Overpriced Weapons in Athas


Hello there!
Here I am again with one of my material-related questions.

There’s something that always bugged me with weapon prices in Dark Sun. According to the original (2e) books, the general cost of life on Athas is calculated by simply converting GP (from the PHB) into cP. Meaning that if something cost 3gp in standard D&D worlds, it costs 3cp in Dark Sun. It also states that if something is made from metal normally, in Athas it’s made from something else.

So generally speaking life costs the same in Athas unless you are purchasing something actually made from metal.

The book implies that weapons specifically cost a % of their PHB gold prices instead. 30% for bone, 50% for stone, 10% for wood.

Which means that weapons, even from crude materials, are flabbergastingly expensive in Dark Sun. Here’s an example:
Metal Battleaxe: 500cp (since it costs 5gp in the PHB)
Bone Battleaxe: 150cp
Stone Battleaxe: 250cp
Wood Battleaxe: 50cp

Technically life cost in Athas is 1% of gold values for everything else. Meaning that while someone earns 10gp in a normal world, this fella would earn 10cp in Athas. But that fella in the normal world would buy his battleaxe for 5gp, while in Athas even a bone one would cost a whooping 150cp (300x more expensive relatively speaking.)

Personally I always house-ruled that bone/wood/obsidian weapons simply cost their PHB values in cP instead, like every other item.

It doesn’t seem right to me that in a world like Athas weapons would be so expensive to the point of most people not even being able to afford one. I know that supposedly the Athasian “original” weapons (such as Impaler, etc) don’t cost that much, but still it’s illogical to think that an Impaler would cost 4cp and an axe 150cp.

But I’m curious how other people approached this discrepancy.

(Brent Welborn) #2

I have also discovered this problem. I always convert the cost to cp, from gp, then reduce the cost. For example, that stone battleaxe would be 2.5 ceramic. 5gp becomes 5cp, multiplied by .5 equals 2.5.
Of course, I also swapped the bone and stone cost multipliers, because why do I pay more for an inferior weapon?


Rajaat99, I have done that a couple times myself.

Other times I set everything as just 1gp -> cp but made it so that each material is better for a type of weapon. Obsidian is better for cutting but worse for blunt damage. Stone is all right for blunt, and so one. Then if you use a more appropriate material its -1 adjustment only, but if using the worse option it’s -2 on hit and damage.

This sort of makes sense to me, as the people in Athas are not all savages improvising weapons, they just don’t have metal available, but I suppose they’d build their weapons with the most appropriate material available. Unless they really want to make it cheap, or for some other purpose like sadistically giving slave gladiators bad weapons to fight with!


Curiously, the two old PC games use the rule as written. As in, weapons in those games cost a lot more than other things. Which doesn’t make much sense considering the amount of weapons everywhere.

What happens (and what would end up happening in a tabletop game as well), is that collecting weapons and selling them for the average 1/2 price becomes a huge and disproportionate money-making machine. If a stone axe really cost 250cp you could grab just 4 from a group of thugs you’ve defeated and fairly easily have money to buy a metal one for 500gp. In theory.