A new take on the Pterrans

So I’ve made it no secret I’ve felt the Pterrans are a weak addition to the Dark Sun mythos. However, I was reading a book. Mercenaries by AEG. Then inspiration struck me. They have a race of lizard people in it, but can ONLY communicate through telepathy. This is an interesting twist, especially in a setting heavy on psionics and were illiteracy is brutally enforced.



Respectfully, I do not believe that lack of telepathy is what makes pterrans dull, as a race. The issue is their culture. They’re a bunch of hippy lizards and that’s all we get.
What else is interesting about the lizard people from that book?

I don’t personally think Pterrans are dull at all, so whichever.

To be fair, AndronicusVII’s true question isn’t “Are pterrans boring because they don’t have telepathy?” but is in fact “Would making pterrans mute and telepathic make them more interesting (or interesting enough to bother to use)?”

The muteness/telepathy definitely makes them more interesting…


IMHO, Pterrans are basically the Dark Sun writers getting just a bit too stoned and thinking a flightless version of the talking flying dinosaur from Pee Wee’s Playhouse was a good addition to Dark Sun canon, never mind how many lizard people races the setting already had.



Flip it around and you just described aarakocra

If you are not of the same opinion about aarakocra, pray tell what for you makes up the difference?

I guess I don’t see your logic on how this can be applied to aarakocra.

Pterrans cannot fly on their own, don’t seem to have any purpose to looking the way they do other than “He-man action figure syndrome (we do it because its cool)”, and don’t have much of a personality.

Maybe I just came to them late. They just don’t seem to fill any interesting niches like so many other races do.

Touche’. You are correct.

Pennarin: Aarakocra are hippies as well, but they also love freedom, are rebellious (PC aarakocra anyway), and are claustrophobic. That’s not a ton more, but it is more.

Kind of equated them to DS’s version of Saurials. Benign dinosaur people looking to form trade relations with the Tablelands. They’re a bit watered down admittedly, but the foundation is there to make them cooler.


I think the main problem with Pterrans is they’re actually not quite as interesting as Ssurans, Nikaal or Jozhal. You sort of wonder why the designers felt like they needed to add this many different lizardmen variants. (Plus there’s classical lizardmen in saragar.) 5 lizardmen species! Maybe you could have some plot hook about Oronis trying to repent by reviving all these races, but I dunno, it does all seem like overkill to me.


To play devil’s advocate, its no more overkill than having 5+ mammal based PC races.


I don’t think that comparison quite fits. Each of the mammal based races has a distinctive identity, and occupies a niche or archetype.

Many of these lizard species are quite underdeveloped by comparison, even when it comes down to differences in appearances. If they were as differentiated as say elves and dwarves then we could make that argument…


The Bakali of the Dragonlance setting might be a good fit for Dark Sun. They are easy to fit in as desert dwelling egg layers.

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The reptilian races most definitely look different from one another (at least going by the art).

Yes they’re underdeveloped thematically compared to the PC races (only Dray and Pterrans were PC options originally), but there wasn’t much on other DS specific races when the first setting box was released. Had the line continued there was likely more planned for Pterrans.

Sounds like an athas.org opportunity if I have ever smelled one :wink:


Well, other DS specific races benefit from the familiar frame of reference. They had their Dark Sun twist but I honestly doubt that anyone ever looked at half-giants, elves, dwarves, halflings, muls and said “oh wow, 5+ mammal-based races? Weird.”

Now that said, “The Complete Athasian Herpetology Handbook” is a great idea lol.


No. No. Sysane is right.

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@neujack Put it on the Gazetter list!

Whoa man. Can the hippie lizards share some of their stash? The book had the makkal (their name) be obsessed with pack tactics, communicate with telepathy only are smaller species. In the context of Dark Sun , I worry that they would feel like reptile desert dwelling halflings.

The pterran is trying to contact you with telepathy. Are they desperately trying to talk, or is it a prelude to psionic attack?


That would have been some strong stuff man. Or weak stuff while binging Pewee Playhouse epidoes…

To take some shot on this I would say A) there was no playable bird race B) many reptilian races only one bird race, C) aaracokra were established early in the lore. Pterrans were late comer D) aaracokra are an aerial race which goes a long way in making them unique.

That is a major issue. If you look at it nikaal and jozhal both were featured in the fiction essential to the setting. Ssurran characters are featured in the computer game, where they have interesting characters and culture. Dray have an awesome backstory and are essential in the future.

The only build up the pterrans get is a monstrous entry.

Lack of interesting lead up is part of the problem.

Despite loving the Azure Bonds books as a kid, I am not a fan of brining Saurials to Dark Sun :wink:

Trivia and I may be wrong but I heard that the original plan was to use new or unusual only. However marketing said they had to use the Tolkien races, or the target audience wouldn’t recognize it as fantasy.

pauses to let the stupidity sink in

So they made the races as wildly different as possible.

I am not trying to add more races, but that is a cool idea. My vote would be for anasai from the Forgotten Realms. Desert dwelling egg layers, from a novel written by Troy Denning


How about this:

What if we wrote a “lizard folk of Athas” book, wherein we all fixed the problems with the development of these races?


I would certainly be interested in that. I imagine that would start with 1. Deciding what is canon. For example, I would be be happy to ignore the lizard people from Saragar. 2. Codify what is known for sure about each group. 3. Then we would know what the pterran could do