Dark Sun heresy

Do you have any Dark Sun heresy? Here is one of mine.

Hamanu the Betrayer

Hamanu was a minor feudal landholder, a cavalier. Hamanu’s tiny holdings were close to troll lands, so he was soon drawn into the conflict. Recruited into Lord Myron’s army, Hamanu became a Templar Knight (3.5E Prestige Class Appendix Volume I page 46), which was a militant arm of Myron’s templarate.

During the war Hamanu gathered much wealth and many honors. Over time Hamanu became dissatisfied with Myron’s strategy. Rajaat was not a public face of the cleansing wars, but Hamanu found out about Rajaat anyway. Coming into contact with the victorious champion Sacha of Arala, Hamanu snitched to Sacha, complaining of Myron’s poor strategy and seeming lack of desire for victory.

Within days, Rajaat had removed Myron and replaced him with Hamanu, making Hamanu his new Trollscorcher champion. Using awesome psionic enchantments, Rajaat reorganized Hamanu’s mind, taking away his Templar Knight abilities and giving him psionics and wizardry instead.

HERESY! And here is the psionic enchantment that Rajaat used to rebuild Hananu’s levels.

Epic Psychic Reformation

Divination (psionic enchantment)

Spellcraft DC: 111 DC
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 minute
Target, effect or area: Creature touched or personal
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Willing subject only
Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless)

To develop: 999,000 Cp, 2 days, 39960 XP. Seed: contact (DC 23). Factors: duplicate Psychic Reformation power (+14 DC). Allow rebuilding of class levels (+200 DC). Mitigating factors: psionic enchantment via expenditure of epic power slot (-19 DC). Burn 6000 XP during casting (-60 DC). 47d6 backlash damage (-47 DC).

This psionic enchantment is Psychic Reformation that additionally allows the rebuilding of class levels and ability scores (see Player’s Handbook 2 page 196 for details about class rebuilding). The details of the rebuild is in the control of the caster, but the subject is aware of the details. If the rebuild is rejected by the subject, the spell fails.

Rajaat used this spell to remold his prospective champions into more suitable roles, even turning fighters and templars into wizards and psions.

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I’m assuming by “dark sun heresy” you mean cannon breaking (or bending) things we have actually used or intended to use in Dark Sun games, not just stuff we come up with on the spot?

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Anything which bends or inverts Dark Sun tropes, especially beloved ones like how I turned Hamanu into a landed minor noble then treacherous templar, instead of simple farmer then warrior.

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Oh, this is easy. I like using large parts of Rise and Fall as cannon :grinning:.

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More seriously though, this is an interesting topic that I’ll get to shortly.

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No Dark Sun heresy? Here is some old school Greyhawk heresy called ‘Pelor the Burning Hate’ as an example of what I am talking about.

On the evil of Pelor

Pelor is commonly thought to be the near embodiment of Neutral Good. As a sun god, he is thought to be the enemy of the undead and the author of life through his gifts. He is also a god of Strength, for he advocates that the weak must be protected by those capable.

However, recent revelations have given rise to a sect of thought (some label it an outright heresy) that Pelor may not be what he claims to be. A passage in the Book of Exalted Deeds states that Pelor refused to send his paladin a sunfly swarm to destroy a vampire that had murdered his family, while the paladin was out doing Pelor’s work. In the same section, a CG god named Kord visited a plague upon his worshipper who was defeated on the battlefield. Speculations abound as to why Pelor refused his faithful paladin and range from defending the god (Pelor couldn’t allow himself to stoop to the mortal’s level of hate) to accusing the god (Pelor wanted to see his paladin suffer). No concrete answer could be found, but for those who thought it was a poor choice on Pelor’s part, it led to a path of horrific discovery after discovery.

Further investigation revealed (in the Epic Level Handbook) that the Lord High Priest of Pelor denounced her deity and the faith. It also said that the secret texts of a prominent religion, recently discovered, call into question the church’s real goal, its actual origin and the agenda of its god.

From there we turn to the Player’s Handbook.

Jozan, the archetypical cleric of the Burning Hate is shown using symbol of pain, a 5th level cleric spell with the evil descriptor (PH 291). The SRD and PHB have two things to say about this:

First, a cleric can’t cast spells of an alignment opposed to his own or his deity’s (if he has one). Spells associated with particular alignments are indicated by the chaos, evil, good, and law descriptors in their spell descriptions.

Second, a cleric’s alignment must be within one step of his deity’s (that is, it may be one step away on either the lawful-chaotic axis or the good-evil axis, but not both). A cleric may not be neutral unless his deity’s alignment is also neutral.

This means that Jozan can not be good-aligned, since he can casts evil spells. Nor Pelor can be , because he can grant evil aligned spells, that can only come from a non-good deity. So, Pelor can not be good-aligned.

Also, Jozan has been seen stepping on the face of his allies to rise higher, rather than store his shield and mace (PH 68). That is not the act of a good-aligned being and shows quite a level of paranoia and mistrust against his allies.

Moving on from there to the Complete Scoundrel, we find the path of the malconvoker introduced. This path requires a non-evil alignment and deals in the summoning of demons. A quote from the iconic malconvoker: “Take him my slaves! Drag his soul back to your dark masters!” - Argyll Te’Shea, servant of Pelor and malconvoker. The summoning of demons has always been one of the most vile acts. Page 8 of the Book of Vile Darkness states that Consorting with Fiends is evil. The statement “Allowing a fiend to exist, let alone summoning one or helping one, is clearly evil”. More minor sections deal with ‘casting evil spells’ and ‘damning or harming souls’, both of which are clearly present within the Pelor-sponsored malconvoker. One could very well suspect this path to be nothing more than a thinly disguised trap for the unwary and their souls.

Also introduced into the Complete Scoundrel is the grey guard, which some may note “hey, that’s just a slightly lighter version of the blackguard!” Indeed. Another step into the Lower Planes, this one is aimed at paladins rather than wizards and clerics. While I have not been able to tie the grey guard directly to Pelor as of yet, it seems that the taint caused by his masquerade is growing to touch even the sincere good aligned gods.

Looking at the relics that Pelor sponsors shows another side of this dark story. The dawnstar, if sundered or broken, deals massive damage to all other creatures (aside from the wielder) within a 30 foot radius. Clearly, this power was inserted with no thought given to the cost for the wielder’s allies. The original dawnstars were given to 4 solars who rescued one of Pelor’s paladins from Baator (known as Perdition in some texts). A question arises then: what exactly was the paladin doing in Hell? If he had died and gone to Hell, that suggests some oddity concerning his faith and alignment. If he ended in Hell due to his own dealings with the devils (which are endorsed by the Church of Pelor, don’t forget), then it seems that Pelor was flouting the Pact Primeval, an ancient law enacted before Pelor’s time. It seems that there are only a few possible answers. One, Pelor is truly of Hell, and his worshipper ended there because of his faith. Two, the paladin ended up in Hell of his own actions and Pelor gave no thought to the stability of the cosmos in order to bring him back. (Probably out of fear for what information torture would bring to the paladin’s tongue.) Three, Pelor sponsors LE paladins, known as paladins of tyranny (in a complete twisting of the term paladin) because he is a vile god of evil.

The Inquisitor Bracers are another magic item sponsored by Pelor. These bracers justify the use of force on innocent people in order to sort them out from undead. You can’t use the power of the bracers with a touch attack (to see if the positive energy perhaps burns the undead). You must swing your weapon with all force at the target, and hope that the positive energy undoes any mistake you might make. What a sick idea. A paladin on a different world once had a similar idea for dealing with undead. His name was Prince Arthas. Of Warcraft III fame.

Pelor’s final relic is a sun shard, which is fairly simple, it fires searing light at two targets. This isn’t damning in and of itself, but consider that while other good gods (Elonna and Yondalla for example) offered relics that aided mortals, Pelor’s are all intended to destroy. This is of course, not a huge point against Pelor, but when added onto the mountain of evidence, seems to be just one more confirmation.

One adventuring group, headed by a tough talking thug named Dyson, followed the path against Pelor when they discovered something amiss within his church. Connections were drawn between Pelor and Baal. That story can be told by Dyson himself or his dungeon master Feanor. It should be noted however, that they began following this path of discovery prior to the release of the Book of Exalted Deeds. They were the first to see the truth and were shunned for it at the time. Those of us who have had our eyes opened to the light of the Burning Hate owe them a debt of gratitude.

Another adventuring group, this one composed of angels, were betrayed by their god into the hands of Lixer, a Prince of Hell. They were broken, one by one. One was twisted into a demon, one lost faith in the path of the Celestial Compact, one was blasted from existence and the last was petrified and stands still in the Court of a Lord of Hell. The god was not named, but he was a god of the sun. Again, this story predates the release of the Book of Exalted Deeds.

One final member of Dicefreaks has added information. Alratan was the first Freak to bring up evil uses for positive energy and good uses for negative energy. While his study does not accuse Pelor of anything (or indeed, deal with Pelor at all), it does point to an alternate path of positive energy, with which Pelor is definitely associated. (Positive energy, not the alternate path.) This is important because many dubious (and some slack-jawed) people have pointed towards Pelor’s association with the sun and positive energy as proof of his inherent goodness.

It must be noted that nothing is proven. Pelor still sits in Elysium. No good-aligned gods have moved against him, nor have they chilled alliances with the Sun God. It may be this is a smear campaign engineered by fiends, or simply the overactive imaginations of mortals. However, the above presented are facts, not fiction. Draw your own conclusions, but think twice before you choose the True Believer feat in Pelor’s name. Below are my own conclusions drawn from the evidence.

Pelor is a Neutral (lawful tendencies) Evil god of Sun and Strength.
Pelor is a god of skin cancer, sun burns, thirst, and burning agony.
Pelor hates undead as they cannot properly suffer in the same way as mortals.
Pelor’s divine realm is on Elysium.
Pelor has deceived the good gods and mortals for so long that he has grown complacent in his position. The recent revelations are not purposeful, they are accidents caused by the god being sloppy.
Pelor has many connections with Hell through both Bel and Belial and previously through Zariel.
Pelor may have engineered the Great Fall of Eblis, Triel, and the others.
It is unknown if the devils, yugoloths, or demons are aware that Pelor is evil. Presumably they are ignorant.

The above is intended to make clear the position of those people who claim Pelor is evil. It is not intended as a slur on those who seek to worship Pelor as a benign deity nor as concrete proof of his evil. The investigation into his misconduct is currently ongoing and no final judgement should be passed at this juncture.

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Oh. I’m WELL aware of this one. My problem with it is simply that the creator of it had a nasty habit of insisting that his interpretation was correct and even cannon (contrary to the disclaimer at the bottom of the post), ignoring that he was cherry picking “evidence” to an absurd degree. By counterpoint, there are some things that I like about Rise and Fall, but I would never insist that such things were more important than the mountain of contradictory evidence or that my interpretation must be the only true one.

The only time I’ve ever seen a “Pelor, the Burning Hate” that may have had true cannon support was in Pathfinder, with the infamous Iomedae incident in the Wrath of The Righteous Adventure Path. Basically the players got to meet a lawful good god of paladins who proceeds to act in ways that would have her own paladins fall ten times over. The whole incident has been admitted to having been a colossal fuck up, and has been ignored since then.

Basically, heresy is one thing, but it has to be admitted heresy, like your alternate history for Hamanu above. “Pelor the Burning Hate” is anything but.

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I always thought Pholtus (and Amaunator in FR) was ideal for a Burning Hate-type cult, even more so than Pelor - but I do like your idea, @redking.

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It’s not my idea, but rather a famous post from the wizards forum back in the day.

Is there no one with Dark Sun heresy?

I’ll give an example of heresy which may not sound heretical to a lot of people here, but is literally heresy to the templars of athas dot org.

A champion is just a 1st stage dragon, metamorphosed by Rajaat.

According to athas dot org [ADO] (suggested in the 2E Revised Campaign Setting and made more explicit on ADO), Rajaat named or created “champions” of unknown abilities who then turned on Rajaat. After imprisoning Rajaat, they helped Borys become the dragon. After which Borys made the other champions sorcerer kings capable of channeling spells to their followers.

My heresy is that “champion” is nothing more than a job description. That the champions had templar followers all along that were instrumental in their victories during the cleansing wars, and that the champions were already dragons when they confronted Rajaat.

What you think about this heresy generally depends on how closely you stick to the Prism Pentad novels. In the Prism Pentad it is made clear that Borys cannot turn Tithian into a Sorcerer King even if he wants to do so. But because Bill Slavicsek wrote that Borys turned the champions in sorcerer kings on the Revised Campaign Setting, the templars at ADO stick to Borys creating the sorcerer kings.

This is a controversial heresy because I’d expect about a 50/50 split on this.

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Do I ever?

Let’s take an alternate reality Dark Sun in which Rajaat’s plan included extermination of sentient races and returning the world into the Blue Age at the same time. Defiling still destabilises the elemental and ecological balance, but it works the other way round: It encourages aggressive vegetation growth and mutates the fauna into more dangerous forms.

One cleansing war and betrayal later: The entire Athas is a green hell. The jungle encroaches on the intelligent life from all sides, threatening to choke it under its weight. Rainfalls are completely out of control, resulting in a hot and extremely humid climate. The sea levels are gradually rising, consuming more land century after century. The constant rainfall makes the soil infertile for agriculture since all the nutrients get washed away… Or consumed by the expansive plant life.

The Sorcerer-Kings control the few remaining cities, surrounded by what land is still suitable for vegetation. Beyond them, the jungle is actively trying to kill all sentient life. Foraging for food and water is easy, but a lot of food sources are poisonous. Tropical diseases are rife and - just like on normal Athas - most everything is out to eat you. Life is a constant battle against nature encroaching human settlements.

Metal is still extremely scarce: The sources are depleted and maintaining outlying outposts is something of a Sisyphian effort. Every road gets overgrown at an absurd pace; every outpost finds itself under constant attacks by the aggressive beasts. The ‘oases’ are areas where life is still relatively well-balanced. Druids are, unsurprisingly, concerned with preserving that balance… Which means they often actively fight against the over-abundant natural life.

I don’t think it gets any more heretical than that :wink:


Wow, what you wrote here is actually a really neat way of switching the trappings without changing the history or feel too much. One question though, what is the Dragon’s role in this new green hell?


Personally, i like mixing Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa with Dark Sun, and casting the Sorcerer Kings as people trying to become something akin to God-Warriors via heedra transformation. Outside of the known lands is the Miasma and the Jungle with the Known Lands being the last area relatively free of the Miasma due to the geography and wind patterns.

I also despise magic, so I like to separate the paths into dragon transformation = magic and defilement… and avangion transformation = psionic only. In such a setting defilement not only razes, but it also poisons the land, so the more magic is used, the more it invites the Jungle and insect hordes.


How about this for heresy: The SMs elevated Borys to full Dragon in a desperate attempt to have a sufficiently powerful defiler who could hold back the jungles?

In this context, the Dragon’s Levy still occurs to keep Rajaat under lock and key, but the Dragon’s visit also allows it to push back the vegetation enough to allow a year’s crops to be grown. Thus becoming part of the Levy is actually a self-sacrifice for the community and Borys’ presence is welcomed, rather than feared.


Actually, I was thinking the same thing. Ironically, the mortals would probably treat the Dragon as an avatar of the defiled nature. You simply don’t get a bigger, nastier, more menacing predator than that.

Also, what if Borys is researching the ‘vanilla’ defiling - finding a way to raze in such a way that it’d destroy life and make the land barren?

Thri-Kreen, anyone? :wink:

Also, I was considering ‘miasma’ as a background toxicity of sorts. Normal fauna and flora withers down in defiled lands, fertilising the soil; before long, the ‘defiled’ life starts to spring out. Of course, the further you get, the worse it becomes. The ‘miasma’ is probably related to the amount of pollen from the defiled plants and such.

I love this. The cities can stay relatively safe as long as no-one defiles… But the moment someone does, it’s like lighting up a beacon for all the defiled life nearby. ‘Safe haven, please come here!’

So, in Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa (Major spoilers if you haven’t read the manga, so beware if that matters to you)… The Jungle are all the mutated plants which are slowly purifying the soil by calcifying and breaking down the poisons into non-poisonous sand, which when mixed with water becomes fertile soil. The Miasma is the still poisonous spores (due to carrying the poisons from the land - the plants aren’t actually poisonous by themselves) which saturate the air and land and take root in still poisoned regions. In fact, humans have also been mutated (deliberately) to adapt and survive to the poisoned lands, to the point that if they attempt to breathe pure clean air, their lungs erupt with blood and they die if they don’t get far enough away fast enough. And the insects all live in a psionic symbiosis with the Jungle and whenever the Jungle (or too many insects) is damaged or destroyed, they erupt in bug-hordes which attack the threat until it is removed, and then they die as well, spreading the Miasma and Jungle even further.


Rajaat wasn’t an accident. He was a genetic life-bender failsafe to ensure that the halflings would return to prominence after the Rebirth.


This sounds like something Oronis would do, actually. Which could be a nice twist since, in this case, his experiment would be pretty… Adverse to the normal people out there.

Ouch, that… Didn’t work out very well for a fail-safe. I like it, it somewhat explains what was going on in his head.

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Ouch, that… Didn’t work out very well for a fail-safe. I like it, it somewhat explains what was going on in his head.

On the contrary. Rajaat was exceedingly effective. His genetically altered subliminal consciousness was very loose in how to return the halflings to power. Only that the Rebirth/non-halflings races weren’t worthy inheritors of the world. This rest is history.


I’m not really sure halflings appreciate his work, but then again, it doesn’t sound like anyone asked them :wink: