant problems from time to time and gave him the respect he was entitled to. Julius relayed Grak's thoughts about his place in Magosa. The group understood and wished him well. They then went through Magosa's entrance.
Shade carried Asli to Pasha Altan and they informed him of the circumstances of her death. Vashti felt terrible about not being able to save her, but the Pasha understood. He took the body and told them that he would inform her brother.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Food of the Tablelands - Eating Insects

An Athasian Feast
Food in the Tablelands is much easier to come buy than water. A starving person can survive by eating insects. Beetles, caterpillars, bees, ants, wasps, cicadas, grasshoppers, termites, locusts, crickets, larvae and grubs are all edible and, likely, eaten in all of the city-states.
Insects too would be an inexpensive source of nutrition for most Athasians.
However, there are certain rules when choosing which insects to eat. Grabbing anything out in the desert can lead to illness or death for your character, so here's some rules for them follow. First, avoid eating brightly colored insects. Bright colors usually mean poison. Poison types G and H would be most appropriate. Second, avoid hairy insects. Hairy insects can irritate the throat and can sometimes hide stingers. Third, avoid smelly and pungent insects. If the insect stinks or sprays some kind of stinky liquid, don't eat it. Fourth, cook all insects. While eating some insects raw will not harm your character, they may contain parasites that can cause your character to fall ill or die. Cooking them also softens the shell, which is helpful, because the quality of dental work on Athas is terrible. Fifth, avoid eating insects that eat poisonous plants. The insect may be fine to eat, but they may have traces of poison in their digestive system.
A normal medium sized creature can go three weeks without food, so water is by far more important. However, if your character is ever without food, grab some bald, earth colored insects, cook them, and enjoy.