- Dark Sun
Dark Sun Designer(s) Timothy B. Brown
Publisher(s) TSR, Inc.
Wizards of the Coast
Publication date October 1991 (2nd Edition)
August 2010 (4th Edition)
Genre(s) Fantasy System(s) AD&D 2nd Edition
D&D 4th Edition
The themes of this setting could fit in the Dying Earth subgenre and include survival against the elements, ecological disaster, resource depletion, survival of the fittest, slavery and poverty, and the widespread use of psionic abilities. The political setting is similar to ancient Middle East, North Africa or Mesopotamia. Water and metals are extremely scarce. Survival against the elements has made it a harsh exotic world.
TSR released the second edition of Battlesystem in 1989 and, in 1990, began pre-production on a new campaign setting that would use this edition in gameplay. The working title of this setting was "War World."
Contributors to this project at its beginnings included Rich Baker, Gerald Brom, Tim Brown, Troy Denning, Mary Kirchoff, and Steve Winter. With the exception of Denning and Kirchoff, design veterans such as David "Zeb" Cook declined to join the conceptual team for "War World" (later on, Cook would write the first two adventure modules: Freedom and Road to Urik). The majority of project members were freshmen to TSR, though not necessarily to the industry (Winter having worked at GDW).
The team envisioned a post-apocalyptic world full of exotic monsters and no hallmark fantasy creatures whatsoever. TSR worried about this concept, wondering how to market a product that lacked any familiar elements. Eventually, elves, dwarves, and dragons returned but in warped variations of their standard AD&D 2nd Edition counterparts. The designers actually credit this reversion as a pivotal change that launched the project in a new direction.
By the time the name "Dark Sun" replaced "War World," Battlesystem integration was still considered important; and mass-combat statistics accompanied early modules. However, poor sales for Battlesystem soon stopped any further inclusion in Dark Sun products.
Tie-in with the Complete Psionics Handbook proved more successful, but designers regretted the extra time involved in attaching these rules to practically every living thing in the campaign world.
The Dark Sun setting drew much of its appeal from artist Brom's imagery: "I pretty much designed the look and feel of the Dark Sun campaign. I was doing paintings before they were even writing about the setting. I'd do a painting or a sketch, and the designers wrote those characters and ideas into the story. I was very involved in the development process."
The Physical World
Once a blue planet teeming with life, Athas has since been stripped of its fertility by the use of corrupting magic known as Defiling Magic, and the decay of its sun. It is a sun-burnt land forsaken by the gods, water, and hope. The natural resources have been depleted and a lack of metal has resulted in the use of wood, obsidian and bone for weapons, tools and other common equipment. In such a harsh and unforgiving land, even the most mundane of creatures have developed psionic abilities in the constant struggle of survival of the fittest.
In such a world as Athas, a death by natural aging is considered to be a great achievement and an event worthy of celebrations.
Sea of Silt
Water has long since ceased to flow on the surface and can only be found in the last sea, some oases, tiny lakes and streams, as well as west of the Ringing Mountains in the Forest Ridge. Not only are the mountains nearly impassable (the name Ringing Mountains refers to the lightheaded feeling one feels from lack of oxygen when traversing them) but the Forest Ridge is the home of halflings, which in the Dark Sun world are small creatures that live in tribes in the forest and do not hesitate to capture and eat intruders to their realm. This makes the prospect of going west across the mountains nearly impossible.
In the place of an ocean, the world of Athas, due to defiling magic, has a sea composed entirely of silt. The silt is dangerous as it is not capable of supporting the weight of humanoid creatures, and the particles themselves are extremely fine and get into the lungs quite easily. A strong wind from the Silt Sea can force people from nearby villages to remain indoors all day, though with a certain amount of water some people often make use of a mask-like object called a silter which is placed over the mouth and nose and kept wet in order to help the user breathe.
The silt actually becomes hard-packed a few metres below the surface, but this is of no help to a human as the level within the first two metres is extremely loose and fine. However, giants often make use of the packed silt roads further below and can be seen wading chest-deep through the silt. Humans have sometimes built crafts that can navigate these silt roads much like giants do, though the going is much slower and both humans and giants still have to deal with the creatures that live in the sea.
Another method of travel is the shipfloaters, psionicists can use a large obsidian orb to focus their power to telekinetically levitate and sail the ship as if it were sailing through water.
The Tyr Region
The Tyr region is a region of Athas encompassing thousands of square miles, and stretches from the Hinterlands in the West to the Valley of Dust and Fire in the East within the Sea Of Silt, to the Dead Lands in the south, and the Troll Grave Chasm to the North, it contains all but two city states of the sorcerer-kings, former Champions of Rajaat.
The rulers of the isolated city-states are called Sorcerer-Kings and, in most cases, are secretly the Dark Sun equivalent of dragons. Templars can serve and worship these Sorcerer-Kings as a source for their spells (which are actually granted by something known as a living vortex), while Clerics worship Elemental forces (Air, Fire, Water and Earth) and Druids follow powerful entities known as Spirits of the Land.
The campaign setting of the Dark Sun world generally takes place in the Tyr Region of the world of Athas, an area that spans from the Silt Sea in the east to the Hinterlands in the west and a bit beyond, plus south to the dead lands and north to a certain extent. There are cities further to the north and the south but the land is extremely unfriendly and most people do not wish to risk a journey of such length, and the location of other cities beyond the region is uncertain at best. As a whole, life within the Tyr Region itself is hard enough, and though characters in the campaign setting begin on a much higher level than those of other campaigns, this is also accompanied by a severe practicality, that risking one's life for adventure or altruism is a foolish notion, and survival from day to day takes precedence.
The city of the undead and the location of the Sage, 30 miles (48 km) south west of Salt View. The once beautiful city is now overrun by the undead, protectors of the secret treasure.
The southernmost city of the Tyr Region, formerly ruled by the sorcerer-king Andropinis. It is situated on the edge of the Silt Sea, and is the only city in the region to have a tradition of elected government. Balic's templars are elected into office (although templars that Andropinis does not want in power usually vanish), and public debate is allowed, except for any direct criticism of the Dictator. Compared to Ancient Rome.
Located on a vast mud flat in the northeastern area of the Tyr Region, Draj was formerly ruled by the brutal, expansionist Sorcerer-king Tectuktitlay. After his death at Rajaat's hand in Ur-Draxa he has been replaced by his putative son, Atzetuk. Inspired by the Aztecs.
Ruled by the forest-goddess, Lalali-Puy, Gulg is unique among the city-states due to its construction from living materials of the forest instead of stone and brick. While an absolute ruler, owning just about everything in the city, Lalali-Puy is loved by her citizens since she is the bringer of rain and wheat. Inspired by the jungles of Africa.
Nibenay is located closer to the center of the Tyr Region, just to the east of the city-state of Gulg. Nibenay is ruled by the sorcerer-king Nibenay, formerly known as Gallard the Bane of Gnomes, now known simply as "The Shadow King," and he is the most reclusive of them all. The Shadow King will often stay out of sight for years or more due to lack of interest in governmental affairs and having other more important projects to work on. Inspired by Angkor, capital of the Khmer Empire.
The largest city-state in the Tyr Region, Raam was ruled by the sorcerer-queen Abalach-re, who was disinterested in her city's well-being. As a result, the city was always on the brink of rebellion. After Albach-re's death, it is now filled with chaos, an armed camp divided among various struggling factions. Its inspiration seems to be the Mughal Empire of India with a dash of Pharaonic Egypt.
Tyr is located just to the east of the Ringing Mountains. Tyr was ruled by the sorcerer-king Kalak until his overthrow on the verge of his ascension. It is now the only free city of the region, banning the practice of slavery. It shares much in common with its historical quasi-namesake Tyre, including a monopoly over purple dye.
Urik is a highly efficient, militarized city-state ruled by Hamanu, the self-proclaimed "King of the World". Urik possesses the strongest army in the Tyr Region, and Hamanu takes an active interest in his city's affairs. Urik has become a closed city since the Great Earthquake, only rarely sending out trade caravans and remaining otherwise sealed. Inspired by Babylon and Uruk.
The Jagged Cliffs Region
The Jagged Cliffs area is another region of hundreds of square miles of Athas, north of the Tyr Region, and extends from the Crimson Savanna to the west, The Sea of Silt to the east, and the Burning Plains to the north.
The Last Sea
The Last Sea is the last large body of water on Athas, and is a throwback to the Green Age of Athas, as it was preserved during the Cleansing Wars by the mysterious Mind Lords - psions of a caliber of the age of Athas's pinnacle of psionic power. They still rule the valley region of the Last Sea, called Marnita, but have moved their minds into obsidian orbs hidden in the city of Sarangar. Their immense age (over nine thousand years and counting) and the lack of physical sensation has driven the various Mind Lords to dementia.
The Crimson Savanna
An area of vast plains with sharp bamboo-like plants, inhabited by the various Kreen races (mantis-like humanoids).
City of the former champion of Rajaat, Daskinor Goblin Death. The city is more like a prison due to Daskinor's paranoia.
City of Keltis (Oronis), a sorcerer-king who abandoned the draconic transformation path and instead turned to preserving magic to become an avangion. Oronis moved most of his populace into "New Kurn," a hidden and disguised city that is rigorously policed to keep it safe, while "Old Kurn" is little more than a shell and a set of illusions to prevent outsiders from realizing the changes that have transpired.
The Dead Lands
The Dead Lands is an area of a vast obsidian plain to the South of the Tyr Region, inadvertently created by the Defiler Qwith, an agent of Rajaat studying the inner planes.
In the second edition AD&D version of Dark Sun, the Gray was described as a buffer zone on Athas that acts as a barrier between Athas's Prime Material Plane and its Ethereal and Astral Planes. It is much weaker on the Ethereal side where it is easier to breach. On the Astral side it is almost impenetrable. Spellcasters seeking access to these planes (or the outer and inner planes beyond) must attempt to breach The Gray.
The dead of Athas end up here after they die and are caught in an eddy and gradually fade away to nothing. When someone asks the spirits of the dead dwelling in the Gray where they are they reply "nowhere" and when asked who they are they reply "no one." They can however prolong their existence by dedicating themselves to a cause which is greater than themselves.
The Thri-Kreen of Athas supplement states that the Thri-Kreen instead have a heaven in the Beastlands (Happy Hunting Grounds) and a cold hell in Baator (the nine hells), which are both traditional D&D outer planes.
The Black is a shadow dimension that exists inside all matter, in the absence of the light in shadows. The shadow people reside here who are descendants of Rajaat's halfling servants. They can be called into service by someone giving them obsidian orbs as payment (which they use as eggs for more shadow people). Shadow people on Athas are extremely cold to the touch despite Athas's extreme heat, and can not survive without light to give them substance. It pains them to be in weak light and no light causes them to cease to exist.
The Hollow is a simple void that exists beneath the Black on Athas. It is Rajaat's former and current prison. There is a contradiction as to whether it is a natural place or created by the Champions. Hamanu in the Cerulean Storm states that "Beneath the Black is the Hollow, where nothing is missing because nothing remains, not the future, not the past, not even the Gray, nothing simply nothing". This would seem to imply it is natural. In Rise and Fall of a Dragon King, Nibenay suggests creating the Hollow beneath the Black, where neither shadow nor light exists, or can exist therefore nullifying Rajaat's use of the Dark Lens from there, and rendering him trapped.
Races and Monsters
Due to the harsh conditions of the planet, all the forms of flora and fauna have evolved to be extremely hardy and powerful as compared to their counterparts on other D&D worlds. Most, if not all, races on Athas have a unique self-defense mechanism that consists of psionic ability, enhanced strength, augmented agility, increased mass, lower food/water intake, superior visual/aural capabilities and/or various physical weapons.
In the 2nd edition D&D setting, there are many differences between the similar races found in other D&D worlds as compared to that of Athas. For instance, an Athasian elf is faster, stronger and larger than any other elves from other D&D worlds. in some editions of the game, players begin the game at higher levels and may have more abilities than in other D&D settings.
This evolution and advancements are because of the following reasons:
- Many natural resources have been depleted by Defiler Magic.
- The harsh environs have induced a societal change to a primitive and basic government control. Athas adopts a Darwinian approach whereby the weak perish, the strong survive and the strongest rule. Therefore, the weaker of the species have long since been weeded out, leaving only the stronger ones to pass on their beneficial genes.
- In Second edition, there are no "commoners" (i.e., non-combatant bystanders) in Athas. Every "villager" is trained to defend herself against voracious creatures of the wild. No one is spared from such training. Those who can't adapt don't survive.
While the world of Athas has many of the "normal" D&D races, they are substantially different; for instance, most halflings are vicious cannibals, elves are desert-running nomads, and dwarves are bald, with a tendency to become mentally focused or obsessed on achieving designated goals (like the derro).
- Races used in Dark Sun
- Aarakocra - A race of winged bird men, formerly appearing as monsters in other settings
- Dwarf - Dwarves are short and stocky demi-humans who are single-minded to a specific task.
- Eladrin (added in the 4th edition setting) - An isolationist race of veiled warriors clinging to their dying homeland.
- Elf distinct from traditional elves not only in flavor (often thieves and marauders) but also physically, they are taller than traditional elves and known for being able to run long distances
- Half-Giant (Goliath in 4th Edition) - More intelligent than their counterparts in other worlds, but with a tendency to change personalities over time
- Halfling generally known for being savage, often cannibalistic, tribal people. However, there is an ancient community of Halflings with a civilization based on life-shaping.
- Mul - A dwarven-human hybrid
- Pterran - A shamanistic race of reptilian humanoids. Essentially humanoid pterodactyls with only vestigial stumps on their shoulders where wings had once been.
- Thri-Kreen - A race of savage mantis men, formerly appearing as monsters in other settings.
- Tiefling (added in the 4th edition setting) - A demon-cursed race of bloodthirsty desert raiders.
- Dray (Dragonborn in 4th edition)
- In the Paizo version
Several classes common to other Dungeons & Dragons setting simply aren't found on Athas. In the 3.5 edition of the game, paladins, monks, and sorcerers have no analogues on Athas. Conversely, the unusual nature of magic, commonplace development of psionic ability, and focus on brutal personal survival skill have altered the scope and theme of some classes and added new classes.
In 4th edition D&D new character options were introduced to modify existing classes to fit the Dark Sun themes.
There are a number of distinctions between magic users:
Unlike most D&D settings, deities do not influence the world. However, in 2nd edition Dark Sun, people worship and receive power from other things:
- Elemental Clerics draw their power from elemental sources and frequently come into conflict with one another.
- Paraelemental Clerics draw their power from the paraelements (Sun, Silt, Rain, and Magma). These priests are fewer in number than elemental Clerics and often have similar abilities as the two closest elements. (Imagine a spectrum, similar to colors, that goes: Fire-Sun-Air-Rain-Water-Silt-Earth-Magma-Fire-Sun-...).
- Druids, who draw their power from Nature (or what's left of it) and are often the most vocal and violent opponents of Defilers.
- Templars are granted their power by the Sorcerer-Kings themselves.
Arcane spellcasters draw their power from life itself. Most wizards draw their power from plants. There are two basic types of wizard:
- Defilers, who draw their power quickly, killing plant life around them, and significantly sterilizing the soil those plants were in, rendering it impossible to grow new plants there for centuries. This defiling of the land is why the once healthy planet is mostly a desert. Very powerful Defilers are able to draw power from creatures as well. Powerful Defilers (such as Dragons) can kill people in this manner.
- Preservers, who draw their power more carefully, enabling them to cast their spells without destroying plant life, but sacrificing spellcasting power. Very powerful Preservers are able to draw power from creatures as well. Powerful Preservers (such as Avangions) have this ability, but they will not seek to kill with it.
Most ordinary people on Athas don't know of the difference, and treat all Wizards as being Defilers, responsible for the destruction of Athas.
3rd edition D&D style sorcerer class characters are almost unheard of, though in the Paizo adaptation, such power has been noted in dragon-descended individuals.
The Veiled Alliance, an underground organization of preservers (though membership is not entirely limited to that class) with resistance cells in all city states and most major villages, is bent on the destruction of the defiling Sorcerer-Kings (low-level dragons themselves).
In the second boxed set of the TSR publishing era, the change that a handful of very rare (or mutated) Wizards can power their spells from other sources - the Sun, shadows (the black), or the Cerulean Storm itself - was introduced.
Schools of the minds exist, mostly maintained by and serving the Sorcerer-Kings. Psionics is about as common in Dark Sun as Arcane Magic is on other D&D worlds. It is accepted as a normal part of life.
The City-States of Athas described in the original rulebooks are ruled by several "dragon kings," former Champions of Rajaat, the first sorcerer of Athas, an ancient being who had actually discovered magic on his world. He was obsessed with returning the world to its Blue Age, an age when the world was covered by a vast ocean and ruled by halflings, the only intelligent native race besides thri-kreen, and orchestrated the extermination of all the "impure" Athasian races created since then (all but the halflings, and the thri-kreen, which he viewed as merely animals). When the champions learned that Rajaat intended to destroy the humans as well (the Champions had assumed that Rajaat was human like them, and believed that humans were the original race which he intended to rule the world) they rebelled against him. The rebels could not slay their master because of his vast and unparalleled knowledge of sorcery, and imprisoned him in a place called "The Hollow" instead. Afterwards, in order to maintain Rajaat's prison, they worked in concert to turn one of their number, Borys of Ebe, into a fully-fledged dragon, capable of maintaining their erstwhile master's magical prison. Each of the remaining Champions stopped warring on their races and became Sorcerer-Kings of various City States.
There are also other characters which play a major part in the storyline/game products of the Dark Sun world; among them include:
- Agis of Asticles—a psionicist senator/nobleman from the city state of Tyr who plays a major role in the Prism Pentad novels by Troy Denning, the freeing of Tyr, and the pursuit of Tithian.
- Tithian of Mericles—a nobleman who formerly served as Kalak's high (top) Templar and who, after his death, crowns himself as King of Tyr amidst a crowd where he also abolishes slavery. Later, it is revealed that he is extremely power-hungry and evil himself, wishing to become the new Sorcerer-King of Tyr, and he attempts to free Rajaat The War Bringer.
- Sadira—a half-elf former slave in Tyr who was taught the ways of a preserver as a young child, she is also instrumental in the freeing of Tyr and subsequent transformation into a unique class called the sun wizard.
- Rikus—an ex-slave, a mul gladiator from Tyr, he is Neeva's fighting partner and former lover.
- Neeva-an ex-slave, a human gladiator from Tyr, she is Rikus' fighting partner and former lover.
- Caelum- a dwarven Sun Cleric (Paraelemental Sphere of Sun). Marries Neeva and fathers Rkard.
- Rkard- a mul boy, son of Neeva, who is a sun cleric. His power is limited, but is able to, at the very least, cause minor pain to Hamanu (the 4th Champion of Rajaat, The Troll-Scorcher, and King of Urik) and therefore implies the possibility to harm other Champions as well.
- Magnus- a new race Windsinger (Elemental Air Cleric) who is a cousin of Sadira (on her Elven side). He was mutated by the residual magics around the Pristine Tower, as a consequence he does not appear, even remotely, as his 100% Elven lineage would imply. He is tall and very broad, massively built and reptilian looking.
The Champions of Rajaat
The rise of the Champions, announcing the start of genocidal wars part of a global campaign to cleanse Athas of non-humans, has shaped the current face of political and social life on Athas, not to mention modifying the very geography of the world, turning sparkling sea to silt-filled basins. These Cleansing Wars were imagined by Athas' first sorcerer and most powerful user of the way, Rajaat, and executed by his immortal Champion followers.
These are their names, followed by how many years it took them to cleanse, or eradicate, their appointed race:
1st Champion of Rajaat - Sacha of Arala "Curse of the Kobolds": Male, Cleansing Time: 268 years, was beheaded by Borys immediately after Borys assumed full dragon form to keep Rajaat imprisoned. Sacha was beheaded as punishment because he, and Wyan, turned traitor on the other Champions and sided with Rajaat, warning him of the Champions' impending attack. Sacha was later killed by Rikus.
2nd Champion of Rajaat - Kalak "Ogre Doom": Male, Cleansing Time: 1228 years, Sorcerer King of Tyr, killed by Rikus, Neeva, Sadira, Agis, and Tithian. (Sources disagree whether Kalak was a true champion of Rajaat. In the Revised Dark Sun boxed set Kalak is described as a true champion, titled "Ogre Doom". In The Rise and Fall of a Dragon King, Kalak was not a champion though he used Sacha and Wyan's inherent Champion power to funnel clerical magic to his templars. In this book, Inenek (Lalali-Puy) is "Ogre Naught". It is believed that Kalak captured or befriended the two champions Borys beheaded, Sacha and Wyan, and used their ability as Champions to grant elemental magic to "his" templars in Tyr. Perhaps Sacha and Wyan were so disoriented from the beheading and battle with the other Champions that they were never aware of this, or perhaps they were. Without bodies the two fallen Champions could not cast magic and were limited to psionics, while the Champions knew of no way to kill one another when Sacha and Wyan were beheaded, they did develop those techniques later. Therefore the two would feel particularly vulnerable to the remaining Champions. It stands to reason that Sacha and Wyan would have sought shelter from the remaining Champions, and where better than the most powerful sorcerer king who was not a Champion, Kalak)
3rd Champion of Rajaat - Dregoth "Ravager of Giants": Male, Cleansing unsuccessful, Sorcerer King of Guistenal, killed by several Sorcerer Kings (led by Abalach-Re) because he was near to completing his dragon metamorphosis and ascending from a 29th level dragon to a full 30th level dragon. The other Sorcerer Kings feared he would go through the same period of insanity that afflicted Borys after his transformation, attacking all and laying waste to vast areas that might include their City States. Dregoth was raised into free-willed undeath by his loyal high templar, after which he rebuilt his city, renaming it New Guistenal, under the remnants of the old city, and exists there as Sorcerer King, a 29th level undead dragon lich.
4th Champion of Rajaat - Myron of Yorum "Troll Scorcher": Cleansing unsuccessful, killed by Rajaat and replaced by Manu of Deche (later Hamanu of Urik). Rajaat killed off Myron because of his slowness in completion of the Cleansing War against the Trolls. Many believe that Myron knew of Rajaat's impending betrayal but lacked the fortitude and charisma to unite the other Champions against Rajaat.
4th Champion of Rajaat - Manu of Deche (Hamanu)* "Troll Scorcher": Male, Cleansing Time: 1505 years, Sorcerer King of Urik. Replaced Myron who had stalled the cleansing. Later Hamanu was forced to become the second dragon of Athas. He captured the essence that was Rajaat and took it deep into the planet to the Guardian Spirit of Athas.
5th Champion of Rajaat - Uyness of Waverly (Abalach-Re) "Orc Plague": Female, Cleansing time: 889 years, Sorcerer Queen of Raam, killed by Sadira.
6th Champion of Rajaat - Gallard (Nibenay) "Bane of Gnomes": Male, Cleansing Time: 1229 years, Sorcerer King of Nibenay, Alive.
7th Champion of Rajaat - Sielba "Destroyer of Pterrans": Female, Cleansing unsuccessful, Sorcerer Queen of Yaramuke, Killed by Hamanu. In the book The Rise and Fall of A Dragon King there is reference to Sielba as "Sprite Claw" instead of "Destroyer of Pterrans".
8th Champion of Rajaat - Albeorn of Brunswich (Andropinis) "Slayer of Elves": Male, Cleansing unsuccessful, Sorcerer King of Balic, Banished to the Black by Rajaat.
9th Champion of Rajaat - Tectuktitlay "Wemic Annihilator": Male, Cleansing Time: 1409 years, Sorcerer King of Draj, killed by Rajaat.
10th Champion of Rajaat - Keltis (Oronis) "Lizard Man Executioner": Male, Cleansing Time: 1362 years (previously thought), Sorcerer King of Kurn. Oronis was able to not only halt his dragon metamorphosis as Hamanu had done, but reverse it completely and begin the transformation, unbeknownst to the remaining Champions (Sorcerer Kings), into an Avangion. He built a new city, aptly named New Kurn, and only keeps the old one functioning as a facade to fool the remaining Sorcerer Kings. Unbeknownst to Oronis during the Cleansing Wars, the Mind Lords protected a small number of the Lizard Men race, and they continue to exist in very limited numbers in a remote part of Athas.
11th Champion of Rajaat - Inenek (Lalali-Puy) "Aarakocra Scourge": Female, Cleansing unsuccessful, Sorcerer Queen of Gulg, Alive. The book The Rise and Fall of A Dragon King makes reference to Inenek (Lalali-Puy) as "Ogre-Naught" instead of "Aarakocra Scourge" if this is correct then she was successful in the Cleansing Wars, Cleansing Time: 1228 years.
12th Champion of Rajaat - Wyan of Bodach "Pixie Blight": Male, Cleansing Time: 877 years, Beheaded by Borys immediately after Borys assumed full dragon form to keep Rajaat imprisoned because Wyan, and Sacha, turned traitor on the other Champions and sided with Rajaat, warning him of the Champions impending attack. Wyan was later killed by Sadira.
13th Champion of Rajaat - Borys of Ebe "Butcher of Dwarves" (Dragon of Tyr): Male, Cleansing unsuccessful. Sorcerer King of Ur Draxa. Became the first Dragon of Athas. Led the Champions in revolt against Rajaat and was later tasked with keeping him imprisoned for eternity. Demanded a yearly 1000 slave sacrifice from each of the region's city states so that he could harness the energy he collected from the slaves to keep Rajaat imprisoned. Borys was killed by Rikus using Borys' ancient sword the Scourge that was crafted for him by Rajaat. Rikus accomplished this with great assistance from Sadira, Neeva, and Rkard. In the book The Rise and Fall of A Dragon King there is a reference to Borys succeeding a previous "Butcher of Dwarves".
14th Champion of Rajaat - Daskinor "Goblin Death": Male, Cleansing Time : 822 years, Sorcerer King of Eldaarich, Alive. Descended into insanity and paranoia.
15th Champion of Rajaat - Kalid-Ma "Tari Killer": Male, Cleansing unsuccessful, Sorcerer King of Kalidnay, believed to be killed by Borys, Kalak, and Hamanu, but is presently trapped in Ravenloft in a comatose state by his high templar Thakok-An, though Psionic Artifacts of Athas states that the orbs of Kalid Ma can be united and the sorcerer monarch will be reborn. Originally there was some confusion over Kalid-ma's gender, with early sources like the Ravenloft Forbidden Lore box set and Merchant House of Amketch refer to Kalid-Ma as female, but the later Domains of Dread and Psionic Artifacts of Athas corrected the mistake and refers to Kalid-Ma as Male.
Pennarin (Mentioned in literature: the book The Rise and Fall of A Dragon King, the only Champion Rajaat killed in the rebellion against him. Pennarin is the most likely possibility as the Champion known as "Centaur Crusher". This is the most logical likelihood, as the three Champions known for their physical prowess were to attack Rajaat with weapons during their rebellion against him. Those three Champions were Dregoth "Ravager of Giants", Hamanu "Troll Scorcher", and Pennarin. If Pennarin were "Centaur Crusher" it stands to reason that he would be one of the three Champions known for his physical prowess, since Centaurs are a large and powerful race.)
Irikos (Mentioned in the Book of Artifacts) Irikos is mentioned as a Champion of Rajaat only in the Book of Artifacts: "It was Irikos's ancient duty to destroy the race of orcs, and when the last orc was no more, he turned to the conquest of all who did not stand with Rajaat's captains" (Obviously this conflicts with multiple references as Uyness of Waverly (Abalache Re) as being the Champion tasked with the orc race's destruction). Irikos was known as "The Left Hand of Rajaat" and was dispatched to destroy the city of Bodach during The Cleansing Wars because, "...the city of Bodach was a great neutral power. Its armies and magicians jealously guarded the lands of the city-state while the rulers refused all offers of alliance with the warring defilers and preservers". Also, "Irikos possessed a powerful weapon named the Silencer. Using the weapon, he and his host systematically destroyed the armies of Bodach and sacked the city. Still, the last and most powerful sorcerers of Bodach managed to cast a mighty spell of destruction against the defiler warlord, which blasted Irikos to ashes even as his hordes threw down Bodach with fire and sword. Only the Silencer survived." This is the only reference to Irikos in any Dark Sun literature. This reference in the Book of Artifacts directly conflicts with all other Dark Sun literature. The Rise and Fall of a Dragon King states that all the Champions were involved in one form or another with the revolt against Rajaat, and Uyness of Waverly is "Orc Plague" in the boxed set literature. Therefore it is commonly believed that this information on Irikos is erroneous at best. Also, the Silencer is one of three swords crafted by Rajaat the Warbringer: the Silencer, the Scourge, and the Scorcher are all extremely powerful and cursed swords. In the supplement Psionic Artifacts of Athas, the Scorcher and the Scourge are described in great detail. In that book's description of the Scourge, as well as in many other references in other books, it is mentioned that Rajaat warred with the preservers before he instigated the Cleansing Wars, in a conflict called the Preserver Jihad. Therefore, Irikos could have been initially slated by Rajaat to become a Champion, perhaps even the "Orc Plague", when his early death in Bodach during the Jihad changed Rajaat's plans.
- Also, there are some other possible champions mentioned in the Crimson Legion novel, as wraiths who mistook Rikus for Borys of Ebe. (Note: These were Borys's champions, whom he left on the battlefield at Kemalok when he and Hamanu left to attack Rajaat, these are NOT Champions of Rajaat)
Official material for 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons
- Timothy Brown (October 1991). Dark Sun Boxed Set (1st Edition boxset). TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-104-0.
- Timothy Brown (June 1992). Dark Sun: Dragon Kings. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-235-7.
- Bill Slavicsek (October 1995). Dark Sun Campaign Setting, Expanded and Revised (2nd edition boxset). TSR, Inc.. ISBN 0-7869-0162-4.
- Walter Baas (March 1992). Terrors of the Desert (Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium I). TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-272-1.
- Bill Slavicsek (February 1992). DSR1: Slave Tribes. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-271-3.
- Anthony Pryor (May 1992). DSR2: Dune Trader. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-545-3.
- Allen Varney (October 1992). DSR3: Veiled Alliance. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-313-2.
- Richard Baker (December 1992). DSR4: Valley of Dust and Fire. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-313-2.
- Walter Baas (July 1993). Complete Gladiator's Handbook, The. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-616-6.
- Walter Baas (August 1993). DSS1: City-State of Tyr. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-629-8.
- Doug Stewart (October 1993). DSS2: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-652-2.
- Bill Slavicsek (November 1993). DSS3: Elves of Athas. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-665-4.
- Richard Baker (June 1994). The Will and the Way: Psionicists of Athas. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-861-4.
- Anne Gray McCready (March 1995). Terrors Beyond Tyr (Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium II). TSR, Inc.. ISBN 0-7869-0097-0.
- Jon Pickens (April 1995). Thri-Kreen of Athas. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 0-7869-0125-X.
- TSR, Inc. (June 1995). Beyond the Prism Pentad. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 0-7869-0308-2.
- Monte Cook (December 1995). Windriders of the Jagged Cliffs. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 0-7869-0169-1.
- Nicky Rea (July 1996). Defilers and Preservers: The Wizards of Athas. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 0-7869-0383-X.
- Kevin Melka (October 1996). Psionic Artifacts of Athas. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 0-7869-0390-2.
- David Cook (January 1992). DS1: Freedom. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-105-9.
- David Cook (April 1992). DSQ1: Road to Urik. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-248-9.
- Bill Slavicsek (August 1992). DSQ2: Arcane Shadows. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-312-4.
- Anthony Pryor (November 1992). DSQ3: Asticlian Gambit. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-315-9.
- Richard Baker (March 1993). DSE1: Dragon's Crown. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-567-4.
- Sam Witt (April 1993). DSM1: Black Flames. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-580-1.
- Richard Baker (September 1993). DSM2: Merchant House of Amketch. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-643-3.
- William Connors (December 1993). DSM3: Marauders of Nibenay. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-677-8.
- John Terra (1994). Forest Maker. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-841-X.
- Box Sets
- TSR, Inc. (June 1993). Ivory Triangle, The. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-604-2.
- Walter Baas (February 1994). DSE2: Black Spine (Dark Sun). TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-824-X.
- Shane Lacy Hensley (September 1994). City by the Silt Sea. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 1-56076-882-7.
- Matt Forbeck (February 1996). The Wanderers Chronicle: Mind Lords of the Last Sea. TSR, Inc.. ISBN 0-7869-0367-8.
- Web References
Official material for 3rd edition
While the campaign setting was no longer supported with published rulebooks, rules for the 3.5 edition (d20) appeared in several places; the "Sandstorm" supplement, especially, included a number of references to the culture and climate of the Dark Sun setting. Both Athas.org and Paizo's renditions of Dark Sun were official versions approved and sanctioned by Wizards of the Coast, and provide two different renditions of the setting. Two of the authors of the Paizo materials, Chris Flipse and Jon Sederquist, are on the Athas.org "overcouncil," and are responsible for much of the development of the Athas.org rules.
A former fan site turned officially sanctioned web presence for Dark Sun, the users from athas.org re-created the basic rules, converted or created two monster manuals worth of enemies, and created several adventures and other accessories.
Paizo's Dark Sun
A special feature in Dragon Magazine No. 319 (the May 2004 issue) and a parallel feature in Dungeon Magazine No. 110 provide an alternate interpretation of the setting for the revised Third Edition (3.5) Dungeons and Dragons game. (The rules for defiler wizards appear in Dragon #315, and additional monsters in Dungeon #111).
In place of the higher dice for ability scores, the abilities of all of the player character races have been improved. Each (including humans) has an additional bonus to one or more ability scores, an innate psionic power, and often other bonuses. Every race has a level adjustment, meaning that a PC of the race counts as a PC of higher level than he actually is for purposes of balance.
Paizo rendition of Dark Sun
- Noonan, David (January 2004). "Defilers of Athas." Dragon Magazine, p33.
- Noonan, David (May 2004). "The Dark Sun DM's Guide." Dungeon Magazine, p60.
- Noonan, David (May 2004). "Dark Sun Monster Supplement." Dungeon Magazine, p84.
- Noonan, David (May 2004). "Dark Sun Player's Handbook." Dragon Magazine, p16.
- Flipse, Chris & Sederquist, Jon (January 2006). "Dragon Kings." Dragon Magazine, p22.
Official material for 4th Edition
On August 14 at GenCon 2009, Wizards of the Coast announced that Dark Sun would be the 2010 campaign setting. Wizards announced 2 source books and 1 adventure for the new campaign setting. The setting is a "reimagining" of the 2nd edition setting, returning to the time immediately after Tyr became a free state. As first indicated in the third excerpt, published July 19, the Mul and Thri-kreen races were included, with special racial paragon paths and several new options for all characters. A new rules element was the addition of Themes (Athasian Minstrel, Dune Trader, Elemental Priest, etc.). Each PC gained one theme that together with race and class helped define the character. Themes grant an initial power and additional powers can be chosen instead of normally available class powers.
Wizards of the Coast promoted the setting heavily. Rich Baker first communicated various likely changes to the setting via his Blog at wizards.com. He also indicated that a preview of Dark Sun would be available as an adventure at the 2010 D&DXP convention. The adventure description "Come join us for the first sneak peek at the next campaign setting for 4th edition. This full adventure will preview new material from the campaign setting and comes with characters already provided" can be found on the D&DXP site.
The fourth Penny Arcade/PvP series of Wizards of the Coast's D&D podcast, running for two weeks in May and June 2010, was devoted to a Dark Sun campaign using pre-generated Dark Sun characters. The character sheets and other information are available for download from the podcast pages. Throughout July and August, excerpts from the upcoming Dark Sun Campaign Setting supplement were scheduled for publication as free content on the D&D Insider web site. The first two excerpts covered basic information on the setting, which is similar to that of previous versions. A series of articles continued to provide glimpses into the setting prior to the release in August.
In addition to the first adventure at D&D XP, there were several other adventures provided before the release:
- The Dark Sun adventure entitled Bloodsand Arena was held on June 19 for Free RPG Day.
- The second season of D&D Encounters (featuring weekly one-to-two hour adventures at gaming stores) was based in Dark Sun and provided players with 15 weeks of Dark Sun encounters.
- Gen Con and PAX Prime held the "Glory and Blood" Dark Sun Arenas, featuring seven separate arena encounters held in each city-state. Each arena was of varying difficulty and players gathered glory. Winning six of seven adventures resulted in sufficient glory for a cloth map of the Tyr region, not currently available through other means.
- The Lost Cistern of Aravek for fourth-level pregenerated PCs was provided on August 21 for the Worldwide D&D Gameday.
- On August 17, 2010, the Dark Sun books were released.
- Richard Baker, Robert J. Schwalb (August 2010). Dark Sun Campaign Setting. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 978-0-7869-5493-3.
- Bruce Cordell (August 2010). Marauders of the Dune Sea. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 978-0-7869-5495-7.
- Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell (August 2010). Dark Sun Creature Catalog. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 978-0-7869-5494-0.
The 4th Edition Dark Sun books greatly change the setting, and the 4th edition races were added as well, including Tieflings, Dragonborn and Eladrin. Some topics (such as Rajaat) are skipped as well and there are many notable setting conflicts with earlier material.
Mechanical differences abound, but reflect the 4th Edition rules. For example, in Second Edition defilers were a separate wizard class. In 4th Edition there are many arcane classes, so defiling became an at-will power applicable when using daily arcane powers. Elemental priests are now a new Shaman build, the Animist Shaman. Elemental worship is tied to the Primal power source, because the Divine power source (which includes clerics and paladins) is unavailable to player characters by default. Finally, non-metal weapons and armor are considered the baselines for 4e Dark Sun characters. Metal weapons, however, are more durable and less prone to breakage.
In addition, the Dungeon Tiles set released on June 15 was Dark Sun themed.
- Peter Lee (June 2010). Dungeon Tiles: Desert of Athas. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 978-0-7869-5398-1.
Ashes of Athas Campaign
In January 2011 at the D&D Experience Convention, Wizards of the Coast and Baldman Games launched an organized play campaign set in Dark Sun. The campaign uses the 4th edition rules and time frame. PCs play the role of Veiled Alliance members fighting against a secret organization named The True. Chapters consisting of three linked adventures each are released at the D&DXP, Origins, and Gen Con gaming conventions. Adventures are available for additional play six months after the initial premiere date.
- Prism Pentad - Troy Denning
- Tribe of One - Simon Hawke
- Chronicles of Athas - Various Authors
- The Brazen Gambit (July 1994), by Lynn Abbey (ISBN 1-56076-872-X)
- The Darkness Before the Dawn (February 1995), by Ryan Hughes (ISBN 0-7869-0104-7)
- The Broken Blade (May 1995), by Simon Hawke (ISBN 0-7869-0137-3)
- Cinnabar Shadows (July 1995), by Lynn Abbey (ISBN 0-7869-0181-0)
- The Rise & Fall of a Dragon King (April 1996), by Lynn Abbey (ISBN 0-7869-0476-3)
- New Fiction (2010/11) - Various Authors
- Dark Sun: Shattered Lands (1993) - Strategic Simulations, Inc.
- Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager (1994) - Strategic Simulations, Inc. and Mindscape
- Dark Sun Online: Crimson Sands (1996) - MMORPG developed and hosted by the Total Entertainment Network
- ^ "The History of TSR". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on October 4, 2008. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wizards.com%2Fdnd%2FDnDArchives_History.asp&date=2008-10-04. Retrieved August 20, 2005.
- ^ a b c d e f Johnson, Harold; Winter, Steve; Adkinson, Peter; Stark, Ed; and Peter Archer. 30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons and Dragons. Wizards of the Coast, Inc, 2004, pages 130-138.
- ^ Kenson, Stephen (October 1999). "Profiles: Brom". Dragon (Renton, Washington: Wizards of the Coast) (#264): 112.
- ^ Waynesbooks - Book reference information
- ^ Carroll, Bart (August 14, 2009). "Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Article (And the Next Campaign Setting is ...)". Wizards.com. http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/drfe/20090814. Retrieved October 8, 2010.
- ^ "Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Product (Dark Sun Campaign Setting)". Wizards.com. August 17, 2010. http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Product.aspx?x=dnd/products/dndacc/253870000. Retrieved October 8, 2010.
- ^ "Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Product (Dark Sun Creature Catalog)". Wizards.com. August 17, 2010. http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Product.aspx?x=dnd/products/dndacc/253880000. Retrieved October 8, 2010.
- ^ "Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Product (Marauders of the Dune Sea)". Wizards.com. August 17, 2010. http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Product.aspx?x=dnd/products/dndacc/253890000. Retrieved October 8, 2010.
- ^ "Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Article (Eight Characteristics of Athas)". Wizards.com. http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ex/20100712. Retrieved October 8, 2010.
- ^ http://community.wizards.com/wotc_richbaker/blog/?pref_tab=blog
- ^ http://community.wizards.com/dungeonsanddragons/go/forum/view/91301/188837/dd_encounters_season_2_-_dark_sun
- ^ https://www.genconreg.com/events/16009
- ^ "Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Event (Game Day)". Wizards.com. http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Event.aspx?x=dnd/4new/event/gameday. Retrieved October 8, 2010.
- ^ Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Rodney Thompson, "D&D Experience Podcast" at 2:02, Wizards of the Coast "D&D Podcast", February 11, 2011. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
- ^ Matt Dukes, "DDXP 2011 Recap Part Deux", Critical Hits, February 8, 2011. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
- ^ Chris Sims, "The D&D Experience", Critical Hits, February 4, 2011. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
- Dark Sun Forums Wizards of the Coast official forums
- Athas Planetary and Cosmological View A popular discussion thread on the wizards of the coast dark sun board adding several new area maps to Athas.
- Dark Sun Wiki
- Dark Sun Online - a defunct persistent world module for Neverwinter Nights.
- The Burnt World of Athas - recognized by Wizards of the Coast as the Official Dark Sun site on the internet
- Arena – the official Dark Sun forum community, operated by Athas.org
- Grummore's Ultimate Dark Sun links
- City of Silt – The most comprehensive site about the Dark Sun city of Balic.
- TSR Archive Dark Sun product list
- Athas Reborn - an active persistent world server for Neverwinter Nights.
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