Gamer's Library: The Prism Pentad

The re-release of The Obsidian Oracle next month by Wizards of the Coast marks the re-release of the fourth of the five books which make up the Prism Pentad. Set in the Dark Sun campaign setting, this series kicks off some important events in the world of Athas, most notably the freeing of the City of Tyr. The first book of the series, The Verdant Passage, was released in October of 1991, the same month as the Dark Sun Campaign Setting box set was released for 2nd Edition.

Ever since I saw The Verdant Passage hit the store shelves last September, and the "Hazards of Dark Sun" article featured in Dragon a couple months before that, I've almost been convinced that WotC is purposely trying to torture me by teasing about the upcoming release of the 4th Edition version of Dark Sun. Upcoming meaning I have no idea when, but I'm hoping for 2010. ;) Those that know me personally know that Dark Sun is my favorite campaign setting, and by favorite I mean I like it to the umpteenth degree more than any other campaign setting. Although Eberron and the 4E implied 'points of light' settings are great as well. A couple months ago, home-bound due to a pretty bad snow storm, I pulled out my old Dark Sun Campaign Setting box set from a dusty box up on a closet shelf and cracked it open - but more on that in the future. Let's get to the book.

The Obsidian Oracle
follows Tithian, the perfidious ruler of Tyr, on his search for, well, the obsidian oracle. Now, there is obviously a huge back-story to this built up over the previous 3 books, let's just say that this artifact is more than important, and Tithian believes he can use it to become a true sorcerer-king, achieving immortality and plunging Tyr under his complete rule - forever. On his trail is Agis, the heroic and just noble of Tyr, who not only wants to keep Tithian from obtaining the obsidian oracle, but also covets the item, hoping he can use it to kill the dragon Borys, the terror of all of Athas.

Tithian's trail leads Agis to the neighboring city-state of Balic, in which Tithian, using his insidious cunning, acquires a fleet of ships to take him to the location in which he believes the relic lies. Agis follows suit by hiring a pirate ship to pursue his rival. However these are not ordinary ships, this is Dark Sun. The ships do not sail on water, they set sail in an estuary of the Sea of Silt - a ocean composed entirely of, well yes, silt. These ships are powered by "shipfloaters" and Wikipedia explains it pretty clearly: "psionicists who, through use of a large obsidian orb to focus their power, can telekinetically levitate and sail the ship as if it were sailing through water." I can see where Keith Baker drew some influence for the airship shipwrights of Eberron. Giants also play a very large part in the book, and it is filled with some amazing battles involving them - in the Sea of Silt. Overall, this is a great book in a great series, and if you've ever had some inteterest in Dark Sun, or want to re-live these adventures, I definitely recommend picking up the new pressings of these books.

Everything culminates into a pretty epic finale in The Cerulean Storm, in which so much about everything is explained, from the reason why the world of Athas became the savage desert that it is, to the motivations of some antagonists to much, much more. Answers to many questions that arise as you journey through the Prism Pentad. Pick these up!

The Verdant Passage

The Crimson Legion

The Amber Enchantress

The Obsidian Oracle

The Cerulean Storm

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