Here I’ll present an outline to make character classes for Dark Sun. It will include a unique and elegant system for psionics for all characters to use.
The system is in between a pure point buy system and the old 3E generic classes. Only these were underpowered versions of the standard fighter, rogue and caster, Athas needs overpowered versions.
The base idea is 4 points per level with which to buy everything, a skill, an ability score point, a proficiency, a save or a feature. As 5E feats are double features, just split them in two. You also have to buy hitpoints. Each point buys your Con modifier in hit point (+1 for a less deadly campaign). You can buy hp twice per level, up to 20 times.
The archetype classes below take 2 of the 4 points. Then you have two points left to buy ability score points, features or hp.
You can multiclass these classes, or just swap in a few features of another class.
As 1st level is where you get extra stuff, split off everything you wouldn’t or shouldn’t get when multiclassing and call that 0th level. For this 8 points should be enough: 2 saves, 2 skills and 4 remaining points. You can spend them on more skills, proficiencies, or (if you picked Religion or Nature as prerequisite) you can pick a type of spellcasting and cantrips.
The proficiency bonus starts at +2 and increases by 1 every 4 levels as usual.
In addition - to lessen the extreme spread in hitpoints over levels - everyone gets their Con score as free hit points.
Dark Sun characters gain a psionic wild talent.
two combat features or fighter class abilities each level. May pick Extra Attack once per 4 levels.
one skill and one rogue feature per level. These are sneak attack (max 1/2 levels, max 5 total) or features like evasion and uncanny dodge.
Mage or Priest:
Caster level and one class ability (like metamagic).
I’ll detail casters further in a separate post.
New Psionics Concept
First, I don’t want psionics to compete with magic. It shouldn’t be more powerful or there would be no incentive to be a spellcaster. Instead I’m making psionics the base from which spellcasters get their magic. Non-caster essentially become psychic warriors and can buy powers to become like full psions.
So psionics does get hit with the nerfbat, but at the same time it’s so easy and flexible it’s close to being overpowered. Powers will be relatively weak, but everyone will have one or more and will get lots of PP fast.
I have yet to compile a list of powers, inspired by 2nd and 3rd edition powers or their 5E equivalent, but it will follow these rules:
- Only powers you need and want flavorwise, most will be removed.
- No cantrips, and each power is one (or more) spell level higher than an equivalent spell. Remember these are ‘spells’ with build-in Subtle Spell and no material components.
- Probably 2 spells per discipline per spell level (max 5)
- Disciplines: telepathy, psychometabolism, clairsentience, psychokinesis, and psychoportation. Maybe one with monk and Soulblade/Mindblade features turned to powers.
- Psionic powers will use the lowest of two, sometimes three ability scores to manifest.
- You can buy one power per level, each gives a psion level. With one wild talent, everyone starts at level 1 and can progress as a full psion, a psychic warrior or just stick to one wild talent.
Next each level Dark Sun characters gain an increasing amount of powerpoints (PP) equivalent to that of a full caster. Characters acquiring caster levels, can convert these to spell slots. A spell slot level 1 - 5 costs 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 power points.
All remaining PP can be used for psionics, metamagic and 1st level spells.
Instead of the fluctuating 5E spell progression, I recommend a gradual increase of power. You can use this easy progression:
L PP 1 2 3 4 5
1 1 1 - - - -
2 3 3 - - - -
3 6 3 1 - - -
4 10 4 2 - - -
5 15 4 2 1 - -
6 21 5 2 2 - -
7 28 5 2 2 1 -
8 36 6 2 2 2 -
9 45 6 2 2 2 1
10 55 7 2 2 2 2