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D&D 5E Wild Speculation: Athas, the World Without Dragons

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
So, I recently watched this interview with James Wyatt about the First World idea that has been hinted at in Tasha’s and now again in Fizban’s:


In brief, the First World was originally the only world in the material plane, but at some point it shattered into countless fragments, each containing echoes of the First World. Basically, an in-universe explanation for all the different settings and worlds people play D&D in, and why so many common elements exist between them all. In this interview, James goes into some more detail about the First World that we learn in Fizban’s - namely, that it was created by Bahamut and Tiamat, it was populated by dragons, and dragons on all the various fragments or “seedlings” of the First World throughout the material plane are echoes of their First World counterparts. He also talks a bit about how dragons are fundamentally tied to the material plane, in the same way that celestials are fundamentally tied to the upper planes and fiends to the lower planes.

So, this got me thinking, if they’re rolling with this lore as a way to canonically connect various D&D settings together, and dragons are the “outsiders” native to each world within the material plane… What does that say about Athas? Well, I put on my +5 Tinfoil Helm of Baseless Speculation, and here’s what I came up with:

Athas exists within the material plane, so in this canon it must be a seedling of the First World, right? But apart from the Sorcerer Kings, there are no true dragons there. No echoes of the original inhabitants of the First World, which are deeply metaphysically connected to the substance of the material plane itself. Could it be that, in this new canon, this is the reason Athas is so messed up? That without these echoes connecting Athas to the First World, it has become unmoored from the rest of the cosmos, leading the gods to be unreachable, and arcane magic (which also has a connection to dragons) to damage the world, depleting it of what little of its quintessential material substance remains in the absence of dragons?

To be clear, I don’t especially like this idea. I rather hope it’s just the tinfoil making total nonsense seem plausible. But, it’s a direction I could see them taking for a Dark Sun re-imagining.
 

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Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
That is a neat idea, but the resulting BarrenWorld will be Athas-adjacent; it will not be Athas.
Part of the tragic majesty of Athas' backstory is that the ruination of the world was started on purpose (although the end was not intended), it did not happen because of a naturally inevitable force like the cause of a hurricane or earthquake.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
That is a neat idea, but the resulting BarrenWorld will be Athas-adjacent; it will not be Athas.
Part of the tragic majesty of Athas' backstory is that the ruination of the world was started on purpose (although the end was not intended), it did not happen because of a naturally inevitable force like the cause of a hurricane or earthquake.
I agree with you that’s what makes Dark Sun, Dark Sun. It loses its thematic punch if the world was ruined by a natural disaster rather than the actions of power-hungry mortals. But I’m speculating on what I think WotC might do in a modern re-imagining, not what I think they should do. Indeed, I kinda actively dislike this idea. But “it would be Athas-adjacent but it wouldn’t be Athas” isn’t really a counter argument. Before Van Richten’s Guide, it could as easily have been said that Domains of Dread without a Core would have been Ravenloft adjacent but wouldn’t be Ravenloft.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
this reminds me a bit of Game of Thrones - magic was mostly legends and chicanery, until 3 dragons hatched - and now the old spells worked again, and charlatans suddenly had power.
Yeah, similar idea where the existence of dragons in the world gives power to magic. But instead of their near-extinction making magic weaker, it made magic draw on the world itself for power instead, and thus defiling was born.

In this way, I suppose the ruination of the world could still be attributed to the actions of power-hungry mortals. Especially if those same mortals hunted dragons to extinction for the power of their hoard items (another concept introduced in Fizban’s).
 

Bitbrain

Location: Arrakis
So, I recently watched this interview with James Wyatt about the First World idea that has been hinted at in Tasha’s and now again in Fizban’s:


In brief, the First World was originally the only world in the material plane, but at some point it shattered into countless fragments, each containing echoes of the First World. Basically, an in-universe explanation for all the different settings and worlds people play D&D in, and why so many common elements exist between them all. In this interview, James goes into some more detail about the First World that we learn in Fizban’s - namely, that it was created by Bahamut and Tiamat, it was populated by dragons, and dragons on all the various fragments or “seedlings” of the First World throughout the material plane are echoes of their First World counterparts. He also talks a bit about how dragons are fundamentally tied to the material plane, in the same way that celestials are fundamentally tied to the upper planes and fiends to the lower planes.

So, this got me thinking, if they’re rolling with this lore as a way to canonically connect various D&D settings together, and dragons are the “outsiders” native to each world within the material plane… What does that say about Athas? Well, I put on my +5 Tinfoil Helm of Baseless Speculation, and here’s what I came up with:

Athas exists within the material plane, so in this canon it must be a seedling of the First World, right? But apart from the Sorcerer Kings, there are no true dragons there. No echoes of the original inhabitants of the First World, which are deeply metaphysically connected to the substance of the material plane itself. Could it be that, in this new canon, this is the reason Athas is so messed up? That without these echoes connecting Athas to the First World, it has become unmoored from the rest of the cosmos, leading the gods to be unreachable, and arcane magic (which also has a connection to dragons) to damage the world, depleting it of what little of its quintessential material substance remains in the absence of dragons?

To be clear, I don’t especially like this idea. I rather hope it’s just the tinfoil making total nonsense seem plausible. But, it’s a direction I could see them taking for a Dark Sun re-imagining.

I can see them going this route and honestly, I’m pretty neutral towards it. As far as Athas is concerned, it doesn’t really matter to me why arcane magic is so potentially destructive to the environment, only that it is.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I recognize that WotC has made a decision.

But given that it's a stupid decision I have elected to ignore it.

Having Dragons "Tied to the Prime Material Plane" like outsiders are to their planes is just so, so, myopically bad. They can keep their "All planets have dragons" they can keep their "Weave", they can keep their ridiculous attempts to create a perfectly unified cosmology that stunts any attempt at creating something different.

Why do these people feel the need to create a grand unification of disparate stories and ideas to one bland mush? I hate it.
 


Scribe

Hero
Why do these people feel the need to create a grand unification of disparate stories and ideas to one bland mush? I hate it.
To some, there is an almost cellular level call to find that 'grand unified theory' if you will.

I can appreciate that its not for everyone, and I would rather some world simply not be part of the 'multiverse' at all, but...systems make my dopamine spike when they all come together. :)
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
To some, there is an almost cellular level call to find that 'grand unified theory' if you will.

I can appreciate that its not for everyone, and I would rather some world simply not be part of the 'multiverse' at all, but...systems make my dopamine spike when they all come together. :)
I'm, honestly, -fine- with a Multiverse.

But if EVERYTHING IS THE SAME except who is hanging out on the Prime Material Plane it's not really all that "Multiversal" is it?

Gotta have some universes where Sigil blowed up real good. Where the Fire Elemental Plane gets snuffed out. Where Asmodeus is the -good guy- for a change...
 


Scribe

Hero
I'm, honestly, -fine- with a Multiverse.

But if EVERYTHING IS THE SAME except who is hanging out on the Prime Material Plane it's not really all that "Multiversal" is it?

Gotta have some universes where Sigil blowed up real good. Where the Fire Elemental Plane gets snuffed out. Where Asmodeus is the -good guy- for a change...
Your right, thats not the word I was going for. Multiverse, with multiple Sigils, is not at all what I like.

"Grand Unified Theory of the Planes" is more what I'm looking at.
 

The Glen

Hero
I'm, honestly, -fine- with a Multiverse.

But if EVERYTHING IS THE SAME except who is hanging out on the Prime Material Plane it's not really all that "Multiversal" is it?

Gotta have some universes where Sigil blowed up real good. Where the Fire Elemental Plane gets snuffed out. Where Asmodeus is the -good guy- for a change...
Elves and dwarves living together, mass hysteria!

Then it raises the question how far can you go from the original before its a different version with just the same name? The difference is what makes the settings better. I like Athas being a self-inflicted wasteland. Mystara's Immortals forbidding most outsiders from visiting. Birthright and its second-tier gods in charge now. If a setting specifically doesn't have something, don't force it just because the Realms has it.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I’d go the other way to update Athas. It was a world like any other with the same echoes as the rest. Keep the original idea of the halfling history from the Dark Sun lore, but include dragons in the way back times. But one dragon gets jealous and starts hoarding power. It starts killing off the other dragons and taking their power. It keeps going and going. Destroying the other dragons of Athas. Wiping them out. All of them. It gets so powerful it challenges the gods. And to keep this dragon from slaughtering the gods and all the other dragons on all the other worlds the gods and dragons seal off Athas. The dragon flips and starts rampaging across Athas. The halflings have to create arcane magic and defiling to stop the dragon. They finally defeat it, but the land is ravaged. Not as bad as “present day” Athas, but it’s the start. Eons later, Rajaat’s Champions learn of the dragon and try to emulate its power. But they are only pale shadows in comparison.
 

Maybe there were dragons in Athas, but they disappeared, or they are in other continents because they don't want conflicts with the sorcerer-kings, at least no yet.

The first book of Dragonlance saga is "the Return of the Dragons", this means these disappeared for the age of the despair until the war of the lance.

And we don't know if spinewyrms are true dragons. Dragon Magazine said they were, but now it is not canon. Maybe this "shape" is a costume, and their true shape is different because they don't want to be discovered by the sorcerer-kings and the rest of spellcasters with potential predator intentions.

CKrfthLUsAAL_5u.jpg


In Dark Sun the "dragons" are the sorcerer-kings, the former champions of Rajaat who "digievolutioned".
 

Aldarc

Legend
So, I recently watched this interview with James Wyatt about the First World idea that has been hinted at in Tasha’s and now again in Fizban’s:


In brief, the First World was originally the only world in the material plane, but at some point it shattered into countless fragments, each containing echoes of the First World. Basically, an in-universe explanation for all the different settings and worlds people play D&D in, and why so many common elements exist between them all. In this interview, James goes into some more detail about the First World that we learn in Fizban’s - namely, that it was created by Bahamut and Tiamat, it was populated by dragons, and dragons on all the various fragments or “seedlings” of the First World throughout the material plane are echoes of their First World counterparts. He also talks a bit about how dragons are fundamentally tied to the material plane, in the same way that celestials are fundamentally tied to the upper planes and fiends to the lower planes.

So, this got me thinking, if they’re rolling with this lore as a way to canonically connect various D&D settings together, and dragons are the “outsiders” native to each world within the material plane… What does that say about Athas? Well, I put on my +5 Tinfoil Helm of Baseless Speculation, and here’s what I came up with:

Athas exists within the material plane, so in this canon it must be a seedling of the First World, right? But apart from the Sorcerer Kings, there are no true dragons there. No echoes of the original inhabitants of the First World, which are deeply metaphysically connected to the substance of the material plane itself. Could it be that, in this new canon, this is the reason Athas is so messed up? That without these echoes connecting Athas to the First World, it has become unmoored from the rest of the cosmos, leading the gods to be unreachable, and arcane magic (which also has a connection to dragons) to damage the world, depleting it of what little of its quintessential material substance remains in the absence of dragons?

To be clear, I don’t especially like this idea. I rather hope it’s just the tinfoil making total nonsense seem plausible. But, it’s a direction I could see them taking for a Dark Sun re-imagining.
Meanwhile, seemingly on the opposite end of the spectrum there is Eberron. :unsure:
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
So, I recently watched this interview with James Wyatt about the First World idea that has been hinted at in Tasha’s and now again in Fizban’s:


In brief, the First World was originally the only world in the material plane, but at some point it shattered into countless fragments, each containing echoes of the First World. Basically, an in-universe explanation for all the different settings and worlds people play D&D in, and why so many common elements exist between them all. In this interview, James goes into some more detail about the First World that we learn in Fizban’s - namely, that it was created by Bahamut and Tiamat, it was populated by dragons, and dragons on all the various fragments or “seedlings” of the First World throughout the material plane are echoes of their First World counterparts. He also talks a bit about how dragons are fundamentally tied to the material plane, in the same way that celestials are fundamentally tied to the upper planes and fiends to the lower planes.

So, this got me thinking, if they’re rolling with this lore as a way to canonically connect various D&D settings together, and dragons are the “outsiders” native to each world within the material plane… What does that say about Athas? Well, I put on my +5 Tinfoil Helm of Baseless Speculation, and here’s what I came up with:

Athas exists within the material plane, so in this canon it must be a seedling of the First World, right? But apart from the Sorcerer Kings, there are no true dragons there. No echoes of the original inhabitants of the First World, which are deeply metaphysically connected to the substance of the material plane itself. Could it be that, in this new canon, this is the reason Athas is so messed up? That without these echoes connecting Athas to the First World, it has become unmoored from the rest of the cosmos, leading the gods to be unreachable, and arcane magic (which also has a connection to dragons) to damage the world, depleting it of what little of its quintessential material substance remains in the absence of dragons?

To be clear, I don’t especially like this idea. I rather hope it’s just the tinfoil making total nonsense seem plausible. But, it’s a direction I could see them taking for a Dark Sun re-imagining.
Maybe Athas is the remnant planet of the First World, and the reason it doesn't truly have dragons is because they were scattered across the "Seedling Worlds" of the D&D Multiverse? This could explain why Athas doesn't have Gods, too. The Shattering of the First World could have been caused by the ancient mages abusing arcane magic, which rid the world of dragons and gods, and caused the world to begin to die, or something like that.
 

TheSword

Legend
I like the idea @Charlaquin Athas has no dragons of its own and this leaves a void in the souls of the people there including an absence of Magic.

Rajat created a false approximation of Magic, just like the end result of this was a false approximation of a dragon.

Interestingly there were dragons in Athas other than sorcerer kings. The adventure Black Sands features one such individual.
 

Bitbrain

Location: Arrakis
I’d go the other way to update Athas. It was a world like any other with the same echoes as the rest. Keep the original idea of the halfling history from the Dark Sun lore, but include dragons in the way back times. But one dragon gets jealous and starts hoarding power. It starts killing off the other dragons and taking their power. It keeps going and going. Destroying the other dragons of Athas. Wiping them out. All of them. It gets so powerful it challenges the gods. And to keep this dragon from slaughtering the gods and all the other dragons on all the other worlds the gods and dragons seal off Athas. The dragon flips and starts rampaging across Athas. The halflings have to create arcane magic and defiling to stop the dragon. They finally defeat it, but the land is ravaged. Not as bad as “present day” Athas, but it’s the start. Eons later, Rajaat’s Champions learn of the dragon and try to emulate its power. But they are only pale shadows in comparison.

...this is kind of similar to the background story I use for my home game interpretation of Athas.

My version is that the primordials defeat the Athasian gods in the Dawn War, but the true dragons (who were created by the gods as shock troops) refused to submit. Each true dragon established an empire of their own and ruled over the various humanoids, outlawing elemental worship in their territories as a “screw you” to the primordials.

Eventually, these dragon-emperors started fighting each other in genocidal “cleansing wars”. The last true dragon left standing is Borys of Ebe, who absorbed the powers of all his cousins he had defeated and devoured, and basically ascended to Great Wyrm status. Borys won, but the wars didn’t end.

First, a meteor fell from the sky and destroyed Ebe. Borys survived but was driven mad with pain and started rampaging across the globe. Meanwhile, the lesser sorcerer-kings that had once sworn oaths of fealty to Borys started fighting each other.

Fast forwards who knows how far into the future, and you’ve got present-day Athas, a desert planet orbiting a red giant star.

Of course, my version of Athas isn’t “blocked” off. It’s more like the different settings are alternate timelines of each other.
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!

Gonna go with... ".....nnnaaaahh....".

Seems to be another attempt to "Sigil'ify" D&D; I never liked Sigil's "background" because it stepped directly on the toes of every DM who had a campaign running before it. Like TSR was trying to "claim some sort of 'ownership/connection'" to a DM's campaign. Think of it like some big company writing a popular Sci-Fi series that then uses it's market dominance to claim that EVERY other Sci-Fi show or movie that has starships in it are all tied directly into "their" Sci-Fi series. "Star Trek? Yeah, I guess that would be technically part of our universe. Star Wars? Yup, tied to ours as well. The Expanse, uh huh, fits with our Unifying Universe. I mean, no we don't actually claim to own those series or universes...but they would be a part of ours I guess. You know, if we bought those IP's they'd fit right in with no modifications needed. But hey, ignore that if you want. In our game though, yeah, all part of OUR universe".

Just rubs me the wrong way. Then again I'm old, so someone using the word "infer" when they should have used "imply" rubs me the wrong way! Now get offa my lawn!!! ;)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

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