- 32Defiling rules
- 34Druid anti-defiling spells
- 37Weapon materials
- 37Breaking weapons
- 38Weapons and Armor
- 39Athas new weapons
- 41Athas armors
- 43Adventuring gear
- 45Athas poisons
- 49Weapon options
- 49Critical hits
- 49Tougher Resurrection
- 50Vitality points
- 51Dynamic initiative
“I live in a world of fire and sand. The crimson sun scorches the life from anything that crawls or flies, and storms of sand scour the foliage from the barren ground. This is a land of blood and dust, where tribes of feral elves sweep out of the salt plains to plunder lonely caravans, mysterious singing winds call travelers to slow suffocation in the Sea of Silt, and selfish kings squander their subjects’ lives building gaudy palaces and garish tombs. This bleak wasteland is Athas, and it is my home.” —The Wanderer’s Journal
Beneath a crimson sun lie wastelands of majestic desolation and cities of cruel splendor, where sandal clad heroes battle ancient sorcery and terrible monsters. This is Athas, the world of the DARK SUN campaign setting, a dying planet of savagery and desolation. Life hangs by a thread in this barren land, it is unforgiving to the weak, and now it is up to you to write your own story in blood and glory.
Eight Characteristics of Athas
1. The world is a desert
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. It climbs toward its zenith and the temperature rises relentlessly: 100 degrees by midmorning, 110 at noon, 130 - sometimes even 150 - by late afternoon. A man cannot drink fast enough to replenish the fluids he loses. As the days drag on, he feels sick and feeble. If he does not have enough water, he grows too weak to move. His mouth becomes dry and bitter, his lips, tongue, and throat grow swollen. Before long, his blood is thick and gummy. His heart must work hard to circulate it. Finally his system overheats, leaving him dead and alone in the sands.
There are no rivers or lakes and pockets of civilization are concentrated in isolated oases where water is more precious than life. But, this is not all a wasteland. Under the sands lie ancient ruins, testament to a time before the desert, and the city-states are a wonder in and of themselves.
2. The world is savage
Life on Athas is brutal and short. Bloodthirsty raiders, greedy slavers, and hordes of merciless savages overrun the deserts and wastelands. The cities are not much safer; each choke in the grip of an immortal tyrant. Slavery is widespread on Athas, and many unfortunates spend their lives in chains,
toiling for brutal taskmasters. Every year, hundreds of slaves, perhaps thousands, are sent to their deaths in bloody arena spectacles. Charity, compassion, kindness—these qualities exist, but they are rare and precious blooms. Only a fool hopes for such riches.
3. Metal is scarce
Most weapons and armor are made of bone, stone, wood, and similar materials. Mail or plate armor exists only in the treasuries of the sorcerer-kings. Steel blades are nearly priceless; many heroes never see such weapons during their lifetimes.
4. Arcane magic defiles the world
Reckless use of arcane magic during ancient wars reduced Athas to a wasteland. To cast an arcane spell, a magic user siphons power from the living world. Nearby plants wither to ash, crippling pain wracks animals and people, and the soil is permanently sterilized. It is possible to cast spells with care, avoiding any more damage to the world, but defiling is easier and faster than preserving. As a result, sorcerers, wizards, and other wielders of arcane magic are reviled and persecuted across Athas regardless of whether they preserve or defile. Only the most powerful spellcasters can use their arcane abilities without fear of reprisal.
5. Sorcerer kings rule the cities
Terrible defilers of immense power rule all the city-states. These mighty spellcasters have held their thrones for centuries; no one alive remembers a time before the sorcerer-kings. Some claim to be gods, and some profess to serve gods. Some are brutal oppressors, while others are subtle in their tyranny. The sorcerer kings govern through priesthoods or bureaucracies of greedy, ambitious templars, who channel their power. In all appearances, they are gods of this world.
6. The gods are silent
Athas is a world without deities. No clerics, no paladins, and no prophets live here. Religious orders are dedicated to sorcerer-kings who claim godhood. Old shrines and crumbling temples lie amid ancient ruins, testimony to a time when unknown agents spoke to the people of Athas. Those who lay claim to clerical powers do so through worship of the elements: the sun, the sand, the storm, and the rarest of all, water.
7. Fierce monsters roam the world
The desert planet has its own deadly ecology. Many creatures that are familiar sights on milder worlds have long since died out or never existed on Athas. The world has no cattle, swine, or horses; instead, people tend flocks of erdlus, ride on kanks or crodlus, and draw wagons with inixes and mekillots. Wild creatures such as lions, bears, and wolves are almost nonexistent. In their place are terrors such as the id fiend, the baazrag, and the tembo. Perhaps the harsh environment of Athas breeds creatures tough and vicious enough to survive it, or maybe the touch of ancient sorcery poisoned the wellsprings of life and inflicted monster after monster on the dying world. Either way, the deserts are perilous, and only a fool or a lunatic travels them alone.
8. Familiar races and classes aren't what you expect
Typical fantasy stereotypes don't apply to Athasian heroes. In many fantasy settings, elves are wise, benevolent forest-dwellers who guard their homelands from intrusions of evil. On Athas, elves are nomadic herders, raiders, peddlers, and thieves. Halflings aren't amiable river-folk; they're xenophobic headhunters and cannibals who hunt and kill trespassers in their mountain forests. New races thrive here: the monstrous half-giant, the insectoid thri-kreen, the half-breed mul. There are no paladins, bards serve as assassins, and the mental force of psions can be found even amongst the lowliest beggar and slave.
“Athas is an endless wasteland, yet it has a majestic and stark beauty. When first light casts its emerald hues over the Sea of Silt, or when sunset spreads its orange flame over the Mekillot Mountains, the world’s feral beauty stirs the untamed heart in each of us. It is a call to take up spear and dagger, to flee the cities, to go and see what lurks out in the barrenness.” - The Wanderer’s Journal
The DARK SUN setting isn't a place for your typical bearded dwarf with a love of beer and gems, cherubic halfling, or charging knights and gnome wizards. In this setting, some races don't exist, and the dwarf might instead be a hairless devotee to the sun, the halfling a stealthy cannibalistic hunter, and any wizard likely hides her spellcasting lest a mob hang her for defiling what precious life clings to the earth. Half-giants and thri-kreen are part of the dominant races, and the scarcity of metal leads crafters to creative uses of alternative materials and an entirely different economy. This book expands your usual options and will help you and your friends create characters uniquely invested in this world.
Athas waits to challenge you. Whether you are a mul gladiator, competing for the cheers of thousands, or the elven trickster selling contraband goods as part of your cover for the Veiled Alliance, or a thri-kreen hunter enthralled by the irregular behaviors of humanoids, you will face the same basic question: are you here simply to survive, or do you dare to do more?
1. Choose a race
This guide provides the racial traits and roleplay aspects of the eight available classes: dwarf, elf, half-elf, half-giant, halfling, human, mul, and thri-kreen.
2. Choose a class
The traditional classes and archetypes may have been modified or do not exist. This Guide lists any changes to each class. The classes of Athas are: barbarian, bard, cleric, druid, empath (new) fighter, monk, psion (new), ranger, rogue, warlock, and wizard. The Paladin and Sorcerer do not exist.
3. Determine ability scores
Standard array (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8), or point-cost variant (PHB 13) if permitted.
4. Describe your character
- Determine if your DM allows evil alignments.
- Literacy is banned in cities, so consult the DM when choosing a background as to whether your social class enables your character to read and write.
- Be descriptive! A character is more than numbers. Come up with personality traits and use the Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws to assist with creating a unique character that will evolve and grow as the campaign grows.
- Consider finding Dark Sun-themed art for your character. The art of the original setting provided enhancement to the setting.
5. Choose equipment
Consult this Guide's Equipment section in Part 6 for purchases, currency, and changes in material. Because of the rarity of metal and water, the economy and gear of Athas has developed quite differently from other settings. For example, the primary currency is a "ceramic piece (cp)," not a gold piece, which is far more valuable on Athas.
6. Assign Wild Talent
Psionics are common on Athas, though few consciously master the "Will and the Way." Player characters may opt to have a Wild Talent. For the people of Athas, psionics are special because it’s the one source of extraordinary power that does not make them beholden to someone or something else. Templars need a sorcerer king. Clerics must pray to the elements. Wizards leech life from plants. Soldiers need someone to make and maintain armaments. Consult the Wild Talent section in Part 4 if you are a non-psionic character.
7. Come Together
Most campaigns begin with a unifying starting hook or story. The DM is encouraged to run a Session 0: Prologue, in which players should bring a character concept to the table and utilize that session to finish making characters as a group. The group is encouraged to roleplay how they arrived at their current situation with one another, and work together in developing a narrative that may affect your choice of assigning scores, features, and background to your character.
8. Optional Rules
The DM should notify players in advance which optional rules will be in use and which supplements are permitted beyond this Guide. Part 9 contains a section for homebrew, optional rules, but these are also not necessary to enjoy the Dark Sun world.
Races of Athas
“The worst thing you can say to a dwarf is ‘It can’t be done.’ If he’s already decided to do it, he may never speak to you again. If he hasn’t decided to take up the task, he may commit himself to it simply out of spite. ‘Impossible’ is not a concept most dwarves understand. Anything can be done, with enough determination.” - Sha’len, Nibenese trader
On Athas, dwarves are not subterranean miners but rather, a long-lived, slowly dying race known for their relentless focus on a task to the single exclusion of all others. A dwarf’s chief love is toil, and one is never happier when tasked with a cause he can approach with a stoic, single-mindedness for weeks, months, years, or even decades. Once his mind is committed to a task, it is near impossible to sway him away from it as he will fail to listen to reason. Dwarves live for their focus, for those who die unable to complete a focus return from the dead to haunt their unfinished work. A dwarf rarely divulges his focus to anyone.
Short and Stout
Short and powerful, dwarves stand between 4 ½ and 5 feet tall. Their frames are massive and an average dwarf weighs in the vicinity of 200 pounds. Life in the Athasian wastes makes them rugged, tanned, and callused. Dwarves are hairless and find the very idea of it repulsive.
A dwarf’s relation is often a function of his focus. Those who help him are respected, sensible companions. Those who hinder him are obstacles that must be removed. There is very little room for compromise in a dwarven mind.
Focus is the central point of your existence, and no simple job will suffice. Work with your DM to come up with a starting focus and a new one if completed. None should be easy to complete and should take at least 1 week or longer to finish to be worthwhile.
For example, Grelak, protector of his village, makes the retrieval of a sacred book stolen by raiders his focus. After a week of gathering clues, he sets out to liberate the artifact from its current owner in a trading post weeks away. On the way there, he gains the benefit of his dwarven focus for anything that would slow him because he is trying to reach the book. Later, he stops in Nibenay to rest and gets in a brawl. He doesn’t receive any bonuses because he isn’t actively pursuing his focus.
Dwarves are close-knit, formed around clans and focused on family. Ties of blood are honored above all but the focus. Family honor or dishonor is passed down to generations. A community is led by the Urhnomous (over-leader), and each clan by an uhrnius (leader). There are 3 main dwarven settlements in the Tablelands: Kled, near Tyr, and the twin villages of North and South Ledopolus on the southwestern edge. Dwarven oral tradition shares that they were once a mighty people living in vast cities, and many of these ancient ruins are still out there, buried and forgotten.
Names are granted by the clan leader, the uhrnius, after completing one's first focus. Dwarves do not have a surname and like many on Athas prefer just one name, using a town (Drog of Kled) if distinction is needed.
Male Names: Baranus, Biirgaz, Bontar, Brul, Caelum, Caro, Daled, Drog, Fyra, Ghedran, Gralth, Gram, Jurgan, Lyanius, Murd, Nati, Portek, Rkard, Sa’ram, Sult, Veso.
Female Names: Ardin, Erda, Ghava, Greshin, Gudak, Lazra, N’kadir, Palashi, Vashara.
Dwarves are nonmagical by nature and abhor arcane casters. They cannot take an arcane casting class. Their priests lean towards steady earth and avoid chaotic air, and they take to psionics with a vengeance. Dwarves leave villages at times to further a focus and to search for ancient dwarven ruins. They are highly prized as mercenaries because once contracted, their loyalty will never change.
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 2, and you choose to increase your Strength or Wisdom by 1.
Age. Dwarves mature around age 35 and live up to 250 years, though the dangers of Athas often claim them well before this time.
Alignment. Dwarves tend lawful and good to neutral. Their devotion to an established hierarchy in villages means they tend to follow rules even to the point of ridicule.
Size. A typical dwarf stands about 4 ½ to 5 feet tall and weighs 200 pounds. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 25 feet. You are not slowed by wearing heavy armor.
Darkvision. Despite living aboveground, your heritage allows you to see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if in bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Dwarven Focus. When making an ability check or saving throw directly related to your Focus, you are considered proficient.
Dwarven Resilience. You have Advantage on poison saves and resistance to poison damage.
Tool Proficiency. You gain proficiency with the artisan's tool of your choice: smith's tools, brewer's supplies, or mason's tools.
Dwarven Toughness. Your hit point maximum increases by 1 and it increases by 1 every time you gain a level.
Languages. You can speak Common and Dwarvish. With DM permission, your character might be able to read Dwarvish with an appropriate background. Dwarves keep a long and proud oral history, and they have an old written language mostly used for writing history that they will never share to outsiders. Their native language is deep and throaty, full of guttural sounds and harsh exclamations that cause most non-dwarves to get raw throats if spoken for long.
Roleplaying a Dwarf
Remember the intensity of your focus. Breaking it has social, philosophical, and spiritual repercussions. If you die before completion, your spirit will return as a banshee and you will have shamed your clan for generations to come. For someone to intentionally stand in the way of your focus is an assault on you. Your greatest satisfaction is completing the focus. Keep a serious attitude always. The only time you show your festive side (you have one) is when you have recently fulfilled a focus or between setting a new one. At this time, your full joy and humor show, but you are vulnerable in some ways because you are lost in purpose.
"Honor? The word does not exist in the elven language.” – Tharak, human guard
“Better to die with a spear in your hands than to live with shackles around your wrist.” – Elven adage
Athas’ wilderness is home to the long-limbed elves, a race of traders, herders, and fast moving raiders. Running is the key to acceptance and respect amongst them. Elves who are injured and cannot run are often left behind to die. Most rarely stay in one place for long, both physically and emotionally, and this is seen as a sign of strength in their people - an absolute freedom.
Elf culture, while savage, is also rich and diverse. They have turned celebrating into an art form, and elf song and dance is captivating and seductive to non-elves. Elven war parties are greatly feared in the deserts, for they are a deadly force of endurance and maneuverability.
Others see elves as dishonest and lazy; generally, a fair assessment. Elves idle for days until compelled to exert themselves, but they can run for days without complaint. No self-respecting elf will ride an animal, and it is a severe dishonor to do so. Custom dictates those who cannot keep up are left behind, and this includes the pregnant and the elderly. Elves prefer to live short, happy lives rather than long, boring ones. Unlike traditional settings, Athasian elves rarely live past 140 years. Seeing the future as a dark, deadly place, they prefer to live in the “here and now.” They thrive in open spaces and tend to wither in captivity, making them poor choices on the slave block.
Long and Lean
Elves are long-limbed sprinters who stand between 6 ½ and 7 ½ feet tall with slender yet muscular builds, averaging 175 pounds. They have deeply etched features with rugged skin as varied as the other races of Athas. They grow no facial hair but the locks atop their heads comes in from lightest blond to darkest black. They dress in garb designed to protect them from the elements.
Trust is for fools
Elves keep to their own tribe – there is no racial unity - and the rare friend, unless there’s an angle to be gained. Strangers are potential enemies waiting to take advantage of an elf, so they look to get the advantage first. If a companion shows promise, the elf devises a series of “tests” of trust that allows them to prove their friendship is “stronger than the bonds of death,” as elves say. Once gained, one is forever a friend, but if that trust is betrayed, it is gone forever. In the tribe, elves are all equals, except the Chief. The Chief is elected and rules for life, making all major decisions for the tribe, and elves are expected to tithe a choice piece of loot. Holding out suggests a lack of loyalty to the tribe. Your natural enemy are the thri-kreen who view your people as a delicacy.
Those who cannot keep up die, and freedom in all matters is life. Most elves don't lie, cheat, or steal out of malice. They see an opportunity and the gullible can't keep up. In their culture, an elf is rewarded for being faster, both in wit and running. If you stop running, if you settle down, you wither.
Home is where you run
Elves are nomads by nature, though they maintain semi-permanent settlements in the wilderness. Their ability to cover vast distances makes them master raiders, and they consider anywhere their legs can take them as their territory to take from as they see fit.
Elves may flippantly adventure for wanderlust, but those who persist often do so for a desire for profit, glory, revenge, or loyalty. They like to boast about their accomplishments, weaving these into song. Elves often take keepsakes from memorable raids and sew these into their cloaks. Elves are pleased by flaunting a stolen item before an owner. Elven custom dictates the victim congratulate the thief on his possession of such an attractive item (those who don’t are poor sports).
Unlike most other races, elves have no issue with defiling magic and arcane practice.
Naming of young runners is a sacred responsibility, given after the first interesting thing the child does while learning to run. With the right name, an elf child can grow to greatness, but the wrong name may cause one to vanish in the wastes. A child’s name can be changed because of an extraordinary deed performed during the rite of passage. Elves take the surname of their tribe.
Male Names: Botuu (Water Runner), Coraanu (First Elf, the Warrior Thief), Dukkoti (Wind Fighter), Haaku (Two Daggers), Lobuu (First Runner), Mutami (Laughs at Sun), Nuuko (Sky Hunter), Traako (Metal Stealer).
Female Names: Alaa (Bird Chaser), Ekee (Wild Dancer), Guuta (Singing Sword), Hukaa (Fire Leaper), Ittee (Dancing Bow), Nuuta (Quiet Hunter), Utaa (Laughing Moon)
Tribe (Clan) Names: Clearwater Tribe (Fireshaper, Graffyon, Graystar, Lightning, Onyx, Sandrunner, Seafoam, Silverleaf, Songweaver, Steeljaw, Wavedivers, Windriders clans); Night Runner Tribe (Dark Moons, Full Moons, Half Moons, Lone Moons, New Moons, Quarter Moons clans); Shadow Tribe; Silt Stalker Tribe (Fire Bow, Fire Dagger, Fire Sword clans); Silver Hand Tribe; Sky Singer Tribe (Dawnchaser, Dayjumper, Twilightcatcher clans); Swiftwing Tribe; Water Hunter Tribe (Raindancer, Poolrunner, Lakesinger clans); Wind Dancer Tribe (Airhunter, Breezechaser clans)
Elves tend to any profession and trade that let's them act freely. This makes them poor students of the rigorous study of psionics, and rarely does anything but Air draw them to clerical study.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2, and you choose to increase your Intelligence or Charisma by 1.
Age. Elves reach physical maturity at the same rate as humans but must pass the tribe’s rites of initiation before being recognized as adults, typically around 20. Elves can live to 140 years.
Alignment. Elves tend chaotic because of their love of freedom, variety and self-expression. They tend neutrality, though they tend good (self-sacrifice) when the tribe is concerned. Although they will steal everything in sight, they are not murderous and avoid unnecessary violence.
Size. A typical elf stands about 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 feet tall and around 175 pounds. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 35 feet.
Burst of Speed. Your heritage allows you to move in sprints. When you move on your turn in combat, you can double your speed until the end of the turn. Once you use this trait, you can’t use it again until you move 0 feet on one of your turns.
Elven Resilience. You are conditioned to the extreme weather of the wastelands and have advantage on all saves against extreme heat and cold.
Mask of the Wild. You can attempt to hide even when you are only lightly obscured by terrain, weather, or other natural phenomena.
Elf Run. You add your Constitution score to the number of miles you can travel in a day. You have advantage on forced march saves.
Languages. You can speak Common and Elvish. Each tribe has a distinct dialect. The language is filled with short, clipped words, run with a rapid staccato pace difficult for others to pick up. They disdain the slow, tedious languages of others but condescend to learn Common. Elves that learn other tongues hide it to gain advantage.
Roleplaying an Elf
Rely on guerilla combat skills – distance, maneuverability and speed. The elven philosophy is never to stand up in a fair fight, and running is prized, whether it be from an equal combat, an awkward situation, or a pregnant lover. When someone professes to be your friend, dismiss them at first then offer them a test of trust (don’t tell them). Ask them to give you a prized possession or see if they take one of yours left out in a conspicuous place. Pretend to sleep and listen to what they say about you. Maybe allow yourself to be captured and see if this presumed friend will rescue you!
"People are no good. You can only trust animals and the bottle.” – Delmao, half-elf thief.
Unlike the parents of mules, elves and humans are often attracted to each other, but just as often, they are the unwanted product of a casual encounter. Born from two worlds but not welcome in either, they find an attraction to the solitary wastes. In conjunction with a lack of unifying culture, most turn into lonesome, self-sufficient folk. Elves have no tolerance for them (the mother is expected to get rid of the child or be cast out) and most, though not all, humans believe their ears make them just another lazy thief and trickster. When everyone sees you as the worst quality of your parent race, the half-elf turns away and has found a kinship in the animal world unmatched by either of their parent races.
Half and half
Half-elves are taller than most humans, standing 6 to 6 1/2 feet tall, bulkier than elves and able to pass themselves off more as humans than full elves. The men can grow beards and they have a full range of skin tones and hair colors. Some enjoy proving themselves better than humans or elves at a task, and others simply turn to different cultures, such as thri-kreen or muls, for friendship. They rarely maintain a friendship for long as it is their experience that everyone is going to let you down or betray you eventually, but at times it is necessary to ally or simply not be alone.
Half-elves don't form communities despite their numbers, and they can reproduce with either parent race. Most will never know their elven parent and they aren't welcome in elven tribes, seen as an embarrassment who can't keep up. Their affinity to beasts leads them to be valuable animal handlers. Some find acceptance in the ranks of templars, where service to the sorcerer king or queen provides a welcome home. In adventuring parties, they tend to be aloof because it's likely to be a short-lived experience.
Most have human names as they cannot run as elves to gain a given name, nor an accepted tribal name. Some warp the elvish custom and simply take a name, much to the anger of elves. Like most races, half-elves use only one name, though they may adopt a city or village surname, or a profession, to distinguish themselves.
Male Names: Boaz, Brazin, Ero, Fyrian, Gathalimay, Laban, Lafus, Luris, Melestan, Mirch, Navarch, Poortool, Regg, Ruach, Solzak, Vok, Wek, Wheetan, Xutan.
Female Names: Alie, Arya, Aso, Drewet, Feera, Feykaar, Krysta, Lorelei, Mila, Ranis, Sareka, Thania, Vaerhirmana.
Half-elves are influenced by both parents, even if not accepted by either race.
Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 2, and two other ability scores of your choice increase by 1.
Age. Half-elves mature as humans, reaching adulthood around 20, and some live to 130 years.
Alignment. Lawful and neutral half-elves labor for acceptance from a parent race while chaotic ones have given up, rejecting a society that has rejected them.
Size. A typical half-elf stands close to 6 ½ feet tall and weighs 140 pounds. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Nomadic Life. You have proficiency in the Survival and Animal Handling skills.
Speak with Animals. You can communicate simple ideas with medium size or smaller beasts using sounds and gestures. This does not make the animal friendly to you or able to respond in kind.
Animal Affinity. At 3rd level, you can you can use an Action to attempt to charm a medium size or smaller beast with Intelligence 3 or lower. You must be able to touch and talk to the beast. If your or your companions are fighting the beast, it cannot be charmed. It must pass a Wisdom save or be charmed for 24 hours. The saving throw is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier. If you or your companions do anything harmful to the beast, the charm ends. You cannot use this trait again until you complete a long rest.
Languages. You can speak Common and Elvish, and if a city dweller, likely you adopt the distinct dialect of your home.
Roleplaying a Half-elf
You don’t consider yourself a separate race. You pride yourself on your self-reliance and refuse patronizing offers to help you. You'll do fine on your own, thank you very much. Take any chance to show humans you're just as talented as them or elves you're just as clever. If others view your attempts as irrational, well, they get to be wrapped in the blankets of racial acceptance. You're left out in the cold. Praise should be viewed with suspicion because no one hands that out without an angle in mind. Other half-elves don't interest you by default. Just because they have the same ears doesn't mean you suddenly have anything in common. In an adventuring group, you don't need charity and don't need someone else to cook your food or take your watch.
This does not mean you'll never form a lasting friendship. But it's hard to get over a lifetime of being on the outside and being constantly reminded of that. This is why you feel affinity with the beast. They're simple. They don't judge, and they don't act with malice.
“Mind of a child, strength of three grown men. I’ve seen a half-giant tear the walls out of a building because he wanted a better look at the tattoos on a mul inside.” – Daro, human trader
Legend holds in ages past a sorcerer king or queen used wizardry to beget a union of giant and human to make a race of powerful slaves. Whatever the truth, the half-giant race has thrived, able to reproduce with one another, and are sought out as gladiators, soldiers, guards and mercenaries across the tablelands.
Because of their artificial origins, there is no half-giant culture, tradition, or homeland. They readily imitate customs and cultures of those they admire or associate with. They are very imitative, eager to fit into a world that is not built for their size. One observing a dwarf quarry might watch for a time then try his hand at it, moving on if he does not excel at it. Many find they excel at breaking bones and imitate those who are also skilled at this practice.
Big and strong
Half-giants are enormous individuals, generally 10 to 12 feet high and weighing in upwards of 1600 pounds. Though they have human features, these tend to be exaggerated in some ways. Skin tones range from light brown to deep tan, like sand. They vary in hair color and tend to wear whatever hair style or fashion they currently are emulating. Absent that, their giant heritage makes for thick hair amenable to braids. There is no economy for half-giant stature, so their clothing would likely consist of several human-sized articles of clothing stitched together. A tavern would charge extra for filling enough plates for a half-giant sized appetite, and any armor would have to be specially crafted. Most nobles, templars, and merchant houses feel the investment is worth the return when they have 1500 pounds of enforcement at their command.
The most powerful warriors on Athas, half‐giants seem content to dwell in humanity’s shadow and drift towards charismatic leaders of all races. For example, if a half-giant village is near elven raiders, they are likely to emulate the guerilla tactics of the elves. However, this innate need to fit in is more than a whim. It is inherent to the half-giant's creation. A half-giant farmer's village might be raided, and he may soon adopt the morals of the invaders because they seem to know what they're doing, and the half-giant finds he's pretty good at smashing heads too.
Alignment on a Whim
One axis of your alignment will be fixed and the other subject to change, even daily, based on influential events or persons around you that you find a reason to emulate or admire. You will try out their morals or philosophies and perhaps stick with it for a time if you're good at it. This does not mean half-giants are unreliable - the influence must be strong for them to change, and they have a core philosophy that is fairly unchanging. A half-giant soldier might see a dwarven cleric of the sun and be impressed by her unflappable devotions. He may try shaving himself and praying to the sun until he finds he cannot stare at the sun without hurting his eyes and cannot make fire appear.
This can make role-playing a half-giant a challenge.
Slaves are given human names while free half-giants will take names based off the adopted culture. See other races for name suggestions.
Half-giants inherit a solid balance of their bestial and human parents.
Ability Score Increase. You have 4 points to split between your Strength and Constitution scores. Your Strength score may reach a maximum of 22 instead of 20. Your Intelligence and Wisdom scores are decreased by 2 each.
Age. Half-giants mature around 24 years of age and can live up to 220 years.
Alignment. Your alignment may fluctuate as described in Alignment on a Whim. You begin with one fixed alignment axis (good-neutral-evil or lawful-neutral-chaotic) that will never change. The other axis may change depending on who you are emulating. Subject to DM approval, when imitating a charismatic leader, select an appropriate Ideal or Flaw and replace your current one. If the new Ideal is tied to a non-fixed axis of your alignment, change that aspect of your alignment.
Size. A typical half-giant stands 10 to 12 feet tall and weighs 1,600 pounds. You occupy a 10-foot by 10-foot space and have a 5 foot reach. Your size is Large.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 35 feet.
Giant Body. You cannot wear ordinary gear sized for smaller creatures such as boots, gloves, and backpacks. All clothing, armor, meals, and lodging cost double for you.
Large Hands. You may wield versatile and two-handed melee weapons with one hand.
Colossal Endurance. Your immense body mass allows you to occasionally shrug off injury. When you take damage, you can use your reaction to reduce that damage by your Constitution score. After using this trait, you cannot use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
Giant’s Toughness. Your hit point maximum increases by 2 and it increases by 2 every time you gain a level.
Languages. You can speak Common. Your voice is always low, making it difficult for most to hear and understand more than a rumble.
Food and Water needs
Large creatures require four times the daily amount of water and food needed for a small creature (DMG p111).
Roleplaying a Half-giant
Always remember how much bigger and heavier you are than everyone else. Take advantage of your height in combat, but remember the disadvantages. Between your size and your lesser wits (even if you are a relatively intelligent half‐giant people will assume you to be dull), you find yourself an object of comic relief. You are used to being teased and will endure more witty remarks than most people, but when you have been pushed too far your personality can suddenly shift, and you can unleash astonishing violence on your tormentors and any who stand in your way. Less frequently, these shifts can happen to you without provocation ― you just wake up with a different ethos and altered disposition.
Remember you are influenced by powerful personalities, and can shift your personality and ethics. You tend to imitate the tactics, clothes and demeanor of your “little master.”
Size and Magic Items
Magical gear adjusts for the size of the wearer from Small to Large. A half-giant or halfling can wear the same pair of boots if magical, but ordinary kank leather boots sized for a human simply won't fit. For creatures with an alien physique, such as a thri-kreen, certain items like boots will never work, magical or not.
Consult if your DM permits resizing of armor by a trained crafter (PHB 144). If so, the half-giant would still pay double the size of resizing the armor, which begins at 10 to 40% of the armor price, reflecting the extra materials needed.
“Be wary of the forest ridge. The halflings who live there would as soon eat you alive as look at you. Chances are you won’t even notice them until you’ve become the main course.” ―Mo’rune, half‐Elven ranger
Halflings are masters of the jungles of the Ringing Mountains. They are small, quick and agile creatures steeped in an ancient and rich culture that goes back far into Athas’ past. Although they are not common in the Tablelands, some halflings leave their homes in the forests to adventure under the dark sun. While omnivores, halflings prefer raw flesh and let no meat go to waste, including that of enemies, humans, and other sentient creatures.
Halflings have difficulty understanding others’ customs or points of view, but curiosity helps some halflings overcome their xenophobia. Little concerned with material wealth, halflings are more concerned with how their actions will affect other halflings.
Small and savage
Halflings are small creatures, standing only about 3 1/2 feet tall and weighing 50 to 60 pounds. Rarely affected by age, halfling faces are often mistaken for the faces of human children, even the elderly among them. They dress in loincloths, sometimes with a shirt or vest, and paint their skins with bright reds and greens. Forest halflings rarely tend to their hair, and some let it grow to great lengths, though it can be unkempt and dirty.
Halfling culture dominates their relations with others and predates human civilization. Rarely will they ever draw the blood of another halfling. Halflings of different tribes share a tradition of song, art and poetry, which serves as a basis of communication. Creatures that do not know these cultural expressions are often at a loss to understand a halfling’s expressions, analogies and allusions to well–known tales. Halflings can easily become frustrated with such “uncultured” creatures lose patience with outsider intolerance of their ways, such as eating other humanoids. They abhor slavery and most halflings will starve themselves rather than accept slavery.
Fear of outsiders
Halflings have no desire to see their home become like the rest of Athas. They are fierce and merciless in its defense, uncaring about the struggles and excuses of other races. Halflings’ bond with nature extends into most aspects of their culture. A shaman or witch doctor, who also acts as a spiritual leader, often rules their clans. This leader is obeyed without question. Halfling fighters willingly sacrifice themselves to obey their leader, leaving outsiders to perceive them as fanatics when halflings dearly love and enjoy life.
Exploring the Tablelands gives curious halflings the opportunity to learn other customs. Although they may at first have difficulty in understanding the numerous practices of the races of the Tablelands, their natural curiosity enables them to learn and interact with others. Other halflings may be criminals, renegades or other tribal outcasts, venturing into the Tablelands to escape persecution by their kin. Most tribes reject arcane magic, but a few have preserver chieftains who would sacrifice an entire tribe to keep one defiler out.
Halflings have only one name assigned at birth.
Male Names: Basha, Cerk, Derlan, Drassu, Entrok, Kakzim, Lokee, Nok, Pauk, Plool, Sala, Tanuka, Ukos, Zol. Female Names: Alansa, Anezka, Dokala, Grelzen, Horga, Jikx, Joura, Nasaha, Vensa.
Halfling traits reflect their savage nature.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2 and your Wisdom score by 1.
Age. Halflings reach adulthood at the same rate as humans and live to be about 120 years old.
Alignment. Halflings tend towards law and evil. Uncomfortable with change, halflings tend to rely on intangible constants, such as racial identity, family, clan ties and personal honor. Halflings generally have little respect for the laws of the big people.
Size. Halflings average around 3 ½ feet tall and 50 to 60 pounds. Your size is Small.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 25 feet.
Halfling Nimbleness. You can move through the space of any creature that is of larger size than yours.
Savage Attacks. When you score a critical hit with a melee attack, you can roll one of the weapon's damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit.
Fury of the Small. When you damage a creature at least one size larger than you with an attack or spell, you can cause the attack to add extra damage equal to your level. Once you use this trait, you cannot use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
Languages. You can speak Halfling and Common. Your culture uses drawings and tales rather than a written language. Halflings rarely teach others their language, but some individuals of the Tablelands have learned the wild speech. Halflings found in the Tablelands learn Common to survive, but it is generally unknown past the Ringing Mountains.
Roleplaying a Halfling
Remember to consistently take your height into account. Role–play the halfling culture described above: eating opponents, treating fellow halflings with trust and kindness, suspicion of big people, and general lack of interest in money. Conquest and plundering have no place in your society; rather the most important value is the ability of the inner self as it harmonizes with the environment. You should be sickened by the landscape of the Tablelands and desperately want to avoid any risk that devastation ever spreading to your homelands in the Forest Ridge. You will learn about other cultures, but you should firmly believe halfling culture to be innately superior to all others. However, you don’t try to change other’s cultures, no more than you would try to convince a tembo to change its diet.
While omnivorous, you vastly prefer meat, and everything is a source of food. You should presume most other races will eat anything, including halflings, if they are hungry enough, and this makes it hard to trust them.
“Humans are fools and hopelessly naïve as well. They outnumber us; they are everywhere, and yet they have no more sense of their strength than a rat. Let us hope that the Datto stay that way.” ―Dukkoti Nightrunner, elven warrior
Humans are the dominant culture in the explored parts of Athas, known for their versatility and adaptability. Most tend to be ambitious and individualistic; even the tyranny of sorcerer kings hasn’t stamped out this 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” is a common saying when humans appear to take action for no apparent reason.
Humans tend to get along well with races they comingle with (most often dwarves and muls). Half-giants and thri-kreen are seen as dangerous monsters. Elves and half-elves are considered flighty and untrustworthy. Halflings are exotics. Humans often serve as a go-between when one race deals with another.
A broad spectrum
Men average 6 feet tall and 200 pounds while women range around 5 ½ feet tall and 140 pounds. They tend to dark-skin and bronzed tones with darker hair, though all colors exist with nobility tending to the greatest variety. Humans are prone to mutations, and it is not uncommon to find exaggerated features, webbed feet, or even extra digits on hands and feet.
Centuries of abusive magic have taken their toll on the human body. Some humans have marked alterations to their appearance, such as a bizarre symmetry, exaggerated facial feature, pointed ears, no facial hair, unusual skin coloration like copper or grey, etc. Humans are familiar and generally unsurprised by such differences. Ultimately, these give no benefits or hindrances in gameplay and are for flavor.
Human names vary by region. For most a single name suffices. A noble will have a family surname but often revert to use of one name. Freemen occasionally refer to their occupations to avoid being taken for laborers or slaves, such as “Barek the Weaver.”
Tyr/Urik Male Names: Agis, Amilanu, Baal, Banoc, Duzi, Ea, Gulkishar, Igigi, Markduk, Rim-Sin, Sargon, Silani, Tithian, Utuaa, Zu
Tyr/Urik Female Names: Amata, Bau, Belili, Damkina, Gula, Ishtar, Kishar, Mummu, Mylitta, Neeva, Ninsunu, Rubati, Shala, Zakiti.
Humans are hard to generalize.
Ability Score Increase. Your ability scores all increase by 1.
Age. Humans tend to reach adulthood in their late teens and can live to around 80 years.
Alignment. Humans tend to no particular alignment. The best and worst are found among them.
Size. Men average 6 feet tall and 200 pounds while women range around 5 ½ feet tall and 140 pounds. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Languages. Common and one other language of your choice.
Human Variant (optional)
Instead of increasing all ability scores, you may increase two different ability scores by 1, gain proficiency in a skill, and gain one feat.
“See, the trick is to break their will. Not too much, mind you. Nobody wants to watch a docile gladiator, and muls are too expensive to waste as labor slaves. But, you don’t want them trying to escape every other day. Would you like to tell the arena crowd that their favorite champion will not be appearing in today’s match because he died trying to escape your pens?" ―Gaal, Urikite arena trainer
Born from the unlikely parentage of dwarves and humans, a mul (pronounced “mull”, from the dwarven word “mulzhennedar” which means “strength”; “mule” is used as a derogatory pronunciation) combines the height and adaptable nature of humans with the musculature and resilience of dwarves. Muls enjoy traits that are uniquely their own, such as their robust metabolism and almost inexhaustible capacity for work. The hybrid has disadvantages in a few areas as well: sterility, and the social repercussions of being created for a life of slavery. Humans and dwarves are not typically attracted to each other. The only reason that muls are so common in the Tablelands is because of their value as laborers and gladiators: slave-sellers force-breed humans and dwarves for profit.
While mul-breeding practices are exorbitantly lucrative, they are often lethal to both the mother and the baby. Conception is difficult and impractical, often taking months to achieve. Even once conceived, the mul takes a full twelve months to carry to term; fatalities during this period are high. As likely as not, anxious overseers cut muls from the dying bodies of their mothers.
Strength and Endurance
Second only to the half‐giant, the mul is the strongest of the common humanoid races of the tablelands. Muls grow as high as seven feet, weighing upwards of 250 pounds, but carry almost no fat at all on their broad muscular frames. Universal mul characteristics include angular, almost protrusive eye ridges, and ears that point sharply backwards against the temples. Most muls have dark copper–colored skin and hairless bodies. They are always sterile.
Bred to slavery
Muls are bred to fight or labor. Most mul laborers master the conventions of slave life, figuring out through painful experience who can be trusted and who cannot. Muls learn from their mistakes in the slave pits to a greater extent than other races not because they are cleverer, but because unlike slaves of other races they tend to survive their mistakes, while other slave races are less expensive and therefore disposable. Only the most foolish and disobedient mul would be killed. Most masters will sell a problem mul slave rather than kill him. Their mastery of the rules of slave life and their boundless capacity for hard work allows them to gain favor with their masters and reputation among their fellow slaves.
Life of a slave
All gladiators who perform well in the arenas receive some degree of pampered treatment, but muls receive more pampering than others. Some mul gladiators even come to see slavery as an acceptable part of their lives, being given good food, good housing, and mates.
However, those that acquire a taste of freedom will fight for it. Stoic and dull to pain, muls are not easily intimidated by the lash. Masters are loath to slay or maim a mul who tries repeatedly to escape, although those who help the mul’s escape will be tormented in order to punish the mul without damaging valuable property. Once a mul escapes or earns his freedom, slavery remains a dominant part of his life. Most muls are heavily marked with tattoos that mark his ownership, history, capabilities and disciplinary measures. Even untattooed muls are marked as a potential windfall for slavers: it is clearly cheaper to “retrieve” a mul who slavers can claim had run away, than to start from scratch in the breeding pits.
Muls are given names, and for gladiators, Draji names with harsh tones are favored to strike fear. Lacking families, a mul might use a place for a surname, such as “Mersten of Nibenay.”
Male Names: Aram, Athalak, Borthomar, Bost, Darok, Darus, Durn, Eben, Erekard, Gard, Harask, Marok, Morg, Rikard, Sanozar, Tomak, Uskan, Zedath, Zorus.
Female Names: Aisa, Aivel, Brithis, Callia, Demosis, Elina, Faivel, Himithis, Laivi, Mersten, Narisel, Raina, Reshel, Saditha, Tirshel, Uisel, Zerima.
The mul is bred for physical attributes but can inherit a parent's quick mind. A mul cannot be an arcane caster, having inherited their dwarven heritage.
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2 and your Constitution and Wisdom by 1.
Age. A mul ages like humans, tending to reach adulthood a year or two year earlier and given their lot in life rarely reach the age of 85.
Alignment. Muls tend towards neutrality with respect to good and evil, but run the gamut with respect to law or chaos. Many lawful muls adapt well to the indignities of slavery, playing the game for the comforts that they can win as valued slaves. A few ambitious lawful muls use the respect won from their fellow slaves to organize rebellions and strike out for freedom. Chaotic muls, on the other hand, push their luck and their value as slaves to the breaking point, defying authority, holding little fear for the lash.
Size. A typical mul is 7 feet tall and weighs over 250 pounds. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Relentless Endurance. When you are reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, you can drop to 1 hit point instead. Once you use that trait, you can't use it again until you finish a long rest.
Inexhaustible. You have advantage on Forced March saves and all saves to resist non-magical exhaustion. If you spend 1 minute focusing yourself, you can remove one level of non-magical exhaustion. Once you use this trait, you can't use it again until you finish a long rest.
Languages. You can speak Common plus a language of your choice.
Roleplaying a Mul
Born to the slave pens, you never knew love or affection; the taskmaster’s whip took the place of loving parents. As far as you have seen, all of life’s problems that can be solved are solved by sheer brute force. You know to bow to force when you see it, especially the veiled force of wealth, power and privilege. The noble and templar may not look strong, but they can kill a man with a word. You tend towards gruffness. In the slave pits, you knew some muls that never sought friends or companionship, but lived in bitter, isolated servitude. You knew other muls who found friendship in an arena partner or co– worker. You are capable of affection, trust and friendship, but camaraderie is easier for you to understand and express – warriors slap each other on the shoulder after a victory, or give their lives for each other in battle. You don’t think of that sort of event as “friendship” – it just happens.
Muls dislike what they fear, and they fear wizards. They resent that a wizard’s power comes from without, with no seeming effort on the wizard’s part, while the mul’s power is born of pain and labor. You may never have been exposed to psionic study or clerical ways, but there is nothing preventing you from learning.
“This one does not speak with the quivering soft shells that lay about all night. This one might eat you, but never speak.” ―Tu’tochuk
Thri‐kreen ("kreen" for short) are the strangest of the intelligent races of the Tablelands. These insectoid beings born from eggs possess a mindset very different from any humanoid being encountered. They roam the wastes in packs, hunting for food day and night, since they require no sleep. Thri‐kreen are quick and agile and make fearsome fighters, feared throughout the wastes. They refer to thri-kreen who have become city dwellers as “tohr-kreen,” meaning “settled person,” whereas thri-kreen means “wanderer-person.”
Mature Thri‐kreen stand about 7 feet tall, with a rough body length of 11 feet. Their four arms end in claws; their two legs are extremely powerful, capable of incredible leaps. However, kreen are unable to jump backwards. Their body is covered with a sandy– yellow chitin, a tough exoskeleton that grants the Thri‐kreen protection from blows. Their head is topped with two antennae, and their two eyes are compound and multifaceted. The kreen mouth consists of small pincers. Male and female Thri‐kreen are physically indistinguishable. Thri‐kreen usually do not wear clothing, but wear some sort of harness to carry weapons and food.
Many wear leg or armbands, or bracelets. Some attach rings on different places on their chitin, though this requires careful work by a skilled artisan. While most thri-kreen appear identical to non-kreen, their nuances of exoskeleton development render them quite unique in their view. Pheromones release modifies their eye coloration: light for pleasant feelings and dark for distress. They are carnivores and become sick if eating plants, the only exception being a handful of common spices and fruit-based potions.
No sleep required
Since Thri‐kreen do not require sleep, they have difficulty understanding this state of “laziness” in others. Other behaviors of humanoids seem unnecessarily complex. A keen’s life is simple: hunt prey. Kreen live for the hunt, and own only what they can carry. Their knowledge is largely passed by an instinctual racial memory shared with the clutch. At birth, they already know what animals make the best prey and ways to catch them.
A different perspective
The pack mentality dominates a keen’s relation with others. Kreen hunt in small groups and will move to other areas rather than depopulate an area of prey. A kreen that joins a group of humanoids will often try to establish dominance in the group. This can be disconcerting to those unaware of the keen’s behavior, since establishing dominance usually means making threatening gestures. Once the matter is settled, they will abide by the outcome. Thri‐kreen view humanoids as possible sources of food but rarely hunt them as humanoids are not simple prey. Many kreen have a particularly fond taste for elves; as such, meetings between these two races are often tense. However, once part of a clutch, Thri‐kreen will never turn on their humanoid friends, even in the worst of situations.
Kreen have a severe fear of any water smaller than a puddle as they cannot swim or float. They have no idea how to ride another creature and find the concept alien and non-sensical.
Contrary to the variety of humans, thri-kreen are largely predisposed to tasks due to their racial memory. They have no wizards; their lack of natural sleep and need to hunt makes it impractical, but kreen take to psionics as a way of life and the hunt. They revere the elements and ancestral memory causes them to revere the Great One, a legendary leader from many clutches past.
The Kreen language is very different from those of the other intelligent races. They have no lips or tongues, and so cannot make the same sounds humanoids make. Kreen language is made up of clicks, pops, or grinding noises. They do not distinguish male and female names.
Names: Cha'ka, Chuka-tet, Drasna, Drik-chkit, Hakka, Ka'cha, Ka'tho, Klik-chaka'da, Lakta-cho, Qhak'cha, Qhik-ik-cha, Sa'Relka, T'Chai, Tak-tha.
Kreen physiology gives it several natural advantages that compensate for not being able to utilize items commonly worn by other races.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2, and your Wisdom score increases by 1.
Age. A thri-kreen is born from an egg and becomes fully mature at 6 years. They demonstrate no effect of aging until they reach the end of their life cycle around 30 years. Sensing their death, such thri-kreen go on a final hunt.
Alignment. Most Thri‐kreen are chaotic, acting in whatever fashion benefits the pack mentality, and this rarely leads them to philosophies of good and evil.
Size. A typical thri-kreen is 7 feet tall, 11 feet long, and weighs 450 pounds. Unlike other races, variation in height and weight is nominal and a few inches or pounds at most. You occupy a 10 foot by 10 foot space and have 5 foot reach. Your size is Large.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 40 feet.
Carapace. Your chitinous plates provide a natural armor class of 13 + Dexterity modifier. You cannot wear armor but you may carry a shield.
Thri-kreen Physiology. You only require 1 gallon of water per week. You cannot swim. You cannot wear items fitted for humanoids, including but not limited to armor, bracers, cloaks, and rings.
Sleepless. You require no sleep and are immune to sleep effects. You need only 4 hours of light activity to gain the benefits of a long rest. You are not required to make saves for a Forced March.
Thri-kreen Weapon Training. You are proficient with the gythka, chatkcha, and your claws and bite.
Claws. Your claws can be used to make a single natural attack for 1d4 + Strength modifier slashing damage. At 5th level, this increases to 2d4.
Bite. Your bite can be used to make a natural attack for 1d4 + Strength modifier piercing damage. At 5th level, you add thri-kreen venom to your bite. A target must make a Constitution save or be poisoned for 1 minute; if failed by 5 or more, the target is paralyzed for the duration. The target repeats the save at the beginning of its turn to end the effect. The DC is 8 + proficiency bonus + Constitution modifier.
Additional Arms. You have two ancillary arms below your main ones. Each of these weaker arms can hold items but not effectively wield weapons or shields. You may use your extra arms to stow or retrieve one item each turn without using an action and may freely swap items between your arms without using an action.
Leap. At 3rd level, your legs have grown powerful enough to jump 50 feet forward or 20 straight up, without a running start. You cannot jump backwards.
Naturally Psionic. Your Psi Point maximum increases by 2 and by another 2 at 5th level.
Languages. You can speak Thri-Kreen and Common. Thri-Kreen is a language composed of clicks and whirring, antennae movements, and pheromone emissions that non-kreen find too difficult to interpret and impossible to duplicate. When you speak other languages, you use a high-pitched voice.
Roleplaying a Thri-kreen
You tend to rely on your natural attacks and special kreen weapons. Everything you kill is a potential dinner. You have a strong need for a party leader – obedience to this leader in the party is important to you. If you seem to be the most powerful and capable, then you will assume leadership; if someone challenges your authority then you will wish to test whether they are in fact stronger than you. It is not a question of vanity; you won’t want to fight to the death, but merely to ascertain who is worthy to lead the party. You do not have the focus of a dwarf to complete a project, but you would give your life to protect your companions. If you did not trust and honor them as your own family, then you would not travel with them and work together with them. You do not understand the concept of sleep. It disturbs you that your dra (sentient meat creatures like humans) companions lie unconscious for a third of their lifetimes. Spend your rest periods watching them in this state. You own only what you can carry, caring little for money or other items that other races consider as treasure. Your philosophy of ownership sometimes leads you into conflict with presumptuous dra who think they can own buildings, land, and even whole herds of carru!
The main sources of barbarians are slave tribes and hunter-gatherer cultures from beyond the Tablelands. Life among slave tribes is often brutal and short. A barbarian might be a sole survivor of a raid or monster attack. She might be an exile or returned to her tribe to find it gone. Barbarian halfling tribes that draw power from the spirits can be found in the forest ridge, and no matter their location, all share a common manifestation of fury. For some, it comes from within, amplified by horrific life events, and for others, it may come from unity with ancient spirits, contacted through rituals whose ways are documented only in oral tradition, to be lost if the tribe is ever lost.
Use the default rules for barbarians unless a change is indicated below.
Path of the Totem.
- Replace Bear with Klar, a massive Kodiak bear with chitinous plate on the back, a stub tail that helps it balance when standing, and covered in thick sandy fur. It is one of the most feared predators in the land.
- Replace Eagle with Kes-trekel, a deadly carrion bird with black plumage and crimson red head whose croak is considered a harbinger of death.
- Replace Wolf with Dagorran, a fearsome frog-like reptilian pack hunter able to track prey psionically for days or week without relenting.
Path of the Storm Herald (Xanathar)
- No changes to Desert.
- Replace "Sea" with "Air." At 6th, replace breathe underwater and swim features with “you take half damage from falling.” At 14th, replace “struck with wave” with “struck by a powerful gust of wind.”
- Replace "Tundra" with “Mountains.” At 3rd level, change “icy spirits” to “earthen spirits.” At 6th, replace resistance to cold with force. Replace immunity to extreme cold with “gain advantage against effects that would knock you prone.” Replace make ice with “as an action, you can touch sand or silt and turn a 5 foot square of it into a solid, non-difficult terrain that can support any amount of weight for 1 minute. At 14th, replace “magical frost” with “magical stone.”
Path of the Zealot (Xanathar)
- At 3rd level, choose to draw power from the Black, a nether realm (necrotic), or a clerical element (radiant). Those who draw from the Black cannot have a good alignment. When choosing an element, your back-story should include how the element came to accept you. See the Cleric, Elemental Pact for a description of how a character submits herself to the elements.
The Paladin and Sorcerer do not exist as player classes in Dark Sun. The Paladin was removed in the original AD&D setting as this is not a world of gods and divine warriors. The sorcerer subtypes are ill-suited for Athas and its mechanics are utilized for defiling.
The minstrels of Athas are entertainers to the wealthy and powerful elite of the city-states. Singers, acrobats, poets, dancers, and storytellers, minstrels tour the cities of Athas in troupes or individually, making a living with their wits and talents. Among them, hiding in plain sight, are an offshoot mutation of wizards who have, over time, come to utilize magic without spellbooks, augmented by music. To survive and avoid the fate of most wizards, they take their natural affinity to music and have mixed with the minstrel culture.
By tradition all but the poorest or most suspicious of hosts are proud to open their doors to traveling performers. Hosting a minstrel or sponsoring a troupe’s performance reflects well on the host, and most Athasians are eager to forget their troubles with a few hours of song and dance. Nobles often send troupes of minstrels to one another as gifts; it is seen as a great insult to refuse such a gift, even when all involved know that minstrels are often spies or assassins.
Fortunate minstrels are highly paid companions to nobility, trusted advisors or agents who enjoy the most intimate confidences of their patrons. Minstrels are often retained by noble houses to tutor young nobles or teach them about the world. They might serve as bodyguards and fighting instructors at the same time. Minstrels who belong to a troupe lack the comfort and trust bestowed on a kept minstrel, but they enjoy the freedom to travel and the aid of a network of informants and allies. The poorest and most humble minstrels are simple wandering storytellers or jugglers who perform for their supper from night to night.
Many minstrels have a dark side they conceal beneath their charm and talent. Those with ambition and ruthlessness find opportunities in the employ of the elite classes. Minstrels often lead double lives as blackmailers, thieves, spies, or assassins; a minstrel’s visit or a troupe’s performance might conceal a mission of espionage or murder. They are renowned as masters of poison, concealed weapons, and subtle trickery. Even the humblest wandering minstrel with threadbare cloak and battered lyre might be more than he or she seems there’s no better spy than someone who seems harmless and is welcome wherever he or she goes.
The most dangerous of these - spellcasting bards - are employed in stables by sorcerer kings and employed ruthlessly against their most dangerous and well-protected foes.
Use the default rules for bards unless a change is indicated below.
Instruments of Athas: Common instruments and their prices if not listed in the PHB are: lap harp (30cp, 6lbs.), lyre, lute, reed pipe (2cp, 1 lb.), horn trumpet (3cp, 2 lbs.), and drum. Unless one has access to extravagant resources, these have no metal components.
Music of Athas. Slower, haunting voices punctuated with the pluck of stringed instruments are the most popular kind.
Defiling. Bards are subject to the rules of defiling contained in the wizard section.
College of Glamour (Xanathar). Does not exist.
Bard and "Bard"
The people of Athas widely accept that even the most shabbily dressed troubadour might be an undercover spy or assassin. The term "bard" is used interchangeably for any performer, whether they have arcane talent or not, and could include a charming rogue assassin who can play the lyre. Most civilized creatures would, however, kill a bard on sight if they learned the bard had arcane talent. Those with it take great measure to hide their powers. If a sorcerer king learns of the existence of a caster-bard in his city, he will take great steps to ensure the bard is destroyed.
The clerics who inhabit the wastes of Athas are very different from those of a standard D&D campaign. They do not pray to patron deities, for they have no deities. Clerics beneath the dark sun pledge themselves to the very powers that dwell on the elemental planes. Like the Athasian deserts, the elemental powers are neither benevolent nor malevolent, caring only that their natural forms are preserved in the material world. To preserve what they can in a dying world, the elements forge pacts with a select few beings and through them hope to replenish a decaying planet to the ancient, carefree days of power.
The clerics who do the elementals' bidding are a strange and varied lot. Some teach crop rotation in order to protect and restore the earth of the harsh planet. Others command the power of flame for little more than vengeance’s sake. Whatever their motivations, each cleric is bound and sworn to preserve her patron element in the physical world. Few ever renounce the solemn agreement: to forsake the Pact is to incur the wrath of beings who possess the raw power of the elements.
The pacts forged by the elemental beings with the mortals who serve them are strange and terrible contracts. The elementals demand nothing less than the entire lives of the clerics, spent in total service and obedience to their element. In exchange, the elements bestow what powers they have to give upon their clerics. Some are great, some weak, but all of them demand the cleric's total commitment. The pact is signed during the cleric’s initiation, if she succeeds; failure means insanity, death, and occasionally even worse fates. Violations of the various pacts are dealt with quickly and without pity.
Use the default rules for clerics unless a change is indicated below.
New Domains. The traditional domains are replaced with Air (also known as storm), Earth (sand), Fire (sun) and Water (rain).
Holy Symbol. Traditional symbols are replaced with a physical embodiment of your element. Earth clerics commonly use small chunks of granite, quartz, or precious metal, and those with resources may mount it in a staff or medallion. A water cleric likely has a vial of pure water worn around the neck, though a waterskin of untainted water could suffice. Fire clerics prefer obsidian stone, often carved into the shape of flames. Air clerics are the most fortunate, not tied by material possessions, and may use a gentle puff of their own breath as a holy symbol.
Bonus Language. You can speak the Primordial language of your element at 1st level.
Spell changes: Create or Destroy Water affects and produces only 1 gallon per casting and at each higher spell slot. Only Water clerics can learn this spell. The spell Create Food and Water does not exist.
Clerics who make pacts with the Plane of Air are perhaps the most misunderstood of all the elemental clerics. They are wanderers, diviners, travelers, and mystics. Like the winds, their minds are constantly wandering, and they rarely seem focused on a current problem or situation.
Air clerics prize freedom over all. They loathe restriction in movement, personalities, beliefs, practices, clothing, and any attempt to impose limitations. This makes them enemies of bondage and slavery. The growing power of the sun has made the air angry, dry and lifeless, unable to power hurricanes and typhoons. Air clerics are obligated to protect earth and water in the hopes mighty forests might sway again and raging oceans fill the silt basins, bringing back unbridled freedom.
The test of the air cleric is perhaps the most terrifying of the elemental initiations. A cleric and her mentor meditate for up to two weeks atop the highest mountain they can find. When the initiate feels ready, she walks to an overhand and leaps from the precipice, throwing off the shackles of the earth and giving herself completely to the wind. As she falls, the air spirits may speak with her and forge a pact of air, lowering her softly to the ground. If not, she likely dies.
Air can be destructive and powerful, but it also can distract and obscure. Choose either the Tempest or Trickery domain from the PHB, adjusted as follows:
Air Weapon Proficiencies: At 1st level you gain proficiency with all ammunition weapons. This replaces the Tempest bonus proficiency and is added to the Trickster domain.
Tempest (fury of the storm) Domain Spells
|1st||feather fall, thunderwave|
|3rd||gust of wind, shatter|
|5th||call lightning, fly|
|7th||conjure minor elementals (air), freedom of movement|
|9th||conjure elemental (air), destructive wave|
Trickster (the elusive wind) Domain Spells
|1st||disguise self, unseen servant|
|3rd||mirror image, silence|
|5th||blink, dispel magic|
|7th||conjure minor elementals (air), dimension door|
|9th||conjure elemental (air), mislead|
Trickster Divine Strike: replace poison damage with lightning damage.
Closely tied to nature, earth priests understand the true nature of the cycle of life. When something dies, its organic material is returned to the soil to provide life for another, and in another form. Therefore, the earth clerics. outlook on life is a utilitarian one. The death of a comrade, though tragic, is simply one stage in nature’s endless chain of creation and annihilation.
Because air, fire, and water all depend on growing things for their enrichment, and because earth alone must sustain itself, it is the earth clerics who must carry on the burden of preventing the environmental holocaust looming over Athas, such as teaching proper agricultural techniques and slaying defilers who would turn usable elements to ash. For, if they do not preserve the land, will not the death of Athas weigh upon their shoulders?
When a mentor believes that a disciple is ready, after meditation, the initiate is buried alive in a fertile land at dawn and must commune with the spirits of the earth to sustain her. When the sun goes down, the novice either emerges, unscathed and empowered, or likely she dies and feeds the earth.
All things return to the earth and all elements are dependent on the earth. This gives Earth clerics diversity in their selection of powers. Choose from the War, Nature, or Grave (Xanathar) domains, adjusted as follows:
War (the slow anger) Domain Spells
|1st||shield of faith, thunderous smite|
|3rd||magic weapon, spiritual weapon|
|5th||elemental weapon (acid), spirit guardians|
|7th||conjure minor elementals (earth), stoneskin|
|9th||conjure elemental (earth), wall of stone|
Channel Divinity: Replace Guided Strike with "Rock Solid." You can use your reaction when being hit to gain resistance to all damage from that hit except psychic damage, and you are immune to effects from that hit that would knock you prone or shove you. At 6th level, rename War God's Blessing to "Earth Fury."
Nature (the cycle of creation) Domain Spells
|1st||animal friendship, speak with animals|
|3rd||barkskin, spike growth|
|5th||plant growth, meld into stone|
|7th||conjure minor elementals (earth), grasping vine|
|9th||conjure elemental (earth), insect plague|
Replace Master of Nature with "Avatar of Earth." At 17th level, you gain resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from non-magical sources.
Grave (the cycle of annihilation) Domain Spells
|1st||bane, false life|
|3rd||gentle repose, ray of enfeeblement|
|5th||revivify, vampiric touch|
|7th||conjure minor elementals (earth), death ward|
|9th||antilife shell, conjure elemental (earth)|
Fire is the feared domain of destructive power, rarely seen as nurturing and life-giving. Most fire clerics are impulsive and destructive like their element, and seen as madmen who randomly destroy precious organic material. Yet, fire wipes away the old so the land can grow back stronger. They sometimes jest “to destroy the world is to destroy the defilers,” and no one is quite sure if they are truly joking.
Fire clerics are expected to preserve Athas so it can be destroyed again and grow back stronger. They encourage the growth of forests, cities, and fields. This pact leads them to directly oppose all defilers and sorcerer kings, but their ways are too eccentric to form lasting alliances with druids, who share the same goal.
When a mentor feels her student is ready, she takes her to a clearing and burns her in a massive bonfire at nightfall. If accepted, the novice remains in the inferno through the night as it burns and infuses her through the flames. Her hair, if any, turns fiery red and her eyes coal black, known as “the badge of flame.” If not accepted, she is violently expelled an in explosion of fire, usually fatal.
Fire is a destroyer and creator. Choose from the Light (sun) or Forge (Xanathar) domains, adjusted as follows:
Light (the searing force) Domain Spells
|1st||burning hands, hellish rebuke|
|3rd||flaming sphere, scorching ray|
|7th||conjure minor elementals (fire), wall of fire|
|9th||conjure elemental (fire), flame strike|
Bonus Cantrip. Replace light with produce flame.
Forge (the fire that creates) Domain Spells
|1st||continual flame, searing smite|
|3rd||heat metal, magic weapon|
|5th||elemental weapon (fire), protection from enegy|
|7th||conjure minor elementals (fire), wall of fire|
|9th||conjure elemental (fire), creation|
Channel Divinity. Replace Artisan's Blessing with "Fiery Defense." At 2nd level, as an action, you channel fiery energy into an ally that you can see within 30 feet of you. The first time that ally is hit by an attack within the next minute, the attacker takes fire damage equal to 2d10 + your cleric level.
Water is the rarest of domains, life-giving and life-taking, with a severe and unforgiving animosity to any who would defile a well or plants. Clerics of water instinctively sense a duty to perform an age-old function of being healer and bringer of life regardless of the morals of the target, and they bear a sadness to the moisture that has been lost by defilement. Some eventually go insane, consumed by the thirst of this land and an inability to quench it. They worship by finding the dew of the morning and encouraging it, or keeping the lifeblood from needlessly spilling onto barren land (if it falls on fertile land, that is another matter). Because water can be found in all living things, they have access to powers that can restore, or manipulate, beings.
When a mentor feels a student is ready, they begin the long journey to a rare body of water such as Lake Island or the Lake of the Golden Dreams. For a day they meditate on the lake’s edge, and at dusk, the student enters the water and surrenders to the depths. If accepted, the initiate spends the night in the dark water forging a pact with babbling spirits. If not, the student likely drowns.
Water nourishes and is a part of all beings. Choose from the Life or Knowledge domains, adjusted as follows:
Quench Thirst. At first level, you can chew on nearly anything to extract moisture. Your water needs are halved.
Life (the healing waters) Domain Spells
|1st||create or destroy water (modified), cure wounds|
|3rd||lesser restoration, spiritual weapon|
|5th||beacon of hope, revivify|
|7th||conjure minor elementals (water), death ward|
|9th||conjure elemental (water), mass cure wounds|
Divine Strike. Replace radiant damage with cold damage.
Knowledge (the water within) Domain Spells
|1st||command, create or destroy water (modified)|
|5th||nondetection, speak with dead|
|7th||conjure minor elementals (water), confusion|
|9th||conjure elemental (water), scrying|
Channel Divinity. Modify Knowledge of the Ages. You may also gain proficiency with a weapon or armor that you touch.
Visions of the Past. Modify: object reading also functions as an identify spell.
Unlike Athasian clerics, druids are solitary creatures. They live off the land, within the land, and they have sacrificed their entire lives for the land. But, unlike clerics, druids concentrate their considerable abilities in a single area: their guarded lands. A barren stretch of desert, a sparse section of scrub land, or perhaps a sparkling oasis, that is the home of the druid, and his source of power. One small preserve, protected from the dark magic of the defilers.
They are the bane of sorcerer kings, eternally at war with them, but hunted to small enough numbers to no longer be considered a viable threat. The few druids bide their time, training and rebuilding their ranks. It is said one day the druids will rise from the earth with their fallen brothers and erase the sorcerer kings from Athas.
Unlike clerics, druids are not bound by the desires of the elements but are tasked with defending the raw elements of the world. They do not undergo rites of initiation but instead apprentice under other druids. Months may pass before a mentor believes the initiate is ready to speak with the elements. At that time, the student is allowed to commune in a deep trance with the spirits. There are very few rejections as druids tend to carefully weed and groom candidates before ever allowing them to commune. In such events, the student is generally killed and returned to the earth.
Use the default rules for druids unless a change is indicated below.
Choose one specific geographic feature to be your Guarded Land. This may be a particular stretch of desert, an oasis, a cave, a belt of scrub grass, and so on. While you are within the boundaries of your Guarded Land, you are under a constant pass without trace effect and can speak with animals at will.
- See the Beast Shapes section for Wild Shape options.
- Replace Religion skill option with Stealth.
- The spell goodberry does not exist. Create or destroy water only affects 1 gallon per casting, and another gallon per slot above 1st.
Circle of Land. The terrain of Athas is much different than that of most D&D worlds. Remove Arctic, Coast is renamed Oasis, Forest includes jungles, Grassland includes savannah, scrublands, and verdant belts, Swamp includes mud flats and salt marshes, Underdark is renamed Cave.
Circle of the Moon. No changes except to Wild Shape beasts.
Circle of Dreams (Xanathar). Does not exist.
Circle of the Shepherd (Xanathar). Remove all references to Fey. Modify Speech of the Woods. Remove ability to understand Sylvan. Modify Spirit Totem. Rename Bear as Klar (see barbarian), Hawk as Kes’trekel (see barbarian), and Unicorn as Spirit of the Land. A Spirit of the Land is an enigmatic force that infuses particular lands. Only a select few druids know how to tap into the energies of these silent, ancient powers.
|0||Animal, herd (kip, z'tal, jankx)|
|0||Animal, household (critic, hurrum)|
|0||Cranium rat (Volo 133)|
|0||Giant fire beetle|
|1/8||Poisonous snake (swim)|
|1/8||Wezer drone (fly)|
|1/4||Constrictor snake (swim)|
|1/4||Flying snake (fly)|
|1/4||Giant bat (fly)|
|1/4||Giant poisonous snake|
|1/4||Wezer soldier (fly)|
Beast Shapes, continued
|1||Giant ant lion|
|2||Giant constrictor snake (swim)|
|3||Dune reaper, drone|
Wild Shape and Psionics
The challenge rating of beasts include their innate psionic abilities, which are assumed when the druid takes that form.
The fighter is universal no matter what world she may be found. Most serve as gladiators, soldiers, merchant guards, or mercenaries. Most gladiators are slaves, but some can make a lucrative living as freemen, training a stable or earning prizes. The city-states rely on slave conscripts for the bulk of their forces, but all maintain a core of elite, trained soldiers such as the all-female Shadow Consorts of Nibenay or Urik’s Obsidian Guard. The merchant houses employ their own armies to protect trade, including well-trained cavalry and foot soldiers. Nobles keep their own bodyguards and small forces, considered a fairly easy job since most nobles are content to avoid conflict. Soldiers of fortune can be found in all settings, and a few have united to form small units operating from fortified bases, such as the Black Reavers outside of Urik.
Fighters function as in the PHB with changes as below:
Eldritch Fighter, Arcane Archer, and Cavalier (Xanathar). Do not exist.
Samurai (Xanathar). Rename Gladiator. While any fighter can take a weapon and enter the arena, there are a select few who have been trained to dominate and please the crowd. Outside the arena, this self-control translates well to command of soldiers.
Adamant (Psion's Primer). Available as a psionic subtype.
There are no monasteries on Athas. Rather, a style of fighting emerged from the gladiator pits in response to a demand for unarmed combat, and from those combatants, nobles and templars bred in psionic abilities to create masters of the body. Due to their popular crowd appeal, enough have been granted freedom that they have spread out and trained others, or sought greater fame and fortune in the sands. A master monk is as rare as steel and just as dangerous.
Psionic monk gladiators are considered by their owners to be less trouble than a true psion because their powers tend to stay restricted to the physical form. A monk who displays a greater array of powers might be put down instead.
Monks function as in the PHB with changes as below:
Way of the Shadow. Does not exist.
Way of the Elements. Like a cleric, the monk gives herself to a particular element (see Cleric, above) and is subject to the same loss of all class powers if violating tents of that element.
Way of the Sun Soul. A version of the sun cleric, subject to the same loss of all class powers if violating tenets of that element.
Soulknife (Psion's Primer). Available as a psionic subtype.
Psion & Empath
Psionics are a daily part of life in Athas and all living creatures will have exposure to it. It is not unexpected that the local smith might have some latent talent to bend leather in a particular way that improves the product. Even the beasts of the desert likely have some ability that improves their survivability. Every sorcerer king and most merchant houses keep a stable of powerful psionic users on staff, and in cities those who display a greater degree of power are carefully watched for signs of disloyalty.
The Will and the Way
The "Will" is one's innate psionic ability, and the "Way" is the art of studying psionics. Each psion or empath refers to herself through her focus of study, and to the common folk, all are commonly called "mindbenders."
Every city has psionic trainers and schools of study, and it is said there is an Order of mindbenders powerful enough to challenge a sorcerer-king, though if such an Order exists, its agenda has yet to be known. All races accept and have affinity for psionics. Even so, laws of the cities take into account psionic powers. Crimes committed by a compelled person are punished as if the psionic user committed them, and mind-reading against non-slaves is forbidden.
The Empath follows a philosophy of study that belief equals reality. They have learned to translate their emotions into raw power, affecting the emotions of others and eventually bending reality.
Psions are scholars of the mind, controlling the physical world around them through intense study of particular disciplines.
The Rules for both classes, as well as 3 subtypes, are contained in the DMs Guild product "Psion's Primer," found at:
Alternately, if this product is unavailable to you, the UA version of the "mystic" can adequately serve as a Psion, if reflavored for the setting. Its free online rules are found here:
Path of the Mindbender
When people learn to use psionics, they're taught to create a nexus - a point in the center of their beings where physical, mental, and spiritual energy can be harnessed. It is the union of these powers that allows mindbenders to perform the remarkable feats they're capable of.
While many beings can discover the strength of the Will within themselves, most who go on to study the Way require guidance from a teacher. There are schools of the Way in every city of Athas, and merchant houses and noble families often pay dearly to have their scions educated by the best. Rarely, the academies waive tuition for a promising student of the free classes. Slaves are never formally instructed in the Way.
In addition to the formal schools, there are wandering teachers or tribal elders who take it upon themselves to instruct those who show promise. Even field slaves may be instructed by an older, wiser slave in secret sessions. Most of these tutors can't provide the quality of training that a formal curriculum can, but some wandering masters are very capable and can provide an unrivaled education in the psionic arts.
A Rare Path
Although thousands of Athasians command a unique talent, true masters of the Way are still rare. It takes exceptional ability and dedication to take up the study of the Way, and many do not progress far. Less than one person in one hundred who formally study the Way can be considered a true mindbender.
Because trained psionicists are scarce, they are highly valued by many elements of Athasian society. Unlike wizards, psionicists are free of the taint of magic and need not disguise their calling. They owe no loyalty to the sorcerer-kings, unlike the templars. Even clerics and druids have elemental powers and guarded lands that they must place first.
Any psionicist willing to sell her services will find there is great demand for someone skilled in the mental arts. Merchant houses, psionic schools, nobles, and templars routinely employ mindbenders to help them against their enemies. In fact, it is unusual to encounter a mindbender who has no patron or employer. They are often seen as troublemakers.
The wilds of Athas are a treacherous place, and the skills of a ranger are most often learned as a guide, hunter, or scout for a military operation. Rangers are found in every race, most prominently among halflings. To the ranger, the seared lands are not an enemy but a well respected adversary. Rangers generally are on good terms with druids, and it is from a druid mentor that a ranger likely has experienced contact with a Spirit of the Land that can bestow upon her certain powers.
Rangers function as in the PHB with changes as below:
Favored enemies. Remove celestials, dragons, and fey.
Natural Explorer. Replace terrain with Sandy Wastes, Stony Barrens, Rocky Badlands, Salt Flats, Scrub Plains, and Silt. Forest may be added at DM discretion but is virtually unknown to any but halflings.
Difficult terrain does not slow the ranger's travel but still affects their companions. The ranger gains advantage on navigation checks, not automatic success.
Spell changes. The spell goodberry does not exist.
Horizon Walker (Xanathar). Does not exist.
Dark Sun rogues come from all walks of life: slave, freeman, merchant and noble. Rogues are common amongst merchant houses as astute guides, shrewd bargainers, and smugglers. Every city-state has a thieves' guild, and they often deal with wizards (no questions asked), who pay fees not only for illegal components but for protection and anonymity. Skilled rogue performers are referred to as "bards," with the presumption they might also be serving as a covert agent or assassin. Poison has no stigma on Athas and likely to be used by any rogue. Rogues function as in the PHB with changes as below:
Arcane Trickster. Does not exist.
Lurk (Psion's Primer). Available as a subtype.
Warlocks are extremely rare on Athas because they must derive their power from a patron, and to all but the most learned of sages, there are only two sources for that power: sorcerer kings and the elemental powers. Nearly all warlocks that are encountered are "Templars," men and women of all races imbued with the essence of their god-kings and queens and empowered with the authority over life and death of the commoner.
But, for a very select few, power comes from another source. The total number of mortals who wield these powers and make a pact with the unknown can likely be counted on one hand. Their agendas may be alien to the general interests of most: survive and prosper.
Warlocks function as in the PHB with changes as below:
Defiling. Warlocks are subject to the rules of defiling contained in the wizard section.
Players may choose between the Great Old One (patron from the Black), Celestial (fire/sun elemental patron), Fiend, and Hexblade (Xanathar)(patron from the Gray). Other patrons either do not exist or are within the sole province of the sorcerer kings. The DM will replace the lore contained in the default books with appropriate Dark Sun literature.
Fiends on Athas
While Athas is not directly linked to the Outer Planes, fiends, but not other outerplanar beings, have, for reasons unknown, the ability to traverse the planes to Athas, but again for reasons unknown, rarely do so unless summoned by sorcerer kings or a Dragon.
Arcane magic is outlawed in every city-state. In secret, wizards still study the arcane arts, drawn to it even at the risk of their lives, from small cabals to isolated ancient text study. Wizards are universally distrusted, for while one may profess to not defile, the temptation will always be there, to gain greater power "just this once" and "for the greater good." To the druid or elemental cleric, there is no greater affront than seeing the precious life of Athas turn to ash, justified for a brief need.
PC wizards are likely revolutionaries, naturally in opposition to sorcerer kings. They must take extreme steps to hide their nature, including from their own companions. If you play a wizard, think about a "cover story." Many wizards pretend to be mindbenders or clerics.
Hiding a Spellbook
Wizards learn quickly and share secrets with friends and family on hiding spellbooks, keeping one step ahead if possible from templar searches. Hollowed out walking sticks and weapons with scroll spellbooks are common, along with pages sewn between two pieces of cloth on items such as cloaks, and some carve the symbols onto items such as wooden and bone implements. Some have even risked inscribing their spells into leather garments, to be turned inside out when needed. It has been said a few desperate souls have even tattooed books onto their own skin. For most, it is best to find a careful hiding spot in each civilization.
Wizards function as in the PHB with changes as below:
- Add Sleight of Hand to list of skills from which to choose.
The find familiar spell summons creatures native to Dark Sun but only with the fiendish type. All creatures have AC12, 4 hit points, and 20' movement. The list can include but is not limited to:
- Critic lizard (a tiny, colorful reptile that senses danger, expects food after fights, is jumpy and paranoid)
- Hurrum (flightless beetle that constantly produces a pleasing humming noise while cooling itself, dies in direct sunlight and likes to hum songs you are thinking about)
- Jank (gold furred ferret-like mammal with poisonous spurs, likes to stuff its mouth pouches and play with objects in your packs)
- Kivit (gray-furred feline that secretes venomous musk to ward off predators, hates being inside and musk spell intensifies when upset)
- Wrab (black-scaled winged serpent that senses emotional states, often trained for diplomatic encounters, likes to lick blood from your wounds and wrap around your arm when you attempt to persuade others, fly)
- Z'tal (chirping feathered lizard often used as food, gets alarmed when party members stray and often bumps into your leg)
Preservers and Defilers
Athas is a wasteland because spells are powered by living matter - plants - and centuries of wars involving the sorcerer kings, the Dragon, and constant defiling has leeched the world dry. While sorcerer kings maintain gardens and hunt defilers, they still keep some on hand as a necessity. Wizards who defile can draw great power from plant life but in return will permanently reduce every tree, shrub, even underground root in the area to ash that never can again support life. This eventually leaves a taint on the wizard that can be sensed by those attuned to such things like druids. Preservers are wizards who have, at the cost of greater power, devoted themselves to taking only what is needed, from further sources until the spell can be powered. They also devote their lives to destroying defilers. Nevertheless, the temptation will always be there, to defile "just this once." To most preservers, there is no middle ground. Once a defiler, always a defiler, and better to die than cross that line. To some, when looking death in the eye, the decision becomes that much harder.
Defilers of Athas
When an arcane caster invokes a spell, she draws upon the life energy of Athas. Most casters are trained to take only what is needed because any more kills plant life and renders the area barren for centuries. Every spellcaster is aware she is limiting herself by voluntarily limiting her casting in this way. With any spell, she can cost off her self-imposed restrictions in exchange for a rush of power. In doing so, she marks herself as a defiler - an enemy of the land. Doing so is an evil act, but many a good-hearted caster has found herself facing impending doom and reconsidered this stance.
Those who defile can apply a metamagic effect to their non-cantrip spells. Once the spell is cast, the land around them turns to barren ash, and the caster gains one or more defiler points. A caster who defiles even once will track two new scores: her current defiler points score, and if applicable, her permanent defiler aura. The DM determines the terrain, which determines the amount of vegetation from which defiling power can be taken.
Whenever you defile, you gain defiler points based on the effect applied according to the Defiling Benefits and Cost Table. These points have an immediate and cumulative negative effect, applied immediately from the Accumulated Defiler Points Table. All points can be shed in one of two ways: assuming the taint or meditation with the land.
The number of points you can spend on an effect is limited to half your caster level (round down).
You cannot defile if the area has been been drained of vegetative life.
Defiling Benefits and Cost Table
|Defiler Effect||Defiler Points Earned|
|Twinned spell||2 per spell level|
|Recover spell slot as action||2 per spell level|
|Cast spell without material component||1 per 100cp value|
When casting a spell that requires a saving throw, choose a number of creatures up to your spellcasting modifier (minimum 1). Chosen creatures automatically save.
Double the range of spells with at least a 5 foot range, or make a touch spell have a range of 30 feet.
Cast without somatic or verbal components.
Reroll a number of damage dice equal to your spellcasting modifier (minimum 1) and use those new rolls.
Double the duration of any spell with a duration of at least 1 minute, maximum 24 hours.
When casting a spell requiring a save, make one target have disadvantage on its first saving throw against the spell.
Change the casting time of any spell that has a casting time of 1 action to 1 bonus action.
When casting a spell that targets only one creature and doesn't have a range of self, you may target a second creature in range with the same spell. To be eligible, the spell cannot target more than one creature at the level being cast.
Recover spell slot
As an action that provokes an attack of opportunity, you may draw forth life energy to renew your arcane powers and regain an expended spell slot.
Cast spell without material component
Cast any spell without using a material component.
Accumulated Defiler Points Table
|1+||-2 on Charisma and Wisdom checks|
|11+||-2 Constitution score reduction. If engaged in strenuous activity (e.g. fighting, running) for at least 1 minute, you must make a Constitution saving throw or gain 1 level of exhaustion. The save DC is 0 + number of current defiler points.|
|21+||another -2 on Charisma and Wisdom checks|
|31+||another -2 Constitution score reduction. Alignment becomes evil.|
|41+||become an undead NPC (t'liz) under DM control|
Purging Defiler Points
A defiler has two options to purge points and remove the negative effects of defiling. In most preserver circles, it is considered better to die than defile, and even if one can remove the taint of defiling, that person will be seen as a defiler ("once a defiler always a defiler.")
Assume the Taint
At the end of a long rest, you may purge away all your defiler points and their negative effects, including any exhaustion caused by defiling. Add half of your defiler points to your permanent defiler aura. Reset your defiler points to zero.
If you defile even once and assume the taint, you permanently gain an aura that, while having no apparent consequences, marks you for those who can detect such auras, such as a druid. Certain creatures and casters have effects that specifically target defilers, and your aura functions as a penalty on your saving throws against those anti-defiler effects. There is no limit to how high your defiler aura score may be.
Example of defiling
Carroz, a 4th level wizard, is being chased by templars. Although taught by his mentor to never defile, he has nearly exhausted his spells. He knows the king's gardens are nearby and figures, just this once, to save his life, he must draw more energy than the plants can handle. He is surprised at the volume of energy that comes at his behest, and nearby a century-old tree begins to wither. Carroz restores a 1st level slot by taking on 2 defiler points. He is limited to half his level in points he can assume per casting, in this case 2. He feels slightly ill then points his finger at the lead templar and draws even more energy, destroying the ancient yew tree and twinning a 1st level witch bolt (2 more points) at the first two enemies he sees. Carroz now has a total of 4 defiler points, which give him a -2 to Charisma and Wisdom checks. He escapes and finds a safe house but doesn't have time to meditate so he assumes the taint. All of his defiler points are reduced to 0, the negative effects go away, and he now has a permanent defiler score of 2. His fellow preservers need never know, he thinks.
Meditating in an undefiled area of Athas is the only way to eliminate defiler points and not accumulate a permanent defiler aura. The caster is giving a small portion of her life energy back to the land as atonement for what she has done. This takes 1 day of uninterrupted contact with the earth or plants of the region per point to be purged, in at least 8 hour increments in which the caster can do nothing else but light activity like eating and drinking.
Every bit of nonsentient plant life in the immediate vicinity is turned to ash, and the land is rendered sterile, unable to sustain life for possibly decades or centuries after. For one year, no matter what is done, the defiled area can never be viable. Even afterwards, all the lifegiving nutrients have been leeched from the soil, requiring skilled intervention before even one blade of grass can grow and taking up to centuries to naturally restore.
When attempting to defile or entering combat, the DM determines the terrain zone, which sets the number of defiler points that can be assumed in that area until is completely devoid of life.
Defiling by Terrain (optional)
Determining and tracking the exact radius of defiling, and tracking that radius again if a caster were to move, is bulky and would slow down gameplay. In many events, the exact radius defiled will have no impact if not tracked. Tables for both are presented.
Optional: The area affected depends on the number of defiler points spent and the available vegetation in the area. If there is no vegetation within range or the area is despoiled completely, the caster cannot defile.
|Terrain||Defiling Points Available|
|Lush (forest, garden)||100|
|Abundant (farm, grassland, mud flat)||20|
|Fertile (oasis, inactive farm, scrub plain)||10|
|Infertile (rocky badlands, mountains)||5|
|Barren (boulder field, sandy wastes, salt flat)||3|
Optional (radius): Each effect applied within 1 minute of the last increases the radius by 50% instead of 100% distance.
|Lush (forest, garden)||1 ft. per defiler point|
|Abundant (farm, grassland, mud flat)||5 ft. per defiler point|
|Fertile (oasis, inactive farm, scrub plain)||10 ft. per defiler point|
|Infertile (rocky badlands, mountains)||20 ft. per defiler point|
|Barren (boulder field, sandy wastes, salt flat)||30 ft. per defiler point|
Combating Defilers: New Druid spells
1st level abjuration
- Casting Time: 1 action
- Range: 30 feet (40' radius)
- Components: V, S, M (a thorn)
- Duration: 24 hours or until discharged
Also known as the preserver’s scourge, this spell makes the ground dangerous to defilers. This spell only affects a creature with at least one point in defiler aura. Should a defiler try to tap into land that is protected by a backlash, she automatically takes 1d6 force damage. The defiler must make a Constitution save or the spell they were casting is lost. Defilers have penalty to the saving throw equal to their defiler aura points. Once it has inflicted damage, the spell is discharged and the ground returns to normal. Only one backlash can be cast on any given plot of ground.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage dealt increases by 1d6 for each spell slot above 1st.
1st level divination (ritual)
- Casting Time: 1 action
- Range: Self
- Components: V, S
- Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes
For the duration, you sense the presence of defilers and where the defiler is located. A defiler must have at least 1 point in her defiler aura to be detected. You learn the number of permanent defiler aura points each defiler has, and you learn whether the defiler has less, more, or the same number of Hit Dice as you.
This spell can penetrate most barriers, but it is blocked by 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet of wood or dirt.
Revenge of the Land
5th level evocation
- Casting Time: 1 action
- Range: Self (30-foot radius)
- Components: V, S, M (a live seed pushed into the ground at your feet)
- Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
The life energy of the earth is channeled in translucent arcs of energy that radiate from the seed in the ground at your feet and unerringly seek out defilers before returning to the ground. This spell only affects a creature with at least one point in defiler aura. A defiler that starts its turn within or moves into the spell's radius must make a Constitution save. On a failed save, the defiler takes 4d8 force damage. Defilers have a penalty to the saving throw equal to their defiler aura points.
Many of the creatures of Athas have innate psionic ability, even if they can never approach a mindbender in skill nor learn any additional skills.
Non-psionic player characters may begin play with a random d20 wild talent. If a player has a 16 in either Wisdom, Constitution, or Intelligence, they may modify their roll by 1; a 17 by 2; and an 18 or greater by 3.
Once used, a wild talent cannot be used again until after a long rest. Duration effects require no Concentration and can be ended as an action.
Determining Wild Talents
Roll 1d20 for your power.
1. Spirit Sense: As a bonus action, read the aura of a humanoid or undead that you can see within 30' to learn if they have less Hit Dice than your level.
2. Biofeedback: As a reaction, redirect blood flow to mitigate harm from a single source of bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage that you can see. Reduce the damage by your proficiency bonus.
3. Levitate: As an action, vertically move your body plus up to 10 pounds per level up to 10'. At the end of your next turn, you gently float to the ground. Movement while aloft is the same as the levitate spell.
4. Control Flame: As an action, animate an unattended flame source no larger than a 5' cube and move it to an unoccupied space you can see within 30'. The flame cannot move through an occupied square, and cannot ignite or damage objects while moving.
5. Deflect Strike: As a reaction, psychokinetically redirect an attack on you from a single source you can see. Gain +1 AC possibly causing it to miss you.
6. Absorb Sickness: As an action, touch a creature to transfer either a disease or the poisoned condition from it to you, immediately gaining all effects on the target.
7. Control Sound: As an action, create a 5 foot aura of sound dampening around you that lasts for 1 round per level and moves with you. Any speech into or out of this aura is muffled enough to be incomprehensible, and creatures within gain advantage on hearing-based Stealth checks.
8. Photosynthesis: Transform light into healing energy for you. If you engage in light activity only while exposed to sunlight for at least 1 hour, you are healed for 1 hit point per level.
9. Animal Affinity: As an action, gain either keen senses (advantage on Tracking checks based on smell) or empathy (advantage on Wisdom (animal handling) checks) for up to 1 round per level.
10. Trail of Destruction: As an action, you can determine if defiling has occurred within 100 feet of you within the last 24 hours. Your sight gives you an accurate picture of the level of the most recent spell cast and if applicable the defiler aura points of that caster, though not their identity.
11. Animate Shadow: As an action, make a target creature's shadow move and animate as you desire in an area you can see up to 120' away. It cannot actually affect anything in a material way and must remain on a surface large enough to display the shadow. You may maintain this for 1 round per level and must use a bonus action to make it move and animate.
12. Wild Leap: As a bonus action, until the end of your turn you may immediately make a second jump after making a first jump. Your second jump can be up to a 15' long jump or a 5' high jump, allowing you to combine jump heights.
13. Body Equilibrium. As a bonus action, adjust your body's weight so that you can move across semi-solid surfaces such as silt and sand without sinking. This effect ceases at the end of your turn.
14. Far Hearing. As a bonus action, focus on a square within 60 feet of you. Until the end of your next turn, you can hear as if you occupied that square.
15. Psionic Sense. As an action, sense whether any creature within 120' of you is maintaining a psionic power. At 5th level, you also determine all their general directions but not exact location or numbers.
16. Thought Projection. As a bonus action, send a mental message of 1 word in a language in which your are proficient to a target you can see, up to 120'. Spells cannot be delivered in this way.
17. Martial Trance. As an action, you focus your mind against mental attacks. You gain +1 on saving throws against mind-affecting abilities for up to 1 round per level but are reduced to 0 movement during this time.
18. Graft Weapon. As a bonus action, a one-handed melee weapon you hold becomes one with your hand for up to 1 round per level. You cannot let go of the weapon or be disarmed. Your first successful hit does extra damage equal to your proficiency bonus and ends the wild talent.
19. Light Step. As a bonus action, alter your density to improve your mobility. For the rest of your turn, your walking speed increases by 10', and the first time you stand up this turn, you do so without expending any of your movement if your speed is greater than 0.
20. Beacon. As an action, you cause bright light to radiate from your body in a 20-foot radius and dim light for an additional 20 feet. The light can be colored as you like. The light lasts for up to 1 minute per level.
Personality and Background
|Common||All but halfling and thri-kreen|
|Dwarvish||Dwarves, some muls|
|Elvish||Elves, some half-elves|
|Giant||Beast-head giants, braxat, tareks|
|Halfling||Halflings, Forest Ridge residents|
|Pterran||Pterran, nikaals, ssurrans|
|Sign language||Humans, elves, half-elves|
|Ancient halfling (dead language)||Historical texts, psionic lore|
|Draxa (dead language)||Historical texts|
|Primordial||Clerics, elementals, drakes|
Dark Sun Backgrounds
Acolyte and Sailor are not available. Change Folk Hero to Slave Hero. Outlander feature grants advantage to foraging checks, not automatic success.
Next, select a Social Standing commensurate to your background: templar or city official (aristocratic), noble (wealthy), merchant (comfortable), freeman/woman (modest), slave / tribesman / hermit (wretched to poor. These are suggested levels for lifestyle expenses (PHB 157). Only city officials, nobles, and merchants are allowed under law to read and write.
Literacy is Outlawed
Sorcerer-kings in all cities outlaw literacy except among the ruling class. Slaves can be executed if they are caught reading. By default, player characters are illiterate unless justified.
- The Magic Initiate feat does not exist.
- The Polearm Master feat includes the gythka and trikal weapons.
- The Ritual Caster feat can only be taken by a Bard, Warlock, or Wizard, and they may not choose spells from the cleric, druid, or sorcerer classes.
- The Spell Sniper feat allows bards, warlocks, and wizards to choose between their classes for cantrips. The cleric may only choose cleric cantrips, the druid may only choose druid cantrips, and no one can choose from sorcerer.
Skill check changes
Athletics (swim). Only water clerics know how to swim. The concept is completely foreign and unknown to any characters and most creatures.
Insight. A character may make a DC 10 check after listening to a speaker's dialect for at least 1 minute to determine their city of origin, opposed by a Bluff check if they try to hide it.
Religion. Includes psionic lore.
Sleight of Hand. Casters may use this skill to make their verbal and somatic components less obvious, opposed by a Perception check.
Names by City
If you have access to Xanathar's Guide to Everything, use the following regions to inspire name selection. This selection has nothing to do with appearance or culture of a character but rather reflects the differences in dialect that have emerged.
*Not in Xanathar's
Commerce and Currency
To understand commerce and equipment in Dark Sun, one must understand Athas is a metal-poor world with only handful of iron mines. Many items that would be crafted from metal are instead made from bone, stone, or ceramics.
Virtually all city-states issue coins minted in tribute to their sorcerer kings. The most common coin is the ceramic piece (cp). Gold is too scarce to make good currency and silver is only slightly more common. For millennia, templar-controlled kilns have manufactured ceramic coins from clay, glazed in specific colors to discourage forgery. Notches on the “tails” side radiate from a center point so you can break the ceramic piece into 10 pie shaped “bits.” A bit can generally buy a cheap night’s rest on an inn floor, a loaf of bread, or entry into a city state. An unskilled laborer might earn 1 bit a week. The merchant houses do mint metal coins, but it is rare to see them in general circulation. Most are reserved for large transactions and when dealing with government.
|Ceramic piece (cp)||10||1||1/10th||1/100th|
|Silver piece (sp)||100||10||1||1/10th|
|Gold piece (gp)||1000||100||10||1|
Buying from the PHB
When making non-metal purchases from the PHB, simply change the gold piece price to ceramic pieces (cp). Change silver piece prices to bits. Anything of copper piece value might only be sold in bulk and is treated as 1/10th of a bit, subject to DM approval.
Metal Items from the PHB
All metal items cost the listed gold piece (gp) price. Items with mixed parts like a chariot almost always have substitute materials and cost the ceramic pieces price. So, a metal long sword (15gp in the PHB) costs 15gp on Athas, or 1500 ceramic pieces. A long sword made of other materials, such as obsidian, cost 1% of the PHB cost, or 15cp.
Metal weapons are extremely rare and highly coveted, a sign of wealth and power. Most weapons are made from an amalgamation of obsidian, bone, or wood. It is not uncommon to find a wooden club with a bone spike in the end and obsidian shards embedded into it. When listing a weapon on your gear, it should be referred to by its material.
Some weapons cannot be manufactured from certain materials. There is no such thing as an obsidian bow, and the rule of common sense applies in such matters.
Weapon Materials Table
|Material||GP cost from PHB||Weight|
|Non-metal (bone, obsidian, stone, wood)||1%||50%|
Nonmetal weapons are prone to breaking. Once per turn, when you do maximum damage on the weapon die (e.g. 8 on a 1d8), the weapon has a 1 in 20 chance to break, called a Breakage Check. This does not apply to weapons that fire ammunition such as bows. However, non-metal ammunition is not recoverable.
Once per turn means that no matter how many attacks you take on your turn, only one breakage check is made. However, if you make an attack of opportunity as a reaction, it occurs on a different turn and breakage checks would apply.
Against metal armors, non-metal weapons automatically fail a breakage check.
Weapons and Armor
Weapons are priced as made of non-metal. If a metal weapon is sought or commissioned, it would cost 100x the listed cost.
Name Cost in cp Damage Weight Properties Simple Melee Weapons Datchi club 2 1d8 bludgeon 10 Two-handed, heavy Talid 18 1d6 pierce 2 Light, immune disarm Wrist razor 15 1d6 slash 2 Light, finesse, immune disarm Simple Ranged Weapons Dejada 10 1d6 bludgeon 2 Ammunition (range 20/60) Martial Melee Weapons Alhulak 14 1d6 bludgeon 2 Reach Cahulak 12 1d6 bludgeon 12 Reach, two-handed, thrown (range 15/40), special Carrikal 15 1d10 slashing 6 Versatile (1d12) Dragon paw 15 1d6 pierce 9 Two-handed, finesse, heavy, special Gouge 16 1d12 pierce 14 Two-handed, reach, heavy, special Gythka 15 1d6 pierce 12 Two-handed, finesse, heavy, special Impaler 4 1d8 pierce 5 Versatile (1d10) Lotulis 10 1d8 slash 4 Two-handed, heavy Quabone 20 1d8 bludgeon 2 Finesse Singing sticks 24 1d6 bludgeon 1 Light, finesse Trikal 11 1d8 slash 5 Two-handed, reach, heavy, polearm Tortoise blade 30 1d4 slash 8 AC bonus, immune disarm, special Martial Ranged Weapons Chatkcha 10 1d6 slash 1/2 Light, finesse, thrown (range 30/90), special
Special Weapon Materials
There are no silvered or adamantine weapons available for sale on Athas. Such relics, if they ever existed, would be in the vault of the richest merchant house or a sorcerer king, or lost beneath the ruins of a civilization gone eons ago.
Masterwork Weapons (optional)
Drawn from Wraith Wright's Comprehensive Equipment Manual, DMGuild
For 150cp, a weapon can be improved with one unique masterwork feature. Weapons cannot be improved more than once.
Accurate. Reduces AC granted by cover by 1 to ammunition weapons.
Aerodynamic. Ammunition weapon range increased by +10/40 and thrown by +5/15.
Alternate damage. Add bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing quality to a weapon.
Deadly. Reroll (once) all 1s on a damage roll. This cannot be used if another feature allowed a reroll.
Defensive. As reaction to a melee attack, add +1 to AC. If dual-wielding, add +2. Does not function with a shield.
Disarming. Gain +1 to disarm attacks, +2 if using weapon 2-handed (DMG 271).
Fine. Double weapon's hardness (if any), hit points, and reduce break chance (if any) by 5% (by 1 on d20).
High Critical. Any 1s rolled for critical damage are treated as 2s.
Tripping. Gain +1 to shove, +2 if using weapon 2-handed (PHB 195).
New Weapon Description
Alhulak. A blunt grappling hook attached to 5-7 feet of rope with a 2 foot-long handle. The bladed head is commonly carved from mekillot bone while the handle is wood or bone.
Cahulak. A pair of alhulak heads tied to either end of a 10-12-foot rope. As a melee weapon, the wielder holds one blade cluster in each hand and swings them in unison or succession at the foe. Used this way, the wielder can strike with the off-hand as a bonus action and the weapon has reach. As a thrown weapon, it tangles around the target like a Net (no effect on Huge or larger, DC10 Strength check to free self or another) and causes 1d6 damage when the blades strike.
Carrikal. The sharpened jawbone of a large creature lashed to a haft, forming a sharp club with two forward facing heads.
Chatkcha. This small 3-bladed crystalline throwing wedge is made exclusively by thri-kreen in a secret process carefully guarded by them. In their language, it means “rememberer-who-ends-knowledge,” reflecting it ends awareness by killing and remembers to return to its thrower. Due to its spin it will return to a proficient thrower if it misses.
Datchi club. A 4-foot-long head made of dried insect hide or roots is attached to a 3-foot-long handle, with teeth or claws embedded in the head, enabling it to create horrible wounds. It is a crude, common weapon used in the arena.
Dejada. A long, scooped basket is worn on the arm and used to propel 2-inch ceramic or stone projectiles called “pelota” at high rates of speed.
Dragon Paw. Popular in arenas, this is a 6-foot-long pole with a blade on either end. Proficiency allows the wielder to strike with the off-hand as a bonus action.
Gouge. Worn in an over-the-shoulder harness, this is commonly found in the Nibenese infantry. A wide blade is mounted to a 3-foot-long wooden shaft that requires two hands to wield. One hand goes on a small bar and another on a grip at the rear of the shaft to increase thrust. The weapon is wielded much like a shovel.
Gythka. A thri-kreen polearm with wicked crystalline blades at each end, wielded like a quarterstaff with the ability to strike with the off-hand as a bonus action. Like the chatkcha, its manufacture is a closely guarded racial secret.
Impaler. Developed for the arenas, this is a T-shaped weapon with two blades mounted parallel atop the end of a 4-foot shaft. It is swung like a pick.
Lotulis. Crescent blades with barbed spikes near the points and mounted at either end of a long shaft make this a nasty melee weapon.
Quabone. Common arena weapon made from 4 identical shanks lashed together to form a symmetrical, sword-length rod.
Singing Sticks. A carefully crafted and polished thin club, often used in pairs, drawing their name from characteristic whistling noises when used.
Talid. Also known as the “gladiator’s gauntlet,” this is made of stiff leather with metal, chitin, or bone plating on the hand cover and along the forearm. Spikes protrude from the knuckles and along the back of the hand. A sharp blade runs along the thumb and there is a 6 inch spike on the elbow.
Trikal. Three blades radially project from the business end of a 6 foot shaft. A series of sharp, serrated edges line the shaft below the blades while the far end of the weapon is weighted to balance it.
Tortoise Blade. A short, sharp blade attached to the shell of a desert tortoise. It straps to the forearm and provides protection like a buckler with +1 to armor class. It cannot be combined with a shield (the better bonus applies), but if a pair are worn, their effects stack to a maximum of +2.
Wrist Razor. Several blades fastened to a strip of leather and lashed onto the forearm.
The listed armors are not made of metal as crafters have learned ingenious methods of making armor of animal hides and other material. Metal armors, while ill-advised during daylight hours, cost the listed PHB price. A suit of metal plate mail would cost 150,000 cp, enough to fund construction of a small fortress, or to display one's wealth and power.
Name Cost in cp Armor Class (AC) Weight Properties Light Armor Padded 5 11 + Dex modifier 8 Stealth disadvantage Leather 10 11 + Dex modifier 10 -- Studded leather 45 12 + Dex modifier 13 -- Medium Armor Hide 10 12 + Dex modifier (max 2) 12 -- Bonemail 50 13 + Dex modifier (max 2) 20 -- Scale 50 14 + Dex modifier (max 2) 45 Stealth disadvantage Shell 400 14 + Dex modifier (max 2) 20 -- Chitin 750 15 + Dex modifier (max 2) 40 Stealth disadvantage Heavy Armor Baazrag Bone 30 14 40 Stealth disadvantage So-ut mail 75 16 55 Str 13, stealth disadvantage Mastyrial 200 17 60 Str 15, stealth disadvantage Braxat plate 1500 18 65 Str 15, stealth disadvantage Shields Buckler 15 +1 2 Special Shield 10 +2 6 -- Pavise (archer shield) 20 +2 9 Special Tower shield 45 +2 30 Str 15, stealth disadvantage, special
Armor and Extreme Heat
Extreme heat rules will almost always apply every day in Athas (DMG 110). Characters exposed to the heat and without access to water must make a Constitution saving throw at the end of each hour of exposure (DC 5 + 1 per hour after first) or gain a level of exhaustion.
Those wearing Medium or Heavy armors have disadvantage on this save.
Anyone foolish enough to wear metal armor in extreme heat also requires double their normal allotment of water.
Why wear metal armor
Non-metal weapons break automatically on a breakage check against metal armor, making it a fearsome option for those who can afford to wear it.
The lightest and cheapest option, worn by most Athasians, designed to trap moisture and maximize air flow.
Padded. Commonly made by layering oiled canvas between silk, with a soft padding underneath. Types: kes'trekel feather, spidersilk, giantweave.
Leather. Commonly made from cured animal hide fitted for a particular user. Types: inix, baazrag, jhakarskin.
Studded Leather. Reinforced with close-set rivets or spikes made of bone or chitin.
More protection with less flexibility, more often used in cities than in the direct sun but also built with ventilation in mind allowing some to avoid overheating during exertion.
Hide. Crude but flexible enough for use in the sun, favored by many warriors. Types: tembo, kank, kirre, mekillot.
Bonemail. Stiff leather jackets adorned with small disks or squares of horn, bone, or wood. The kank and the cilops have hard body parts ideal for such coats.
Scale. A heavy coat with carru leather leggings and overlapping scales of a beast. Types: Scorpion, mekillot.
Shell. Fitted inix or mekillot shell pieces worn over supple leather. Legs and arms are left vulnerable but the vital organs are protected and movement unhampered.
Chitin. Shaped chitin plates covering most of the body except the leg, which is protected by simple graves held by leather straps.
Years of experimentation and clever crafting methods have led armorers to develop ingenious air ventilation and circulation methods allowing alternative armors to be worn in the heat of Athas, albeit with some drawback.
Baazrag Bone. Hardened leather with thick baazrag bones, the few bones aside from drakes that can withstand the process, sewn in it. While appearing massive and imposing, it is the least practical of the heavy armors.
So-ut mail. The scales of a so-ut are attached to a layer of quilted fabric worn underneath to prevent chafing and cushion blows. The hard scales provide superior protection to traditional scale armor.
Mastyrial. The chitinous shell of the mastyrial is valued for its protective qualities. When supplemented with a backing of leather over cloth padding, it serves as a superior armor.
Braxat plate. Braxat shell makes excellent armor plates that can be shaped to fit the body and interlocked. Thick padding underneath cushions attacks, and buckles and straps evenly distribute the weight.
Shields are made from a variety of materials, ranging from thick beetle shells to mekillot plates to reinforced bark.
Buckler. Small shield strapped to forearm. As an action or bonus action, you can don or doff the buckler by flipping it around, allowing you to quickly switch between fighting styles or to free up a hand for casting. A shield normally takes 1 action to doff or don.
Shield. Standard one-handed device varying in material and shape.
Pavise. This convex shield is designed to stand alone on the ground. It takes an action to place or pick up a pavise. When placed, you lose the AC bonus but gain 1/2 cover if standing or 3/4 cover if prone behind it. A placed pavise provides no protection against melee attacks.
Tower shield. Standing nearly as tall as a person, this shield grants the wielder a +2 bonus to Dexterity saves that does not stack with cover. You can also use this shield in conjunction with the Dodge action to keep your dodge benefits even if stunned or movement is reduced to 0.
Masterwork Armor (optional)
Drawn from Wraith Wright's Comprehensive Equipment Manual, DMGuild
For 150cp, light or medium armor can be improved with one unique masterwork feature. Heavy armor costs 300cp. Armor cannot be improved more than once. Shields can only apply the "lightweight" property.
Absorbent. Resistance to poison damage against weapons with injury poison.
Efficient. Requires half the time to don or doff.
Enclosed. Resistance to damage from splashed materials and contact poisons.
Lightweight. Reduces weight by 4 pounds for light or medium armor. For medium armor, removes (if any), stealth disadvantage. Heavy armor has weight reduced by 10 and removes Strength requirement. Shields have weight reduced by half and remove Strength requirement (if any).
Quick-escape. Removing this armor only requires an action. Donning it is unaffected.
Reinforced. Immune to deadly or high critical hit properties from the optional weapon rules.
Resizing Armor (optional)
For realism, the DM may require that, in order for armor to fit a creature it was not intended for, an expert in crafting apply her craft to resize armor up to one size category larger or smaller, at a cost of 1d4 x 10 (or 10% to 40%) of the market price of the item.
Adventuring gear is presumed to be made of non-metal components unless impossible (e.g. a lock), in which case the item costs the listed full listed GP price as normal.
|Food and Lodging|
|Broy||2cp gallon, 4 bits mug||8|
|Inn stay (per day)|
|Meals (per day)|
|Tun (250 gallons)||40 cp||2000|
|Giant hair rope (50 ft.)||50cp||10|
|Sorcerer king levy (to enter city)||2cp|
Elven Outfit: Elven clothing is based around two concepts: functionality and flattery. This set includes a hooded cloak or stylized robes patterned to match a landscape as well as a scarf to assist with wind and sandstorms. While normally only made and fitted for elves, the design has caught on and is in demand in many city-states.
High Templar’s Outfit: This set of clothing is made of the best material produced by a city‐state’s artisans and exemplifies that city’s templarate. Subject to DM discretion, simply wearing it may give advantage on Charisma checks in that city against the populace.
Royal Defiler’s Outfit: Royal defilers, who practice sorcery with the full legal backing of a sorcerer‐king, must clearly indicate their protected status if they are to be spared the mob’s wrath. This set of clothing is made from the best materials available to a city‐state’s artisans, and is second in quality only to a templar’s outfit. Subject to DM discretion, wearing it may give advantage to Charisma (intimidation) checks in that city.
Slave’s Outfit: This simple set of clothes consists of a loincloth, or a short skirt and sleeveless tunic, all made of rough‐hewn materials.
Wasterlander's Outfit. Like elven clothing, this is designed for desert survival but considered far less fashionable. Its layers trap in moisture and the thick padding helps when navigating through brambled areas.
Food and Lodging
Broy: Broy is made from fermented kank nectar. When served plain, it is potent and foul tasting. However, broy can be served warm and spiced with a pungent herb that disguises its sourness, as well as enhancing its enrapturing powers.
Tun of Water (250 gallons). In most cities, water is drawn from a collective cistern maintained by templars and then distributed or sold. The prices are subject to change during dry periods or when templars want to extort more money.
Crodlu: A large bipedal lizard mount, resembling a scaled ostrich. A crodlu is appropriate as a mount for a Medium humanoid creature. Crodlu are hard to control in battle while war crodlu can be ridden into battle easily. Crodlu benefit from stabling, can wear barding, and require feed like normal mounts.
Erdlu: Flightless birds mostly used as herd beasts. They stand 7 feet tall and weigh around 200 lbs. An erdlu is appropriate as a mount for a Medium humanoid creature. Erdlus are hard to control in battle unless trained. Erdlus benefit from stabling, can wear barding, and require feed like normal mounts.
Inix: A large, 16‐foot long reptile commonly used for riding and as a beast of burden. An inix is appropriate as a mount for a Medium or Large humanoid creature. Inixes can be ridden into battle easily. Inixes benefit from stabling, can wear custom barding, and require feed like normal mounts.
Kank: A large, 8‐foot long insect, commonly used as a personal mount. These insects cannot be used as food, for their meat smells atrocious, but they produce highly nutritious globules of honey. A kank is appropriate as a mount for a Medium humanoid creature. Kanks are hard to control in battle. Kanks benefit from stabling, cannot wear barding, and do not require feeding.
Mekillot: A mekillot is a huge, 6,000‐lb. lizard, used for hauling large cargo or serving as transportation for troops. These beasts are hard to control in combat and usually require a psionic handler. Mekillots benefit from stabling, can wear barding, and require feed eight times more than a normal mount.
Giant Hair Rope. Made from the near-unbreakable hair of giants, this rope has Hardness 5 and 2 damage to cut.
Tack, Harness, and Vehicles
|Barding (+2 AC)|
|Bit and bridle||2cp||1|
Barding. A mount's defense can be reinforced by covering it with barding. Made of leather pads with bone, chitin, or wood plates, barding increases a mount's Armor Class by 2.
Chariot. A chariot is a lightly armored vehicle constructed of wood, chitin and hardened leather, designed for riding and combat. Two people can ride a chariot. A creature riding a chariot has half cover against attacks from the front or the sides. Crodlu and kanks can be used to pull a chariot.
Howdah. A howdah is a frame with seats designed to be mounted on the back of an inix or mekillot. A normal howdah is made of a light wooden frame while a war howdah is constructed of much sturdier materials and offering half cover against any attacks from outside. An inix howdah can hold up to four people. A mekillot howdah can be constructed in a more elaborate affair; it often contains two levels and can accommodate up to sixteen people. Anyone riding in a howdah is considered to be at rest and shaded.
Wagon. A wagon is the simplest form of transportation. Crodlus or kanks can be used as beasts of burden for the normal versions. An open wagon is a little more than a wooden box on four wooden wheels while an enclosed ensures its riders are unaffected by weather. An armored caravan wagon requires two mekillots to pull, has multiple rooms on multiple levels, and can carry a cargo of 15,000 pounds of goods, up to 50 fully armed warriors, 25 slaves in transit, and a handful of merchants, nobles, or other travelers. The defense balconies in an armored caravan wagon provide half cover against any attacks from outside. Anyone riding an enclosed or armored caravan wagon is considered to be at rest and shaded.
Poisons of Athas
|Poison||Type||Price (cp) per dose|
|Assassin's blood (DMG)||Ingested||75|
|Bleached inix slumber||Ingested||650|
|Burnt othur fumes||Inhaled||250|
|Essence of ether (DMG)||Inhaled||300|
|Gaj poison gas||Inhaled||1200|
|Id fiend essence||Contact||375|
|Midnight tears (DMG)||Ingested||1500|
|Oil of taggit (DMG)||Contact||400|
|Pale tincture (DMG)||Ingested||250|
|Purple grass extract||Ingested||500|
|Serpent venom (DMG)||Injury||100|
These are commonly encountered market poisons and are not considered a full list of all available poisons in Athas. Those with skill in gathering components may harvest and develop less-commonly seen poisons.
Assassin bug (injury). The poison of the male assassin bug causes a flesh-numbing sensation that ends with a stiffness of the victim's limbs. The target must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or have disadvantage to all Dexterity-based saving throws and checks for 1 minute.
Bleached inix slumber (ingested). Made from mixing sun bleached inix bone and epserweed sap, this poison is typically mixed with spiced wine. This poison is typically used by bards and templars as a preliminary attack before ambushing rival noble houses, templar officials, or Veiled Alliance cells. The target must make a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned and unable to use psionics or cast arcane spells for 1 minute. Those who fail the saving throw by 5 or more are also unconscious and may be awakened by taking damage or if another creature uses an action to shake them awake. At the end of each of its turns, the target repeats the saving throw to be able to use psionics and cast arcane spells again.
Blight (injury). This poison made from undead extract disrupts the central nervous system's ability to communicate between the brain and the muscles, thereby causing paralysis. A target must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or become paralyzed for 1 minute. The poisoned creature can attempt a saving throw at the end of each of its turns to end the effect.
Cactus venom (injury). When correctly harvested and refined, the venom contained in the tiny sac at the base of a hunting cactus' spine can be made into a fast-acting paralytic agent, distrupting the victim's central nervous system. The target must make a DC 14 Constitution save or be poisoned for 1 minute. The poisoned creature is also paralyzed. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns to end the effect.
Gaj poison gas (inhaled). This noxious gas clogs the victims breathing conduits, making it difficult to breathe as well as causing nausea and blurred vision. Additionally, a painful tingling of the skin occurs where the gas touches exposed flesh. A creature must make a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or take 14 (4d6) poison damage and have disadvantage on all attacks, saving throws, and abilty checks for 1 minute on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
Gold scorpion (injury). The poison of the gold scorpion is extremely potent for its tiny size, causing muscle spasms and loss of strength more commonly associated with much larger poisonous creatures. The target must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or take 13 (2d12) poison damage, or half as much damage on a successful one.
Hypnotic brew (inhaled). This is a tasteless, odorless mixture of herbs commonly peddled in Bard’s Quarters. It is typically used by bards and mindbender to “soften up” a target before attempting to manipulate or manifest a power. The target must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or suffer a 1d4 penalty modifier to saving throws against psionic effects for 1 minute.
Id fiend essence (contact). A combination of an id fiend's blood and cranial fluid can be reduced through a slow boil into a pinkish fluid that, when absorbed by a targets' skin, causes frightful visual hallucinations. If left unchecked, these hallucinations can send the victim into blind panic, fleeing from the unseen assailants that harass and threaten him. A creature subject to this poison must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution save or be frightened for 1 minute. The creature can attempt a save at the end of each of its turns to end the effect.
Kivit musk (ingested). When ingested, the refined extract from a kivit's musk gland causes constant stomach pain accompanied by sporadic vomiting and diarrhea, the effects sometimes lasting for hours on end. The target must make a DC10 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 8 hours.
Mastyrial poison (injury). The poison from a desert mastyrial causes internal hemorrhaging, resulting in painful splotchy bruises appearing all over the victim's skin, body chills, and possible bleeding from bodily orifices. A target must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or take 24 (7d6) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
Mulworm Poison (contact). Those who simply come into contact with mulworm poison suffer a severe rash; a far worse fate awaits those injured by the poison, which attacks the body's immune system, causing a debilitating inability to defend itself from other infections. A creature subject to this poison must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or take (3) 1d6 poison damage and have disadvantage on saves against poison and disease. The poisoned creature must repeat the saving throw every 24 hours, taking (3) 1d6 poison damage on a failed save. Until this poison ends, the damage caused by the poison cannot be healed by any means. After one successful save, the effect ends.
Purple grass extract (ingested). Made from the purple grass that grows outside of Urik, this poison both damages the victim, and inebriates them. This poison is not commonly used, but herders and gatherers know to avoid it in the areas around Urik. Bards have recently been attempting to find uses for this poison, given the long period of intoxication that follows. Anyone ingesting the plant, which tastes like a delicious dry wine, has their teeth and lips stained purple for 1d8 days. A target must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or take 22 (4d10) poison damage and be poisoned for 24 hours in an intoxicated condition. A target that makes the save takes (2) 1d4 points of poison damage.
T'chowb ichor (contact). The lymph nodes and enlarged sweat glands found in the hands of the t'chowb can be used to create a viscous contact poison that, like the touch of the creature itself, drains the victim of his wits. A creature subject to this poison must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or have his Intelligence reduced by (2) 1d4 points. The poisoned creature must repeat the saving throw every 24 hours and have his Intelligence reduced by (2) 1d4 points on a failed save. Until this poison ends, the reduction cannot be healed by any means. A creature whose Intelligence reaches 0 dies. After one successful save, the effect ends and the points are fully restored after a long rest.
Most people avoid cumbersome equipment packs in the heat of the desert. Still, some items are vital for one's travels to such inhospitable lands. The packs available to characters include:
Bard's Kit (40cp). Includes a backpack, bedroll, 2 costumes, 5 candles, 5 days of rations, a waterskin, and a disguise kit.
Burglar's pack (8 cp). Includes a backpack, 10 feet of string, a bell, 5 candles, a bag of bone caltrops, a fire kit, a bone grappling hook, 2 flasks of oil, and a waterskin. The pack also has 50 feet of hempen rope strapped to the side of it.
Dune Trader's pack (8 cp). Includes a backpack, an abacus, a blanket, a lamp, a flask of oil, a pouch, a sack, a merchant's tunic, 2 ceramic vials, and two waterskins.
Noble's pack (37 cp). Includes a chest, 2 cases for maps and scrolls, a set of fine clothes, a vial of ink, an ink pen, a lamp, 2 flasks of oil, 5 sheets of parchment, a vial of perfume, sealing wax, and soap.
Nomad's pack (4 cp). Includes a blanket, a set of desert clothes, a fire kit, a small knife, a signal whistle, a two-person tent, and two waterskins.
Traveler's pack (10 cp). Includes a backpack, a bedroll, a set of desert clothes, a fire kit, 5 days of ration, 5 torches, and four waterskins.
The following PHB spells either do not exist or are restricted to a particular class. Spells from other sources, such as Xanathar's Guide to Everything, must be approved by the DM.
|Create or Destroy Water||1st|
|Create Food and Water||3rd|
|Conjure Woodland Beings||4th|
|All planar travel spells|
*These spells control Silt instead.
**While fiends may traverse Athas, all other outerplanar types cannot.
***This is renamed "Sand Storm" and uses sand, not water.
Spell components with a gold piece (gp) cost are converted to ceramic pieces (cp). The ecosystem of Athas has led casters to find substitutes. When appropriate, for flavor the DM or players may describe the substitute material.
For flavor only, any spell that purports to have a metallic effect (e.g. blade barrier) thematically can have it replaced with obsidian, bone, etc. Similarly, spells that require a watery component (e.g. Simulacrum snow) are replaced with an Athas equivalent (e.g. sand or silt).
Magic and Psionics
Any spell that detects or cancels magic also affects psionics, including but not limited to: dispel magic, counterspell, and anti-magic shell. Features such as Magic Resistance still only affect magic. If a creature is resistant to psionics, for example, it will be listed as Psionic Resistance.
Renamed Spells (optional)
Athas spells do not reference the names of wizards from other realms but do exist. Unless listed below, remove the name of the caster (e.g. melf's acid arrow is simply acid arrow.)
|Armor of Agathys||Armor of Sielba|
|Arms of Hadar||Arms of Kalid-Ma|
|Faerie Fire||Spirit fire|
|Tasha's Hideous Laughter||Belgoi's Laugh|
|Hunger of Hadar||Hunger of Kalid-Ma|
|Leomund's Tiny Hut||Nomad's Tiny Hut|
|Evard's Black Tentacles||Silt Horror's Tentacles|
|Mordenkainen's Faithful Hound||Faithful Dagorran|
|Bigby's Hand||Hand of the Giant|
|Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion||King's Abode|
|Mordenkainen's Sword||King's Blade|
Athas Survival Rules
The wilderness of Athas, beyond its apex predators, is unforgiving to the unprepared. Sandstorms, sinkholes, shifting dunes, and the scorching heat all are dangers just as real as the claws of a kirre. The rules of Athas concerning healing, starvation, and dehydration vary from those in the PHB.
When in the wilderness without shelter that shields one from the heat and sun, it is more difficult to rest. Characters without shelter use the DMG's slow natural healing (p267) rule. Such characters do not regain all hit points at the end of a long rest and instead must spend Hit Dice to heal. In a setting in which shelter is available, use the rules as normal.
Food and Water
At the end of the day (night), determine how much food and water was consumed, utilizing the DMG's foraging rules (p111). Characters moving at a normal or slow pace may attempt to forage by making a Wisdom (survival) check: DC 10 for abundant food and water sources, DC 15 for limited, and DC 20 for very little. Those who succeed find 1d6 + Wisdom modifier pounds of food and repeat the roll for water. Many areas of Athas have no resources to be found and at times no check will be possible.
Food and Water Needs (active)
|Character Size||Food per Day||Water per Day|
|Tiny||1/4 pound||1/4 gallon|
|Small||1 pound||1 gallon|
|Medium||2 pounds||1 gallon|
|Large||4 pounds||4 gallons|
Water needs are doubled if the weather is hot for at least 1 hour of the travel day (100+ degrees Fahrenheit.)
Tracking Food and Water tip
Consider keeping a jar with colored beads to represent each pound and gallon of food carried by the party (e.g. blue beads for water) rather than having players individually track supplies. Container capacity (PHB 153) becomes important. A waterskin, for example, holds 1/2 a gallon.
Each day without food is tracked by the DM or player as "days without food." Eating half the daily food requirement counts as half a day without food (round down so that every two days on half-rations counts as one full day.)
A character can go 3 + her Constitution modifier in days without enough food before she begins to starve. At the end of each day beyond that limit, she suffers 1 level of exhaustion.
Each day a starving character eats her full daily requirement for food, she reduces her days without food count by two. Until her days without food count is back to zero, she will have at least one level of exhaustion that cannot be removed by any means except eating.
PHB rule (original)
Under the PHB rules as-written, a character with an 18 Constitution could eat once every 6 days, or 5 times a month, because one normal day of eating reset the days without food counter to zero. This certainly could not have been intended. Further, for realism, normal human beings cannot survive off one pound of food per day, so the requirement was increased to two.
At the end of the day, a character who did not consume the daily requirement of water gains one level of exhaustion, or two levels if the character has one or more levels of exhaustion from any source already.
A character who drinks only half the water amount can make a DC 15 Constitution save to avoid exhaustion.
Remember, a long rest can remove one level of exhaustion, but the character must consume at least half rations and half water for this to occur (described in the PHB as "some").
These are purely homebrew additions that may enhance your game but are not required to enjoy Dark Sun.
Reach weapons. Creatures with at least 10' reach may make an Attack of Opportunity if a creature without at least 10' reach voluntarily enters its threatened zone. This reflects the initial advantage a longer weapon has in keeping enemies at bay. Polearm Master feat modified: the first attack of opportunity taken in a round using this feat does not consume your reaction.
More realistic crossbows. Keep the PHB versions as "crude" types with no changes.
|Crossbow type||Cost (cp)||Piercing Damage||Wt. (lbs)||Properties|
|Light, stirrup||35||1d10 piercing||6||Ammunition (range 90/360), moderate loading, two-handed|
|Light, windlass||50||2d8 piercing||7||Ammunition (range 100/400), long loading, two-handed|
|Heavy, stirrup||60||2d6 piercing||20||Ammunition (range 125/500), heavy, moderate loading, two-handed|
|Heavy, windlass||100||2d10 piercing||21||Ammunition (range 150/600), heavy, long loading, two-handed|
Moderate Loading: Must use an Action or forfeit all movement for the round. Cannot reload if mounted, grappled, if at movement 0, or otherwise being jostled. Cannot fire more than 1x per round, unless hasted, which permits the reload to be done as a bonus action. If the character uses his movement at all, he cannot reload this weapon unless utilizing an Action.
Long Loading: Must use all actions and forfeit movement to reload, including reactions and bonus actions. Follows same rules as moderate except haste has no effect on reload.
Damage advantage. Crossbows at 30' or less range gain damage advantage (reroll the damage die or dice twice, take the higher result.)
Bows Are Hard to Pull: It takes strength to pull back a bow. If you have a Strength penalty, you must apply it to damage rolls. Alternately, Short Bows have a 13 Strength minimum and Long Bows a 15 Strength minimum to avoid having disadvantage on the attack. Alternately, you can make Bows a Strength-based weapon.
Better Critical Hits
The first weapon dice roll is always maximum. For example, a 4d8 monster bite will crit at 32 + extra dice + modifiers. No other variables, such as sneak attack, are maximized in this way.
Credit Critical Role homebrew.
For Raise Dead, Reincarnate, and Resurrection, a Resurrection check must be made or the soul is lost forever. The DC of the check is 10 + 1 per time previously restored from the dead (representing erosion of the soul to this plane). Up to 3 companions (those who know the deceased well) may attempt to assist during the resurrection attempt by making a Contribution Check to help the spirit return. The DC and skill varies by what the player attempts, and you cannot duplicate another’s efforts.
For example, a character skilled in Religion may beseech the spirits to release the soul (an easy to medium check), and another may attempt to Intimidate the aether (perhaps a difficult to near-impossible task). Each success reduces the Resurrection check by 3, but each failure raises it by 1.
A True Resurrection or Wish bypasses this check and can restore lost souls.
The Revivify spell requires a Resurrection check by the caster who rolls a d20 and adds his casting modifier. No others can assist (since the casting time is only 1 action). On a failure, the spell fails, but the soul is not lost. Future Resurrection checks are increased by 1.
This rule replaces Death Saves with Vitality, which represent the actual physical damage a character can sustain before dying. Otherwise, the rules on hit points are unchanged.
Once Hit Points are gone, all damage goes to Vitality, and once these are gone, the character is dead. Unlike hit points, Vitality is fixed at 1st level.
What Hit Points represent
Hit Points don't, and never have, represented the actual damage the body can sustain. A dagger to the heart will kill a 10th level character just as well as an elderly librarian, and one hit from a giant's club will end any character. Over time, however, the 10th level character has learned a bevy of tricks to deflect killing blows, to avoid death, along with sheer luck, and that's what hit points represent. He has not learned how to get stabbed with a short sword 11 times and survive.
In default rules, a 0 hit point character can never die from having their throat cut (maximum 2 death saves), which makes little sense. What we are doing is substituting a more thrilling mechanic for when a character actually takes real damage that cannot be mitigated, deflected, absorbed, or by sheer luck avoided. We are also giving players more control over the narrative when they are on death's door.
Starting Vitality. You have Vitality equal to your 1st level hit points. This number never changes unless your Constitution modifier changes.
Death. If you ever have 0 vitality points or 3 death points, you are dead.
Reaching 0 hit points. The player chooses to either (1) gain 1 death point and the condition staggered, or (2) gain the condition unconscious. If an enemy opts to knock you unconscious, you cannot choose to become staggered. All future damage goes against your Vitality.
You have 0 hit points. You gain 1 Death Point. You no longer have movement. All d20 rolls you make are with disadvantage, and all foes have advantage against your class abilities, such as spells, but not items such as wands. You lose this condition if you gain any hit points.
If you ever have 2 Death Points, you gain a lingering injury per DMG 272. If you ever have 3 Death Points, you die. Death Points can only be removed at the rate of 1 per long rest.
Taking a 3rd death point
If a player chooses to take a 3rd death point, resulting in death, that player may, subject to DM approval, declare a final heroic action that can give advantage or disadvantage to the next roll an ally or foe makes.
Although you have no movement when staggered, you can use the Dash action to move. You cannot Dodge (requires movement speed) or Disengage (modifies your movement). In a heated battle, death points can quickly accumulate, and these rules eliminate the "whack a mole" combat. Note: like normal, excess damage when reaching 0 hit points is ignored unless it would outright kill the character.
Take 1 Vitality damage and make a DC 10 death saving throw to stabilize. On failure immediately take 1 more point of vitality damage and 1 damage at the start of your turns until stabilized. If you roll a natural 1, the extra vitality damage is 1d4 instead of 1.
Spare the Dying and the Medicine skill (DC10) stop further vitality damage.
Regaining Hit Points
At the end of a long rest, regain your Constitution modifier in Vitality (minimum 1).
Magical healing can restore Vitality only when hit points are full.
Once at full hit points, every 10 points of magical healing, calculated as if the healing effect were cast at maximum effect, restores 1 Vitality Point.
A healing potion heals 2d4+2 hit points (maximum 10). One dose would heal 1 Vitality. A 1st level healing word spell would have no effect (1d4+4, maximum 8). As usual, round down healing to the nearest 10.
Regeneration no matter its number is counted as a full 10. Hence, a Ring of Regeneration, which restores 1d6, is counted as 10 so that every minute would heal 1 Vitality to a character already at full hit points.
Healing a Staggered Character
Because hit points are not at maximum, any healing to a staggered character does not restore Vitality. Rather, Hit Points would be restored, removing the staggered condition.
This optional initiative rule replaces the d20 roll with a die based off a choice of action, making initiative unpredictable each round. Lowest numbers go first.
Start of Round
Enemy actions. The DM secretly chooses what the enemies will do and rolls their initiative(s).
Declare Action(s) Players generically declare Action and Bonus actions along with the item or spell associated with that Action, such as: "I attack with my short sword and use bardic inspiration" or "I cast fireball." (See PHB 192 for Actions in Combat). Options that replace an Action, such as Shove or Grapple (PHB 195) and Ready (PHB 193), need not be declared in advance.
Players never designate who they will target or how they will carry out the action(s) until it is their actual turn, including movement.
Incapacitated. If unable to take Actions at the start of the round, you may declare a Ready action (PHB 193) as follows:
If the incapacity ends, I [choose an Action].
Roll a die. Find the highest numbered die for all your declared actions. That is the only die you roll for initiative.
Modifiers. A feature that improves or penalizes initiative moves the die roll by one step (e.g. a d4 improves to a d3 or worsens to a d6.)
The highest a die roll can be is d20; the lowest d3.
Ties. Ties are resolved by whoever has the highest Dexterity or Intelligence score, or if the same, a d20 roll.
Count up. DM counts up from 1 and players announce when they act.
Your turn. You move and carry out Actions as you see fit. If you opt to not take the Action, you do not lose anything associated with that Action, such as spell slots or ammunition.
|No action (move only)||1|
|Light weapon, Medium or smaller natural attack, Power Word spell||d4|
|Actions not listed, Use items, Cantrip, Large natural attack||d6|
|Huge natural attack||d8|
|Spell, Psionics, Colossal natural attack||d10|
- Monsters like storm giants may have weapon damage dice that exceed d20, but a roll is capped at d20. Weapons without damage, like a net, fall under "actions not listed." "Natural attacks" includes monsters using body weaponry like a bite (MM 10-11) and the monk unarmed strike.
Advantage or Disadvantage
Take the best or worst of two rolls as usual.
Ready (PHB 193)
Need not be declared. Remember, you can only ready an action, not movement, and this converts your action into a reaction. If you have already used your reaction, you cannot take your Readied action.
Durations that persist until the "beginning" or "end" of your turn (such as guiding bolt, chill touch, and monk's stunning strike), last until the end of the next round. Otherwise, duration is checked normally.
Optional: Effects last until the end of the initiative number that they started (e.g. monk stuns ogre on initiative count 4. The ogre is stunned until the end of initiative count 4 next round.)
Duration as Intended
Expanding the duration of 1-round effects to the end of the next round is the simplest method because it requires no tracking. The optional method is more accurate but requires the DM or player to note exactly when the effect ends. Putting an extra die on the table with the turn number or a DM note work well.
The DM should describe what enemies appear to be doing before players declare actions, such as "the giant looks like it's reaching for another rock or the cultist is grabbing spell components." Play should noticeably speed up over a default system when, instead of waiting one at a time to decide what to do, everyone is deciding at the same time, and no duration order needs be set. Over time and with trust, players may not need to say anything and instead will roll their die and be ready when the DM asks if ready. When counting, DMs may wish to use categories such as "1 to 3, anyone 4-6, above 6?" DMs should be reasonable. If an action is interrupted (such as fighter is Disarmed), the DM should permit the player to take a related action (such as picking up the item or using fists.) As normal, DMs can use one roll for larger groups of enemies instead of individual rolls. DMs may wish to take notes for each round, such as: Drow Wiz, 5 (MS+RF), meaning you rolled a 5 for Misty Step + Ray of Frost. Monsters with no variation, such as a wolf, may only require an initiative number because what they do each round does not change.
Amid the barren wastelands of Athas lie the scattered city states, each in the grip of its own, tyrannical sorcerer king. Protecting their own positions with dark magic, they demand absolute obedience. The restless mobs are placated with bread and circuses - the arenas overflow with spectators seeking release from their harsh lives.
The land outside the cities belongs to no one. Savage elves race across the deserts while insectoid thri-kreen satisfy their taste for blood. Dwarves labor at projects beyond the scope of men, and feral halflings lie in ambush.
Athas is a land of deadly magic and powerful psionics that offers no promise of glory or even of survival. Those who do not have the cunning to face life on Athas will surely perish, leaving nothing but bones bleached white under the blistering rays of the Dark Sun.