Dark Sun heresy

I feel ecological themes behind defilement and preserving are a core of Dark Sun flavour, to be frank. It makes the setting so unique: It’s us mortals who brought destruction onto the world, not some otherworldy creatures who used us as proxies. We reap what we sow. Life on Athas is a constant struggle for survival, and we only have ourselves to blame.

That said, I’m a sucker for this idea. Are you familiar with Masque of the Red Death? It’s a Ravenloft spin-off that takes place on an isolated Prime Material world, like Athas. A primal evil entity infested the magic circuit of the world like a computer virus, pervading it over millennia. Every time a spellcaster uses magic, they court its attention… And if they do get noticed, it twists them into something more and more inhuman.

I think this would be the biggest twist in your idea. Defilement is a non-sentient ‘pollution’ mechanics; the Lovecraftian entities you speak of have will and ambitions of their own. They wouldn’t just sit on their thumbs - they’d actively twist the world they interact with. And the mages are the first in line, of course :wink:

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I almost forgot about this bit of Dark Sun heresy that I wrote myself.

The Mindlords of Saragar then become more similar to those weird people from Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

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Mutually assured destruction, I like :smiley:

In my games, the SMs know about the Mindlords, but they simply don’t care. Their interests are locked down around the Tyr region / Tablelands, close to the Seal of Rajaat. Going to war against the Mindlords would mean sending huge armies far away, leaving the cities vulnerable… For no real gain to speak of. So, they’re probably just content to ignore them.

Granted, I doubt they know everything the Mindlords do. Even if they did, again, I don’t think they’d care. It’s just too far outside of their box.

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Perhaps I am more heretical than I thought. Dregoth’s plan to become a god on Athas is dumb, and Dregoth, even he is somewhat deranged from undeath, realizes that the Planar Gate is his best option.

I wrote some short stories about Dregoth living in Sigil.

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Although I don’t think the Mindlords need RMBs (for the reasons I gave on the thread concerning them), I like the concept of RMBs. To my mind the Illithids should have had much more involvement with Athas in the distant past. The githyanki city of Yathazor is too great an undertaking to simply be about dominating a chunk of an obscure Prime Material world IMHO. One thing guaranteed to get githyanki going is their ancestral enemy.

Anyway, tangent aside, abandoned illithid settlements and bases would make great adventure sites. There’s also the question of whether the illithid had any interest/link with the lifeshapers of the rhulisti given the organic basis of some illithid technology.

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To my mind the Illithids should have had much more involvement with Athas in the distant past. The githyanki city of Yathazor is too great an undertaking to simply be about dominating a chunk of an obscure Prime Material world IMHO. One thing guaranteed to get githyanki going is their ancestral enemy.

Whole heartedly agreed. I’ve said as much in other posts. Most recently here:

I my campaign history the rhulisti and illithid had many conflicts in the early Blue Age. Mostly from due to rhulisti unlocking the basics of lifeshaping from captured illithid grafts and tadpoles.

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Anyone ever mention or consider the possibility that the SKs are actually the insane and or damaged remnant of old gods that “disappeared” from Athas? That they dropped to divine rank 1, or rank 0 with the special exception for granting spells? If so, that would neatly harmonize the dark sun rules with the rest of the game without the need for any special additional rules and explain a few things about the planes.

Or how about Athas being a kreen only world, and the halflings arrived by starship with their genetics technology. After all halflings or gnomes make the perfect star travelers since they take up less space and use less resources to stay alive. If they came in a seed ship colony vessel, one way, dropped a few artifacts in orbit for climate control and solar radiation control ,and a mysterious radiation they couldn’t detect in advance from the planet (mana) messed with and mutated their systems after landing, not to mention their gene-banks… could also explain a lot of things… such as the apparent changes to the sun, the weather, the lifeshaping, certain artifacts, e.t.c…

Just a few thoughts.

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Have been contemplating some more heresies for when I get around for a complete 2e overhaul of the setting.

Hamanu is always described as a great warrior, never beaten in battle, but as a defilers/psioniscist, even after becoming a 21st level Dragon, he isn’t going to be that good.

So after thinking things over, and how the Wanderer said that not all SKs were defilers, my version of Hamanu is as a fighter/psioniscist. Also that it is psionics, as befits a psionic heavy setting, that makes a SK and allows granting of spells. And psionics is what makes an advanced being. Does require a f/p version of the dragon to be designed but that does open up the opportunity for further types of advanced beings.

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The Wander said that most were defilers. I think that is an expression of doubt more than anything. He also mentions other sorcerer kings out there, but doesn’t elaborate.

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I’m back and I’m feeling mighty heretical this morning…

So I have a few heresies I’ve mentioned in the past involving the gods or lacktherof on Athas as well as what some of the SKs are up to. But one I use that’s inspired by the Wanderer’s Journal from the original boxed set is the idea of SKs before our current batch.

Kalak of Tyr was never a Champion of Rajaat. Rather he was the lover and royal defiler to Euphrate of Tyr. Kalak only managed to elevate himself to the rank of Sorcerer King after the sacking of Giuestenal, where Kalak was able to secretly abscond with the severed heads of two Sorcerer Monarchs that Dregoth had kept in his own palace as prizes after the banishment of Rajaat. Shockingly enough Dregoth actually had kept both of these heads reanimated as a sapient form of undead that were compelled to reveal all of their secrets to their new master. With Dregoth now dead however, Sacha and Wyan instead pretended to simply serve whoever held them. In reality they sought to manipulate Kalak from behind the scenes in the hopes of eventually releasing Rajaat from his prison. As for Euphrate, while far from foolish, she had on some level come to love Kalak. While she was a clever and paranoid woman, her guard would lower enough towards Kalak to allow a conspiracy to take root.

Kalak would conspire with the psionicists of Tyr in a plot to assassinate Euphrate, using her death as the final component in a ritual to elevate himself to the rank of Sorcerer King. Kalak even convinced the Lord Psion of Tyr to train Kalak in the Way so that he might stand a better chance against Euphrate. More importantly Kalak offered to train the Lord Psion in defiling, the idea being that the Royal Defilers and Psion Covens of Tyr could form a new body that could both rule Tyr and keep the other SKs from claiming Tyr for themselves.

Kalak of course never told anyone about his plan to ascend to Dragonhood. Neither did he reveal the existance of Sacha and Wyan, who were already teaching him further secrets of both defiling and the Way. While the assassination was far from a complete success, Euphrate would perish. Kalak would not only become a Dragon, he would inherit her ability to grant spells to the Templar of Tyr. As for Kalak’s psionic allies that sought to create a council of defiler psions? They would be put to the sword and bound as undead to watch over Euphrate’s tomb until the end of time…

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Yet more heresy…

The Order’s True Purpose.

Rather than simply policing the most powerful psions of Athas, the Order cares first and foremost about preventing a Second Red Age from ever occurring. While feuding between the SKs hardly bothers them, the Order does everything it can to prevent multiple city states from going into open war with one another in a “World War Athas” type of event.

However the Order’s #1 priority is to prevent the resurgence of Rajaat. This might make them seem like the good guys at first to the PCs, but in truth the Order has forsaken morality for security. The Order helps ensure that no matter what the Dragon’s Levy will always be met. The Order maintains secret villages throughout the fringes of the Tyr Region that the Dragon can pick clean if a city proves incapable of meeting its levy. The Order also provides the Dragon with additional sacrifices to be brought to Ur Draxa to serve as buffers of sorts so that a missed sacrifice won’t risk Rajaat weakening his prison.

The Order prefers the status quo over the risk of Athas becoming even worse and is quite likely to oppose more heroic PCs and more radical factions of the Veiled Alliance. To enforce their will the Order has learned to create artifical humans through a combination of psionics and lifeshaping. These “Elans” serve as sleeper agents for the Order throughout the Tyr Region and have spelled the death of resurgent religions, founders of lost technology, and those who would dream of a brighter tomorrow.

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First of all I want to say hello, as this is my first post. I’ve been a long time lurker of this forum and a longer fan of Dark Sun. I want also to apologize in advance for my English, as is not my native language and I had to use Google Translate to be able to have this post translated to English.

This heresy is based on some of the original ideas from the Gor books, the Counter-Earth, in which existing civilizations have their origin in our Earth. So, considering that the original set was already inspired, among others, by these books, I think it may fit quite well. In addition, it is also the same concept used in the Stargate universe, which also has similar ideas, at least in relation to the movie.

It’s a bit long and makes use of several previously seen theories (especially the one that zik-chil = nature-benders), but overall I think it works quite well :blush:


The origin of Athas civilizations

After the war between the rhulisti, the nature-benders survivors decided to hide to gain strength, until they had a new opportunity to face the nature-masters.

And when the nature-masters managed to stop the Brown Tide, many of them dying in the process, they saw their chance. Using their life-shaping skills, they turned themselves into the Zik-Chil and took control of the kreen colonies, a non-intelligent insectoid species. Little by little they modified the kreen, providing them with intelligence, until they became the predecessors of the current kreen races. But above all, they physically adapted them to the new world, in which the waters had receded, providing new non occupied lands.

They did so well that the kreen spread rapidly into new territories, posing a danger not only to the rhulisti, but also to the few original species that had been able to adapt to this new world. Obviously, this was the zik-chil plan: to exterminate the rhulisti at any cost and take control of the planet.

But the rhulisti, even without knowing the true origin of the new danger that threatened them, and decimated as they were, did not want to give up. They decided that the only way to stop the kreen was to include a new element in the equation: new life had to be brought to the planet to fill the lost ecological niches and thus stand up to the expansion of the kreen. But, how to do it? It’s not possible to create life where there is none, so it had to be found “outside”. And for this they probed space-time, until they found other worlds full of life, inhabited by a multitude of different races. Humans were especially interesting to them, due to their great adaptability.

Using the power of the Pristine Tower, they broke through the Gray’s barrier, creating paths to the planes. And from there they brought large groups of humans from different civilizations: Greeks, Romans, Japanese, Africans, Babylonians, etc. But also elves, orcs, pixies and other races, seeking to bring variety to a world at risk. And it was this colossal use of power that transformed the blue sun into the yellow sun.

But it didn’t matter, because now there was a chance to stop the kreen expansion. For this, the rhulisti helped these races to establish themselves throughout the planet. And they did so by founding settlements that were a reflection of their original civilizations, although adapting to the new world.

And the plan worked. The new races adapted and spread throughout the planet, especially humans. And they fought the kreen, winning many times, others being able only to keep them at bay.

But the zik-chil, the ancient nature-benders, saw what the rhulisti did as heresy, further proof that only they could preserve life as it should be. Only they could bring Athas back to being a blue world. For a long time they thought how to get rid not of the rhulisti, who had almost completely disappeared, giving rise to the rhul-thaun, but to all the new races that they had brought to taint Athas.

And they concluded that it was necessary to fight fire with fire, making the same races fight each other. For this they needed a champion, someone capable of infiltrating the kingdoms of men and winning their favor. Something that they, with their kreen looks, could never accomplish. To do this they gathered the remnants of their life-shaping knowledge and turned one of their own into a new creature, one that brought together characteristics of all the new races that now inhabited Athas. They named the new race Pyreen and the first of them, Rajaat.

But the zik-chil’s knowledge of life-shaping was not what it was, and Rajaat began to mutate, becoming grotesquely deformed shortly after being created. However, his will was strong and he decided to move on with their plan.

The following eras are already known: Rajaat discovered magic, taught the Champions to use it, and they carried out the Cleansing Wars for him. Until they discovered his real plan and locked him in the Hollow.

But by then the world was already devastated. The great human kingdoms scattered across the planet, with their civilizations based on the cultures brought by their ancestors from other worlds, were in ruins.

The Champions decided that they had to abandon these kingdoms and relocate to one of the few places where it was still possible to survive: the region of Tyr. The place where everything had started would also be the place where everything would end.

And with one last great effort, each of the Champions founded a new city with the remains of the abandoned kingdoms, bringing with them thousands of citizens and those riches that where still deserved to save.


What is your opinion? I know there are some concepts for which many around here are detractors, and that there are loose ends, such as the existence of a majority of good Pyreen, but in general I think it may be a good “heresy”.

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Dark Sun Heresy: Nok is a source of disinformation about Kalak to the Heroes of Tyr.

There is a lot we don’t know about Nok. All we know is that he wanted Kalak dead and he needed a way to convince not only Agis, Rikus and the rest, but also present a plausible motive for his own involvement (“Kalak will destroy the forest”). Had Nok told the truth (according to this heresy at least) that ONLY the people within the arena would be consumed by Kalak’s magic, would not these ‘heroes’ simply have avoided the arena? To be convinced, they (Agis and company) had to be satisfied that it was a matter of zero sum survival - them or Kalak.

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Kalak was presented as going full Sith Lord in the Prism Pentad novels. It’s certainly believable that he would eat half or all of his city to become a full dragon. He is presented as that kind of crazy.

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Other characters present Kalak in that fashion. There is no proof that Kalak wanted to kill more than 40,000 people packed into the arena, however. That is already awful.

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I distinctly remember him making a templar’s head explode during a “live scene” in a book because the ziggurat’s construction was lagging behind, and cackling like Palpatine while he did it. Other character’s present him that way, but the books show Kalak being crazy as well.

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Yes. Kalak killed an incompetent Templar as an example to others. That doesn’t mean that Kalak wanted to destroy his own city.

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It doesn’t automatically mean that, but scenes like those make it more believable. It’s not hard to sell that the power obsessed guy who’s just WAITING for his minions to fail so he can make their heads explode with green brain flames would eat his city to become a physical god because it’s easy to believe.

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This just goes to show how effective the lies of Nok and his shill Ktandeo were.

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…that is one interpretation redking, but not one I would go with, even as heresy. There’s just way too much evidence stacked against it.

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