Athasian Magic on Non-Athas worlds:

So, if you transported a Defiler to another game-world, like, say. Forgotten Realms, would they still be able to work their magic the same way?

According to AD&D2e PHB, magic is a learned way of doing physical-semantics, power-words and spell-components to get the right magical-effect. Now, defiling does use plant, and sometimes animal, (but why not fungi-life?), to produce the magical-effect; that may not work on other worlds.

Would the Defliler have to go dual-class and start off as a level-one magic-user?

And I am totally not thinking about imprisoning Borys of Ebe on another world.


I’d say it doesn’t work at all. When a defiler tries to draw magic from plants, the Forgotten Realms weave of magic answers instead. Local rules Trump everything.


I would actually think the opposite. I believe that magic using life energy would work outside of local rules. Defilers and Preservers don’t have to tap into the local magic force to get energy for spells, they convert it from life energy.
Here’s another question: If PCs went to another realm, temporarily, would you deny the magic users their magic?


They don’t mention it specifically by name, but defiling definitely drains fungal life. Typically in the past fungus wasn’t spoken of as being separate from plants. When it talks about striping the soil of life, a lot of that is microbes and tiny animals as well as fungus.


No. I’d let them use spells as normal, except they cannot draw from plants. For example, Kalak visits the Forgotten Realms. He sees a nice tree and decides to cast a spell at maximum defiling capacity. He opens his hand to receive the plant energy and energy fills his hand. But it’s not plant energy, and Kalak has only received the normal amount of energy required to cast the spell. Here, Kalak cannot draw from plants no matter how hard he tries.

What of an FR character on Athas? In one of his battles with Elminster, the Zhent overlord Manshoon is blasted through gate into another world - Athas! When he arrived the first thing he does is try to cast some divination spells to figure out what has happened. He prepares to receive energy from the magical weave of Faerun to cast a spell and energy comes. But it isn’t the familiar energy of the weave, but plant energy. Nearby, a cactus turns to ash!

Having local rules prevail prevents weird interactions.


There is a published product that mentions that defiling renders the soil sterile. That is suggestive of what you say.


In 3E, Fungal monsters are classed as plants, so defiling should rip mycological life to ash.


Yeah, this. Much as i dislike it, the Spellplague handled it well, with FR’s arcanista having to relearn to cast magic - like in the Age of Mortals in DL.

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As much as I respect you, redking, I will have to disagree. Normal wizards cast their spells differently, some way that is not accessible to non-Athasian wizards. If a FR wizard came to Athas, they could not cast spells, because they would not have access to the source of their power. So, Athasian wizards can cast spells in FR, using life energy as normal, but a FR would not be able to cast spells on Athas.
Why? Because Dark Sun is better.


It depends on your perspective. The way I see it, wizards do exactly the same thing. They draw power, say arcane words, perform arcane gestures, then magic happens.

In FR for one, magic is regulated by the gods. If an Athasian wizard went to the Forgotten Realms, if he cannot use the weave from the start, then we will not be able to cast spells at all.

You could rule as DM that it’s outside the purview of the gods, but it would be overruling the canon lore of the setting.

What I am trying to do is twofold -

  1. Honour the rules of the setting where the setting is locally. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
  2. Streamline cross setting magic so ad hoc adjudication is not necessary. It just works.

Addendum: in Planescape canon, Athasian wizards can defile in the planes. This isn’t very strong Dark Sun canon (because this a Dark Sun reference in a different published setting), but it’s canon law for a Planescape campaign. But defiling still won’t work in FR, due to the local conditions there.

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You are making some pretty bold assumptions about the nature of the weave and the powers and perviews of the Gods in FR, as well as other potential contextual issues. Who is to say that Athasian magic doesn’t fundamentally rely on blue age life shaping technology in some way, something which simply does not exist on other worlds. Like the very nature of nature on Athas is different allowing access to power from it in a way that isn’t possible on other worlds, unless they were first transformed in a similar way to what that ancient halflings did on Athas. Similarly whose to say if the Gods of magic would allow the drawing of life energies to power magic, they may very well have control over the flow of magic and magical energies in such a way that they could simply shut down that possibility.


In the Forgotten Realms, the goddess of magic Mystra’s control over magic is categorical, to the extent that she can even deny clerics of other deities the ability to cast spells. She even denied Cyric, a greater god, the ability to cast spells.

These are the local rules of the setting. To keep each setting cohesive, it’s important (to me anyway) that the rules of the local setting Trump the rules of other settings.


Yeah, he’s 100% right.

He’s not. This is a reasonable standpoint based in the existing information. And yeah, seriously, Mystra is in TOTAL control of magic in Faerun when she wants to be, hard stop - canon fact.

A million secret things could screw up his/our/everyone’s assumptions about how defilers work in other worlds, but we don’t know about them, so it doesn’t matter - you can’t make a reasonable hypothesis that way.

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It might work the 1st time ever, before Mystra is like “Nope, not again”.

Also, note that the Realms is not Faerun. Mystra is the goddess of magic in Faerun (the continent of the FR aetting), other rules may apply to other geographies (where other gods of magic rule) on the planet of Toril (i.e., Kar-Tur, Mazica, The Old Empires, etc)

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My thing is that it just makes sense for local conditions to prevail to keep the fidelity of each setting intact. So even though it says explicitly in one of the Planescape products that defiling works on the planes and friends think defiling is cool, if a PC from Athas found herself in Sigil and I was DM, I would just default the PC’s spellcasting to the local planar default.

We are talking about edge cases anyway.

I was responding to Rjaat99, not Redking when I said that.


I appreciate all the information on FR gods and such, but Athasian wizards use magic outside of weaves and gods. That’s also exactly why FR wizards would be unable to cast magic on Athas.
Mystara, “Hey, you can’t use magic here!”
Defiler, “Yeah, whatever.” Turns a plant to ash.
Dark Sun > Forgotten Realms

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If I had an opinion on magic other than get rid of it… (which I don’t, but if I theoretically did) I would lean towards a hierarchical system: Dark Sun > Planescape > Local setting/Powers.


Because Planescape is a meta-setting so it’s rules should trump all local settings, rules, and Powers. As such, Powers that have successfully established themselves in multiple settings should be considered planescape-savy, and have some degree of influence at the Planescape level. (And ideally, this concept should map mostly to the Greater Powers and Over-Powers.)

And Dark Sun trumps Planescape solely because it is the product of hyper focused Gu poison development for a few thousand years, which is something no other settings can compete with.


Hey there!

My DM and I were having this discussion not too long ago. The party was slowly putting together a psijammer out of crashed ships so the prospect of going to other Crystal Spheres was on the table. The conversation of magic, in particularly arcane magic, became one I knew we had to answer before we left the Crimson Sphere.

Due to how Athasian arcane magic works, we came to the consensus that it would work on other worlds. However, this is why Forgotten Realms has the Weave, to try and find ways to prevent Defiling magic from happening. Athasian arcane magic would be very brutal and destructive but due to how it works, it would have difficulties as per normal without their present source nearby. This means if a wizard is a Cerulean or works from the Grey, they would have difficulties casting from other Spheres until they had time to adapt.

In theory, an Athasian wizard could learn to cast from the Weave but I imagine it would be a very interesting circumstance. Likewise for someone say from Forgotten Realms coming to Dark Sun, where there is no Weave with which to work. The other part of this is the idea that the Athasian Wizard would in theory be able to defile but it would take purposeful efforts to break the prearranged rules set up apparently to prevent that from happening.

Divine Magic was another fun option we were dealing with as the Athasian Elements and Paraelements are not deities. They do not have the same clout and power. So the spaces between Crystal Spheres could be very difficult - barring a Living Vortex via the Shard of the Zodiac. Having a Tree of Life on the ship could certainly help with the arcane side of things, but for the Divine I feel between realms there would need to be some sort of substitute or way to keep their powers afloat.

Once Divine casters make it to the other worlds, there shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Druids might have an interesting experience, communing with a different Material Plane. That could be a very fun bunch of RP sessions as they discern what “Spirits of the Land” exist if any along with the existence of Fae creatures. Clerics once they arrive, should be fine as most material planes have some sort of elemental existence. The only ones that would really have to question their life choices would be a Templar. So - preparing new spells would be problematic for them outside of substituting a Shard of the Zodiac for that source.

The challenges of adapting to other Crystal Spheres I think is part of the alure we are hoping to explore when it comes time for it. I saw the lore responses earlier about Kalak visiting Forgotten Realms and Manshoon’s trip to Athas. Our DM has always had a rather fond situation of “making it difficult” to put it mildly. I imagine in this regard our characters would be able to perform similar feats as Kalak only after having time to study and adapt to the rules of the Sphere (IE: Casting a 9th level spell might be out of the question for a short time until the characters had time to study and acclimate).


I have gone with Athasian magic being usable everywhere, including FR. While the movements and components were the same across various planes, the source of magic differed depending on the plane. Life energy could always be used (assuming life) but if you wanted to use the Weave for instance, you had to learn it. Wizards coming to Athas had to relearn how to draw on magic.

Looking at the Black Spine adventure, it’s one of the primary reasons there aren’t many wizards on the Athas side, very few have learned to cast spells. In my version, I even had the skeleton of a red dragon who came through the portal, it died because it’s innate connection to magic is also a requirement for it’s life. It couldn’t figure out quickly enough how to survive on Athas because the magic was to different.

Divine magic from an Athasian also tends to work out of the box, due to connections with the Elemental Planes on each PM, while godly magic was cut off coming to Athas. Templar magic fails if there’s no open connection. Druidic magic had to be relearned as the Spirits of the Land acted as conduits on modern day Athas. Back in the old days when they worked with the Spirit of Athas itself it was more like how druids on other planes worked but it’s changed now, as an Athasian a druid has to learn to connect directly to the world while a planar traveler to Athas had to make a pact with a Spirit that acts as the conduit.

Psionics didn’t change at all as you moved from one plane to another.