What was the Brown Tide?

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What was the Brown Tide?

Postby Zeromaru X » Mon Aug 29, 2016 7:19 am

I going to make a Dark Sun timeline that reconciles both, 2e and 4e timelines, with stuff like the Blue Age that wasn't covered in 4e, or the war against the Primordials, that wasn't covered in 2e (for obvious reasons). I've researched in some Dark Sun websites and found some timelines that cover the history of Athas. As the 4e books didn't covered stuff like the Blue Age, there are some stuff that is new to me even when I've read the lore in the 4e books. What called most of my attention was this Brown Tide.

What was this Brown Tide? It was something the halflings of the Blue Age created? Or is something that I can attribute to the war against the Primordials?
What effect it has in the World? Beyond killing most of the ocean, I mean.
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Re: What was the Brown Tide?

Postby agathokles » Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:25 am

I don't know about the 4e version. In the original, the Brown Tide is an ecological disaster brought forth by the genetic engineering ("lifeshaping" is the term used, IIRC) experiments of the Halflings aiming at an increased productivity of algae cultivation.
Dark Sun takes a lot of inspiration from sources such as Dune, so the theme of ecological disasters caused by human (or demi-human, in this case) interference is quite prevalent.
The effect was basically to create an abnormal production of mucilage (not much different from what actually happened in the Adriatic Sea in the real world).
Note that the oceans at the end of the Blue Age did not entirely disappear: Athas was a waterworld during the Blue Age -- Halflings lived in archipelagoes (which likely was the evolutionary cause for their reduced size) and had developed extensive seagoing technology (wind-based, as they likely could not get fossil fuels).

To stop the Brown Tide, the Halflings created the Pristine Tower, unleashing Psionics as well as mutagenic energies, which led to the birth of many new races (among which the Humans, Elves, Dwarves, etc.). Note that this justifies the ability of the various races to interbreed, as they are all basically mutated halflings.

The end of the Blue Age led to the Green Age, when Athas became a typical Earth-like planet. At this time, the main differences between Athas and a typical D&D world were:
  • Initial absence of arcane magic: magic was discovered near the end of this age by the Halfling Raajat, and taught to humans, elves and others (preserving magic only; Raajat discovered also defiling magic, but taught that only to a select number of humans)
  • Widespread presence and use of Psionics: all races have Psionic potential in Dark Sun, and Psionics were the prevalent form of supernatural power in the Green Age.

So, you could attribute the Brown Tide to the war against the Primordials (it is a very remote event, and only a few people on Athas know about it in modern times), but IMO this detracts from the setting.

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Re: What was the Brown Tide?

Postby ripvanwormer » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:34 am

Although note--and I think all subsequent sources ignored this, but I feel like it's still worth mentioning--that the adventure Black Spine suggested that psionic abilities might have awakened within the races of Athas as a result of a psionic bomb set off by the githzerai against githyanki invaders. The bomb also mutated the githyanki into Athasian giths.
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Re: What was the Brown Tide?

Postby Zeromaru X » Mon Aug 29, 2016 2:56 pm

agathokles wrote:I don't know about the 4e version.


4e brief Dark Sun history section began with the Green Age, and is very short, with nothing detailed. Is just a small summary of "the Green Age existed, but came to an end because the war of the Red Age, and the world was destroyed. Now we live in the Desert Age." The Red Age is the time were the Cleansing Wars happened. There are tales of possible eras that preceded the Green Age, but no definite knowledge remains in the world, at least in the point of view of the common people. However, is hinted the sorcerer-kings know more.

And so, all this stuff of the Blue Age, such as the Brown Tide or the halflings being the original Dark Sun race is new to me (though, the 4e Creature Catalog says the halflings are one of the oldest races...)

4e also introduces the concept of the "gods vs primordials" war in Athas, and explains there is no gods in this world because the primordials won that war and killed them all, or drove away the few survivors (unlike worlds such as Forgotten Realms or the Nentir Vale, where gods were the victors). There are two known primordials asleep in Athas. One, in the Sea of Silt, is called Ul-Athra (also known as the Dust Kraken, or the Mouths of Thirst), credited as the creature that spawned the silt horrors. It have a cult, and some people believe he is the reason the ocean disappeared, but there is no definite truth (that's left to the DM).

The other is Herumar, the Sand Scourge, who is sleeping in the Endless Sand Dunes, and also have cult of elemental worshippers, but nothing more is known.

Nobody among the common people knows since when those beings exists in Athas, and how they came to this world, though is possible that the sorcerer-kings know about this.
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Re: What was the Brown Tide?

Postby Big Mac » Tue Aug 30, 2016 1:31 pm

agathokles wrote:I don't know about the 4e version. In the original, the Brown Tide is an ecological disaster brought forth by the genetic engineering ("lifeshaping" is the term used, IIRC) experiments of the Halflings aiming at an increased productivity of algae cultivation.
Dark Sun takes a lot of inspiration from sources such as Dune, so the theme of ecological disasters caused by human (or demi-human, in this case) interference is quite prevalent.
The effect was basically to create an abnormal production of mucilage (not much different from what actually happened in the Adriatic Sea in the real world).
Note that the oceans at the end of the Blue Age did not entirely disappear: Athas was a waterworld during the Blue Age -- Halflings lived in archipelagoes (which likely was the evolutionary cause for their reduced size) and had developed extensive seagoing technology (wind-based, as they likely could not get fossil fuels).


So was this Brown Tide thing a change in the sea, with the seawater all turning brown? :o
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Re: What was the Brown Tide?

Postby apotheot » Tue Aug 30, 2016 2:40 pm

Zeromaru X wrote:I going to make a Dark Sun timeline that reconciles both, 2e and 4e timelines, with stuff like the Blue Age that wasn't covered in 4e, or the war against the Primordials, that wasn't covered in 2e (for obvious reasons). I've researched in some Dark Sun websites and found some timelines that cover the history of Athas. As the 4e books didn't covered stuff like the Blue Age, there are some stuff that is new to me even when I've read the lore in the 4e books. What called most of my attention was this Brown Tide.

What was this Brown Tide? It was something the halflings of the Blue Age created? Or is something that I can attribute to the war against the Primordials?
What effect it has in the World? Beyond killing most of the ocean, I mean.



Not much of a timeline for 4e version, though I have put many hours into something similar. I'll see if I can find my file and get you a copy. In any event, make sure you are scouring 4e sources as there are some odd bits of lore that pop up in strange places.
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Re: What was the Brown Tide?

Postby agathokles » Tue Aug 30, 2016 10:29 pm

Big Mac wrote:
agathokles wrote:I don't know about the 4e version. In the original, the Brown Tide is an ecological disaster brought forth by the genetic engineering ("lifeshaping" is the term used, IIRC) experiments of the Halflings aiming at an increased productivity of algae cultivation.
Dark Sun takes a lot of inspiration from sources such as Dune, so the theme of ecological disasters caused by human (or demi-human, in this case) interference is quite prevalent.
The effect was basically to create an abnormal production of mucilage (not much different from what actually happened in the Adriatic Sea in the real world).
Note that the oceans at the end of the Blue Age did not entirely disappear: Athas was a waterworld during the Blue Age -- Halflings lived in archipelagoes (which likely was the evolutionary cause for their reduced size) and had developed extensive seagoing technology (wind-based, as they likely could not get fossil fuels).


So was this Brown Tide thing a change in the sea, with the seawater all turning brown? :o


Yes.
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Re: What was the Brown Tide?

Postby Tim Baker » Wed Aug 31, 2016 12:16 am

Zeromaru X wrote:some people believe he is the reason the ocean disappeared, but there is no definite truth (that's left to the DM).

Does anyone know what the 2e explanation for the current state of Athas is? Does the Dust Kraken fit into it? Does the Dust Kraken even receive mention in 2e? Perhaps we can reconcile these stories.
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Re: What was the Brown Tide?

Postby XstarkillerX » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:41 am

Big Mac wrote:
agathokles wrote:I don't know about the 4e version. In the original, the Brown Tide is an ecological disaster brought forth by the genetic engineering ("lifeshaping" is the term used, IIRC) experiments of the Halflings aiming at an increased productivity of algae cultivation.
Dark Sun takes a lot of inspiration from sources such as Dune, so the theme of ecological disasters caused by human (or demi-human, in this case) interference is quite prevalent.
The effect was basically to create an abnormal production of mucilage (not much different from what actually happened in the Adriatic Sea in the real world).
Note that the oceans at the end of the Blue Age did not entirely disappear: Athas was a waterworld during the Blue Age -- Halflings lived in archipelagoes (which likely was the evolutionary cause for their reduced size) and had developed extensive seagoing technology (wind-based, as they likely could not get fossil fuels).


So was this Brown Tide thing a change in the sea, with the seawater all turning brown? :o

So basically the Brown Tide was a Sh** Wave :mrgreen:
Sorry, I couldn't resist.
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Re: What was the Brown Tide?

Postby agathokles » Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:07 am

Tim Baker wrote:
Zeromaru X wrote:some people believe he is the reason the ocean disappeared, but there is no definite truth (that's left to the DM).

Does anyone know what the 2e explanation for the current state of Athas is? Does the Dust Kraken fit into it? Does the Dust Kraken even receive mention in 2e? Perhaps we can reconcile these stories.


There is no Dust Kraken in 2e. The current age was due to the Cleansing War waged by Rajaat and his champions to exterminate all sentient races except humans and Halflings. The champions discovered that Rajaat planned to dispose of them and the other humans as well, and betrayed him. They used the magic of the pristine tower once more, which altered the sun. Also, the widespread use of defiling magic in the war caused desertification.

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Re: What was the Brown Tide?

Postby Tim Baker » Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:28 am

agathokles wrote:There is no Dust Kraken in 2e. The current age was due to the Cleansing War waged by Rajaat and his champions to exterminate all sentient races except humans and Halflings. The champions discovered that Rajaat planned to dispose of them and the other humans as well, and betrayed him. They used the magic of the pristine tower once more, which altered the sun. Also, the widespread use of defiling magic in the war caused desertification.

That rings a bell, now that you mention it. Thanks!
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Re: What was the Brown Tide?

Postby Zeromaru X » Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:08 am

XstarkillerX wrote:So basically the Brown Tide was a Sh** Wave :mrgreen:
Sorry, I couldn't resist.


That's why other races dislike halflings (?)

agathokles wrote:
Tim Baker wrote:
Zeromaru X wrote:some people believe he is the reason the ocean disappeared, but there is no definite truth (that's left to the DM).

Does anyone know what the 2e explanation for the current state of Athas is? Does the Dust Kraken fit into it? Does the Dust Kraken even receive mention in 2e? Perhaps we can reconcile these stories.


There is no Dust Kraken in 2e. The current age was due to the Cleansing War waged by Rajaat and his champions to exterminate all sentient races except humans and Halflings. The champions discovered that Rajaat planned to dispose of them and the other humans as well, and betrayed him. They used the magic of the pristine tower once more, which altered the sun. Also, the widespread use of defiling magic in the war caused desertification.

GP


So, there is no a specific answer about what destroyed the oceans beyond "too much defiling" and the Pristine Tower? Guess those halflings weren't as enlightened as Rajaat paint them, creating such a weapon that potentially can destroy even their own race...

I guess a DM can easily reconcile those three concepts (the Pristine Tower, the defiling and Ul-Athra) as the reasons from the current state of Athas.
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Re: What was the Brown Tide?

Postby Zeromaru X » Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:11 am

XstarkillerX wrote:So basically the Brown Tide was a Sh** Wave :mrgreen:
Sorry, I couldn't resist.


That's why other races dislike halflings (?)

Tim Baker wrote:
Zeromaru X wrote:some people believe he is the reason the ocean disappeared, but there is no definite truth (that's left to the DM).

Does anyone know what the 2e explanation for the current state of Athas is? Does the Dust Kraken fit into it? Does the Dust Kraken even receive mention in 2e? Perhaps we can reconcile these stories.


If fact, Ul-Athra is only blamed as a potential cause of the disappearance of the oceans. The disappearance of green zones and stuff is blamed on the Sorcerer-Kings and other defilers.

agathokles wrote:There is no Dust Kraken in 2e. The current age was due to the Cleansing War waged by Rajaat and his champions to exterminate all sentient races except humans and Halflings. The champions discovered that Rajaat planned to dispose of them and the other humans as well, and betrayed him. They used the magic of the pristine tower once more, which altered the sun. Also, the widespread use of defiling magic in the war caused desertification.

GP


So, there is no a specific answer about what destroyed Athas beyond "too much defiling" and the Pristine Tower? Guess those halflings weren't as enlightened as Rajaat paint them, creating such a weapon that potentially can destroy even their own race...

I guess a DM can easily reconcile those three concepts (the Pristine Tower, the defiling and Ul-Athra) as the reasons from the current state of Athas.
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Re: What was the Brown Tide?

Postby agathokles » Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:38 am

No, other races dislike Halflings because they are cannibals... no one remembers the Green Age as more than a vague legend, except the former Champions and a few other exceedingly long lived beings.

The problem with the 4e version is that by attributing the major changes to the primordials, it detracts from the core theme of the setting (the world is dying because of excessive magical exploitation). That the defiling magic wielded by mages caused the desertification is one of the few things everybody knows about the past, which is why mags are hated.

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Re: What was the Brown Tide?

Postby Zeromaru X » Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:57 am

Defiling magic is one of the greatest reasons Athas is a desert world in 4e. Eladrin, for example, forbid the use of arcane magic on pain of death, because defiling destroyed the Feywild of Athas. What remains of that plane is no bigger than the city of Tyr.

Ul-Athra is just a potential cause for the oceans disappearance (its up to the DM whether that is true or not). The only true fact of Ul-Athra in 4e DS is that it spawned the Silt horrors.
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Re: What was the Brown Tide?

Postby Jaid » Sat Sep 03, 2016 6:06 am

minor notes:

1) i'm pretty sure rajaat is actually a pyreen. a corrupted, twisted pyreen, and also the first defiler in the world, but a pyreen nonetheless.

2) nobody would hate the halflings for the cleansing wars because the halflings weren't involved in the cleansing wars. the cleansing wars were actually conducted by humans (led by the champions of rajaat), primarily human defilers, against almost every other intelligent race on the planet (including a number of human preservers, among others), and the halflings were pretty much totally left out of it.
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Re: What was the Brown Tide?

Postby Alzrius » Fri Sep 09, 2016 5:50 pm

Jaid wrote:minor notes:

1) i'm pretty sure rajaat is actually a pyreen. a corrupted, twisted pyreen, and also the first defiler in the world, but a pyreen nonetheless.


I'm glad someone else said this.

Rajaat was a pyreen who, unlike the rest of his kind, was born hideously ugly and malformed. He apparently spent centuries hating himself for this, until he eventually turned his hatred outwards and declared that, just like himself, the entire Rebirth (the multiplicity of new races that sprung up at the beginning of the Green Age) had been a mistake. He wanted (and still wants) to return all of Athas to the Blue Age; the Cleansing Wars were the first step in that process, whereby the new races were to be killed off; however, his Champions - who had thought that humans would inherit the world - found out what Rajaat's real goal was and turned on him before the Cleansing Wars were finished.
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