Contemporary rationale for banning certain classes in DS 3E

That does at least partially solve the issue if they have to be taught. It still leaves the question of who the heck came up with this other way of accessing magic, having multiple arcane traditions like that still feels off to me, but it’s less of a problem since it doesn’t disrupt the SK and veiled alliance control of magic and organization the same way.


I don’t think I fully agree with you on this. There is nothing that say the conversion has to be 100% in one direction. If that was the case then you would be forcing paladins and spellcasting bards into the setting. Also I don’t think that inclusion of all the classes as they are is integral to the system of 3.5. The system is based on the core mechanics, general class structure, and feats/spell formatting. Not on all the particular bit that are part of the presentation. There is no reason why you can’t change a lot of the other details and still consider it to clearly be a 3.5 conversion.

That being said I’m all for bubbles that say stuff like: “If you want to include this in your game, here are some ideas about how to make it work in the setting” Instead of simply banning things that people do have reasonable ideas about how to integrate in an enjoyable way that preserves the integrity of the setting for the most part.


This isn’t what I am saying. I am not the taking a 4E line, where “if its in D&D then its in Dark Sun”. What I am saying is that the default should be inclusion of classes, until they are proven to be unsuitable. Let me give you an example.

2E Bard in Dark Sun: The Bard is different in Dark Sun, and is actually an assassin, not a skald.
2E Paladin in Dark Sun: The Paladin is said explicitly to not exist.
3E Sorcerers in Dark Sun: The material is utterly silent on the matter. Some arcane spellcasters in the PP seem to cast spells like a 3E Sorcerer, however.
3E Barbians in Dark Sun: The material is utterly silent on the matter. There are barbaric tribes out in the wastes, however.

The starting position should be inclusion. So you start by asking “is there any way we can fit the 3E Bard into the setting?”. Since the 3E Bard simply uses the same name as the 2E DS Bard and has an entirely different function, I think the answer is no.

What of the Paladin? We are told explicitly that there are no paladins. Is there any way we can fit the Paladin class into the setting? I think not.

Then what of the Sorcerer? Is there any specific impediment to their implementation in 3E Dark Sun? I can’t see any. Spellbooks and whatnot are minor matters.

How about the Barbarian? They were excluded as “not being in keeping with the flavour of Dark Sun” for some reason, then when they were finally allowed were renamed Brute, until it must have sunk in how ridiculous it is to rename a core class and the Brute became the Barbarian again.

This happened because the basic stance was demanding that 3E justify itself to the 2E Dark Sun setting. Which is back to front. Every effort could have been made to turn DS into a mainline 3E setting, including retconning certain spellcasters as having levels in the Sorcerer class, like WotC did in the Forgotten Realms setting with the Simbul, a major NPC.

That’s the rub. Certain details about the Sorcerer could have been changed, but the Sorcerer was excluded entirely. People spent years (years!) wasting time arguing about whether the 3E Barbarian class was a good fit for Dark Sun, and the reason for that was trying to force 3E to justify itself to the 2E Dark Sun setting, a literal impossibility because it touches on non-existent concepts at the time of the 2E publications. There was a conversion, but it was a conversion of 3E/3.5E to Dark Sun 2E concepts, not the requested (by WotC) conversion of Dark Sun to 3E/3.5E. It may be a subtle distinction, but its a very important one.

ADDENDUM: Its probably worth posting one of the prestige classes for Sorcerers from the Dragonlance setting. In Dragonlance, there are no “natural” users of magic. Rather, both sorcery and wizardry are learned. Despite a handful of differences in the two traditions, they are more similar than different.

There is no reason why this cannot be conceptually applied to Dark Sun to allow for Sorcerers, Warmages, Dread Necromancers, Beguilers and so on. A lot of people have moved onto 5E, so I may be beating a dead kank, but its worth putting it out there now because people are far more receptive to this idea than before.

This comment from the mailing list is relevant.

As I said before. All the other campaign settings did not have sorcerers in there histories, but with the advent of 3E they have adopted them into there worlds like they have always existed. I mentioned this example before, but in the Forgotten Realms they change the mighty Symbol from being a high level wizard to a high level sorcerer. They’re is nothing in any of the novels that explains this its just assumed she always was in 3E terms. Sorcerers can be easily explain in DS, its just a matter of players and DMs wanting them in their campaigns. Its obvious that the powers that be over at just do not want them as a core class. Which is fine. I just don’t see it being that far fetched that sorcerers can’t exist in DS. I keep hearing “give us a convincing argument that sorcerers should exist on Athas”. How about a good argument that they shouldn’t.

Bryan Bock

I’ll ask again, what do YOU think they bring to the setting that wizards and psions don’t already bring?
Your pitch as I understand it is to make them more like wizards basically, but then why bother with them in the first place? Inclusion just for the sake of inclusion?

As I’ve said the solution I can live with is the bloodline explanation, and if and when we do a 5e conversation this is the kind of sorcerer I want to see in dark sun, but again, that’s just me.


Sorcerers bring to Dark Sun what they bring to other settings that transitioned from 2E to 3E. I just wrote a number of posts explaining why having to justify a 3E concept to a 2E setting does not make sense. I feel the same way about the Monk class, for what its worth. Having a monk be captured and forced to be a gladiator could be really cool and excite the crowds.

Not like Wizards. Obviously they have a different mechanic for spellcasting, and they are more similar than different. I am only talking about changing the fluff behind them. Otherwise people will object saying that there must have been sorcerers around before Rajaat. I don’t really care much and I am happy with whatever people can rally around. It could be bloodlines. Or anyone with an arcane spellcasting ancestor might have the potential to be a sorcerer. It could be anything as I point out here, here, and here.

Someone interesting in finding a place for the Sorcerer class in Dark Sun could easily do so.

They don’t bring much in 3.5 in my eyes, but to clarify my question, what sort of explanation would you offer for dms and player that would make them WANT to incorporate them into their dark sun campaign?

Simply saying that there’s no justification to prevents this isn’t enough. As you can see, the absence of sorcerers isn’t really bothering a whole lot of people, on the contrary, and imo the main reason is that as is they don’t fill a niche not already occupied by other classes, and adding them might even warp the setting in they eyes of many.

So, if you want them in the setting you absolutely have to carve a unique place for them.
Even in dragonlance their existance is explained through narrative: the absence of the gods of magic forced mages to turn to wild magic and come up with another method of casting arcane spells.


Sorcerers are in 3.5E. What is the reason for excluding them?

I just finished reading thousands of posts on the mailing list over the last week. I read the entire list. There objections come down to “not fitting the flavour of Dark Sun” but not explaining why. Lacking spellbooks and no one would want to play a Wizard if they could play a Sorcerer. They aren’t in 2E so shouldn’t be in 3E DS. The Sorcerer does not fit in Dark Sun because the “sorcerer paints magic as something that’s “inborn” and “natural” to a person … Dark Sun paints magic as something so unnatural that it can literally destroy the ability to sustain life”. Sorcerers won’t trade spells with members of the Veiled Alliance.

None of these objections are truly salient.

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Why so? That wasn’t the case with the Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk. It was just assumed they were always there. In Dragonlance they retconned the SAGA magic system as sorcerery and mysticism, so when the 3.5E Dragonlance setting came around, sorcerers and wizards coexisted.

Upthread The_DMs_Revenge asked that the Sorcerer class fulfil an original niche before it should be accepted. But why? Just assume its OK and find a solid reason why it won’t work, like the Paladin class.

Your dodging my question.
People have already explained way better than I could why they don’t include sorcerers in their ds games. You disagree and that’s fine but the fact remains that people don’t want to include them, and all your great examples to the contrary won’t convince them no matter how weak their arguments seem to you.

Now, you can continue beating this dead kank, (I don’t think it would take you far) Or we can try and come up with all the great ways they can be incorporated, for the benefits of those who like you and me do want to see them in ds.

And who knows? Maybe it will tempt the more reluctant members of the community to give them a chance.


I am not trying to dodge the question. You are asking me to justify the inclusion of the Sorcerer class in 3.5E Dark Sun.

I am absolutely not telling people what to do at their own tables. was tasked to produce a 3E/3.5E version of Dark Sun, and it is to this (and only this) that I am speaking.

The kank nectar is already spilled and I am not expecting any changes, certainly not to the 3.5E materials published by

If you are talking about 5E, there will have to be a psionics system first, and 6E will be out before that.

If you’re not trying, then you certainly have a natural talent for it.

Plenty of reasons to not include Sorcerers have been presented, but you seem to find them unsatisfactory. Fine, cool.

@redking Your major argument for the inclusion of Sorcerers in 3.5e DS seems (to me) to be “Well, why shouldn’t they be?” Fair enough. Except that’s not actually a reason or a counterable argument, it ends up being a call for everyone who disagrees with you to present arguments you will (seemingly) continue to find hollow and unsatisfactory.

I’d suggest you whip up a “How to fit the Sorcerer class into 3.5e DS” article or post to make everyone gleefully adopt the class, regardless of their previous position on the subject.

Personally, I’m 100% out concerning this line of discussion. But you guys have fun.


The Sorcerer fits by default. The mechanical aspects are fine. You know the mechanics are fine because it’s 3.5E baseclass in 3.5E. A possible objection could be to the description of purported reason for the origin of the Sorcerer class’s powers. This is easily altered. Even in 3E/3.5E, there is no definitive answer, as I analysed earlier in the thread.

The final objection is that it’s harder for a templar to bust a Sorcerer because they don’t have a spellbook, and no one would play a Wizard if given the choice of playing a Sorcerer. Yet there are many reasons to play Wizard over Sorcerer, Wizard being more flexible and ultimately more powerful. If this is the objection, it’s weak. It’s not going to break the setting if the job of the templars get a fraction harder or if Sorcerers are able to dispense with a disguised spellbook altogether.

Unlike the 3E Bards (skalds) and Paladins, you cannot truly claim that the Sorcerer class mechanic cannot be suitable for Dark Sun.

Ditto Monk. They can fight unarmed, but they are balanced as a lower tier class in 3.5E. The Monk is not a strong class in 3.5E Dark Sun either. As for fluff, just say they were there all along. That’s what a conversion to 3.5E means.

Same with specialist Wizards. One product, second last the 2E line, says that there are no specialist Wizards on Athas. Yet if they were included, it wouldn’t harm the versimilitude of the setting at all.

As I’ve been saying all along, your initial frame is to make 3.5E justify itself to the setting, whereas you shoud be looking for reasons to include 3.5E mechanics that could plausibly be included in the setting.

Since you are dropping out, I’ll remind you that forum dwellers lobbied for years to have the Barbarian class included in Dark Sun 3E/3.5E, which was rejected for the same spurious reasons as the Sorcerer and Monk. When the team relented on the Barbarian, the team gave us this - the Brute.

The Barbarian was fully endorsed in DS 3.5. Let’s have the same justice for the Sorcerer and Monk.

Random thoughts from the peanut gallery.

Obviously, since it is me, I would prefer psionic flavored versions of all the base classes to be the default for Athas, lol. But that’s not useful for this thread so I’ll skip over that for now.


The original theme of this class was faith and devotion to a god who embodied the concept of the medieval version of lawful good. This was later expanded in 3e to include the non personalized concept of lawful good, and expanded again in 3.5e to all four major extremities of the alignment system allowing for evil, chaos, law, and good type paladins, with or without worshiping a being.

In Athas, most of the SKs fit this archetype, to be honest, via their lust for and devotion to the concept of power.

Druids could also fit the concept, and in fact might be the best tie in for paladins, right along side with genius-loci, as a source for becoming a paladin.

Imagine if you will, an elite order of consecrated eco-facist warriors, empowered with the strength of Athas to fight against defiling everywhere, and to use the corpses of defilers to re-enrich the land and literally return what they stole to the soil. Give them the ability to dedicate and consecrate the grave of a defiler to become a nexus of growth and nourishment to the land.

Sounds very Athas.


Much like certain oppressed peoples here on Earth turned their native martial traditions into dances and adapted farming tools into martial forms when threatened by militant governments, I think it completely appropriate for there to be such a movement among the oppressed lower classes on Athas.

Furthermore, since Bards are such movers and shakers, plus being poison makers, (hah, rhyme intended) having a secret martial order/religion of hassais/hashīshīn/assassin monks who are used as convenient cleaners of the political landscape, with or without intoxicating poisons should have already existed. Bards are smart, using poisonous disposable tools that can’t be traced back is obviously better than poisoning someone themselves.

Thus I could easily see at least two martial traditions easily existing on and fitting in with Athas.

Not to mention that elves could easily include something akin to a shaolin long form into their running techniques incorporating whirlwind strike and cleave effects into run by attacks?

Plus since everyone is supposed to be psionic by default, having some sort of psionic shadow walk trance run should totally be a thing for elves.


That was seriously an argument? I was too busy playing regular D&D and futuristic Scifi RPGs and Supers RPGs, and reading scads of books to notice all that, lol.

In any case, barbarian, brute, gladiator, whatever… call it what you will, it still hacks and bashes just the same, and Athas needs it. If you don’t like the rage mechanic for story reasons (were there really no raging characters in the novels?) then use the Sohei Ki Frenzy mechanic instead.

Or allow both, and give them both as a class option, the same way rangers pick between two weapon and range feat chains.


I think the Athasian Soulknife is a better design by far than the base class version. I am very fond of it and use it in several of my character builds, sometimes with the Soulbow.

While the class and concept is very cool, the Soulknife really feels like a highly educated elite sort of prestige, maybe something limited to certain nobility, or perhaps exclusive to the Tarandan school of psionics. (Did I spell that right?) From what little I recall of lore, that school was supposed to be somehow superior to all the other psi traditions in Athas? Knowing the trick to solidify energy sounds like one such possible superiority.

If there is one flaw, I think there should also be a Soulfang branch of the prestige usable for psionic animals and psionic plants to enhance their fangs and claws and vines and thorns with a few simple enhancements… which would also work nicely for psionic monks and unarmed strikes.

Perhaps an alternate ten level prestige that focuses more on simple abilities… such as take away the thrown blade and psychic strike damage and other more complex abilities, and replace it with a simple defensive boost (toughen skin or basic armor via solidified energy), natural weapon effective size increase, and some boosts to skills like jumping and climbing and boosts to movement speed?

While I doubt anything like this appeared in the novels, it sounds to me like a very logical evolutionary adaption in a world like Athas.


It was a serious argument. The rationale behind it was manifold, but the main two things seemed to be the idea that all Athasians were barbaric, and to have barbarians is contradictory. The other is that the rage class feature is inappropriate for DS because we never saw any examples of rage in the 2E DS product line of the novels.

So 3E was expected to justify its 3E concepts to a 2E setting in which the concepts did not exist. There were so many layers of circular reasoning that it was almost pretty much impossible to have a rational discussion about it.

That was why the basic premise of demanding that 3E (that did not exist in 2E) concepts must have reasons for inclusion in 3E DS was wrongheaded. Instead, there should have been ironclad reason for excluding a 3E concept before making the decision to exclude it. That didn’t happen.

As for people saying "well, if you are going to include sorcerers, monks and barbarians, you have to include paladins as well’. No. Just no. Paladins were a concept extant in 2E, and is the same class as the 3E paladin class. The 2E paladin was excluded from 2E DS. It makes sense to exclude the paladin from 3E DS. Sorcerer, monk and barbarian simply did not exist as a class concept in 2E, and that is not grounds to exclude them.

I can see excluding the standard paladin, but what about the paladins of Tyranny and Chaos? Sounds like it would fit in with Templars to me… maybe as an elite color guard for an SK?

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These other “paladins” are substantially different than what we normally consider to be a paladin. “Paladin in name only” would be a correct moniker. An elite guard of the Sorcerer Monarch as a prestige class is fine. You could call them "paladin " it you wanted to, but then we aren’t really talking about the paladin class that is banned in Dark Sun.

As for a paladin of Tyranny specifically, this class is from Unearthed Arcana, and really is for a campaign that properly integrates these rules. The paladin of Tyranny is an “antipaladin”, that is this is a high minded character concept that simply the reactionary opposite of the paladin. That being, it relies on the standard paladin existing within the setting, which should result in exclusion along with the standard paladin.

I think I understand your clarification. Thank you!

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In my hopinion neither should be excluded only reworked.

There is the Elemental Champion prestige class for those that would like to go the Paladin route. Given the state of Athas, anything close to Paladin would certainly be a prestige class worthy endeavor. Unearthed Arcana does create the prestige Bard, Ranger, and Paladin, but again it would only be one in name - but could be an interesting creation. This idea would be that the character is the exception to the rule, and as a result likely the only one of their kind on Athas (pending DM approval, understanding this would be a stretch).

The idea of a Sorcerer or Warlock would be a difficult creation, but not undoable. For Sorcerer, one’s best option would likely be some flavor of undead or tied close to undeath. For one that lives close to the ruins of Kalidnay, it could certainly tie into some connection to the Grey. Otherwise it would be difficult to explain this constant wellspring of power that is either placed inside them in the case of Warlock, or the stuff they are born with in Sorcerer.

A Warlock sworn to a Shadow Giant could be a possibility, but that would be a very interesting storyline to deal with. Again that portion is up to DM discretion. However, granting that power to a follower could come up with some interesting RP consequences such as having to constantly “recharge” their arcane source. It would be appropriately dark for a Sword and Sorcery setting, but at this point the character starts to feel more like a villain than anything else.

Those particular classes could be viable but certainly require working with your DM and knowing that there is some stretching of rules and ideas going on. Our DM was very lenient on classes and the like. As long as the player could explain how and why they got certain abilities or classes, they could likely run it. There were the exceptions such as “no monks” and “no paladins”, and the like.

I saw in an earlier post in this thread the question of a Blackguard. When I was preparing for my campaign, I did notice that there were fiends in the Terrors of Athas book produced by These would be the Sand Bride and Sand Mother. If one wanted to have a Blackguard, I can this path following something more akin to a Paraelemental path in that regard, leaning towards a Silt devotee.

The table I play with get up to some exotic builds and ideas, and I understand they aren’t necessarily lore accurate. Though in general the player is able to make their pitch to the DM, and then things go from there.

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