3.5 Prestige Class Appendix Volume I and II - lets discuss it

The two prestige class appendixes were published by Athas dot org long ago. I am not clear on the exact dates, but it was early in the 3.5e print run. Many or most of the prestige classes were directly inspired by Dark Sun lore or class kits from 2E. Because the WotC published material had not yet experienced all the power creep from the splatbooks at the time of publishing, the tier levels of the prestige class appendixes are comparatively high - generally tier 3 to tier 5 (the same goes for the Core Rules - bard tier 4, gladiator tier 5, templar tier 3). There were plans to revise all the classes, but Athas dot org became moribund, so it never happened.

Lets talk about these prestige classes. I will start the commentary.

Prestige Class Appendix Volume I 3.5

Myrmeleon: A defiler servant of Sorcerer Monarchs. Kind of like a wizard secret agent.

Shadow Templar: The Dark Sun version of the ur-priest (except they use arcane spells). A pity that I do not use the timeline in which Andropinis was imprisoned. For my game I would reskin them as servants of Rajaat or some outsider entity from the black (removing the requirement of ex-templar).

Royal Defiler: This prestige class is obligatory. The two dead levels unfortunately are not. Surely those dead levels could be filled out.

Additionally, most of the city states get a prestige class for templars, allowing for some differences between the city states.

Prestige Class Appendix Volume II 3.5

Arena Mage: This PrC suffers terribly from low BAB and 5/10 casting. To be gimped on one or the other might be countenanced, but both? Interesting fluff, but is gimped for some reason (to the extent that it is highly unlikely that a player will choose this PrC), something that we see elsewhere in this supplement.

Arcanist: Interesting 5 level class with 5/5 casting. Elf only.

Blind Fighter: Zatoichi on Athas. Pretty cool full BAB combat oriented Prc.

Dead Heart Interrogator: Psionic torturer/interrogator class. Spellcasting/manifesting is extremely gimped and downright parsimonious. 10 levels, 4/4 spellcasting/manifesting. Would it have been so terrible to advance one or the other each level for the entire 10 levels?

Master Shipfloater: A PrC for psions that helm silt ships. While they have the decency to limit this PrC to 3 levels, even that is too much. Not worth taking a class. That said, WotC is guilty of the same thing. This is much better handled with a feat, skill, or affiliation (I lean towards affiliation benefits).

Monarch’s Chosen: I love the fluff on this one. I don’t love the execution.

Obstinate Soul: A PrC leveraging dwarven focus. Advances class features (yes - class features) 3/5. Pretty cool.

Royal Animator: Great fluff, and well supported by Dark Sun canon. Gimped 5/10 spellcasting. The table has a cut and paste error mix up with the monarch’s chosen, but I was able to verify that table is correct except for the mislabelling. The gimped caster level actually makes the Royal Animator worse at creating undead than some other necromancer. This is in desperate need of revision.

Here is my quick fix for this PrC.

This PrC should be open to templars as well. Change prerequisites to Spells: Able to cast 3rd-level spells and allow templars with the death domain to take the PrC. Abolish the animation reserve. 10/10 casting.However, the Royal Animator gets a class feature similar to the Unseen Seer.

Necromantic Spell Power (Ex): At 3rd level, you gain a +1 bonus to your caster level when casting an necromancy spell. This bonus improves to +2 at 6th level, and to +3 at 9th level.

This benefit comes at a cost: Your caster level for all other spells is reduced by 1 at 3rd level. This reduction becomes 2 at 6th level and becomes 3 at 9th level. For example, a 10th-level wizard/10th-level royal animator would have a caster level of 23 for her necromancy spells, but only a caster level of 17 for her non necromancy spells.

Sensei: A non-gimped psion/monk. 8/10 manifesting. Full BAB 10/10. Although the sensei abilities stack with monk just in case a DM allows monks in his campaign, there are probably better entries into the class than monk. The Pugilist fighter variant is very suited to Dark Sun. The pugilist gains Improved Unarmed Strike and Endurance feats, and loses proficiency with shields and martial weapons.

Unfortunately, the writer of this PrC likely forgot that monk is not a base class in Dark Sun 3.5 Core Rules, and the entry requirements seem to assume a character taking this PrC has some levels in monk because there is a prerequisite of 5 ranks of Tumble. You could probably swap Tumble out for 5 ranks of Knowledge (psionics).

You could enter sensei at fighter (pugilist) 4, Psion 3. The sensei is what the psionic fist wants to be when he grows up.

OK. That’s all for now. I’d like to hear what other people think, whether in relation to these classes or the classes that I did not mention.



Other than SK or Templar specific stuff, everything should be psionics only, in my opinion.

I am not a fan of dead levels, nor of useless levels (or class features).

A comment about shipfloater: we should make it worth taking, say allow for smaller, faster vessels like canoes or surfboards or hoverboards, possibly even personal sized orbs for individual sand skimming.


I have some opinions here as well. I’ll go back through them a little at a time, but my first thoughts were on Shadow Templar.

The caster level mechanic is never addressed, and there were different 3.5 fall backs for accelerated casters that never jived: Sublime Chord, Nar Demonbinder, Ur-Priest, Knight of the Weave, Apostle of Peace/Divine Crusader. Pick one, or make a new, unconfusing, but deliberate choice of caster level determination.

My second thought on this was that the Shadow Templarchassis should have been the chassis for Arch Defiler to allow a manifester the opportunity to reach the double 9’s (6’s/9’s, but we all know metamorphs should require 9’s) necessary to take their first steps toward the change at 20th and pre-epic.

It also fits with how ‘easy’ defiling Magic was compared to the slow, reserved path of the preserver. Defilers in 2e had a rapid advancement table. Rajaat would have wanted the temptation of defiling to be a tangible, quick route to power.

EDIT: In thinking about this a little more, I think it would be thematically appropriate for a PrC for defilers that mimics the Nar Demonbinder. The class offers an immediate boost in power (5th level spells at 8th level), scaling caster level, BUT a limited spell list, and the Defiler would not reach 9’s without taking a huge leap backward and never before epic.

The limited spell list represents knowledge a SM would allow for the Defiler to be useful, but never put them on a path to be a rival, and if they ever learned of the process to become an advanced being, it would take so much investment to reset the path. Other PrC’s directly related with benefits due to service of a SM, like Royal Defiler, would only advance this class, and not the general ‘+1 to arcane spellcasting class’.

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Good idea about a Nar Demonbinder chassis for an accelerated caster. One thing though - I have a particular distate for prestige classes advancing the spellcasting of accelerated spellcasting prestige classes. I see these prestige classes as particularly focused and unsuited to advancing with another PrC.

Example: wizard, ur-priest, mystic theurge. You get the 9s, but everything about the ur-priest is sacrificed to the optimisation.

The higher spell levels are always the most enticing treat, and bad PrC design only ever exacerbated those optimization choices.

DS is no different, in fact the race to power required for the next power-up may even be faster. The Shadow Shifter advanced being PrC at least requires the capstone class ability from Shadow Templar or Shadow Wizard, enticing a character to complete those classes, and setting a deliberate path. Someone pursing the Shadow Shifter path has to make hard choices, and each one comes with a forced delay in realizing that power because of the class feature requirement over feat/skill requirements.

I consider the SM’s as deliberate bad actors positioned against magic, knowledge, and any path to advanced being. They use a combination of authoritarianism, illiteracy, fear, misdirection, and strategy with near surgical precision to rewrite history and eliminate almost any chance of getting to a truth. Then layer all those truths and untruths, and add a cherry on top. Then you have Athas. :rofl:

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I’ve posted it before, and I’ll post it again…


Athas should be, at minimum, 95% psionic, and 5% magic. Maybe 98% psionic.

Magic should be the exception, not the rule.

I’m not saying take it away, but the rule books need to reflect this paradigm. The core book should have no magic at all, and magic should be moved to its own sourcebook. Just saying.

Thus these two source books should be either all psionic only (with magic based stuff moved into the magic book) or at least follow the paradigm.


While i don’t think it should be taken to such extreme as to banish magic into a separate book, I do agree that psionics should be the rul e and magic the exception, and that it should
Be reflected in the core book.

I would also further differentiate psionics from magic mechanicaly, as oppose to how it was handled in 3.5 as just a branch of magic, though I don’t know how to go about doing so.

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Nijineko, I didn’t mean to neglect your statement. In reading it yesterday, it also resonated and got me thinking about the psionic ecosystem/economy on Athas. I’ll put some thought to how this should be structured, because you’re right. To a degree, all fiction in the setting contained significant magic - templars, druidry, defiler and preserver. It may just have been the selected cast to tell the lore, but it was pervasive in the storytelling.

I also wish more had been ‘onscreen’ for the various schools of the Way. Let me think on it more.

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In my opinion, magic featured so heavily in the stories BECAUSE Athas is supposed to be a high-fantasy world - or at least the stories are supposed to be. The stories are about the movers and shakers, the fate of the universe, and so on. It is supposed to be superheroic level of fantasy, the epic struggle between evil and less evil, with good getting an occasional cameo. The focus on the books rested (rightfully) upon those that were important to be BIG PICTURE and affected the PLOT.

The books were never meant to be about the average person, nor the daily life of the various parts of Athas, nor even about the hundreds of other heroes doing other things on other parts of Athas.

The roleplaying game, on the other hand, while it also tends to focus on the heroes of your personal campaigns (again, rightfully so), it needs to allow for everyone else to have their story too, even if you don’t prevent the return of the big bad, or overthrow a monarch, or escape Athas (or maybe you do).

And that while that is the benefit of an RPG, that is also the problem. 99% of the surviving population of Athas simply don’t care, and would much rather avoid all the high stress stuff. How do they live their lives? What options are right for them? What classes would they be represented by?

For example, what are the two mostly likely mutations that all plants and creatures that survived for this long on Athas are almost required to have by virtue of evolutionary pressure?

The psionic powers of:

  • Endure Elements
  • Sustenance

Why? Because that’s the only way to survive for long periods of time without water, and also survive the extreme environment. The vast majority of Athasian plants and creatures should have these two powers as a racial template… with the possible exception of those groups who survived due to being under a SM’s wing.

The prestige classes should be viewed through the same lens, in my opinion.

I’m not saying the fiction was wrong or anything silly like that. I am saying that Dark Sun RPG needs to represent all of Athas, not just the narrow focus of the novels. And that means more psionics and less magic in my view.

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You’d almost need to have a generic class tailored to psionics that looks like the Adept NPC class.

I liked the Athasian Human that was detailed in Dragon Magazine as well because the psionic choices scaled with level.


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You mean the Psychic Adept NPC class right here on Athas?

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:face_with_raised_eyebrow: Maybe. :shushing_face:

Yes, that would be the one. I’ll crawl away under a rock now.

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I’m split on if psionics would have a ton PrCs or not.

Athasian psionics could be viewed as the “old ways” which have fallen to the wayside with the creation of arcane magic. Sort like real world trades not being widely practiced anymore with the advancements in technology (glass blowers, blacksmiths, switchboard operator, etc…).

That said, with magic now being persecuted there would definitely be a psionic resurgence and an influx in its formal practice.

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I’ve found that a lot of the magic prestige classes I’d allow in DS can be converted to psionic without to much trouble. A lot of spells can be easily reflavored as well (Secrets of Sarlona did this nicely). I also get around most dipping by finding that my players tend to like prestige classes and I’ve houseruled that once you start a prestige class you only have two options, continue to completion or return to classes you already have. Once you complete a prestige class you can move into another, but that’s the only way to get two prestige classes outside of some specific ones. Shadow Templar for instance allowed interruption of any Templar prestige class for instance.

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I personally despise the concept of forcing players to finish a prestige class. It is no different than railroading a plot, or overriding the character choices of the players to one’s whim.

After all, there are so many characters who dabble in a lot of different things among the inspirations that role playing draws from. How many times have people started something and not finished it? How many stories have the line, “Oh, I spent a couple of months/ years leading how to do this, back in the day.” Hidden skill to the rescue!

Instead of using mechanical rules to force players to finish a prestige, why not… oh I don’t know… maybe ROLEPLAY the drama of the character trying to separate from an organization, family, group, gang, or mentor? Perfect reoccurring npc and multiple plot hooks all in one! All sorts of RP potential!
Whyever not let them try?

You did properly have your PC’s learning the prestige class from someone in the first place, didn’t you?

I welcome my players to try a little of everything. And if they want to change up their character after the fact? No big deal, that just means IT’S QUESTING TIME!

For most of my players it’s not been an issue, it takes a lot to get into a prestige class due to them having to quest to get in and really spend time over it. There’s a few players I’ve had that were perfectly willing to RP getting into each one for their active character, but we use a character tree system and they aren’t required to RP those class gains and it started being a problem with the inactive ones that leveled offscreen since that was typically a few sentences on how it happened. One player routinely found a way to get his character killed so he could swap to inactive ones to try out something new almost every session.

Perhaps not the best way to handle it, but seemed to work and my players for with only a few exceptions were already finishing them or going back to base classes.

Those are the real important parts - does it work for your group, and are you all having fun? If the answer to (hopefully) both are yes, then good to go! =D

This is why I really like Ultimate Psionics and PFRPG as the 3.X version. It gives you the flexibility to do many of these things and has classes that would fit a psionic niche.(i.e like the Vitalist), also the archetype system is also good. I recently converted the Restorationist to a PF Archetype.

Restorationist (wizard archetype)

Restorationists are preservers whose main goal is to return Athas to its former state of verdant vegetation
and plentiful water. Wholly subsumed to their task, restorationists often tutor others in ecologically
sound land management. A restorationist seldom takes lives unnecessarily, eats meat only when fruit
and other plants that can return something to the land are unavailable, and searches for magic in her
travels that can revitalize Athas.

Restorationists are preserver wizards of any race. Multi-classed druid/wizards who become restorationists are perhaps the most knowledgeable when it comes to nurturing the land. Multi-classed ranger/wizards are particularly adept at surviving in the wilderness during long travels.

Restorationists can be encountered teaching ecologically sound land management or on their travels in
search of magic that can revitalize Athas. Defiler wizards are sworn enemies of restorationists, and
restorationists are naturally wary of templars and other agents of the sorcerer-kings.

Extended Spell List: Due to their intimate relation with nature, restorationists have their wizard class
spell list expanded to include the following spells: 0 – Nurturing Seeds; 1st – goodberry; 2nd - pass
without trace; 3rd - plant growth; 4th - rejuvenate; 5th- wall of thorns; 6th –spellstaff; 7th - animate
plants; 8th –control plants; 9th – shambler

Opposition School: Due to their focus of preserving life and nature. A restorationist treats all spells
from the necromancy school as if this school was an opposition school. If the wizard is a specialist, the
wizard must choose two additional schools as opposition schools.

Brew Potion Fruit: The restorationist receives the Brew Potion feat for free at 1st level, but is restricted
to use fruit as a storage medium.

Plant Whisperer (Sp): The restorationist can speak with plants as per the spell at will. This replaces
the metamagic feat gained at 5th level.

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The Aegis is an interesting, albeit powerful for Dark Sun, character class.

The Phrenic Scourge is an alternative to Mind Flayers and is a good fit for Athas (other examples here). A review here.

Because I am a lazy producer but great contributor of ideas, in my wandering thoughts this past week, I’d like to see an Untutored One PrC for Wilders that gives a variation of Hidden Talent that allows for a discipline selection (like the houses at the end of Complete Psi), the ability to select a discipline power of highest level (variant EK), and if a power is selected more than once, it ‘enhances’ it with some benefit to enervation or application of metapsionic feats.

For reference, the Untutored One originally appeared in Dragon #194. And wilders need a good PrC, in my opinion.

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