I was looking through Legends of Athas and I noticed that, in addition to the Avangion for preservers and the Dragon for defilers, there was the option of Shadow Shifter for those who use The Black. I was wondering if those who use the other sources, such as the Grey and the Cerulean Storm, would have developed similar methods of turning themselves into advanced beings, and what such beings would look/act like. Any thoughts?
I noticed that in Legends of Athas, each Advanced Being had their own creature type. Dragons are dragons, Avangions are aberrations, Shadow Shifters are outsiders, Mind Lords are constructs, Elemental Lords are elemental, and Spirit Initiates are Fey. By this logic, an advanced being of the grey would likely be undead, but I have very little idea of what a Cerulean advanced being would be.
I hate the other energy types.
As you are new to Dark Sun you would not be familiar with the battles that the revised boxed set of Dark Sun caused when it introduced these new energy types - shadow, gray, and cerulean. To my mind the new energy types completely undermined the idea of a preserver. These other new types are better than preserving. They don’t harm the environment at all, while with preserving there is always a toll on plant life, even if they don’t go as far as defilers. A lot of people were fine with it though, including most on athas.org.
For me, I just ignored shadow and gray, and reflavored cerulean as 3.5E warlocks that have a pact with Tithian.
If you will humor me for a moment, I would like to put for a theory about the nature of those sources which may rectify the issue you brought up and answer my question at the same time. I maintain that the term “energy types” is actually an inaccurate way to describe the processes going on. In fact, I would go so far as to say that, technically, Grey and Cerulean draw from the exact same energy that Defiling and Preserving do, but in different ways, and that all three types have moral issues or are just plain dangerous.
This claim stands under the premise that all D&D 2e (and by extension 3.5) worlds run under the same immutable laws of magic. This is based off of several observations: travel is possible between worlds, if incredibly difficult on Athas; on only one world is “outlander” magic completely eliminated (krynn); all magic is rendered compatible after being absorbed into the Dread Realms; and many worlds have surprising parallels to each other in terms of similar “alternate” forms of magic (this is not surprising given that such additions were likely made at the same time under company mandate, but I digress). The result: all (arcane) magic on every world is drawn from one of the following sources which exist to some extent in each: Earth, Sun, Shadow, and Planar. Each one has there own built in limitations. Earth magic can only be used by gods, those with the blood of gods, or those with a very strong connection to the land. Sun is mostly inaccessible. Shadow represents the loosening of reality in an area, and thus is very dangerous to use. And planar, while ideal in most respects, is completely inaccessible to those who live on a world with no planar connections (Athas, Aebrynis, ect).
Other energy sources are merely different ways of accessing those primary four. In Forgotten Realms, the Spell Weave and the Shadow Weave allow spellcasters to draw power from the earth without the blood of gods, because those weaves are themselves gods. On Eberron, the characters technically use earth magic when they draw power from the Ring of Siberys, which is a shattered world (it being shattered makes it easier to draw from). The Dread Realms is it’s own mutagenic source of magic, drawing from the power of the gods who made it, and so is able to render desperate forms of magic compatible. Krynn would work by the same rules, but the gods of Krynn are particularly heavy-handed and likely actively prohibited all magic but their own, including psionics. Oerth uses planar exclusively, and Aebrynis uses both Shadow and Earth in it’s true form.
Now Athas is sealed off from the planes, has no conventional gods, and has an unusual amount of magical sources over all. It cannot access planar, nor is earth a particularly viable source, given a lack of blooded scions or magic gods. However, according to some sources this did not stop Rajaat from trying to draw from the earth. It backfired spectacularly, however. Earth magic is difficult to wield because it is bound tightly within the earth, and thus can either be used for relatively unimpressive effects, or be drawn fully and unleash incredible destruction, such as that which produced Rajaat’s swamp. So Rajaat turned to a different source, one not typically thought of: the Sun.
The sun is a source of life energy. It’s rays feed the plant life around it, which is then transfered to animal life, but ultimately this energy comes from the sun. The first users of sun energy were the Rhulisti lifeshapers and nature benders, who originally altered the paths of energy with living creatures to alter their forms. The fact that the Rhulisti knew where the energy came from is made evident by the creation of the pristine tower, which used sunlight to produce massive lifeshaping effects. Rajaat found some Rhul-Thuans and had them teach him life shaping, which he then used as the basis for preserving and defiling magic. Both draw energy from the sun through plant life, in which the energy is both concentrated and loosely bound, making it an ideal source. During the cleansing wars, one of his champions discovered that the life energy of conscious beings is released into the Grey, and can be used individually as batteries of power (as tithian also later found out in his travels). In effect, incorporeal undead are individual receptacles of sun energy, and without a body to shield their energy, they are very vulnerable to defiling.
Rajaat, I believe, took this a step further. He developed a method by which a defiler could call a weak spirit from the grey and defile their energy in one action, thus producing the “Grey” energy source. It is not a separate source, but a different way of defiling. In fact, it is a way of defiling which, while easier to disguise, is much more morally questionable, because it involves permanently destroying dead souls in a way which is likely equivalent to torture. Also, it is still dangerous to perform. Each spell level required for the spell requires the summoning of a spirit of one additional hit die, and failure in casting results in a very angry spirit of that HD trying to kill the spellcaster (I’d encourage the DM to be creative in this regard).
Cerulean energy is, in many ways, the same thing. In the Prism Pentad (I get the feeling it’s not a well-loved series, but the lore from it is interesting, if nothing else), the Cerulean Storm is produced when Rajaat is driven back into the Hollow, and tithian becomes the unwilling gatekeeper. All the magical energy released in that battle did not go back into the plant life. Instead, it simply swirled about, producing massive storms. This energy was still sun energy, but it was even more loosely bound than plant life, and there was a lot of it. Some defilers realized that sometimes when they cast spells within a Tyr storm, the defiling circle resulting was smaller than it should be. This lead to the practice of summoning Tyr storms and channeling that energy through spells, eliminating the storm. Ultimately, the source is the same, and the type is still defiling. Further, while no direct destruction occurs to the surrounding life, any and every failed spell immediately releases a massive Tyr storm of the surrounding area, meaning that anyone who uses it is still reckless, and very likely evil.
One could say that both these sources are better because they don’t defile, but I disagree. When a defiler uses a sanctum amulet, he is still defiling a tree of life; the fact that the tree is not in the area changes not the actual moral issue, nor does the fact that the tree is not actually killed. Souls killed by Grey Magic are gone, and cerulean energy is never truly dissipated into the plant life from which it came.
Sadira and the Champions of Rajaat also use sun energy (very obviously in the first case). They were altered by the Pristine Tower to allow them to use sun energy better. Sadira can wield it directly. Champions were given the abillity to use lesser dragon magic.
Shadow Magic is interesting in that, unlike the other sources on Athas, it actually does draw on something besides the sun. It does not defile or preserve, it summons no storms, it does not devour souls. Yet it’s price is still high: it compromises reality. As with Aebrynis’s Shadow World, the Black is an area of existence and non-existence. Those who use it’s power can blur that line, but in exchange their own line becomes blurred, as does everything around them. On other worlds, this source is usually left unused, because there are gods who like their world remaining in existance. Athas has no gods. Black magic doesn’t kill the land; black magic kills reality. Every spell cast shatters what is and replaces it with what isn’t. This applies for both succesful and unsuccesful spells. Further, I would rule that each level in Shadow Wizard increases his Seeming Score by 1 (seeming scores coming from Blood Spawn 2e Birthright), reflecting reality becoming more subjective near him.
So, for my question about advanced beings, I don’t think any more are needed. Avangions use preserving magic, allowing sun energy to flow through them and out, stimulating magical growth inside themselves and allowing them to use themselves as a source. Dragons learn to pull energy out of animal life. Ultimately, both cerulean and grey magic are closer to defiling than preserving, so they would be more likely to become dragons, though a cerulean could be an Avangion under very rare circumstances. Shadow magic has it’s own form because, of the energy sources available on Athas, it is the only one that is actually separate from sun energy.
I don’t know if this solves anything, and you are certainly entitled to continue to hate the other sources. I will simply use this explanation I have developed, on the other hand.
You neglected to mention the Obelisk in Greyhawk, a site of “earth magic” powerful enough to be used as a source energetic enough to trap the Powers themselves, not to mention siphon off their power and essence sufficiently to ascend an entity into becoming a new Power (in conjunction with a properly constructed device).
Or the Valley of the Mage, which contains another site.
I suggest that an “awaken planet” effect has taken place on Athas, as a side effect of all this tapering with the forces of nature, and the scarred world herself is about to take a hand…
I was not aware of those locations. I will look them up
Both are in Greyhawk. There are some other locations of interest, if you are into such things.
oh, wait, is the obelisk from “expedition to castle greyhawk”?
Yes, that would be the one. That is actually the reason the castle was built there, to take secret advantage of the presence of something so uniquely of Oerth.
I thought it sounded familiar. I collect the manuals.
So where do psionics fit? If the “psionics are the same” rule is in effect, then psionics is simply a drawing and funneling through the mind of the same ultimate source as magic.
This could be viewed as Sun related by your description, as there seems to be no noticeable defiling effect, or it could be self-defiling writing the limits of your essence, as represented by power points. Of course, over-channeling does do actual damage.
However if the “psionics are different” rule is being used, then it has no relation to any kind of magic, becoming completely transparent both ways. This is my preferred setting for any Dark Sun based campaign or world. What then does psionics draw from, if anything? Or is it a completely new and environmentally friendly ability (from a world perspective)?
Zik-Chil, I enjoyed your explanation of the various manipulations of life-energy (I call it Mana for short).
Nijineko, with ‘Psionics is the same or as different’ I’ve always tried to basically make it a difference of ‘interface’ the ability to manipulate reality via magic is kind of like hacking the ‘code’ of reality, there are lots of approaches one could take, some requiring more or less resources, etc. I liked the conceit that psionics is not quite as ‘powerful’ as magic but more flexible that was present in the box set and prism pentad so in this regard, I viewed arcane magic as basically being reality-hacking via ritual and stealing energy from one part of reality to manipulate another part, in this way, arcane magic is kind of a zero-sum game, hence it’s unsustainability. Arcane magic is then derived primarily from the mind, via knowledge/intelligence. On the other hand, I viewed what I call ‘Patronal magick’ or power ceded to one via magickal conduit or petition by a being of greater, shall we say ‘magnitude’ than oneself (primal spritis, elementals, etc.) as the power of the soul. One’s dedication of one’s soul to a power works again in kind of a zero-sum manner (patron makes demands and sacrifices in exchange for manipulation of reality). Third you have martial or mundane power which is the power of the physical world and includes primarily one’s own body but could be expanded via technology or biotechnology, again, a zero-sum. Psionics is the power arising from a balance or perhaps even imbalance of all of these, creating a sum greater than it’s parts. Hence why psionics is used mostly to augment the others and is the most flexible and common and sustainable. It exists as the negetropic surplus of a balanced flow of energy between body, mind, and spirit.
I typed these up at more length but I didn’t want to post that whole doc as not all of it is canonical aligned.
Interesting view! I’m not sure I quite get the rational behind what is or is not sustainable, nonetheless, worth some thought.
Think of sustainability in the same way you would think of a replenishable energy source in real life. Sustainable would be like solar, wind, and (potentially) fusion. Unsustainable would be like coal, oil, and natural gas. Theirs plenty of coal, oil, and natural gas, but it doesn’t replenish very fast at all.
I meant more the logic behind which sources are considered sustainable and why, as opposed to what.