Sorcerer Kings

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Sorcerer-Kings edit

In as much as certain City-States are known, so too are the Sorcerer-Kings who rule them. About the Sorcerer-Kings generally:

  • They are powerful Defilers, masters of Magic
  • Each has promoted him/herself to God status within his/her City-States and erected temples in his/her name as such.
  • They are Godlike in the sense that they grant prayer powers to their Templars, the priesthood of their personal temples.
  • Are they thus Gods?
  • Yet, they are not unending. Giustenal, Kalidnay, and Yaramuke all lie in ruin despite claiming a patron sorcerer at some point in the past. Legend only names two of the three deceased: Lord Dregoth and Sorceress Sielba.
  • They answer to The Dragon. Or, at least, they pay homage to The Dragon in the form of 1,000 sacrificed denizens (usually enemies of state and slaves) per year. If the Sorcerer-Kings are nigh Gods, what manner of power is The Dragon?
Queen Abalach-Re, Great Vizier of Raam edit top

Raam’s Great Vizier is a neurotic and paranoid woman. Interestingly, and unlike her fellow Sorcerer-Kings, she makes no claim to deityhood, per se. Rather, Abalach-Re instead claims to be the earthly avatar of some unearthly super being. As with the claims of Godhood by her peers, her personal might and command of the blighted science makes it difficult to invalidate her claim. As she can smite the nonbelivers where they stand and seemingly at will, who is to say she isn’t the eartly aspect of some True God?

Whatever the fact of the matter regarding the origins of her power, she is the most openly detested of all the rulers of the City-States of Athas. Whether her paranoia is the cause or result of this contempt is difficult to say. Her people despise her rule, her Templars, and the fealty she demands to what the people seem to regard as a false deity. Her neuroses are seen as weakness, and her Nobles openly discuss her overthrow. Making matters worse, her relations with the other Sorcerer-Kings are no better than her relations with her own people. With such abounding threats from both inside and outside her city, her continued rule of Raam is in danger of coming to an end.

Andropinis, Dictator for Life of Balic edit top

Andropinis is actually the rightfully elected ruler of Balic, a position he has held for over nine King’s Ages. The position, entitled Dictator, originally referred to the power of dictating decrees and mandates of the elected general assembly to the populace at large. It was thus envisioned as more of an executive position than a legislative one. Unfortunately for the proudly democratic people of Balic, they had no idea how long lived the sorcerer would be when they elected him to a life long term. At those times when Andropinis is willing to hear the dissenting opinions of the city’s general assembly, he gleefully reminds them of his legitimate and life-long appointment. In the hundreds of years he has held the position, Andropinis usurped whatever power the other branches of the government once held.

His eroding the democracy that appointed him notwithstanding, Andropinis is credited with tolerating the most egalitarian of all the City-States. He is a seemingly rational individual, and has created (or allowed) policies that engender a powerful economy. Andropinis interferes little with the elected assembly’s governance of day-to-day life in his city. Socially outgoing and possesed of a powerful intellect, even for a Sorcerer-King, Andropinis is known to greatly enjoy sparring in words with able (though often outmatched) opponents. It was no accident that earned him his life long post, for Andropinis is charismatic and a champion orator. Some question, though never within earshot, if his epic charm is more than natural. Of course, when it comes to Sorcerer-Kings, one might expect any natural gifts to be magically exaggerated. Such is the sorcerer’s prerogative.

Lord Dregoth, former God-King of Giustenal edit top

Dregoth, along with Sielba is a glaring example of the mortality of Sorcerer-Kings. Whether the fact that they can be slain disqualifies them from genuine deityhood is for the philosophers of bygone ages to debate. What is concrete is the death of Dregoth hangs heavy over the heads of his God-King brethren as triumphant demonstration to the masses, if only via rumor, that their Gods can be slain. What makes Dregoth’s case worse than Sielba’s is that the details of Dregoth’s demise are unknown. While deicide in the case of Sielba can be attributed to another God-King, Dregoth’s passing is not so easily explained away. Worse still is that Dregoth is remembered as an extremely powerful monarch; he had Kalak’s ambition and Nibenay’s command of sorcery. Beyond that, he seized control of Giustenal, rumored to be surpassed only by Bodach as the most powerful civilization of antiquity. That such a powerful entity could be felled without even rumored involvement from another Sorcerer or The Dragon itself speaks to the existence of great power beyond the control of the self appointed Gods of the Tablelands.

Hamanu, The Lion, Warrior King of Urik edit top

Many of the Sorcerer-Kings are avid patrons of gladiatorial sport. From the Forest Arena to the Gladiatorial Coliseum, all the City-States are known for state arenas with regular tournament schedules. Yet, of all the arenas, only The Pit of Black Death of Urik has seen its patron actively participate in the sport itself. Critics point out that The Lion seems to involve himself only when particular gladiators achieve prominence such that their support amongst the slaves poses a political threat. It is true that many a popular Champion was invited to the Pit of Urik to meet death at the Warrior King’s hands.

The Lion always extends his challenge to a worthy Gladiator as, “You have the word of The Lion of Urik that you will face a Warrior, not a God.” To his credit, no memory exists of Hamanu vanquishing his competition by means other than martial prowess. Those seeking a challenge from The Lion take heed, they say Tua-gint, the half-giant who supposedly slew a megapede in arena combat, was strangled by an unarmed Warrior King.

This hands-on approach extends to more than just the games. Hamanu is very active in the rule of his city, passing down edicts and enforcement protocol in the form of his Code of Laws. What’s more, the fanaticism of his troops owes, to a large degree, to the fact that The Lion personally trains with them within the grounds of the palatial compound nearly every day. Not only do his troops thus bear witness to his physical power, they also see he holds himself to the same standards of discipline he holds his subjects. Also, the opportunity to be personally coached in the arts of war by what may be the greatest warrior Athas has ever know, as can sometimes happen on the training grounds, pushes his men beyond the tolerance of lesser commanders’ soldiers.

King Kalak, The Tyrant of Tyr edit top

There can be no question as to the demands Kalak makes upon citizen and slave alike within his City-States. His slaves work seemingly endless shifts in the death trap Mines of Auerbakk. His Templars wait on his every demand. He strains his people past the brink of exhaustion building his over-sized Ziggurat. Insolence, crime, disobedience, even difference of opinion are all punished (not punishable) by death. King Kalak has no need of, and no patience for, the thoughts or opinions of others.

Yet, while he is many things, he is neither whimsical nor moody. Everyone knows what The Tyrant wants: to rule the greatest state in all Athas (generally), and to see construction completed on his massive public pyramid (as in, right now). There is only one law in Tyr, to act in the best interests of the State of Tyr and its King. And the King leaves little room for ambiguity in determining what is in his best interests. So long as one is committed to working hard for the King (Kalak does not demand reverent pomp of the likes of The Oba or The Father of Life), denizens of Tyr can expect relatively stable lives without pang of hunger or thirst.

An interesting consequence of Kalak’s lack of patience for disobedience is the unique nature of his clergy. Templars of Tyr are seemingly honest and straight forward to deal with. That’s not to say they are nice people, but corruption, extortion, and pursuit of political gain quickly garner the attention of Kalak who knows such graft distracts the populace from its dedication to King and State. Templars known to have displeased The Tyrant usually end their lives as part of the Levy. The Noble Houses especially have made a fortune in the economic prosperity Tyr’s stability and resources provide.

Lalali-Puy, Goddess of Forests, Oba of Gulg edit top

The Oba has achieved what most Sorcerers of Athas can only dream of: she is a Goddess in the hearts of her people. As such, she may be the only Athasian monarch with the genuine support and admiration of her subjects. She peacably accepted the leadership of Gulg upon the passing of the previous matriach perhaps three thousand seasons ago. Since that time, her impressive lifespan and examplary command of the Athasian Sciences elevated her status, in the eyes of her people, from matron to deity.

Lalali-Puy seems to uphold an almost druidic sense of reverence for nature. She is very strict about environmentally sustainable practices to support her city. Further, there are no defilers to be found in Gulg, save the Goddess herself. She forbids farming, her templars maintain strict control of herd grazing to prevent destroying scrub land, and her slaves are constantly busy breeding and planting trees and shrubbery in an effort to expand the Crescent Forest within which her city resides. This, of course, puts her explicitly at odds with Nibenay’s emphasis on a lumber based economy for his city. As the Shadow King decimates the forest from the North, the Oba expands it from the South. This conflict may, ultimately, be the truest basis of the Oba’s status among her people: they believe, rightfully so, that the vast powers of their Oba are all that preserves their lives in the face of the threat of destruction and enslavement at the hands of Nibenay’s Shadow King

Nibenay, The Shadow King of Nibenay edit top

The Shadow King is a bizarre and secretive ruler whose eerie title only begins to convey his nature. Impossibly old, he founded the eponymous Nibenay well over a millenium ago. His citizenry barely knows him to exist at all, as it is his way to spend all of his time within his walled off inner city. His public appearances are so rare that rumors of his death and conspiracy theories of the Templars perpetuating the charade of his existence to maintain their position of power are commonplace. When these rumors and theories are sufficiently pervasive to support civil unrest, usually once per generation, Nibenay himself emerges to quash the disobedience personally. He then retreats back to his sanctum, content to leave matters in the hands of his priesthood until the current generation forgets and the cycle repeats.

All of Nibenay’s Templars are women. Conjucture exists that each serves him as both wife and priestess. His Templars are the only people to move freely between Nibenay’s private inner city and the larger City-State over which he presides. Slaves that are taken into the compound never return, and Nobles and freemen are never allowed within. The rumors of the dark experiments and practices within the inner city are too terrible to deserve retelling.

Sielba, Slain Sorceress of Yaramuke edit top

The enchantress of Yaramuke is said to have had a golden guile with which even the likes of Andropinis would have difficulty negotiating. Her misstep was to suppose that the likes of The Lion can be negotiated with. When Hamanu undid the existence of Yaramuke it is believed Sielba met an end worse than that of her subjects. Some say Hamanu consumed her very essence through defiling magics. Other rumors suggest he instead defiled her physically, broke her power, and kept what remained among his harem. Others think that, while Sielba lacked the power to withstand Hamnau’s overt assualt, so too did he lack the subtlety to prevent her covert escape. Whatever the case, while the ultimate fate of the sorceress is actually unknown, Sielba and her City-State are no longer counted among the Athasian powers.

The Mighty and Omnipotent Tectuktitlay, ruler of Draj edit top

Tectuktitlay is a vile and tempestuous man whose favorite pastimes are human (or demihuman) sacrifice and basking in the worship he requires of his people. None can say how old Tectuktitlay is, or how long he has ruled Draj because the King prohibited discussion of such information long ago. In fact, The Master of the Two Moons spends a great deal of time and effort in building upon his own mystique. Presumably, this adds credence to his deification. The results speak for themselves: whether or not he is truly believed to be a God by his people, they certainly worship him as such.

Debating the relative power of the various God-Kings is possibly baseless, likely irrelevant, and certainly dangerous. Whether or not The Father of Life is actually any more powerful than any other Sorcerer-King amounts to a useless discussion. Where the Master of the Two Moons exceeds all others, man or God, is his accomplishment as a propagandist. As an example, whereas The Tyrant of Tyr’s sobriquet was bequeathed, each of Tectuktitlay’s is self-anointed. Further, his dedication to pomp and self-reverence makes even The Oba humble by comparison. And the efforts he takes towards indoctrination go beyond demands of tribute and public worship. Tectuktitlay is personally involved as the head master and resident Mind Lord of a prominent school of The Way that is part of the royal compound.

In a study of opposites, Tectuktitlay is among the more hands-off rulers of the Athasian Tablelands. His rule is felt in the form of the tribute he demands of his people and the cultural impact his recreational preferences have on his City. As miserable as its people may be, Draj prospers because of, not despite The Father of Life. He is credited (or credits himself, perhaps) with the invention of the chinampas based agriculture that fill the mud flats surrounding the city with high yield crops (generating the food surplus that drives the economy). Further, Tectuktitlay’s penchant for sacrifice has made a visciously efficient war-mongering machine of his military. Even Hamanu is forced to take note of the might, and constant activity, of Draj’s armies, busy as they are collecting people for sacrifice. And for good reason: Tectuktitlay collects from the people at large when the war prisoner slave pens run short of victims to fulfill his indulgence.

Sorcerer Kings

To Kill a Dragon Gravedigga