Dark Sun: Shattered Lands
Slavery and Freedom: The Seven Cities adhere to
hierarchies that grant rights, impose rules, and divvy
responsibilities. Unsurprisingly, the heaviest burdens
fall to the lowest class. Thus, slaves shoulder the simultaneously
mundane and vital tasks that enable the
city-states to function. Characters might begin their
heroic careers as slaves in any number of roles—laborers,
guards, gladiators, or servants—and find freedom
through happenstance, negotiation, battle, or subterfuge.
Alternatively, opportunistic slavers would think
nothing of capturing free people and selling them into
servitude. Adventurers would likely be lucrative to
such malign individuals.
Survival and Danger: Athas’s wastelands are harsh
and unforgiving. Travel from one settlement to another,
even along a well-used road, is still a gamble. Unscrupulous
raiders, vicious monsters, savage tribes, and the
oppressive environment can mean a quick death for
weak or foolhardy people. Running out of food or water
rations, getting lost in feature-starved flats, and crossing
hazardous terrain are pressing dangers, particularly
when travelers venture off the trade routes.
Intrigue and Authority: Even though the city-states
offer protection from the wilds, life within their walls
can be just as savage. Athasians are survivors by nature,
and they take advantage of opportunities to get ahead,
even if it means stepping on the backs of others. The
sorcerer-kings, nobles, and powerful merchants wield
varying levels of influence, and characters could easily
become embroiled in faction conflicts. Many power
groups operate on the sly. The Veiled Alliance, for example,
discreetly employs sympathetic outsiders to aid
particular schemes, provide distractions, or act as cover
for its various operations.
Discovery and Desolation: Athas’s wastelands
entomb secret locales, including ruins from the forgotten
ages before the world was dying, ancient bunkers
in which the sorcerer-kings have locked away powerful
knowledge, magically concealed sites that inexplicably
gather power, and lairs of terrible primordial and elemental
beings bent on sowing despair and destruction.
Characters might be compelled to unravel a mystery or
seek out a particularly lucrative relic or secret.