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Climate Change and Nithia

by Sharon Dornhoff

I was flipping through the Nithian HWR, yesterday, and I hit upon a bit of a puzzle: If the Alasiyan Desert is supposed to be so hot, because renegade fire elementals broke loose during Nithia's fall and are camping out in the part of the Plane of Fire that lies parallel to it... then why didn't ancient Nithia have a temperate climate, BEFORE the Empire collapsed? Judging by its latitude and the adjacent realms' climates, the Alasiyan Basin should've been a COLD desert -- a bit like the IRL Gobi, perhaps, complete with icy winds and an occasional snowfall in the wintertime -- until those elementals started heating up the land. And THAT supposedly didn't happen, until AFTER the Nithian Empire was falling apart! So how come the HW Nithians weren't given a temperate zone, to live in; and how come their clothes and houses -- unchanged since Mystara, or so the SoP ensures -- aren't suited for colder conditions than the HW desert's unending heat?

The most likely explanation that's occurred to me, so far, is that Mystara actually went through a warm spell, between 2200 BC (when the Antalians were thriving in Norwold) and 1700 BC (when volcanism and the Broken Lands device sent temperatures into a tailspin). This warming trend could have been what kicked off the first permanent settlements along the River Nithia -- rather like the dawn of agriculture coincided with the beginning of our current interglacial period, on Earth -- and it led them to adopt a way of life that was suited to a warmer climate than would normally be present in Ylaruam, in the absence of magical/elemental intervention.

Later, as the climate steadily cooled down over the course of the 1600s BC, the Nithian civilisation -- which hadn't ever coped with frigid winters, before! -- sought to stave off the chill through the ambitious development of fire-magics, covert alliances with fire elementals, and increased appeals to a specific Immortal of fire (Rathanos). Indeed, Rathanos might have previously been of limited importance to their pantheon. Once fire became the key to reversing the dreaded cooling-trend, however, Rathanos' priesthood -- along with the nascent Magian Fire Worshippers, a cult of magic-users with a similar reverence for flame -- gained much greater authority, eventually dominating all of Nithia.

This not only explains why a fire-cult could be so successful in a desert culture -- who, after all, would SEEM to have far more reason to cherish water, than fire! -- but it may also account for why the Nithians launched so many colonisation efforts south of their own lands (something which the IRL Egyptians never felt any need to do). The Traldar, Thothian, and Savage Coast expeditions might each have been attempts to found a new, warmer place for the Nithians to relocate to, should the plan to reverse their homeland's climate-change through fire-magics prove a failure. The plan did not fail, however: the fire elementals' intervention heated up the Alasiyan Basin again, to a temperature which the Nithians found livable; and they would continue to do so, even after the Nithian Empire collapsed.

So, does anyone else think this might work, to account for both Nithia's fire-fetish, AND its colonisation efforts....? Or am I barking up the wrong tree here?