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Dark Sun: Ten Things to Know

1. Dark Sun is Different from Traditional D&D.

Many monsters, prestige classes, spells or magic items
from the core rulebooks simply are not available in Athas.
Many iconic races were extinguished from Athas during the
Cleansing Wars, such as gnomes, orcs, and goblins. This
is because Athas has a very different
background than most D&D settings. Check with your
DM to see which options you have to choose from before
building your character.

2. Tone and Attitude.

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

3. A Burnt World.

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

4. A World Without Metal.

Metals are very rare on
Athas. Its scarcity has forced Athasians to rely on barter
and different materials, such as ceramic, to use as
currency. It also hampers industrial and economic
development as well; mills and workshops rarely have
quality tools to produce everyday products. Even though
most Athasians have developed ways of creating
weapons and armor made of nonmetallic components,
but the advantage of having metal equipment in battle is

5. The Will and The Way.

From the lowliest slave to
the most powerful sorcerer‐king, psionics pervade all
levels of Athasian society. Virtually every individual has
some mental ability, and every city‐state has some sort of
psionic academy available. Athasians use the term Will to
refer to someone’s innate ability for psionics and the Way
for the study of psionics.

6. A World Without Gods.

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

7. Planar Insulation.

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

8. The Struggle For Survival.

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

9. The Seven City‐states.

The Tyr Region is the center
of the world of Athas, at least as far as the people of the
seven city‐states are concerned. It’s here, along the shores
of the Silt Sea and in the shadows of the Ringing
Mountains that civilization clings to a few scattered areas
of fertile land and fresh water. The majority of the
population lives in the city‐states of Tyr, Urik, Raam, Draj,
Nibenay, Gulg, and Balic. The remainder lives in remote
villages built around oases and wells, or wanders about in
nomadic tribes searching for what they need to survive.

10. New Races.

In addition to the common player campaign.
character races found in the Player’s Handbook, players can
choose to play aarakocra, half‐giants, muls, pterrans, and
thri‐kreen in Dark Sun. Aarakocra are avian freedomloving
creatures, but extremely zealous and xenophobic.
Half‐giants are creatures with great strength, but dull
wits. Muls are a hybrid race that combines the natural
dwarven resilience and stubbornness with the
adaptability from humans. Pterrans are reptilian nature-worshipping
creatures that are always in the pursuit of
their “life paths”. Thri‐kreen are insectoid creatures that
roam the Athasian wastes in search for prey.

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