Clerics and the Sorcerer Kings

This is a thread I should’ve started years ago, but I’m curious about how others have depicted the attitudes of the SKs towards clerics and druids. Druids I figured are pretty obviously unwelcome given their animosity with defilers and the whole eradication of druids by SKs being a key bit of history. However I’ve often wondered if clerics are accepted as long as they don’t start any problems. I know that clerics have a vested interest in getting rid of defilers, but imo it isn’t nearly as adversarial a relationship preservers or druids have with defilers.

While we’re at it, do you think clerics that actively ally with a SK would be punished by their elemental patrons? Or do you think they would simply be apathetic? I am sure the Templar wouldn’t enjoy competition, but it’s a fun thought.


There’s talk in a few 2E DS accessories of elemental shrines in city-states. From that I get that SMs tolerate clerics, but if they become too brazen they would be cut down fairly quickly.

Same goes for any individual publicly amassing power and posing a threat to templarate and their monarch.


Actually, this isn’t really correct. This “history” is from the Revised Campaign Setting, and frankly doesn’t make sense. Setting aside the extremely unfortunate terminology of the “preserver jihad”, it doesn’t really even fit into the narrative. To me it was an unwelcome addition to Dark Sun.

Clerics are welcome in canonical Dark Sun. Druids guarded lands are far outside the lands of the Sorcerer Monarchs, but there is no reason for them to be oppressed either.

No. The elementals are distant and disinterested in matters not involving their element.

Templars are government employees and not in competition with elemental clerics.

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I don’t think its that druids aren’t welcome in the city-states more that its that druids avoiding them since the Druid Eradication. Likely passed down through generations of druids as a vague “avoid the domains of sorcerer-monarchs” rather than any intimate knowledge of the Eradication itself.


The “Druid Eradication” can be added to the “Preserver Jihad” as something that I ignore entirely.

Why not just have the druids avoid cities for the same reason that druids avoid cities in other D&D settings?


I have no issue with the Jihad or the Eradication. Makes sense that Rajaat didn’t want any opposition in destroying Athas to rebuild in his image.

C’mon, Its DS! When has it ever fallen in line with other settings? :wink:

I prefer having a more solid reason for their seclusion than the usual druid tropes of other settings.



Agreed with the first, name needs to go, disagree with the second.

Earth, air, fire, water is clear that “matters involving their element” includes a lot of stuff on athas (notably, defiling has crippled the elemental planes)


I’ve kept the Eradication in my campaign, but I view it in much the same way as some of the reasons for the Cleansing Wars.

The races chosen were divided into two camps, those with a very large population/fast breeders and those with advanced psionic or magical traditions. The key to the Cleansing Wars was to provide life magic to Rajaat and prevent anyone from organizing enough power to stop the spells Rajaat would use to return the world to the Blue Age.

The Eradication occurred when the druids finally realized what was happening to the land (the Spirit of Athas simply losing touch with areas that were defiled before eventually losing much of it’s “consciousness” and having to be buttressed by druids becoming Spirits of the Land) and organizing a resistance. As long as they existed in a loose scattering of druid circles they weren’t a threat. Once they started communicating and organizing, they could have stopped the SMs.

Once they were decimated and driven into exile, they stopped being a threat. They aren’t actively hunted by the SMs anymore unless they try to organize. Many of the SMs actually use them to help tend the fields, the forests, the groves of trees of life. The SMs have come a long way in understanding what defiling does, but aren’t willing to give up the power and abilities it provides. Druids can help balance that damage, as long as they remember their place. If they forget, the SMs will squash them.

Clerics are concerned about restoring the world (with their chosen element in dominance of course), in exchange for the power they are granted by the elementals. As long as they don’t try to organize a rebellion against the SMs, they are useful in keeping the masses working towards helping the planet recover. If they stop being useful, the SMs will squash them. If they try to promote their element over the SMs, the SMs will squash them. If they interfere overtly with the templars, the SMs will squash them.


I appreciate all the input, funny enough I thought I was in the minority for depicting the SKs as tolerating clerics as long as they don’t act against the SK. I never had a clear image of the city states’ policy towards divine casters that weren’t templar.

Also I should’ve been more clear. I figured templar would see clerics as competition in cities where SKs masquerade as deities, rival faiths and all that. Also clerics provide a means of paying for divine spells that doesn’t require templar. A rather exclusive service reserved for the wealthy, but still something I could see upsetting the templar.


To the Worshipper:
Not at all my friend… The rain is a blessing from the Oba herself. I can understand the reverence for the rain, it nourishes your crops, feels cool against the skin, if only it lasted longer… The Oba would be happy to provide rain every day, but there are those who fight against her. She’ll prevail but as long as she’s using her energy to fight them, she can’t provide rain every day. Revere the rain, every bit helps our Oba, but you can also go directly to the source. Oh, that rain cleric? He still serves the Oba, but he doesn’t really understand, he’s a bit simple. Leave him his delusions.

To the Cleric:
Ahh, I noticed house Inika has retained your services, you remember the tax don’t you friend? I understand how it slipped your mind. I’m afraid it’s 30%, since I had to track you down, but if you come right to me next week, I could give you a 5% discount. I have to account for my time after all. Oh, and by the way, if you remember a quick thanks to the Oba when calling the rain I could knock off another 5%…


The 2e materials stated that there are clerics in the city states. I imagine that clerics who remain prosperous keep their activities in-line with their city’s laws. The templar would have no reason to spare a cleric they considered to be a serious threat, but clerics who toe the line offer services that the templar then don’t have to deal with. I imagine that most of the street-healers are clerics, unless a specific Sorcerer King is inclined to assign their own templar to the job. The elements have very few requirements, so it’s not like there’s much pressure from the elements themselves to cause trouble.


I’m pretty sure the Elemental Lords urge their Clerics to further their element, and fight the Paraelements (and Defilers).

The Elemental Lords might even inform a powerful Cleric that the SM’s are uber-defilers.

Isn’t that right in Earth, Air, Fire, Water?

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Clerics also perform the pact before they get the power from the elements. So they literally die in the process if not accepted. It takes a certain kind of person to jump off a cliff and trust the air will catch you or climb into a funeral pure. Ect.

Basically Clerics are crazy people. They are treated as such in city states. If they keep their raving to a minimum. Don’t bite anybody and don’t annoy the templarate they can stay. Just keep under the radar as it were.


It is. But they don’t have a strict dogma or set of goals. “Furthering their element” is very broad, and maintaining a shrine with a pure form of their element would fulfill this for many clerics. Going after defilers and most paraelemental clerics (Rain isn’t generally a problem), when possible, should be sufficient. Tending to a village and convincing them to dedicate a portion of the village to the element would also work. How they go about doing it, isn’t really a concern.


As a halfling, I feel attacked…


Welcome to Athas. If you’re not attacked three times before breakfast you’re having a good day.


After doing some research, I must amend my comments here. “Preserver Jihad” appears nowhere in the Revised Campaign Setting. Rather, the idea that there was a war against preservers was introduced in a single sentence in Psionic Artifacts of Athas, under the entry for the Silencer. Even then, it isn’t referred to as a “jihad”. There has been quite a bit of criticism of TSR about the use of this terminology, but it appears that TSR never used this terminology in any published product. So we can chalk up the term “preserver jihad” to a bit of unfortunate fanon, possibly influenced by the contemporary War on Terror and the word “jihad” all over the media.

Since its not canon, we can make the appropriate amendments.

It’s used twice in the Timeline, which we originally got from Kevin Melka. Seems like that’s where it originated. It’s then brought into various 3rd edition projects like Trembling Plains and Lost Cities. Regardless we should alter it to something like eradication, decimation, etc.

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Eradication is taken. Decimation isn’t correct (whether you use the modern take on it, or the original Roman military punishment). Rajaat intended to wipe out the preservers, similar to how the SMs intended to destroy the Druids. I’d suggest Obliteration, Annihilation, Massacre, Slaughter, Butchery or Carnage (in no particular order of preference).

EDIT I like The Preserver Carnage actually. I could imagine Rajaat using that public term: ‘The Preserver Carnage is killing our planet. We must hold the architects of this damage to account.’ with an inner smile knowing thats what he’s calling his operation while throwing shade at his opponents.

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For what it’s worth, I expect that it was the preservers that took up arms against the Rajaat first, as a reaction against Rajaat encouraging defiling. Surely that would have enraged preservers that could see the long term consequences of unchecked defiling.