Author Topic: Dark Sun  (Read 5640 times)

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Dark Sun
« on: April 05, 2012, 10:38:50 AM »

"For thousands of years, the Tablelands have remained untouched: its politics frozen in a delicate stalemate, its life in a balance even more delicate. It is true that the Dragon Kings amused themselves with their petty wars, rattling sabers to punctuate the passing of ages. It is true that, occasionally, another city would be swallowed by the wastes. But there were no surprises. The Dragon Kings steered everything from their omnipotent perches, content in their superiority, but ever thirsting for challenge. All that has changed. The Tablelands have been thrown into turmoil, the likes of which have not been seen since times forgotten. The Dragon Kings have been thrown into confusion, grasping for the tedium they so recently lamented.

And yet I fear the worst is yet to come. Change is in the air, and change has never come gently to Athas."
-- Oronis, Sorcerer King of Kurn

Introduction

Athas’ savage, primal landscape is the result of long centuries of ecological and magical abuses. The world is dying. It breathes its last gasps as water turns to silt, grasslands become sandy wastes, and jungles decay into stony barrens. Still, life finds ways to endure even in these hellish conditions. In fact, it thrives. Children growing up beneath the crimson sun don’t aspire to become heroes. True heroes who champion causes or seek to make the world a better place are as rare as steel on Athas. Living to see the next dawn is more important than defending a set of beliefs, so survival ultimately motivates all living creatures—not virtue or righteousness.

Dark Sun is a setting atypical from its contemporaries; a broken realm of nihilistic tyranny and unrelenting misery for those too weak to survive its predations. It is a world of ignorance and hardship perpetuated by its would-be dragon gods, fearful of their master's return. There is no true escape from its hardships. Only to some the promise of surviving to the next morning to further suffer its endless, innovative cruelties. The following encapsulates its most pertinent elements:

Tone and Attitude - Athas puts the survival of the fittest concept to its fullest. Those who cannot adapt to endure the tyrannical sorcerer‐kings, the unrelenting sun, or the many dangers of the wastes will certainly perish. Illiteracy and slavery are commonplace, while magic is feared and hated. The term “hero” has a very different meaning on Athas.

A Burnt World - Thousands of years of reckless spellcasting and epic wars have turned Athas into a barren world, on the verge of an ecological collapse. From the first moments of dawn until the last twinkling of dusk, the crimson sun shimmers in the olive–tinged sky like a fiery puddle of blood, creating temperatures up to 150° F (65° C) by late afternoon. Waters is scarce, so most Athasians need to come up with alternative solutions for dealing with the heat or perish.

A World Without Metal - Metals are very rare on Athas. Its scarcity has forced Athasians to rely on barter and different materials, such as ceramic, to use as currency. It also hampers industrial and economic development as well; mills and workshops rarely have quality tools to produce everyday products. Even though most Athasians have developed ways of creating weapons and armor made of nonmetallic components, but the advantage of having metal equipment in battle is huge.

A World Without Gods - Athas is a world without true deities. Powerful sorcerer‐kings often masquerade as gods but, though their powers are great and their worshipers many, they are not true gods. Arcane magic require life force, either from plants or animals, to be used. All divine power comes from the Elemental planes and the spirits of the land that inhabit geographic features.

Planar Insulation - Barriers exist between Athas and other planes. In the case of other planes of existence, the Gray impedes planar travel, except to the Elemental Planes. Consequently, travel via spelljamming is impossible, and planar travel is much more difficult. The same holds true for those trying to contact or reach Athas. The barrier formed by the Gray impedes travel in both directions.

The Struggle For Survival - The basic necessities of life are scarce on Athas. This means that every society must devote itself to attaining food and safeguarding its water supply, while protecting themselves from raiding tribes, Tyr–storms, and other city‐states. This essentially means that most Athasian must devout a large deal of their lives just to survive.

« Last Edit: June 20, 2020, 01:49:20 PM by EO »
"The brave man inattentive to his duty, is worth little more to his country than the coward who deserts in the hour of danger."
~Andrew Jackson


Bluebomber4evr

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Re: Dark Sun
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2013, 05:06:20 PM »
Dark Sun Characters in Ravenloft

The following is an excerpt from the Forbidden Lore boxed set, Dark Recesses booklet, pages 22-28. You can scroll below to find more detailed information on playable races and classes from Dark Sun, which apply to Kalidnay.

The world of the DARK SUN game was undiscovered country when the RAVENLOFT game was first unveiled. Connections between Athas and Ravenloft are few and far between. However, it is possible for a Dark Sun character to end up in Ravenloft. The two environments are so alien to each other that such a character would feel lost and alone in the demiplane of dread. As for the demiplane itself, the inhabitants of Athas tend to be deliciously wild and vicious.

As a rule, the mood of Athas and that of Ravenloft are not very compatible. Ravenloft is an environment in which the character is drawn into a web of supernatural evil. By contrast, Athas is a ruthless world where self-preservation is a monumental task. Since the horror of Ravenloft is best presented in contrast to innocence or purity, it is difficult to work with DARK SUN characters. They are already hardened to the harsh lessons of life and don't scare easily. This doesn't mean that DARK SUN characters should never journey to the demiplane of dread. It merely means that it is a difficult task to draw gothic horror out of the world of Athas.

Role-Playing: The cultures of Athas and those of Ravenloft are dramatically different. The clothes people wear, the way they speak, their attitudes and values all differ greatly. It is virtually impossible for a DARK SUN character to disguise himself as a native in most Ravenloft domains.

The use of psionics is commonplace in Athas. Characters from that land would not think twice about using their powers for ordinary purposes. Of course, the populace of most domains would label such characters as wizards. It would also be puzzling to the Athasian that few of the people of Ravenloft seem to use psionics.

Something as simple as water creates a large cultural gap. To an Athasian, wasting water is a grievous sin. Seeing a barmaid washing a floor with a bucket of water rather than just sweeping it would be shocking. The sight of a river or pond would produce wonder or awe. The sight of an ocean would be overwhelming. Damp cold, like mist or snow, are completely foreign to a character from Athas. He would have no concept of what this substance is. As a result, it would probably frighten him.

On a smaller scale, it is quite likely that spitting would be considered a grave insult to an Athasian. Crying would be the ultimate expression of sorrow, reserved only for extreme situations. An Athasian might cause quite a stir with his willingness to drink just about anything liquid.

Another simple difference is in the types of animals that are present. Horses are unknown on Athas. An Athasian is likely to assume that it is a wild animal that can be killed for food. Riding one is certain to be an alien concept. Most farm animals would also be strange and confusing to the Athasians. Athasian mounts, such as the crodlu or kank, would cause panic in most any town in Ravenloft.

In Ravenloft, plant life, particularly forests, are plentiful. Black soil that is moist with water would be quite strange to most Athasians. The halflings would be best suited to this environment, since it resembles their jungles. Along with the flora, Ravenloft has much more plentiful animal life.

Players are encouraged to role-play their sense of wonder and fear at their new surroundings.

Mists and Mirages: Fogs and mists are unheard of in Athas. When Ravenloft intrudes upon this land of sand and desert heat, it is in the form of a mirage. The doomed characters see a shimmering image of vast stretches of water and lush green trees. Even if they flee, the mirage rolls over them. The characters all succumb to heat stroke, no saving throws. When they awaken, they are in Ravenloft.

Fear and Horror Checks: Characters from Athas are more used to seeing scenes of violence and horror in their daily lives. As a result, they get a +2 bonus to all fear checks and a +1 bonus to all horror checks.

Races of Athas: For the most part, the racial abilities of the people of Athas are unaffected by the laws of Ravenloft. There are some common sense rules that must be followed. For example, the half-elven ability to befriend an animal is obviously limited by the choice of animals in the area.

Some of the races will be shunned by most people in Ravenloft. The demiplane of dread is primarily a land of humans. The sight of a half-giant or thri-kreen in most domains is likely to cause panic. Unfortunately, there is no way to disguise their alien nature. Unless the rules for a particular domain specify otherwise, half-giants and thri-kreen will be treated as monsters by the populace.

Character Classes: Most of the character classes in the DARK SUN game are common to other D&D campaigns. The exceptions are the gladiator, the templar, the defiler and the preserver. As a result, most of the character classes are not affected by the insidious twists of Ravenloft. Unless otherwise noted, the character class alterations in the RAVENLOFT rules also apply to the Athasian equivalents.

 :arrow: Fighters, Rangers, Gladiators, Specialty Wizards, Rogues, and Bards: These character classes all follow the rules given in the DARK SUN setting, with any restrictions described in the RAVENLOFT setting.

 :arrow: Defilers: This character class is unique to Athas. Although in most respects a defiler is just a normal mage, he destroys the environment with his spellcasting. Every time a defiler casts a spell in Ravenloft, it has the environmental effect described in the DARK SUN setting rules. Knowingly destroying the land like this is cause for a Ravenloft powers check. Essentially, every time a defiler casts a spell, he must roll a Ravenloft powers check!

Normally the percentage for the Ravenloft powers check is left up to the judgment of the game master. For greater consistency, a simple rule is that the percentage chance equals half the level of the spell, rounded down. For example, a 3rd-level spell gives a 1.5% chance, rounded down to a 1% chance. Casting a 1st-level spell is safe, since rounding down leaves a 0% chance for the Ravenloft powers check. The defiling effects of the 1st-level spell are minor enough that the Dark Powers ignore the casting.

If the spell description in the RAVENLOFT rules calls for a powers check, then the defiler suffers from double indemnity. Rather than roll a Ravenloft powers check twice, double the odds and roll once. No spell or condition ever has more than a 5% chance to fail a Ravenloft powers check.

 :arrow: Preservers: Unlike their opposites, preservers do not risk Ravenloft powers checks just for casting spells. They operate under all the normal restrictions for the wizard class in Ravenloft.

 :arrow: Templars: These priests have a big problem in Ravenloft. Their spells are granted to them through their sorcerer-kings. Once in Ravenloft, they are cut off from the source of their power. In the demiplane of dread, they have no spells. The Ravenloft rules for raising undead or turning them take precedence over the Athasian rules. Templars are unable to do so normally, but they use the Turning Undead rules from the Ravenloft setting.

It is possible for a templar to attach himself to the darklord of a domain. The darklord must be a spellcaster of some sort, and of higher level than the templar character. When he seals his pact of loyalty, the templar loses two levels immediately. He then regains his ability to cast spells. The pact must include genuine worship of the darklord, in a fashion that mimics his worship of the sorcerer-kings. The Dark Powers of Ravenloft eagerly embrace the templar and grant his darklord the ability to dispense spells to him, even spells that the darklord himself may not know. In this way the templar and the darklord become reliant upon one another. The darklord gets the use of spells that are normally not available to him, and the templar gets his spellcasting ability back.

Swearing fealty to a darklord has its price. The templar's alignment must immediately shift to evil and becomes an NPC. The idea of templars serving darklords is intended as a device for the game master to create NPCs, not for player characters to use.

 :arrow: Clerics: Since the clerics of Athas derive their magic directly from the Elemental Planes that they revere, their spellcasting abilities are unaffected in Ravenloft. The Ravenloft rules for turning and dispelling undead take precedence over the Athasian rules.

A cleric of Athas still turns undead using his elemental powers. He has no holy symbol, but he can use water, fire, dirt, or a breath to make his turning attempt. This will come as quite a surprise to many self-willed undead used to seeing clerics holding ornate holy symbols.

 :arrow: Druids: The druid in Athas is connected to a particular place -- a grove, oasis, cave, etc. Once drawn into Ravenloft, the druid is cut off from the spirit of his guarded lands. As a result, he loses his spellcasting ability. If the druid genuinely believes that he is forever imprisoned in Ravenloft, he can forsake his guarded lands and look for a spirit of the land to serve in a domain in Ravenloft.

Such spirits of the land do not have to be evil. There are forces in the demiplane of Ravenloft that resist the influence of the darklords. Unfortunately for the druid, many of the spirits associated with the land are evil. It may take a long time to find a suitable spirit. Once the druid has established a new guarded land, his movement is restricted. He can travel anywhere in the domain where his guarded lands are located. Anytime he is removed from the domain, he is cut off from the spirit of the lands and loses his spellcasting ability. It returns immediately once he returns to the domain, but he must rememorize his spells for the day.

Guarded lands in a domain can be dangerous for the druid. The darklord of the domain feels the loss of the lands immediately, since he loses any control he once had over the land and the creatures there. Depending upon the darklord and his goals and desires, he may decide to confront the druid. So long as the druid is alive and in that domain, the guarded lands are under his protection and cannot be commanded by the darklord. Knowing this, most darklords tend to kill Athasian druids who attempt to set up guarded lands in Ravenloft.

Metal: In Athas, metal is quite rare. It is highly likely that an Athasian character will be amazed at the vast quantities of metal that are available here. His first thought will be to buy up all the metal that he can get his hands on. The hope is that these pieces will go back to Athas with him, should he escape the demiplane of dread. The immediate problem with this plan is that the Athasian character is unlikely to be able to buy anything in Ravenloft. He probably enters the demiplane with a pittance for money. If he's like most characters, however, he will most likely steal what he needs rather than buy it.

Kalidnay: Kalidnay is a former city-state of Athas that has been drawn into the demiplane of dread. This domain can serve as a means to draw Athasian characters into Ravenloft.

Kalidnay is an "Island of Terror," a domain surrounded on all sides by the Mists and not connected physically to any other domains. The domain consists of a sandy desert island surrouned by the Sea of Silt. The largest settlement is the city of Kalidnay on the southern coast. On the northern end of the isle lies the village of Artan-ak. A dirt road leads from Kalidnay to the village. Surrounding the village are the best farmlands of the domain. The ruler of the domain is the sorcerer-king Kalid-Ma, but no one has seen him in decades. All official rulings and proclamations come from Kalid-Ma's chief templar, the female half-elf Thakok-An

The people of Kalidnay are typical representatives of any Athasian city. There is no noticeable difference in dress or customs. They revere the name of Kalid-Ma as a deity, but they refer to him as their sorcerer-king. The folk are unlikely to receive strangers from non-Athasian lands gracefully. Elves, dwarves, and other demihumans are seen as quite strange and different. Xenophobia runs high in Kalidnay.

In Artan-ak, there is a particular hatred of the city dwellers. In this smaller village, they believe that Kalid-Ma has been wrongfully usurped. Although they had no love for the sorcerer-king, they rightly blame all of their current problems on Thakok-An. Renegades and rebels are welcomed here with open arms. The underground in Artan-ak is very ineffective and riddled with spies.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2020, 02:23:26 PM by EO »

Bluebomber4evr: The Justice, not you, since 2002

Bluebomber4evr

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Re: Dark Sun
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2013, 05:14:24 PM »
Map of Athas
Spoiler: show


You can view a close-up interactive atlas of this map here: http://www.digitalwanderer.net/darksun/
« Last Edit: June 20, 2020, 01:54:44 PM by EO »

Bluebomber4evr: The Justice, not you, since 2002

Bluebomber4evr

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Re: Dark Sun
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2013, 05:19:13 PM »
Dark Sun Timeline

King's Age Calendar/Timeline of Athas

King's Age Calendar
Y 1. Ral's Fury
Y 2. Friend's Contemplation
Y 3. Desert Vengeance
Y 4. Priest's Slumber
Y 5. Wind's Defiance
Y 6. Dragon's Reverence
Y 7. Mountain's Agitation
Y 8. King's Fury
Y 9. Silt's Contemplation
Y 10. Enemy's Vengeance
Y 11. Guthay's Slumber
Y 12. Ral's Defiance
Y 13. Friend's Reverence
Y 14. Desert's Agitation
Y 15. Priest's Fury
Y 16. Wind's Contemplation
Y 17. Dragon's Vengeance
Y 18. Mountain's Slumber
Y 19. King's Defiance
Y 20. Silt's Reverence
Y 21. Enemy's Agitation
Y 22. Guthay's Fury
Y 23. Ral's Contemplation
Y 24. Friend's Vengeance
Y 25. Desert's Slumber
Y 26. Priest's Defiance
Y 27. Wind's Reverence
Y 28. Dragon's Agitation
Y 29. Mountain's Fury
Y 30. King's Contemplation
Y 31. Silt's Vengeance
Y 32. Enemy's Slumber
Y 33. Guthay's Defiance
Y 34. Ral's Reverence
Y 35. Friend's Agitation
Y 36. Desert's Fury
Y 37. Priest's Contemplation
Y 38. Wind's Vengeance
Y 39. Dragon's Slumber
Y 40. Mountain's Defiance
Y 41. King's Reverence
Y 42. Silt's Agitation
Y 43. Enemy's Fury
Y 44. Guthay's Contemplation
Y 45. Ral's Vengeance
Y 46. Friend's Slumber
Y 47. Desert's Defiance
Y 48. Priest's Reverence
Y 49. Wind's Agitation
Y 50. Dragon's Fury
Y 51. Mountain's Contemplation
Y 52. King's Vengeance
Y 53. Silt's Slumber
Y 54. Enemy's Defiance
Y 55. Guthay's Reverence
Y 56. Ral's Agitation
Y 57. Friend's Fury
Y 58. Desert's Contemplation
Y 59. Priest's Vengeance
Y 60. Wind's Slumber
Y 61. Dragon's Defiance
Y 62. Mountain's Reverence
Y 63. King's Agitation
Y 64. Silt's Fury
Y 65. Enemy's Contemplation
Y 66. Guthay's Vengeance
Y 67. Ral's Slumber
Y 68. Friend's Defiance
Y 69. Desert's Reverence
Y 70. Priest's Agitation
Y 71. Wind's Fury
Y 72. Dragon's Contemplation
Y 73. Mountain's Vengeance
Y 74. King's Slumber
Y 75. Silt's Defiance
Y 76. EnemysReverence
Y 77. GuthaysAgitation

Timeline of Athas
1st World's Age (-14,630)
-Ral's Fury
Creation of the King's Age calendar by the nature-masters based on the rotation of Athas's two moons. Originally titled "World's Age." Original calendar uses "Ocean" instead of "Silt," and "Island" instead of "Desert."
4th World's Age (-14,322)
-Ocean's Slumber
Discovery of the nature-benders, corrupt nature-masters who experiment with life in immoral ways.
-King's Slumber
First appearance of elemental clerics on Athas.
-Enemy's Reverence
Evil elemental clerics form an alliance with the nature-benders.
7th World's Age (-14,091)
-Island's Agitation
War between the nature-masters and the nature-benders until Ral's Vengeance of this age. In the end, the nature-benders are defeated along with their cleric allies.
8th World's Age (-14,014)
-Ral's Defiance
Nature-masters of Ty'agi attempt to expand the lifeforce of the ocean and accidentally create the Brown Tide-which brings about the end of the Blue Age.
-Friend's Reverence
Surviving nature-masters create the Pristine Tower to destroy the Brown Tide. This action changes the sun from blue to yellow, destroying the halfling civilization and bringing about The Rebirth.
-Island's Agitation
The new races of The Rebirth - humans, gnomes, dwarves, elves, and others - appear across the face of Athas. Great cities such as Tyr, Bodach, and Guistenal are founded to house the new races. Last use of "Island" and "Ocean" on the World's Age Calendar. Beginning of the Green Age.
-King's Slumber
Ruler of the rhul-thraun, High Lord Rhan Thes-onel, leaves the Jagged Cliffs to locate any rhulisti remaining on Athas. He never returns.
-Guthay's Agitation
First use of psionic powers by the races of The Rebirth.
9th King's Age (-13,937)
-Ral's Fury
"World's Age" changed to King's Age by the rules of various cities. Dates remain the same.
-Ral's Vengeance
First reported sighting of the Messenger by a Tyrian astronomer. The comet appears every 45 years until the 190th King's Age/Enemy's Slumber when the cycle is mysteriously broken.
11th King's Age (-13,783)
-Enemy's Fury
Birth of Rajaat the War-Bringer.
55th King's Age (-10,395)
-Ral's Reverence
The thri-kreen of Athas, a previously thought unintelligent race, migrate from the Crimson Savanna to the Tyr Region. Though short-lived and alien in appearance, the thri-kreen possess great wisdom and insight. The current king of Tyr welcomes them with open arms. They give no reason for the migration.
66th King's Age (-9,548)
-Wind's Defiance
Mareet, ruler of Saragar, is visited by a time-traveler from the future. He tells the king an appending doom to Athas before disappearing. Obsessed with the warning, Mareet orders his most powerful psionicists to breach the time stream and determine the nature of the warning. They are later joined by a third psionicist.
-Desert's Slumber
The psionicists breach the time barrier and learn of the impending Cleansing Wars, Rajaat, and defiling magic. Mareet wants to warn all of Athas, but the psionicists disagree and take control of their leader. The three use their formidable powers to shield Saragar from the rest of the world. The Mind Lords are born.
78th King's Age (-8,624)
-Friend's Slumber
Current ruler of Urik persecutes the kreen and orders the death of all their kind in the city. Many thri-kreen across the land leave the cities to live in the wild. Migration of thri-kreen from the west comes to a halt.
81st King's Age (-8,393)
-Silt's Agitation
Rajaat arrives at the base of the Jagged Cliffs where he conduits experiments with the powers of life for the next 200 years.
84th King's Age (-8,162)
-King's Defiance
After nearly two centuries of experiments Rajaat discovers the basics of magic, but is nearly killed in the process. After recovering he leaves the Jagged Cliffs and travels to the Pristine Tower to refine the magic process, creating defiling and preserving magic. The Time of Magic begins.
87th King's Age (-7,932)
-Ral's Slumber
An unknown disaster befalls the city of Celik, which casts it into ruins. Survivors blame the ordeal on the reckless use of psionics.
123rd King's Age (-5,159)
-Wind's Fury
The feral halfling scout Too'lane discovers the Last Tree atop a mountain in the Forest Ridge. This ancient living artifact's location is kept secret by the halflings.
125th King's Age (-5,005)
-Guthay's Reverence
After three eons of study, Rajaat emerges from the Pristine Tower to teach magic to the Rebirth races. He teaches preserving magic openly, and defiling magic in secret to those of "questionable" character. For the next 1,500 years Rajaat studies how magic interacts with the Rebirth races, and decides that humans have the most potential of all to suit his needs.
134th King's Age (-4,312)
-King's Agitation
Rajaat begins a jihad against the preservers of Athas for the next thousand years. Preservers across the land go into hiding while fighting a losing battle against the followers of Rajaat.
144th King's Age (-3,542)
-Priest's Contemplation
Rajaat sends all but a few of his students away. Using the power of the Pristine Tower and the mysterious Dark Lens Rajaat creates his Champions.

Each Champion is ordered to eliminate one specific race from the face of Athas in an effort to bring about the return of the Blue Age. The Cleansing Wars begin.
147th King's Age (-3,311)
-King's Slumber
Sacha of Arala, 1st Champion of Rajaat eliminates the last of the kobolds from the face of Athas.
155th King's Age (-2,695)
-Ral's Defiance
Daskinor Goblin Death, 14th Champion of Rajaat exterminates the last goblin from the face of Athas
-Ral's Slumber
Wyan of Bodach, 12th Champion of Rajaat obliterates the last pixie from the land.
156th King's Age (-2,618)
-Friend's Contemplation
Uyness of Waverly (later known as Abalach-Re), 5th Champion of Rajaat slaughters the last of the orcs from the face of Athas.
160th King's Age (-2,310)
-Guthay's Defiance
Kalak, 2nd Champion of Rajaat kills the last of the ogres of Athas.
-Ral's Reverence
Gallard (later known as Nibenay), 6th Champion of Rajaat massacres the last of Athas's gnomes.

Keltis, Lizard Man Executioner arrives at Saragar despite the powers of the Mind Lords. The Mind Lord's cleverness hides the entire population of lizard men from the Champion, and he soon leaves the Last Sea.
-Desert's Reverence
The First Sorcerer orders the defiler Qwith to explore the workings of the Inner Planes as a possible means of power.
-Wind's Fury
The great cities of Ebe, Waverly, and Arala are swallowed by the expanding Silt Sea, though later it recedes from Waverly. The nearby city of Bodach is spared, but becomes surrounded by silt.
-Mountain's Vengeance
The warlord Irikos, the left hand of Rajaat, sacks the city of Bodach-but is killed at the conclusion of the battle. His sword (a creation of Rajaat's), the Silencer, is lost for 2,000 years.
161st King's Age (-2,233)
-Ral's Fury
Infuriated at her lack of progress, Rajaat turns research of the Inner Planes over to Qwith's subordinates. Shortly after an accident of unknown origins opens a gate to the Inner Planes, and obsidian flows across the land for hundreds of miles in each direction until the gate is closed by the Seventh Tree. Thousands die in the disaster.

Those killed by obsidian rise as undead through a mysterious power from the Inner Planes. Rajaat's servants arise as the rulers of this land, becoming powerful thinking undead wizards and psionicists. The Dead Lands are born.
-Silt's Agitation
All life across the obsidian plain is obliterated except for the Seventh Tree, which becomes immune to defiling magic. Soon after the undead defiler Gretch discovers necromantic magic to replace the loss of defiling magic.
Necromancer magic is born.
162nd King's Age (-2156)
-Friend's Reverence
Keltis (later known as Oronis), 10th Champion of Rajaat believes he exterminates the last of the lizard men. In reality several tribes survive, protected by the Mind Lords.
-Wind's Slumber
Tectuktitlay, 9th Champion of Rajaat destroys the last wemics on Athas.
163rd King's Age (-2,079)
-King's Vengeance
Myron of Yorum is replaced as Troll Scorcher by Manu of Deche, later known as Hamanu of Urik. He is given the sword the Scorcher, created by Rajaat, to complete his task.
164th King's Age (2,002)
-Friend's Contemplation
Hamanu, replaced 4th Champion of Rajaat, kills Windreaver-the last troll of Athas and king of his people.
-Desert Vengeance
Rkard, the last dwarven king of Kemalok, is slain by Borys of Ebe in mortal combat-though Borys himself is gravely injured. The Champion's attendants spirit him from the battlefield leaving his sword, the Scourge, still buried in the dwarf's chest. Before he can retrieve the sword, Hamanu tells Borys of Rajaat's true plans for Athas.

Becoming aware that Rajaat intends to wipe out all races except the halflings, Borys leads the Champions in a rebellion against their master-from which they emerged victorious. Rajaat's halfling servants are banished to the Black as punishment for siding with the War-Bringer. Despite their power, the children of Rajaat cannot destroy his mortal remains. Instead, Gallard separates the First Sorcerer's essence from his physical form, placing each in a separate location. Aided by the power of the Dark Lens, Gallard creates the Hollow, where he placed Rajaat's essence. Gallard then creates a cyst of enchanted stone called the Black Sphere in which he places Rajaat's substance. He then hides the Black Sphere in a location known only to him and Borys of Ebe. Sacha and Wyan, who remained loyal to their master, attempted to breach the cyst before it is hidden away. Their plan is discovered and they are beheaded by Borys.

Through the use of the Dark Lens, Borys rewards the remaining Champions by beginning their transformations into sorcerer-kings. This process links each of them to living vortices, which allows them to grant their followers clerical spells.

The Champions realize that Rajaat's prison will not hold. Even segmented, Rajaat's power is supreme and he would one day be free. Hence, the Champions once again used the Dark Lens to transform Borys into the Dragon, whose power would keep Rajaat imprisoned for all time.

Borys's transformation causes him to become temporarily insane, beginning a century of rampages across the land. In the confusion, two dwarven knights named Jor'orsh and Sa'ram steal the Dark Lens. The remaining sorcerer-kings each claim a city of Athas and barricade it from the rampaging Dragon.
-Friend's Fury
Lead by Abalach-Re of Raam, the sorcerer-kings storm Guistenal and kill Dregoth, Ravager of Giants just before he is to become a 30th-level Dragon. The battle destroys the city, the land, and most of its population. Afterwards, Hamanu throws the Scorcher into the Silt Sea.

With the aid of his high templar Mon Adderath, Dregoth is returned to life as an undead dragon king. The surviving populace is gathered soon after, and construction of New Guistenal begins.
165th King's Age (-1,925)
-Wind's Defiance
Borys emerges from his insanity and learns Rajaat's prison is on the verge of collapse. Soon after he collects a levy of 1,000 slaves from each sorcerer-king, using their lifeforce to reseal the First Sorcerer's prison on a yearly basis.
167th King's Age (-1,771)
-Ral's Agitation
In an attempt to increase her power, Sielba, Queen of Yaramuke attacks Urik. Hamanu easily defeats her army and personally slays the sorcerer-queen. On the heels of victory, Urik's army sacks Yaramuke and burns the city to the ground. To appease the Dragon's wrath for killing a sorcerer-queen, Hamanu presents Borys with a levy of Yaramuke's riches-which pleases the beast and spares Urik.
-Silt's Defiance
Borys uses the booty gained from Yaramuke to build Ur Draxa, which becomes the greatest city on all of Athas. At the center of the city Borys places the Black Sphere for him and his city to protect.
-Enemy's Reverence
The sorcerer-kings call for a jihad against the druids of Athas. For the next three centuries the blood of druids across the land stains the sands red in what would be known as the Eradication.
168th King's Age (-1,694)
-Desert's Fury
After years of study Dregoth finally deciphers halfling records found in the caverns beneath Guistenal. The end result is the creation of the first generation dray, which Dregoth deems a failure and banishes to Kragmorta.
-Friend's Defiance
The thri-kreen prophet Ka'Cha begins the first of several journeys across the Tablelands to spread the word of peace and enlightenment to the thri-kreen, as well as other races.
-Guthay's Agitation
After several more failures Dregoth succeeds in his experiments, and the second generation of dray are created in his own image.
170th King's Age (-1,540)
-Guthay's Slumber
Dregoth, Ravager of Giants, discovers the planar gate. After a decade of research, he uses the device to travel the Outer Planes of existence for the next 19 centuries.
-Wind's Slumber
After being nearly wiped from the face of Athas, the remaining druids of the land go into hiding for the next 1,000 years to a secret location in the Forest Ridge.
171st King's Age (-1,463)
-Silt's Reverence
Daskinor Goblin Death slips into insanity following this year's levy, and builds an army to slay the Dragon upon his return the following year. Borys learns of his plot, and not needing the levy to maintain Rajaat's prison never returns.
Keltis, Lizard Man Executioner, has an attack of conscience and denounces being a sorcerer-king. Over the next centuries he strives to become something more noble. Because of the actions of nearby Daskinor, Borys never returns to Kurn and both cities become isolated from the rest of Athas.
174th King's Age (-1,232)
-King's Contemplation
In an effort to increase his power, Kalid-Ma attempts to further his dragon metamorphosis to a power near that of Borys of Ebe. The attempt is successful, but his mind is destroyed in the process. The dragon that was Kalid-Ma destroys his city of Kalidnay and begins to move into the rest of the Tyr region. The creature is later slain by the combined efforts of Borys of Ebe, Kalak of Tyr, and Hamanu of Urik.

With the loss of Kalidnay, the levy to keep Rajaat imprisoned becomes a firm 1,000 slaves from the seven remaining sorcerer-kings.
177th King's Age (-1,001)
-Guthay's Reverence
A powerful Druid named Tehnik creates the four artifacts known as the Hearts of the Drake, and dies in the process.
179th King's Age (-857)
(Silt's Defiance
Tarandas of Raam, a powerful psionicist and teacher throughout the Tyr Region, disappears without a trace. Her students insist she has ventured beyond her mastery of the Way into realms unseen by lesser beings.
183rd King's Age (-539)
-Guthay's Fury
With the aid of a wizard named Besteren, Oronis (formerly known as Keltis) develops the preserver metamorphosis spell to counter Rajaat's vile magic. The spell nearly kills him, but in the end Oronis emerges as Athas's first avangion.
184th King's Age (-462)
-King's Fury
Oronis gives the preserver metamorphosis spell to a preserver/psionicist named Nerad, who becomes Athas's second avangion.
-Wind's Fury
After revealing himself to the Veiled Alliance of Tyr, Nerad is discovered by King Kalak-who in turn contacts the Dragon. Borys later kills Nerad south of Tyr. In his grief, Oronis hides all copies of the preserver metamorphosis spell.
187th King's Age (-231)
-Ral's Vengeance
The Silencer is uncovered by an elf named Rimmon in the ruins of Bodach, who uses its power to lead her bandit tribe against the city-state of Balic. She is easily defeated by Andropinis, but the Silencer is again lost.
189th King's Age (-77)
-Mountain's Slumber
The Obsidian Man is discovered in the mines of Urik. After returning the artifact to Urik, the sinister device activates and nearly kills Hamanu before he learns to control it with a golden circlet.
-King's Defiance
An unnamed psionicist discovers the presence of the psurlons, a powerful psionic race of worm-like creatures, on the Astral Plane. With their own world being destroyed a millennia before, a few psurlons migrate to Athas where the psionic nature of the world makes them potent enemies.
-Enemy's Agitation
The Scorcher is recovered from the belly of a silt horror by an ex-gladiator named Vorr. Soon after Vorr disappears in the Valley of Trevain.
-King's Agitation
Andropinis of Balic fails to come up with 1,000 slaves for the year's levy, presenting the Dragon with only 900. In his anger Borys levels a portion of the city and takes the remainder levy from among Andropinis' templars. For the next several years the sorcerer-king of Balic does extensive slave raids across the southern Tablelands to rebuild his slave population so this would never happen again.
190th King's Age
-Friend's Vengeance
A templar of Urik removes the golden circlet from the head of the Obsidian Man, which animates and kills him. The artifact is later traced through the streets of Urik, but disappears into the desert.
-Desert's Slumber
After years of investigation into the death of Nerad, a preserver/psionicist named Korgunard learns of Oronis of Kurn. Though reluctant to have another death on his hands, Oronis gives him the preserver metamorphosis spell-but does not allow him to retain a copy.
-Priest's Defiance (Free Year 1)
King Kalak of Tyr is slain by the Heartwood Spear through the combined efforts of Rikus, Agis, Neeva, Tithian, and Sadira. Tithian becomes the next king of Tyr and frees all slaves. Tyr adopts the Free Year calendar.
-Wind's Reverence (Free Year 2)
Hamanu of Urik send his army to capture the iron mines of Tyr from the upstart king. In response Rikus forms the Crimson Legion and defeats the approaching army while wielding the Scourge of Rkard and the Belt of Kings. Afterwards Rikus takes the Crimson Legion to sack Urik in search of the Book of Kemalok Kings, but is defeated by Hamanu himself. The Crimson Legion is destroyed, though a few survived. Rikus returns the Belt of Kings to Kled, but is told to keep the Scourge. King Andropinis pays an extra 1,000 slaves to make up for Tyr's share of the levy.

Aided by the Veiled Alliance of Urik, Korgunard becomes Athas's third avangion.
-Dragon's Agitation (Free Year 3)
In an effort to protect Tyr from the Dragon, Sadira seeks out the Pristine Tower and its ancient magic. In return for her pledge to slay the Borys of Ebe the shadow giants of the Pristine Tower transform her into the Sun Wizard, giving her power akin to that of a sorcerer-king.

Avoiding Tyr, the Dragon attempts to take his yearly levy from the dwarven city of Kled. In the end he is driven off by Sadira and Rikus bearing his old sword the Scourge. During the battle Neeva gives birth to her mul son Rkard, named for the dwarven king who battled Borys 2,000 year ago.

For the next several years King Tithian of Tyr secretly supplies the Dragon with a levy of 1,000 slaves captured from outlying villages.
-Mountain's Fury (Free Year 4)
The ancient artifact the Psionatrix is activated by the Order, a powerful organization of psionic purists, nullifying psionics across the Tablelands and causing thri-kreen to be driven into an insane frenzy.

The avangion Korgunard is slain while trying to convince members of the Order to deactivate the Psionatrix. One of the members, a halfling named Pakk, consumes the avangion's remains.

Deep within the recesses of the Dragon's Crown, the Psionatrix is deactivated and several members of the Order are slain. The remains of the artifact mysteriously disappear.
-Silt's Vengeance (Free Year 6)
Led by Queen Trinth, the Githyanki of the Astral Plane discover a way to safely breaches the Gray and invaded Athas from the Black Spine mountains. The githyanki's plans are foiled by a group of heroes that travel through the portal and kill the queen. With Trinth dead, the portal collapses.
-Enemy's Slumber (Free Year 7)
The comet known as the Messenger fails to appear at the prescribe time, and many across the Tablelands take it as a sign of a forthcoming doom.
-Ral's Reverence (Free Year 9)
Armed with information stolen from the dwarves of Kled, Tithian learns of the location of the hidden Dark Lens-with which he can become a sorcerer-king. Agis of Asticles catches up with him and reluctantly aids him in his quest. After the pair retrieve the Dark Lens, Tithian kills Agis.
-Friend's Agitation (Free Year 10)
Dregoth returns to New Guistenal from the Outer Planes with aspirations of becoming a god. Unsure of the condition of Athas he sends his templars to the surface to learn the state of the Tyr region, learning too late the events that lead to the death of several fellow Champions.

Sadira kills Abalach-Re with the broken tip of the Scourge of Rkard on the Ivory Plain. The sorcerer-queen's body is completely consumed by a black ooze leaking from the broken tip.

Rikus of Tyr breaks the Scourge of Rkard a second time, this time in the snout of the Dragon. The sword again issues forth a black ichor that completely consumes Borys of Ebe.

Tithian uses the Dark Lens to free Rajaat's substance from the Black Sphere, causing his essence to also be released from the Hollow. After 2,000 years of imprisonment the First Sorcerer is once again free. The result of escaping his prison destroys much of Ur Draxa in a grand explosion.

In the ruins of Ur Draxa Rajaat battles his former Champions. Rajaat imprisons Andropinis of Balic in the Black, then grabs the Dark Lens from Tectuktitlay of Draj and crushes the sorcerer-king's skull. The remaining Champions scatter while Sadira steals the Dark Lens and heads for the Ring of Fire.

Sadira of Tyr discovers that the key to Rajaat's defeat is his shadow, which gives him substance. Using the Dark Lens, the young Rkard casts a sun spell it magnifying its power ten-fold. The resulting brilliance obliterates Rajaat's shadow and sends his essence back to the Hollow, while his body is boiled away by the heat of the spell.

Having been in contact with the Dark Lens as Rkard cast his spell, Tithian becomes mystically connected to the Black and Rajaat's elemental nature.

The result is Tithian becoming the Cerulean Storm. Sadira tosses the Dark Lens and the Scourge into the Ring of Fire, placing powerful wards around it so that no one can obtain the artifact and once again free the First Sorcerer.

As Rkard's spell lights up the sky, a great earthquake rocks the Tyr Region. The full force of the quake is centered west of the Tablelands beyond the Ringing Mountains. The resulting quake creates the Great Rift, a passage leading to the Crimson Savannah of the Kreen Empire.
-Desert's Fury (Free Year 11)
The Wanderer discovers the lost halflings, the rhul-thaun, of the Jagged Cliff.
-Priest's Contemplation (Free Year 12)
After leaving the Jagged Cliffs, the Wanderer travels north and learns of the Last Sea. There he discovers the bizarre land of the Mind Lords. The Coruscation begins, the Day of Light prophesied by the dray when the blood of a thousand unbelievers runs in rivers at the feet of Dregoth. This sign is to bring about the coming of a new age where Dregoth is supreme.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2020, 02:09:38 PM by EO »

Bluebomber4evr: The Justice, not you, since 2002

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Extinct Races
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2013, 07:32:53 PM »
Extinct Races

The following common D&D creatures/races are extinct on Athas and thus unknown to characters native from there:

Extinct:
Gnomes
Gnolls
Trolls
Goblins
Hobgoblins
Bugbears
Kobolds
Pixies/Nixies/Grigs/other faerie races
Centaurs
Satyrs
Medusae
Pegasi
Unicorns
Horses
Wolves
Bears
Livestock/farm animals (pigs, cows, chickens, geese, goats, etc.)
Elephants
Whales
Mustelids (weasels, badgers, otters, wolverines, mink, skunks, etc.)
Hill, Mountain, Frost, Fire, Cloud and Stone Giants (there are new, different giants now living on Athas)
Standard D&D Dragons
Hippos
Rhinos
Most hooved herbivores such as deer, moose, elk, giraffes, buffaloes, bison, etc.
Foxes
Rabbits
Beavers
Treants
Merfolk
Sahuagin
Minotaurs
Harpies
Most fey races (dryads, sylphs, nymphs, etc.)
Most common birds like ravens, thrushes, finches, songbirds, pheasants, quail and the like
Owls
Wild boars
Lycanthropes
Hedgehogs
Porcupines
Raccoons
Squirrels
Arctic/Antarctic creatures
Orcs/Half-Orcs
Ogres
Drow
Gargoyles
Hags
Mind Flayers
Rust Monsters

Lizardfolk and marine animals are only still alive and protected by the Mind Lords of the Last Sea, which very few Athasians are aware of, let alone have traveled to.

Animals such as crocodiles and amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders, newts) live in the few swamps found in the Crimson Savannah, another area few Athasians have traveled to, although thri-kreen and Rhul-Thaun are familiar with that region.

Freshwater fish can be found in any place where clean, fresh water exists, but as this is a rarity on Athas, these creatures are a rarity as well.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2020, 02:21:50 PM by EO »

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Races of Athas
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2020, 02:11:30 PM »
Races of Athas

While there are innumerable races on Athas, and multiple playable races in the PnP setting (including Half-Giants, Thri-Kreen, Pterrans, and others), only the following races are supported on POTM, and as such are detailed more closely.

Athasian Dwarves

On Athas, dwarves aren't subterranean miners. They are a long-lived but slowly dying race known for their relentless focus on a single task to the exclusion of all others. They are short, stocky demihumans capable of amazing feats of strength. They are known for obsessive attitudes about the tasks they perform and as such, are considered extremely reliable workers.

Personality: The saying that a dwarf's first love is hard work is true. How a dwarf behaves depends greatly on his focus. No dwarf is more content than while working toward the resolution of some cause, be it labor or combat. This task, called a focus, is approached with singleminded direction for the dwarf's entire life, if need be, though most foci require considerably less time, such as "dig a new irrigation ditch," "convince the merchants of House Stel to improve our trade terms," or "slay the gaj that's been terrorizing our outpost." The only time constraint for a focus is that it must take more than a week to complete, anything less is nothing more than a simple task. A dwarf does not ignore such short activities, but he derives no satisfaction from their completion. At all times, the dwarf must be progressing toward the completion of the focus, changing direction for no more than a few days at most.

Each dwarf has a focus that guides his actions during every waking moment.  It is possible for a dwarf to have more than one focus, providing both are somehow related. For example, a dwarf whose focus is to construct a new village for his clan to adopt may also have a short-term focus to locate the best builders in all of Athas for this village. A dwarf who dies while resolving a focus is doomed to spend the remainder of its existence as a banshee, forever wandering the wastelands in vain attempts to finish his work.

If you're roleplaying a dwarf, you should be able to describe your current focus in a single sentence without a moment's hesitation. You can change your focus anytime you like simply by telling the DM, although most dwarves don't change their focus until the task is completed or it's apparent that it never will be completed. Think carefully about choosing a focus that'll make your goals diverge from those of the other PCs. Your focus should make for interesting roleplaying, but it shouldn't form a wedge between you and the other players.

Physical Description: Dwarves stand an average of 4½ to 5 feet tall. They tend to have disproportionate statures because of over-muscled bodies and sometimes weigh as much as 200 pounds despite their height. Their massive hands permit them to hold weapons that seem too large for their size. Equally large feet help keep their bulging frames standing. Deep-set eyes sometimes give the impression that the dwarves are constantly observing, silently watching and judging the actions of those around them.

Other than a distinctive build and usually hairless heads, dwarves do not stray too far from a human appearance. However, endless hours laboring under the scorching, Athasian sun has brought them deep copper tans and calloused bodies. There is a joke spread by the humans that dwarves use no whetstone to sharpen their weapons; instead, they are said to rely upon their own skin to keep their blades sharp.

Dwarves have an average life span of about 250 years.

Relations: Dwarves categorize people according to their relation to their focuses, not by race, gender, or other characteristics. If someone can aid a dwarf in the resolution of his focus, he'll be at least marginally polite and helpful. However, standing between a dwarf and his focus makes the person an enemy, and not relating to his focus at all makes the being irrelevant.

Alignment: A dwarf's respect for those who fulfill their stated objectives gives most a lawful outlook.

Dwarf Lands: Dwarves adapt to virtually all types of terrain on Athas, comfortably settling in mountains. deserts, or near human city-states.

Free dwarves settle in communities, called clans, bound around their families. Ties of the blood are honored and respected above all others, except the focus. Debts and glories earned from one generation in a clan are passed down to the family members of the next generation. There is no way to break free from these nebulous ties, for such a concept is entirely foreign to the mind of the dwarf. Many foci of clan dwarves center around the benefit of the family.

Few communities surpass 300 in number. These communities usually spring from a few extended families linked by a common ancestor whose focus was to start the settlement ages ago.

Most free dwarves earn their money through commerce with the world around them. Dwarven-forged metal is considered to be among the best in all of Athas. Many smiths swell the boundaries of their clan’s economy by purchasing or finding scraps of steel and converting it to arms or armor. Though dwarves despise haggling because it wastes too much time that could be directed toward better things, they set their prices fairly.

In the cities, dwarves who do not craft metal usually hire out as mercenaries. Dwarven mercenaries are highly prized; it is hard to buy their loyalty once it has been purchased by another. Some desperate dwarves find their ways into the gladiatorial pits of the nobles, sacrificing freedom to send money to the homelands.

Religion: Most dwarves worship one of the dragon-kings, although many heed the words of elemental clerics, especially those of earth and fire.

Language: The dwarven language is deep and throaty, with hard, guttural consonants that usually end the brief sentences. Since their tongue often makes non-dwarves hoarse after a few hours of speech, dwarves are willing to learn the common language spoken by merchants throughout the land. Because the language is so difficult, dwarves view with respect those who attempt their language for extended periods, in return for the honor they feel is being demonstrated to them.

Names: Dwarves once had an elaborate naming structure that detailed a particular dwarf's heritage by describing his ancestors. The naming system was unwieldy, however, so it has fallen into disuse, and dwarves have adopted human naming conventions.

Adventurers: Dwarven adventurers are driven by a focus that puts them in harm's way, such as "map the Jagged Cliffs region," "overthrow the dragon-king," or "make enough money to buy the freedom of my family."

Athasian Elves

On Athas, elves have pointed ears and dwell in the wilderness, but comparisons to traditional fantasy elves end there. The elves of Dark Sun are clannish, nomadic desert-dwellers said to be as fast - and as mercurial - as the sirocco. They are perhaps the most prolific non-city dwelling race of demihumans east of the Ringing Mountains. Though many of the tribes follow different customs, all elves share one thing in common - a propensity for raiding and warfare.

Elves are tireless wanderers, scouring the desert sands for whatever sustenance and riches they can find. They travel on foot in tribal groups, engaging in thieving and raiding, then disappear in a cloud of dust. Some tribes trade on a more-or-less regular basis with the city-states, but elves are known for their willingness to fleece customers not of their tribe.

Personality: An elf would rather live a short, happy life among friends than toil for centuries like a dwarf. Many take a perverse pride in the stereotype that labels them as untrustworthy thieves and bandits. Most elves make a respectable living as herders, but a few choose the lucrative profession of merchant or the more dangerous raiding and thieving. The elf is well-equipped for either job because he is versatile at communication, is well-versed in a variety of landscapes, and is able to move much cargo across vast territories in a short time.

Physical Description: The elves of Athas are lithe and tall, averaging 6½ to 7½ feet tall. They are extremely muscular despite their lean stature. However, the years of exposure have taken a toll on their frames, leading to a weaker constitution. Both males and females wear their hair long.  Sun-baked, wind-carved features dominate the chiseled elven faces. To survive the harsh elements of the deserts, elves are forced to clad themselves in dark, protective clothing, such as voluminous robes. Often, elves will stitch clan symbols throughout their clothes, though never on outerwear, such as cloaks. These articles are painted or weaved to better camouflage the elf within the desert terrain. The elves consider such distinctive garb part of their elven culture, and are likely to continue wearing such attire even within the confines of weather-resistant shelters.

Years of conditioning have instilled within the elves the ability to run quickly over sandy and rocky terrain. Elves have a higher resistance to heat and cold. An elf rarely lives past the age of 140.

Relations: It is said that the only thing harder than finding an elf you can trust is finding an elf who trusts you. Elves either ignore or hold in contempt those not of their tribe, especially nonelves. They share an intensely strong tribal unity that does not extend beyond tribal borders. Outlander elves are as much potential enemies as any other creature. With considerable effort, outsiders can gain acceptance by an individual or an entire tribe, but only through extensive service, sacrifice, and bravery. In much rarer instances, even such noble actions are not enough. Stories abound in taverns that tell of tribal leaders who mandate self-inflicted wounds, such as dagger-drawn tattoos or hot-iron brands. The chance for this earned confidence does not increase because the newcomer is an elf. An elf living among other races carefully tests the friendship of would-be allies before letting his guard down.

The elf's natural enemy is a thri-kreen, who is likely to view the elf as a potential meal. An elf rarely lives past the age of 140.

Alignment: Elves tend strongly toward chaotic alignments. Whether elves are good or evil depends on what's standing between them and their next drink of water.

Elven Lands: Some elven tribes have taken up residence in the city-states - usually in their own ghetto - but most roam the sandy wastes, coming into the cities only to trade. Many tribes of elven bandits congregate along major trade routes where they can pick off heavily laden caravans.

Religion: Few elves serve the dragon-kings - or anyone else for that matter. Many of the larger tribes have druids that provide a measure of spiritual guidance, and clerics of fire and earth aren't unheard of either.

Language: Many elves speak common, especially those who frequently deal with humans, but the elves do have their own language. This collection of short, usually monosyllabic words is fired off rapidly, making the language difficult for non-native speakers to grasp. As a result, elves find themselves forced to decrease their pace, which they find quite distasteful, when talking to outsiders. Because of this, elves to tend speak far less often to outsiders, an action that leads many to call the elves a bit aloof.

Names: Elves take a simple name in their own language, and among the tribe they'll append a descriptive term, such as "Vilyaa the Tall," if a particularly common name is causing confusion. Elves separated from their tribe often take the tribe's name as a de facto last name. Tribe names include Night Runners, Silt Stalkers, Silver Hands, Sky Singers, Water Hunters, and Wind Dancers. Many elven names have doubled vowels, indicating that the vowel sound is stretched out slightly.

Adventurers: An elf's wanderings often develop into adventures whether he likes it or not. Some elves can't resist the temptation to fleece locals as they travel, while others find themselves the target of prejudiced harassment.

Athasian Half-Elves

The half-elves of Athas have no true home: They are regarded as outsiders in both the human-dominated city-states and the elven tribes of the wilderness. Unlike their parents, half-elves have no culture or community to call their own, but the flip side to being an outsider is being able to come and go as you please. Just to get through the day in a world that regards them as halfbreed mongrels, half-elves have become adept socially, using keen perception and a diplomatic demeanor to deflect prejudice.

Personality: Most half-elves grew up as orphans or in broken homes, and most live uneasy lives in human or elven communities that don't truly accept them. This intolerance they are subject to has given half-elves their greatest attribute—self-reliance. As loners, usually without permanent residence, half-elves survive the rigors of life in the wilderness completely on their own. The skills involved in survival, such as locating food, water, and shelter, are only half of the challenge they face — half-elves must also learn to deal with the absence of companionship, the complete lack of conversation and basic friendship.

Half-elves pride themselves on their self-reliance. Despite their self-reliance, when faced with elves or humans, half-elves often find themselves looking for acceptance. For instance, when among elves, a half-elf will go out of his way to prove just how elven he is, by running great distances with them and observing other social and cultural rituals with the elves. These efforts, however, are mostly lost on the elves and therefore serve no purpose. The half-elf's behavior is seen by some as slightly irrational, but only by those who are comfortably wrapped in the blankets of racial acceptance; having none leaves half-elves out in the bitterest cold.

Physical Description: Half-elves are generally tall, between 6 and 6 1/2 feet tall, but more meaty than their elven counterparts. Their facial features are clearly more deeply defined than those of a human, but based solely on their countenance half-elves can usually pass for either an elf or a human.

Relations: A half-elf's life is typically hardened by the intolerance of others. Neither fully human nor fully elven, half-elves rarely find acceptance with either race. Elves are especially intolerant, at times driving mothers of half-elven infants from their camps into the desert. Humans are more apt to accept halfelves as allies or partners, but seldom accept them into their homes, clans, or families. Rarely do half-elves congregate in great enough numbers to form communities of their own, so they remain outsiders, forever wandering from situation to situation without a people, land, or village to call home.

Coincidentally, faced with intolerance from the races of their parentage, many turn to completely alien races for acceptance. Dwarves, halflings, and even thri-kreen have no basic dislike of half-elves—nor do they grant them any favor. At the very least a half-elf dealing with these races can expect no automatic prejudices. Also, some half-elves turn for companionship to the animal world, training beasts of the air and sands as servants and friends.

Alignment: Half-elves have no affinity for a particular alignment.

Half-Elven Lands: Unlike half-giants and muls, half-elves do not consider themselves a separate race, and therefore do not try to form half-elven communities. As such, rarely do they congregate in great enough numbers to form communities of their own, so they remain outsiders, forever wandering from situation to situation without a people, land, or village to call home.

Religion: There are more half-elves than one might expect among the ranks of the templars, because a regimented life spent in dragon-king worship avoids many of the day-to-day difficulties of being a half-elf. Those half-elves who embrace their outcast nature often become elemental clerics, because fire, wind, water, and earth regard half-elves for who they are, not for who their parents were.

Language: Half-elves speak Common. Those with connections to the elven tribe of a parent learn Elven as well.

Names: Half-elves adopt the naming conventions of whatever society they live in.

Adventurers: Almost by definition, half-elves have to make their own way in the world, without a family or community to help them. Thus, the adventurer's life appeals to many.

Athasian Halflings

Feral creatures who live in the few forests remaining in the world of Dark Sun, the halflings of Athas are out of place in the city-states of the Tablelands. Yet, like how a wild creature held in a zoo can adapt to its surroundings, so too can a halfling find adventure in the cities, as well as the deserts, of Dark Sun.

Personality: Stories, song, and fine arts are of paramount importance to halflings, who have a rich oral history and collection of mythic tales. Halflings often feel sorry for creatures who have to scrabble madly for water and food, as they have little difficulty obtaining either in their forest homes. This attitude sometimes appears patronizing to others.

Strict carnivores, halflings tend to view all animals, including humans and their ilk, as lunch. Combat honor is a valueless concept to halflings. In battle, halflings resort to what others might call dirty tricks. Having strong ties to the land, halflings are likely to create their weapons from organic sources. A popular tenet among halfling warriors is that a weapon built from the same material as an opponent offers special advantages to the wielder.

Physical Description: A halfling is a very short humanoid, standing no more than 3½ feet in height. The hair, eyes, and skin color of halflings tends to be as varied as their human counterparts. Proportioned like humans, they are quick and muscular, possessing a strength that belies their size, but they have the faces of wise and beautiful children. Halflings live to be as much as 120 years old, but once they reach adulthood, their features never succumb to their years— it's very difficult for an outsider to determine a given halfling's age. A halfling weighs 50 to 60 pounds and is virtually always in peak physical condition. Many decorate their skin with war-paint, tattoos, and piercings.

Relations: Halflings have a mixture of pity and curiosity about the people of the city-states, but they're socially aware enough to realize that they will always be a novelty to the larger races. After they've been among humans and other races for a while, most halflings overhear enough tales about cannibal halflings to last a lifetime. However, most don't foul their dealings with those they meet by telling them that most of those stories are true. The halfling's meat-only diet means that halflings see all living creatures more as food than as equals. This perception leads them to expect other races to feel similarly. As a result, at no time is a halfling likely to trust any other member of any other species.

Alignment: Halflings have no particular alignment preference, although those who travel to the city-states have a tendency to be more chaotic than those who remain in their forest homes.

Halfling Lands: Halflings are native to the Forest Ridge, a wooded mountain range northwest of the city-states. There the halflings have many villages and even larger settlements. Most halflings, except the chaotic and more brutal renegades near the Ringing Mountains, share a common outlook on life. This universal perception results in considerable racial unity despite geographical and political separations. Though divided politically into separate villages and communities, halflings have great respect for their race as a whole. It is rare that one halfing will shed the blood of another, even in extreme ideological confrontations. Political differences between them are settled wherever possible peaceably, through ritual and custom, most often under the direction of their clerical leaders, the shaman witch doctors. Other races find halfing culture a difficult concept to understand.

Their culture is fabulously diverse, but difficult for other races to comprehend. A complete history of their culture, if such a thing existed, would speak volume upon volume of complex social change, inspirational clerical leaders, and in-depth personal studies of the halfling and his duty to his jungle home. Conspicuous in their absence would be references to great wars of conquest or tremendous monetary wealth—the yardsticks by which other races measure cultural success. Halfling culture cares for the individual's inward being, his identity and spiritual unity with his race and environment. Their culture does not provide for more traditional values, and vices such as greed and avarice are particularly discouraged.

On a personal level, halflings relate very well to one another, well enough to have built a considerable culture rich in art, song, and other expressive communication. They tend to rely heavily on their culture for communication, a culture that both parties in a conversation are assumed to understand.

Religion: Halflings let their village druids, known as witch doctors, tend to their spiritual needs, although elemental clerics are not unheard of. Rare indeed is the halfling who venerates a dragon-king.

Language: The halfling language is comprised of a collection of mimicked animal sounds such as whistles, cawing, and chatter. Halflings can also speak the common tongue.

Names: Halfling names reflect their tribal heritage, full of aggressive consonants and references to the natural world. Common appellations include Windborne Garkala, Kaishak Treetopper, and Shethac Two-Streams.

Adventurers: Halflings usually have a reason for leaving their forest homes beyond "I'm looking for adventure." Some are voluntary exiles, others are (or were) attached to diplomatic or trading missions, and some are on the run from a dark fate that awaits them back in the forest.

The following links provide more information on halflings, though some of it may not be canon: http://athas.org/articles/the-good-and-the-green - http://athas.org/articles/halfling-advice
Athasian Humans

Humans are the dominant culture in the explored parts of Athas. Among the races, they are known for their versatility and willingness to adapt to the harsh realities of life on Athas.

Personality: Humans tend to be ambitious and individualistic: even the tyranny of the dragon-kings hasn't stamped out human diversity. Other races often don't know what to expect when meeting a human for the first time, because predicting their behavior based on cultural norms is difficult. "It's human nature," they say with a shrug whenever humans take some action for no apparent reason.

Physical Description: Humans on Athas tend to be dark-skinned with brown or black hair, although exceptions exist. Templar and noble humans tend to display the greatest variety of hair and skin coloration. An average human male stands between 6 and 6 1/2 feet tall and weighs 180 to 200 pounds. A human female is somewhat smaller, averaging between 5 1/2 and 6 feet in height and weighing between 100 and 140 pounds.

On Athas, centuries of abusive magic have not only scarred the landscape — they've twisted the essence of human appearance, as well. Many humans in Dark Sun look normal, and could pass unnoticed among humans of other campaign settings. Others, however, have marked alterations to their appearance. Their facial features might be slightly bizarre; a large chin or nose, pointed ears, no facial hair, etc. Their coloration might be subtly different, such as coppery, golden brown, hueds of grey, or patchy. The differences may be more physical, such as webbed toes or fingers, longer or snorter limbs, etc. A player with a human character should be given broad latitude in making up these alterations to his form, if he so wishes. Ultimately, none of them will give him any benefit nor any hindrance to game play — his appearance is strictly a roleplaying asset.

Relations: Humans tend to get along well with the races they comingle with (dwarves, muls, elans, and maenads), although their friendly attitude sometimes seems patronizing. Half-giants and thri-kreen are regarded as somewhat fearsome and dangerous. Elves, and to a lesser degree half-elves, are considered flighty and untrustworthy. Aarakocras, halflings, and pterrans are viewed as fascinating and exotic.

Alignment: Humans have no natural alignment tendencies, although the culture of each city-state pressures its inhabitants to adopt the alignment of its dragon-king.

Human Lands: Most humans live in one of the seven city-states: Balic, Draj, Gulg, Nibenay, Raam, Tyr, and Urik. Others live in the smaller outposts and communities near oases in the desert, and some few are part of hunter-gatherer tribes in the heart of the wasteland.

Religion: Most humans worship (or at least venerate) the dragon-king of the city-state where they live. Some few follow the teachings of elemental clerics or join the druids in their nature-worship.

Language: Humans speak Common, the trade tongue, which is by far the most prevalent language on Athas. Most can read and write - even slaves are taught basic literacy so they can read various signs and inscriptions.

Names: For most humans, a single name suffices. Templars often take an honorific based on their rank in the religious hierarchy. Nobles also have a family name, which is generally referred to after the word "of," as in "Agis of Asticles." Members of a merchant house take the house's name as their own last name. Freemen occasionally refer to their occupations to avoid confusion, as in "Barek the Weaver."

Adventurers: Human adventurers tend to be daring and relentless no matter why they're adventuring - whether for fame, fortune, or belief in a cause. Their versatility makes them suited to any class.

Muls

Sterile crossbreeds of humans and dwarves, muls have great stamina. Accordingly, the templars, noble families, and merchant houses breed them as slaves. Many of the same attributes that make them effective manual laborers serve them well in gladiator arenas.

Personality: Muls often have gruff, taciturn personalities, seen as a sort of social defense mechanism in the slave pits most call home. Many lash out in spite whenever they can avoid the consequences, having never known a friend or companion. Those muls who have escaped the toil of the typical slave (usually by excelling as a gladiator, being set free, or escaping) handle social situations better, but most remain wary of strangers and anyone who hasn't proven their trustworthiness.

Physical Description: Muls are the product of crossbreeding a human and dwarf parent to create offspring who have the best physical characteristics of both races. Once grown, muls retain the incredible endurance and raw strength of their dwarven heritage and the agility and long limbs of their human side. Such strength combined with dexterity and leverage makes muls very powerful humanoids. Adult muls are 6 to 7 feet tall and weigh 250 to 275 pounds, but some particularly strong muls weigh as much as 300 pounds.

Muls are always lean, their metabolisms devoted to muscle growth and near-continuous activity. Their skin is usually fair, though is occasionally the coppery color of their dwarven parent. Their faces are very human, though subtly altered. Their foreheads set off larger-than-normal eye ridges and their ears are pointed and swept back against the side of the head. Almost all muls, male and female, are bald. Slave muls are tattooed at an early age to denote ownership, occupation, parentage or, in the case of mul gladiators, to denote teams, weapon preferences, or victories.

Mul head tattoos can have a variety of meanings and there are several messages that can be gleaned from a mul's highly decorated head. The basic design denotes the mul's ownership. For instance, the centered three-eyed skulls are the marks of the guard slaves of the templars of Urik, while swirling ram's horns indicate the Merchant House of Tsalaxa. Specific weapons can also be tattooed, showing the gladiator's favorites. Weapon handlers need only look at the mul to see what weapon he might need in the coming match. Hash marks at the base of the skull, lust above the neck, denote victories, while pictograms in the same spot usually portray beasts or monsters the gladiator has killed in the arena. Enslaved muls tend to accept their tattoos as a part of their existence. Free muls hate them and what they represent. Mentioning their tattoos might cause free muls to fight to defend their honor.

Muls live an average of 90 years.

Relations: Muls are somewhat antisocial, but they don't have a particular enmity for any race. They get along slightly better with their forebears (humans and dwarves) and half-giants, who are often fellow slaves. Fewer than 20% of all muls are free. Even then, they are always in danger of being captured by slavers and returned to servitude, so they disappear from the well-traveled lands. Most free muls barter their fighting skills for coin, but many turn their backs on combat and seek the ways of the priest, psionicist, or even merchant.

The elf tribes have some respect for muls, as well, noting their incredible endurance as more elf like than human. A mu1 who finds himself among the Sky Singers or other elf tribes may do better passing their tests and initiations.

Muls often take humans and less often, dwarves, to be lifelong mates These childless couples are apt to take orphans into their households, and the harsh climate and wars of Athas provide a seemingly endless stream of orphans. Emotionally, muls are unfettered, subject to the full range of happiness and despair, love and rage.

Alignment: The taskmaster's whip has instilled a lawful attitude in most muls, although those who have fled from slavery are usually chaotic (ex-slaves almost always have a hard time with authority figures). Mul slaves who are treated poorly - which are almost all of them - can nurture such hatred and spite in their hearts that they become evil.

Mul Lands: Muls have no racial history or culture. They are sterile so they have no cause to gather into family groups or communities. And since most muls live out their lives as slaves, they aren't allowed to congregate outside their specific function. These conditions make the muls' existence, even free muls, isolated and lonely.

Religion: Most muls are heavily indoctrinated into the worship of whichever dragon-king rules the city-state where they were born. Like half-giants, some enthusiastically take to the state religion, while others curse it under their breath each day.

Language: Muls raised by both parents speak either Common or dwarf and have an 80% chance to speak the other fluently. Muls reared without their original parents, as is often the case, only learn Common, the common language of slaves, and their command of it is dictated by how important their owner thought language skills would be to their function. If they learn other languages, it's often from captured slaves.

Life as a mul: Muls are very often born into the gladiatorial pits. Slave owners order the union of a human and dwarf for the express purpose of bearing a mul to become a gladiator. As infants, muls can bring a great price on the block. Their incredible strength and speed make them excellent warriors, and the mobs in the cities adore their mul champions.

Mul slave trade is very profitable. A single mul can have many owners in his life, sometimes bought back and forth among many households in a single city. Free muls who allow themselves to be captured by slavers are easily sold into bondage again. A slave trader can make as much on the sale of a mul as he might with a dozen humans.

Once born into slavery, the mul's difficult life is just beginning. Often the parents of the mul child resent the act they were put through and shun the child. These outcasts live a hard existence for the first few years of life, left without attention to grow wild and savage. Eventually the mul child is taken from the general slave population and raised in a secluded environment. There the child is nourished and minimally educated. By adolescence, the child begins training in the profession chosen by its master, usually combat or heavy labor. The latter are given specific instruction in construction techniques and the management of other slaves. Construction muls are eventually returned to the general slave population. Those destined for the arena, however, receive far different treatment.

A successful mul gladiator is a money maker for his owner. An owner of a mul gladiator with a few victories wants to keep the success alive, treating his property like he would any other good investment. A winning mul gladiator might have a complete retinue of other slaves to tend his every whim, oiling his body, bringing him food and drink on command. The line between owner and slave becomes somewhat blurred, but the mul is never allowed to forget that he is wholly owned. "Pampered like a mul" is an expression often bandied about common folk, but it burns in the ears of the muls who have lived it.

Names: Muls favor one simple name, generally a human one. They don't have families, so they don't take last names except in unusual circumstances. To avoid confusion, some muls will add an appellation such as "Rikus the Gladiator" or "Kalaa the Stone-Grinder." ((Please note that nicknames cannot be part of the character's name on POTM. It can be mentioned in-character.))

Adventurers: Muls generally come to the adventurer's lifestyle in one of three ways. Some escape slavery and must remain one step ahead of their former masters. Others win their freedom through luck or skill - often by success in the gladiator arena. Finally, some are former soldiers under the command of the dragon-kings or in the pay of the merchant houses.

Rhul-Thaun (Halfling variant)

The rhul-thaun, the people of the cliffs, are living remnants of a bygone age. Their culture is based upon a period of time no longer spoken of even in the legends of the other races of Athas. Because of this, rhul-thaun society is unique in all the world.

During the Blue Age, the rhulisti made Athas their own. They tamed the forces of nature and learned to work with the elements rather than struggling against them. The present-day rhul-thaun retain some of their ancestors’ knowledge, although much of it is buried in the rituals and traditions that govern the halflings’ society. There are many reasons why the rhul-thaun are different from the other halflings of Athas, and special in their own right compared to all of the races known to the Tyr Region. Physically and mentally, the rhul-thaun peculiarities are worth noting.

Personality: To the rhul-thaun there is no world view, there is no existence, without a purpose. Everything in nature, they believe, has a purpose within its ecosystem—even in the harsh deserts beyond the cliffs that so confuse and frighten them. It follows then, that everything else should also have a purpose in life. This idea is instilled in every member of their society, from the very young to the very old.

The individual’s purpose often takes the form of an occupation. In his lifetime, each individual chooses a role that in some way benefits the community as a whole as well as himself.

Each rhul-thaun must know the purpose and function he or she fulfills, to know one’s place in the broader scheme of things. Alone, one must define a purpose of one’s own. When rhul-thaun are feeling tense or anxious, simply focusing on their purpose usually makes them feel more at ease. A rhul-thaun without a purpose soon gives in to despair.

The sanctity of life in all its forms is pivotal to the halflings. While they are not beyond hunting for food and killing to defend their homes, they respect all living things. Rhul-thaun never take a life casually—even the lives of those creatures other races would consider vermin, like rats and insects. In accordance with their beliefs, there are life-taking rituals to be performed before and after killings take place. This philosophy of the exalted nature of life has been preserved and passed down, directly from the rhulisti, for centuries.

Physical Description: Like the feral halflings of the outside world, the rhul-thaun are short with wiry, nimble bodies. The average height for rhul-thaun males is 3 feet, while females are
an inch or two shorter.

Light of bone and build, the physique of the people of the cliffs is sinewy and tough. Even with an abundance of water, however, their lives are still quite harsh, fostering a need for strong, sturdy bodies. Their skin is fairer than that of most Athasians and appears to be smooth and wrinkle-free throughout most of their lives. Their resilient musculature betrays little of the deterioration caused by time, and they are active even in old age. Rhul-thaun hair color is black or brown, but rare individuals are blond or, more rarely, red heads. A typical member of the race has virtually no body hair other than on his head. Facial hair is unknown to them (its presence on members of other races would probably cause them to believe that person to be an animalistic, monstrous, or barbaric individual). Eye color varies greatly, with green, gray, and brown being most common.

A rhul-thaun proverb states that “age is a measurement of experience, not an assurance of ability.” These halflings do not judge an individual by his age unless he is obviously very young (and therefore inexperienced) or very old (and deserving of respect), It is difficult to tell the age of the rhul-thaun by appearance alone. Not only does the skin of the halflings remain relatively smooth and unblemished throughout their lives, but most healthy members of the race remain active and spry until death. Rhul-thaun live 150 years, longer than halflings of the Tyr Region. Their environment is a healthy one, and most individuals live full, hearty lives.

Relations: Rhul-Thaun have close to no contacts with the other major races of Athas. Most react with hesitant friendship toward newcomers while others are unable to hide their distrust, speaking against the outsiders and wishing to hide their culture’s secrets from them.

Halflings from the outside world who encounter the rhul-thaun find the experience unsettling. Despite many similarities, the two groups have very little in common when it comes to their fundamental philosophies of life. Isolated, recalling their great past, the rhul-thaun respect nothing more than life and are loathe to destroy it. But the feral halflings, whose history has devolved to legend and whose culture has been corrupted over the years by neighboring cultures, look upon every living thing as a potential source of food.

Alignment: A Rhul-Thaun's focus on purpose gives most a lawful outlook.

Rhul-Thaun Lands: Rhul-Thaun live in the Jagged Cliffs. Their focus of purpose also includes the entire society. As a people, they need to feel that they have a status and a mission within the vastness of the world. This is why many believe that High Lord Rhan, who promised to return with the knowledge of that purpose nearly 14,000 years ago, will return. He is their messiah who will lead them to a higher purpose and a greater destiny.

In addition to purpose, structure and order are the linchpins of rhul-thaun culture. All of the rituals that make up their lives have cloaked their perceptions in structure. Their government is a surprisingly complex web of judgment makers, administrators, lawkeepers, and minor bureaucrats, all of whom are there to keep order.

Rhul-thaun society is well defined and divided into extended families called clans. The clans are large enough, and the actual blood relations so distant, that intermarriage among clan members is common and without risk to the children who may be born as a result. The clans are defined more in terms of political alliances than actual ties to family and kin.

Moreover, the idea of the delineating structure of the clans is a fading notion. The halflings identify themselves more closely with their communities than with the clans. Nevertheless, halfling clans still provide a point of reference for each individual. Everyone has the right to take his clan’s name as his surname, and each clan owns colors, patterns of clothing, and hair styles that identify affiliation.

Each clan has a leader or group of leaders called har-etuil. They act as clan chieftains and judges. Each has a physical base of operations called a clanhouse. The clanhouse is used for meetings, important ceremonies (like marriage and naming rituals), and various community events.

Murder, the killing of another halfling, is a very serious crime among the rhul-thaun. Even in dangerous situations, when the lawkeepers have cornered a band of thieves or two feuding clans clash, lives are never taken without careful consideration. However, when the decision to kill is made (and justified to one’s own conscience), it is done swiftly and without hesitation. To hesitate before taking a life is the way of outsiders. The destruction of a nonhalfling is more easily justified in the minds of the rhul-thaun, however, than killing their own.

Religion: Like many Athasian societies, the rhul-thaun have developed what might be called a “religion,” one centered around the elements. Their religious convictions are not strong, however, and the priests supporting them are few. Elemental clerics and their followers can be found in most halfling settlements, but their influence is slight. The priests serve the elemental powers of earth, air, and water. Water is the most commonly revered element, and air, particularly among windriders, is also wellserved. Earth too has its place, but serving fire is forbidden. They see fire as a destroyer, a taker of life.

Although life-shapers are not holy men and life-shaping is not a religion, many halflings have elevated these men and their hidden rituals to something that closely resembles worship. The life-shapers wield power not only because they provide the things that support the entirety of rhul-thaun civilization, but also because most of the population holds them in reverence. It is difficult not to look with awe upon those who provide homes, transportation, tools, weapons, protection, food, clothing, and virtually every other necessity and luxury within the culture.

Some venerate the memory and promises of High Lord Rhan Thes-onel. Indeed, he has become a minor deity of a sort. They wait for his return with the fanatical assurance that he will bring with him a purpose for his people. Most realize that no halfling could live long enough for Rhan to still be alive, but they speculate that his coming will be in the form of a spirit, a vision, or a sign of some mystical nature.

Language: Rhul-Thaun speak Rhul-Thaun, a language directly descended from the speech of the ancient rhulisti. Time has modified the language, but it still sounds like its forbearer. Both are breathy, elegant tongues, pleasant to virtually every ear. To represent the breathy forms of the spoken language, an “h” is often inserted between a consonant and vowel when words are written. Most of the halflings of the Jagged Cliffs do not speak any language but their own. Multilingual rhul-thaunians are extremely rare. Since their contact with the outside world is slight, there is little need to learn other tongues. In fact, the opportunity to study a language other than their own virtually never presents itself.

Names: Rhul-thaun names are usually formed by combining two existing words to describe that which is being designated. For example, those in charge of keeping law and order are the vher-elus, or lawkeepers. It is common for an object, idea, or even a person to have more than one name. Multiple names describe different aspects of the same thing, and thus are all equally valid and accurate. Usually, however, once a name comes into common usage, popular consensus determines which name is most frequently used. Typical male names include Bal-orean (Strong arms), Bal-olech (Strong back), Dhev-ovaun (Cliff racer), Ser-ogoth (Master of wealth) and Thar-osul (Swift fighter). Typical female names include Fen-aghoun (Beautiful charmer), Yihn-aruth (Sturdy climber), Wir-avios (Wind lover) and Val-agoth (Wealthy woman).

Beyond these given names, every individual can also join the name of his clan to the end of his own. Thus, Val-agoth becomes Val-agoth of Taen, or simply Val-agoth Taen. The clan designators are used less today since the importance of the clan has declined in modern rhul-thaun society. The clan names are too numerous to list here, but all are short, one-syllable rhulisti names like Bein, Glahr, Taen, and Sul.

Adventurers: Many of the rhul-thaun are curious to discover what lies beyond their ledges, so a Rhul-Thaun halfling may certainly accompany a party wherever its adventures take them.

Tareks

With strong brows, long arms, thick hides, and a maw full of sharp teeth, tareks are well adapted to the wastes of Athas. These large brutish beings are a terror to behold; sweeping down on unknowing caravans with the blessings of their earth shamans upon them. Of the many races that wander the Tablelands, tareks have a bond with earth and stone like no other. It is whispered by those who know of such things that the tarek people were created by a fearsome entity of elemental earth.

Personality: Tareks are violent and aggressive. They place great value and honor in physical prowess. While tareks will use weapons, they shun armor of any sort. Instead, they rely on their own tough hides and natural combat agility to protect them.

Physical Description: Tareks are big, musclebound, and hairless bipeds that inhabit the hilly and mountainous areas of Athas. They have square, big-boned heads with sloping foreheads and massive brow ridges. Their flat noses have flared nostrils, and their domed muzzles are full of sharp teeth. Their powerful arms are so long that their knuckles drag along the ground. Tareks have a distinct musky odor that can be detected from as far away as 15 feet.

Tareks move with jerky, awkward strides except when engaged in combat. Then they exhibit a style and grace usually uncommon in creatures of their size and build. To watch them engage in combat is to watch fluid motions that are as artistic as dance — unless the viewer happens to be on the receiving end of the deadly spectacle.

Tareks have an average life span of 50 years (though few creatures ever get to die naturally on Athas).

Relations: Tareks hate wizardly magic in all its forms. They go out of their way to destroy defilers, and they’ll even chase away preservers who use their magic in the vicinity of a tarek community. This hatred of magic translates into a strong dislike for elves, since elves often deal in the business of spell components and have an innate love for all thing magical. Tarek raiders often attack elf tribes that wander too close to their territory as an automatic response to the probable proximity of wizardly magic.

On the other hand, tareks have a great deal of respect for all types of priestly magic. The elemental forces that hold sway over the world receive as much reverence as the violent tempered tareks are capable of giving. However, tarek tribes tolerate only one kind of cleric in their midst — earth clerics. Tareks respect the earth and everything connected with its elemental nature. They consider themselves to be born of the earth, and feel a kinship with the mountains and hills they choose to live among. “Solid is the tarek, strong like the earth, and numerous as the soil,” sing the earth clerics of the tarek tribes.

They sometimes wage great wars with the gith, as both of these races seek to control the same territory. If they hate elves because of their association with magic, then they hate gith because the gith are seen as abominations to the elemental earth forces. Gith set up lairs beneath the mountains tareks hold sacred, defiling the earth with their very presence (at least according to the teachings of the tarek shamans). As such, tarek communities see it as their sacred duty to keep gith out of the mountains and hills they have selected as their homes.

Alignment: Primarly Lawful Neutral.

Tarek Lands: Tareks gather in tribes, building small communities in the hills and mountains of the Tyr region. These communities often sustain themselves by raiding, and visitors are not welcome. Unless a group of visitors include an obvious elemental cleric, tarek warriors rush out to kill or drive the intruders away. In rare instances, members of a community will be sent out to trade with merchant caravans, but few traders will blindly conduct business with these representatives. More often than not, such representatives are decoys for an unseen raiding party. More than one caravan has been taken by surprise while negotiating a deal with tarek traders.

Religion: Tarek tribes tolerate only one kind of cleric in their midst — earth clerics. Tareks respect the earth and everything connected with its elemental nature. They consider themselves to be born of the earth, and feel a kinship with the mountains and hills they choose to live among. “Solid is the tarek, strong like the earth, and numerous as the soil,” sing the earth clerics of the tarek tribes.

Language: Tareks speak their own language, as well as the common language of the Tyr region (Common). Their voices are harsh and gutteral, as fearful in tone as their appearance and just as powerful.

Names: Male Names: Chilod, Foreg, Kilorthrak, Rathgikek, Lywfenk, Trathsuyl, Kissfedg

Female Name: Felorn, Kester, Kisal, Zikulg,  Gystun, Tragun

Adventurers: Tarek leave their tribes for many reasons. These reasons can include a time of wandering if the tarek is an earth priest, or perhaps they have grown tired of the brutal lifestyle of the tarek people and seek a more civilized life. A brave warrior may also have been sent on a quest for the tribe or an earth shaman.

In the "civilized" lands of the Tablelands, tareks sometimes have difficulty adjusting to the soft culture of the city-dwellers. Tareks often have to restrain themselves from challenging others to prove their strength on a regular basis. However, if a matched pair of tareks enters the arena, their savage nature as gladiators can provide them bloody outlets.

Many tareks are brought to the civilized world against their wishes as slaves. As a slave, a tarek will usually be used as brute force labor or sent to the arenas as a gladiator. Should a tarek be freed from slavery, some will continue with the civilized life, often adventuring or joining a slave tribe - a lifestyle that is reminiscent of their tribal roots.

Tarek culture raises brutal xenophobic raiders and few tareks have remorse or a conscience to hold them back. Whether raised in a tarek tribe or a gladiator school, tarek young are subjected to severe training and toil. As a result tarek usually take time to warm to others, if at all. Many remain violent destructive sociopaths, but a few can overcome their upbringing. A tarek who has befriended members of another race is a fierce loyal ally.

Sources: Dragon Magazine 319, Dark Sun Campaign Setting (AD&D), Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium II (detailed information on races, and the only source of information on Tarek),  Windriders of the Jagged Cliff (Rhul-Thaun, there's a lot more information), The Elves of Athas (more detailed information on elven culture).
« Last Edit: June 20, 2020, 02:26:53 PM by EO »

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Classes of Athas
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2020, 02:19:38 PM »
Classes of Athas

While psionic classes and races are a staple of the Dark Sun setting, they are not supported on POTM so we're only presenting information on classes you would find on POTM.

Barbarian

The two main sources of barbarian characters in the Dark Sun campaign are the slave tribes and hunter-gatherer cultures from beyond the Tablelands.

Slave tribes are groups of escaped slaves and their progeny; they live in the wastes between the city-states, desperately trying to eke out a living as they avoid recapture. Life among the slave tribes is brutal and frequently short. A barbarian character might be the sole survivor of a natural disaster, slaver attack, or predation by Athas’s fearsome monsters. He or she might be exiled from the tribe after a dispute with the chieftain or tribal elders. Because barbarian tribes are generally nomadic, a particular barbarian might return from a long hunt or scouting expedition to simply find no trace of his or her tribe’s encampment.

The forest ridges northwest of the Tyr region have some barbarian halfling tribes, and the Crimson Savannah further northwest is home to thri-kreen barbarians and tribes of other races. Due north of the Tablelands is the unknown; barbarian characters could hail from there as well.

Unlike members of slave tribes, these barbarians will likely be unfamiliar with the customs and power structure of the city-states.

Bard

While rare, bards do exist on Athas in small, well-organized groups known as troupes. Most bard troupes make their members wealthy not by their frequent performances in the service of nobles and templars, but in their clandestine operations.

As arcane spellcasters with various other abilities, bards work hard to cover their magical abilities with their performances. Spending their lives hiding behind the façade of simple performers, bards learn the intricacies and techniques of covert activities, and as such make excellent spies and assassins. Bards try to keep their abilities secret, despite their fame and familiarity among nobles. Thus, the bard class is relatively unknown by most residents of Athas, as they are seen as mere performers.

Cleric

Dark Sun has no true gods. Instead, clerics draw their power from one of the elemental planes or a dragon-king. Some clerics treat their favored elemental power or dragon king with obeisance akin to worship, while others are more mercenary, describing their relationship in terms of power exchanged for fealty.

A cleric of a particular element must take Air, Earth, Fire, or Water as one of his domains and can choose any nonelemental domain as his other domain. Elemental clerics tend to be loners, preaching the power of the elements from the wilderness or the street corner. There isn’t an organized hierarchy, and there aren’t grand temples or cathedrals. Elemental clerics can be of any alignment.

Almost all player character clerics are elemental clerics. The stereotypical elemental cleric is a little crazy, and here’s why: To make a pact with the elemental powers, a would-be cleric must put himself completely at the mercy of his chosen element. This means throwing himself off a tall cliff (air), being buried alive (earth), burning at the stake (fire), or falling down a well (water). Those who survive the experience—through direct intervention of an elemental power, obviously—become elemental clerics. Many supplicants fail to capture the attention of the elements and become just one more casualty of the harsh world of Athas.

Clerics of a dragon-king, commonly called templars, control the massive bureaucracy that runs each city-state. The templars enforce the strict laws of the dragon-king, command the city guard, and otherwise project the will of the dragon-king. Because the dragonkings are evil, most templars are evil as well, although some neutral templars exist. Depending on their rank within the city-state’s bureaucracy, templars usually have a measure of legal authority. Most mid- to high-level templars have the authority to make arrests, seize property, and even render legal judgments on behalf of the dragon-king that rules the city. Even low-level templars can usually give orders to the city guard and arrest free citizens who aren’t nobles or merchants.

Dragon-kings don’t respond to prayers or grant spells to individual clerics the way most D&D deities do. Each dragon-king controls a conduit to the elemental planes and can grant or deny a templar access to spells with a simple ritual. However, a dragon-king isn’t aware of which spells a particular templar is preparing. Dragon-kings can only grant or deny access to the conduit—they don’t directly control how the energgy passing through the conduit is used.

The list of available domains for clerics can be found here.
Druid

Druids are independent priests who ally themselves with various spirits of the land. A druid shares power with the spirit he worships, nurturing and protecting the geographical feature to which the spirit is tied. Virtually every feature of the land has a druid to protect it, but druids seldom interact with others of their kind. They serve independently, living patient, solitary lives  devoted to guarding the land.

Every druid must choose one geographic feature to be his guarded lands. The geographic features that a druid might make his guarded lands can vary widely. For instance, one may watch over a particular stretch of open desert, another may protect a belt of scrub grass within it, while still another might watch over a small oasis that borders on both.

Lower-level druids, , which encompasses player characters, may travel widely in the world. During his time of wandering, a young druid learns about the world, its ecology, the balance of nature, and the ways of its creatures.

Although he has already chosen lands to guard and cherish, he may spend as much or as little time on his guarded lands as he sees fit. Learning the ways of the world will ultimately help him better protect his guarded lands, for one day, his time of wandering comes to an end. From that time forward, the druid must spend half of his time on his guarded lands, watching over them and protecting them. The rest of the time, the druid must again travel to keep tabs on events that might threaten nature in general and his guarded lands in particular.

Druids tend not to bother or even encounter those who use their guarded lands without damaging them. Travelers who stop at an oasis to water their animals and then move on will probably never know there is a druid watching their every move. It’s a druid’s firm belief that the lands are for all to use, human and animal alike. He watches to see that his guarded lands aren’t abused in any way, but otherwise he leaves most visitors alone—with the possible exception of wizards. Understandably, druids tend to be very apprehensive about wizards who venture into their realms, as any wizard might turn out to be a defiler. Nothing can destroy the land faster than a defiler drawing power for his spells.

Unlike in other worlds, there’s no worldwide organization of druids on Athas. As such, there are no rules limiting the number of druids that may exist at a given level, and there are no special druidic titles such as Archdruids and the Grand Druid. These don’t exist on Athas.

Fighter

Most fighters on Athas are either arena gladiators, soldiers serving in a dragon-king’s army, guards of merchant caravans or a noble villa, or mercenaries.

Gladiators tend to focus on melee combat, because that’s what the Athasian crowds like to watch. Most are slaves—the property of nobles or merchant houses—but a few have earned their freedom by fighting particularly well. Free gladiators support themselves with the prizes they earn in the arena or by training new gladiators.

The bulk of a city-state’s army consists of conscripted slaves with only rudimentary martial training, but each dragon-king also keeps several legions of elite soldiers that constantly drill, parade, and patrol. Among the most famous—or notorious—are Urik’s Obsidian Guard and the all-female Shadow Consorts of Nibenay. Most military units are commanded by a high-ranking templar in the service of the ruling dragon-king, but particularly prestigious units receive orders directly from the dragon-king they serve.

The merchant houses of Athas likewise have highly organized caravan guards that function like military units in their own right. Most merchant houses have mounted cavalry guards that patrol ahead of caravans and keep the trade routes clear. They also employ foot soldiers that march along with the caravan, keeping it safe from bandits and the many monsters of Athas.

Nobles also employ a number of fighters as bodyguards and personal retinues to safeguard their holdings. Most fighters regard employment by a noble as easy work, because most nobles are content to have their personal guards stand watch in the villa and occasionally parade through town. Only when a noble is involved in some intrigue, the slaves rise up, or a monster attacks will such a fighter see action.

Some enterprising freemen and smaller merchant houses have formed small mercenary companies that offer the services of experienced fighters to nobles, merchant houses, and (in times of war) even the dragon-kings themselves. Individual soldiers of fortune have always existed, but organized units-for-hire are a relatively recent development. Most mercenary companies use armed camps in the desert wastelands as their headquarters, with small business offices in the nearest city-state where they make deals and recruit new troops. Among the mercenary companies, the Black Reavers northwest of Urik and the all-Maenad Vareshi Brigade (hidden within the walls of Balic) are the most famous.

Monk

Large monasteries for training monks don’t exist on Athas, and so the monks learn their techniques directly from lone, more experienced monks.

Popular in the gladiatorial arenas for their skill fighting without weapons or armor, many monks make their living as relatively pampered slaves of powerful nobles and templars. A monk is seen as a less dangerous slave than a psychic warrior, yet one almost equally capable of providing unusual and crowd pleasing martial displays. Athasian monks have no problem using their myriad special abilities to impress a crowd. After all, a popular (and profitable) gladiator slave is a safe, well-cared-for one.

Due to their popularity, monk gladiators are frequently freed in their later years, and most of them train other freemen in their ways. These free monks often follow their teachers into the arenas in search of wealth and further training. Others use their skills to survive the harsh world outside the cities, finding their abilities and discipline boons in the chaotic and unpredictable sands of Athas.

Paladin

Like the monk, a paladin relies on her discipline to make sense of a chaotic world. While others might panic when faced by some new and unexpected threat bursting from the sands, the paladin quickly assesses the situation and forms a plan of action.

Athasian paladins don’t worship any particular god, but they have a strong and unbending belief in the supremacy of law and goodness.

Paladins are extremely rare in Athas for several reasons. The idea of serving good and right for the simple rewards of inner peace and faith faded from the barren world of Athas long ago. Also, the harsh nature of the desert world puts a high premium on flexibility and adaptability, neither of which the paladin is particularly known for. In addition, dragon-kings take umbrage at a paladin’s unerring goodness and continuous striving for the freedom of city-states from the tyranny of dragon-kings. Finally, most paladins are loners, as many beings in Athas can’t reconcile the needs of survival with the paladin’s stubborn adherence to a strict code of morality.

Ranger

The wilds of Athas are a treacherous place, where a party unskilled in survival won’t last for more than a day or two.

Most ranger characters learned their skills while traveling the wastes of Athas as guides, hunters, or scouts for a military organization. Many rangers enjoy good relations with druids, and some gain their first animal companion after a druid shows them how to call one to them. Rangers tend to prefer solitude or small, informal groups. The streets and buildings of an Athasian city seem as dangerous to a typical ranger as the wastes are to a typical citizen of a city-state.

Human rangers are very often former slaves forced into the desert wilderness for simple survival. Halfling rangers, on the other hand, are an integral part of their aboriginal society, serving as advisors and trackers.

Rogue

Athas is a world of intrigue and treachery, of shady deals and secretive organizations—it's a rogue's paradise. Beyond the cities, among the wasteland tribes and villages, thieves live by their wits. Within the secure walls of the city states, many typically roguish occupations have become institutions unto themselves. Rogues have become pawns of the wealthy, deployed in deadly games of deceit between noble families.

They may come from all walks of life: slave, freeman, merchant, and noble. Many caravan masters working for one of Athas’s merchant houses are mid- to high-level rogues, and most senior members of the merchant class have at least some levels in the rogue class. Those who take valuable cargoes along the dangerous roads of Athas have to be shrewd bargainers, astute wilderness guides, and trained combatants.

Every city-state has one or more thieves’ guilds, although they’re circumspect enough to avoid the attention of the dragon-king. From their well-hidden lairs, the thieves’ guilds often run the black market in everything from arcane spell components to illegal drugs and poisons. Many members are accomplished burglars and bandits, surrendering a percentage of their ill-gotten gains in exchange for the guild’s protection and support. Thieves’ guilds also fence stolen goods, often selling them to less scrupulous merchant houses whose caravans then spirit the loot out of the city-state.

Sorcerer

Rarest of the spellcasting classes, sorcerers combine the flexibility of psions with the potentially devastating power of the wizard. The ability to become a sorcerer seems to occur randomly, and most of those who discover they have the gift do not reveal it to anyone.

Unlike wizards, who typically spend many years honing their craft, sorcerers generally gain their abilities suddenly, during adolescence. Without quite understanding the destructive power they wield, most youths who discover their latent sorcery find it exciting and cast the most powerful spells they can. They often learn the difference between preserving and defiling magic the hard way.

Because of the destruction wrought by defilers, and the difficulty in discovering who has the ability to cast sorcerous spells, every city-state has outlawed sorcery. Known and suspected sorcerers face execution. As a result, sorcerers have learned to hide their spellcasting, by masking their arcane gestures, whispering their verbal components, and hiding on their persons the strange materials and components they need to cast spells. Many attempt to pass themselves as psions, while bolder sorcerers carry a fake spellbook, knowing that the laws are slightly more lenient on wizards than on sorcerers.

Wizard

Arcane magic is against the law in most of the city-states of Athas, because the dragon-kings don’t want further defiling (other than by themselves), and they’re loath to support potential future rivals. In secret, however, wizards still study the arcane arts, gathering in secret cabals, called Veiled Alliances, or reading ancient texts in solitude.

Except in the city-state of Tyr, using arcane magic is illegal, so by definition most wizards are criminals or rebels. Yet many of the other groups opposed to the rule of the dragon-kings and their templars distrust wizards because any wizard is a potential defiler of Athas’s remaining life energy. Wizards don’t even necessarily trust other wizards, because every wizard is sorely tempted by the additional power that defiler magic offers.

Most player character wizards are revolutionaries, working secretly to overthrow the dragon-kings and create a more just society in their place. However, wizards face greater temptations than most characters, because every spell they cast is an opportunity to ravage the planet further in exchange for more power. Only those wizards who never succumb to the temptation have the right to call themselves preservers. All others are, to greater or lesser degrees, defilers.

Wizards generally don’t reveal their true nature to others. Many wizards pretend to be psions or elemental clerics if caught casting.

The Veiled Alliance
In most cities (and many villages, tribes, and clans), there are secret leagues of Preservers called the Veiled Alliance. The Veiled Alliances are confederations of Preservers working together to protect their members from assassination and harassment by sorcerer-kings and other lieges. The members work together to shield each other's identities from the authorities or to help those who have been discovered to escape persecution. They are often involved in plots to overthrow their oppressive overlords.

There are only two drawbacks to belonging to a Veiled Alliance. First, membership is permanent. When you join one of these secret organizations, you pledge to uphold its charter until death. Anyone failing in this pledge is cast out, and the alliance assigns one of its members (usually someone experienced in such matters) to assassinate the outcast. This seems rather severe but it is a condition of affiliation that all members agree to when they join the alliance.

Second, all Veiled Alliances require that their members be Preservers and not Defilers. The reason for this is practical, not idealistic: even a few mages will decimate a small area if they do not practice their art responsibly. Any violation of this principle always results in the banishment (and subsequent execution) of the Defiler.

Although each league goes by the same name, they are in fact separate organizations. Most follow the two principles outlined above, and will extend their protection to a member of an alliance from another city (providing adequate proof of affiliation is provided). At the same time, they must be on constant watch for spies, for most rulers will stop at nothing to uncover and destroy an alliance operating within their territory. For this reason, punishments are sure and swift in any Veiled Alliance.

Sources: Dragon Magazine 319, with information from the Dark Sun Campaign Setting (AD&D); information about Druids is taken from the AD&D version since the Dragon Magazine version diverged drastically from other Dark Sun sources.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2020, 02:22:17 PM by EO »