Thursday, July 9, 2015

Where I read the Suppressed Transmissions 1-10

Back in 2011, I started a lengthy RPGNet "Where I Read" thread on the old Suppressed Transmissions columns by Kenneth Hite, in order. I'm only about halfway through with the columns, but I feel I should archive them here on this blog as well. Here, then, are my reviews of the first 10 columns.

1. The First Transmission

"I put great store in the H.P. Lovecraft dictum that the 'piecing together of dissociated knowledge' opens up 'terrifying vistas of reality,' at least in roleplaying games..."

The very first column, beyond explaining the origin of the term "Suppressed Transmission" (from the 1991 movie "Slacker"), gives us an idea what to expect from future transmissions by giving us some short examples from each of the main themes - Conspiracy, Secret History, Horror, and Alternate History. Kenneth Hite starts out with an interesting rumor he read in one of his many, many books which claims that Abraham Lincoln was such a capable politician that he just couldn't have possibly have an utterly unremarkable origin - no, he had to be the son of someone famous. Thus, muses Hite, might he have been the result of some conspiracy trying to create particularly "potent" bloodlines, like the Prieuré de Sion? Then he speculates on the other famous people born in the same year, 1809 - Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Darwin, and the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson. He further hints at another noteworthy event that year, the Man Who Walked Around The Horses, which is expanded upon in one of the footnotes (where he also contemplates writing a future column on (sadly, he didn't).

The rest of the column then follows the year 1809 and see what else might be happen. In Secret History he speculates upon the death of Meriwether Lewis. In the Horror section he muses on a world based on the visions of Edgar Allan Poe. In Alternate History, he points out that both Wellington and Napoleon were involved in heavy fighting on opposite ends of Europe which might have gotten them killed - and that the death of either might have helped the survival of the French Empire. Finally, Kenneth Hite gives us a short introduction of himself and his previous works.

As an introductory column, this works well enough, although it lacks the stronger thematic unity of later columns. As usual he makes references to many, many things (Masons? The pirate Blackbeard? Emperor Norton? Bugsy Siegel?, but since he is trying to cover so many things at once he lacks the space to go into any of them in detail. Still, you get plenty of cool tidbits to research further, and while the author was limited to physical books and AltaVista when he wrote the column, we have Wikipedia, Google, and all sorts of other tools to help us with our research - that is, if you don't want to look up all the books he references (thirteen in number, and that's not counting the books he wrote himself). This is a general "problem" when reading the Suppressed Transmissions - there are so many interesting books mentioned that the average reader simply cannot read all of them...

2. Six Degrees of Sir Francis Bacon

"According to boring old historical fact, he served as Lord Chancellor of England, betrayed his benefactor Essex to a charge of treason, pled guilty himself to bribery and corruption, wrote books of essays and histories, codified the scientific method in Novum Organum and The New Atlantis, and died on Easter Sunday after catching pneumonia trying to freeze a chicken..."

This transmission is not as much about Francis Bacon himself - though as Kenneth Hite explains in sufficient detail, the man certainly had enough going for him to use him in a game - but rather, how everything is connected to him, or how everything is connected to everything else in general. And where people, events, or things aren't apparently connected, it is quite likely that you are able to connect them with each other with a little research, using one to three intermediaries. From this you can span a vast web of conspiracy, and thus get your players into the proper paranoid mood for conspiracy gaming.

And along the way, we get mentions of the Count Saint-Germain, Adam Weishaupt and the Bavarian Illuminati, Vannevar Bush, and the obscure but cool-sounding Order of African Architects (so obscure that they don't even have a Wikipedia entry, although various conspiracy sites have information on them - oh, and despite the name they were founded in Prussia, allegedly on the order of Frederick the Great) - and then the footnotes mention some really strange stuff, like the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, a boy-scout splinter group...

This column isn't really a ready-made adventure or campaign framework as such, nor does it examine a particular topic in detail. Rather, it represents a useful thought exercise, something that helps a game master get into the proper frame of mind when working out their own conspiracies - the lessen that everything can be connected if you squint hard enough is a useful one, and one that I have striven to embed into the Arcana Wiki.

3. Justinian and Arthur: High Historical Fantasy

"The Emperor, seemingly merely a former barbarian, is actually a prince of demons in disguise, raised to the throne with the help of a profligate user of sex-magick, poisons, and diabolism who now reigns as Empress..."

This time, Kenneth Hite does provide us with a ready-made campaign framework, and it is all based on real history, or at least real historical slander. It appears that a Byzantine guy named Procopius secretly wrote a very unflattering book about his contemporary, Emperor Justinian, where he basically described him as an Evil Overlord straight out of High Fantasy. We are then encouraged to take this material at face value, and run a campaign with the PCs as agents of another (allegedly) contemporary - King Arthur - and using plenty of other fantasy tropes, all the while using the abundant historical information available on the period to flesh things out. While the author bemoans that there is no decent RPG supplement available on Byzantium (I have no idea if this has changed), he does provide plenty of other sources, both historical and fiction.

This is a good, solid entry in the series. It doesn't immediately want to make me go out and run such a campaign as I know little of the period, but it does want to make me learn more of the period. Unfortunately, my "to read" book pile is already massive, thanks in no small part to the rest of the series...

4. Urban Legends: Adventuring in the City

"The Bradbury Building, a rococo fantasia in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, and the Mount Wilson Observatory, high in the San Gabriel Mountains to the northeast, have one thing in common: they were commissioned by nonhuman entities..."

This is the first transmission which hasn't been published in one of the two printed volumes, and it discusses adventuring in fantasy cities - a topic dear to my heart, as I'm developing an entire setting centered around it. Kenneth Hite starts by listing a number of examples from fiction, both entirely fictional ones and ones based on real world cities, mentions sacred geometries and mystical architecture in passing (which he will expand upon at length in later transmissions), and gives us the sound advice of digging deeper into the histories of real world cities, especially ones we are familiar with.

He then provides examples using Los Angeles, starting with the "mundane" but still adventure-worthy thefts of water that made the Los Angeles Basin what it is today, musing on their possible deeper meanings, and then discussing noteworthy buildings and people who were active in the area (such as the rocket scientist Jack Parsons who had attempted to summon the Whore of Babylon in a magical working...).

This is solid stuff and really drives the point home what kind rich adventure fodder you can discover by digging into the history of real world places - even if you play in entirely fictional settings, the real world really is frequently stranger than fiction, and thus learning more about it shouldn't be discounted for inspirational material.

5. Using Alternate History in Any Campaign

"For a secret-magic 1588 campaign, of course, the ideal centerpiece is Elisabeth's court wizard John Dee, reputed to be the model for Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest and the holder of the first code-number 007 in British intelligence..."

Now we get a more through primer on Alternate History than presented in the first transmission, complete with several examples. The simplest one starts with a world where the Spanish Armada not only won, but also managed to keep France and Holland down - and this, according to the author, makes for a spectacular swashbuckling setting as pirates will have to ally themselves with every opponents of the Spanish just to get by. Then he recommends adding magic and the supernatural into the mix, taking the "Black Legend" (the very effective slander of the Spanish prevalent at the time) at more-or-less face value, and perhaps making Vlad Tepes into an active vampire with an ever-increasing domain. Then we get even weirder stuff, like one alternate history trying to impose itself on another reality, leading to zones similar to those in TORG...

This transmission works as an introduction, but while it has the usual brilliant nuggets, the topic is just too large to cover adequately in a single transmission and thus lacks the thematic focus of others.

6. Top Ten Books for High Weirdness in Your Campaign

"When adding High Weirdness to your campaign, it certainly helps to have decades of experience reading the stuff and three enormous bookcases full of obscura and eliptony at your back..."

Just in case the first five transmissions didn't give you references to reading material for the next year or so, here Kenneth Hite gives us more... lots more. Beyond the ten books mentioned in the title, there is a short list of a dozen more at the end of the column - and 49 more in the footnotes, if you have the print collection.

Not really much to say here, except that Charles Fort's Book of the Damned is available here for free download. It sits, unread, on my Kindle like far too many other books...

7. There's More to Faeries Than Their Glamour

"Thinking of the faeries as evil little cannibalistic axe-murderers loitering on the moor behind the monoliths does put rather an unpleasant spin on those fine old songs about Fairy Love By Moonlight and whatnot, doesn't it?"

Now we come to one of my early favorites. In this transmission, Kenneth Hite dissects the stereotype of the happy, friendly fairies still common at the time (remember, this was written back in 1998 before we got the Cthulhu Elves of Exalted or the cruel True Fae of Changeling: The Lost) to get at the blood and gore and horror behind it all. Along the way, we get mentions all sorts of useful connections and origins - the "Teind", or tithe to Hell that the fairies have to pay, the Victorian theory that they were degenerate, deformed remnants of the Picts, the idea that they are embodiments of nature of the "Red In Tooth And Claw" variety, and their possible connections to UFOs and other "modern" otherworldly phenomena - plus, of course, references to numerous books which the reader can use for further research (he bemoans the lack of a GURPS Faerie, but fortunately it's out now).

In my opinion, this kind of transmission is where Kenneth Hite is at his best - picking a fairly specific topic, and then widening it up for the rest of us so that we can see the vast, vast possibilities inherent in it.

8. Digging Up Weirdness

"I'm not even mentioning pure-dee crazy folk like Frederick Bligh Bond, who communicated with the dead while serving as architect-archaeologist at Arthurian Glastonbury in 1907, or the androgynous American transvestite Antonia Frederick Futterer who claimed to have found the Ark of the Covenant atop Mount Pisgah in the 1920s..."

This time, Kenneth Hite tells you what archaeologists can add to your game - not modern mundane, professional archaeologists, but the cinematic ones in the style of Indiana Jones and Allan Quartermain, or at least the excentric archaeologists of the days of yore (and that field got very excentric back in the days when enthusiasm was more important than professionalism). Special mentions go to a Babylonian king interested in Sumerian and Akkadian artifacts, and an Italian circus strongman-turned-archaeologist with a penchant for using explosives for excavating.

Then we get into campaign frameworks. My favorite are the entirely historical "Bone Wars" in the historical Old West where two scholars paid rival gangs of professional fossil hunters to dig up dinosaur bones - and sabotage the competition (have I mentioned before how much of an education reading these columns is? Where else can you learn so much about such a vast range of different topics?), but the "Archaeologists in Black" who need to "vanish" artifacts for the good of humanity are good as well.

Another great addition, and it would certainly inspire me to work more archeology into my games, except that I already have so many other ideas from all the other columns which I want to add first...

9. Two-World Minimum: Bisociation and the Art of High Weirdness

"Let me warn you at the outset: Grail research is not for the weak of heart, or for the short of shelf space..."

Upon reading the title of this transmission for the first time, most people (myself included) will ask themselves: "What the hell is 'bisociation'?" As Kenneth Hite explains, bisociation is when something - usually the MacGuffin of the campaign or adventure - can have two (or more!) meanings that are not only radically different from each other, but which may be both true in their frame of reference and yet be mutually incompatible.

Heady stuff, so it's good that the author provides us with some examples, such as the Vinland Map (proof of pre-Columbus exploration of North America, or cunning forgery?), the Holy Grail (is it a cup, a dish, a poetic symbol, or a bloodline?), and the Tarot (too many alternative interpretations to list here). And he points out that bisociating major elements of the campaign keeps the PCs (and players) guessing, and thus establishes a nice mood of paranoia and uncanniness.

This is one of the more abstract, "high concept" columns, but I found it no less useful for that. It helps to remember that in game worlds, much as in the real world, many things are a matter of perspective, and not just MacGuffins. Is a certain NPC a hero or a traitor? Is the government of a certain nation benevolent or oppressive? That entirely on whom you ask, and the opinions of NPCs will be colored by their own biases - as will be those of the PCs, depending on their own encounters with the entity in question, which will likely not have shown the whole thing. Bisociating everything keeps the PCs guessing, and forces them to reconsider their own stances.

And as a further note, while Kenneth Hite doesn't point it out in this column, for me one of the attractions of the Cthulhu Mythos is that it is extremely bisociative. Is Hastur a powerful alien entity or a cosmic force of entropy? Are the End Times a rapidly approaching sudden extinction event or will the decline of humanity be an ongoing process for millenia? Are Mythos "spells" some supernatural force, or alien science? Different authors have come up with their own interpretations over the decades which contradict each other yet are self-consistent in their own stories - in other words, they are highly bisociative, just like "real" mythologies and unlike a great many fictional cosmologies in gaming where there is an "ultimate truth" behind it all. And that makes them powerful, as no player will ever "truly" understand the Mythos.

10. The Slightly Alternate History Campaign

"...if the players find out that their PCs' world seems exactly like ours except that John F. Kennedy was shot in Houston on November 24, 1963, by a lone gunman named Carl Edward Schermer, this sends a strong message that There Are Conspiracies At Work Here..."

Instead of making Alternate History truly divergent and different from ours, Kenneth Hite suggests making the differences small and subtle for a change. This has several advantages: The GM doesn't have to worry if he gets the occasional historical facts wrong, the players know that their characters can change the course of history (because history went off the rails already), and even divergences, if chosen right, will get the players into the appropriate paranoid mood without bringing out the weirdness from the start.

This is certainly useful advice for those who frequently run Alternate History campaigns. So far I haven't, so this transmission is less useful for me, but who knows what I will run one day?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My Grand Theory of Dark Sun

This is a collection of various Dark Sun-related posts I originally wrote on Google+ back in 2011 when I was running a short-lived campaign in that setting. Hopefully, others will find these posts useful.

Dragon/Avangion Transhumanism

In Dark Sun, the transhumanist path known as dragon metamorphosis has flaws built into its very nature by Rajaat - the nascent dragons become violent, destructive, and paranoid, cooperating with others only under the greatest of difficulties. This, no doubt, was part of Rajaat's plan when he built the possibility of draconic ascension into the arcane path of defiling magic he developed - the dragons were to be his tool to wipe Athas clean of any aberrant creatures that developed since the Blue Age.

Preserving magic has his own transhumanist path as well - avangion metamorphosis. Before the start of the era of the boxed sets, there weren't any known avangions, yet none of the published material suggests that there any alternatives to this path of transhumanist ascension for preservers. Thus, it isn't far-fetched to assume that avangion metamorphosis is just as much an inherent part of preserving magic as dragon metamorphosis is a part of defiling magic.

Yet we shouldn't forget that it was Rajaat who developed preserving magic in his first place - thus, the eventual appearance of avangions must have been part of his plan, just as the creation of dragons was his plan.

So, what was his intention? My best guess is that avangions were to be his autonomous terraforming engines - once Athas had been scoured of the wrong kinds of life, the avangions would dispose of the remaining defilers (including the remaining dragons which hadn't already killed each other) and then begin to restore life to Athas - and of course, Rajaat would teach them about the right kind of life to restore. There are already hints that avangions go through personality changes that would predestine them for such a role, just as dragons change to fit their intended role. It's probably not in the very nature of avangions to become conquering warlords, since Rajaat wouldn't want them to lord it over the resurgent halflings in his New Blue Age...

The real agenda of The Order

In Dark Sun, there was a powerful group of psionicists called "The Order", whose agenda as written was that no powerful psionicist ever did anything to change the fate and politics of the Tyr Region in any way.

Needless to say, this was extremely boring, especially for PC psionicists. So, what should be done to make the Order interesting?

My take is that their "political neutrality" is a filthy lie. Instead, the Order started out as a cabal of psionicists who learned about Rajaat... and that the sorcerer-kings needed to periodically sacrifice the life force of large numbers of people to keep him imprisoned. Thus, while they know that the sorcerer-kings are evil, oppressive tyrants, they also know that taking them down would be far worse for the world.

On the other hand, they also know that the sorcerer-kings are paranoid and prone to aggression against each other - if left on their own, they would eventually wipe each other out and thus end the stream of sacrifices. And thus, the mission of the Order was born - they exist to maintain the status quo between the sorcerer-kings, keeping them distracted from progressing along the path towards draconic ascension by causing strife and problems between them, but at the same time scheming to prevent total war between them. They are, essentially, the Illuminati of the Tyr Region, and they are so good at manipulating others psionically that none of the sorcerer-kings have been able to prove their existence, though some probably suspect that there are groups of psionic masterminds out there.

And of course, like any good Illuminati groups they have all sorts of side projects which PCs might come across. One example might be psionic breeding projects to create more powerful psionicists, in the hopes that these might eventually be able to contain Rajaat on their own, taking over from the sorcerer-kings who continue to dwindle in numbers and thus need to be replaced sooner or later...

Qanat irrigation system

At one point I did some brainstorming for a desert village the PCs would come from - a small agricultural community somewhere north of Tyr. For this, I did some research on how desert communities can get water for agriculture, and learned more about a truly badass irrigation system highly appropriate for Dark Sun which I had actually seen in Oman when I visited that country for a geology field trip.

Basically, this system takes advantage of the fact that the groundwater will rise to higher elevations in the mountains, due to the pressure of all that rock. And to get to that groundwater, the people in the valleys would dig narrow tunnels into the mountains, which were usually several miles long and were dug with fairly primitive tools. Furthermore, to ensure that the pressure drops steadily throughout the tunnel, they would also periodically dig vertical tunnels to the surface. This system, called the qanat system, is a marvel of ancient engineering, and the oldest ones still in use are 3000 years old.

Now picture a small community in a remote village of Athas, digging through the mountains for generations so that their small village has a steady supply of water not reliant on the infrequent rains...

Is this cool, or what? Of course, many of the city-states will likely use a similar system, especially Tyr and Urik which are not too far from convenient mountain rankes...

Grand Theory of Athas

 I've been re-reading the old Dark Sun boxed set, and stumbled across these paragraphs:

"The Tablelands are encircled by the various ranges of the Ringing Mountains. These ranges all run north and south. To the east and west of the Sea of Silt, the mountains form solid walls separating the tablelands from the unknown regions beyond. To the north and south of the dusty sea, they form a series of parallel ribs. The deep valleys between the ridges lead away from central Athas like a series of long (and hazardous) corridors.
In every direction, beyond the mountains lie the Hinterlands. We have little knowledge of what abides there. Many men have set out to explore the depths of this unknown region, but I have never met one who returned..."

This rekindled my interest in figuring out what the rest of the world of Athas is like - after all, we know that Athas is a whole planet, and the Tyr region is only a small part of it. And from the above, we can assume that the Sea of Silt used to be a mere inland sea in the middle of a much larger continent. So, what might lie beyond the Tyr region?

To answer this, we also need to answer several other questions:

- If the Tyr region is just a small part of such a big planet, then why are pretty much all the former Champions of Rajaat - including the Dragon himself - based in or near that region?
- If there are other major civilizations out there, why haven't they made any contact with the Tyr region?

Here is my attempt at explanation: When the Champions turned on Rajaat and imprison him, they were perfectly aware that their pact to maintain the prison would be difficult to maintain. After all, they had committed treason once, some of them even twice - why not once more? Even if one of the Champions wasn't interested in aiding Rajaat, they were still selfish enough to abandon their fellows and stop sending the needed sacrifices to maintain the prison.

Thus, they agreed that all of them would build their new city-states close to the Pristine Tower - the modern Tyr region - so that they could keep an eye on each other. Any sorcerer-king who attempted to build his primary residence elsewhere was assumed to abandon his duties to maintain the prison and treated accordingly. And thus they remained, over the two thousand years that followed.

This explains the settlement choices of the sorcerer-kings. But what of civilizations beyond the Tyr region? Might not have major empires arisen elsewhere?

Here is my own hypothesis: The world was devastated after the cleansing wars, and the sorcerer-kings needed a steady stream of sacrifices to maintain Rajaat's prison - and large number of people for their own realms. But while their pact forbade them to build their strongholds elsewhere, it didn't forbid them to kidnap people from other lands. Thus, the sorcerer-kings led great expeditions using magical mass teleports to capture people (largely humans, but also of other races) from distant lands as both slaves and sacrifices. And since such expeditions were more efficient if they targeted major population centers, the remaining islands of civilization were the first to suffer. Each sorcerer-king found his own kingdoms to plunder - and the ethnic makeup of these kingdoms still find their reflections in the population of the city-states today.

But after a few centuries - perhaps up to a millennium - this practice ceased as no major civilizations remained. The only major race which the sorcerer-kings never bothered to abduct were the thri-kreen, as they made poor sacrifices and slaves. In the absence of the other races, the thri-kreen bred rapidly and quickly overwhelmed most of the remaining human, dwarven, elven, and halfling settlements, and basically inherited much of the world - but their pack-based structure made it hard to maintain large, civilized empires.

Thus, the sorcerer-kings withdrew to their own cities, and a further thousand years passed down to the present time. The historical distortions and falsifications perpetrated by the sorcerer-kings ensured that none remain who truly remember where their ancestors come from, though some distorted legends might yet provide clues. There may be yet a few remote locations in the world where humans and other races have rebuilt something akin to civilization, but they are too far away and too isolated to truly reach the Tyr region - and their old legends of the draconic Stealer Of Men would likely make them fairly isolationist in any case.

I think this theory also fits very well with the larger theme of Dark Sun - that the greedy nature of the inhabitants of Athas (to be specific, the greed of defilers, and to be more specific, the greed of the sorcerer-kings) was what brought the world down to its present state. Thus, the sorcerer-king aren't just responsible for the decline of civilization in the Tyr region - they are responsible for the decline of civilization in the entire world.

On the up side, the environment elsewhere might be in a far better shape - after all (according to the original rules, at least), thri-kreen cannot learn arcane magic and thus can't defile, and therefore these regions might have had the time needed to regenerate. Perhaps most of the world looks like the Crimson Savannah...

Campaign Outline

Here is a general overview of my upcoming GURPS Dark Sun campaign as I imagine it to play out:

The PCs start out as people living in a small agricultural village (about 250 people) named Tamuk somewhere to the northeast of Tyr - close enough to be in that city's trade network, but far away enough to be effectively independent. The PCs know each other and all the other villagers - they were either born there or immigrated some time ago. At the beginning, they are not really archetypal "adventurers", though they have the potential to become so (of course). They will have a number of adventures in the village and its environs (reaching as far as nearby Kled). This is done so that they can familiarize themselves with the world, their characters, and the GURPS rule system.

At some point, the politics of nearby Tyr will brutally interrupt the village routine - the greed for resources that Kalak displays while building his ziggurat threatens the independence of the village as a noble house attempts to gain control of it. While the PCs will (hopefully) be instrumental in fighting that off, they realize they need to gain better information about the situation in Tyr, and hopefully gain some allies. The PCs are entrusted with a village secret that may be a very useful bargaining chip, and sent to Tyr.

They arrive about two weeks before the ziggurat is finished, and all hell breaks loose. What precise role they will play through these events is still somewhat unclear. For this event the canonical revolution of Sadira, Tithian, Rikus et al. will still happen more or less as written, though in my campaign the Order has secretly supported them in order to stop the madness of King Kalak (as the destruction of a city-state would have reduced the number of annual sacrifices which are needed to bind Rajaat to his prison).

After that, the PCs are thrust into the wider world to explore it and make friends and enemies as they want. From there on I will use "canon" as inspiration, but I won't feel bound to it. If the campaign runs long enough, I fully expect that if the campaign runs for long enough it will be the PCs who kill Borys the Dragon - only to discover that they are now in danger of releasing an even worse scourge in the form of Rajaat and now must work to keep him imprisoned as well (hopefully without sacrificing a thousand people every year).

After that, they have basically saved the world and can watch as civilization slowly rebuilds and the world begins to heal...

...though if there is time to continue the campaign after that, I may take some inspiration from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and escalate things even further. There are some obscure mentions of "space halflings" somewhere out there in the setting, after all...

(Note: Unfortunately, the campaign ended rather earlier than that, though it did end with the PCs killing King Kalak and the surviving PCs wandering into the sunset as half-elementals...)

But what of the Pyreen?

Another issue needs pondering for the deeper background plots of my campaign: What of the pyreen?

These so-called "peace-bringers" are a curious lot. Their appearance is a mixture of all the other humanoid races. They love nature (they are all powerful druids) and hate defilers - in fact, their leader plans nothing less than the death of the dragon himself! They are immortal, yet don't seem to reproduce (or else their numbers wouldn't be dwindling).

And we also know that Rajaat was among their number, although he was a deformed and ugly specimen. And this is where things get very curious indeed.

My best guess is that the pyreen were artificially created by the ancient rhulisti (halfling) life-shapers as some sort of diplomats and/or living exemplars of nature - these life-shapers were concerned about the constant wars between the New Races, and thus created these "blended" beings to bring peace and harmony to the lands (hence "peace-bringers"). However, when Rajaat was accidentally created deformed and thus cast out from the peace-bringer corps (so to speak), he blamed his own tortured existence on the existence of the New Races themselves - if they hadn't existed, he wouldn't have been created and thus wouldn't have to suffer like this.

This still doesn't quite explain how Rajaat got quite so powerful later on - it took the combined might of all the Champions to merely imprison him, and even that was a close thing that required frequent human sacrifices to maintain. On the other hand, the remaining pyreen are not strong enough to fight the sorcerer-kings directly, and they know it.

However, this raises another interesting question: Don't they know that if they somehow manage to do away with the sorcerer-kings and the dragon, they will likely cause the release of Rajaat?

Or perhaps do know, and either don't care... or they think they can handle Rajaat somehow, though one wonders why they feel confident enough for that.

Either way, this will likely put them into conflict with the Order, whose agenda involves maintaining the status quo - including the sorcerer-kings - as I have outlined earlier.