Really Real Animals on Athas



Jan 25, 2004 13:14:02
After having collected, read, and played Dark Sun for over ten years, I've noticed a surprising and totally refreshing lack of Really Real World animals on Athas. Of course, this opens up as many problems as it does solutions, so I ask this question: How many Really Real World animals exist on Athas?

--wondering if I should include certain Really Real World parasites NB


Jan 25, 2004 14:32:51
I suspect most of the lower animals are on Athas such as insects, fish, birds, reptiles and small mammals. Though, they would not look like they do here on Earth. Imagine a cockroch with 8 legs instead of 6 or birds that look almost reptilian. Also, they would be bigger.

The Future Is Wild, had a lot of interesting animals. Most were very Dark Sun.


Jan 25, 2004 21:14:46
Along these lines, does anyone else suspect that the landscape of Athas isn't quite as barren as its made out to be? Maybe its a misconception on my part, but when I first began reading about Athas I had the impression that it was a wasteland. That wonderful piece, Athasian Ecology, started putting it all into perspective for me. The more I think about things, the more Athas has to be more hospitable (or maybe the word is survivable) than it is let on to be...

(I know, I just spake blasphemy)

Anyway, I haven't come close to really thinking about this, it is one my things to do list though.

More to the point of the thread. I believe I've seen people post a list of natural animals... perhaps they could be made more athasian by little cosmetic changes, like giving a desert fox lizard like skin and making furry salamanders... perhaps I should just stop now.

just to say, Nero's Boot, I'm enjoying your recent spat of posts very much.


Jan 26, 2004 0:46:17
Nope, it's a wasteland. That doesn't mean there's no life, just that the life that survived the Cleansing Wars, the Dragon, and the millenia that followed had to change a great deal to survive. Are there still rabbits? Sure. They might have a tentacle coming out of their heads, or the ability to spit poison, or meat that turns instantly rancid, but they're still rabbits at heart. Lizards? You name it. Deer? Nope.

Think of Athas as the doomed world presented in Mad Max (first, second, third, doesn't really matter). There isn't much in the way of wildlife that you ever see, thanks to (what we think is) nuclear war. Is it out there? Yar, prolly so, but it's changed.

In another post, I mentioned the fact that someone (me or whoever) needs to make an ecology book for Athas that talks about these weird "tweener" critters that feed and support the ecosystem. Yes, I've read the Athasian Ecology booklet, but it seemed to be missing large chunks and glazed over some of the larger problems with an ecosystem on the absolute edge of collapse.

Another fact to consider when thinking about Athas is that probably none of the animals, even during the Green Age, were "normal." Why? Because Athas used to be completely covered with water. The Halflings had to make races to fill the gaps. Evolution is probably still taking its course for the other animals and plants. For this reason, you're going to find odd sharks with tentacles or the afore mentioned poison-spitting. quick-rotting rabbit.

That's my two cps. If I ever get around to actually making that book, I'll definitely be hitting you guys up for ideas, though. To do anything else would be exceedingly stupid.

Keep em coming.


Jan 26, 2004 1:26:49
I grew up in the U.S. heartland. Later on I began moving about a ton. Had you asked me then what a desert was, I would have said a barren wasteland. If you asked me then what lived in a desert, I probably would have said 'Not much.' Then I moved to the desert, Arizona. After a year, I really learned that a desert is most certainly not a wasteland. Even the supposedly barren nothingness of sand dunes up north wasn't nearly as barren as I had thought. There's thousands of things living there. Life abounds every few inches. Most of the time, its far more noticible in the sparse bush growth than it is in a densly packed forest. If things on Earth got really bad, global warming and all that and the seas began to shrink, etc, we, humans, would be the first to start dying off in droves, long before everything else. So, if Athas is soo bad, but yet still adaptable enough for humans, you bet your arse that other life has also adapted. There are still places on earth that we can't live without aid (the hottest deserts and the coldest regions of antarctica), yet there's always some kind of life there living out its days just fine and dandy. The harsher the climate, the less variety and abundance of life, but its still there. Middle of the Sahara desert? Almost no people, but 20+ varieties of snakes, several hundred varieties of insects, a few types of mice, camels (back when they were still wild), horses even (once again, back when they were wild too), shrews, jerboa (micy little things), hedgehogs (go Sonic!), sand cats, foxes, carcal, leopards, monitor lizards, gazelle, addax (think gazelle, but much bigger and mean as heck), eagles, and more owls than you can shake something big and shakey-like at. And yes, most of these things can be found living in the inner deserts (which btw, are more akin to rocky badlands and much harder on the life living there than the outlying sand dunes due to dryness levels)

Sooo . . . sorry, but your not going to convince me so easily that Athas is a totally barren and dejected wasteland of only scant humanoids and some wandering monsterous beings. Granted, I doubt Athas has the ever so adorable sand cat popping its furry little head out of a hole in a dune, unless its to unleash a few psionic blasts at the party before purring away, but I do think that Athas has clear biodiversity of species. And no, not every single life form need be the kind that you stat out to throw at a party. A desert shrew can be just that, adaptive and canny about dodging predators like our own desert shrew (but it would be nice if it had huge pointy teeth, just for fun).


Oh yeah, I do agree though that the common stock of animals that Athas had during the green age was likely to be far different from what we know of in real life. A few things perhaps, like lions, but then again, even these may have simply been made up mythical creatures that never existed before.


Jan 26, 2004 2:50:33
The players' flipbook for "Arcane Shadows" shows some regular athasian animals. Look at the picture of Korgunard standing in the valley at the end - you'll see three little animals at his feet. One is a sort of hare with a dorsal ridge like a stegosaur (maybe that's your Rotspit Rabbit, Dawnstealer ;) ), one is a lizard (looks a bit like a mini monoceratops) and the last is a really wierd one-eyed blue mole or something. The adventure also mentions some animal (a groundmole, iirc) that helps lead the PCs into Desverendi's valley.

(Now I want to go and look at all the other flipbooks and make a list of all the little animals that appear in the pictures...dear oh dear)


Jan 26, 2004 10:58:09
Okay, two things:

Mach: With a normal desert, I'd agree with you: loads of critters and things all existing in a natural ecosystem. The catch? Athas' ecosystem isn't normal. It didn't evolve into what it is: it was blasted into its current state by hiddeous use of life-destroying magic, which is where the nuclear wasteland came into play. Even so, I agree that there must be numerous animals that are unaccounted for, which is why I stated that a book that codifies all the "tweener" critters is important. I'll make something one of these days...once I'm finished with the monster drawings and a few other projects I'm working on.

Kammy, my friend: DON'T RELY ON BAXA DRAWINGS. While prolific, he doesn't exactly study up or read critter descriptions. Trust me, you and I (and everyone else that reads these boards) could come up with much more accurate critters that are the "norms."

Again, the norms on Athas might be quite a bit different from Earth as Athas, in its current state, is not a normal, balanced ecosystem. Even so, there would have to be hardy plants and animals (that aren't a threat to people) that exist to the current day.


Jan 26, 2004 11:53:40
Kammy, my friend: DON'T RELY ON BAXA DRAWINGS. While prolific, he doesn't exactly study up or read critter descriptions. Trust me, you and I (and everyone else that reads these boards) could come up with much more accurate critters that are the "norms."

*sniff* But I like the cyclopic blue mole...:D


Jan 26, 2004 12:22:41
Baxa had issues, but I wouldn't totally rule out anything he did for DS.

Some, if not most of what he did for DS I liked in some degree, I just happen to like Brom's stuff better is all.



Jan 26, 2004 13:09:36
Dollar's work in TKs of Athas, diTerlizzi's work in City State of Tyr, Brom's work in everything. Baxa has some good work, but, again, he had a tendency to kind of blur over what he was reading and just draw what he wanted. I respect that, but it's not useful if you're a GM who needs to quickly describe something to a player.